Fear not, Faithful Readers, I don't expect more than one or two of you to read all the way through this 6000+ word post. Even the genealogists in the group will skip the details of the Sources and Data sections. But they're there, not only for my own present thinking and future reference, but also for the curious Internet searcher who might find something helpful.
If you read through the beginning, just after the chart you will find a link that will take you directly to the more generally interesting Questions and Conclusions section. A brief summary of the specific genealogical conclusions is at the very end.
The Problem of Jonathan and Elnathan Davis
The wife of David Wood, Jr.—whose father I wrote about in The Problem of David Wood—was Mercia (or Mercy) Davis. One of the genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society looked at my list of surnames and sighed, “I would rather have Smiths in my line than Davises.” I have both Smiths and Davises; while Smiths aren’t easy, I quite understand his point.
As an example, and to introduce this problem, consider the following excerpt of a brief church history given in the Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church, Shiloh, New Jersey, 1737-1830 by Ernest K. Bee, Jr.
The family of the Davises settled higher up near Trenton who came thither directly from Long Island, but originally from Swanzey [Swansea, Massachusetts] and (no doubt) were some of the Company that came over in (1662) with the Rev Miles from J—tone in Glamorganshire [Wales] … the persons that ministered among them at first were Rev. Messieurs Jonathan Davis and Samuel Bowen…. This Jonathan Davis was born May 15th 1675 (his wifes name Elisabeth born May 1st 1675). Came in company with another brother or two from Long Island … and settled near Trenton abt. the year 1695 and preached their to his death which hapned abt. the year 1750, his brothers son with his family had been moved down to Cohansey abt the year 1732 and soon after 3 more brothers followed where they have multiplied. …
[The Cohansey church was formed in 1737.] Rev. Jonathan Davis, he was nephew to the forementioned Jonathan Davis of Trenton and took the care of the Church at their incorporation in 1737 and continued in the care thereof to his death in Feb. 2, 1769. … His wife was Esther Ayars, by whom he had children Jerman, Jonathan, Elnathan, Isaac, Edeth, Elijah & Naomi…. Mr. Davis died in the 60th year of his age, his successor was Rev. Jonathan Davis.
He was not of the Same family with his predecsor, but son of the Rev. David Davis that lives at Newark in Delware State where he was born July 7th, 1734: he was … ordained in the Church Nov. 13, 1768…. He marryed Margret Bond of Nottingham by whom he had Children Ann, Samuel, David, Ammi, Sarah, Richard and John….
Are you keeping track? That’s three men named Rev. Jonathan Davis who led this small church. The first (Jonathan Davis A) is credited with being the founder (and visiting preacher), the second (Jonathan Davis B)—his nephew—was the first “settled pastor,” and the third (Jonathan Davis C)—completely unrelated—the latter’s successor. Oh, and the last Rev. Jonathan Davis isn’t actually completely unrelated, if you look forward instead of back: I’m related to both of them. The chart below show five generations of the ancestors of my great-great—grandfather, R. J. Wood. Jonathan Davis B is in purple and Jonathan Davis C in green. Jonathan Davis A is not shown, but is the brother of Elnathan Davis, in red (twice, because he shows up in two separate lines). (Click image to enlarge.)
The problems begin with Elnathan.
(If you want to skip the Sources and the Data sections and go right to the Questions and Conclusions, click here.)
- Brig. Gen. William Church Davis, The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis (1773-1865) of Norway, NY, and His Wife, Elizabeth Hallock Davis (1784-1851) (Walton, NY: Press of the Reporter Co., 1927), pp. 9-20. Available online at Ancestry.com and HathiTrust.org, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005730242.
- Ancestry.com. The Church Records of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
- Frederick Lewis Weis, The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, 1628-1776 from the American Antiquarian Society website, http://www.americanantiquarian.org/proceedings/44539283.pdf.
- George Rogers Howell, The Early History of Southampton, L. I., New York, with Genealogies, second edition, revised, corrected, and enlarged. (Albany, New York: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1887).
- Jeannette Edwards Rattray, East Hampton History: Including Genealogies of Early Families (East Hampton, N.Y, 1953), pp. 262-263.
- O. E. Monnette, First Settlers of ye Plantations of Piscataway and Woodbridge: olde East New Jersey, 1664-1714, a period of fifty years (Los Angeles: The Leroy Carman Press, 1930).
