↑ Return to Terry/Capehart History

Print this Page

A History of David Terry, Quaker (1739-1820)


Escaping the United States to Freedom in Upper Canada:

A History of David Terry, Quaker


Richard L. Tolman, Ph. D.


    David Terry was born1, 2 in Mar 1739 in Bensalem, Bucks, Pennsylvania the son of Thomas and Jane (Neeld) Terry; he was a great-grandson of another Thomas Terry, the founder of the Terry line in Bucks County.

    This Thomas, born abt 1653, was one of the original settlers of Bucks County Pennsylvania then called West New Jersey, a part of Burlington County, New Jersey; his land patent of 200 acres was granted to him 14 Jul 1683 by William Penn.3

    There is no direct proof he was a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)4 because of the paucity of very early records, but Thomas’ son Jasper and his sons were all ‘Friends’.  The Terry-line founder Thomas may have been attracted to Bucks County because of William Penn’s promise that ‘Penn’s Land’ would be a haven for Quakers,5 where they would be able to worship as they chose.  The Society of Friends had only separated themselves, under the leadership of George Fox, from the Church of England in 1640 after the Cromwellian revival. Fox had the idea that people could have a direct experience of Christ without benefit of clergy; he bade them ‘tremble at the word of the Lord’ (Isaiah 66:2) hence were they called ‘Quakers’ by many.  Their numbers rose to be one-third of the English population by the mid-18th century.6  As pacifists they were promptly persecuted in England with several laws passed in the late 17th century to curtail their activities in England.7
    Although this Thomas Terry and his descendants were Quakers many of his sons and grandsons had left the faith,8 mostly for marrying non-Quakers—this included great-grandson David Terry as he too married outside the faith.9 David (Thomas3 Jasper2 Thomas1) Terry married10 Grace Davis 20 Jul 1763 in the Churchville (Bucks County) Dutch Reformed Church.  She was born abt 1742 in Chester County, Pennsylvania of Welsh stock.  They had eleven children in Bucks County before 1785:12,13,14

   i. JOHN TERRY, born 1763 of Bucks; died 16 Sep 1824 at Southampton, Bucks. He married15 25 Aug 1788 at Bucks, Pennsylvania Rebeckah Searls daughter of Thomas and Rebecca (Dunn) Searl.  She had three children by her first husband Hendrick Hegeman16 and when he died in 1783 in Northampton, Bucks she married John Terry by whom she had three more children.17

  ii. JANE TERRY, born 1766 at Makefield Twp., Bucks. She may have married18 ____ Roberts. She is presumed to have died at Gwillimbury, York, Ontario.19

 iii. GRACE TERRY, born 1768 at Bucks; died before 1851 at York County, Ontario.  She probably married Isaac Rightly (b. 1769) of Bucks County and they moved with her parents to East Gwillimbury, York, Ontario where their son William was living in 1851 with the rest of the David Terry descendants.20

  iv. RACHEL TERRY, born 9 Feb 1769 at Middletown, Bucks; died 3 Dec 1848 at York County, Ontario, Canada.21  She married 1789 at Bucks County Murdock Mordecai McLeod son of Daniel and Cathar McLeod. He was born 6 Oct 1765 in Scotland and died 28 Jun 1847.  He was not a Quaker at the time of their marriage, but joined the faith in 1808 at Newmarket, York, Ontario and became a frequent preaching companion to David Willson, founder of the Children of Peace.  Rachel and her husband are buried in the Children of Peace cemetery at Sharon, York, Ontario.

    They had thirteen children. Rachel’s eleventh child was Alexander McLeod who participated in the (Canadian) Rebellion of 1837 and was later captured in a failed raid from American territory in June 1838; he was the only one convicted of treason and sentenced to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)—he died by gruesome means upon arrival there in 1839.22

   v. DAVID TERRY, born 1770 at Bucks County; died 22 Apr 1856 at Kettleby, King Township, York, Ontario, Canada.23,24  He married Anne Burr.25

  vi. JOSEPH TERRY, born 1774 at Bucks County; died there in 1795.26

 vii. ELEANOR TERRY, born 1775 at Bucks County; died 1850.27  She married28 1798 Terry Jacob.

