John "The Immigrant" Grubb

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John "The Immigrant" Grubb

Birthdate: (55)
Birthplace: Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, England
Death: April 4, 1708 (55)
Marcus Hook, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Place of Burial: Marcus Hook, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Grubb, Jr. and Wilmot Grubb
Husband of Frances Grubb
Father of Emanuel Grubb; John Grubb, Jr.; Charity Beeson; Henry Grubb; Phebe Buffington and 6 others
Brother of Peter Grubb; Anthony Grubb; Robert Grubb, I; Henry Grubb, III; Robert Grubb, II and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John "The Immigrant" Grubb

ADDITIONAL CURATOR'S NOTE: There are several unproven genealogies that commonly show Frances Vane as the wife of a John Grubb. Please don't link Frances Vane as wife of this John Grubb.

Please don't list Frances Vane as the mother of Charity Grubb. Both John Grubb's wife and Charity's mother should be listed as "Frances". Yes there was a Frances Vane just not a Frances nee Vane Grubb. Just leave the maiden name blank! An unknown Frances married (1) John Grubb and (2) his friend Richard Buffington.

I have had to lock the profile because of frequent incorrect merges with the Vane/Vivian families. If anyone has questions or needs more information, send me a message. Maria Edmonds-Zediker, Curator

It would seem that there are two stories about John Grubb, The Immigrant, first Grubb relocated to America. My first reference below is the one that claims royal connections. My second one claims that while the Grubbs were a family of means, they were not royals. I tend to believe the second story. I will leave the reference to the "royal" Grubb line here in case anyone wants to read it. However, I will use the documentation in my second reference to complete my tree.

Ref#1 - -- This reference contains many errors. John Grubb

Born: Apr 20, 1652, Truro, Cornwall, England Marriage: Frances Vane about 1678 Died: Abt 1706, Marcus Hook, Chester, Pennsylvania about age 54

General Notes: John Grubb with William Penn, Richard Buffington, and others, 3 Mar 1676, signed the Plan of Government for the Province of West Jersey and came to America in 1677 where he became a prominent pioneer as a legislator, magistrate, farmer, and leather manufacturer. He is buried in St. Martin Churchyard in Marcus Hook, PA. Frances Vane Grubb then married her husband's friend, Richard Buffington.

The Grubb family was first represented in John Grubb. There is still in existence a letter written to his uncle by King Charles I, in Nov. 1642, with the Royal Seal appended, asking for a loan "To aid the King in defending the Realm and the Church against his enemies." This letter was addressed to "Our truly and well-beloved John Grubb, Esq." Lord John Grubb's family are interred in the old manor churchyard on his estate in England, and on it were many Memorial Tablets bearing epitaphs in Latin and having the family Arms and Crest. This family is descended from people who distinguished themselves as early as the tenth century.

John Grubb, the first of the family on these shores, was a son of John and Helen Grubb. At the age of 25 years, he came to America to mend his fortunes, which had been impaired by the support he gave to the Royal Cause. Sailing from London in the ship "KENT" in 1677, he arrived at Burlington, West Jersey, and received 340 acres of land on Chester Creek. As early as 1682, Grubb's Landing, Brandywine Hundred, DE was known to fame. John Grubb became possessor of a tract of land 600 acres in extent as made one of the Colonial Justices in 1693 and was twice elected to the colonial assembly.

The historian's say of him, "He came from that stock of men second to none on the face of the earth--The English Country Gentleman." At Grubb's Landing, he erected a tannery, and was the first manufacturer of leather in Penn's Province. In 1703, he left Grubb's Landing and located in Marcus Hook, PA where he invested heavily in land. He was an extensive land owner in both PA and DE. Like his ancestors, he was a devout supporter of the Church of England.

From WFT: John Grubb, with his wife Frances, was a resident of Upland as early as 1679, but does not appear to have been settled there as early as 1677. In 1679, jointly with Richard Buffington, he purchased 300 acres of land on the southwest side of Chester Creek above Chester, and may have resided there some time. His occupation was that of a tanner. His children were Emanuel, John, Joseph, Henry, Samuel, Nathaniel, Peter, Charity, and Phebe, all of whom were living at the time of his death in 1708.

His daughter Chariety was married to Richard Beeson prior to his death. He does not appear to have been a Quaker, probably was an Episcopalian. His age was about 60 years.

Samuel Grubb settled in East Bradford on the farm now of William Gibbons. Nathaniel married Ann Moore and settled in Willistown. He was a member of Assembly, trustte of the loan office, etc. Peter Grubb went to what is now Lebanon County, where he was a prominent ironmaster. Phebe married Richard Buffington Jr., and Simon Hadly

John married Frances Vane, daughter of Sir Henry Vane and Frances Wray, about 1678. (Frances Vane was born about 1660 in England and died in 1720.)

Ref #2: -- This reference explains the errors of Ref#1 and is the basis of the curated profile.


Over the years there has been considerable research into the ancestors of John Grubb - the Delaware settler. The first family historian was Alex Grubb of the Cornish Grubb family, who in 1688 researched the parish records of Stoke Climsland, Cornwall on the southwest tip of England. In October 1893, Gilbert Cope of the Pennsylvania Genealogical Society published the first history of the Delaware Grubb family contending that the settler came from Stoke Climsland. Just two months later, Judge Ignatius Cooper Grubb (1841 - 1927) offered a completely different theory that the settler was actually a member of the Wiltshire Grubbe family, starting an intense debate within the family that has lasted for over a century. It wasn’t until 1999 that the evidence was found to conclusively settle the issue. The roots of the Delaware Grubb family are indeed in Stoke Climsland.

