The Origin of the Name Sunbury

The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 1)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 1)


[page 1]

[corresponds to first page of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

The Origin of the name Sunbury

-and its application to-

The Village of Sunbury, Delaware Co., Ohio

A compilation of information related thereto by Carleton S. and

Dorothy D. Burrer, Sunbury, Ohio. Prepared, September 1975.

From time to time, individuals interested in the history of Delaware

County, Ohio, have inquired as to the derivation of the name 'Sunbury'

and where it originated.

One request for information came by letter addressed to our late

Postmaster, Mr. Hoyt G. Whitney, from Mr. Rudolph F. Bluedorn, of

Wolcott, Iowa. This was turned over to Mrs. Dorothy D. Burrer,

Librarian, Community Library, Sunbury, for investigation and reply.

The question was also posed by the late Rev. Harry F. Truxall as a

part of research he was conducting, for inclusion in an historical

sketch being prepared, concerning this area.

Most recently, inquiry has been received from Kelsie B. Harder, of

American Name Society, The State University College, Potsdam, N. Y.

No doubt, this question has arisen in the minds of others interested

in such matters. It may very well be that the origin and/or derivation

of the name, and its relationship to our town of Sunbury, has already

been positively established by others. Nothing other than the following

interpretation is in evidence, however, to our knowledge.

Credit is given, of course to William and Lawrence Myers, two brothers

who came to Delaware County, Ohio, from the Forty Fort-Kingston area

of the Wyoming Valley, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. They came as young

men from their home on the Susquehanna River, purchased farm land here

and platted it into a Town, giving it the name Sunbury, the effective

date of record being November 9, 1816. Considerable, well documented

information has been already presented in a very complete and intelli-

gent manner, in verification thereof. Much painstaking and thorough

research has been tabulated by competent historians and

geneologists. Publications are readily available in local libraries

and Historical Societies relating thereto.

Not a great deal has been published, however, and therefore it is not

generally realized, that the name 'Sunbury' had been established in

Delaware County, Ohio, before William and Lawrence Myers came to the


The original County Commissioners Journal reveals that, on February

10, 1808, Delaware County was set off from Franklin County, by act of

The Ohio Legislature, and it was directed that on the first Monday,

May 1808, there was to be an election held to elect Commissioners

and other County Officers. The Act authorized Associate Justices,

Moses Byxbe, Thomas Brown, and Josiah McKinney to divide the County

into Townships. They divided it into three:- Berkshire, Radnor, and

The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 2)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 2)


[page 2]

[corresponds to page 2 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

The Commissioners Court then, on June 15, 1808, formed Marlborough

Township and on June 16, 1808, the Delaware Township. The latter having

been designated as location (temporary) of the County Seat. Also,

on June 16, 1808, the Commissioners formed Sunbury Township, which

encompassed, all the balance of the County not previously laid out.

Sunbury Township, when originally formed, consisted of what is now

Harlem, Trenton, and Porter Townships and the east one-half of

Kingston, Berkshire, and Genoa. On the north, it included all the

area east of Marlborough Twp. i.e., what is now Bennington, Harmony,

Peru, and Lincoln Townships of Morrow County; having as the northernmost

border, the Indian (Greenville) Treaty Line, east to its junction

with the eastern line of Delaware County.

Berkshire Township, prior to 1808, was a part of Sharon Township in

Franklin County, Ohio, and its boundaries had changed from time to time.

By the efforts of Major Brown, it was then organized to include parts

of what is now, Brown, Kingston, Berlin, and Orange Townships, and

the west half of Genoa and the present Berkshire Township. It was

stated to have been named 'Berkshire' because Major Brown and Col.

Byxbe had come from Berkshire County in Massachusetts.

The boundaries of the original Township of Sunbury are set forth in

the early record and can be easliy drawn upon a copy of the 1849 Delaware

County map, by following the detailed description set forth in

Commissioners Journal No. 1. The resulting lines reveal Sunbury

Township to be the largest individual portion of the County as then


Note:-The Individuals named above as Associate Justices, vis.,

Col. Moses Byxbe, Major Thomas Brown, and Judge Josiah

McKinney; to divide the County, are taken from the History

of Delaware County (Baskin) page 210. Commissioners

Journal No. 1, from 1808-1822 indicates the Board of

Commissioners consisted of John Welch, Ezekial [underlined] Brown

and Avery Power, with Nathaniel W. Little appointed Clerk.