viii. ANN TERRY, born 1778 at Bucks; presumed to have died before 1801 at Bucks County.29

  ix. WILLIAM TERRY, born 1782 at Bucks; died 22 Apr 1856 at East Gwillimbury, York, Ontario, Canada.30

   x. BENJAMIN TERRY, born 3 Aug 1783 at Bucks; died 30 Nov 1838 at Sharon, York, Ontario, Canada.31 He married abt 1805 at East Gwillimbury Township, York, Ontario, Canada Elizabeth Ann Lepard daughter of John and Catherine LePard. She was born May 1790 East Gwillimbury, York, Ontario, Canada and died 20 Nov 1871 at Sharon, York, Ontario, Canada.  They had eleven children.32

  xi. MARY TERRY, born 1784 at Bucks; died 31 Mar 185333 at East Gwillimbury, York, Ontario, Canada. She married Jacob Lepard (brother of Elizabeth Ann), son of John and Catherine LePard; he was born 25 Jul 1774 in Sussex, New Jersey and died 24 Oct 1850 at East Gwillimbury, York, Ontario, Canada.34  They had six children; the couple are buried in the Children of Peace cemetery in Sharon, York, Ontario.35

    It was soon apparent that William Penn’s promise that the Quakers would have freedom to practice their religion did not allow for social pressure—most notably, lack of respect for their refusal to participate in war.  By the turn of the century (1800) the colonies had already been forced to defend their homes and freedom from British oppression during the war for independence (1776-1789) and it looked as though the fighting might not be over.  England continued to press her dominance over the now ‘free’ colonies by impressing American sailors and harassing the colonies with various economic measures—the factors which led up to the War of 1812.36

Figure 1. Northeastern North America in 1791. (from www.worldatlas.com)

    David Terry was too old for military service at the turn of the century, but he was undoubtedly concerned for the future of his sons and sons-in-law who were in the prime of life.  So the Terrys decided on a desperate course of action—leave for a place where they might practice their beliefs in peace.  There was such a place.  Upper Canada (now Ontario) was anxious for settlers to populate the excellent farmland; not only were land grants free, but service in the militia was optional (a fee could be paid in lieu of service).  About 1801 David and Grace Terry and probably eight of their eleven children with their families (two were married) and several cousins (including probably Benjamin Terry, David’s brother) and other families from the Bucks County Quaker congregations made the trip to Upper Canada settling with other Quaker families in Gwillimbury Township north of Toronto.  The oldest Terry son John was married and stayed behind in Bucks County.  The Terrys were among the first settlers in the area and soon attached themselves to other Quakers in Gwillimbury Township at the Yonge Street Friends congregation in Newmarket, York County, Ontario.

    By the beginning of the War of 1812 most members of the Yonge Street congregation including the Terrys had joined a pacifist splinter group called the ‘Children of Peace’37 founded by David Willson, a New York Quaker emigrant, who also arrived in 1801.  When the militia conscription for the War of 1812 arrived in Upper Canada not only did the Quakers refuse to serve, but they also refused to pay the militia fee as most had come from and were sympathetic to the United States.

Figure 2. Province of Upper Canada, Early Nineteenth Century (from Dorland, Arthur Garrett The Quakers in Canada, a History (Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1927)

    Whereas the ‘plain folk’ (Quakers) had no musical tradition, the Children of Peace created the first civilian band in Canada and built the first organ in Ontario.  By the 1820’s the group had developed a cooperative economy and had founded their own credit union.  By selling their farm produce as a group, they could get better prices.  They were not communal, but had a land-sharing system that made them, as a group, prosperous farmers in an era when new farmers frequently failed. By the late 1820’s they had founded their own town “Hope” (later Sharon) and had begun the construction of the Sharon Temple, an imitation of the Temple of Solomon, completed 1831.38

Figure 3. The Sharon Temple, erected 1825-1832 at Sharon, Ontario, Canada

    David Terry died at age 80 on 20 Jan 1820 at East Gwillimbury Township, York, Ontario, Canada. He donated the land for the Children of Peace cemetery in Sharon, York County and was the first one to be buried there.39


1. “The Terry Family”, article (author unknown), in “Genealogy and Resources”, 5 pages; online at sharontemple.ca (http://www.sharontemple.ca/pdf/Genealogy%20%28By%20Family%29/family_terry.pdf); accessed 15 Jul 2012; hereafter “The Terry Family”.

