John Morton, signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

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John Morton

Also Known As: "Signer of the Declaration of Independence"
Birthdate: (53)
Birthplace: Ridley Township, Calcon Hook, Chester, Pennsylvania
Death: April 1, 1777 (53)
Ridley, Delaware, Pennsylvania (tuberculosis)
Place of Burial: St. Paul's Burying Ground, Chester, Delaware, PA, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Morton and Maria Morton
Husband of Anne Morton
Father of Aaron Morton; Dr. John Morton; Maj. Sketchley Morton; Jacob Morton; Mary Justis and 5 others

Occupation: Farmer; surveyor; lawyer; judge, Signor of Declaration of Independence/Farmer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Morton, signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

John Morton (1725 – April 1, 1777) was a farmer, surveyor, and jurist from the Province of Pennsylvania. As a delegate to the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, he provided the swing vote that allowed Pennsylvania to vote in favor of the United States Declaration of Independence. Morton signed the Declaration and chaired the committee that wrote the Articles of Confederation.


  • Born: 1724
  • Birthplace: Ridley, Pennsylvania
  • Parents: John Morton and Maria Archer
  • Education: Informal (Judge)
  • Work: Elected to Provincial Assembly, 1756-1775; Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, 1765; President of the Provincial Assembly, 1775; Offices in Pennsylvania: Justice of the Peace, High Sheriff, Presiding Judge of the General Court and the Court of Common Pleas, Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; Elected to Continental Congress, 1774-77.
  • Died: April, 1777

from "Chester (And Its Vicinity,) Delaware County, In Pennsylvania". 2017. Google Books. Accessed March 28 2017. page 141

John Morton, the signer, married Ann Justis, of Chester County, and they had issue, as appears by his will duly registered at West Chester, Aug.26, 1778, three sons and five daughters;

  1. Aaron,
  2. Sketchley,
  3. John,
  4. Mary,
  5. Sarah,
  6. Lydia
  7. Ann, and
  8. Elizabeth.



John Morton was born in Ridley, PA in 1724. In his youth he was noted for his quick intelligence and his habit of hard work. His stepfather, a well educated surveyor from England, gave him a sound education in practical matters and in surveying. In 1756 Morton was elected to the Provincial Assembly, and was elected president of the Assembly in 1775. He attended the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. He filled numerous civil offices in Pennsylvania, including Justice of the Peace, High Sheriff, Presiding Judge of the General Court and the Court of Common Pleas. In 1774 he was appointed Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. That year he was elected to the Continental Congress where he was a member of several committees and chairman of the committee which reported the Articles of Confederation. He died soon after that report was presented to Congress, at the age of 53.

John was a Pennsylvania Representative

He arrived late when the Continental Congress was voting over independence. He was allowed to vote and did so in favor of Independence; his was the deciding vote.


Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

Birth: 1727..Declaration of Independence Signer. orn in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, his father died before he was born. When he was about seven years old, his mother remarried. John attended formal school only for about 3 months; most of his education he learned from his step-father, who taught him many subjects, including law and surveying. John Morton would grow up to become a farmer, a surveyor, lawyer, and judge. He married Ann Justis, and they would have five daughters and four sons. Morton began his political career in 1756 as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, serving in the Assembly for 17 years. He was one of four Pennsylvania delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. In 1774, he was elected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, and the following year, to the Second Continental Congress. Although most Pennsylvanians in his home area were Loyalists, Morton favored independence. Of the seven Pennsylvania delegates to vote for independence on July 2, 1776, two voted against it, two voted fo it, and two did not vote, leaving the decision to John Morton. His decision to vote for independence swung the decision of the colony to independence. As a result of his vote, friend, neighbors and even relatives turned against him. By early 1777, he became extremely ill, suspected to be tuberculosis. As he lay dying, he predicted that one day, people would realize that his voting for independence was "the most glorious service I have ever rendered my country." John Morton was the first of the 56 signers to die, passing away at his birthplace on April 1, 1777.

John Morton was born in 1725 in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania and died April 1, 1777 at the age of 51 of tuberculosis. He was the son of John Morton senior and Mary Archer. Mary Archer’s family is traced back to Bartle Eschellson, whose name was first found in the records of 1644. He may have immigrated to Pennsylvania earlier making him one of first settlers in this region. The Morton side of the family arrived shortly thereafter. His great, great grandfather Martti Marttinen, or as in Swedish style, know as Martin Martinsen was born in Rautalampi, Finland and arrived in Pennsylvania on the ship the Eagle in the 1650’s. Both sides of John Morton’s family immigrated from “Sweden and/or Finland”. He was the first of the fifty-six signers to die and cut short what was promising to be a much greater role in Pennsylvania and national politics.


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John Morton, signer of the "Declaration of Independence"'s Timeline

March 10, 1724
Calcon Hook, Chester, Pennsylvania
Age 25
Calcon Hook, Chester, Pa
Age 26
Ridley Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 26
Pennsylvania, United States
Age 28
Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Age 28
Sharon Hill, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States
June 17, 1754
Age 30
Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Age 34
Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 35