The names and requested boundaries of these various Townships were

by petition presented by certain individuals, i.e., On June 15th

1808- "A petition was this day presented by Nathaniel Wyatt and

others, praying for a new township by the 'Name & Stile' of Marl-

borough, of the following boundaries," etc.

Regarding the establishment of Sunbury Township, the following is

stated:- "Resolved by the Board of Commissioners that all the tract

or part of the country [letter 'r' underlined] (?) within the following boundaries be created

into a distinct and separate Township by the Name & Style of Sunbury

to wit; beginning at the North East corner of Section No. 2 of Township

No. 5 & Range 17 of the United States Military Survey, thence south

with said line to the South line of the County, thence North with Said

County Line to the East Line of Said County, thence North with Said

County Line to the Indian Boundary Line, thence Westerly with said

Boundary Line to the East Boundary of Marlborough Township, thence

South with Said Boundary line to the South East corner of said

Township, thence East to the place of beginning. The same is therefore

Erected into a separate and distinct Township". There is no indication

as to by whom the name of the Township was suggested.
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 3)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 3)


[page 3]

[corresponds to page 3 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

For proper orientation it is advisable to interject a bit of personal

history of certain influential settlers who must have been concerned

at the initial erection of these townships in the new County of Ohio.

From the 'Shoemaker Book', which has been widely used by Historians

doing research on early Delaware County settlers, it is a matter of

record that a Carpenter Family, naming especially Benjamin and Gilbert

Carpenter who were very prominent in the early history of the Forty

Fort, Kingston and Wilkes Barre areas of Luzerne County, along the

Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, came to Delaware County in Ohio

before the Townships were named. Benjamin had been active in politics

and was a judge, and substantial property owner in Luzerne County as

attested to by his likeness appearing, along with other Officials of

note in the area, as part of the decorative and commemorative frieze

work in the halls of the beautiful and stately Court House in Wilkes-

Barre, the seat of the County. Gilbert Carpenter was a capable builder

(he is reported to have built the Col. Nathan Dennison House, a famous

early residence, still standing and in good condition, in Kingston, Pa.)

He was also an early grist mill builder, and owner, in the area.

Ezekial Brown (one of the Board of Commissioners named earlier) had

also been a resident of Luzerne County and had come to Franklin Co.

in Ohio before the setting off and naming of Delaware County.

In July of 1806, Benjamin Carpenter purchased two tracts of land from

Col. Byxbe, located in the area that was to become Sunbury Township

Delaware County, Ohio, while still living in Pennsylvania. He and his

brother Gilbert sold considerable of their property in the Wyoming

Valley (Luzerne County) area in 1807, and moved with their families,

soon after, to the new tracts purchased in Ohio. His deeds were

validated by Ezekial Brown, Esq., who had already become an official in

the newly opened territory. It is reported in the Shoemaker [Schumacher] Book that

many families moved about that time from this Wyoming Valley to the

Delaware County area; Addison Carver, several members of the family of

Capt. Nathaniel Landon, John Rosenkranz and others are named. A Col.

Ridgeway was named as an active promoter of this movement.

The date under the likeness of Judge Benjamin Carpenter in the Court

House of Luzerne County is 1750-15 and that period represents a time

of great struggle and turmoil in the Wyoming Valley Region as to

settlers claims under conflicting jurisdictions of Connecticut Grants,

Indian Agreements, Proprietary Interests and Rights of the Colony of

Pennsylvania. The Pennamite Wars were fought in that area during

that period over the rights of the settlers to ownership of property.

The Carpenters, the Browns, the Landons, and the Rosenkranzes, all

being influential people were certainly vitally [underlined] interested in the

difficult state of affairs.

