NameAnthony YERKES, 7G Grandfather
Birthca 1663, ?, ?, Germany or The Netherlands
Deathbef 1744, Philadelphia (Lower Dublin Township), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Misc. Notes
The Yerkes family was founded in America in the late 1600’s by Anthony Yerkes who settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The earliest record of him in the Province is on the date of 11 Sep 1702 when he served as a juryman before the Court of Record at Germantown, Pennsylvania. It is likely that he was a resident of the area for a few years prior to such an assignment. Anthony Yerkes was chosen by the General Court as one of the Burgesses in 1702-1703. He served along with a Mr. Klinker who was the bailiff and who came from Philadelphia with William Penn.

The place of his nativity remains a matter of conjecture. It is presumed that he emigrated to Pennsylvania from Germany. There is also some circumstantial evidence which tends to indicate that he was of Holland descent. This evidence is found in the facts that he became a member of the Low Dutch Reformed Church organized in 1710 in Whitemarsh Township, Philadelphia (now Montgomery) County; that most of his fellow church members were of Dutch birth or of Dutch descent; and that another of his surname, poissibly a Hollander, earlier emigrated to New York, and was a member of the Dutch colony in that city.

As conjectural as may be the birth place of Anthony Yerkes and the nationality of his immediate ancestors, it is strongly felt that the family is of Norman extraction and acquired its surname from the town of Jurquez, in France, which town is mentioned in the Norman Rolls as early as A.D. 1417.

The varying orthography of the name affords an interesting etymological study. In Pennsylvania, the variations have been: Gerkes, Gerckes, Jerghes, Jerghjes, Yercas, Yerkhas, Yerkas, Yerkiss, Yerkus, and Yerkes. The Yerkeses themselves, however, have almost unversally written it Yerkes, the variance from this form being chiefly in old records and documents written by others than the family. In New York, the spelling has been: Jurex, Jurckes, Jurcksen, Jurckzen, Yerks, Yercks, and Yerkes. In Holland, the name would appear to have been Yerscke, and the family there located in the province of Zealand, where it bore the arms PARTY PER FESS IN CHIEF UG. A FESS WAVY ARG. IN BAZSE ERMINE.

Upon coming to America, Anthony Yerkes settled at Germantown, the name of which place had no doubt come to his attention before he departed from his home in the old world to establish a new one in the new world. On his arrival he probably found some old acquaintances, and possibly some kinsfolk. Among the settlers of the town was one David Scherkes, the sheriff of the muncipality in 1692. It has been suggested that “Scherkes” was another variation of the spelling of the surname Yerkes, and that David Scherkes was a kinsman of Anthony.

Some have speculated that David Scherkes, earliest settler of Germantown, was Anthony’s father and others have also guessed that Vigt (David) Yerkes is the father of Anthony. Vigt is reported to have come from Krefeld and was a Dutch Quaker.

When Anthony Yerkes settled in Germantown, the inhabitants were enjoying the privileges of a borough government, organized in 1691, under the title and name of “the Bailiffe, Burgesses, and Commonality of Germantown,” by virtue of the charter granted in 1689 by William Penn. This charter gave the corporation large powers, but only those named in it, together with those who were from time to time admitted into membership by the General Court, were entitled to participate in the affairs of government. The first General Court held was presided over by the eminent Francis Daniel Pastorius, the first Bailiff, and at its early sittings, the incorporators enacted numerous laws and ordinances for the regulation of the civil affairs of the corporation, among which was the following:

“Each and every one who shall hereafter wish to buy or rent land in the township of Germantown, or settle within it, shall first procure from the General Court of his fellow citizens the right or privilege of living there, and without such permission no one shall participate in our privileges.”

Anthony Yerkes was an applicant for such right and privileges, and his application met with favor at the hands of the court. In 1702, he was selected, as before mentioned, to serve as a juror in the Court of Record of the borough, and in January, 1702-03, he was chosen by the General Court as one of the Burgesses, in the place of one who was elected in the previous month but had been excused from serving. At the succeeding annual election, 1 Dec 1703, he was re-elected Burgess, and duly qualified for the office on the 28th of the same month, as appears from the following abstract of the minues of the General Court under that date:

“Arents Klinker, Bailiff, Hans Heinrich, Peter Schumaker, Jr., and Anthony Gerkes, three eldest Burgesses, Simon Andrews recorder and William De Wees constable, were all attested to serve in their respective places.”