Gilbert Cope made the first effort to identify the English parents of John Grubb. Cope wrote in October 1893 that John’s mother was probably Wilmot Grubb, a Quaker from Stoke Climsland. He also wrote that the Record of the Sufferings of Quakers (Besse I, 118) lists the 1663 imprisonment in Tremation Castle of a Henry Grubb from Stoke Climsland, and that this Henry was possibly Wilmot’s husband. Cope pointed out that Wilmot’s son Henry Grubb was on the Kent with John Grubb and that Charity Beeson, one of John’s daughters, named her daughter Wellmet. Cope concluded from this circumstantial evidence that Henry and John were probably brothers. However, many family members questioned this conclusion because Henry and his parents were Quakers, while John was episcopal, at least late in life.

While returning from his vacation in Scandinavia during the summer of 1893, Delaware Judge Ignatius Grubb was invited to visit Wiltshire by Admiral Sir Walter Hunt-Grubbe. There, Ignatius learned that during the civil wars, a John Grubb (1610 – 1667) of the Wiltshire family had gone into hiding in Cornwall after Cromwell successfully attacked Devizes Castle in 1645. Admiral Sir Hunt-Grubbe showed Ignatius Grubb numerous old records including the begging letter received by the family during the civil wars. From these records, Ignatius also learned that while in Cornwall, John married Helen Vivian of an old Cornish family, and they had a son who they named John. John and his wife, Helen returned to Potterne around the time of the restoration where he died in 1667. For Judge Ignatius Grubb, these facts had to be more than mere coincidence, and upon his return to Wilmington in December 1893, he wrote that the Delaware Grubb family was descended from the prominent Grubbe family of Wiltshire and that the settler’s parents were John Grubb and Helen Vivian.

The obvious problem with Ignatius Grubb’s theory is that John Grubb, the settler in Delaware, was a tanner who didn’t have enough money to buy land when he arrived in America even though land was very inexpensive at the time. Judge Grubb tried to explain away this discrepancy by stating that the family was of greatly reduced circumstances due to the civil wars. However, this certainly wasn’t the case after the restoration in 1660, seventeen years before John came to America. By that time, the Wiltshire family was quite wealthy and a member of the family, Walter Grubbe was in Parliament.

While a number of family members were bothered by this discrepancy, Ignatius Grubb’s work became the standard genealogy of the Delaware Grubb family. Over the next the century, numerous genealogies, mostly vanity biographies were published with Judge Grubb’s basic conclusion, but often with embellished details. For example, sometime after 1893, Judge Grubb further claimed that Henry Grubbe, the Mayor of Devizes, was the younger son of the Sir Henry Grubbe who married Lady Joan Parr Radcliffe. In fact, the Wiltshire Grubbe family itself has rejected this contention. Other writers claimed that the settler was baptized in Truro, Cornwall on April 20, 1652. However, there is no record of this in the registers of Truro or any of the area parishes. Another frequently cited detail is that the Rev. Thomas Grubb, supposedly the settler’s grandfather, was the first to drop the e from the surname Grubbe. In fact, Devizes and Potterne parish records indicate that the e was often dropped earlier in Wiltshire, but that the Rev. Thomas Grubbe retained the e. It also became popular to claim that the settler’s father was the recipient of the begging letter. In fact Ignatius Grubb’s manuscript and Wiltshire family records clearly indicate that a brother of Rev. Thomas Grubbe received the begging letter.

In 1937, Davis Hanson Grubb (1888 – 1977), a successful San Francisco businessman, lost his 18-year-old son Peter in a mountain climbing accident in the Italian Alps. In memory of his son, Davis arranged for the National Parks Service to name a mountain in the California Sierras "Grubb Peak" and two years later published a complete version of Judge Ignatius Grubb’s Wiltshire theory in the Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania. After he retired in the 1950s, Davis Hanson Grubb tried to document the Wiltshire family’s genealogy back to Walter Grubb of London, and retained F. W. Bennett, secretary of the Society of Genealogists to assist him. Unfortunately, the results of this research have not been published but Bennett’s notes survive in the Society’s files in London.

Bennett quickly found that a number of details in Judge Grubb’s theory were not accurate. For example, a wall plaque in the Cranford Church indicates that the Rev. Thomas Grubbe was born in 1594, too late to have been the father of a John Grubb born in 1610. In fact, the Rev. Thomas Grubb wasn’t married until 1623, and only had one son, named Thomas born in 1627. Bennett also discovered that there is no record that a John Grubb from Wiltshire ever married a Helen Vivian from Cornwall, but he reconciled this with the fact that records are often missing from the period of the civil wars.

From Bennett’s extensive files, we can trace the history of the Wiltshire family. Mayor Henry Grubbe of Devizes, Wiltshire in 1568 had one son, Thomas, and three daughters. Thomas married Susan Hart of Bristol and had four sons who survived to adulthood. All four left wills, confirming that two of them were named Thomas, an interesting English custom that causes considerable confusion. Specifically:

 John Grubbe (1588 – 1649) inherited Eastwell, received the begging letter from King Charles, and died without surviving children.

 The Rev. Thomas Grubbe (1594 – 1652) had one son, Thomas, and two daughters, Susan and Jane.

 Henry Grubbe (1596 – 1630) had one son, John Grubb (1624 – 1667) who is supposed to be the father of the John Grubb who settled in Delaware.

 A second Thomas Grubbe (1599 – 1630) also went to Oxford but died without children.

Bennett’s research also identified the fact that only two males of the Wiltshire Grubbe family during the civil war generation survived to become adults. Walter Grubbe went to Oxford, inherited Eastwell and represented Wiltshire in Parliament. It was this Walter who died in 1715 without children and was the last male heir of the family. The other male of Walter’s generation was the John Grubb who was supposed to have gone to Delaware. Therefore, while the identity of the settler’s grandfather changed, the basic Wiltshire theory remained the most accepted genealogy of the Delaware family.

