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                         Thomas Benfield (1712 - 1770)


                      (Note: Thomas Benfield's Deed for land purchase and his Will located bottom of this page)

( Excerpt from Jim Herman's book Voyage to America 1766 )
copyright 2006 jim herman

1712 – 
Alsace Landstande, France/Germanic Territory 

     The free city of Strausburg was neither in the country of France or Germany in the 18th Century.
   Both claimed it, but Strausburg residents denied both.  The broader area surrounding the thriving and proud city
   was called
Alsace and the people spoke a Germanic and English dialect more than French. Nearby a small 
   township known as Benfield was, unassumingly, inhabited primarily with people called by the surname
   Benfield.   It was in this place, in the year 1712, a man and woman gave birth to a son they named

     Before Thomas Benfield was born, his ancestors from one hundred years earlier had migrated from the
British Isles to this Alsace territory along with many other English families.  His Benfield surname has its origins
   with the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of
Great Britain that once abounded throughout the British Isles; the name
   derived from people who were keepers of shelters where animals were kept.  Benfield, like other occupational 
   names that were derived from the
common trades of the medieval era, transcended European cultural and linguistic
   boundaries.  Other variations of the Benfield surname are Penfold, Penfield, Pinfold and many others.  These
   names were first found in Bedfordshire where they were used from early times and their first records appeared on
   the early census rolls taken by the first Kings of Britain.

     Claiming protection from Prussia/Germany, the Alsace territory became first a refuge for families
   seeking safety from the incursions by French soldiers along the French and German border.  Eventually, around
   the year 1716, the area suffered from daily persecutions, killing and vast property destruction from the many
   battles occurring there.  Residents were offered sanctuary in
England by the British, who 
   supported Prussia/Germany.  Large throngs of people were rescued by the British Monarchy and taken by ship
   across the treacherous channel of water from the Dutch coast to

     The British Government set up internment camps near London to handle the displaced people,
   including four year old
Thomas Benfield and his family.  During the next three years the camps became poverty
   stricken from lack of funding.  Crime grew rampant with numerous raids and riots from nearby English citizens
   who disliked foreigners living in close proximity to their homes.  British officials began dismantling the camps and
   sent some of the inhabitants to Colonial America and others to
Ireland where some settled while others began
   to find passage to


    Thomas Benfield died in East Oley, Berks County, Pa. about June 4, 1770.  In 1741 he married Mary Hill.  Mary Hill was born in East Oley, Berks, PA 1720 and died after 1785.  They lived in the Oley Valley along  a branch of Perkiomy Creek.  Both Thomas and Mary are buried in East Oley, Berks County, PA.

(detail information on Thomas Benfield and his decedants can be found in the book Voyage to America 1766--order information can be found by clicking the "Order Now" link at the top of this page)

Father> John Benfield (1680 -  ?)

Sons>   Johannes (John) Benfield Sr. (1755 - Apr 19, 1819)
             Samuel Benfield                     (Jan 12, 1742 - Dec 7, 1831)
Daughters> Mary Benfield                    (1744 - ? )
                   Catherine Benfield             (1746 - ? ) married Adam Ulrich
                   Elizabeth "Betsy" Benfield (1748 - ? ) married ? Uptegrove
                  Susanna Benfield                (1750 - ? )

According to handed down word of mouth information, the Benfield ancestors sailed from Holland--most likely Amsterdam--and spoke an English/French/German language dialect.  They settled in East Oley, Berks County, Pennsylvania around 1734. 

