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Covering various descendants of William Scriven (1727-1827)
of Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island and Grafton, Rensselaer County, New York

Although the Scriven Record states that William Scriven immigrated from England around 1776, the town records of Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island indicate that he was born in Westerly on 6 Jun 1727. According to the Westerly records, he was the son of James Scriven and Alice Knowles, prominent members of the Rhode Island Society of Friends (Quakers). James Scriven was an immigrant from England, arriving in Rhode Island before 1715. Alice Knowles was the daughter of William Knowles and Alice Fish, both members of established Rhode Island families.

According to the Scriven Record, William married twice. He married his first wife, Mercy Lewis (1726-1768), around 1750, and they had ten children before Mercy died in 1768. William then married Mary Mosher (or Mosier -- 1755-1809) around 1769, and they had four, possibly five, children. Some researchers believe that William was also married briefly to a woman named Elipha after Mercy's death and before his marriage to Mary; with one son, Isaac, resulting from this marriage in 1770. However, the first child of William and Mary was a daughter named Elipha (also known as Phally or Sally.) This daughter Elipha was born in 1770, the same year Isaac was born, and only two years after the death of Mercy Lewis. The evidence seems to indicate that Elipha was Isaac's twin sister, not his mother, and that Isaac's mother must have been Mary Mosher. Isaac may have died in infancy.

According to Interments on Rensselaer County Farms, William served in the Revolutionary War, along with his son William Jr. The History of the Town of Grafton also lists his sons James, John, and Zebulon as Revolutionary War soldiers. According to the research of historian Paul Ward (by way of the Grafton Historical Society), Zebulon achieved the rank of colonel in the New York State militia and in the War of 1812. This reference shows that he was buried with that title.

William moved to New York with his family about 1779. They were among the first settlers of the town of Grafton in Rensselaer County. There is some speculation that the Scrivens left Rhode Island as a result of their exclusion from the pacifistic Society of Friends over William's service in the Revolutionary War.

It is interesting to note that only descendants of William and Mercy Lewis are mentioned in Zebulon Scriven's will; none of the descendants of William and Mary Mosher are mentioned. Furthermore, the History of the Town of Grafton reports that "William Scriven and family, consisting of seven sons and two daughters, came from Rhode Island and settled in this town about 1779." No mention of a wife is made, even though William would have been married to Mary Mosher at the time; and seven sons and two daughters would only be enough to include the children of William and Mercy Lewis (minus Elsie, the eldest daughter, who would have been 26 and was probably already married to Caleb Bassett by that time). It is possible that the William Scriven who married Mercy Lewis and the William Scriven who married Mary Mosher were two different individuals; though the Scriven Record clearly states otherwise.

William died in Petersburgh in 1827, at the age of 99.

Matthias Scriven (1775-1827), son of William Scriven and Mary Mosher, was born in Westerly, RI and moved with the rest of the family to Grafton, NY when he was four years old. Around 1795, he married Anna Sabin (1778-1855), the daughter of Stephen Sabin of Vermont and Mary Ann Mosher. Some time before 1804, he and Anna and two children moved to Pennsylvania, first to Susquehanna County, then to Pike County, then finally settling in Albany Township in Bradford County. It is said that he and Anna had a total of twenty-one children before Matthias died in 1827 at the age of 51 while visiting Lake County, NY. (Reference: Heverly, Clement F. History & Geography of Bradford Co, PA and (same author) Pioneer & Patriot Families of Bradford Co, PA.)

Benjamin Scriven II (1804-1893), son of Matthias Scriven and Anna Sabin, was born in Bradford County, PA. On 2 Nov 1826, he married Susannah Vergeson (1810-1900), daughter of David Gilbert Vergison and Abigail Brewster. They moved to Mercer County, PA and had eleven children.

Matthias Scriven, Jr. (1800-1867), son of Matthias Scriven and Anna Sabin, was born in New York, and married Martha Wiggins (1805-?), daughter of Lawrence Wiggins and Ellen Webb, on 20 Oct 1825. They were early settlers of Jones Co., IA, moving to Madison Township around 1855. The web transcription of the 1856 Madison Township Census lists a "Nathaniel Scriven" (age 36) with his wife Martha (age 31) and four children, the oldest of whom was 28 years old -- only 8 years younger than his father, it would appear. The names of the children and their ages are correct, but "Nathaniel" Scriven is actually Matthias Scriven; he was 56 years old, not 36; and his wife Martha was 51 years old, not 31. These census transcripts were obviously taken from handwritten entries that must have been somewhat difficult to read. The Last Will and Testament of Matthias Scriven, Jr. may be found here.

Oliver Gilbert Scriven (1817-1898), son of Matthias Scriven and Anna Sabin, brother of Matthias Scriven, Jr., was born in Evergreen, Bradford County, PA. On 29 June 1834, he married Clarinda Wiggins (1817-1886), sister of Martha Wiggins. Around 1850, they moved to Indiana with five children. They moved to Jones County, Iowa around the same time as the family of Matthias Scriven Jr. did, settling in what was to become Wayne Township, where they were to have four more children. Wayne Township was actually organized at their house on 7 Apr 1856. They are listed (with their name misspelled) in the 1856 Wayne Township census.

The Scriven-McDonald Family Record, compiled by Gilbert James Scriven around 1936, traces the ancestry of Clarinda Wiggins (Gilbert's grandmother) back to the relatively famous New Amsterdam settler Anneke Jans, and through her back to Dutch royalty. From the turn of the century until the 1920's, there was a series of well-publicized class-action lawsuit pressed by some of the descendants of Anneke Jans regarding a dispute over 62 acres of swampland property she had inherited on Manhattan Island, which later ended up being the location for a major portion of the N.Y. financial district. In an effort to drum up support for these suits (which were all ultimately unsuccessful), some of the attorneys for the plaintiffs employed genealogists to locate as many potential Anneke Jans descendants as possible, and then wrote to them notifying them of their eligibility to participate in their various suits (and claim their share of what was expected to be an unbelievably huge award of damages); and also to let them know -- by the way -- that they were distinguished by royal blood. One of these potential descendants was my great-grandfather, Gilbert James Scriven -- hence the emphasis on Anneke Jans and royalty in the Scriven-McDonald Family Record. Unfortunately, some of the genealogical work associated with this lawsuit was rather sloppy, and perhaps even a bit skewed. The putative royal descent of Anneke Jans has since been conclusively debunked, and even the line of descent linking Clarinda Wiggins to Anneke Jans appears to be erroneous.


Uploaded to Rootsweb Free Pages on 11 Nov 2001
Last updated on
Sunday, 22-Apr-2007 18:10:23 MDT

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