Mahlon Stayce was born at Dore House on the family’s Ballifield estate, Handsworth, in 1638, and married Rebekah Ely in 1668. Both their families were English Quakers, a new religious movement that was treated with suspicion and hostility under the parliamentary rule of Oliver Cromwell following the English civil war. With the return of the monarchy by Charles II, Quakers were subject to persecution for their refusals to conform to the Church of England. Their refusal to pay mandatory tithes meant they faced crippling fines or imprisonment, and many decided to practice their faith in the American colonies.
Mahlon Stayce, a tanner, acquired, as a creditor, a large chunk of colonial soil in West Jersey, America, and his family sailed from Hull in 1678. He established his home on the south bank of the Assunpink Creek and called it Ballifield after his ancestral home at Handsworth.
Stacye was given permission to build a new settlement at the side of the Delaware River where he founded a church. The town was originally called The Falls, and later Stacye’s Mill.
Stacye held a large estate, had several business interests, and held many titles in public life. He died a wealthy and respected citizen in 1704.
By 1719, the town had adopted the name “Trent-towne”, after William Trent, a Philadelphia merchant, who purchased much of the surrounding land from Stacye’s family
This humble settlement, with its Handsworth origins, grew into a big city – Trenton, New Jersey.
Back in Sheffield, Ballifield Hall has gone, the Ballifield housing estate built on its former parkland.