In his excellent 1972 book tracing the genealogy of the Irish Grubb family, the Rev. Geoffrey Watkins Grubb (1908 – 1975) also concluded that the settler’s grandfather was not the Rev. Thomas Grubbe. Geoffrey Grubb further rejected the idea that the Rev. Thomas Grubbe was even from Wiltshire. Geoffrey wrote that Thomas was a cousin of William Grubb, a tailor from the village of Barby, Northamptonshire who died in 1620. In fact, numerous documents clearly prove that the Rev. Thomas Grubbe was from Wiltshire. Geoffrey Grubb also wrote in a footnote that William Grubb’s son, John, was the Royalist who received the begging letter, married Helen Vivian in Cornwall and was the father of the Delaware settler. Geoffrey Grubb believed that most Grubb families are probably related and was interested in establishing that his family was connected to the Delaware Grubb family. However, his theory was little more than a guess that fails to explain how a tailor’s son accumulated the wealth to receive a begging letter from the King.

While he was unsuccessful in resolving the mystery of Delaware settler’s origins, the doubts raised by Rev. Geoffrey Grubb and others about the Wiltshire theory resulted in reopening the issue. In 1979, David Watkins Grubb, Geoffrey’s son, finished Geoffrey’s second book, Grubbs about the Globe and revived Cope’s original Stoke Climsland theory. David was assisted by the late Cyril Grubb, then head of the Grubb Family Association in the UK and late James MacLamroc, a John Grubb descendent who lived in North Carolina. Using the 20 surviving wills from the period, entries in various parish registers and Bishop’s transcripts, and the 1688 notes of Alex Grubb, they developed a detailed history of the Stoke Climsland family that has stood the test of time. However, while they correctly concluded that John’s parents were Henry Grubb and his wife Wilmot, they were unable to find conclusive proof.

As a result, most other researchers still accepted the idea that the settler’s parents were the John Grubb from Wiltshire and his wife Helen Vivian. In the summer of 1998, it was finally discovered in the Potterne parish records that this John Grubb could not have been the father of the John Grubb who settled in Delaware. His son (the John Grubb Jr who was supposed to have been born in Cornwall) actually went to Oxford University and became a minister. The Rev. John Grubb was buried in Potterne on September 23, 1696 - obviously not the Delaware settler. As the Wiltshire family only had two male heirs of the civil war generation, it makes no sense that either would have left for America. Further, it was the custom of men in the Wiltshire family to seek university educations, not to apprentice as tanners! The Wiltshire theory about the origins of the Delaware Grubb family is simply wrong.


Because there were Grubb families throughout England by the 17th century, we must begin by establishing where John Grubb actually came from. Family lore is that John’s youngest son, Peter Grubb, named the town he founded in Pennsylvania Cornwall after his father’s birthplace. This is collaborated by substantial other evidence that John was a member of the Stoke Climsland Grubb family.

John Grubb came to America in 1677 on the Kent. While there is no passenger list per se, there is strong evidence that John Grubb was among the Kent’s passengers. Shortly after the arrival of the Kent, John Grubb became one of the 150 individuals involved with the West Jersey venture to sign the West Jersey Concessions and Agreements. The fact that John signed this document indicates that he was in West Jersey no later than the arrival of the Kent. While the list of signers includes a number of individuals who are known to have been on the Griffen in 1675, it is unlikely that John Grubb arrived earlier than the Kent because his name does not appear on the 1677 census of the area taken before the Kent’s arrival. This census survives in the Records of the New Castle Court. Therefore, it is improbable that John could have been on any ship other than the Kent.

Henry Grubb was also on the Kent. Henry was an indentured servant, whose indenture agreement (published in 1941 by the New Jersey Historical Society) was signed in London on March 28, 1677, just before the Kent sailed. Henry Grubb was the son of Wilmot Grubb. Before Henry left on the Kent, he received a certificate (effectively a letter of introduction) from the Ratcliffe Quaker Meeting. The Quaker archive at Swathmore College confirmed that the Ratcliffe Meeting was in London, one of the two points of embarkation for the settlers on the Kent. Wilmot Grubb signed Henry’s certificate as his mother clearly establishing the relationship. Unfortunately, the Quaker archives in London confirmed that the minutes of the Ratcliffe Meeting for the period no longer exist, but the text of the certificate survives in the minutes of the Salem Meeting. Henry Grubb was from Stoke Climsland, Cornwall. The location of Henry’s family was established through Henry’s 1695 will that named Wilmot as his mother and indicated that she was then living in Stoke Climsland. This will survives in the New Jersey Archives.

According to parish records, Wilmot Grubb, a Quaker, died in Stoke Climsland in 1698. The certificate Henry received at the Ratcliffe Quaker Meeting in 1677 was also signed by a number of Quakers who are known to have been from Stoke Climsland including Daniel Clark, Tristam Clark and Walter Hawkin. Significantly, one of the other passengers on the Kent was William Clark who was married at Salem in 1679. Henry Grubb was recorded as present at William’s marriage. Neither John nor Henry were members of the major groups on the Kent.

The Kent had two large groups of passengers – the Hull contingent comprised of Quakers from Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire and the London contingent comprised of Quakers from the city and the surrounding counties. After landing in Salem, both major groups continued up the Delaware River to establish Burlington. However, John and Henry as well as William Clark were among the few passengers who remained in Salem. This suggests that unlike the two major groups, the mini-contingent from Stoke Climsland intended to settle in Salem, probably because John Fenwick, the founder of Salem, was also from Cornwall.

