Updated Monday, 25 May 2020 - contains 6157 individuals

Descendants of Joseph Billiter and Elizabeth Filler fl Maryland Colony 1671-1687

First Generation

1. Joseph Billiter was born in England. He died about Aug 1687 in Colonial Maryland.

"The Early Settlers of Maryland" by Skordas  shows  the record of Joseph Billiter [affectionately condensed to "Old Joe" by this author, his ggggggg-grandson, Jim, (JHB)] in liber 17, folio 74 of Maryland Land Patents.  Joseph was transported 1671.   I.e.: someone else paid his passage.  (In his prefix Skordas says, "... 'transported' means that  someone other than the person indexed paid for his passage.  Quite often a person 'transported' is also described as a  'servant', which means that he had contracted to repay the cost of his transportation by agreeing to act as a servant for a period of years.  Under certain of the Conditions of  Plantation, a servant was entitled to claim fifty acres of land upon completing his period of servitude satisfactorily. Such claims are indicated by the word 'service'.")  Courtesy JHB.

ARRIVAL in the Maryland colony is attested by:

The 'Importing' of Joseph Billiter to the Maryland Colony in 1671 (Courtesy Jim Billiter).  Transcription by Jim Billiter.  Pointer courtesy Marsha Bovey.

Source: Maryland State Archives, Land Patents, Liber 17, Folio 74. Underscores "_____" indicate unreadable text.

Transcription history: 3/5/2002 - Initial transcript.

Transcription starts:
Page title:
"( 74 )       1679"

Placement. The entry in the land patent involving Joseph Billiter
is near the middle of the page (folio) and its 10 lines occupy
about 1/5th of the page's total content.

Margin entry: "( 145 )" on line 1.
Margin entry: "Talbot County" on line 2.

(centered on line 1) "August 20th 1679"
"Robert Farington (*) (**) proved then five Rights due for Importing
himself Ann his wife Jane his Daughter and Joseph Billiter &
Phillip Sutton his Servants into this Province to inhabit in
may 1671."
"_____ November 1679            ________ Matt Warde"
"Warrant then issued in the name of Robert Farrington (*) of Talbot
County for two hundred and fifty acres of Land it being due to
him for Transporting himself Ann his wife Jane his Daughter
Joseph Billiter and Phillip Sutton into this Province to Inhabit."
"Certificate returnable the 7th of February next"
Transcription ends.

Transcriber's notes:
*  There are two differing spellings of Robert's surname: FarRngton and FaRRington in the document.  [ If one is inclined to choose between the FaRRington and FaRington surname spellings, I would suggest that FaRRington would be the best choice. From 1990 US census data FaRRington ranks 3009th (there are 3008 surmames more frequently occuring in the 1990 US census). The variant FaRington is 'not found'; either totally absent or so infrequent as to not register on the 1990 census' radar. Contrast that rank with the BillEter/BillIter surname ranks: billEter - 74926th, billIter - 32383rd. ]

** Others have mentioned that 'Farington/Farrington' could equally well be transcribed as 'Harington/Harrington'.  I have chosen 'F' because the uppercase, old-style, script 'F' is certainly identical to that of the first letter in 'February', which appears at least twice elsewhere on folio 74.


The early Billiters were Quakers (Society of Friends), attested to by their participation in Third Haven Meeting, Talbot Co, MD in the late 1600's. (Courtesy Marsha Bovey.) Whether Old Joe was a Quaker upon arrival in May, 1671 or joined during Fox's missionary campaign along the colonial east coast shortly thereafter is a matter for debate.  Fox was the founder of the Quakers in England in 1652 and he was active in the Delmarva about February-March 1672. (Courtesy Jim Billiter)

Old Joe's MARRIAGE is attested by:

Talbot County Maryland Records Volumes 1-2 compiled by R. Bernice Leonard -

"June 1674 Elizabeth Fuller to Joseph Billetor, Plaster [ed.: 'planter'?] - power
of attorney to acknowledge and make voyd all my right, title and
interest of my husband's now dwelling plantation. Witnesses
William Phillips and William Hogon."  Courtesy Dave Gerth.

Two of Old Joe's children, Grace and Thomas, were married in the Church of England (St Peter's Parish) in the early 1700's [1704 and 1715 respectively].  This is probably a consequence of the imposition of the state church about 1694 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the English Crown on Maryland, previously tolerant of all religions (Christian-Trinitarian) from the time of its founding by the Calverts, the several Lords Baltimore.  Several CofE ministers had reported to the Archbishop that the Maryland colonists were 'iniquitous' and desparately in need of CofE ministries, along with the 'livings' attendant to CofE minsters of the period.  The state then imposed a tax of 40 pounds of tobacco on each household to support the 'livings' of the CofE ministers.  Old Joe probably died in 1687 and he wasn't all that old, because he left a young family behind.  Elizabeth and the children probably could not afford to support two religions, especially when one possessed the enforcement authority of the Crown.  Conclusion: some of the children, and perhaps the entire family group, were  converts (or re-converts) to the Anglican religion after 1694.

This observation is supported by the fact that early colonial Quakers were discouraged from marrying outside the Society. "...Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s 1704 Book of Discipline included a provision discouraging the marriage of Friends to non-Friends; its 1712 Discipline recommended disownment (that is, expulsion) of members who married 'out of meeting'; and its 1722 Discipline required immediate disownment for this conduct." ['Faith and Practice', anon, 1997, pub of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.] (Courtesy Jim Billiter)

Many have looked into the early Maryland Billiters: from the research of  Marsha Bovey in the early 1980's to the Billiter Family listing in 'Colonial Families of the Eastern Shore of Maryland', Volume 5, Peden and Wright, Willow Bend Books, Westminster, MD, 1999 (Courtesy Gladys Treadway).  The citations here for this family group and for son Edward's line to Joseph's g-grandson, Edward, mainly follow the latter source, since it is concise and fairly exhaustive.