2. Bucks County Wills, Book 7, p. 117; abstracted in Pennsylvania Wills 1682-1834,CD-ROM Family Tree Maker’s Family Archives, Broderbund 1998—abstract also online at USGenWebArchives (files.usgenwarchives.net/pa/bucks/will/willabstbk5.txtor7); accessed 15 Mar 2012.

3. Land Office of the Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, PA, Survey Book D, V. 67, p. 173; cited in Carol Daun Croft James Croft, his Antecedents and Descendants (Tacoma, Washington: C. D. Croft, 1983), p. 136.

4. The earliest Quaker records extant in that area of Bucks County (Falls Monthly Meeting) begin in the early 1700’s. Thomas Terry died before 28 May 1704 (son Jasper was the defendant in a lawsuit because he was the administrator of the Thomas Terry estate).

5. (Search = ‘William Penn’) at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online at (en.wikipedia.org).

6. Allison Patton  “The Quaker Migration: Friends Find Peace in Pennsylvania”, British Heritage, Jan 2006 issue; online at (www.historynet.com/the-quaker-migration…); accessed 15 Mar 2012.

7. (Search = ‘Quakers’) at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online at (en.wikipedia.org).

8. David’s brothers Daniel and Benjamin were disowned for marrying women ‘not in membership with Friends’: Watring, Anna Miller and R. Edward Wright Bucks County Pennsylvania: Church Records of the 17th and 18th Centuries, (Heritage Books, Bowie, MD – 2003) Vol. 2, pp. 104, 302.

9. Anna Miller Watring and R. Edward Wright, Bucks County Pennsylvania: Church Records of the 17th and 18th Centuries, (Heritage Books, Bowie, MD – 2003) Vol. 2, p. 291.

10. Terry/Davis marriage: “Reformed Dutch Church, Churchville, Bucks, 1737-1780 marriages,” Pennsylvania Vital Records, Vol 1, p. 267, database online at ancestry.com; accessed 15 Mar 2012.

11. Grace Davis birth: Godfrey Memorial Library, American Genealogical-Biographical Index, Vol. 40, p. 381. ‘The Terry Family’ indicates she went to Canada with her husband, but there is no record of her there and she is not buried with her husband in the Children of Peace cemetery in Sharon, Ontario.

12. “The Terry Family”, page 1 presents the background of the family in Bucks County and contends that nine of the children (all the children still living in 1805) were members of the Children of Peace, but this cannot be correct as not all children went to Canada (notably John the oldest and Joseph the sixth child) and not all children who went to Canada were documented to be a part of the Children of Peace—the sharontemple.ca history presents descendants of only three of the children: Rachel, Benjamin, and Mary, although census and other later records (1840-1850) show that other of the David Terry children were in Upper Canada notably son David Jr.; online at sharontemple.ca (www.sharontemple.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=Itemid=17); accessed 15 Mar 2012.

13. Terry entry: Bensalem Township, 10 white occupants; J. Brittingham and M. C. Williams, 1784 Transcript Tax of Bucks County, Pennsylvania: return of land (Jamison, Pennsylvania: Will-Britt Books, 1997), p. 52.

14. Alfred Terry Lund, contributor and Terry historian, “David Terry Family Group Sheet”, Family group records collection; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (FHL) archives section, 1942-1969, FHL Film 1275,203, alphabetical.

15. Terry/Hegeman marriage: “First Baptist Church, Philadelphia”; Pennsylvania Marriage Records 1700-1821, (Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Archives Printed Series, 1876 Series 2, Series 6), p. 771, online at ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com); accessed 19 Apr 2012.

16. William H. Davis, “The Van Horn Family”, History of Bucks County, Vol. 3, p. 92; online at PaGenWeb (pagenweb.org/~bucks/BIOS_DAVIS/vanhornfamily.html); accessed 13 Mar 2011.

17. John Terry birth: Godfrey Memorial Library, American Genealogical-Biographical Index, Vol. 175, p. 394.

18. Entry for Jane Terry: “Pedigree Resource File”, online database FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.2.1/99F2-FQ8); accessed 5 Mar 2012.