John and Henry were related. Because Grubb is a rare surname (about one individual in 25,000 has this surname in both England and America) there is a 99.1% statistical probability that it was no coincidence that both John and Henry were on the Kent. Actually, the odds that they were related are substantially higher because John and Henry were among the small number of passengers who left the Kent in Salem. If John wasn’t related to Henry, he would have most likely traveled with the rest of the Kent passengers to Burlington.

The Grubb Family of Stoke Climsland: By the mid-1600s, there were three Grubb families in Cornwall located in at least twenty parishes. The largest of these families lived in Stoke Climsland and adjacent parishes in east Cornwall about twelve miles northwest of port city of Plymouth in Devon County. The other Grubb families were located in Truro, 30 miles west of Stoke Climsland, and St.Martin in Meneage near Helston, about twelve miles east of Land’s End. We are not sure of the relationship between these three families and no connection has been established between the Cornish Grubbs and other English Grubb families. While relatively few people immigrated to the Delaware Valley from Cornwall, at least five Cornish Grubbs were among the early settlers to West Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Cornish Grubb family lore is that the family may have come from Germany during the rein of Queen Elizabeth to advise Cornish miners. However, the fact that Grubbs have been identified throughout Cornwall at the beginning of the Elizabethan period suggests that if the family was of German origin, it is more likely they were descended from German Hussites who immigrated to Cornwall in the mid-1400s. It is also possible that the Cornish Grubbs were of Celtic origin or descended from Danish mariners who settled on the coast. In the seventeenth century, the Cornish people still spoke Gaelic and were related to the population in Wales and Ireland.

The rural town of Stoke Climsland had a population of about 1,150 that were mostly miners and tenant farmers in the Manor of Stoke Climsland, one of 70 manors in the Duchy of Cornwall owned by the King. The boundaries of the Duchy do not correspond to the county lines and include substantial portions of both Cornwall and Devon. While some members of the Stoke Climsland Grubb family probably moved east into Devon, most remained in Cornwall County. This is fortunate because the records of Cornwall County are in far better condition. The Devon County Records Office in Plymouth was destroyed by a German bomb during the blitz.

Cornwall was strongly royalist during the civil wars. In September 1642, Sir John Berkeley recruited an army of 3,000 in Cornwall for the King. Parliamentary forces unsuccessfully invaded Cornwall four times before finally taking the county in 1646. Much of this fighting took place in eastern Cornwall near Stoke Climsland. After 1646, there were also a number of royalist uprisings including August 1649 after King Charles was executed. Cornish royalists continued to holdout on the Scilly Isles off the west coast until June of 1651 when they finally surrendered. It is likely that members of the Stoke Climsland Grubb family were in the royalist army and there is some reason to believe that several may have been lost in the war. After King Charles was executed in 1649, Parliament sold the King’s Cornish manors to pay the expenses of Cromwell’s army. The new owners were pro-Cromwell and included soldiers in Cromwell’s army who maintained strict control over Cornwall because they feared royalist revolts. These were not happy times in Cornwall. Following the restoration in 1660, the manors were returned to King Charles II and most of them are still owned by the Royal family.

Times became even more difficult for Cornish Quakers after the restoration. There were relatively few Quakers in Cornwall, but Stoke Climsland had an active meeting between 1656 and 1697. After the restoration, twenty royalist ministers petitioned the House of Lords for return of their parishes, including William Pike of Stoke Climsland. Pike was especially hostile towards Quakers and numerous acts of intimidation are documented including a number of incidents when Pike’s son assaulted Quakers.

Ancestors of John Grubb: We know that John Grubb was born in 1652 (or late 1651) because he indicated that he was 32 when he testified in a 1684 lawsuit. In the late 1970s, Cyril Grubb and James MacLamroc were unable to find a record of John’s birth in Stoke Climsland because the parish register for that year is in very poor condition. However, in 1999 the register was photographed using ultra violet light. Using this technique, it was discovered that on August 16, 1652 Henry Grubb Jr. and his wife Wilmot christened a son, although the name of this son is missing because the page is ripped. After review of all of the other evidence, the inescapable conclusion is that there were no other children born in Stoke Climsland or other area parishes that can possibly be the Delaware settler. Henry Grubb Jr and Wilmot were John Grubb’s parents.

Thomas Grubb, John Grubb’s great grandfather: By the time John Grubb was born, all known members of the Stoke Climsland Grubb family were descended from Thomas Grubb. Thomas was born about 1540 and was of England’s yeomen class, roughly equivalent to the modern middle class. At the time of his death in July 1616, his assets were valued at 137 pounds. Thomas’ parents are unknown, although his father or grandfather may have been named Henry because Thomas named two surviving sons Henry.

Interestingly, Alex Grubb’s 1688 notes indicate that in 1554 a Henry Grubb baptized a son in Stoke Climsland. While this was too late to have been Thomas, this does establish that there was a Henry Grubb in Stoke Climsland that may have been Thomas’ father. Grubbs about the Globe claims that Thomas was the son of the Sir Henry Grubb of Hertfordshire who married Lady Joan Radcliffe. However, this story is contradicted by the evidence in Alex Grubb’s notes that there were Grubbs in Stoke Climsland before Thomas.

Thomas had at least three wives. He married Agnes Jeffrey on January 5, 1562, a second unknown wife, and Johan Williams (Wills), a widow in nearby St Dominic on April 23, 1604. Johan outlived Thomas by eleven years and was buried in St Dominic on November 22, 1627. We know Thomas had a second wife because there were no children by his third marriage and there were simply too many children for all of them to have had the same mother. Thomas had eleven children who were still alive when he died. Since infant mortality was about 50% at the time, it is probable that Thomas had in the range of twenty children in all. In addition to his eight sons discussed below, he had three daughters –

  • Epiphany (who married ____ Peake and later ____ Truscott)
  • Mary (who married ____ Helman)
  • Jane (baptized March 20, 1579/80 and married ____ Harper).

