A Quaker Legacy

“I lament the loss of honest Richard Hough. Such men must needs be wanted where selfishness and forgetfulness of God’s mercies so much abound.”—William Penn, 1705


The subject of this black-and-white version of an albumen paper print is my great-great-grandmother, Rebecca Barbara Hough Murdock (25 Nov., 1828-26 Nov., 1917), widow of Thomas McKea Murdock (28 June, 1827-17 April, 1891), seated on a bench outside the Fox family home at 5737 Pierce Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1916. Her daughter, my great-grandmother Rebecca Elizabeth Murdock (29 Sept., 1863-14 April, 1918) married John Thomas Fox (31 March, 1860-11 Jan., 1928). Together they had ten children, the youngest of whom—Helen Kathleen Fox (4 Oct., 1906-28 June, 1983)—can be seen at left. (The fingerprints of my ancestors are also clearly visible.)

Rebecca Hough’s parents were John Thompson Hough (1801-6 Nov., 1869), a cabinet maker in Pittsburgh, and Mary Ann McBride (b. 1804, New Jersey). Rebecca was a direct descendant of the early Quaker Richard Hough (1650-25 March, 1705), a trusted friend and advisor of William Penn. Penn asked Hough to accompany him to Penn’s new land in America to assist in governing the nascent commonwealth.

Quakers seek religious truth through inner knowing and place emphasis on a direct connection to God.

According to the Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New Jersey, edited by Francis Bazley Lee, “Near a spring of water, Richard Hough built a stone house, one of the few early ones in [Bucks] county, only the most pretentious being built of that material. The stone, no doubt, came from his own land…. In this house six generations of the line all descendants of Richard Hough, were born, part of the land remaining in their possession until 1850, when they removed to Ewing Township, Mercer County, New Jersey. [Hough] belonged to the Falls Meeting of the Society of Friends, and in this house, the first meetings of the society were held until the building of the Falls Meeting House in 1690, the first in the county. The Bucks County Quarterly Meeting continued to be held there…until 1606.

“Richard Hough took an active part in all the affairs of the early days of the county, political, social, and religious. He was one of the commission or jury that made the first official division of Bucks County. For many years he took a prominent part in the government of the province. He represented Bucks County in the Provincial assembly in 1684, 1688, 1690, 1697, 1700…and 1703; was a member of the Provincial Council in 1693 and 1700…. During the meeting of the General Assembly of 1699, Richard Hough was appointed, May 15, one of a committee ‘to inspect into the Account of Charges which have accrued upon occasion of the Privateers plundering the town of Lewes;’ during a second session devoted to the consideration of the same subject, Mr. Hough took an active part, and more stringent laws were passed against piracy and illegal trade. He was one of the few supporters of the proprietary in the assembly of 1704, and continued to be a member of the supreme executive council of William Penn or a member of the assembly until his death.”

William Penn, founder of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and friend of my ancestor Richard Hough.

On 25 March, 1705, Hough drowned in the Delaware River. James Logan wrote to William Penn from Philadelphia, “Richard Hough, one of the best in the house, was about three weeks ago, unfortunately, overset in a wherry, coming down the river, and, with two other persons, lost his life; the rest were saved. He is much lamented by all that knew him, and understand the value of a good man.” William Penn replied, ‘I lament the loss of honest Richard Hough. Such men must needs be wanted where selfishness and forgetfulness of God’s mercies so much abound.”

My great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather Richard Hough’s home still stands in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ω

My great-great grandmother Rebecca Hough Murdock (left) and an unidentified relation in about 1895. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

Author: Ann Longmore-Etheridge

Writer, journalist, editor, historian.

9 thoughts on “A Quaker Legacy”

  1. I was so excited when I found your page as I am the 7times great granddaughter of Richard Hough and am planning a trip to walk in his imprint. After 25 years of research, I am ready to get off the keyboard and walk the ground. I am proud of my ancestors. Will be visiting the gravesite of as many as I can as well. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a cousin of yours as Richard Hough is my 7th great grandfather . This past year I drove to Bucks County and visited the home he built and lived in. It was quite a moment for me. The man who lives there, allowed me to stay for awhile and take photos. He told me that if I come back, they would fix dinner and I could see inside. I am so proud of this heritage. The Houghs were aristocratic and what is little known is that Rachel Penn married another one of our greats. She was William Penn’s sister. This makes his parents out great grandparents as well., because he was a great uncle. We assume since they all knew each other and had the same values, this is why there were several families that knew each other were married. Most of those around Penn who settled Bucks County were wealthy . They paid 100 pounds for 5000 acres. That was a HUGE sum back then. You have to have the same history as I do, because we have Richard Hough who came over on the Endeavor, such as the Harts, Crispins, Holmes, etc. Captain Holmes one of our greats was asked by William Penn to design the city of Philadelphia after another of our greats Admiral Crispin died en route on a trip to Barbados. Then some of these families go back to nearly all medieval royalty from nearly every country in Europe. I am pretty certain that if Richard Hough is one of your greats, (he is my 7th great, that we have the same ancestry and that even includes Roman Emperors which go back through John of Gaunt 1Duke of Lancaster on his Mother’s side. His father was KingEdward III making all the preceding English Kings our greats, in turn all French Kings from Queen Isabella’s father on back (She was King Edward’s II wife. Then due to all the intermarrying of the royalty we have great grandparents from Wales 1000 years, Irish 1000 years, several Scottish Kings, Polish, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish including different areas like Aragon, Basque, etc.., Holy Roman Emperors, Hungarian, the very first Russian Kings, German Kings beginning with Henry the Fowler and of course all the wives who came from just as important lines as the Kings. This is not an exhaustive list, because there were the Eastern Emperors from Constantinople. I can’t remember them this evening. Then there are lines that go back to King David. We have Islamic ancestors from the Umayyad Caliphate that intermarried into Spanish royalty. They were one of the largest empires ever to exist in history, but our western history doesn’t give us much of that. Back a 1000 years we even have Ethiopian royalty. We are 12th cousins with Prince Charles and nearly every reigning Royal family in Europe today. This doesn’t begin to cover the dukes, duchesses, earls, counts, barons, Lords and Ladies, brave famous knights on and on. Then besides the Holy Roman Emperors, we actually have Roman Emperors from Rome who ruled the entire Roman Empire. We go back to the very first French King Clovis I. So for example we have about 850 years of royalty just on the French side. We have saints and sinners alike. Some of the most famous saints are in our family. Many of these people are on Wikipedia. It is one fascinating story to read all the combined stories of them all. I read your story about your great great grandmother with total fascination. I didn’t know if you had found out all this information, but I thought if you had not that you would want to know. I wonder what number of cousins we are, but it doesn’t matter we have countless lines of inherited greats between us. I would love to hear from you. 😊 my email is: chanteuse617@icloud.com
      Your Cousin, Misty


  2. Hello, I am also a 7 times great granddaughter of Richard Hough through my dad’s line. Just discovered this recently and am fascinated with your research and photos. I’m in southeast Texas, and in total awe of how many of us there must be scattered all over the world.
    Best regards from Another cousin,


    1. Hi Amanda!
      I just read that your great great grandfather was born in our great Richard Hough’s house.
      I visited there about a year ago.
      It was amazing!!! I’m assuming we are cousins!


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