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CAUTION:  Some of the information in this GEDCOM file was obtained from census records and has not been verified.

Descendants of Nathaniel Branson

Fourth Generation


23. Mary Branson (William , Nathaniel Jr , Nathaniel ) was born in 1711/1713 in Sunning, Berkshire, England. She died in 1749.

Bernardhus Van Leer married Mary Branson in 1733. Her father, William Branson, was a wealthy investor and early pioneer in iron mining and manufacturing. In 1744, William Branson began breaking up his extensive holdings among his four daughters and sons-in-law. He made companies out of his daughters and assigned extensive property holdings to each.

It was a Van Leer grandson, Samuel, and his descendants that took over the Branson iron business in the next generation. The Bransons, consequently, played a very important part in the history of the Van Leer family. (See Affiliated Family--Branson for more information on this Quaker family that had close ties to William Penn.)

With the help of William Branson, Bernardhus and Mary built a second, larger house in 1742 on the Van Leer Marple property on what is now Sproul Road between Paxton Hollow Road and Cedar Grove Road. [View photo.] John George continued to live in the smaller house.

Dr. Bernardhus Van Leer fathered 15 children--who make up our Generation 8. There were six children with his first wife, Mary Branson:

George (1735-1807).

Thomas, died 1754 as child. Buried Middletown Presbyterian Churchyard.

Branson (a medical doctor - died 1798).

William (1743-1764)

Benjamin (medical doctor in NJ, 1746-1820)

Samuel (1747-1825)

Mary Branson Van Leer died in 1749. Bernardhus married a second time to Christinna Fuls in 1750. Christianna was born in October 1726 and died May 29, 1815; she is buried in the Middletown Presbyterian Churchyard. The had nine children--but only six survived into adulthood. The nine children of Bernardhas and Christianna Fuls Van Leer were:

Isaac (1754-1799)

Mary (wife of Moses Moore - died 1783)

Hannah (wife of Mordecai Mackward, 1761-1837)

Catherine (wife of Samuel Black, 1764-1828)

Christiana (wife of Audrey or James Lindsay)

Child (died young)

Bernard Van Leer II (a medical doctor, 1770-1814)

Child (died young)

Child (died young)

His daughter, Mary, was still living when the History of Chester County, Pennsylvania was written. She related that--when her father was 100 years old, he rode 30 miles on horseback to visit her--and then returned the same day--also by horseback. When he was 102, robbers broke into his house and beat him badly. He died 2 years later--at age 104--due to injuries received from the beating. (Ref. 8 - History of Chester County)

Mary married Dr Bernardhus Vanleer son of Johann Georg von Lohr on 24 Feb 1733/1734 in Christ's Church, Pa. Bernardhus was born about 1685/1686 in Isenberg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany (or Prussia). He died on 26 Jan 1790 in Middletown, Delaware Co., Pa.

Dr. Bernardhus Van Leer

Bernardhus (Generation 7) was the only child of the immigrant Johann Georg von Löhr. His life and medical practices were documented by Dr. Dorothy I. Lansing in a article--"The Medical Van Leer Family of Pennsylvania and New Jersey"--in Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in July 1970. (See Reference 7.) Excerpts are presented below.

About 1710 Bernardhus returned to Europe to be educated as a physician. A childhood friend, John Worrell of Marple Township, went with him; they both returned 7 years later as two of the very first medical doctors in the New York. Bernardhus returned with technical manuscripts in German, French, and Latin.

Dr. Bernardhus Van Leer's medical practices were very unique for the comparative wilds of that ancient time: he maintained an office practice, exclusively! It was said that he used the difficulties of travel as his excuse for not traveling to the bedside of the patient. The article speculates that Bernardus followed German medical practices in staunch opposition to Philadelphia practices.

Dr. Bernardhus Van Leer was praised for the qualities of abstemiousness and non-gluttony.


Bernardhus and Mary had the following children:

  89 M i George Vanleer was born in 1735 in Philadelphia, Pa. He died on 22 Apr 1807.

George lived most of his adult life in Gloucester County, NJ. He married Elizabeth Roberts; 11 children were mentioned in his will (Book of Divisions A - Woodbury, NJ).