- “The Founders of Hartford,” from the Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford website, copied 18 March 2018, http://foundersofhartford.org/founders/davy_fulke.htm.
- Linda Moffatt, compiler, “Fulke Davis of East Hampton and Jamaica, Long Island,” from Papers by Warren Skidmore on descendants of Reginald de Scudamore, eldest son of Ralph the Domesday tenant. Source: http://www.skidmorefamilyhistory.com/Reginald%20papers%20compilation.pdf, pp 84-85. Original source: East Hampton (Long Island) Town Records, Book A, pages 74-6.
- “Fulke (Ffulke, Foulk) Davis” at Long Island Surnames website, https://longislandsurnames.com/getperson.php?personID=I2520&tree=Mather.
- Francis Bazley Lee, Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New Jersey (New York & Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Compnay, 1907). Available online at Google Books, https://books.google.com/books/about/Genealogical_and_Personal_Memorial_of_Me.html?id=6tcMAAAAYAAJ.
- Gilbert Cope, Genealogy of the Sharpless Family Descended from John and Jane Sharples, Settlers Near Chester, Pennsylvania, 1682: Together with some account of The English Ancestry of the Family, including the results of researches by Henry Fishwick, F.H.S., and the late Joseph Lemuel Chester, LL.D.; and a full report of the bi-centennial reunion of 1882 (Philadelphia: For the family, under the auspices of the Bicentennial committee, 1887). Available online at Ancestry.com and the Internet Archive, https://archive.org/stream/genealogyofsharp00cope/genealogyofsharp00cope_djvu.txt.
- Ancestry.com. History and genealogy of Fenwick's Colony [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Shourds, Thomas.. History and genealogy of Fenwick's Colony. Bridgeton, N.J.: George F. Nixon, 1876.
- T. H. Breen, Imagining the Past: East Hampton Histories (University of Georgia Press, 1996), pp. 121-137. Available online at Google Books, https://books.google.com/books?id=2oyC98E09lMC.
- Helen A. Titus, Maidenhead: the Early Days. (Trenton, New Jersey: Lawrenceville Tercentenary Committee, 1964). Available online courtesy the Lawrence Historical Society, at http://www.thelhs.org/newsletters/maidenhead.pdf.
- Morgan Edwards, Eve B. Weeks, and Mary B. Warren, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists (Danielsville, Georgia: Heritage Papers, 1984).
- Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. (Original data: New Jersey State Archives. New Jersey, Published Archives Series, First Series. Trenton, New Jersey: John L Murphy Publishing Company).
- Ethel Stroupe, “Origins of the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, North Carolina: First Families of Jersey Settlement,” from Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas website, http://www.sonsofdewittcolony.org/mckstmerjersey. Downloaded 18 Mar 2018.
- Josephine C. Frost, editor, Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island, New York, 1656-1751. (Brooklyn, New York: Long Island Historical Society, 1914). (Available online at HathiTrust, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=yale.39002006199039;view=1up;seq=7).
- Ernest K. Bee Jr., Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church, Shiloh, New Jersey 1737-1830 (Plainfield, New Jersey: Seventh-Day Baptist Publishing House, 1976).
- Various Internet sites of more or less credibility, rife with speculation, but useful for indicating directions of research.
- Wikipedia contributors, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia: “Lawrenceville, New Jersey,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrenceville,_New_Jersey.
- Stuart Hotchkiss, “Witches of Long Island,” from Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page website, created in 1997 by Nancy E. Lutz, hosted by Steve Morse, http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/LI/WitchesofLongIsland.html.
The Data, Part 1—from the New Jersey Side
From Genealogy of the Sharpless Family
About the year 1662, three brothers, John, Jonathan and William Davis, came to New England in the company of Welsh Baptists under the leadership of the Rev. John Miles. They named the place of their settlement Swansea from that of their home in Wales. About the year 1687 a number of families ... removed to South Jersey, and settled at Bowentown, Barretts Run and Shiloh. Some of the Davis family removed to Long Island, whence Jonathan and EInathan Davis, supposed to be sons of one of the above three brothers, came to Trenton, and EInathan became the Surveyor General of New Jersey. …
Jonathan Davis of Long Island, born May 15, 1675, married a Bowen of the Rev. John Miles' company, and about the year 1700 settled at Trenton with his brother EInathan Davis, the Surveyor General. He frequently visited his wife's relatives at Bowentown, and being a Seventh-day Baptist gained numerous converts in that vicinity. ... At length, on the 27th of March, 1737, the Seventh-day Baptist Church of Shiloh was organized.... To Jonathan Davis, senior, is ascribed the honor of being the founder of the church. He died in 1750, leaving no children. [pp. 207-208]
From Materials Towards a History of the Baptists
The first minister of the Sabbatarian order, who preached in this neighbourhood and in that of Trentown, was Rev. Jonathan Davis, uncle to the Jonathan Davis who was the first minister for the church of Shiloh, and the 120 families which belong to it, may consider him as their founder and father. He died at Trentown about the year 1750, in the 75th year of his age.
