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Replies: 3


Posted: 1193616761000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Deweese
Note: This study was forwarded to me on October 28, 2007 by Jack C. Vaughn, member of the Deweese email discussion list, for the sole purpose of publishing this record to the Deweese Message Boards. Please give proper credit and quote sources when using this research.

Also note that there may appear to be some odd numberings amongst the text. Since this was originally in formatted text, this numbering refers to sources listed at the end of the document.


by Jack C. Vaughn, PHD* and Ted D. DeWeese

The Lewis Deweese who is subject of this study has a great many living descendants in the United States today, but it has proven to be extremely difficult to convincingly place him in the overall Deweese family outline that has been thus far constructed. This essay is a more carefully documented version of one which I co-authored with the late Ted DeWeese, who for many years served as Editor for the Dewees/Deweese Family Newsletter.


In order to identify the parents of Lewis Deweese, it is important to know where he lived during his younger years, and when. The earliest known public records naming Lewis are two minor court cases in Kent Co., DE. In the court held there on 14 and 15 January 1700, the case of John Mulruny vs Lewis “Dueess” was cited as having been withdrawn before court1. In the Kent Co., DE court held there in December 1701 or January 1702, “Luies” Dewees was cited for not appearing to help repair the roads2. The event from which the 1700 case resulted likely occurred in late 1699, thus far the earliest known date for Lewis Deweese on any record in DE. If it is assumed that Lewis would not have been called into court while underage, then his year of birth can be estimated as no later than ca. 1678.

There is no evidence to show that Lewis moved to DE with his parents, for if so we would expect to see his father on the 1693 tax lists which survive for every county in DE, and yet the Deweese surname does not appear on those lists3. It is therefore concluded that Lewis Deweese migrated to DE from some other location between 1693-1699. Determination of that location is clearly the key to identifying his parents, and the extremely rare surname in the early records in America has proven to be very helpful in this regard.


Lewis Deweese died in Mispillion Hundred, Kent Co., DE in the Spring of 1743, but did not leave a Will or land partition record naming his children, and no family Bible has ever been found from which to prove the names of his parents. Letters of Administration on his estate were issued to William Deweese, believed to be his eldest son, on 5 April 17435. The birth year of Lewis’ eldest son, William, was determined to be in 1707 based on the contents of a written deposition by William dated 18 February 17566. In this record, William states that his age in 1756 was “49 (years) or thereabouts.” Insofar as no other Deweese male of comparable age was living in Kent Co. during the mid-1700s7, it was possible to identify Lewis’ probable sons and ascertain their approximate birth years from study of the personal property tax lists. In estimation of birth years, we assumed that a male became eligible to pay the tax at age 21, and that on the following year his name would then first appear on the lists. Study of various Kent Co., DE courthouse records enabled us to identify the wives of Lewis’ sons, and the contents of a Sussex Co., DE Chancery Court record dated 31 July 17598 told us that Lewis had married Mary Wheeler, daughter of John and Ruth Wheeler. The 1707 birthdate for William, the earliest son to appear on the Kent Co. tax lists, suggests that Lewis married no later than ca. 1706. The children are all believed to have been born in Kent Co., DE, and are enumerated in Genealogical Summary.


In a power of attorney dated 26 March 1702, “Herman op den Graeff, late of Germantown in the province of Pennsilvania (sic), weaver, now of Kent County of the territories annexed to the province of Pennsilvania ….” requests that his friend John Gibb of Kent Co. sell his lands in Germantown, PA9. The record was witnessed by Lewis “Dewes,” believed to have been the Lewis who is subject of this study. Herman op den Graeff had earlier sold 50 acres of land to Gerrit Hendricks de Wees in Germantown on 1 March 169010, shortly after Gerrits’s arrival there from Manhattan Island, NY City11.