During that period, in 1768, Richard Penn (who with his brother John)

Penn,^had been named Proprietors of the Province of Pennsylvania succeeding

their father William Penn, founder,. By virtue of a Warrant dated

29 October 1768, ^they surveyed and established the 'Manour of Sunbury'

on the North West side of the East Branch of the Susquehanna River,

a twenty thousand acre tract in this Wyoming Valley, and there can

be no doubt that the Carpenters and the other settlers in the valley

were much concerned. Claim was made to the land 'for the use of the

honorable the Proprietaries' of the Province of Pennsylvania. At the

same time, John Penn laid out the Manor of Stoke on the opposite

side of the river.
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 4)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 4)


[page 4]

[corresponds to page 4 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

After the Pennamite wars and troubles with the Indians, the disputes

over Land Titles continued until a Notice of Hearings on Connecticut

claims was held, offering compensation to the Pennsylvania Claimants.

This was by Act of Assembly, State of Pennsylvania, passed 4 April


Benjamin Carpenter was appointed Justice of Peace and a Judge of

Common Pleas Court, Luzerne County, May 27, 1787. Myers Tavern

was located in the home of Philip Myers, close by the stockade and

Fort, and near the Ferry across the river at Forty Fort. This home

and Tavern was the place where his sons William and Lawrence were

raised, and was the common meeting place where matters of the day

were discussed and Official Meetings of a Political and Judicial

nature were held. Carpenters Hall was not far away and the 'Old

Meeting House' in Forty Fort Cemetery was just up the street. All

of this area being within the boundaries of the Manor of Sunbury,

there can be no doubt the name 'Sunbury' was often evident in

conversations and dealings. In fact, Legal Title of the Manors of

Sunbury and of Stoke were known to exist until 1813.

From 1752 to 1772 the 'territory' of Luzerne was included in the

Pennsylvania County of Northampton. In 1772, a new and separate county

was formed, about 50 miles Southwestward along the Susquehanna, and

was named Northumberland. Three months after the formation of this

new County (1772), Governor Richard Penn and the Provincial Council

ordered that, "the surveyor'general (John Lukens), with all convenient

speed, repair to fort Augusta on the Susquehanna (near the confluence

with its west branch), and with the assistance of Mr. William McClay

lay out a town [underlined] for the County of Northlumberland, to be called by the

name of Sunbury" [underlined]. This county seat town was to be located "at the most

commodious place between the fort and the mouth of Shamokin Creek".

(This was the site of the Indian Village called Shamokin).

History of the area states that Richard Penn borrowed the name of

Sunbury from the English Village of that name, situated on the Thames

River, about fifteen miles southwest of the City of London.

Since Richard Penn laid out his Manor of Sunbury and the Town of

Sunbury within the short span of four years, it is reasonable to

assume that both places were named after Sunbury-On-Thames. This is

especially valid since The Manors of Sunbury and the Stoke were of

similar size and near to each other. In England, Sunbury-On-Thames

and Stoke Pages (where some of the Penn Family are buried) are also

in the same general area. Then too, in his Will, Richard Penn stated

that; "I am the holder of an interest in Batavia House in the Parish

of Sunbury, in the County of Middlesex". Mr. George Freeman of the

Sunbury and Shepperton Local History Society, and publisher of - A

History of Sunbury-On-Thames, states that Batavia House was located

therein and pointed out for us, its location on a map of the area.

Letter from, and a personal visit with, Mr. Charles F. Snyder, Exec.

Secy., The Northumberland County Historical Society, Sunbury, Pa., gave

us the first information on this 'Manor of Sunbury' and he is of the

opinion that, since no one, to his knowledge, had ever migrated to our

part of Ohio, it is very doubtful that his town of Sunbury had any part

at all in the early history of our area. We found him to be a very fine

gentleman and very well informed in all historical matters regarding

families and institutions in the State of Pennsylvania. He is also the

author of various publications and a lifetime resident of his area.
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 5)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 5)


[page 5]

[corresponds to page 5 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

Until discovery of the existence of this 'Manor Sunbury' and its

relationship to the area from whence many of our early settlers came,

it had been assumed that, since those settlers came down the Wyoming

Path (now Route 11) along the Susquehanna, or by raft or boat past the

Town of Sunbury on the river itself, the name might have been picked

up and carried from there. Investigation indicates no valid connection,

however, between the town of Sunbury, pa., and either the Township or

the Village of Sunbury, Ohio.

