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


   HON. EDWARD M. PAXSON, of Bycot House, Buckingham township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, ex-chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, was born in Buckingham, September 3, 1824, and is a son of Thomas and Ann (JOHNSON) PAXSON, and comes of an old and distinguished family that have been residents of Bucks county from its earliest settlement.

   James, Henry and William PAXSON, brothers, came to Pennsylvania in the ship "Samuel," arriving in the river Delaware the middle of the eleventh month, 1682.  Another brother, Thomas, died at sea on the same ship as did the wife and son (Henry) of Henry.  Henry PAXTON came from Bycott House, in the parish of Stowe, Oxfordshire, and James and William from the parish of Marsh Gibbon, county of Bucks, near Stowe.  Bycot House is said to have been the ancestral home of the family for many generations.  The subject of this sketch, in a visit there several years ago, found a Henry PAXTON then occupying the premises.  The family were Friends prior to their coming to Pennsylvania, and brought certificates from Bucks Monthly Meeting in Buckinghamshire, England.  The family settled in Middletown, where Henry took as a second wife, Margery, the widow of Charles PLUMLY, August 13, 1684, his nephew, Henry PAXSON, son of James, marrying her daughter, Ann PLUMLY.  Elizabeth, the only child of Henry PAXSON, Sr., who reached Pennsylvania with him, married Richard BURGESS, who in 1696 purchased two hundred acres on the river Delaware in Solebury, and what was long known as "Paxson's Island," in the river adjoining, then known as "Turkey Point."  This tract and island later became the property of William PAXSON, son of James, and remained in the family many generations.  Henry PAXSON was also a very extensive land holder in Solebury, owning about one thousand acres there, and numerous large tracts elsewhere.  He died about 1725, and, having no living descendants, devised his immense holdings of real estate to his nephews, the Solebury land going to William and Henry, the sons of his brother James.

   James PAXSON and Jane his wife, who came from Marsh Gibbon, in the county of Bucks, England, as before recited, were the parents of four children: Sarah, born in England, 8mo. 28, 1671, married 1692, John BURLING; William, born 10mo 25, 1675, married Abigail POWNALL; Henry, born in Bucks county, 7mo. 20, 1683, married Ann PLUMLY; and James, born 4mo. 10, 1687, died 7mo. 16, 1687.  Jane, the mother, died 2mo. 7, 1710, and James, the father, 2mo. 29, 1722.

   William PAXSON, the second son of James and Jane, born in Bucks county, England, on Christmas day, 1675, was the direct ancestor of Judge PAXSON.  He married, February 20, 1695, Abigail POWNALL, youngest daughter of George and Elinor POWNALL, of Laycock, Cheshire, England, who, with their son, Reuben and daughters Elizabeth, Sarah, Rachel, and Abigail, came to Pennsylvania in the ship "Friends' Adventure," arriving in the Delaware river 8mo. (October) 11, 1682, and located in Falls township, where George was killed by a falling tree thirty days after his arrival.  Another son George was born eleven days after his father's death.  The widow Elinor later married Joshua BOARE.  Abigail was born in England in 1678.  She became a recommended minister among Friends, and died in Solebury, Bucks county, 4mo. 17, 1749.  Her husband, William PAXSON, died in 1719.  Their children were: Mary, born 11mo. 2, 1696; Abigail, born 6mo. 20, 1700; James, born 9mo. 5, 1702, married (first) Mary HORSMAN in 1723, and (second) Margaret HODGES in 1730; Thomas, born 9mo. 20, 1712, married Jane CANBY; Reuben, who married Alice SIMCOCK; Esther, who married a CLAYTON; and Amy, who never married.