A second Philadelphia Co. record naming Lewis Deweese is found in the Will of Joseph Pidgeon dated 12 March 171012. Here, Joseph Pidgeon mentions owning “a tract of land in Kent County now in the possession of one Lewis “Dewes,” to whom I sold but never got (…. illegible ….), I having his bond for fifty-six pounds, which if he pays ….” Lewis did eventually make payment on 24 May 1727 to the estate of one Joseph Pidgeon13. Interestingly, the deed stipulates that this land was located on the north side of Fishing Creek, a branch of Mispillion Creek. This is informative, because in conjunction with a companion record we obtain confirmation that William Deweese was son of Lewis Deweese. The companion record, dated 30 May 174314, states that William Deweese of Kent Co. obtained a warrant to have 200 acres of land surveyed “on the north side of Fishing Creek adjoining land improved by his father” (not named).


Who were the parents of Lewis Deweese of Kent Co., DE? According to P.E. LaMunyan in the 1905 genealogy The Dewees Family15, Lewis was among the sons of Gerrit Hendricks de Wees, an early Dutch immigrant to Manhattan Island, NY City who subsequently migrated to Germantown, PA. However, this book doesn’t provide any evidences in support of that controversial position. Gerrit’s family structure and his migration to New Amsterdam from Amsterdam, Holland in about 1663, followed by his migration to Germantown, PA around 1690 have previously been both described and documented16. As previously mentioned, the Deweese surname is very rare in early American records (pre-1700), and any man of sufficient age shown to have lived where Lewis may have resided in his early years must be carefully considered as a candidate for his father. The only man with this profile known to have been living anywhere in America was Gerrit Hendricks de Wees, who appears on the 1693 Germantown, Philadelphia Co., PA tax list under his patronym “Geritt Henrix”17, an identification which we have previously documented18. This is a reasonable hypothesis to explore, for in addition to a common linkage to Germantown for Lewis and Gerrit, Gerrit’s children are known to have been born in the interval 1664-1682 (Genealogical Summary), and as mentioned above Lewis was born prior to 1678.


In our previous study on Gerrit19, we presented the known baptismal records derived from the original records of The Dutch Reformed Church in New York City, but did not attempt to estimate birth years for his children. The only one of his children for whom we have a birth year is William, known to have been born in 1678 as calculated from his gravestone inscription at The Upper Germantown Burying Ground20, who was baptized 30 March 1680 in New Amsterdam. Working out from this point we estimated birthdates for Gerrit’s known children, who are enumerated in Genealogical Summary, all believed to have been born on Manhattan Island, New York City.


On the 14th day of the 4th month in 1692 “Gerrit Hendricks and Sytie his wife delivered unto Aret Klincken an indenture of apprenticeship concerning their son William Gerrits”21. On the 18th day of the 8th month in 1692 “Gerrit Henrix (sic) delivered unto Andrew Souply (or Souplis) an indenture of apprenticeship concerning his son Lamber(t) Gerrits”22. The son Lambert is mentioned once again in these same early Germantown court records for “behaving abusively” on the 13th day of the 9th month in 169423. This is the last known record of Lambert as a resident of Germantown, suggesting that he migrated after 1694. The above-cited William Gerrits was using his patronym, and is undoubtedly identical with the William de Wees, resident of Germantown, who purchased 25 acres of land there on 10 February 170324, showing that he had chosen to drop the patronym when he reached maturity.

The hypothesis that Lewis Deweese of Kent Co., DE was eldest son of Gerrit Hendricks de Wees initially appears to be disproven after examination of the baptismal records presented in Genealogical Summary, but a more careful analysis has led us to a different conclusion. This analysis utilizes a working knowledge of the old patronymic naming system25.


A very informative, and helpful, article on the Dutch patronymic naming system points out that “The New Netherland system of naming children often helps a genealogist in placing a doubtful name in its proper position in the family history. This system was subject, however, to variations ….”. Strictly applied, this system resulted in naming the first son for his paternal grandfather, the second son for his maternal grandfather, the first daughter for her maternal grandmother, the second daughter for her paternal grandmother, and so forth. There is good evidence that Gerrit Hendricks (his patronym) and his wife Sytie Liuwes (her patronym) utilized this naming system, albeit with some variations, and analysis of the origins for their childrens’ names has led us to the conclusion that their eldest surviving son who later emerges as “Lewis Deweese” was named for his maternal grandfather, Liuwes Lamberts.