His wife was Elizabeth Bowen; but no issue. He was very tall and fat, which made his familiars banter him under the name of the ”great high priest.”
He, and his brother Elnathan Davis, are said to have settles at Trentown near the beginning of this century; and to have emigrated thither directly from Long-island, but originally from Wales: if so, he might be the son of one of the three Davises who came to Swanzey in 1662, and who emigrated thither from Glamorganshire, in the company of Rev. John Miles: he could not be one of the emigrants; for he was born May 15, 1675.
When he embraced the sentiments of the Sabbatarians; and when and where he was ordained, are matters I could not learn either from the family or from records…. [p. 137]
From Origins of the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, North Carolina
In 1697 Thomas Revell sold 1,050 acres (in the center of the township) to Johannes Opdyke, a Penny Town (Pennington) area soon settled by inter-related Presbyterian families from Newton (Elmhurst), Queens, Long Island. In January 1675/7 the will of Ralph Hunt, Sr. was proved at Newton. In 1698 his sons, Ralph, Jr., Samuel, daughter Ann and husband Theophilus Phillips, and daughter-in-law Johanna (widow of John Hunt) had deeds in Maidenhead (Lawrence), N.J., where they joined the Presbyterian Church….
That same year, Jonathan, Samuel and Elnathan Davis were members of Burlington's Presbyterian Church. [On January 21, 1698/9, a deed from Jonathan Davis "husband man" was transferred to his brother Samuel Davis "weave', both of Maidenhead, 20 acres at the head of his preceding 100 acres north of town, adj. on the west by Elnathan Davis. New Jersey Records, Liber B, H:656]….
Hannah Davis (b. c1715) who named a son Eldad in 1738, was probably daughter of Eldad Davis. These Davis - Reeds were Baptists and perhaps related to the Jonathan Davis who in 1708 came to Burlington's Court seeking to be qualified as a Baptist preacher according to the Act of Toleration, asking permission to preach in a house, which was how the Hopewell Baptists met at this time.
From The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies
JONATHAN DAVIS, b. Swansea, Mass., 15 May 1675; preached at Trenton, N.J., 1737-1750; Bapt.; d. Trenton, N.J., 1750, a. 75, s.p.
JONATHAN DAVIS, b. 1710, son of Elnathan Davis; sett. Cohansey (Cumb.) N.J., Chh. at Shiloh, 27 Mar. 1737-1769; 7th Day Bapt.; d. Shiloh, Cohansey, N.J., 2 Feb. 1769, a. 59.
JONATHAN DAVIS, b. Newark, Del., 7 July 1734, son of Rev. David and Rachel (Thomas) Davis; Ord. Cohansey, N.J., Chh. at Shiloh (Cumb.) N.J., 12 Nov. 1768-1785; 7th Day Bapt.; d. Shiloh, N.J., 23 July 1785 [p. 205]
From Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church
The family of the Davises settled higher up near Trenton who came thither directly from Long Island, but originally from Swanzey [Swansea, Massachusetts] and (no doubt) were some of the Company that came over in (1662) with the Rev Miles from J—tone in Glamorganshire [Wales] … the persons that ministered among them at first were Rev. Messieurs Jonathan Davis and Samuel Bowen…. This Jonathan Davis was born May 15th 1675 (his wifes name Elisabeth born May 1st 1675). Came in company with another brother or two from Long Island … and settled near Trenton abt. the year 1695 …. [p. 63]
Side note: Part of the above quotation, from “This Jonathan Davis…” to the end, was added, in pencil, to the original manuscript. The editor of this source says the penciled annotations are the work of an unnamed later researcher. Based on extreme similarities between some of these notes and the words of Materials Towards a History of the Baptists, I propose that this unknown researcher was none other than Morgan Edwards himself.
