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The Weavers (Webers)

Johann Friederich "Frederick" Weaver (Weber) and his family arrived in Philadelphia from Rotterdam aboard the Two Brothers on or before 15 September 1748. On that date, with the other "Palatines imported," Frederick signed the usual oath of allegiance. It is no surprise that we do not see "Johann" used by Frederick Weaver in New Jersey. Historically, German Protestants often omitted certain initial baptismal names in day-to-day life (the name Johann in particular), being known instead by their second names, in this case Friederich. We know from the Two Brothers passenger records that the immigrant was, in fact, known this way because in one ship's list he was called "Fritz Weber," Fritz being a nickname for Friederich. While Frederick Weaver wrote out his full name upon arrival, as time went by he ceased doing this.

"Johann Friederich Weber" Signature from oath of allegiance, 1748 (Pennsylvania State Archives)

Unfortunately, the Two Brothers passenger list includes only the names of the adult males, with no indication of wives or children. However, based upon records, Frederick most likely arrived with his wife, Abigail, and (at least) three daughters and a son (Catherine, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Henry). Within a year after their arrival, Frederick and Abigail had another daughter, Louisa.

Frederick purchased a 90-acre plantation in Pilesgrove Township, Salem Co., NJ on 26 December 1750 for for £35, from Joshua Bispham, Esq., of Burlington County.

Frederick, along with five others "born in the Empire of Germany, out of the Allegiance of his p[re]sent Majesty," petitioned the Supreme Court of New Jersey for citizenship on 12 May 1761. The paperwork for naturalization during this period consisted of the immigrant's petition, affidavits attesting to his residence (at least seven years in the colony) and communion in a Protestant church. The judicial or legislative proceeding would then grant or deny citizenship.

The signature of Friederich Weber on his petition perfectly matched his 1774 will and was followed by a notation that he had arrived 14 years earlier. John Conrad Steiner, Minister of the Gospel at the Reformed Calvinist Church of Philadelphia, certified that Frederick had lived in New Jersey for more than seven years and, as a member of the Reformed Church, took the sacrament at Philadelphia two days before his petition.

These affidavits demonstrated to the court that Frederick had fulfilled the requirements of naturalization under the law. The court granted the six foreigners citizenship, and was recorded in the minutes of its May Term. It should be noted that Rev. Steiner's certificate was needed to qualify Frederick for naturalization. In no way does it suggest that Frederick, even if called a member, was attending church in Philadelphia on a regular basis.

After Frederick was naturalized in 1762, he attained voting rights with his citizenship, although office-holding was still technically prohibited. More importantly, citizenship protected a foreign-born person's legal right to own land. Since we know from Frederick's will that he owned real property in Pilesgrove (and was taxed on 90 acres there), we can speculate that securing the legal right to possess, sell and bequeath land might have been a compelling incentive for him to apply for citizenship.

He was allegedly a weaver by trade. This is consistent with the supplies of yarn, linen and flax listed in the 1782 inventory of his estate, even though Frederick called himself a yeoman in his will in 1774. However, his listing as a weaver may have been a clerical error arising from confusion with his surname.

Frederick and his wife Abigail sponsored baptisms at the Swedish Lutheran Church at Raccoon (Trinity Episcopal Church, Swedesboro), but are not known to have joined that church. Together they were baptismal "sureties" for namesake grand­children. First they sponsored Friedrich and Abigail, "tweens"[twins] of George and Hannah Horner, christened 28 March 1771. Soon afterwards they sponsored "Samuel & Lovisa Laidens"(Samuel and Louisa Leddon's) daughter Abigail on 14 April 1771. Abigail Weaver is documented as an early convert to Methodism, apparently in the late 1770s.

In his will, dated 10 April 1774, Frederick left Abigail all property, livestock and furnishings for use during her widowhood and no longer. He then provided for ten children. To his son Henry, he left 20 shillings. He left £5 each to Barbary, Abigail, George, Adam and Frederick. His married daughters, Catharine Iler, Hannah Horner, Elizabeth Horner and Louisa Leddon, received 1 shilling each. When Abigail died or ceased to be his widow, his plantation was to be sold and the money divided equally between all of his sons and daughters. His daughter Hannah married George Horner, who served as a co-executor on the will. Elizabeth married Johann Melcher Horner, George's brother (see the tree below and more to come about the Horners in a subsequent post).

"Friederich Weber" signature from will, 1774 (New Jersey State Archives)

Abigail leased the Weaver plantation in Pilesgrove soon after Frederick's death. She most likely lived with one of her daughters in southern Gloucester County at the end of her life.

By 1784, their children in New Jersey were either in Salem County or southern Gloucester (Woolwich and Greenwich townships). Daughter Catharine Iler and son Adam Weaver were in Pilesgrove (Catharine owning the adjacent Iler plantation); daughters Hannah Horner and Elizabeth Horner were in neighboring Woolwich Twp.; and daughter Louisa Leddon was living in nearby in Greenwich Twp., near Glassboro. Loyalist sons George and Frederick had removed to Nova Scotia (New Brunswick). As for children Henry, Barbary and Abigail (if they were still living), their whereabouts in 1784 is not known at this time.

After Abigail's death in May 1810, at the age of 95 years, 11 months and 24 days, the Weaver land was resurveyed and sold.


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