Gerrit and Sytie named their first child Willemyntie, a departure from the New Netherland naming system. However, study of records in Amsterdam, Holland has shown that Gerrit’s younger brother, Willem, died there in 1663. That first child was probably named in his memory. Moving on, the system tells us that the first two daughters should be named after Sytie and Gerrit’s mothers, respectively. Although we don’t know the name of Sytie’s mother, the New Netherland naming system suggests that her name may have been Dievertie. The second daughter was named Ariaentie, and we ask what was the name of Gerrit’s mother? Study of the original Amsterdam orphans’ court records dated 24 November 1661 for the estate of the deceased Hendrick Adriaens de Wees27 tells us that Hendrick’s wife was Ariaentje or Adriaentje Jans28 (her patronym), and confirms that one of their children was Gerrit29, then age 2130. The New Netherland system tells us that the first two sons should be named after Gerrit and Sytie’s fathers, respectively. The baptismal records for Gerrit’s children (Genealogical Summary) show that the first two sons were named Lambert, suggesting early death of the first, and that the second surviving son was Hendrick. We know from the cited record that Gerrit’s father was named Hendrick, and so there is a reversal in the names chosen here, suggesting that Sytie’s father was named Lambert. Insofar as she used the patronym Sytie Liuwes (“daughter of Liuwes”), we believe that Sytie’s father was named Liuwes Lamberts. It is clear from these observations that Gerrit and Sytie were basically using the old New Netherland system for naming their children, and we arrive at the conclusion that their eldest surviving son was named for his maternal grandfather, LIUWES Lamberts. Did the son (Liuwes) Lambert Gerrits de Wees choose to be known as simply Lewis Deweese when he reached maturity?


As discussed above, upon reaching maturity Gerrit’s son William dropped his patronym and chose to be known as William de Wees, and study of early Germantown records shows that this is also the case for the son Cornelius. If it is true that upon reaching maturity, (Liuwes) Lambert Gerrits de Wees chose to simply be called Lewis Deweese and is the same man who appears on the Kent Co., DE records by early 1700, then we would expect that these two men would have the same occupation, which is a kind of identification “signature.” It is considered highly significant that in his 25 March 1725 Will31, Andrew Souplis’ occupation is stated to have been that of a weaver. This is an important observation, because we would expect that during his apprenticeship to him, documented above, Lambert would have learned that trade. Significantly, it is known that Lewis Deweese of Kent Co., DE was also a weaver32. This observation supports the conclusion that Lewis Deweese and (Liuwes) Lambert de Wees were identical people, a conclusion that is also given credence from our analysis of the New Netherland naming system as it was applied by Gerrit Hendricks de Wees and his wife Sytie Liuwes, and of course the linkage (above) of both Gerrit Hendricks de Wees and Lewis Deweese to early Germantown, PA. Finally, it is likely not a coincidence that Lewis Deweese of Kent Co., DE named two of his sons William and Cornelius, as described in Genealogical Summary, most probably in memory of his surviving brothers having those given names. It would of course be wonderful had Lewis Deweese deposited some document for us to find in which he states that he was among the sons of Gerrit Hendricks de Wees, or that upon maturity he chose to be known by the name of his maternal grandfather, for whom he had been named.

Research in genealogy often requires coming up with different kinds of evidences to establish a connection between people, when the obvious resources are lacking, which is challenging but also among the most interesting aspects of the work. In a court of law, the family placement developed in this essay for Lewis Deweese would be viewed as based largely on circumstantial evidence, but as genealogists this is often the best that can be done until newly discovered original records become available for study.


1. GERRIT HENDRICKS DE WEES was born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1640, and was a son of Hendrick Adriaens de Wees who died in 1661, probably also in Amsterdam, and Ariaentje Jans. The City of Amsterdam orphans’ court records dated 24 November 1661 confirm that Gerrit, then age 21, was among the surviving children. Gerrit Hendrix (sic) “from Amsterdam” married SYTIE LIUWES in Leeuwarden, Friesland Province, Holland on 28 September 166233. Gerrit died in Germantown, PA around 1701, when his widow Sytie sold half of his land there to John Conrad Codweis on 23 December 170134, and on the same day sold the other half to John (Hans) Henry Mehls35.

