Biographical / Historical
Francis Yarnall emigrated from England to Pennsylvania in 1683, and he and his wife, Hannah Baker Yarnall, had eight children including Mordecai Yarnall (1705-1772), a merchant. Mordecai had four children with his first wife, Catherine: Sarah who married Samuel Wetherill; Ellen, married Timothy Matlack; Hannah, married James Yarnall; and Catherine, married Joseph Day. Wetherill and Matlack were members of the Free Quakers.
Mordecai Yarnall married a second time in 1745, to Mary Roberts, under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, and they had nine children, including Mordecai (b. 1747) and Peter. Peter, a birthright member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, was born 1754, 2mo, 17. Initially apprenticed to learn tanning, he was dismissed by his master and enlisted in the military. John Pembertons secured his release. Eventually Yarnall took up medicine under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Bond. In 1776 he joined the army as a surgeon's mate, working in various hospitals until he resigned for health issues. In 1779 he received a degree from the College of Physicians in Philadelphia and served at Pennsylvania Hospital. In 1780, he adopted the plain style of Friends and attended meeting, making acknowledgement to Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of the South District for his military service. Returned to membership in the Society of Friends, he moved to Concord, Pennsylvania, and was acknowledged as a minister by Uwchlan Monthly Meeting in 1780. He transferred his membership to Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and then Concord Monthly Meeting. Enthusiastic in his manner, he was advised by prominent Quaker minister George Churchman to moderate his speech. In 1782, he was acknowledged as a minister by Concord Monthly Meeting
In 1782 he married Hannah Sharpless (1765-1795), daughter of Benjamin and Martha Mendenhall Sharpless. In 1785, the family moved to York, Pennsylvania., where Peter took a position as a physician. In 1791, the family transferred to Horsham Monthly Meeting. Hannah died in 1795, leaving six young children: Mordecai (1784-1808), Rebecca (1786-1859), Isaac (1787-1791); Peter (1790-1878); Israel (1792-1799) and Benjamin (1794-1822). Two years later, Peter Yarnall was married under the care of Byberry Monthly Meeting to Hannah Thornton, daughter of Edmund and Elizabeth Haines.
Hannah Haines Thornton (1765-1822) was the widow of Joseph Thornton, a Quaker minister of Byberry Monthly Meeting. Joseph was the son of James Thornton (1751-1794), also a minister, and Mary Knight. The family resided on a large property in Byberry, purchased in 1752. Hannah Haines and Joseph Thornton were married in 1783 at Evesham Monthly Meeting, New Jersey, and they had three sons. Joseph Thornton and two sons died by 1790. Hannah was an Elder and then acknowledged as a minister by Byberry Monthly Meeting. In 1797, she married fellow widower Peter Yarnall and assumed responsibility for the children of his first marriage. Peter Yarnall and Hannah Thornton Yarnall had one child, Hannah (1797-1876), and the family lived on the homestead of James Thornton in Byberry. Peter Yarnall died 1798, 2 month, 20. Hannah Haines Yarnall travelled widely in the ministry and died month 2, 1822.
Hannah and Joseph Thornton's surviving son, James (1785-1858) married first Grace Thornton in 1811. She died in 1813, and he married secondly Rebecca Stokes in 1818 under the care of Moorestown Monthly Meeting. Hannah and Peter Yarnall's only child, daughter Hannah, married Nathaniel Richardson at Byberry Monthly Meeting in 1816, thus linking the Yarnall and Richardson families.
Many of the letters were received by Rebecca Yarnall, the second child of Peter Yarnall and his first wife. Rebecca did not marry, and after her education at Westtown, in 1801 she went to live with fellow Quakers William and Deborah Parrish Wright of Sadsbury Monthly Meeting. Beginning in 1804, the Wrights' home became an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Rebecca was the heir to her brother Mordecai's estate, receiving his books and papers, Family friend and distant relation, Benjamin Ferris handled the estate.
In 1816, Peter Yarnall's youngest child, Hannah, married Nathaniel Richardson (1794-1872), son of Joseph and Ruth Hoskins Richardson, uniting the Yarnalls with the Richardson family, renowned Philadelphia silversmiths. Nathaniel's grandfather was Joseph Richardson (1711-1784) known as the greatest gold and silversmith of his day. He married Hannah Worrell in 1741, and they had two children, Elizabeth and Grace. He married second Mary Allen (1716-1782) in 1748 under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. They had five children: Hannah (1748-1817) who married Samuel Clark; Mary (1750-1835) married Samuel Taylor; Nathaniel (1754-1827) who remained unmarried; Joseph (1752-1831) married Ruth Hoskins in 1780; and Rebecca (1758-1826), unmarried. The brothers Nathaniel and Joseph started as business partners in Philadelphia. Nathanial subsequently went into business as a merchant, and Joseph continued as a silversmith and assayer. Joseph (1752-1831) and Ruth Hoskins Richardson had six surviving children including Mary (1791-1837) who married John Elliott, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Hannah who did not marry; John (1790-1866) married Martha Gibbons and worked as an assayer and bookseller; and Nathaniel (1793-1872) who married Hannah Yarnall and moved his family to the Thornton homestead in Byberry which had been inherited by his mother-in-law, Hannah Haines Yarnall.
Nathaniel and Hannah Yarnall had twelve children including Mary (1817-1874) who married Thomas J. Husband, manufacturer of Husband's Magnesia. A son, Nathaniel (1839-1920) was a Quaker minister and pharmacist. He married Mary K. Cooper in 1862. The youngest child, Elliott Richardson (1842-1883), a prominent Philadelphia physician, married Achsah Nevins in 1876. Elliott died after a short illness in 1887, and his widow died two years later of tuberculosis. The couple's five young children were raised by their four unmarried aunts (Ruth Anna, Hannah, Sarah, and Maria B.) at their family home, Chestnut Glen, in Byberry. Hannah, the eldest, married Edwin A. Gaskill in 1901. Katharine (1878-1966) was a prominent illustrator and married Henry F. Wireman. The three younger children were all graduates of Swarthmore College. Elliott (1881-1964) married Dorothy Strode and served as long-time manager of Swarthmore Borough, Pennsylvania. James Nevins Richardson (1883-1971) married Estelle Bowman, and Frances Richardson (1886-1973) compiled additional family papers, with transcriptions.