   Thomas PAXSON, son of William and Abigail (POWNALL) PAXSON, in the division of the real estate in Solebury fell heir to the farm lately occupied by the JOHNSON family near Centre Bridge, and the island lying opposite.  He later purchased other large tracts of land in Solebury, some of which still remain in the tenure of his descendants.  Thomas died in 1782.  He married in 1732 Jane CANBY, daughter of Thomas CANBY, an eminent preacher among Friends, (son of Benjamin CANBY of Thorn, Yorkshire) who had come to Pennsylvania with his uncle Henry BAKER.  He was three times married, and had nineteen children who intermarried with the most prominent families of Bucks county and have left numerous descendants.  The children of Thomas and Jane CANBY PAXSON, were: Joseph, born 9mo. 10, 1733, married 6mo. 28, 1758, Mary HESTON; Benjamin, born 8mo. 1, 1739, married 6mo. 16, 1763, Deborah TAYLOR, (second) in 1797 Rachel NEWBOLD; and (third) in 1807 Mary PICKERING; Oliver, born 7mo. 9, 1741, married, 1766, Ruth WATSON; Rachel, born 3mo. 6, 1744, married, 1764, John WATSON; Jacob, born 11mo. 6, 1745, married in 1769 Lydia BLAKEY; Johnathan, born 11mo. 14, 1748, married, 1771, Rachel BILES; Isaiah, born 9mo. 20, 1751, married, 1775, Mary KNOWLES; and Martha, who died young.  Of the above named sons of Thomas and Jane (CANBY) PAXSON, Joseph was devised a farm at Limeport, Solebury township; Benjamin, a farm at Aquetong, still owned by the children of his grandson, Elias Ely PAXSON, one of whom is the wife of Colonel Henry D. PAXSON; Oliver, who married (second) Ruth JOHNSON, was left a farm in the Pike tract, near New Hope; Isaiah, the island known as paxSon's Island, where he died without issue; Jacob, the homestead farm at Centre Bridge; Jonathan, the farm at Rabbit Run, now owned by Thomas MAGILL.

   Jacob PAXSON, born 11mo. 6, 1745, in Solebury township, fourth son and fifth child of Thomas and Jane (CANBY) PAXSON, was the grandfather of Judge PAXSON.   He married 6 mo. 19, 1769, Lydia BLAKEY, and at about that date purchased a farm and mill property on Tacony creek, in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, and settled thereon.  Here his wife died, leaving him two children, and he married a second time, in 1777, Mary SHAW, born in Plumstead township, Bucks county, 5mo. 28, 1759, daughter of Johnathan and Sarah (GOOD) SHAW, the former born in Plumstead, June 15, 1730, died there May 24, 1790, was a son of James and Mary (BROWN) SHAW, the pioneers of the SHAW family in Plumstead.  James being the son of John and Susanna SHAW, early English settlers in Northampton, and born January 9, 1694, and married at Abington Friends' Meeting, September 24, 1718, Mary BROWN, daughter of Thomas and Mary BROWN, who came from Barking Essex county, England, and after residing for some time in Philadelphia settled near Abington, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania.  Thomas BROWN was one of the earliest landowners in Plumstead township, and he and his sons were pioneer Friends in that section and the founders of Plumstead Meeting.   In 1724 Thomas conveyed to his son-in-law, James SHAW, two hundred acres of land on the upper line of Buckingham township, that remained the SHAW homestead for over a century and a half.  The ancestors of Sarah (GOOD) SHAW, were also early Quaker settlers in Plumstead and adjoining parts of New Britain.  Jacob and Mary (SHAW) PAXSON were the parents of twelve children, all born in Abington township, Montgomery county, where Jacob PAXSON continued to reside until his death in Buckingham, in 1832, while on a visit to his son-in-law, William H. JOHNSON.  The children of Jacob and Mary (SHAW) PAXSON were: John, Sarah, Isaiah, Jonathan, Jane, Thomas, Jacob, Oliver, and Ruth, most of whom married and reared families, whose descendants are now widely scattered over Bucks, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties and elsewhere.

   Thomas PAXSON, sixth child of Jacob and Mary (SHAW) PAXSON, was born in Montgomery county in 1793, and reared in that county.  He married, in 1817, Ann JOHNSON, daughter of Samuel and Martha (HUTCHINSON) JOHNSON, of Buckingham, and granddaughter of William JOHNSON, who was a native of Ireland, and came to America about the year 1754, in his nineteenth year.  He was a man of high scholastic attainments, and a great student on scientific subjects, and delivered numerous lectures on electricity and kindred subjects of the highest merit.  He married Ruth POTTS, of an eminent New Jersey family, and resided for a time in Philadelphia, where his son Samuel was born in 1763.   He soon after removed with his family to Charleston, South Carolina, where he died in 1767 at the age of thirty-two years.  His widow and four children returned to Philadelphia and later removed to Trenton, New Jersey, where they resided at the time of the memorable battle of Trenton, on Christmas night. 1776.  His eldest daughter Mary married Thomas MATHEWS of Virginia, and Hon. Stanley MATHEWS of the United States supreme bench was a descendant.  The second child was Hon. Thomas Potts JOHNSON, an eminent lawyer of New Jersey.