Children of Gerrit and Sytie (Liuwes) de Wees, all baptisms recorded at The Dutch Reformed Church on Manhattan Island, New Amsterdam (now New York City)36:
i. WILLEM(YNTIE) HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1664; baptized 9 November 1664; married New York City 29 May 1689 CLAES (NICHOLAS) RITTENHUYSEN37; died 1737 Roxborough twp., Philadelphia Co., PA38.
ii. DIEVERTIE HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1666; baptized 7 November 1666; no further information.
iii. ????? , born circa 1668 (a gap in baptisms, indicating early death of child).
iv. LAMBERT HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1670; baptized 5 May 1672 (presumed to have died before
v. ARIAENTIE HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1672; baptized 24 September 1673; no further
2 vi. LAMBERT HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1674; baptized 3 October 1675; believed to be identical
with LEWIS DEWEESE of Kent Co., DE; married probably Sussex Co., DE circa 1706 MARY
WHEELER, daughter of John and Ruth Wheeler; died 1743 Mispillion Hundred, Kent Co., DE.
vii. HENDRICK HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1676; baptized 13 October 1677; died 30 June 1694 Germantown, Philadelphia Co., PA39.
viii.WILLEM HENDRICKSZEN, born 1678; baptized 30 March 1680; married probably Germantown, PA circa 1704 ANNA CHRISTINA MEHLS40, daughter of John (Hans) Hendrick Mehls41; died 3 March 1745 Germantown, PA42.
ix. LYSBETH HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1680; baptized 2 April 1681; no further information.
x. CORNELIS HENDRICKSZEN, born circa 1682; baptized 20 December 1682; married probably Germantown, PA circa 1706 MARGARET KUSTER43, daughter of Paulus Kuster and Gertrude Doors44; died after 1734 likely near Hanover twp., Philadelphia (now Montgomery) Co., PA45.

2. LAMBERT alias LEWIS DEWEESE (Gerrit) was born on Manhattan Island, New Amsterdam (now New York City) circa 1674; married circa 1706 MARY WHEELER; died 1743 Kent Co., DE [documentation cited above].

Children of Lewis and Mary (Wheeler) Deweese, all born in Kent Co., DE, based on study of personal property tax lists:
i. WILLIAM DEWEESE, born 1707; married probably Kent Co., DE circa 1738 SARAH46 (surname unknown); died 1761 Kent Co., DE47.
ii. ????? , born circa 1710 (a gap in the male births, possibly indicating a daughter).
iii. RACHEL DEWEESE, born circa 1713; unmarried on 29 August 175448.
iv. CORNELIUS DEWEESE, born circa 1716; married probably Kent Co., DE circa 1747 ESTHER DRAPER, daughter of Alexander Draper49; died 1791 Kent Co., DE50.
v. SAMUEL DEWEESE, born circa 1719; married probably Kent Co., DE circa 1741 MARY51 (surname unknown); died 1753 Kent Co., DE52.
vi. HEZEKIAH DEWEESE, born circa 1722; married probably Kent Co., DE circa 1747 MARY KING, daughter of Isaac King53; died 1760 Kent Co., DE54.
vii. JONATHAN DEWEESE, born circa 1725; married probably Kent Co., DE circa 1753 RACHEL MERCHANT55 (surname unproven); died 1777 Caswell Co., NC56.