From History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland, New Jersey
Elnathan Davis was born at Shiloh in the year 1785, and was the son of Rev. Jonathan Davis, one of the original constituents and first pastor of the Seventh-Day Baptist Church at that place, and was a grandson of Elnathan Davis, who settled at Trenton about the close of the seventeenth century. The family came from Wales to Massachusetts in 1662, in company with Bowen, Bacon, Barratt, and others, some of whose descendants settled in this county.
From New Jersey Abstract of Wills
The will of Jonathan Davis “of Trenton, Hunterdon Co, yeoman” [i.e. farmer], made March 20, 1745 and proved April 17, 1746, names, “Wife Elizabeth. Five sons of brother, Elnathan Davis, viz: Elnathan, Jonathan, Nathan, Samuel and John.” [v30 p135]
From History and Genealogy of Fenwick's Colony
[Elnathan Davis, the great surveyor of West Jersey] was the grandson of Jonathan, the eminent divine, who was born on Long Island, whose father, together with two or three other brothers, had emigrated from Wales and settled in the New England States as early as 1664. However, some of them soon afterward located on Long Island, whence Jonathan and his brother Elnathan Davis came to New Jersey in 1700, and settled at Trenton. Elnathan’s occupation was that of a land surveyor. He was soon appointed surveyor-general of the State of New Jersey. Jonathan Davis, his brother, was a conspicuous Seventh-Day Baptist minister. His wife was Elizabeth Bowen. Her relatives residing in Cohansey precinct, he made frequent visits in that section of country. It has been stated he preached occasionally in the Cohansey Church, sometimes among the Seventh-Day Baptists that lived near the Cohansey Corners, in one of their private houses. Soon after the Church at Shiloh was organized, Jonathan Davis, Jr., was chosen their first pastor, and Elnathan Davis, the eminent surveyor of the lower counties of West Jersey, was the son of Jonathan Davis, 2d, the first pastor of Shiloh Church. … His [Elnathan’s] physical strength and great endurance excelled most men, with his great mathematical genius, which he inherited from his ancestors. He in early life was noted … as being the most competent and accurate land surveyor at that period of time. … Most of his sons were also practical surveyors. [pp. 528-529]
The Data, Part 2—from the Long Island Side
From The Founders of Hartford
Fulke Davy sold his house and lot to Nathaniel Ward before Jan., 1639-40, and probably removed from Hartford; he witnessed a grant from Jas. Fasaett to Lion Gardner, of Isle of Wight March 10, 1639-40; signed the petition from Jamaica, Middleborough, and Hempated, L. I., to be taken under Conn. government.
From The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis
Davis is a Welsh name, but before the 1600’s had been distributed throughout the British Isles; without further evidence, we can’t be certain whether someone of that name came from Wales or some other part of that land.
Foulk Davis was the founder of the Long Island Davis family.
Lion Gardiner, from the Saybrook settlement in Connecticut, colonized Gardiner’s Island (now in New York) and later founded East Hampton, Long Island.
Foulk Davis originally settled in Southampton, then moved to East Hampton, and later to Brookhaven and then Jamaica, where he died. (That’s Jamaica on Long Island, not the one in the Caribbean.)
Foulk Davis was born in Wales or England, probably about 1615, and died in Jamaica, Long Island, N.Y., about 1687. He married, 1st (name unknown), probably about 1639, and 2nd, Mary Dayton, a widow, about 1660. His known children, all by his first marriage, were Benjamin, Joseph, Samuel, Jonathan, Sarah, and John.
Foulk’s son Samuel was born, probably after 1642, at Southampton, and died 1692 at Jamaica. He married Mary (surname unknown), who survived him.
