An American Family History

Rachel Oxley

Oxley is also spelled Owsley, Oxleigh and Oxly.
Women played an essential role in American society as mothers and homemakers.

The Dutch were the first Europeans claim land in New Jersey. The region became a territory of England in 1664 when an English fleet sailed into New York Harbor and took control of Fort Amsterdam.

Rachel Oxley was born April 30, 1742 in Hopewell, Mercer (formerly Hunterdon) County, New Jersey. Her parents were Henry Oxley and Mary Everett.

On April 10, 1761 she was dismissed from the Hopewell Baptist Church to the Ketoctin Baptist Church in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Rachel never married. She had two sons who were mentioned in her will:
Joel Oxley (1772, married Sarah Troth), and
Jeremiah Oxley (1778, married Elizabeth Murray).

Thomas Harris, a Quaker, was disowned in 1772 from the Fairfax Monthly Meeting for fathering a child by a "daughter of Henry Oxley." It was also mentioned that he had promised to marry her.

January 26, 1771 her father gave her 50 acres of land in Loudoun County where her brother Henry had been living adjacent to her sister, Hannah Stephens, and brother, Everitt Oxley.

In 1777 when her father died she inherited

. . .all the goods that shee had before I came to live with her the last time and likewise all the remainder of my goods that I brought from Clear Oxley and I make and Ordain my Daughter Rachel Oxley Executrix. . .

Rachel must have been an unusual woman for her time and held in high esteem by her father. Normally an unmarried woman would not have owned land herself or have been made the executrix of the estate.

Rachel died when she was only 37 in 1779 in Loudoun County. Her son Joel was left in the care of her sister, Hannah Stephens.

In 1792 Jeremiah Oxley was apprenticed to Jeremiah McGahey to learn weaving. In 1794 Jeremiah McGahey, age 16, was apprenticed to Francis Titus.

Jeremiah married under the name Jeremiah Oxley McGhahay in Frederick, Virginia on February 1, 1801.
Baptist churches were found in early colonial settlements and grew out of the English Separatist movement and the doctrine of John Smyth who rejected infant baptism.
Children of Henry Oxley
and Mary Everett
  • Everit Oxley
  • Mary Oxley Howell
  • Elizabeth Oxley
  • Hannah Oxley Stephens
  • Henry Oxley
  • Rachel Oxley
  • Clare Oxley
  • John Oxley
  • The Society of Friends (Quakers) began in England in the 1650s, when they broke away from the Puritans. Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, as a safe place for Friends to live and practice their faith.

    New Jersey's first permanent European settlement was in 1660.




    From the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Volume VI, Virginia by William Wade Hinshaw

    Fairfax Monthly Meeting, 26da 12 mo 1771

    Thomas Harris complained of, quarreling & fighting & has a child laid to him by a daughter of Henry Oxley which he denies; disowned 29da 8mo 1772.

    A daughter of Henry Oxley has a child which she lays to Thomas Harris & claims he promised to marry her. Thomas disowned.


    Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800, an Index, compiled by Clayton Torrence

    Will of Rachel Oxley,
    Loudoun Co., exec 28 Oct 1779,
    pvd 08 Nov 1779
    Jesse Oxley, 1 shilling, left him by my father;
    son Jeremiah Oxley, two shillings;
    Mary Oxley (daughter of brother John), "my stricket gound"
    Mary Oxley (dau. of sister Hannah), "gold ring, red pocket book"
    Elizabeth Howman;
    sister Hannah Stevens;
    son Joel Oxley all estate bequeathed me by my father, Henry Oxley;
    "I leave Joel to James Stevens and wife Hannah."
    Exrs: James Stevens and John Oxley.
    Wit: James Stevens, Alice Stevens and Hannah Stevens. [Bk. B, p. 313]

    During the 17th and 18th centuries an adult unmarried woman was considered to have the legal status of feme sole, while a married woman had the status of feme covert. A feme sole could own property and sign contracts. A feme covert was not recognized as having legal rights and obligations distinct from those of her husband and could not own any property. When a woman became a widow she became a feme sole again.

    American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.

    Rachel Oxley A/I of December 8, 2779;
    Executor James Stevens;
    household items totaling 321.2 pounds.
    Appraisers Joh. Prue, William Douglass, Charles Bell. S/A with executor James Stevens; beginning October 1779;
    Settlement with Joel Oxley,
    Securities; John Littlejohn, Patrick Cavan, Samuel Murrey.

    A surety bond is a promise to assume responsibility for the obligation of a borrower. The person who provides this promise, is known as a surety or security. Bondsmen were usually relatives or family friends.

    Order Book O, page 255, 10 Apr 1792:
    Ordered that the overseers of the poor bind out Jeremiah Oxley otherwise called Jeremiah McGahey aged years the day of next to Jeremiah McGahey to be taught the trade and mystery of a weaving according to Law and said McGahey agrees to give said child a horse and saddle of the value of ten pounds at the expiration of his indenture and also to learn him to read write.

    Order Book P, page 394, 15 Apr 1794
    Ordered that the overseers of the Poor of Shelburne Parish bind out Jeremiah McGahey aged sixteen years last february to Francis Tytus according to Law.

    Book Q, page 144, 14 April 1795 --
    Ordered that the Overseers of the poor seek proper places and bind out the four children of Jeremiah McGahey according to Law.

    Hunterdon County was originally part of Burlington County, West Jersey. It was set off from Burlington County on March 11, 1714. It included Amwell, Hopewell, and Maidenhead Townships.

    Catoctin Mountain is part of the eastern ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is also called Ketoctin, Kittochiny, Kittockton, Kittocton, and South Mountain. The Ketoctin Baptist Church in Loudoun County, Virginia was founded in 1745. It was a log church with an earth floor. Many settlers in the area were atheists or deists and when others gathered for services, they remained outside socializing.
    Hopewell is currently in Mercer (formerly Hunterdon) County, New Jersey. Mercer County was formed in 1838 from portions of other counties including Hunterdon. Early settlers found that their deeds were worthless and they were forced to repurchase their land or relocate. On April 23, 1715 the settlers who stayed organized Hopewell Baptist Church.

    Bound children were indentured servants whose master provided training in a craft, board, lodging, and clothes for seven years or until the child came of age.
    Colonial Maryland
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    New Jersey Baptists
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    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
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    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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