Ascertaining the Derivation of the name SUNBURY.

On a trip to England in 1968, two years after celebration of the Sesqi-

Centennial of the founding of the Village of Sunbury, in travelling by

bus along the road from Heathrow Airport into London, it was quite a

surprise to see from the window of our coach, a large sign, which

pointed the way to Sunbury, somewhere off to our right.

A few days later we obtained a small car, located this 'Sunbury' on a

map, and found that, in spite of the very heavy flooding along parts

of the Thames and in the south of England, there should be no trouble

in reaching that particular area. It is only a short distance from

Hampton Court Palace, famous as a residence of King Henry VIII, and of

Cardinal Woolsey.

Our approach to the town being from the north-west and along the river,

we by-passed the section called Sunbury Cross, which is on a main road

from Windsor through Staines to Hampton Court. On seeing a Church Steeple

in the area we made for it, knowing that, in England, most of the towns

have a church or cathedral in the center.

St. Mary's Church was found to be located near the river between Thames

and Green Streets, and from one of our pictures of the front of the old

Church, the following, most interesting information is provided.

Parish of

St. Mary the Virgin

Sunbury on Thames

1000 Years of Service

In 967, Archbishop Dunstan obtained the Manor of Sunbury, giving

it to the Abbey of Westminster. The Parish is mentioned in the

Domesday Survey. The Saxon building was replaced by the present

one in 1752, it being enlarged in 1865.

The Vicar will be pleased to show visitors the church and its


Since it was raining at the time and the air was damp and cold, we

drove around the area and took pictures of other buildings and the

river front park (which was mostly under water), from our car window.

We had found the Church to be locked, and due to the weather, made no

attempt to locate the Vicar to gain entry to look at the records. The

town and its buildings, some of which are very old, appeared well kept

and the streets were good with much green area. We adjudged it to be

about the size of Westerville, Ohio, and a very pleasant place.

Two years later, on our next visit to England, we again drove to

Sunbury-On-Thames but this time found the Church closed for repairs.

We had brought along the name of an Antique Dealer, hoping that he

might provide historical information or direct us to someone who

The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 6)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 6)


[page 6]

[corresponds to page 6 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

When located, however, we found him to be most un-cooperative, and

in fact, disrespectful -- which is unusual in England. Our desire to

proceed further being somewhat cooled, and finding that we had run

into a shop closing day in the Town, we drove around for a while, this

time in beautiful weather. We re-visited the Park, finding it an

attractive place with benches along the river, and a view across to

a large Marine or Yacht Club on the other side where colorful boats

of a large assortment were moored. Quite a number of ducks were on the

river and on the shore, being fed bits of bread and other items,

evidently brought for them by the local residents. Being pressed for

time, we then continued on our way.

On our third trip, this time in 1972, we allocated more time and made

it a point to make some contact to obtain qualified information about

the area. This time we came by the Main Road and entered by Sunbury

Cross, which is really a part of Sunbury-On-Thames but located to the

north, away from the river and near the railway station and Kempton

Park Race Course. Here we found a new and modern, completely re-developed

business area, complete with Shopping Mall and Apartment Buildings, a

new Post Office, and most important to us, an attractive new Library.

This new development, we found, was to accommodate the northern terminus

and a major Interchange of the new M-3 Motorway which will extend south-

west through historic Winchester, early capitol of England, to the great

port city of Southampton, facilitating travel to Portsmouth and the

resort areas in the south of the country.

On making ourselves known to the Head Librarian, and stating our purpose

in the area, we were welcomed and made to feel completely at home. She

recalled a recent compilation by Michael J. S. Collings and published

by him, entitled:- A History of the Church and Parish of Sunbury-On-

Thames, and presented us with a copy. We had a very pleasant conversation

with her and spent some time strolling about the new Mall. We enjoyed

examining the unusual Town Clock on its pedestal which had been removed

from its original position in the center of the former road crossing

and been preserved by re-installation in the center of the Mall and

Shopping Area. We again drove to St. Mary's Church and finding it locked

we located the Vicar's Cottage but found no one at home. Inquiry was

made from passersby but we were unable to learn where he might be or

when he might be expected to return. It was disappointing to be unable

to look into the Church, but having obtained the pamphlet and becoming

acquainted with the Librarian and more of the area, we felt satisfied

to continue on our trip, this time to the south west and Lands End, and

over into Wales.