From The Early History of Southampton
The next colony was one that founded and settled the sister town of East Hampton in 1859. … Of the [list of residents of East Hampton] the following were known to have been previously residents of Southampton: John Hand, Thomas Tamage, …. Fulke Davis, Nathaniel Bishop …and Jeremiah Meacham. … Considerable numbers also removed from time to time to New Jersey…. [p. 79]
Davis, Fulk, has a grant of land Oct. 9, 1642. In 1655 he was a resident of East Hampton and in 1660 of Jamaica. He m. in E. H. (2d w. prob.) Mary, who m. 1, James Haines, 2d, Ralph Dayton, and 3d, Fulk Davis, and had ch. John, Samuel of North Sea, 1657, of Jamaica, 1660, and Benjamin, and perhaps others. [p. 424]
From First Settlers of ye Plantations of Piscataway…
Fulke Davis and Samuel Davis are listed as freeholders in the town of Jamaica, Long Island, in 1660. [p. 108]
From Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island
The Data, Part 3—the Connection
From the Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New Jersey
The summer of 1690 may be fixed as the time when the first settlement of Maidenhead occurred. … The permanent settler was the third of those whose surveys were dated August 20, 1690. This was Mary Davis, accompanied by her three sons —Jonathan, Elnathan and Samuel. [pp. 70-71]
From Maidenhead: the Early Days
Mary Davis also bought 300 acres here about 1690. These lands lay east of what later became the village of Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville)….
Maidenhead was originally part of Burlington County, then Hunterdon County, finally Mercer County. It is near Trenton.
From The Church Records of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville
The earliest evidence that there were Christian people in Maidenhead uniting together for the maintenance of religious worship is found in the record of a deed dated March 18, 1698-9: By this deed, “the West Jersey Society by their agents … convey to Ralph Hunt, Jno Bainbridge … Jonathan Davis … Samuel Davis, Elnathan Davis, Enoch Andris … and Edward Hunt, all of Maidenhead, Burlington Co. for one hundred acres there, of the Society’s 15,000 acre tract above the Falls of Delaware, to be used for a meeting house, burying ground, and schoolhouse.”
From Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island
The Questions and Conclusions
It is established that Jonathan and Elnathan Davis came to the Trenton, New Jersey area from Long Island around the very end of the 17th century. Jonathan is fairly well documented, thanks to his renown as a preacher. Elnathan is more of a mystery, however, as are the origins of both brothers.
Who was Elnathan Davis? When was he born, when did he die, who was his wife? Who—besides my sixth great grandfathers Jonathan and Samuel—were his children? We have the names of at least five of his sons, thanks to the fact that his brother Jonathan died childless, and left his estate to his nephews. But for Elnathan himself I have found no will, no information on his birth or death, nothing about whether or not he stayed in the Trenton area or moved elsewhere. According to History and genealogy of Fenwick's Colony, he was the “Surveyor General of New Jersey”—just what that meant in those early days, I don’t know, but that he was a respected surveyor I find believable, as he passed his surveying skills on to at least one grandchild and several great-grandchildren.
The suggestion is widespread that the name of Elnathan’s wife was Hannah Housely, but of proof, or even a credible source, I’ve seen nothing. Perhaps a visit to the New Jersey archives will reveal something, or eventually something more definitive will become available in a library or online. But for now, his wife—and any other children besides the five sons named in his brother’s will—remain a mystery, as will the circumstances of his birth and death.
I’ve had more success with discovering the previous history of Jonathan and Elnathan Davis.
An early resident of Long Island, by the improbable name of Fulke Davis (or Foulk, Ffulke, Fulk, Ffulk, and other variant spellings), has been suggested as the ancestor of Jonathan and Elnathan. The name is Welsh, but Davises were spread throughout the British Isles by that time, so it can’t be ruled out that he or his ancestors were actually from England.
If the name is odd, apparently his character was worse, judging from the stories about him that can be found online. Most modern commentary seems to treat his sins lightly, but reading transcriptions of the original court records for the small Long Island settlements where he resided indicates that Fulke Davis was, shall we say, the James Levine of his day, but without the great music. I’ve posted the sources, but not excerpts, to avoid giving this post an X rating.
Wading through those court records was difficult, and not solely because of the old language and casual attitude toward spelling. I couldn’t read much without wanting to take a long shower.
