The Clayton Family

I. The Clayton immigrants

Cheshire County

Cheshire County is east of Wales, south of Liverpool and Manchester. It contains the most concentrated dairying industry in England. The county seat, Chester, is on the boundary between England and Wales. Chester Castle contains the genealogical records of the inhabitants of the County.

A few miles east of Chester is Delamere Forest. Formerly a hunting preserve, it is now a significant national forest. Further east one finds Middlewich, the 17th century home of blacksmith James Clayton and his family. Some 12 miles north of Middlewich is Mobberley, family seat of the Mobley family, who intermarried with the Claytons in the 19th century in Georgia.

Yet farther north is Stockport, where lived the Warren clan. Several Warrens were sheriffs of Cheshire, and another, Henry Warren, the rector of Stockport, had a wife named Catherine Clayton. (Some years later a Warren in Kent County, Delaware was a maternal ancestor of James Clayton, blacksmith, of Kent and N.C.)

The 1682 Fleet of William Penn

William Penn, a very rich young Quaker, owed 16,000 pds by King Charles II, received in payment the colony of Pennsylvania. Having no coastline Penn also acquired from the Duke of York the area of Delaware, a recent conquest from the Dutch.

In 1682 Penn sailed for America with a large fleet of ships carrying immigrants. Perhaps most of these people were Quakers, but many were not. One of the many ships that made up "Penn's Fleet" was the Submission, out of Liverpool and Bristol. The Submission arrived at Choptank on the Maryland Eastern Shore in November 1682. The ship's log lists her passengers, among them James and Jane Clayton and their six children.
They were from Middlewich, in the County of Cheshire.

The list of passengers of the Submission includes at least one family found on the rolls of the Cheshire Monthly Meeting--the Blackshaws. The birth of Abraham Blackshaw was recorded in 1672, and the log of the Submission records his death at sea on the trip to America.

Many or most of the passengers of the Submission disembarked at Choptank and traveled overland to Bucks County, Pa., on the west side of the Delaware River a few miles above Philadelphia. It may be assumed that James Clayton and his family were in this number. However very little information on the Clayton's residence in Buck County has as yet been found. There are Claytons in Bucks County over a period of time, but it is difficult to relate them to the Delaware Claytons, descendants of James Clayton's three sons.

James Clayton II of Kent Co

On the east side of the Chesapeake Bay is a peninsular containing the state of Delaware in its entirety and also portions of Maryland and Virginia. The northern half of this peninsular is made up of Delaware on the east and the eastern shore of Maryland on the west. The Choptank river has its mouth in Chesapeake Bay, coming down from the northeast. Its sources lie in Delaware.

The Claytons had landed at Choptank. This settlement is located on the Choptank River about half way up the river and fairly close to Kent County Delaware where the river arises. Each of the three Clayton sons as he reached his majority appeared in the records of Kent County Delaware . First to arrive was James Clayton (II), the eldest of the three brothers.

In 1687, five years after he had arrived in America as a boy of 16, James Clayton II, a blacksmith like his father, had the resources to buy two pieces of property in Kent Co., Del: 100 acres on the north side of the Dover River, which he called "Clayton's Hall" and 200 acres on Murther Creek (later called Murderkill Creek). At some time within the next four years he married Mary Bedwell Webb. Very likely Mary was somewhat older than James because in 1678 she had married Isaac Webb in Virginia. She in fact had a son named Robert Webb.

In 1695 James and Mary Clayton received property from her brother, Thomas Bedwell, a tract on the other side of the Dover River. James II died before March 13, 1697, leaving two young sons, James and John. His widow later married Michael O'Donahoe and lived for another twenty years.

James Clayton II had two brothers, John and Joshua (and possibly a third, Joseph, who may have been born ca 1682.) James Clayton II is said to have had two sons: John and James. John was the forbear of the illustrious Delaware Claytons who gave the state its first governor and a U.S.Secretary of State. Their family history has been extensively described by other writers.

Two Younger Brothers

John Clayton, born in 1671 in Cheshire Co., England, was in Kent County as early as 1690 when his earmark was recorded. He served as apprentice blacksmith to his older brother, and in 1705, several years after the death of James, he received 100 acres of the Murther Creek property in accordance with the terms of the apprenticeship. In 1693 he was assessed six pence, the usual rate for single young men without real property. However he is listed as a grand juror that year and for most of the time until 1705 when our grand juror records end. He acquired land in Kent County in 1695.