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      Thomas Benfield's Deed for land purchased - 1744

Deed of Trust to Thomas Benfield August 6, 1744


John Penn, Thomas Penn, and Richard Penn, Esquires, true and Absolute Proprietaries and Governors in Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania and Counties of Kent, New Castle and Sussex on Delaware.......To all unto whom these Presents shall come Greeting  whereas in  pursuance and by virtue of a Warrant under the Lesser Seal of our Province bearing date the Twenty Second day of May in the year of our Lord 1734 and by virtue of a Warrant under the Seal of our Land Office dated the fourth Day of March in the year 1742.  There were Surveyed and Laid out unto Thomas Benfield of the County of Philadelphia Two Certain Parcels or Tracts of Land Situated on a Branch of Perkiomy Creek above Oley Township within the said County both which said Parcels of Land lying contiguous are included in one Tract and described by the Lines and Bounds following viz beginning at a marked hickory and from thence extending by Vacant Land the Eight Courses and Distances next following viz to North fifty degrees west one hundred and forty one Perches to a post North forty Degrees East one hundred twenty perches to a marked hickory North fifty degrees West forty perches to a Stone North forty Degrees East forty perches to a Stone South Sixty two Degrees East one hundred and Sixty perches to a stone South forty Degrees West Seventy four perches to a Post South fifty Degrees East twenty perches to a  Post and South forty degrees West one hundred twenty perches to the place of Beginning Containing on the whole one hundred fifty two Acres and the Allowance of six Acres Per Cent for Roads and Highways as in and by the Surveys thereof remaining in our Surveyor General's Office and from thence certified into our Secretary's Office may appear Now at the Instance and Request of the said Thomas Benfield that we would be pleased to grant him a Confirmation of the same........

Know ye that in Consideration of the sum of Twenty three pounds Eleven Shillings and two pence lawful Money of Pennsylvania to our Use paid by said Thomas Benfield (The Receipt whereof we hereby acknowledge and therefore do acquit and forever discharge the said Thomas Benfield his Heirs and Assigns by these Presents) and also of the Yearly Quit Rent herein after mentioned and reserved we Have Given Granted Released and Confirmed and by these Presents for Us, our Heirs and Successors Do Give Grant Release and Confirm unto said Thomas Benfield and his Heirs the said one hundred fifty two Acres of Land as the same is now set forth bounded and limited as aforesaid With all Mines Minerals Quarries Meadows Marshes Samaras (?) Swamps Cripples Woods Underwoods Timber and Trees Way Water Water Course Liberties Profits Commodities Advantages his appurtenances whatsoever there unto belonging or in any wise appertaining and lying within the Bounds and Limite aforesaid (Three full and clear fifth parts of all royal Mines free from all deductions and Reprisals for digging and refining the same and also one fifth parts of the Ore of all other Mines delivered at the Pitsmouth only accepted and hereby reserved) and also free lease right and liberty to and for the said Thomas Benfield his Heirs and Assigns To hawk hunt Fish and Fowl in and upon the hereby granted Land and Premises or upon any part thereof To have and to hold the said One hundred and fifty two acres of Land and Premises hereby Granted (except as before expected) with their appurtenances unto the said Thomas Benfield his Heirs and Assigns To the only Use and Beking (?) of said Thomas Benfield his Heirs and Assigns forever  to be hold of us our Heirs and Successors Proprietaries of Pennsylvania as of our Manor of Springetsbury in the said County of Philadelphia in free and common Socage by Fealty only lieu of all other Service yielding and paying Therefore yearly to Us our Heirs and Successors at the City of Philadelphia in the said County at or upon the First Day of March in every Year from the first Day of March last past one halfpenny Sterling for every acre of the same or Value thereof in Coin Current according as the Exchange shall then be between our said Province and the City of London to such Person or Persons as shall be from time to time appointed to Receive the same And in case of Nonpayment therof within Ninety Days next after the same shall become due, that then it shall and my be lawful for Us, our Heirs and Successors and their Reciever or Receivers unto and upon the hereby Granted Land and Premises to Reenter and the same to hold and possess until the said Quit Rent and all Arrears thereof together with all Charges accruing by means of such Nonpayment and Reentry be fully paid and discharged...........

Witness George Thomas Esquire, Lieutenant Governor of the said Province who in pirsimce and by virtue of certain Powers and Authorities to him for this Purpose (inter alia)  Granted by the said Proprietaries hath hereunto set his Hand and caused the Great Seal of the said Province to be affixed at Philadelphia this Sixth Day of August in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty Four The eighteenth year of the Reign of King George II over Great Britain UK and the Twenty seventh Year of the said Proprietaries Government......