These were Puritan settlements, trying to be a just and moral society:
In civil affairs the colonists governed themselves by virtue of “town meetings,” at which they elected their officers and discussed matters of public interest; but their criminal administration was a virtual theocracy, being “an Absstract of the Lawes of Judgmt as given Moses to the Commonwealth of Israel, soe farre forth as they bee of Morall that is of perpetuall and vuniursal Equity. Among all Nations, Especially such where the Church and Common Wealth are commplanted together in holy couenant and fellow shippe with God in Jesus Christ, being Joyntly and vnanimously Consented vnto as Ffundamentall by ye Inhabitants of this Collony of South Hampton.” (The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis…, p. 12)
Instead, they reveal the dangers of fallen humans setting themselves up as a theocracy. Tale-bearing, backbiting, and taking one another to court were apparently rampant. Accusations of witchcraft, illicit sexual behavior, and other real or imagined crimes could easily land you in court—good for future genealogists but bad for you and your relationships with your neighbors. Fulke’s wife (probably his second, and not our ancestor) was a primary witness in one famous witchcraft trial, which revealed her to be a rather unpleasant person herself.
To be fair to our forebears, we can’t claim to be any better. A glimpse of our own society seen through the lens of court documents would be far worse, and in the 21st century we have shown ourselves just as ready as in the 17th to gossip and accuse and participate in witch hunts.
But it was painful reading, and I’m glad to leave behind speculation about the character of Fulke Davis, his family, and his neighbors, and move on to genealogical gleanings.
One of the founders of the Hartford, Connecticut, was named Fulke Davy. Not much seems to be known about him, but the following suggests that he is one and the same with the Fulke Davis who first appeared in Southampton, Long Island, around 1642. Note that this contradicts the widespread belief (in my sources and many others I did not include) that the forebears of Jonathan and Elnathan Davis came to Long Island from Swansea, Massachusetts, where they had settled in the 1660’s—and in particular that Jonathan was born in Swansea. Nonetheless it is very suggestive.
Fulke Davy sold his house and lot to Nathaniel Ward before Jan., 1639-40, and probably removed from Hartford; he witnessed a grant from Jas. Fasaett to Lion Gardner, of Isle of Wight [later Gardiner’s Island], March 10, 1639-40; signed the petition from Jamaica, Middleborough, and Hempated [Hempstead], L. I., to be taken under Conn. government.
Fulke later moved to East Hampton, possibly living for a while on Gardiner’s Island. From there he removed to Brookhaven, and finally to Jamaica (now part of Queens), where he died.
Fulke Davis was possibly born in Wales or England about 1615, and died in Jamaica, Long Island, about 1687. He married, first, a woman whose name is unknown, probably about 1639, and second, Mary Dayton, a widow, about 1660. Mary Dayton, whose maiden name is unknown, had first married James Haines, then Ralph Dayton, before marrying Fulke Davis. Fulke’s known children, all by his first marriage, were Benjamin, Joseph, Samuel, Jonathan, Sarah, and John. It is likely there were several more.
An important key to this puzzle comes from evidence that, around 1700, a Mary Davis was one of the first settlers of Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville), New Jersey, which is near Trenton. She came with three sons: Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel. Even though a brother Samuel was never mentioned by name in all the references I’ve found to the Jonathan and Elnathan Davis that clearly belong to my ancestral lines, it’s clear that these are the same people.
Here’s the linchpin, from Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island (emphasis mine):
From this we see that the Mary Davis who moved to Maidenhead (then part of Burlington County), with sons Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel, came from Jamaica, Long Island, and was the widow of Samuel Davis. We can also assign possible birth years for Samuel (about 1777) and Elnathan (about 1779), based on Jonathan's birth year of 1775, the order in which Mary names her sons, and the fact that elsewhere she refers to Jonathan as her eldest son.
But was this Samuel Davis the son of Fulke Davis? Here again from the Jamaica town records:
This confirms that Fulke had a son named Samuel, and The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis claims his son Samuel’s wife was named Mary. But are these the same people? Once again from the Jamaican town records (emphasis mine):
It’s confusing, but the similarity of this description of the land owned by Samuel, the son of Fulke, with the land being sold by Mary, the widow of Samuel, convinces me that they are one and the same. Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel, then, are Fulke’s grandsons.
If so, there are still some puzzling questions. First, the question of origin: From Wales or England to Swansea, Massachusetts, and thence to Long Island in the early 1660’s, or from an unknown immigration point to Hartford, Connecticut before landing in Long Island in the early 1640’s?
Many who claim a Swansea, Massachusetts origin for Jonathan Davis say that he was a Baptist, possibly of the Seventh Day variety, from the start. Fulke was a Puritan, and a rogue. If he is the progenitor, how did Jonathan and Elnathan rise to become so successful, and to found a dynasty of Seventh Day Baptists? The first church established in Maidenhead was most likely Puritan in nature, but it soon became Presbyterian, and Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel were members. By 1708 Jonathan had become a Baptist preacher, and at some point after that converted to the Sabbatarian branch.
