William Stavely was born June 23, 1800, the son of Joseph Staveley Jr. and Rachel REYNER of Kent County, Maryland. William moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and married Margaret SHEED on August 27, 1822. William and Margaret lived for a time in Philadelphia, before settling near Lahaska, Bucks County. On the occasion of William and Margaret's Golden Wedding anniversary, the following article appeared in the Bucks County Intelligencer, in November 1872:
From the Episcopal Register.
The Golden Wedding of William and Margaret Stavely.
The custom of commemorating, with some special observance, the fiftieth anniversary of the marriage day, in cases where both husband and wife remain alive, has many pleasing aspects. The gathering of old friends, the reunion of all the descendants, the greetings and the gifts, all combine to make every occasion of this kind very pleasing to all who may be present. But each reunion and celebration of this kind is not only of a joyous and festive character, it is more: it has its solemn and instructive features. The fact that the lives of both husband and wife have been prolonged for so many years is of itself sufficiently unusual to make it due cause for devout thankfulness to Almighty God, to whose watchful providence all such things are due. But further, in many parts of our own country, the marriage tie is so little reverenced, and so easily and so frequently sundered, that each Golden Wedding Day stands out as a rebuke to the laxness of the age, and is not without weight and influence, in the approval of that view of the marriage relation which is in accordance with the teaching of God's Word, and the ruling of the Church, the twain become one flesh, and are not lightly to be put asunder.
We are led to these remarks by the fact that on Tuesday last, August 27, 1872, Mr. and Mrs. William Stavely, at their residence near Lahaska, Bucks county, celebrated in a most appropriate and becoming manner, the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage. Mr. Stavely was married in Philadelphia, on August 27, 1822, to Miss Margaret, daughter of George Sheed, Esq., of the old district of Southwark. The clergyman who officiated at their marriage was the Rev. Manning B. Roche, then an assistant minister in Gloria Dei (Swedes) church, and afterwards for some time rector of Trinity church, Southwark. Eight children were the fruits of this marriage, of whom six are still living, five daughters and one son, Dr. Stavely.
In 1839, though continuing his business connections in Philadelphia, Mr. Stavely removed to Bucks county, and purchased the estate on which he now resides, the property comprising about three hundred acres of valuable land, with an additional purchase of two hundred and thirty-two, making in all upwards of five hundred acres, and constituting him one of the largest landowners in the county. Mr. Stavely's house is in a beautiful valley at the foot of the Buckingham mountain, and here the gathering of his friends took place on Tuesday last. The general arrangements were made by E. Mitchell Cornell, Esq., of Philadelphia, a son-in-law of Mr. Stavely, and were all very complete as respects the reception and entertainment of the visitors. A fine band of music was stationed under the trees on the lawn, and at intervals played in the most charming manner. The friends began to arrive at about five o?clock and continued coming until quite a large number were present.
After the invited guests had all arrived and tendered their congratulations, the company assembled in the parlor and the Rev. Washington B. Erben, of Philadelphia, stated hat it had been the daily custom of the honored host and hostess to have a portion of the Holy Scriptures read in their house, and that it would be very proper to observe this custom on the present occasion. The Rev. Byron McGann, formerly rector of the parishes at Doylestown and Centreville, then read the 23rd Psalm. A little grand-daughter of Mr. Stavely's carried up and presented to her grandfather a plain gold ring, which he took and silently placed upon his wife?s finger, and Mr. McGann said a few words, and offered a prayer. After this the guests went into the supper-room, where a most bountiful and delicious repast was enjoyed by the numerous company.
After the supper, the Rev. Mr. Erben made a short address, congratulating Mr. Stavely, and testifying to the high esteem in which he was universally held. Mr. Stavely himself made a brief reply, and congratulatory addresses were also made by Mr. Darlington, editor of the Bucks County Intelligencer, General Davis, editor of the Doylestown Democrat, Mr. Gilkyson, and by the Rev. Dr. S.M. Andrews, minister of the Presbyterian church at Doylestown. This gentleman has been pastor of his first and only congregation, for about forty years; he has officiated at nearly nine hundred marriages, and during their long residence in the same neighborhood, he has his host have always maintained the most intimate and friendly intercourse.
At a late hour the company separated, with renewed congratulations to their host and his most estimable wife, and with the consciousness of having been allowed to participate in a most pleasant assemblage.