In may of 1974, by again contacting the Librarian (the Library is

maintained by the County of Middlesex) by mail, we were put in touch

with Mr. George Freeman, 41 Green Street, Sunbury-On-Thames, Middlesex.

He was Secretary of the Sunbury and Shepperton Local History Society,

who sent his publication:- A History Of Sunbury-On-Thames together with

a map of the area and recent Newsletters of the Sunbury-On-Thames


Here follows, then, excerpts from these two Publications, which provide

the recognized English explanation of the origin of 'SUNBURY'.

The Saxons were, in fact, the true founders of Sunbury.

We know this through a remarkably informative Saxon Document known as,

the Sunbury Charter.
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 7)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 7)


[page 7]

[corresponds to page 7 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

By this 'Sunbury Charter', King Edgar (959-980 AD) granted to his

faithful kinsman Aelfheh 'in perpetuity', a certain parcel of land,

vis., 10 cassati (hides) at the place commonly called 'aet Sunnanbyrig'.

The boundaries of the grant are described by a number of landmarks,

including the 'Cloven Barrow', which not only tell us the extent of

early Saxon Sunbury, but also the origin of the place name.

The Charter's description hinges on its reference to "Sunna's Burh"

and "Sunna's Haw". These Saxon terms suggest that it was a Saxon theign

or lord, called Sunna who founded the community and gave it his name,

as he or a namesake, gave it to Sonning and Sunningdale. Sunna settled

his followers around his own pallisaded residence, or "haw", on the

raised ground between the present Church and the Flower Pot Inn. His

"burh" has been interpreted as 'a fortified place', which would suggest

that Sunbury was founded during the reign of King Alfred (871-899 AD),

in line with the King's Defense Policy against the Danes. However, I

believe the word "burh" to be a corruption of the word "beorg" or "hill"

and refers to the distinctly higher ground around the Vicarage, which

would have been even more prominent in those far off days. At any rate,

whatever the truth, we can see how Sunna's Burh evolved, by the time of

the Charter, to Sunnanbyrig, and within a hundred years to Suneberie;

and, finally in the course of centuries, to Sunbury.

(The above statements of opinion by the author, Michael J. S. Collins)

Apart from Sunna, The Sunbury Charter suggests other early prominent

inhabitants of Sunbury in its mention of Eadbrybt's burial mound,

Dudde's byre and Ecclesbrook. The actual ownership of the Manor can

be traced from the reign of King Eldred (945-955 AD) onwards.

Here follows the text of the Sunbury Charter, a document preserved

in the muniment room of Westminster Abbey (London). The Charter,

written mainly in Latin, but with names and descriptions in Anglo-

Saxon, records the grant of land at Sunnanbyrig by King Edgar to

his kinsman, Aelfheh. A rough translation of the Charter is given


I, Eadgar, King of Britain, have granted in perpetuity, a

certain parcel of land at the place commonly called Sunnanbyrig, to

my faithful kinsman Aelfheh, for his faithful service, so that as long

as his life lasts, he may realize his desires and possess it with all

its advantages, to wit; meadows, pastures, and woods, and at the end

of his life leave it undiminished to whatever heirs he may desire.

If anyone should desire to divert this our gift to another purpose

than that which we have determined, let him be deprived of the fellow-

ship of God's Holy Church and be forever punished with the eternal

flames of the miserable pit, together with Judas, Christ's betrayer,

and his accomplices unless he satisfactorily amend his transgression

against our decree.