   Samuel JOHNSON, third child of William and Ruth (POTTS) JOHNSON, born in Philadelphia, in 1763, removed with his parents to South Carolina, and returned with his mother to Philadelphia in his fourth year.  He was reared at Trenton, New Jersey, and came to Bucks county in 1786, purchasing "Elm Grove," on the York road, east of Holocong, now the residence of his great-grandson, Colonel Henry D. PAXSON.  He later purchased a farm including the site of the present "Bycot House," and removed thereon.   He was a man of high intellectual ability and literary attainments, a poet of more than ordinary merit.  Two volumes of his poems have been published, the last one in 1845.   In 1801 he retired from active business and, making his home with his son-in-law, Thomas PAXSON, devoted his time to literary pursuits and social intercourse with congenial spirits.  He died at the age of eighty-one years, his wife having died a few years previously.  She was a daughter of Mathias HUTCHINSON, Esq., a prominent public official of Buckingham and Solebury, for many years a justice of the peace and an associate justice of the Bucks county courts.  He was a grandson of John and Phebe (KIRKBRIDE) HUTCHINSON, of Falls township, the latter being a daughter of Joseph and Phebe (BLACKSHAW) KIRKBRIDE.  Mathias HUTCHINSON married, in 1765, Elizabeth BYE, whose ancestors were the first settlers on the land now occupied by "Bycot House."  Ann JOHNSON, who married Thomas PAXSON, was born at "Elm Grove" in 1792.  She was a woman universally loved and respected in her neighborhood for her many acts of Christian charity and kindness.  Whenever by sacrifice and self devotion a fellow being in want or sickness could be made more comfortable by help in counsel or material assistance, she acted the part of the Good Samaritan with a cheerfulness that was highly appreciated.  She was a writer of much merit, both in poetry and prose.  She died in 1883, in her ninety-second year.  William H. JOHNSON, a brother of Mrs. PAXSON, married her husband's sister Mary PAXSON.  He was a classical scholar and mathematician, and an extensive writer on temperance and anti-slavery, contributing numerous essays to the "Intelligencer" and other journals.

   Thomas PAXSON, at his marriage to Ann JOHNSON in 1817, settled on the homestead at Abington, but moved to Buckingham two years later and purchased a portion of the JOHNSON homestead near the mountain, now occupied by his son, Hon. Edward M. PAXSON, where he spent his remaining days, dying in April, 1881, at the age of eighty-eight years.  He was a member of the Society of Friends and a constant attendant at Buckingham Meeting.  He took an active part in the affairs of his neighborhood, and had strong convictions of right and wrong.  He was conservative in his views, and the old landmarks of Friends that had distinguished them as a people were held in reverence by him; while an earnest advocate of all true reforms and the improvement of mankind, he believed the religious society of which he was an earnest member had a mission to fulfill with the Christian religion as a enduring basis.   In him the Socety of Frends lost an earnest supporter and a living example of sacrifice and devotion to principle rarely met with.   The children of Thomas and Ann (JOHNSON) PAXSON, were:

   1. Samuel Johnson PAXSON, born in Montgomery county in 1818, died in Buckingham, May 28, 1864.  He was editor and proprietor of the "Doylestown Democrat" from 1845 to 1858, when he sold it to General W. W. H. Davis; he was a writer of recognized ability.  He married Mary Anna BROADHURST in 1840, and had two daughters: Helen, widow of J. Hart BYE, now living at Germantown; and Carrie, who married Watson B. MALONE, and is now deceased, leaving two daughters, and a son Arthur, a business man of Philadelphia.

