An American Family History

The Reverend John Watts


"John Watts is spoken of as a man of good understanding, and a fine speaker. Morgan Edwards said he was an English scholar. He was active against the Keithian movement, and held a public discussion with one of their preachers, coming off the victor."

from The History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, W. W. H. Davis

Smallpox is caused by of two viruses: Variola major and Variola minor. Symptoms include a rash and blisters. The mortality rate for V. major is 30–35% and for V. minor is about 1%. Long-term complications include scars, blindness, and limb deformities.

The Reverend John Watts was born in Leeds, Kent County, England in November, 1661. His father was Henry Watts and his mother Elizabeth Duck.

He came to Pennsylvania in 1686. He was baptized at Pennepek Baptist Church by Elias Keach on November 21, 1687 and was called to the ministry the following year. He was the second pastor of the church.

He married fellow church member, Sarah Eaton, in 1687. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on John and Sarah Watts

In 1698 controversies arose in his church and William Davis was expelled for heresy and joined the Seventh-Day Baptists. John wrote a reply to William in his book, called Davis Disabled.

He died on August 27, 1702 in Dublin Township, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania of smallpox. He is buried in the Churchyard of the Pennypek Baptist Church in Lower Dublin.

Children of John Watts
and Sarah Eaton
  • Silas Watts
  • Elizabeth Watts Yerkes
  • John Watts, Jr.
  • Mary Watts Shull
  • Sarah Watts Davis
  • Deborah Watts Engle
  • Stephen Watts
  • Old Style Calendar
    Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

    Christ Church in Philadelphia was founded in 1695 as a condition of William Penn’s Charter. The current building dates to 1744.
    John Watt's Tombstone

    Reverend John Watts
    1661-August 27, 1702
    John son of Henry
    “a sound divine"

    Interred here I be,
    O that you could now see
    How unto Jesus for to flee,
    Not in sin still to be.

    Warning in time pray take
    And peace by jeses make.
    Then at the last when you awake,
    Sure at his right hand you'll partake.



    Presbyterians are Protestant Christians. The denomination originated in Scotland and congregations are ruled by elected elders. Presbyterian theology follows the Calvanist tradition and emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and grace through faith in Christ.
    Baptist churches were found in early colonial settlements and grew out of the English Separatist movement and the doctrine of John Smyth who rejected infant baptism.

    In 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, the Protestant king and queen,William and Mary, took the English throne from Catholic King James II. The bloodless revolution profoundly impacted the American colonies.

    from Genealogical and Biographical Memorials of the Reading, Howell, Yerkes Families by Josiah Granville Leach

    The Reverend John Watts, second pastor of the Pennepek or Lower Dublin Baptist church, Philadelphia county, Pennsylvania, was born at Leeds, county Kent, England, 3 November, 1661. He was the son of Henry Watts by his wife Elizabeth Duck, the only daughter of John and Ellinor Duck, and grandson of Gregory Watts by his wife Margaret.

    So much of Mr. Watts' family history is furnished by his Bible,from which the subjoined record is taken:

    Gregory Watts departed June, 1654, and was buried at Leeds. Had 3 sons and 3 daughters.
    Henry Watts, son of Gregory and Margaret his wife, was born 1616 or 1617; died May 14, 1679; was buried at Leeds near Mardstone, in Kent. He left only one son.
    Elizabeth [Duck], only daughter of John Duck and Ellinor his wife, wife of Henry Watts, died about the beginning of February A.d. 1663-4, and was buried at Leeds in Kent, aged about 26 or 27, and left one daughter and one son.
    Mary Watts, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth his wife, was born A.d. 1659, and died July, 1666.
    John Watts, son of Henry and Elizabeth his wife, was born 3 November, 1661, and was married to Sarah his wife, February 23, 1687-8.
    Sarah [Eaton] Watts, wife of John Watts and daughter of John Eaton and his wife, was born the first day of April, 1655.

    This record would seem to disprove the statement frequently met with, that the Reverend John Watts was descended from Sir John Watts, lord mayor of London, in 1606. The latter had no son Gregory, and was too young to have been his grandfather.

    Mr. Watts emigrated to Pennsylvania about the year 1686, and on 21 November of the following year he was baptized in the Baptist faith, and connected himself with the Pennepek church.... He entered the ministry in 1688, and in 1690 became the pastor of this church, in which charge he continued until his death, 27 August, 1702...

    Mr. Watts was buried in the graveyard of his church at Pennepek. A picture of his tombstone is herewith interleaved. The acrostical inscription thereon, now almost undecipherable, reads:

    H ow Unto Jesus For то Flee,
    NОТ In Sin Still To Be.

    W Arning In Time Pray Take
    A Nd Peace By Jesus Make.
    T Hen At The Last When You Awake,
    S Ure At His Right Hand You'll Partake.

    August Y
    27, 1702.

    You can still buy Leach's classic work.

    The Pennepek (Pennepack) Baptist Church, also known as Lower Dublin is in in Bustleton, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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