In 1698 the youngest of the three brothers, Joshua, became 21, and the two boys bought Shoemaker's Hall (formerly the property of Isaac Webb, the first husband of Mary Bedwell Webb Clayton) on Walker Branch of the Dover River. About the same time John married Mary, the daughter of Maurice Smith. They had two children, Mary and Joshua. His wife soon died and John married another Mary, daughter of William Willson, the sheriff of Kent County. When Wilson died, John, as his administrator was charged with recording all the levy lists which the sheriff had prepared. John Clayton, who had been a blacksmith apprentice for his brother, now took his brother in law, William Willson, Jr. as his apprentice for 5 years, part of the payment being a 2 year old mare.

In 1703 John Clayton was appointed constable of Little Creek Hundred in Kent Co., but we read of his arrest for disorderly conduct when Robt Porter was appointed constable in his place. Soon the affair was smoothed over. John apparently had six children by his second wife: 1. Susanna (Mrs. Abraham Vanhoy) 2. Hannah (Mrs. John Levick, then Mrs. Henry Stevens) 3. Elizabeth (Mrs. Mark Manlove, Jr.) 4. Daniel 5. Jonathan 6. John
John died before 1718, his estate being administered by wife Mary, who remarried Joseph Buckmaster. (Daniel was a prominent name in the Clayton family of Person Co., N.C., and it is very possible that John's descendants were represented there.)

Joshua Clayton

Joshua, born in 1677, at 21 bought Shoemakers Hall in Kent on the south side of Walker's Branch of the Dover River, with his brother, John. His first wife was Mary, widow of Henry Bedwell (Henry of course was the brother of Mary Bedwell Webb Clayton). Joshua was called a Quaker preacher and lived into his eighties. In 1747 he married again--to Sarah Cummins, a widow of Sussex Co. This marriage took place at the Little Creek Quaker Meeting. His only known descendants were two daughters, Sarah and Lydia, both of whom married Cowgills (another Quaker family).

James Clayton III and IV

Not much is known about James III in Delaware. We do know that he married a daughter of John Newell, a Kent County planter and had a son named James. He disposed of his Delaware property in 1738 and was thought to have left the state although his family remained with the Newells.

The Clayton family was associated in several court records in Delaware with the Brooks . In 1745 John Brooks of N.C. conveyed his headrights to James Clayton of Currituck Co, part of which later became a part of Hyde Co.

James may have left Delaware in company with John Webb, who signed as witness to the deed liquidating James' property (May 11, 1738). On the same date Webb sold property himself. However John Webb's name continues to appear in Kent County deeds, and another John Webb, perhaps a son or newphew, appeared in Edgecombe County in the 1740's. These Webbs were most likely cousins of James Clayton.

Although James Clayton III does not appear in Delaware after 1738, two other James Claytons begin to appear on the tax records about that time; they are distinguished in the records by their occupations. James Clayton, blacksmith, was his son. James Clayton, miller, was his nephew, son of John. (James Clayton, miller, was the father of Dr. Joshua Clayton, first governor of Delaware.)

James Clayton IV (blacksmith) is the man whose description most closely links the Delaware and the North Carolina Clayton families. It appears that he remained in Delaware when his father departed, and that he was closely identified with his mother's family. His grandfather, John Newell, in his 1739 will, left property to grandson James Clayton. This James Clayton's mother had three brothers, William, John, and Thomas Newell. (These are the names of the sons of James Clayton, blacksmith, who died in Craven Co., N.C. in 1783.)

In 1756 James Clayton IV sold property to John Newell, his uncle. In 1759 James Clayton, blacksmith, son of James Clayton of Hyde County, N.C. acquired property on Lake Matamuskeet from his father, and in 1761 he inherited his father's remaining property in Hyde County, NC.

Related Delaware Families

Several Kent County families provided the wives of the Clayton men, and thus became (maternal) ancestors: The Bedwells The Newells The Halls and Thompsons

The History of the southern branch of the Delaware Claytons continues with

The Southern Branch

For corrections, comment, or inquiry write to

Larry Clayton
160 Jocassee Lk Rd
Salem, SC 29676


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