Finding the early vital records: Chester and Delaware Counties

There were four early Quaker meetings within the bounds of present-day Delaware County, plus one in Chester County. In the early years all this area was part of Chester County. 1 The records of Radnor Monthly Meeting are included in Delaware County, along with Concord and Darby. The records of Chester Monthly Meeting are split on Ancestry, between Chester County and Delaware County.

The earliest vital records of the meetings are found on Ancestry, just like the vital records of the early meetings in Bucks and Philadelphia Counties. If you have a subscription you can view the images there.

There are four sources of vital records for Chester Monthly Meeting, one each for births, burials and marriages, plus an early record book with a mix of births, burials, subscriptions for collections, and other material. With its original handwriting it is an evocative glimpse into the life of the meeting. The records of births and burials are later copies, probably around 1884, since the records stop there.

MeetingVital recordAncestry file
ChesterBirths"Births 1677" (later copy, index in back)
ChesterBurials"Burials 1682" (later copy, no index)
ChesterMarriages"Certificates of marriage, record" (full certificates with witnesses, no index)
Chester (under Delaware County)Births, burials, marriages"Register Book 1681" (a mix of records, original handwriting)

The vital records of Concord are incomplete for the early years. The records of births and marriages start around 1693, with a few earlier births in another place, and there are no apparently no early deaths.

MeetingVital recordAncestry file
ConcordMarriages, starting about 1693"Births and marriages 1693-1808" (certificates with witnesses)
ConcordBirths, early"Minutes 1680-1701" (actually births, early handwritten);
also "Minutes 1685-1931" (late copy, incomplete record)

Darby Monthly Meeting handled its early marriage certificates in a distinctive way. Instead of being copied into a register of their own, they are written in with the minutes in the proper chronological sequence. Once in a while the recorder left a blank space for the certificate, but it was never brought in to be copied. The record of births and burials starts early.

MeetingVital recordAncestry file
DarbyMarriages, starting 1684"A few certificates and marriages 1684-1763" (marriages mixed with minutes, starting on Image 24)
DarbyMarriages, certificates"Marriage certificates 1694-1848" (later copy, index in back)
DarbyBurials"Births and burials 1682-1835" (handwritten original)
DarbyBirths"Births and burials 1682-1835" (handwritten original)

The Radnor vital records come in two forms: early handwriting and the neat transcript made by Gilbert Cope in the 1800s. In comparison to Concord meeting, Radnor has good coverage of the early years.

MeetingVital recordAncestry file
RadnorBirths"Births 1682-1806" (handwritten original, with an index);
also "Births, deaths, marriages and certificates of removal (received) 1683-1730" (copy typed by Gilbert Cope, records mixed together in rough chronological order);
also in "Marriages, births and burial certificates 1684-1729" (original handwritten)
RadnorBurials"Marriages, births and burial certificates 1684-1729" (original handwritten);
also in the Cope transcript
RadnorMarriages"Marriages, births and burial certificates 1684-1729" (original handwritten);
also in the Cope transcript

Newark/Kennett meeting was originally called New Ark, later changed to Kennett. Don’t confuse it with the meeting in nearby Newark, Delaware. Ancestry lists its records for Kennett under Chester County, as they should be.

MeetingVital RecordAncestry file
Newark/KennettBirthsKennett Monthly Meeting: "Births and deaths 1686-1739"
Newark/KennettDeaths(same as above)
  1. The Welsh refused to acknowledge the existence of Chester County. They were angry when the boundary line was drawn between Philadelphia and Chester Counties, because it split their tract and diluted their political influence. They boycotted the court in Chester and insisted on attending Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting instead of Chester Monthly Meeting.

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