Was William Weaver The Father or Not?

Dateline: Chester County, Philadelphia, 1689: What did the court conclude about widow Anne Richards’ two children who were born  out of wedlock?

3rd day, 1st month, 1688/9 (March 1, 1689)

Anne Richards, taking the name Weaver, is indicted for having children out of marriage.

Modernized transcription begins:

We [the Grand Inquest] likewise present Anne Weaver of Aston in this county of Chester for being with child and having no husband.

Transcription ends.

3rd day, 4th month, 1689 (June 3, 1689)

Anne Weaver claims William Weaver of Boston is the father. She even took his last name. Her maiden name evidently was Richards, her mother and two brothers getting involved (or maybe one of the men was her father, though I believe the court would say so).

Modernized transcription begins:

Anne Weaver of Aston, widow, being on the 29th day of the 2nd month [April 29] convicted before John Simcock and John Bristow, justices sitting at Chester, for having two bastard children; she therefore confessed that fact and that William Weaver of Boston in New England was the true father of them; upon which by her sureties Joseph Richards and Nathaniel Richards, she was bound over to the court and accordingly made her appearance and was indicted.

The Grand Inquest finds the bill

She being attested in open court declared as before and that the above [?] William Weaver was the true father of her two children.

Her midwife and mother Joan Richards being attested declares that at the time of her labor she confessed the same to her.

Whereupon judgment is granted that she receive ten stripes upon her bare back well laid on and half the charge of her own;

And Wm Weaver’s trial

William Weaver of Boston in New England upon the attestation of Anne Weaver that he was the true father of her two bastard children was for the same apprehended and brought before John Bristow; whereupon examination, he denied the fact and was by his sureties Albertus Hendrickson and John Child bound over to this court and accordingly made his appearance and was indicted.

The Grand Inquest finds the bill

Whereupon he is called to the bar and pleads not guilty and puts himself upon the mercy of the King and Governor [Penn]

Whereupon judgment is awarded that he should give security that the children should be brought up till they can shift for themselves and to pay 20 shillings for a fine to the Governor.

Transcription ends.

So it looks like William Weaver denied he was the father, even though she had two children. The court didn’t believe him and ordered him to pay some kind of child support until the children can “shift” or take care of themselves. The record is silent on the court’s requiring him to marry her. But I think it would say it if the court made him marry her. Maybe by now she didn’t want marriage with him, after he denied his two innocent children.

But a court record says on the 14-16th days of the first month 1693/4 that William Weaver transferred some land:

“William Weaver acknowledged a deed in open court unto Humphrey Scarlett for one hundred and twenty-five acres of land lying in Chester County, bearing date the last day of the twelfth month, 1692” (February 28, 1692).

Maybe this indicates he was in the area and taking responsibility. Or not.


The sweet words of a man can be deceptive. I’ve heard it said, “Sin makes you stupid.” You lose sound judgment.

Having children in marriage is best in society.

But I still believe in redemption if you (or I) act badly. I believe all the involved parties experienced it as the years went on. I trust the children lived down the scandal and “shifted” quite well for themselves, with God’s grace and blessing.

Saving grace is needed for all of us.

Record of the Courts of Chester County, Pennsylvania, begun the 13th day of September, 1681, ending the 10th day of March 1696-7, pp. 148; 158; 281.

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