Names of the children and their birth dates are in Third Haven records (Courtesy Marsha Bovey).  Joseph's approximate date of death is taken from the fact that Third Haven Meeting showed concern for the Widow Billeter on 21 August 1687.  Courtesy Peden and Wright.

(Source: Maryland Quaker (Friends), Volume 3, Record of Third Haven (Tred Avon), Talbot County, Maryland.) Courtesy Carol Eddleman 2010

Also: From "Maryland Eastern Shore Vital Records" by F. Edward Wright 1982.  Children of Joseph and Elizabeth Billiter:  (Courtesy EKB)
Joseph   b.  8/17/1677
Elizabeth   b.  9/13/1679
Thomas   b.  9/28/1681
Edward   b. 10/18/1683
Grace   b.  3/13/1686

Old Joe probably came from England, though genealogies and related correspondence attending Marsha Bovey's early research state, sans sources, that Old Joe was from Mannedorf, Canton Zurich, Switzerland.  This 'Swiss origin' assertion for Old Joe probably stems from the influential Swiss genealogists, Julius Billeters Sr and Jr.  They, professional genealogists, had stated that the Billiter/Billeter name was 'strictly Swiss', and many of us took them at their word, which now (December, 2000) seems to be mistaken in the case of the early Billiters of Maryland.

"The Billeters from Mannedorf and the Zweifels from Linthal" by Julius C. Billeter, 1984 published by Joseph Lyon & Associates, Salt Lake City.  This is a geneology going to the very early 16th century for Julius' family.       Mannedorf is in Canton Zurich.  There is no mention of emigration to America that would associate this family with ours.  Some noteworthy extracts:
P. 65.  "The Billeters were early settlers in Mannedorf, having come originally from Bilten, canton Glarus.  The name is believed to signify someone who came from Bilten.  The Billeters, sometime spelled Billiter, ..."
P. 67.  "Shortly after the Billeters established themselves in Mannedorf, one branch of the family left Mannedorf and settled in the city of Zurich."   (From context this was prior to 1520 - JHB)
P. 68.  "There is in the city of London a complex of buildings and streets named Billiter.  Although the spelling is very similar, no connection with the family name Billeter has been established."  (P. 69) "... Although the origin is not known, it suggests the name Billiter might be a derivative of Bell-zeter - a bell founder."
P. 71.  begins a discussion of the several Billeter coats of arms with drawings.  Courtesy JHB.

Julius' comment about Bell-founding is important, and Middle English etymology seems to confirm that 'Billiter' is derived from the occupation Bell-founder, or Bellyeter.  William le Belyotar is mentioned somewhere in English records in 1247, as is Robert le Bellegeter in 1283, making the first mentions of the name in England older than that of the Swiss by more than a century.  Courtesy RuthAnn Billiter Francis and JHB. (Etymology: see OED)

Joseph was involved in land transactions in the Delmarva in just a few years after arriving in the Maryland colony.

From: "Cavaliers and Pioneers - Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants".
- Capt Southy Littleton 4250 acres in Northhampton County between Maggettey Bay and the seabord side.  From the sandy point of Old Plantation Cr. mouth to " Divell's Ditch". Date 10/5/1674. Page 538. Several people and acreage are listed in this entry, including on 4/9/1674, 800 acres for transfer of 16 persons including John Billetor.  In patent book #6.
- Mr. Lancelot Bathurst 5000 acres in New Kent County, south side of Pomunky Riv upon branches of Crump Creek. 10/21/1687. Page 598. 10/20/1682 deserted and now granted by order and transfer to 100 persons, including Joseph Billitor. Patent book #7.                    
- Col Southy Littleton 150 acres Accomack County in the forehead neck of north side of King's Creek at Posamoke on William's Gutt or Creek and between the bounds between Virginia and Maryland. Date 4/30/1679. Page 676. Granted 10/1/1675 and deserted then granted by order and transfer to three persons, including Joseph Billesor.  Courtesy EKB.

Also, Tuckahoe Neck p. 5. From Volume 3, Talbot Co. Land Records, p. 262. June 10 1678 Nicholas Hackett and wife Mary to Joseph Billeter, Plasterer 600 acres called "Hacketts Garden" on east side of Tuckahoe Creek.  Courtesy Cathy Downes.

The mention of a John Billiter, rather than Joseph, is interesting. Is this simply a 'scriveners error' or were there other Billiters in the colonies (VA or MD) contemporary with, or earlier than, Old Joe's arrival  in 1671?  Peden and Wright found an 'unplaced' Billiter in their genealogy: 'Stephens Billtor, who appeared in a list of debts in the estate of  Edward Coppedge of Kent Co, on 8 Apr 1676.  ['Inventories and Accounts', abstracted by Skinner.]

Joseph married Elizabeth Fuller in Jun 1674 in Maryland Colony.

They had the following children.

  2 M i Joseph Billiter was born on 17 Aug 1677 in Talbot Co, Colonial Maryland.
  3 F ii Elizabeth Billiter was born on 13 Sep 1679 in Talbot Co, Colonial Maryland.
+ 4 M iii Thomas Billiter was born on 28 Sep 1681.
+ 5 M iv Edward Billiter was born on 18 Oct 1683. He died after 1741.
  6 F v Grace Billiter was born on 13 Mar 1686 in Talbot Co, Colonial Maryland.
        Grace married John Michall on 2 Sep 1704 in St Peter's Parish, Talbot, Colonial Maryland.

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