This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Popular name and I thought I would reflect on a name that appears a number of times on my family tree as it does on many based in Sussex particularly during the second half of the 1700s. Philadelphia.
I have 19 Philadelphias on my tree, ranging from the mid 1700s to the early mid 1800s. I’m not sure why it was so suddenly popular in Sussex for naming daughters but it may have something to do with William Penn who founded Philadelphia in the US. William Penn spent a lot of his life in Sussex. The name was also apparently popular amongst early Quakers because it means ‘the loving people’. But whatever the reason there were a lot in Sussex and here I pick out just three of my small pile.
Philadelphia Fletcher born 1787
Philadelphia Fletcher was born 1787 in Battle to John Fletcher and Mary Bishop. She was the second child of five and was my great x5 grandmother. She married Samuel Jenner in 1807 in Battle, they both left their mark on the register and her sister Jane was one of the witnesses. The couple had 9 children. Their 3rd daughter, Mary married my great x4 grandfather Robert Carey Harmer. Picture of Mary below. Samuel Jenner died in August 1832 and Philadelphia married again to Thomas Sinden of Battle in 1838. Thomas was an Agricultural Labourer. They lived ‘below Watch Oak’ in Battle and Philadelphia died in 1863 and was buried at Battle Cemetery on 28 April 1863.
Philadelphia Pennifold born 1776
Philadelphia Pennifold was born November 1776 in Worth, Sussex to Thomas Pennifold and his wife Elizabeth Hall. They had 8 children that I have found in the records. There is a gap between 1778 and 1790 although some Ancestry trees have a couple of other children born in those years, but having looked at the parish records these baptisms cannot be confirmed so more research is needed. A quick look at a family tree on Ancestry gives the possibility of Quaker ancestry, that should be interesting and maybe explains her name. Philadelphia married Richard Vigar my great x5 grandfather on 3 November 1794 in Burstow, Surrey about 5 miles away from Worth. Richard signed the register and Philadelphia left her mark. They had 12 children, 4 of whom died as small children. Philadelphia and Richard both died in 1839, Philadelphia in January and Richard in October and they were both buried in Burstow Churchyard. It looks like her father, Thomas was also buried in Burstow in 1715.
Philadelphia Seaman born 1732
Philadelphia Seaman was born 1732 in Chailey, Sussex to Richard Seaman and Elizabeth Grover. I’ve not managed to find Richard Seaman yet although he may have been born 1702 in Newick to John and Alice. Richard and Elizabeth had 10 children, 9 girls and 1 boy. The oldest child, Elizabeth and the youngest child, Catherine both died in March 1744 within days of each other. Sadly the parish register is very illegible at that point and I can barely read the record let alone wonder if the Vicar added a reason for two deaths within days of each other. Philadelphia married Thomas Cruse on the 19 July 1757 at Chailey and both left their mark on the register. She was his second wife. His first wife Frances had died in 1756. Philadelphia and Thomas had 8 children, 7 survived to adulthood. Their eldest son John born 1756 but baptised in 1759 was my great x5 grandfather. That needs more research because the baptism record clearly says Philadelphia mother but if he was born 1756, surely Frances was his mother. Hmmm.
Three Philadelphias, with remarkably similar lives although they lived in different parts of Sussex and at different times. I imagine due to the geography of where they were living they were all from labouring families of some variety, probably agricultural labourers in Chailey and Burstow. It is hard to tell without Census records though, and that is where other records such as Apprentice record, land records or wills prove very useful. More research then….