Whole Number 76
The earliest record of a Richard Sparks in New Jersey that we have found thus far is dated June 3, 1739, on which date Simon Sparks, Thomas Sparks, Richard Sparks, William Weatherby, and Nathaniel Box witnessed the will of John Bradway “of Alloways Creek Precinct, Salem County, cordwainer.” (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 30, p. 57) At that time, the part of New Jersey in which Salem County is located was called West Jersey. This 19.1.2 Richard Sparks is known to have been a son of 19.1 Simon Sparks who settled in New Jersey sometime prior to 1739. (See the Quarterly of March 1958, Vol. VI, No. 1, Whole No. 21, p. 286.) In 1741, Simon Sparks, Thomas Sparks, and Richard Sparks were among the signers of the original covenant of the Pitts Grove Presbyterian Church. Unfortunately, later records of this church have been lost. (See An Historical Account of the First Settlement of Salem in West Jersey by R. G. Johnson, Philadelphia, 1839.) On March 4, 1746, Simon Sparks made his will, which was probated on March 28, 1749. In his will, Simon Sparks was described as “of Deptford Township, Gloucester County” in New Jersey; he left his “plantation whereon I live” to his wife Jane until such time as his son Henry became 21. He named his other children as John, Richard, Thomas, Robert, Elizabeth, Agnes, and Mary. (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 30, p. 449) It is known that Richard Sparks, son of Simon, married Elizabeth Weatherby, daughter of William Weatherby, ca. 1740.
Richard Sparks, son of Simon, appears to have continued to live in Deptford Township, Gloucester County, for a number of years. On November 1, 1751, he signed with Henry Weatherford as a fellow-bondsman for Catherine Marshall, widow and administratrix of the estate of Joseph Marshall (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 32, p. 216) In this document, Richard Sparks was described as a “husbandman of Deptford Township, Gloucester County.” On May 14, 1755, Richard Sparks helped to take an inventory of the estate of William Weatherby, his father-in-law. (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 32, p. 351) Twice in 1756, Richard Sparks took inventories of estates in Gloucester County, but in 1763 he was a resident of Salem County when on March 11, 1763, he and Joseph Champneys signed as fellow-bondsmen with Jehiel Dearwin. (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 33, p. 279) In this document, Richard Sparks was described as “of Pilesgrove, Salem Co., Yeoman.” In the Pennsylvania Gazette of June 22, 1769, an advertisement appeared for a tract of land (300 acres) in Pilesgrove, Salem County, New Jersey. Following the description of this land appeared the following statement: “For further particulars, enquire of Richard Sparks, at the Three Tuns, within a mile of the premises, or of Alexander, John and Moses Hill, in Lower Peons Neck, Salem county.”
On October 29, 1771, a Richard Sparks, Junior, of Pittsgrove Township and Esther Mewhew, widow, were appointed administrators of the estate of Stanford Mewhew. (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 314, p. 342) In all probability, this Richard Junior was a son of Thomas Sparks, brother of the elder Richard Sparks. When Thomas Sparks died in Salem County, New Jersey, in 1791, he divided his estate (will dated January 8, 1791) among his ten children, one of whom was named Richard Sparks. (Thomas Sparks named his ten children as: Thomas Sparks, Simon Sparks, Richard Sparks, Hannah Powers, David Sparks, Jane Fislow, Rachel Sparks, Elizabeth Dubois, Mary Sparks, and Catherine Turner. (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 37, p. 336)
The same Richard Sparks appears in a number of Salem County records during the 1790's, but we cannot be sure whether it was the elder Richard (son of Simon) or the younger Richard (son of Thomas). A Richard Sparks died in Salem County in 1800. This must surely have been the elder Richard, son of Simon. Unfortunately, he did not leave a will. On April 5, 1800, Ann Sparks was appointed administratrix of his estate, with John Sinnickson and Thomas Murphy serving as fellowbondsmen; they also took the inventory of the property. (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 38, p. 3142) If this was the elder Richard, son of Simon, as we believe, he must have married twice; Ann Sparks, who was named administratrix, was probably his widow, whereas we know that his first wife had been named Elizabeth Weatherby. It is interesting to note that when Thomas Sparks of Pilesgrove, Salem County, died in 1801, his will dated May 20, 1801, provided that his small son, David Sparks, should “be put apprentice to Richard F. Sparks, of Philadelphia.” (New Jersey Archives, Vol. 39, p. 1418) Among the marriage records of the Third Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia is that of Richard F. Sparks and Sarah Allardice on February 16, 1793. (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd Series, Vol. 9, p. 545)
Apparently this was the Richard Sparks who died in Philadelphia on May 21, 1806, aged 41, who was buried in the cemetery of the Second Presbyterian Church (See Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1, p. 245). A later reference to his estate calls him Richard F. Sparks. Since he was 41 years old at the time he died in 1806, he must have been born in 1764 or 1765.
The Richard Sparks, son of Simon Sparks, discussed here was probably related to the Richard Sparks who lived in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and moved to what became Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, discussed in the preceeding article.