Klinker, the bailiff, is said to have come to Philadelphia with William Penn, and to have built the first two-story house in Germantown with Penn Attending the “raising dinner.” Schumaker and Meels, the associates of Yerkes in the burgess-ship, figured prominently in the early history of Germantown.

Anthony Yerkes was a farmer and engaged in this pursuit upon his settlement at Germantown. The acreage of the town was so limited that it precluded extensive land holdings by a single individual and Mr. Yerkes, after carrying on farming there for a few years, concluded to extend his agricultural operations by establishing himself on a larger plantation than could be had in that place, and purchased in 1709 a tract of three hundred acres in the Manor of Moreland to which he moved with his family.

The Manor of Moreland, in which the plantation conveyed was located, has been the birthplace of numerous descendants of Anthony Yerkes, and from the time he settled there, down to the present day, it has been the home of some of his progeny. The Manor was composed of a tract of ten thousand acres and was created in 1682 by a grant from William Penn to Dr. Nicholas More, who became the first president of the Free Society of Traders, the first speaker of the Provincial Assembly, and the first chief justice of the Province. The chief part of the Manor was in the county of Philadelphia, but since the organization of Montgomery County it has formed Moreland Township in that county. In the early records it is variously described as the Manor of Moreland, Moreland Township, and Moreland, and these names are taken to be synonymous.

The plantations of the early Yerkeses were located among the fertile hills of the Manor of Moreland and along a beautiful stream called the Pennypack. Anthony Yerkes appears to have been so comfortable in his financial circumstances that he was able to retire from active business a few years after he occupied his plantation in Moreland, and to hand over the plantation to his sons. He gave two hundred acres of the same to his eldest son, Herman, and one hundred acres to his youngest son, Adolphus, and he subsequently executed deeds of conveyance for their respective portions. In a deed dated 11 Jun 1719 (from Philadelphia Deeds) he is styled “of Dublin Township,” to which point he is believed to have removed upon his retirement from business. His second wife’s relatives, the Wattses, resided in the latter township, and the motive prompting his removal there may have been a desire to gratify her wish to be near her family.

The date of Anthony Yerkes’ death has not been ascertained. He was living on 20 Aug 1723 when he executed a deed for a portion of the land conveyed to him by his father, in which the father is mentioned as being deceased.

He married twice. His first wife, Margaret, emigrated with him to Pennsylvania and died before 17 Nov 1705 on which day, as is stated in the Register of Christ Church, Philadelphia, he married Sarah Watts, the widow of Reverand John Watts, the eminent pastor of the Lower Dublin or “Pennepek” Baptist Church, and the sister of George and John Eaton, who were among the early Welsh colonists of Pennsylvania. She died 27 Jun 1723 and was survived by her husband. Mr. Yerkes’ children were by his first wife, Margaret, whose maiden name is not known.413

Anthony Yerkes, or Yerkhas, the progenitor of the Yerkes family in America, was one of the first settlers of Germantown. He came from Germany between 1683 and 1700. December 28, 1703, he became one of the three burgesses of Germantown, but it was not until 1729 that he and Herman (a son) were declared by the assembly entitled to the rights and privileges of subjects of the king, although the act recites they then held land.414

“...Anthony Yerkes, who emigrated from Holland about 1700 and settled in Germantown. This pioneer ancestor of the Yerkes family in America was accompanied to our shores by his wife Margaret and two sons Herman and Adolphus. The first record we have of him is in the year 1702, when he was burgess of Germantown, a position which he filled for three years. In 1709 he purchased the plantation in the “Manor of Moorland,” now Moreland township, Montgomery township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He married (second) Sarah (Eaton) Watts, widow of Rev. John Watts, pastor of Pennypack Baptist Church.414, pg. 75 from biography of Harman Yerkes, sixth in descent from Anthony Yerkes
Spouses
1Margaret, 7G Grandmother
Birthca 1667
Deathbef 1705, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Marriageca 1687
ChildrenHerman (ca1689-1750)
 Adolphus (ca1691-)
2Sarah EATON, 7G Grandmother
Birth1 Apr 1655, Radnor, Wales
Death27 Jun 1723, Manor of Moreland, Montgomery (now Philadelphia), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
FatherJohn EATON (ca1630-1716)
MotherJoan (-1716)
Marriage17 Nov 1705, Christ Church, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Last Modified 12 Dec 2008Created 31 Dec 2008 using Reunion for Macintosh