History of Bucks County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
Names and Page # Index


THE BARNSLEY FAMILY. The late Joseph Barnsley, of Hartsville, Warminister township, Bucks county, was of English descent. He was born in Newtown, Bucks county, June 9, 1820, a son of William and Jane (Van Horn) Barnsley, and grandson of John and Elizabeth (Van Court) Barnsley.

John Barnsley emigrated from Yorkshire, England, about 1760. He was the first member of his line to found a family on American soil. His uncle, Thomas Barnsley, was a major of the British army in the "60th Royal American Regiment," and had fought in the French war under Lord Loudon in 1756. After the settlement of the "French and Indian trouble" in connection with Braddock’s defeat, he resigned his commission, went back to England, whence he returned with his wife and nephew John, and bought an estate of five hundred acres on the Neshaminy creek in what is now Bensalem township. Here he built a mansion, the bricks for which were brought from England. This house is yet standing, a fine representation of colonial architecture. Major Barnsley died in 1771, his wife surviving him several years. They had no children, and the executors being Tories, who were expatriated, the estate was not settled for several years.

John Barnsley, one of the four heirs, received his portion in continental money, and not investing it at once it became worthless. He was married about the time of his uncle’s death and managed the estate until his aunt’s demise. On the breaking out of the revolution he became one of a committee in Bensalem to drive off the cattle to keep them from the British. In January, 1777, he was with Washington’s army in the night march from Trenton to Princeton. His team was impressed to haul ammunition, and in the battle of Princeton he was ordered by Washington in person to drive along the line to supply the soldiers. His time expiring shortly after, he came home suffering great hardships on the way. He followed farming in Bensalem for several years, finally buying property at Newtown, where he lived until his death, February 2, 1796. His wife was Elizabeth Van Court, whose ancestors were French Huguenots, originally called De la Court. She was born at Huntingdon valley, Montgomery county, in 1751, and died in 1824.

Their son, William, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Bensalem township, November 8, 1775, and removed with his parents to Newtown township when a boy. He married, January 21, 1808, Jane Van Horn, born in Lower Makefield, March 25, 1784, who died July 25, 1861. Their children were: Mary, John, Thomas and Joseph. He lived in Newtown until 1831, when he bought a farm at Huntingdon valley, Moreland township, where he resided until his death in 1848. He was a successful farmer and financier, acquiring three farms, besides other property. His son John remained on the homestead farm in Newtown, where he lived until his decease, January 11, 1880. He followed surveying and held the office of magistrate for thirty-five years. Mary, died unmarried January 16, 1889. Thomas lived on the homestead at Huntingdon valley until his death, September 6, 1866.

Joseph Barnsley was reared at Newtown and Huntingdon valley, and in 1845 located on the farm in Warminster which he later inherited. He resided there until 1868, when he was appointed United States revenue collector for fifth district and transferred his home to Doylestown. On the expiration of his term of office in 1870, he did not return to his farm which he had rented, but purchased a new home, the beautiful "Roseland" property at Hartsville, where he lived until his sudden death from heart trouble in full vigor of mind and body January 12, 1888. He married January 21, 1847, Lydia Harper Walton, who was born in Horsham township, November 28, 1826, and at this writing, September, 1905, survives him, living in Hatboro, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania. They had no issue. Mr. Barnsley was a man of clear-cut principles and staunch integrity, of strong mental powers with a philosophical bent, brightened by a rich vein of humor. He had a tender heart and generous nature, becoming a public benefactor within the circle of his influence. He was further an individual of intense public spirit and patriotism. A Republican in politics he took a lively interest in the success of his party. One of the best known citizens of the township, his personal popularity led to his election to the state legislature in 1858, 1859, and 1860, up to that time the first nominee of his party to serve three successive terms from this county. From early manhood he had been called to fill various public offices and positions of trust and confidence. He was president of The
Farmers’ Hay Market Company, of Philadelphia for eleven years prior to this death, and director of Hatboro National Bank from its organization. He lies interred in the graveyard of St. Luke’s Protestant Episcopal church in Newtown. In his will he bequeathed an ample trust fund for the erection and maintenance of a memorial library and reading room in this town, the home of his boyhood and last resting place of his parents and family.

Text taken from page 314

Davis, William W. H., A. M. History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

Transcribed January 2002 as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published January 2002 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/

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