* Jack C. Vaughn, 10 Bull Run Drive, Oxford, OH 45056, is the author to whom correspondence should be addressed. He serves as Family Archivist for the Dewees/Deweese National Research Team, an informal group of Dewees descendants who are working jointly to compile the history of this historically significant family in America. The organization was established by the late Col. George Byers of South Bend, IN. The late Ted D. Deweese of Salem, OR served as Editor for The Dewees/Deweese Family Newsletter for many years, and shared equally in the analyses of information leading to the development of this article. The late Kay DeWeese of Piqua, OH was a skilled, energetic and dedicated family history researcher and good friend who enthusiastically encouraged us to develop this article, and to whose memory this article is respectfully dedicated. The authors gratefully thank the generous personnel at The Delaware State Archives in Dover, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the “Gemeentearchief” or City Archivist of Amsterdam, Netherlands for helping us to access and view the invaluable original records.
This article is built upon, and extends, the earlier study authored by Curtis Dewees and Jack C. Vaughn, “Gerrit Hendricks de Wees: 17th Century Dutch Immigrant to New Amsterdam,” The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 125(1994): 1-7 [hereafter cited as Dewees and Vaughn (1994), Gerrit Hendricks].
1 L. DeValinger (1959), Court Records of Kent County, Delaware 1680-1705, pp. 170-171.
2 ibid., p. 240.
3 Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine (1991), 37.
4 All vital events cited in Genealogical Summary.
5 Kent Co., DE Wills I:65.
6 Kent Co., DE Deeds R:97.
7 Kent Co., DE Personal Property Tax Lists.
8 Sussex Co., DE Chancery Case #W-51, 31 July 1759. This document contains within it the previously unfilled Will of John Wheeler of Sussex Co., DE, written on 23 December 1708, naming Ruth his wife and their children, each of whom at that early date still had the Wheeler surname except one, a “Mary ----wice” (illegible), believed to have been Mary “Dewice” (sic). The document goes on to say that the grandparents of William “Dewheese” (who must have been the son of Lewis with that given name) were John and Ruth Wheeler, thus making the connection between the early Deweese and Wheeler families very clear.
9 Grund und Lager Buch, Germantown twp., Philadelphia Co., PA, p. 197, 26 March 1702.
10 Philadelphia Co., PA Deeds I-9:218-220, 1 March 1690.
11 Dewees and Vaughn (1994), Gerrit Hendricks.
12 Philadelphia Co., PA Wills C:357-360, 12 March 1710.
13 Kent Co., DE Deeds I:220-223, 24 May 1727.
14 Kent Co., DE Land Warrants, D-3, No. 102, 30 May 1743.
15 P.E. LaMunyan (1905), The Dewees Family. The research leading to this valuable source book was carried out during the late 1800s by Mrs. Harriet LaMunyan, an invalid who was forced to do her work by correspondence. After her death, her husband gathered together her many genealogical notes and published this book in her memory. Not surprisingly, some family relationships depicted in the book are badly garbled, and this is the case for some of the early generations descending from Lewis Deweese.
16 Dewees and Vaughn (1994), Gerrit Hendricks.
17 Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1884), 8:99.
18 Dewees and Vaughn (1994), Gerrit Hendricks.
19 ibid.
20 P. Keyser (1885), “Inscriptions in the Upper Germantown Burying Ground,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 9:84.
21 Germantown, PA Court Records Book, 1691-1707, p. 3.
22 ibid.
23 ibid.
24 Philadelphia Co., PA Exemplification Records I(8):386-387, 10 February 1703.
25 In the Netherlands, as well as in Scandinavia and parts of northern Germany, patronymics were used in lieu of, or in addition to, surnames. For example, Gerrit who was son of Hendrick Adriaens de Wees would be known as Gerrit Hendricks or Gerrit Hendrickszen, that is, “Gerrit son of Hendrick,” or as Gerrit Hendricks de Wees, or simply as Gerrit de Wees. Gerrit’s son Willem initially appears in the early Germantown records as William Gerrits, but later chose to be known as William de Wees.
26 “New Netherland Genealogy” (1911), The New Netherland Register 1:83.
27 Amsterdam Orphans’ Administrations 31:59, 24 November 1661.
28 ibid.
29 ibid.
30 ibid.
31 Philadelphia Co., PA Wills E:26, 25 March 1725.
32 Kent Co., DE Deeds M:24, 8 May 1739, giving occupation of Lewis Dewees as a weaver.