He was a member of the committee that selected New Jersey's representatives to the Continental Congress in 1776 where the Declaration of Independence was written. He is listed in the DAR Patriot Index for performance of a "public service." No additional information has been located regarding George's activities during the American Revolution. The "Vanleer Papers" at the Chester County Historical Society, however, do include an excerpt from a minister's journal dated 1783 that reveals their circumstances during the Revolution:

"On Sunday afternoon in May I preached at the house of George Vanleer, whose wife was on her deathbed. The parents and their eldest children had been baptized by Provost Wicksell. Now, I baptized the three youngest aged 9, 6, and 2 years (respectively). The reason given for the delay was the miserable times. Their son-in-law had belonged to the English party and had lost all his property. They acknowledged their neglect, however, and she was very glad to see them baptized before her death. My last visit there on the day before her death, which she expected with christian patience. I also gave her the Lord's Super. The text for the funeral sermon was "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes", etc. Rev. 21:4. She had suffered much during her several years of illness and pain, which often kept her in bed. The misery of the war also hastened her end, as well as that of others."
The Journal & Biography of Nicholas Collin - 1746-1831
By Amandus Johnson, Philadelphia, 1936, p. 167-168.

Descendants included in the "Vanleer Papers" at Chester County Historical Society are reproduced below. The "Vanleer Papers" give credit to Dr. M. Stanley Black of Wenonah, New Jersey, for providing the records on the descendants of George Van Leer in the 1930's. Descendants begin with George Van Leer's children--Generation 9.

9. Mary Van Leer. (1) Born 7/20/1757. Died 7/15/1812. Unmarried.

9. Hannah Van Leer. (2) Born 1/27/1759. Married Harrison Wells about 1779. Harrison was a member of the English party, and his property was confiscated during the War of Independence.

10. Elizabeth Wells. (1) Born about 1779. Married Abraham Mendenhall of Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware about 1799.

10. Margaret Wells. (2) Born about 1781. Married Mr. Springer about 1800. Second, married George Pearce, Esq. of New Castle, Delaware on 6/13/1816.

10. Seth Wells. (3) Born about 1783. Married Sarah in 1806.

10. George Wells. (4) Born about 1785.

10. Mary Wells (5) Born about 1787. Married Benjamin Gregg of Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware about 1808.

10. William Wells. (6) Born about 1789. Living in Baltimore, Maryland in 1814.

10. Harrison Wells, Jr. (7) Born about 1791. Living in Baltimore, Maryland in 1814.

10. Hannah Wells. (8) Born about 1793. Married John Duncan, New Castle in 1814.

9. Beulah Van Leer. (3) Born 7/16/1760. Died about 1823. Married Joseph Walker after 1786.

10. Elizabeth Walker. (1) Married a Mr. Kinsman.

11. Henry T. Kinsman. (1)

11. Elizabeth Maria Louisa Kinsman. (2)

11. Charles W. Kinsman. (3) Born about 1806. Married Miss Chaloner about 1828.

10. Beulah Walker. (2) Born June 1801. Died 6/27/1801. She is buried in the same grave with her uncle, William Vanleer.

9. William Van Leer. (4) Born 6/25/1762. Died 6/29/1800. Married Mary Dericson 5/8/1787. Buried at Trinity Episcopal Church, Swedesboro, Delaware.

10. Mary Van Leer. (1) Born about 1788. Married Samuel Dyer May 1813. He was son of William Dyer, Sr. Mary died about 1823. No children.

10. William Van Leer. (4) Born about 1790. Married Ann Eliza in 1814. Moved to Baltimore, Maryland.

11. Mary Virginia Van Leer. (1) Born about 1815. Mentioned in Beulah Walker's will as the daughter of William Vanleer of Maryland.

9. Elizabeth Van Leer. (5) Born 2/20/1765. Died 10/9/1827. Buried at Trinity Episcopal Church, Swedesboro, Delaware. Married James Clark 10/28/1784. James was born 11/30/1760 and died 8/12/1833. 5 children.