Mr. William Stavely is so widely known as a Church Printer, and was the founder of the printing house and firm which now publishes the Episcopal Register, that we are sure a slight sketch of his history will be read with interest by a large number of our readers. He was born in Shrewsbury Parish, Kent county, Eastern shore of Maryland, and he has in his possession the original deed for some seven hundred acres, dated 1682, and granted to them by Charles, absolute Lord and Proprietor of the Province of Maryland, and Lord Baron of Baltimore, a part of which tract is still held by the Stavely family. His family on his mother's side were members of the Church of England, and he has also in his possession a copy of the Book of Common Prayer, which has an interesting history. At the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, the rector of Shrewsbury parish, being a Tory, left for England, and the Church was for some years left unsupplied with clerical services. Mr. Ebenezer Reyner, Mr. Stavely's grandfather, acted during this period as Lay Reader, and collecting his neighbors, and his own family and servants, they for a long time maintained the Church services. The old Prayer Book of which we speak was the one used in the reading desk at these services, and the ink lines which marked out the portions of the Prayers and Litany referring to King George and the Royal Family, are still visible upon its pages. We need not wonder that the subject of this notice has ever been, not only a good citizen, but also a devoted Churchman. He is both by hereditary descent.
When a lad of fifteen, Mr. Stavely came to Philadelphia, and was apprenticed to Thomas T. Stiles, publisher of the True American, completing his apprenticeship with John H. Cunningham. In 1823 he purchased the business of Mr. Cunningham, and carried on the printing business, at first in a very small way, with limited means, in Third opposite Dock street, until the property was purchased by Stephen Girard. He then removed his office to Pear street, near St. Paul's Church, and soon began to extend his business.
In October, 1823, he began to print the Philadelphia (afterward Episcopal) Recorder, a weekly paper published by Sheldon Potter, a brother of the late Bishop Alonzo Potter. Mr. Potter's book store had recently been consumed by fire, and the paper was at once widely subscribed for by friends who wished to help him to retrieve his loss. Mr. Stavely afterwards began the publisher of the Episcopal Recorder, and so continued for many years. This brought him in contact with many of the most prominent clergy and laymen of the Church, with many of whom his business relations ripened into a life-long friendship. Among the early Editors of the paper were the present Presiding Bishop, Bishop Smith, of Kentucky, the Rev. Dr. Bedell, father of the Assistant, Bishop of Ohio, and the Rev. George A. Smith, of Virginia.
Just after the liberation of the Spanish-American Colonies, Mr. Stavely did a large and very lucrative printing trade in the Spanish language for the Mexican and Colombian Governments. A very large amount of Church printing, Convention Journals, Reports, Tracts, &c. fell into the hands of the printing house established by William Stavely, who withdrew from the business in 1854.
Mr. Stavely's business life, stretching over more than half a century, has made him conversant with many startling changes and improvements. Railways, telegraphs, steamships, and a thousand other scientific inventions have all been introduced within his recollection. In no one of the mechanical arts, however, has there been greater advances than in that of printing. He began when the old Ramage 'two pull' was the most efficient known to the trade, he has lived to see the introduction of Hoe's eight-cylinder Press, printing a daily morning paper from the stereotype plates. He has also seen a wonderful expansion and growth in the Church. When he first came to Philadelphia, there were but five Protestant Episcopal Churches in the city; now, as was stated a few days ago by Bishop Stevens, in a public address, there are seventy-four Protestant Episcopal Churches within the city limits.
Mr. Stavely was confirmed by Bishop White in Christ Church, in 1824, and has always been not only a devout worshipper, but an active worker and generous contributor in the various parishes with which he has been identified. For some 15 years he was connected with the Gloria Dei Church as Vestryman and Sunday School Superintendent. He was present at the first organization of the Sunday School of that venerable Parish, on October 24, 1824, the Rev. Charles M. Dupuy, then Assistant to the venerable Dr. Collin, being also present. He was also a generous friend and patron of the Church of the Ascension, Philadelphia, and mainly through his efforts and the interest awakened thereby, that the Church was relieved from financial difficulties which threatened to overwhelm it. He also took an active part in the organization of the parishes at Doylestown and Centreville, after his removal to Bucks county, and has always been zealous in his efforts to promote their prosperity.
To the youth and younger business men of this age such a life as that of William Stavely may be held up as an example worthy of emulation. Beginning with very limited resources, and always obliged to meet an active competition for patronage by industry, punctuality, close attention to his legitimate business, and strict fidelity to the interests of his customers, he secured not only a comfortable fortune, but also the respect an confidence of many of our best citizens. His long connection with the Church and his devotion to its interests, have not only been his greatest pleasure, but doubtless been blessed to many others. God has blessed and prospered him, and we are sure that many of his old friends who read this brief notice and sketch, will join in heartfelt congratulations at the prolongation of his days, and in prayers, that it may please God still to make his years many and happy.
Some census records for William and Margaret have been located, see the Solebury, Pennsylvania page for details.
William Stavely died on March 22, 1877. His wife Margaret died on March 7, 1884. Both are buried at the Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery in Buckingham, Pennsylvania.
William and Margaret's son William Reyner Staveley (b. 1831) married Julia C. KELLEY in 1856 and settled in Solebury, Pennsylvania.