This, then, is the Sunbury Charter of A.d. 962. The last sentence of

the preamble reads:- "This Charter was written in the year of Our

Lord's Incarnation 962 with the consent of the witnesses whose names

are noted below". One of the signatures was St. Dunstan, Archbishop

of Canterbury.
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 8)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 8)


[page 8]

[corresponds to page 8 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

The next recorded mention of Sunbury is in the Domesday Book, or

Survey, which was a folio of 760 pages measuring 15 1/2 by 10 1/2, compiled

by the Normans after their Conquest of England by Edward the Confessor

(1043-1066 AD). The entry for Sunbury reads:- "The Abbot of Westminster

holds the Manor of Sunberie which is 7 hides. The land is 6 caracates,

4 hides are in demense on which there is one plough. The Villeins have

4 ploughs, The Priest has 1/2 virgate. The 8 Villeins have a virgate

between them. The meadow land is equal to 6 carucates and there is

pasture for the cattle of the manor".

Applying modern designations and values, the Survey can be translated

thus:- "The Abbot of Westminster owns the manor of Sunbury which comprises

about 840 acres. The ploughed land is about 600 acres. 480 acres are

occupied by freeholders who have one plough between them and the tenants

have four ploughs. Eight tenants have 32 acres each, and the other tenants

16 acres each. The Priest also has 16 acres. The meadow land is equal

to about 600 acres and there is pasture for the cattle of the manor.

(the text of Sunbury Charter and information from the

Domesday Survey are taken from the booklet by Mr. George Freeman)

The descriptions and other information in the two booklets can

be read in the Community Library, Sunbury, Ohio. They provide

much greater detail than can be included in this compilation.

***In Summary***

The history of Sunbury in England is described as going back to the

Roman era, the Saxon Invasion and warring between the Saxons and

the Danes. Then through the Norman Conquest and continuing to this day.

The Manor of Sunbury, established as a Proprietors Holding, by the

Penn Family, was in evidence from 1768 to about 1813 in the Wyoming

Valley, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and encompassed the area whence

came the earliest pioneer families to settle in Delaware County, Ohio.

Richard Penn, Governor of Pennsylvania and his brother, John Penn,

Lieutenant Governor came from Middlesex in England, which included

the Parish (or Manor) of Sunbury. Richard Penn held interest in Batavia

House in this Parish of Sunbury and identified himself with the areas

Stanwell and Stoke, both located nearby.

There can be no doubt that Judge Carpenter was acquainted with Moses

Byxbe, Major Brown, and Ezekial Brown and possibly others who were

responsible for naming the Township of Sunbury in Delaware County,

Ohio in 1808. Judge Carpenter had purchased 2 tracts of land from

Mr. Byxbe in 1806 while still residing in the 'Manor of Sunbury' area

in Pennsylvania, and had the deeds thereto acknowledged by Ezekial

Brown, Esquire, then a Justice of the Peace in Franklin County, Ohio.

After moving to Ohio in 1807, Judge Carpenter resided in Sunbury

Township, one half mile north of the area which was to become the

town of Sunbury and to be laid out by William and Lawrence Myers

in whose family home Judge Carpenter probably attended meetings

back in the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. It is recorded that in

Benjamin Carpenters will, made in Sunbury, Ezekial Brown was named as

executor. In 1812, John S. Brown, son of Ezekial Brown (formerly of

Luzerne Co. Pa.) married Sarah, daughter of Judge and Mary Ferrier

Carpenter after the families had moved to Ohio and were residing in

Sunbury Township. The Browns lived just north of the area, later to

become Zoar (which in time became Galena).
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 9)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 9)


[page 9]

[corresponds to page 9 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

These families, or any other coming to Ohio before 1808,could have

been responsible for carrying forward the name from the Manor of Sunbury

to the Township of Sunbury when it was established in 1808.

This Township of Sunbury, which had been set off June 16, 1808, was

later diminished piece by piece in the formation of what is now;

(Indian) Treaty Line in what is now Morrow County, in addition to;

All of Harlem, Trenton, Porter, and the east half of Berkshire and

Genoa Townships.

The Delaware County History of 1880 by Baskin states that, by 1821 it

had been whittled until all that remained was the east half of Berkshire

Township and all of Trenton. Some time between 1821 and 1832 (the records

of Commissioners proceedings ^were stated to have disappeared for the period

1822-1835) when Trenton Township was named; the western one-half-section

was added to Berkshire to compensate it for two quarters loss in a prior

transfer, one to Brown and one to Kingston.