The Conclusions, in Summary
(My direct ancestors are shown in blue.)
Fulke Davis was possibly born in Wales or England about 1615. He may have been the Fulk Davy who was one of the founders of Hartford and moved soon thereafter to Long Island, although there is much tradition that the Long Island Davises came from Swansea, Massachusetts. There is a substantial tradition (partly backed by court records) that Fulke was not a pleasant person. He appears on Long Island first at Southampton, then in East Hampton, possibly living for a while on Gardiner’s Island. From there he removed to Brookhaven, and finally to Jamaica (now part of Queens), where he died in about 1687. He married, first, an unknown wife, probably about 1639, and second, Mary Dayton, a widow, about 1660. Mary Dayton, whose maiden name is unknown, had first married James Haines, then Ralph Dayton, before marrying Fulke Davis. Fulke’s known children were all by his first marriage. It is likely there were more.
- Benjamin Davis was born in 1640. He died on December 20, 1692 at the age of 52 in Southampton, Long Island.
- Joseph Davis was born about 1645 in Southampton, Long Island. He died in 1691 at the age of 46 in Brookhaven, Long Island.
- Samuel Davis (see below)
- Jonathan Davis died in 1674 in Jamaica, Long Island.
- Sarah Davis
- John Davis
Samuel Davis (Fulke-1) was born about 1643 in Southampton, Long Island, and died in 1692, at the age of 49, in Jamaica, Long Island. He married Mary (surname unknown). After his death, his widow moved to New Jersey with their known sons to become some of the earliest settlers of Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville), near Trenton.
- Rev. Jonathan Davis (see below)
- Elnathan Davis (see below)
- Samuel Davis, born perhaps about 1677, lived in Jamaica, Long Island, and about 1690 moved to Maidenhead, New Jersey with his mother and two brothers.
The Rev. Jonathan Davis (Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born on May 15, 1675. He lived at Jamaica, Long Island, but about 1690, after his father died, he moved with his mother and two brothers to Maidenhead, New Jersey (near Trenton). He died between March 20, 1745 and April 17, 1746 at the age of 69 in Trenton, New Jersey. He was most likely a Puritan at first, then became a Presbyterian, and finally a Baptist preacher. Somewhere along the line he became convinced of the Sabbatarian way, and is considered the founder of the Seventh Day Baptist Church at Cohansey (Shiloh), New Jersey, though he was never officially their pastor. Jonathan was tall and fat, and thus was sometimes referred to as "the great high priest." He married Elizabeth Bowen, who was born on May 1, 1675, but they had no children, and he willed his property to his brother Elnathan's sons.
Elnathan Davis (Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born perhaps around 1677. He lived at Jamaica, Long Island, but about 1690, after his father died, he moved with his mother and two brothers to Maidenhead, New Jersey (near Trenton). He was a surveyor, and apparently became the Surveyor General of New Jersey. The name of his wife is unknown, although it has been suggested that she was Hannah Housely. They had at least five children; these are the five sons named in the will of his brother, Jonathan.
- Elnathan Davis
- Rev. Jonathan Davis (see below)
- Nathan Davis
- Samuel Davis (see below)
- John Davis
The Rev. Jonathan Davis (Elnathan-3, Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born about 1709. About 1731, in Cohansey, Salem County, New Jersey, he married Esther Ayars, the daughter of Isaac and Hannah (Barrett) Ayars. She was born about 1711 in Cohansey, and died after July 5 in Shiloh, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Jonathan was the first settled pastor of the Cohansey (Shiloh) Seventh Day Baptist Church, of which his grandfather Jonathan is considered the founder. He died on February 2, 1769.
Samuel Davis (Elnathan-3, Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born April 3, 1713. On October 13, 1735, in Cohansey, Salem County, New Jersey, he married Anna Ayars, daughter of Isaac and Hannah (Barrett) Ayars and sister of Esther Ayars, above. She was born November 9, 1713, in Cohansey, and died September 20, 1783 in Shiloh, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Samuel died between August 30, 1785 and October 31, 1785, in Stow Creek Township, Cumberland County, New Jersey.