Henry Grubb "the younger", John Grubb’s grandfather: Baptized in Stoke Climsland on February 18, 1581, Henry Grubb "the younger" was the son of Thomas and his unknown second wife. Because of the confusion over the fact that Thomas named two sons Henry, it is often incorrectly reported that Henry "the younger" first married sometime before 1611 when he had a daughter named Denise. Actually, Denise was the daughter of Henry Grubb "the elder". Henry Grubb the younger first married on August 1, 1615 to Johan _____ of Kellybray, a hamlet in Stoke Climsland. The surviving parish register lists no children from this marriage but in his 1688 notes Alex Grubb indicates that Henry’s son, Henry Grubb Jr was baptized in 1617. Cyril Grubb and James MacLamroc also speculated that the John Grubb who died in Stoke Climsland in 1670 was another son of Henry. However, there is no evidence to establish this.

Henry’s first wife, Johan was buried March 31, 1635 and Henry married Jane (or Joan) Bidgood two years later on April 29, 1637. Henry signed the Protestation against Popery in 1641 and was buried in Stoke Climsland on June 19, 1645. His will has not survived.

Henry Grubb Jr, John Grubb’s father: Baptized in Stoke Climsland in 1617, Henry Grubb Jr was easily the most interesting character in the Stoke Climsland Grubb clan. He signed the Protestation against Popery in 1641 and was listed as a tenant farmer in Stoke Climsland during 1650. We also know Henry was a butcher. On February 3, 1641 he married Margerett Facie who died less than two years later. Her will was proved December 24, 1642. Henry later remarried to Wilmot (maiden name unknown) who was probably born in the early to mid-1620s. In the mid-1650s, Henry became one of the earliest Quakers in Cornwall and had a tendency to challenge authority, a trait that his son John demonstrated on numerous occasions in Delaware. Henry had at least three run-ins with the law after the restoration of the Rev. William Pike to the Stoke Climsland parish church. On November 11, 1662, Henry was arrested and imprisoned briefly for non-payment of the tithe. The next year during Lent, one of Henry’s sons (probably Peter or Anthony) was arrested in Saltash, just west of Plymouth for selling meat. Quakers didn’t believe in Lent and selling meat during that time was an act of defiance. In January 1663/4, Henry was arrested again and imprisoned for several years for non-payment of the tithe. As a result, he lost the lease on his land.

Henry’s will has not survived and the date of Henry’s death is not recorded but was certainly before 1677. Wilmot remained in Stoke Climsland with her oldest surviving son, Anthony and his family. She was buried in a field and her death was entered into the parish register on September 30, 1698.

Henry had eight known children. Because the parish record is in very poor condition, a number of inaccuracies have been published that are only now being corrected due to recent availability of ultra violet evidence.

  • Peter Grubb– A butcher who died intestate and unmarried in 1675. His brother, Anthony administered Peter’s estate.
  • Anthony Grubb – a Quaker who married Mary Marten (recorded April 18, 1672, but may have occurred earlier.) Their known children were William, born March 8, 1672 and buried in Stoke Climsland on February 4, 1696/7, Samuel born February 14, 1676, Wilmot born February 1, 1680/1, and Joseph born January 19, 1683. Anthony accompanied his mother to London in 1677 and signed his brother, Henry’s certificate.
  • Robert Grubb – Died young and was buried in 1651.
  • John Grubb – Christened August 16, 1652 and immigrated to America in 1677 where he founded the Delaware Grubb family.
  • Henry Grubb – Came to America with John. Henry’s birth date is unknown, but he was probably slightly younger than John.
  • Robert Grubb – Baptized February 23, 1655/6, nothing further is known about the second Robert suggesting that he also died young.
  • Daughter Grubb – Born March 30, 1657. It is often incorrectly reported that this child was a son and some sources have further speculated that this son was Henry. The ultra violet evidence clearly establishes that this child was a daughter. Her name was probably Joane and she signed her brother, Henry’s certificate in London.
  • Richard Grubb– Born January 23, 1658/9. The only portion of this child’s first name still visible is the rd, which appears to be id under normal light. As a result, Richard’s first name is often incorrectly reported as David. Nothing further is known about Richard also suggesting that he died in childhood.

In 1677, the family probably consisted of the widow Wilmot, her daughter Joane, her son Anthony and his family, along with John and Henry. Because their father had lost the family’s land lease, and the family’s reputation as religious dissidents, neither John or Henry had any real chance of ever acquiring a land lease in Stoke Climsland and certainly would have found the prospects in the new province of West Jersey very attractive.

  1. Name: John GRUBB
  2. Given Name: John
  3. Surname: Grubb
  4. Sex: M
  5. Birth: 20 Apr 1652 in Truro or Stoke,Climsland,Cornwall,England
  6. Death: 10 Mar 1707/1708 in Grubb Road,Wilmington,DE
  7. Burial: 12 Mar 1707/1708 St Martins,Grubb Rd,Arden,DE


  1. Emanuel GRUBB b: 19 Jul 1682 in Brandywine,New Castle,Pennsylvania
  2. Joseph GRUBB b: Abt 1685 in Wilmington,Newcastle,DE
  3. Charity GRUBB b: 29 Sep 1687 in Chester County,PA
  4. Phebe GRUBB b: 1690
  5. Samuel GRUBB b: Abt 1691 in Chester County,PA
  6. Henry GRUBB b: Abt 1692 in Wilmington,Newcastle,DE
  7. Nathaniel GRUBB b: Abt 1693 in Chester County,PA
  8. Peter GRUBB b: 1702 in New Castle County,Deleware

JOHN GRUBB (1652 – 1708)

The Settler in Delaware:

Because John Grubb was from Cornwall, his speech and customs were very different from most of the early settlers in the Delaware Valley who came from the northern Midlands. However, John’s story in the Delaware Valley was very typical of the early settlers. He was a man who came from limited means and took part in the exceptional opportunity that was the Delaware Valley.