19. ‘Children of Peace Burial Ground Index’, p. 1., article (author unknown) in “Genealogy and Resources”, online at sharontemple.ca (www.sharontemple.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=Itemid=17); accessed 15 Mar 2012, hereafter “Sharon Temple Burial Index” and “The Terry Family”.  No records of her have been found in Upper Canada as either Jane Terry or Jane Roberts—the possibility must be considered that she stayed in Bucks County although no records of her have been found there either.

20. 1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, District York County, Subdistrict East Gwillimbury, image 21; online at ancestry.com (accessed 4 Mar 2012); if one looks at all the people listed together as one family on one piece of land it includes in-laws as well. Isaac and William Rightly are logically father and son and by elimination widowed husband and son of Grace Terry the daughter, since we know she made the trip to Ontario and was a member of the Children of Peace, see online at sharontemple.ca, “The Children of Peace” (www.sharontemple.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24&Itemid=25); accessed 15 Jul 2012.

21. “Sharon Temple Burial Index”, no. 100 and gravestone transcription.

22. Benjamin Wait’s Letters from Van Dieman’s Land written during four years imprisonment for political offences committed in Upper Canada, published 1843 in Buffalo, NY; republished as The Wait Letters, ed. Mary Brown (Erin, Ontario: Press Porcepic, 1976) excerpts from Benjamin Wait of Markham cited in “The Terry Family”.

23. Norman K. Crowder  Inhabitants of York County Ontario in 1850 (Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Genealogical Society. Toronto Branch, 1992), p. 33.

24. Entry for ‘David Terry, Jr.’, Pedigree Research File, online database FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.2.1/9CSB-STR: accessed 8 May 2012); cited Craig J. Bowen tree on Genealogy.com, which is no longer accessible.

25. Ibid.

26. Joseph Terry: Lived his later life with his great uncle, John Terry of Wrightstown (acknowledged in his will, Bucks County Wills, Book 5, p. 181, proved 10 Jul 1790); died 1795 (Byberry PA Monthly Meeting of Friends Records, was referred to as David’s son; cited in Croft, Carol Dawn, James Croft, his Antecedents and Descendants (Tacoma, Washington: C. D. Croft, 1983), p. 137, 138.

27. Eleanor Terry death: ‘Kitts Family Tree’, online at Trees at ancestry.com (www.trees.ancestry.com/tree/6408942/person/126402256ssrc), owner PatBuske; accessed 18 Apr 2012.

28. Eleanor Terry marriage (in 1798): Edmund West, compiler, Family Data Collection-Individual Records (a database of individual records created while studying human genetics and disease; search on database first and then on individual data), online at ancestry.com (accessed 4 Mar 2012).

29. Ann Terry death: Society of Friends, Byberry Monthly Meeting, Deaths 1736-1823, Byberry, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, FHL Film US/CAN 20410.

30. William Terry entry: ‘Kitts Family Tree’, online at Trees at ancestry.com (www.trees.ancestry.com/tree/6408942/person/126402256ssrc), owner PatBuske; accessed 18 Apr 2012.

31. Gladys M. Rolling  East Gwillimbury in the Nineteenth Century: a Centennial History of the Township of East Gwillimbury (Toronto, Ontario: Ryerson Press, 1967), p. 71; and Sharon Burial Index, no. 144 and gravestone transcription.

32. Ibid.; and Sharon Burial Index, no. 142 and gravestone transcription.

33. Ibid., p. 68; and Sharon Burial Index, no. 154 and gravestone transcription.

34. Jacob LePard: ‘Brown Family Tree’, online at Trees at ancestry.com (www.trees.ancestry.com/tree/8253078), owner Gary Brown; accessed 10 May 2014.

35. Ibid.; and Sharon Burial Index, no. 153 and gravestone transcription.

36. Gordon S. Wood  ‘Chapter 12. The War of 1812’, Empire of Liberty (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 659-700.

37. ‘The Children of Peace’ online at sharontemple.ca (http://www.sharontemple.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=15); accessed 15 Mar 2012.

38. See ‘History of the Sharon Temple’ online at sharontemple.ca (http://www.sharontemple.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=14); accessed 15 Mar 2012.

39. Sharon Burial Index, no. 146 and gravestone transcription.

Permanent link to this article: http://29deadpeople.com/wp/?page_id=274

Leave a Reply