   2. Albert S. PAXSON, born in Buckingham in 1820, died there.  At the age of nineteen he became a teacher at a school in Montgomery county where his father had taught many years before.  A year later, 1840, he returned to Buckingham and taught for some years at "Tyro Hall" and at the Friends School at Buckingham.  From 1851 to 1856 he was local editor and general manager of the "Doylestown Democrat," owned and edited by his brother, Samuel Johnson PAXSON.  In 1856 he removed to the old ELY homestead, near Holicong, that had been in the continuous occupancy of his wife's ancestors since 1720.  He was elected to the office of justice of the peace in 1873, and served for ten years.  He devoted considerable time to literary pursuits and was a writer of known merit.  He married first, in 1844, Mercy BEANS, daughter of Dr. Jesse BEANS, who died in 1849, leaving a daughter Mary, who married Robert Howell BROWN, of Mount Holly, New Jersey.  She died at Bycot House. July 20, 1887, leaving a son, T. Howell BROWN, now residing in Solebury.  Mr. PAXSON married (second) in 1854. Lavinia ELY, daughter of Aaron ELY, of Buckingham, and a descendant of Joshua and Mary (SENIAR) ELY, who came to Trenton, New Jersey, from Nottinghamshire, England, in 1684.  Their children are: Edward E., born May 7, 1860, engaged in the banking business in Philadelphia, with summer residence at the old homestead; and Colonel Henry D. PAXSON, born October 1, 1862, a member of the Bucks county and Philadelphia bar, for many years an officer of the National Guard of Pennsylvania, and a prominent lawyer of Philadelphia.  He married Hannameel Canby PAXSON, a daughter of Elias Ely PAXSON, of Aquetong, and they reside at Elm Grove, in Buckingham.

   3. Hon. Edward M. PAXSON, the third son of Thomas and Ann (JOHNSON) PAXSON, was born in the old homestead in Buckingham, September 3, 1824.  He was educated at the Friends' School at Buckingham, then a famous educational institution, where many young men, who later distinguished themselves in legal and other professional life were educated.  Judge PAXSON did not have a collegiate education, but fitted himself in the classics and higher branches of learning, chiefly by his own exertions.  At an early age he had ambitions for a journalist career, and, having mastered the practical art of printing, in 1842, at the age of eighteen years, started the "Newtown Journal," at Newtown, Bucks county, and successfully conducted it until 1847, when he sold out and established the "Daily News" in Philadelphia, but sold it out also the following year and removed to Doylestown, where he studied law in the office of Hon. Henry CHAPMAN, later the judge of the Bucks county courts.  He was admitted to the bar of Bucks county April 24, 1850, and after two years practice at Doylestown removed to Philadelphia, where he practiced his chosen profession for seventeen years, building up a large practice and establishing a reputation as a counselor at law that marked him for a career as a jurist.  He was appointed as a judge of the common pleas court of Philadelphia on the resignation of F. Carroll BREWSTER in 1869, and, showing marked ability as a judge, was unanimously nominated to succeed himself, and elected the following October.  After seven years' service on the common pleas bench, he was elected to the supreme bench in 1874, and at once took a commanding position among his fellow justices.  His career on the supreme bench on which for eighteen years he served as chief justice, was marked by promptness in the discharge of business, and always by careful considerations of the questions of law.  His opinions were models of terseness, clearness and appropriate diction, and showed an accurate knowledge of the law, expressed in clear and concise language and terms that could be clearly understood.  Many notable cases were committed to his hands, and his reputation as a supreme justice was an enviable one.  He resigned from the bench in 1893 and besylvania; fourth, receiver of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company, a position he filled for four years.  The only four public positions ever held by Chief Justice PAXSON were the following: First, a member of the board of guardians of the poor, of Philadelphia; second. judge of the court of common pleas, of Philadelphia; third, chief justice of the supreme court, of Pennsylvania; fourth, receiver of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, all of which positions he resigned.  He has for many years had charge of several large estates, to the management of which and that of his own large interests he has devoted much of his time in recent years, his summers being spent at "Bycot House" and his winters in Philadelphia.   He is one of the largest real estate owners in Bucks county, owning many farms in Buckingham and Solebury, aggregating nearly 2,000 acres.

   Judge PAXSON married, April 30, 1846, Mary Caroline NEWLIN, of Philadelphia, daughter of Nathaniel and Rachel H. NEWLIN, of Delaware county, Pennsylvania.  She died at Bycot House, June 7, 1885.  He married (second) December 1, 1886, Mary Martha S. BRIDGES, widow of Hon. Samuel A. BRIDGES, of Allentown.  He has no children.

Text taken from pages 154-157 of:

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

Transcribed JANUARY 2001 by GRACE T. BURTON of  PA as part of the Bucks Co., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published January 2001 on the Bucks county, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/

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