By the mid-1670s, the Society of Friends faced a crisis – two-thirds of Quaker children were migrating to the cities and leaving the church. While the persecution of Quakers abated at the beginning of the decade because of the Toleration Act, Quaker parents found it too expensive to establish their children when they came of age. To Quaker leaders, the solution was to create a colony across the Atlantic in West Jersey where land could be made available inexpensively.

John’s father, Henry Grubb Jr was a Cornish tenant farmer and butcher who was an early Quaker. Imprisoned in 1663 for his beliefs, Henry lost the family land lease in Stoke Climsland. By 1677, he was dead and Wilmot; his widow was living with her oldest son, Anthony and his family. Her two younger sons, John and Henry had little prospect of ever being established in their home community.

Christened in Stoke Climsland on August 16, 1652, John was apprenticed as a tanner about the time his father went to jail. He probably finished his apprenticeship about 1675 and had several years to earn a small amount of money before he left for America on the Kent in 1677. The fare was high – five pounds, but for only another five pounds John could buy enough land for a tannery and a decent sized farm. Apparently, John only had five pounds but realized that once in West Jersey he could easily earn the rest. His younger brother, Henry couldn’t pay the fare and instead agreed to become an indentured servant for three years.

Settlement of West Jersey began in 1675 when Major John Fenwick, a Cornishman and one of the two original Quaker purchasers of West Jersey, sailed on the Griffen and founded Salem, across the river from New Castle. Fenwick quickly experienced problems with almost everyone including Edward Byllynge (the other purchaser of West Jersey), William Penn and the other West Jersey trustees, as well as Governor Andros in New York. These disputes clouded Fenwick’s titles. A number of the Salem settlers became disenchanted with Fenwick, and ultimately relocated across the Delaware to the Brandywine region on the modern border between Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The first group of Delaware Valley settlers organized by William Penn arrived on the Kent in West Jersey two years after the Griffen. After picking up passengers from the Yorkshire port city of Hull, the Kent sailed from London in late spring 1677 with 230 settlers. Penn himself remained in England.

At the time of the Kent’s departure, William Penn and the other trustees still had not secured the King’s approval for the sale of West Jersey from Lord Berkeley. As a result, West Jersey remained under the jurisdiction of New York. Because of the difficulties created by Major Fenwick, Penn’s agents on the Kent were instructed to meet with Governor Andros in New York before proceeding to West Jersey. In August, the Kent landed at Sandy Hook outside New York harbor. At the time, Andros was also experiencing problems with Carteret’s son in East Jersey over the issue of duties, and made it clear to Penn’s agents that the Kent settlers would remain under his political control and would have to pay the appropriate customs. As instructed, the Kent cleared customs at New Castle, and crossed the river to disembark its passengers near Major Fenwick’s settlement at Salem.

Shortly after the arrival of the Kent, John Grubb became one of the 150 individuals involved with the West Jersey venture to sign the West Jersey Concessions and Agreements. Largely based on the ideas of Edward Byllynge, a radical republican, the West Jersey Concessions and Agreements was one of the most democratic constitutions of the colonial period. For example, all male inhabitants were given the vote, the legislative branch was granted broad powers, and capital punishment was limited to murder and treason. In August 1676, the trustees and the proprietors first signed this constitution in London. A year later, the resident proprietors and other West Jersey inhabitants signed the constitution just after the Kent arrived. The fact that John was one of the signatories was not unusual because almost every free adult male in the colony at that time also signed. However, as an indentured servant, Henry Grubb was not one of the signatories.

Before their departure, Penn had instructed his agents to settle as far from Fenwick’s colony as possible because of the difficulties with Fenwick. Most of the Kent’s 230 passengers sailed 60 miles upriver from Salem and established Burlington City. While incomplete, the records of the Kent do not list John Grubb among the Burlington settlers. Since John was in Brandywine no later than July 1678, it is unlikely he traveled upriver. However, Henry Grubb relocated to Burlington from Salem after completing his three years as an indentured servant. In 1683 he married Mary Perkins, the daughter of one of the full shareholders. Henry is remembered in Burlington history for opening the first tavern in the area. Henry and Mary had three children - a son who died as an infant and two daughters. Henry died in Burlington in 1706 and left no descendants with the Grubb family name.

In 1678, Robert Wade, one of the Griffen settlers who left Salem for Brandywine, purchased 500 acres on the south side of Upland Creek. That July, John Grubb and his friend Richard Buffington entered into an agreement with Wade to farm this property. Upland was a small settlement across the river from Salem and several miles north of the modern border between Delaware and Pennsylvania. At that time, the population of the entire Brandywine region including Upland consisted of native Americans and several hundred Europeans, few of English origin. Upland and New Castle were the only settlements in the Delaware Valley with courts, i.e. several part-time magistrates, some of whom had remained in office since the Dutch period. Wade erected a large house that became the first regular meeting place for Quakers in what was to become Pennsylvania.

The next year, John Grubb and Richard Buffington used their earnings to acquire their own property. On November 25, 1679, they recorded at the court in Upland their joint purchase of 340 acres on the southwest side of Upland Creek adjacent to Wade’s property. Apparently Wade also wanted this property. While William Penn had not yet received the charter for Pennsylvania, by 1680 Penn’s intentions were commonly known. Upland was the leading candidate to become the capital of Penn’s colony, and the Upland Creek tract would have become prime property if Upland was selected.

