Edward Shippen

Edward Shippen 1639 – 1712

Baptized at St Oswalds Church 0n the 5th March, 1639 – Edward Shippen was the sixth child of William and Mary Shippen (Nunnes).   His father William Shippen formerly of Hillam and Monk Fryston was overseer of the poor and overseer of the highways and was described as a prosperous yeoman. It doesn’t take much imagination to work out who was breaking the stones and filling ruts in the tracks.

Edward emigrated in 1668 to Boston at the end of the reign of the Stuart kings where he was to become a wealthy merchant and influential landowner.

He joined the Society of Friends in 1671, possibly converted by his then first wife Elizabeth Lybrand and was persecuted later on account of his choice of faith.

What is intriguing is how did he hear about and apply to emigrate. Did he have any association with Quakers near Methley – there were none recorded in the village, however it is recorded that a house in Oulton nearby was actively being used for meetings by Quakers. Where did he set sail from, was it Plymouth? Bristol? and how was it funded?

The Raleigh ships sailed from Plymouth to settlements in Virginia and the Carolinas and were funded by the export of tobacco. Why was he chastised for his religion in New England which had originally been founded by the Pilgrim Fathers(Puritans) in 1620, who themselves had left a country simmering with religious intolerance. It would seem there were great differences between the Quakers and the survivors of the Puritans of Boston.

In 1694 he moved his family and business to Philadelphia where he held property and the following year was elected to the Provincial Assembly and was chosen as Speaker. In the charter of 1701 granted by William Penn he was named as Lord Mayor and retained that position for two years (clearly a man of influence). He was involved in the Assembly in various offices until his death in 1712.

He has been described as a man of courage, energy, integrity, intelligence and sagacity – he certainly impressed William Penn the Quaker Governor with his abilities despite his continuing use of the powdered wig!

Known in his time as the biggest man and owner of the biggest house and biggest coach in Philadelphia. His ‘Great House’ was surrounded by large gardens with an extensive variety of shrubs and flowers.
He married three times : at Boston in 1671 to Elizabeth Lybrand (8 children); in 1689, to Rebecca (Howard) Richardson (1 child); and in Philadelphia in 1706, to Esther (Wilcox) James 2 children).

His Grandson, Edward purchased the land on which is now the township and college of Shippensburg. This man also went on to serve as Mayor and Justice of Philadelphia.

His great-grandson, Edward Shippen was to become Chief Justice of Pennsylvania after studying law in England. This Edward was a moderate loyalist during the War of Independance and despite a low level of internment his stated neutrality enabled the family to maintain a prominent social life during the period of the revolution.

His Grand-daughter Margaret (Peggy) was to wed General Benedict Arnold who held the keys to West Point. After being passed over for promotion General Arnold plotted to betray the position to the British. When this act of treason was foiled, he joined and later fought with the British army.

I am indebted to Deborah Towey of Glenside PA who provided me with a considerable amount of information from sources in the USA and who is continuing with local research June2001.

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