10. James Van Leer Clark. (1) Born 12/28/1787. Died 4/28/1822.

10. John Clark. (2) Born 10/18/1790.

10. Joseph Van Leer Clark. (3) Born 1/6/1793. Died 8/24/1829. Married Meribah Kirby in 1817.

11. John Kirby Clark. (1) Born 1818. Married Rebecca Thompson.

12. Louisa Clark. (1) Married Augustus Garrison.

13. Rebecca Elizabeth Garrison. (1) First married George Gill; second, Aaron Black.

12. Anna Clark. (2) Married Al Talman.

13. Louis Talman. (1)

13. Katherine Talman. (2)

13. Sidney Talman. (3)

13. William Talman. (4) Married Elizabeth Ridgway.

14. Dorothy Talman. (1) Married Stanley Kreps.

12. Thompson Clark. (3). Unmarried.

11. Edward Clark. (2) Born 1820. Married Jane Vanneman about 1843.

12. Hannah Clark. (1) Married, first, Parmalee Olmstead.

13. Mabel Olmsted. Married Mr. Holbridge.

13. Maud Olmstead. Unmarried.

9. Rebecca Van Leer. (6)

9. Zebiah Van Leer. (7)

9. George Van Leer. (8)

9. Keziah Van Leer. (9)

9. Branson Van Leer. (10)

9. Tamzen Van Leer. (11)

        George married Elizabeth Roberts on 8 May 1756 in Philadelphia, Pa. Elizabeth was born on 11 May 1738 in Philadelphia, Pa. She died on 21 May 1783.


  90 M ii Thomas Vanleer died in 1754.
  91 M iii William Vanleer was born in 1743. He died in 1764.
  92 M iv Dr Branson Vanleer died in 1798.

Branson Van Leer owned property in Philadelphia and on the Reading Furnace farmland. During the time the British occupied Philadelphia, he was living on the Reading Furnace property. Apparently the British occupied his Philadelphia home as he submits an "estimate of damages done by the British Troops" of 200 pounds on Nov. 19, 1782. (Ref. "e" below.)

This is the only Van Leer documented to be a slave-holder in Pennsylvania. A tax assessment in 1775 (Ref. "b" below) shows ownership of 2 Negroes, 2 horses, 5 cattle, and 4 sheet.

A legal document dated March 16, 1784, has also been preserved (Ref. "d" below) in which Dr. Branson Van Leer signified his intention to free a

Negro Boy named Cesar when he shall arrive to the age of Twenty one years which will be on the Thirty-first day of the third month in the year of our Lord one thousand and seven hundred and ninety-eight.

Under Pennsylvania law, any slaves born after 1780 must be freed upon reaching the age of 28. Branson is, therefore, more generous than required by law. His legal document also will preclude his heirs from transporting Cesar to a slave-owning state should Branson die before 1798.

Dr. Branson Van Leer was one of the original members of the Committee of Observation for Chester County, established in December 1774 with Anthony Wayne as chairman. Other members included William Branson's sons-in-law Thomas Hockley and Richard Flowers. During the Revolution, he was a surgeon in the 4th Battalion of the Chester County Militia under Col. John Ralston. (Ref. "c" below)

Branson Van Leer married Rebecca Mather, the daughter of James and Margaret Mather. Margaret died between 1784 when he was mentioned in her father's will (Ref. "a" below) and 1798 when her husband died (Ref. "f" below). They had no children.

Dr. Branson Van Leer died in Philadelphia during a Yellow Fever epidemic in 1798. A will was dictated on his deathbed, leaving all his property to his brother Samuel. There were two witnesses, both of whom also died during the epidemic. George Van Leer formally contested this will in 1801, charging that Branson was "deranged" at the time. The will was upheld in court. (Ref. "g" below)

Source References

"Vanleer Papers," at Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA. These notes references the following original sources:

Chester County Wills, Book 6.

Chester County Tax Assessment, 1775.

Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, Vol 5, page 451.

Cope College Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Depredations by the British Army, Chester County Historical Society of PA.

Chester County Wills, Book X, p. 66.

Yeats Manuscript, 3rd Floor, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
+ 93 M v Dr Benjamin Vanleer
  94 M vi Thomas Vanleer was born in 1747. He died in 1825.
  95 M vii Samuel Vanleer was born about 1748 in Chester Co., Pa. He died on 7 Dec 1792.
        Samuel married Hannah Wayne. Hannah was born in 1747 in Chester Co., Pa. She died on 7 Dec 1792.

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