John Shelly

M, d. before 16 September 1793
     John Shelly lived in 1781 in Lower Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He died before 16 September 1793 in Lower Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
      He left a will on 14 August 1781.1 The transcript of the Will read:
In the Name of God, Amen. I, John Shelly of Lower Milford Township in the County of Bucks, Do find myself weak in Body but of sound Mind Memory and understanding, Tancks be to God Almighty, And in calling to mind that their is a time appointed for all men to Die but uncertain when, I do therefor this fourteenth Day of August One thousand seven hundred and eighty one do oradain and publish this my last Will and Testament, That is to say, first I Do deliver my Soul into the Hands of God almighty which give it And my body unto the Earth to be bugredd in Christian like manner by my Hereafter named Executor, and concerning of my worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to Bless me with, I do dispose of it in the following manner,
Impr. I give and Devise all my Land and plantation situated, laying and being in lower Milford aforesaid, containing one Hundred and thirty five Acres (it being the same, more or less, with all the Buildings and Improvements as the same was Devised to me by my Deceased Father's Will and conveyed by other writings to me) to my only Brother Michael Shelly with all my moveable Estate, what I do possess To have and to hold to him his Heirsand Assigns forever (he paying all my just and lawfull Debts and funeral charges. And it is further my will he shall pay unto my Sister Elizabeth the sum of forty pounds in Money aforesaid, To my Deceased Sister Anna, her two children, named John Hiestand and Barbara Hiestand, that is Twenty Pounds to each and that as the shall arise, To their full age, and if one of them should die under age, the survivor shall have the whole sum, and in case, They both should die under age, then my said Brother and my sister Elizabeth shall have the same in equal share, or the Heirs of their bodys,
And further I give and devise unto Barbara Shelly which are keeping house now for me the sum of Eight pounds in Money aforesaid which he shall pay when she shall Demand it.
And Lastly I do nominate and ordain my Uncal Joseph Shelly sole Executor of this my last will and Testament, and give him full power to see that it shall be executed To the true Indent and meaning therein contained. In Witness whereof I the said John Shelly Juner. have hereunto set my Hand and Seal the day and year first above written.
John Shelly (SEAL)
Signed, sealed and Declared by the said Testator as his last will and Testament in the present of us Jacob Shelly, Abr. Shelly, Michael Mussleman
Bucks Co., Sept. 16th 1793 Appeared Jacob Shelly, Abraham Shelly, Michael Musselman the subscribing witnesses to the foregoing Instrument of writing, who upon their solemn affirmation did say that they were personally present and saw and heard John Shelly the Testator herein named, sign, seal, publish and Declare the same as and for his last Will and Testament, and that at the time of so Doing he was of saound mind and memory and of a Disposing understanding to the best of their knoweldge and belief. Coram, me James Hanna, Reg.
Bucks Co., (SEAL) Be it remembered that on the 16th day of September 1793 This the last Will and Testament of John Shelly, was duly proved when Letters Testamentary were granted to Joseph Shelly he having first been solemnly affirmed well and truly to administer all and Singular the Goods and Chattles, Rights and Credits of the said Deceased and in one month from this Date exhibot into the Register's Office for the Copnty of Bucks a true Inventory and consicionable appraisement of the same and in one year or when thereto reqired render a just account of the whole administration. In Testamony whereof, I havve hereunto set my Hand and Seal of Office.
James Hanna, Regr. His estate was probated on 16 September 1793 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.2
     It has been suggested that Anna, the wife of Jacob Hiestand, was the daughter of Hans Shelley of Lancaster County, and that Hans had a previously unknown son named John. We have no record of that Hans having a son by the name of John, and if he did we have no evidence of it. If Anna, the wife of Jacob Hiestand, wasa a SHELLY, that also is coindential. John Shelly of Lower Milford Township in Bucks County was not the brother of the Anna who was marrired to Jacob Hiestand.
These things have been alledged, or suggested, due the last will of John Shelly of Lower Milford Township. In it he states he had a deceased sister Anna Hiestand, and he left two of her children, John and Barbara, twenty pounds each. Jacob and Anna Hiestand had several children, among them a John and a Barbara. This Anna Hiestand has also been proposed as his sister because there were very few women named Anna Hiestand, especially those with children named John and Barbara, living anywhere in Pennsylvania at that time.
Everything else that John Shelly wrote in his will simply does not confirm to the known facts.
The will was written on 14 August 1781. In it he states that his home was devised to him in his father's will. Hans Shelly of Lancasteer County did not, as far as we are aware, leave a will. None was probated. One of the main reasons why it has been alledged that Hans Shelly was his father is because John Shelly refers to himself as John Shelly Junior. The name John Shelly ws not that common---Hans Shelly of Lancaster County was one of the few who shared that name. He also had a daughter named Anna, born in 1705. The wife of Jacob Hiestand is said to have been born in 1703. Could it be the same woman? The problem with this line of reasoning is that in the 18th centurary the term Junior did not necessarily mean that his father shared the same given name. Simply that there was another person with that given name and surname living in that area.
The problem also exists that no will has been found that devises land in Lower Milford Township to this John Shelly. There are few Shelly wills writen before 1781 on file; the most promising possibility involves a 1770 estate of a man who died interstate.
John Shelly had a brother Michael and a sister Elizabeth, both living in 1781. Hans Shelly of Lancaster County also had a son named Michael, one of four brothers. John refers to Michael as his "only" brother. Very simply he came fromn a family of four siblings--Michael, John, Anna and Elizabeth, whose father died before 1781 leaving a will. Such a family unit has not been found in 18th century Pennsylvania. There remains two specfic reasons why John Shelly of Milford Township was not the brother of Anna the wife of Jacob Hiestand.
John Shelly did not state catergoily that his sister Anna only had two children living in 1781 but that implication is clear. Jacob and Anna Hiestand had several children then living. What is certain is the following. The youngest of Jacob and Anna Hiestand's 11 children were born in 1747 or not long after that. In 1781 their son John was 55 years old and their daughter Barbara was 50 years. The niece and nephew of John Shelly were under the age of 21 years in 1781 and cnsequently could not have been born prior to 1760 at the earliest. The will is very clear that niether of them were adults in 1781.


  1. [S1954] Bucks County Will Book 5: 346-347.
  2. [S1954] Bucks County Will Book 5: 347.