In contradiction to Baskin, however, it has been found that that portion

of the early Commissioners Proceedings, i.e., Book Numbers two and three

do exist, and positively establish the following:-

From Book No. 2- Page 79, dated March 8, 1826; "Ordered by the Board,

that all that part of Sunbury Township which lies in the 17th Range,

U. S. Military lands, be and the same is, attached to and made a part

of Berkshire Township."

On page No. 33 of Book No. 3, dated December 6, 1832, we find the following-

ing; "Gilbert VanDorn presented a petition of the majority of the electors

of Sunbury Township, praying for the alteration of the name of Sunbury

to Trenton". Said petition having been read and carefully examined. It

was considered by the Board that the prayer of the Petitioners was

reasonable and in every respect, comfortable with the law. It was

ordered by said Board that the name of the Township of Sunbury be

changed to that of Trenton Township, and that said Township be recorded

and established as Trenton Township.

This action of the Commissioners at that time, completely extinguished

the name of Sunbury as a Township in Delaware County, Ohio.

The Town of Sunbury as well as that of Zoar, both being laid out in

1816 were originally in the Township of Sunbury, that portion not

being transferred to Berkshire Township until March 1826. Berkshire

has always been in Berkshire Township. In a period of only 24 years

this, once very large Township of Sunbury was eliminated by divisions,

transfers, and change of name. Then Manor of Sunbury, and original

Proprietor's holding in the Province (and later, State) of Pennsylvania

was confiscated by the newly established State, along with other Manors

held by the Penn Family, with agreed compensation granted in payment for

same. This was stated to be the largest single holding of property ever

to be acquired.

Now, there has been a new Township of Sunbury established, 166 years

after the one originally erected by the first Board of Commissioners

in 1808. This new Township has boundaries concurrent with, and the same

as, those of the Village of Sunbury, Delaware County, Ohio. The Board of

Commissioners in 1974 on petition of the Village, voted approval and

set off the new Township from that of Berkshire thus establishing the

Village and Township [underlined] of Sunbury, Delaware County, Ohio.
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 10)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 10)


[page 10]

[corresponds to page 10 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

Information accumulated on other existing Sunburys is, as follows:-

Sunbury, Gates County, N. Carolina (originally named Sunsbury) was

settled on grants of land issued to William Hunter in 1695 and 1701.

Mr. William T. Cross, historian and lifetime resident of Gates County

states that William Hunter Sr., built his home, some three quarters of

a mile from the present Village (pop.450). He lived there with his son

William Jr., his son Isaac, and Isaac's son Jacob. Jacob built a new

house at a spot which is in the center of the present village.

Tradition has it that, about 1770 a Sun Flower came up in his yard

and that he named the place Sunsbury. Mr. Frank Nixon, retired Post-

master, lifetime resident and descendent of early settlers, stated

that when the new Post Office was built, the name was officially

changed to Sunbury. Other early settlers in the area (which was set

off from Virginia about 1717) were the Costens, all from Nasemond

County, Virginia, some twenty miles distant.

Isle of Wight County, Va. joins Nasemond County and this is separated

from Jamestown by the James River. The Village of Sunbury, therefore,

is not far from the earliest settlements of our Country. People came

to the area of Sunbury and Gates County mostly from old Virginia and

were all of English stock. At one time, prior to the Civil War, the

little village contained two well known schools and it has always been

known as a cultural center. Conversations with Mr. Cross, Mr. Nixon and

with a Miss Costen, retired school teacher and a librarian, reveal that

since their area was settled by English people, their Sunsbury could

have been carried forward from Sunbury in England. No direct line of

transfer has been established however, and they have no knowledge of any

link by people coming from their area to ours.

Another Sunsbury (sometimes spelled Sunbury) is Montgomery County,

Ohio [underlined] and although it was a prior settlement, it has in recent years

become secondary to its neighbor, Germantown. Both are in German Township

and separated by Twin Creek. Sunsbury was platted by Jacob Beard

and the area settled mostly by people of German ancestry. A visit

with Mr. Carl Michael, decendant of Jacob Beard, member of Germantown

Historical Society and on the Board of the Library, revealed that it

has not been discovered how the original settlement was named. A Mr.

Gunkel was the Proprietor who named Germantown when laid out. There

can be no connection ascertained between their area and our [underlined] Sunbury

in Delaware County.