Wade accused Grubb and Buffington of breach of contract and embezzling his grain. Wade also claimed that Grubb and Buffington had gelded his bull and ram, and that Grubb had boasted of the deed after consuming a bottle of rum. After arbitration failed, the court at New Castle heard the charges in December 1680, and the jury found for the defendants, Grubb and Buffington. This didn’t end the matter, and shortly thereafter Wade was in possession of the Grubb-Buffington tract. Gilbert Cope speculates that they transferred their property to Wade in repayment of some debt. However, this seems improbable because Grubb and Buffington won the court case. It is more likely that Wade made Grubb and Buffington an attractive offer for the property. While the exact details are unknown, John Grubb then acquired a one third interest in another 600 acre tract on the branches of Naaman’s Creek, a few miles south of the modern Delaware-Pennsylvania border. This tract was jointly owned with two Dutchmen, Isaac Savoy and David Bilderbeck. Buffington acquired his own tract on Brandywine Creek in what was to become East Bradford Township.

John’s dispute with Robert Wade is probably the reason there has been considerable confusion concerning John’s religion. We know he was not a Quaker at the time of his death. However, all of his known actions until his dispute with Wade suggest that he was a Quaker until then. He probably became an inactive Quaker about 1680 because Wade was the most prominent Quaker on the west side of the Delaware River and the only meeting place was in his house.

William Penn was granted the charter for Pennsylvania in 1681, and sailed from England the summer of the next year. Just before he left, Penn purchased Delaware from the Duke of York because the Duke decided that it was too troublesome to administer Delaware from New York. Penn arrived at New Castle on October 29, 1682 and was met by a group of early settlers, including John Grubb. Then Penn changed the name of Upland to Chester and announced his decision to establish Philadelphia further upriver. As a result, Wade’s tract on what was now Chester Creek did not become as valuable as Wade had hoped.

One of the early tasks of the new colony was to record tracts owned by the few settlers already in the area. On September 19, 1682, even before Penn arrived, a survey was made of the Naaman’s Creek property for John Grubb and his partners. This survey did not subdivide the property between the three partners, and later this was to cause considerable problems with William Penn. The survey was confirmed by a warrant dated April 26, 1684. Today, this area appears on the map as Grubb’s Landing, although John’s sons probably established the landing itself after his death. A modern street down to the river from Route 13 is named Grubb’s Landing Road. Another street in the area named Grubb Road ran along the southern side of Naaman’s Creek. The eastern half of this street from Route 13 to Arden became Harvey Road in 1887, but the portion west of Arden still retains its original name for several miles.

Meanwhile John and his wife Frances (Abt. 1661 - Bef. 1721) started their family. We know nothing about her origins or when she married John. However, the fact that their first child, Emanuel, wasn’t born until July 1682, suggests that John and Frances were married in America. It appears that she was a Quaker and was somewhat younger than most Quaker women at the time of marriage, which averaged 24 in the Delaware Valley.

Emanuel’s obituary in Penn’s Gazette eighty-six years later reported that his parents had lived in a cave along the banks of the Delaware River until John finished their house, and that Emanuel was born in this cave. The story also claims that Emanuel was the first child of English parents born in Delaware. However, Gilbert Cope indicates that at least six children of English parents were born in the area before Emanuel. The story about the cave seems improbable because John already lived on the Naaman’s Creek tract for a year or so by the time Emanuel was born.

Between 1682 and 1700, John and Frances had nine children who lived to become adults. This was a very large completed family for the period. In England, completed families averaged three children, and in the Delaware Valley the average was five because of lower infant mortality.

John’s next land transaction was recorded on September 3, 1691 involving four acres purchased from Thomas Gilpin adjacent to the Naaman’s Creek tract. Here John built his tannery that became the center of a substantial tanning industry that lasted in the area until the nineteenth century.

John began his political career in 1692 when he was elected to a one-year term in the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from New Castle County. At that time Brandywine, including Grubb’s Landing and Marcus Hook, were all in New Castle County, which was one of the three lower counties of Pennsylvania i.e. Delaware. The major issue that year was a dispute between the three lower counties and the rest of Pennsylvania over the need for military defenses. King William’s War with the French had started three years earlier. The lower counties, where Quakers were a minority, strongly urged that defenses be established. They were opposed by the upper counties that were solidly Quaker and did not feel exposed to a potential threat from the French fleet. A tax to construct defenses was proposed, but rejected by the Assembly. Unfortunately, the published minutes of this session only record who was present and the bills adopted so that we don’t know John’s position on the issues or his comments during debates. The next year, John did not return to the Assembly and was appointed a Justice of the Peace. He was also responsible for tax collection and his own property was assessed at 200 pounds - an amount which one source termed, moderately substantial.

In 1698, John was elected to the Assembly for his second term. He also purchased another 108 acres adjacent to Grubb’s Landing from the widow of Thomas Gilpin. Cope reports that the title for this property became the subject of dispute between John Grubb and William Penn’s Secretary, James Logan. However, closer examination of Logan’s letters indicates that the dispute started about 1691 and concerned the Naaman’s Creek property.

From the beginning of the colony, Penn planned several 10,000-acre manors for his heirs. One of these manors, known as the Rocklands, was to be in Brandywine including the Naaman’s Creek area. Penn purchased 5,000 acres from William Stockdale, and traded land in West Jersey for Isaac Savoy and David Bilderbeck’s portion of the tract they owned jointly with John Grubb. John refused Penn’s similar offer to relocate. Further, John took the position that because he already lived on the land, that he should have first choice of which 200 acre portion he would receive in the subdivision. This would have resulted in a somewhat irregular property line that was unacceptable to Penn. As a result, the two never agreed on the line. In 1691 and 1692, Penn’s agents complained that Grubb was making daily Havock and Spoyle of the timber on that portion of the tract claimed by Penn.