(Signed)  George Thomas......Entered at Philadelphia  Patent Book H  Volume 2  page 149  September 24, 1744 

**** The transcription of the Patent Land Grant to Thomas Benfield was done by Richard and Jeanette (Benfield) Schmoyer being as true as possible to a photograph of the original document, but also using a transcription done by Harry N Benfield in his handwritten work.  The (?) were inserted by Jeanette to indicate uncertainty of a word...All other parentheses were in the original document.    


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             Thomas Benfield's Will - Sept 1, 1764

In the Name of God, Amen...

The first day of September in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Four.  I Thomas Benfield of Oley Hills, Berks County and Province of Pennsylvania, yeoman, Being weak in Body, but of Perfect mind and memory...Thanks be Given unto God therefore.  Calling to mind the mortality of my Body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to Die, Do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament.  That is to say principally and first of all, I give and recommend my Soul into the Hands of God that gave it and for my body, I recommend it to the Earth to be buried in a Christianlike and Decent manner at the Discretion of my Executor, Nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the Mighty power of God, and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it Hath Pleased God to bless me in this life, I give, devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form. Viz....Imprimis, it is my will and I do order that in the first place all my just debts and funeral charges be paid and satisfied........

ITEM - I give and bequeath unto Mary my dearly beloved wife the sum of one hundred pounds lawful money of Pennsylvania to be paid to her one year after my decease, also the privileges contained in an article between my executor and me bearing equal date with this my Last Will, during her natural life if she continues a widow but if she marries again shall leave the possession of the new house with the privileges and have the one hundred pounds above given and my best bed and bedding thereunto belonging, Also my best chest and all her wearing apparel.......

ITEM- I Give and bequeath unto my six children the following sums of lawful money of this Province to be paid unto them in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Four by my executor - Viz - Catharine Ulrich, Ten Pounds,  Mary Harp, Ten Pounds,  Elizabeth Updegrove, Ten Pounds,  John Coafman, Five Pounds, my son John Ten Pounds and my daughter Susannah, Ten Pounds...............

ITEM - I moreover give and bequeath unto my son John when he shall arrive at the age of one and twenty years, the Fifty two acres of Land which I last purchased, included in one Deed with my former purchase.   

ITEM - I give and Bequeath unto my Son Samuel Banfield all the Remainder of my Estate both Real and Personal wherever it may be found.  Whom I also constitute , make and ordain to be my only and Sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament and I Do Hereby utterly Disallow, Revoke and Disannul all and every other former Wills, Testament, Legacies and Executors by me in any way before this time named, willed and bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament.  ........

In witness whereof I have thereunto Set my Hand and Seal.........Thomas (x his mark) Banfield ...........Signed, Sealed, Published and Declared By the Said Thomas Banfield as his Last Will and Testament in the Presence of us the Subscribers.........

Frederick (x his mark) Nester,       Jacob Lorrentz     John Dorland.....................Register Generals Office, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania, the fourth day of June in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy, personally appeared Frederick Nester of the Township of Hereford in the County of Berks, aforesaid yeoman, aged Sixty Four years or thereabouts, and on his oath on the Holy Scriptures did solemnly depose that he was present with Jacob Lorrentz and John Dorland when Thomas Banfield in the aforewritten Testament and Will named did sign (with his Mark) and seal the same Will and Testament, that he, the deponent, does not remember to have heard the said Thomas publish and declare the same to be his Last Will and Testament (tho it might have been done in the English language, which the Deponent, a German, does not understand) but that as the said deponent was passing by the house of the said Thomas Banfield he was by him desired to come in, when he, the said Thomas  declared he was glad the Deponent had come that way, for he saved him the trouble of sending for him, and immediately upon entering the house, the said Thomas Banfield signed and sealed the said Writing and desired the deponent and the said Jacob Lorrentz, who has since departed the Province, and John Dorland, who is since deceased, to sign as wittnesses to the said Writing, who all signed as witnesses accordingly in the presence of each other and of the said Thomas Banfield...........

Signed James Read,  Register

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