The Sunbury in Cedar County (near Davenport) in Iowa is said to have

been named by a Civil Engineer who built a railroad through that

area, just north of Interstate 80. Correspondence with Mr. Rudolph

Bluedorn, retired Postal Route Carrier (for 44 years), in 1970 and in

1975 revealed also that it had been stated that their name had been

carried forward from Sunbury, Pennsylvania. He states that Ambrose C.

Fulton, brother of Robert Fulton, inventor of the steam boat, may have

named the town. Mr. Fulton was an engineer who came to Davenport from

Chester County, Pennsylvania. He made soundings for the pillars for

the first bridge across the Mississippi River at Davenport, helped to

promote the first railroad west of the river, built the first flour

mill, the first packing house, the first hotel and many other

establishments. He was a leader and promoter of public enterprises

and active in inducing other settlers to come to Iowa.
The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 11)


The Origin of the Name Sunbury (p. 11)


[page 11]

[corresponds to page 11 of THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SUNBURY]

In 1901 the population of Sunbury, Iowa was 25, but had several

places of business including a Bank, Post Office, Saloon, Dance Hall,

Hotel & Livery Stable, Lumber Yard, and other allied enterprises common

to rural areas at that time. It is a beautiful farming community and

the people are mostly of German descent. Across the river, in Illinois

the area is predominately Swedish. Today the population of their

Sunbury is 90, the Bank closed during the depression (1929-1933). The

building is there but the windows are broken out. One house is vacant

and its windows are out, he states, being mostly a 'bedroom' town

with 17 houses, 2 stores, and Post Office and a few businesses catering

to a farming community.

Our informant, Mr. Bluedorn's investigations have determined that

his neighboring town of Walcott, Iowa was named by a William Wolcott

who gave $500.00 to the community for a school if they would name the

town in his honor. Their earliest settlers were from Ohio, Pennsylvania,

and New York. Their postmaster came from Muskingham Co. and a Mr. George

E. Peck, their Depot Agent and Telegrapher, was from Starke County.

The Post Office on their early Stage Line was called Amity, after

Amity, Ohio. Mr. Bluedorn has done considerable research concerning

this area and the origin of the name Sunbury, and states that while he

has been in touch with the Royal Museum and the Urban District Council

Office in Sunbury-On-Thames, we have provided the most information he

has received, to date, in his effort to clear up the Sunbury puzzle.

Sunbury, Livingston County, Illinois is near Streator, South West of

Chicago. Although no visit or contact has been made there, since other

towns with English names are nearby, we assume the origin of their town

name is the same as ours. Settlement of that area would have had to be

later than here and could not have affected the route by which our

Sunbury was named.

Sunbury in Victoria County (?)Australia which is near, and north of,

Melbourne is also surrounded by names of British origin and since

its population has grown from 2385 in 1964 to 5099 as of the 1971

Census, it must be of recent origin. According to information we have

from Sunbury in England, residents there are in contact, viz.,

requests for recent publications of the Sunbury-Sheparton History

Society have been received from Sunbury, Australia.

The only remaining Sunbury we have found listed world-wide is the

County in New Brunswick, Canada. There also, this area is completely

surrounded by other Counties with names: Victoria, Gloucester, Kent,

Queens, Northumberland, Westmoreland, Kings, York, Albert, and Carleton.

Only two are indicated to be French, so there can be no question as

to the origin of the name, Sunbury County, in N.B. Canada.

Dublin Core


The Origin of the Name Sunbury


Berkshire Township--Sunbury--Ohio
Sunbury--History--Land Settlement--Ohio
Trenton Township--History--Ohio


This book presents Carleton and Dorothy Burrer's research findings of how the town of Sunbury in Berkshire Township, Ohio, received its name. The Burrer's trips to England and people encountered during their travels are described. Some information on the settlement of Sunbury is provided.


Local Historian Carleton Burrer; Sunbury, Ohio


September 1975


Researcher: Mrs. Dorothy Burrer











Local Historian Carleton Burrer; Sunbury, Ohio, “The Origin of the Name Sunbury,” Delaware County Memory, accessed May 24, 2024,

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