The Fisher Family - The First Three Generations

Joseph and Ann Fisher left Pennsylvania in 1783 with their children Betty, Joseph, Elias, Robert, John, Sarah, Samuel, Hannah and Ann. Joseph, the son of John Fisher and Elizabeth Scarborough Fisher, was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on September 24, 1729, and married his wife Ann Cary at Plumstead Meeting House, Bucks County on November 26, 1760. Ann was the daughter of Samuel Carey and Sarah Stackhouse Carey. She was born on June 1, 1741 in Middletown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

After the Revolution there was pressure on the Quakers who had not served in the conflict because of their strong pacifist beliefs. The Fishers had been members of the Buckingham Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania, and in 1784 joined the Hopewell Monthly Meeting in Northern Virginia. In 1794 they joined South River Monthly Meeting in Campbell County, Virginia, which is located four miles south of Lynchburg. The town of Lynchburg had been settled in the 1750s by a group of Quakers led by John Lynch and his family.

John's father, Charles Lynch, had run away from home in Ireland, sailing to America in 1720 at the age of fifteen. To pay back the cost of his passage, he had been apprenticed to the planter Christopher Clark, a wealthy Quaker who lived in Hanover County. Clark took an interest in the boy's education and encouraged him to study law. In 1733 Charles Lynch married his benefactor's daughter, Sarah Clarke. Charles Lynch never became a Quaker, but his wife Sarah was an ardent one. Three of her children would become well known in Virginia history: John Lynch, the founder of Lynchburg; Charles Lynch, junior, from whom the "Lynch Law" takes its name; and Sarah Lynch Terrell, an early antislavery activist in South River Meeting.

Sarah Clarke Lynch held the first meetings of South River Particular meeting in 1754 in her own home. South River joined with Goose Creek in 1757 to establish the South River Monthly Meeting. The Monthly Meeting is the business meeting of the Quaker Church. It is attended by delegates from the various Particular or Preparatory (worship) meetings. To marry, a Quaker couple had to appear twice before the Monthly Meeting for permission. A committee from both the Men's and Women's meetings was appointed to look into the lives of both the man and the woman before permission was granted. Births, marriages and deaths were recorded at the Monthly Meeting and disputes and complaints were discussed and decided upon.

Another of Christopher Clarke's daughters, Agnes Clarke, was the great grandmother of our ancestor Elizabeth Johnson. In 1802, Joseph Fisher's son, Samuel Fisher, married Elizabeth Johnson, the daughter of Benjamin and Agnes Johnson at Ivy Creek Meeting House.

There is an interesting section on the Johnston family in the History of Lynchburg's Pioneer Quakers and Their Meeting House 1754 - 1936 by Douglas Summers Brown:

The name Johnson appears in the records of the South River Meeting more frequently than any other. This may be explained by the fact that they were a large family, as well as leaders in the activities of the Society. The family had its beginnings supposedly with Stephen de Johnson, who went to Scotland in the time of King David Bruce and became secretary to the Earl of Marr. Stephen married the heiress of Sir Andrew Gavioch of Caskieben, receiving through her a large estate and founding the family. During the next five generations the Johnsons married into many ancient and wealth families, attaining a position of prestige and acquiring extensive possessions. One William Johnson accompanied James IV on his expedition into England and fell in the battle of Flodden Field in 1513. His grandson, William Johnson, also gave his life for his country in the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. Elizabeth Johnson, daughter of Dr. William Johnson of the next generation, became interested in "the new Quaker movement" and it was she, no doubt, who converted her nephew who became the father of the first American Johnsons - William, Alexander and John. It is through the second marriage of John Johnson - brother of Dr. William to Katherine Lundie that the Johnsons trace their descent from the ancient Kings of Scotland. Robert, son of William of Lion and brother of Alexander II, assumed the title of "Robert de Lundie" after having married the heiress of that house. Katherine Lundie Johnson's eldest son carried on the line of the family and it was his fourth son, James, who became the father of Alexander, William and John. This James, who "was provydit to nothing but to bear the name of Johnston," having nothing to offer his sons in the way of family inheritance, most probably used his influence and that of his kinsman, Alexander Alexander, a commissioner to Parliament, to secure for this three sons appointments in the Virginia Colony. At any rate, the three set sail to Virginia in 1696 and settled in New Kent County. Alexander Johnson had three children, but all records of this branch of the family are lost or unknown. John and William married two cousins, Sarah and Lucretia Massie, who tradition says were the great granddaughters of Sir Anthony Ashley, favorite of Queen Elizabeth, and granddaughters of Anthony Ashley, first Earl of Shaftsbury, Lord High Chancellor of England, celebrated statesman, and one of the proprietors of an immense region extending from lower Virginia to Florida and westward to the Pacific. William and Sarah Massie Johnson had five children, Anne, William, Benjamin, Collins and Cicely. Of these Benjamin married Agnes, a daughter of Christopher Clark. William Johnson died in 1714. John and Lucretia Massie Johnson had eleven children, two of whom, Benjamin and James married Moormans.... The family names is spelled both with and without the "t". There is a tradition that "the families in the Church of England were too proud to drop the 't' and the Quakers too humble to use it." Quaker records never use the "t".