33 Leeuwarden Dutch Reformed Church marriage records, FHL #108,004, vol. 6, p. 68.
34 Philadelphia Co., PA Exemplification Records I(8):390-392, 23 December 1701.
35 ibid. I(8):392-394.
36 “Baptisms from 1639 to 1730 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York,” Collections of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (1901), vol. 2.
37 “Marriages from 1639 to 1801 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York,” Collections of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (1890), vol. 1.
38 D. Cassel (1893), A Genea-Biographical History of the Rittenhouse Family, pp. 73-74.
39 W. Hinshaw (1969), Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 2:443 [non-Quaker tombstones].
40 Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Publications 5:28, records the baptism at Skippack, PA of Gerardus, son of Willem de Wees and his wife Anna Katrina Mehls, 29 May 1710.
41 Germantown, PA Court Records Book, 1691-1707, 28th day of the 4th month 1701, John (Hans) Henry Mehls is noted as having been chosen as Recorder. Insofar as William Dewees’s wife Anna Christina Mehls was most probably married in Germantown about 1704, we expect her father lived there at that time, and this John (Hans) Henry Mehls is the only man with that surname on the records there that early, from which it has been concluded that he was most probably Anna Christina’s father. W. Hull (1935), William Penn and the Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania, made an extensive compilation in Appendix C, “Dutch and German Settlers in Germantown, 1683-1709,” in which the only person of the Mehls surname is Hans (John) Heinrich Mehls.
42 P. Keyser (1885), “Inscriptions in the Upper Germantown Burying Ground,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 9:84.
43 Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Publications 5:31, records the baptism at Skippack, PA of Catrina, daughter of Kornelis de Wees and Margriet Koster, 4 September 1711.
44 J. White (1991), “The Descendants of Paulus and Gertrude Kusters of Kaldenkirchen, Germany and Germantown, Pennsylvania, the First Four Generations.”
45 Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Publications 1:172, records the land holders in Hanover twp., Philadelphia Co. (now Montgomery Co.), PA for the year 1734, listing Cornelius de Wees.
46 Kent Co., DE Wills A-14:55-57, 11 December 1760, proven 11 February 1761, contains the Will of William Deweese and names Sarah as his wife.
47 ibid.
48 Kent Co., DE Orphans Court, DE Archives #A-14:51, 29 August 1754. One Rachel Deweese, administratrix for the deceased Samuel Deweese’s estate, submitted a report to the court on expenses incurred while performing her duties. This Rachel was not wife to Samuel, or to any of Lewis Deweese’s known sons, and she would not have been old enough to have been Samuel’s daughter. It is believed she was a sister to the deceased Samuel Deweese.
49 Kent Co., DE Wills A-15:23-27, 30 December 1743, Alexander Draper’s Will names daughter Esther.
50 Kent Co., DE Wills A-14:29-30, 1 March 1786, proven 2 March 1791.
51 Kent Co., DE Wills K:65-66, 11 September 1753, records Mary Deweese as “widow and relict of Samuel Deweese.”
52 ibid.
53 Kent Co., DE Wills A-29:24, 15 June 1749, Isaac King’s Will names daughter Mary Deweese.
54 Kent Co., DE Wills K:222, 14 February 1760, administration of Hezekiah Deweese estate to widow Mary Deweese.
55 We sometimes derive valuable clues about family connections from unusual names given to the children. Jonathan Deweese’s second son, Hezekiah, named children after close family members. For example, his first son was Jonathan, and he also named a daughter Rachel. Hezekiah gave the very distinctive and unusual name “Merchant” (or Marchant) to his second son. These considerations suggested to Deweese family researcher Judith Walters that perhaps Jonathan’s wife was named Rachel Merchant, a reasonable hypothesis. If so, then we would expect to find this surname on the Kent Co. tax lists around the time that Jonathan is believed to have married there, and this is the case. The tax lists between 1752-1755, bracketing the estimated year for Jonathan’s marriage to Rachel, list only one person with that surname, one William Merchant. We don’t know much of anything about his family structure, however.
56 Caswell Co., NC Wills 1:20, 28 September 1774, proven 10 December 1777.

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