William Penn had returned to England in 1684 to take care of his affairs in London. However, his short trip turned into fifteen years. Charles II died in 1685 and his brother, the Duke of York, became King James II. Penn found himself in the position of being one of the most influential individuals in London. This was not to last long as James was overthrown three years later in the Glorious Revolution, and went into exile in France. William and Mary of Orange assumed the throne and Penn was suspected of treason for his support of Charles and James. Penn’s charter was revoked and Penn himself went into hiding for several years to avoid arrest. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania rapidly expanded and Philadelphia became the second largest city in the English New World after Boston. London was not pleased with its thriving colony. Renewal of the war with France was a serious threat and Pennsylvania still refused to contribute to colonial defense. Another issue was Pennsylvania’s failure to enforce laws concerning piracy and smuggling. The Crown decided that only a Quaker proprietor could solve the Pennsylvania problem and allowed Penn to petition for the return of his colony. After agreeing to address the defense and piracy issues, Penn returned to Pennsylvania in 1699 with his young Secretary, James Logan.

Upon his arrival, Penn ordered Logan to complete the establishment of the manors and resolve the property line dispute with John Grubb. However, the matter was not settled and it appears that the dispute carried over into politics. In January 1700, Penn called a special session of the Assembly to deal with the piracy question. Apparently the sheriff of New Castle failed to collect the votes from the upper Brandywine Hundred area. John Grubb along with Cornelius Empson - who was to have his own problems with Logan - led a petition drive to overturn the election results. On January 25, the Assembly met and decided that the sheriff should be rebuked, but that the session would start without holding a new election because the session was limited to just the question of enacting stronger piracy laws. In October of that year, John won a seat in the regular Assembly election. However, the voters in the southern part of New Castle County complained that they had not been notified, and the Assembly ordered a new election. This time John was defeated.

At Penn’s request, the Assembly recodified the colony’s laws but failed to address the defense issue. The upper and lower counties remained as divided as ever on the need for defenses. Delaware appealed directly to the crown and was granted its own independent legislature in 1704. Penn himself returned to England in 1701 and would never again visit his colony.

Logan remained in Pennsylvania as Penn’s agent. In a letter dated February 26, 1702, Logan instructed Isaac Taylor to resurvey Stockdale’s plantation and divide Penn’s portion of the Naaman’s Creek tract from the land owned by that troublesome man John Grubb. However, John apparently objected to the resulting line and cut down the marked trees. One recent source incorrectly reported that Grubb was not in possession of the disputed tract when he died. In fact, Logan’s letters of 1712 indicate that John’s children still held the property, and that the dispute remained unresolved. Ultimately, the Grubb family not only retained the Naaman’s Creek tract that became Grubb’s Landing, but also acquired substantial portions of the Stockdale property to the extent that the Grubb holdings became commonly known as Stockdale’s plantation.

By now, John’s oldest son, Emanuel, had come of age and became increasingly responsible for the tannery. There is a suggestion in one of Logan’s letters that John may have suffered a serious illness during this period. On December 29, 1703/4, John purchased eleven lots together with four and a half acres of woodland in Marcus Hook - which is just on the Pennsylvania side of the modern border and is only a few miles north of Naaman’s Creek. John and Frances, along with their younger children, moved out of the Naaman’s Creek homestead to Marcus Hook. On February 26, 1705/6, John purchased two additional lots with dwellings at Marcus Hook, adjacent to his existing property. A year later, he also purchased 175 acres in Brandywine Hundred at what is now Arden, Delaware - which is just inland from the Naaman’s Creek property. His second son had become of age and settled as a farmer on this new tract.

After his death at age 56 on April 4, 1708, John was buried at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church cemetery in Marcus Hook. The original St. Martins was built in 1700, although the current structure dates to 1845. The deed stipulates that no Quaker be buried there. While this may have been relaxed later, it is unlikely that John Grubb would have been interred at St. Martin’s in 1708 had he been a Quaker at that time. Frances remarried to Richard Buffington - John Grubb’s old friend. They lived on the Brandywine Creek tract in East Bradford, Pennsylvania. The date of her death is not recorded but was before 1721 when Buffington remarried again.

John Grubb’s major asset at the time of his death was 500 acres, an amount typical of early Delaware settlers even though the average farm of the period only used eighty acres. Land was becoming more expensive and was selling for two pounds per acre improved and six shillings per acre unimproved. Quakers tended to stockpile land for the next generation and divided their acreage equally among their sons. In many cases, land was transferred to the children when they married to help establish a sound foundation for grandchildren. Non-Quakers left a double share of their land to the oldest son. As a result, Quaker children of the first generation born in America did much better economically than their non-Quaker counterparts. While John was not a Quaker at that time, his will followed the Quaker pattern and gave equal shares of his land to each of his seven sons. Apparently it was not possible to divide his land because of the ongoing dispute with Penn. The formal division didn’t occur until 1761, by which time only two of his sons remained alive. There appears to have been an informal understanding among his sons concerning the use of this land and a more formal division only became necessary to establish the rights of the next generation. John and Frances had fifty-seven grandchildren.

John’s other assets were substantially higher than average because he was both a farmer and was engaged in the tanning trade. These assets were valued at 566 pounds, including debts of 303 pounds owed to him. John left a cow and one-third of his personal estate to Frances and various amounts to his daughters.

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John "The Immigrant" Grubb's Timeline

April 20, 1652
Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, England
August 16, 1652
Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, England
Age 23
Age 24
From London, England to Burlington, West Jersey
July 19, 1682
Age 30
Brandywine Hundred, New Castle County, Lower Counties on the Delaware
Age 31
Brandywine Hundred, New Castle County, Lower Counties on the Delaware
Age 32
British Colonial America