IV. Pennsylvania, 1698-1805
After landing at Philadelphia on July 17,1698, John Hugh and his
family and shipmates settled on an 11,450 acre tract of land about 15 miles
north of Philadelphia's Delaware River port facilities. They named the area
Gwynedd after their home area in Wales. Among the original purchasers of
this Township are the names, "John Hugh and John Humphery, Friends and
Above is portion of a 1920 Title Search Map, showing the close
proximity of Edward Foulke and John Hugh properties.
The land was heavily timbered with oaks, hickories, and chestnuts,
and must have required a major effort to clear. Some sources say there were
few, if any, Indians, but others talk about buying venison from the Indians.
The settlers may have grown a little buck wheat between landing in July and
settling in November, but it couldn't have been much. One source quotes a
letter saying that the plowing was done very "bungerly." (4) There were
berries and "Indian corn," but the first winter, at least, they almost certainly
depended heavily for food on the largess of Welsh neighbors who had
arrived in the 1680's and settled on a 40,000 acre "barony" to the south,
where Philadelphia now (in 1998) is. Many of the Gwynedd settlers
apparently lived in dugouts, and to have a cabin with "barked" (or peeled)
logs was seen as a great step up.
John: Generation One, Immigrant Born in 1653, John Hugh lived
his first 45 years in Wales. He was a member of a web of related Welsh
"clans" that had lived in the Denbighshire area of Wales for eight centuries
or more. (5) His parents were Cadwalader Hugh and Gwen William. As with
most other Welsh and English Quaker families, religion probably drove
John's 1698 decision to migrate to Pennsylvania. He and his many
neighbors who migrated around the same time undoubtedly sought to take
advantage of the fortuitous availability of good land in Quaker Pennsylvania,
which William Penn (a Quaker) had established in 1681, to escape rugged
persecution of Quakers by the Church of England.
English colonists in America trying to protect their settlements were drawn into a
series of four wars beginning in 1689 between England and France and England
and Spain. These included King William's war (1689-1697), Queen Anne's War
(1702-1713), the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739) and King George's War (1745-1748).
John's original land purchase in Pennsylvania totaled 648 acres. This
apparently remained the "home farm" until 1731, even though John began
selling, or willing to his sons, parts of it in 1708, just ten years after arriving.
In 1731, John moved to the Oley Valley area of Pennsylvania with his son
Ellis and family. He died five years later in 1736 at the age of 83, and Quaker
records list him as being the very first to be buried in the Exeter Meeting
burial ground in the Oley Valley.
John's patent (deed) descibed his 648 acres in Gwynedd as,
"Beginning at the black oak (Horsham Corner); thence southwest by land of
Thomas Sidow, and other land 844 perches to a black oak by land of Richard
Whitpain and Co.; thence northwest by line of Whitpain 118 perches to a
corner of William John's land; thence northeast 844 perches to a corner of
Hugh Griffth's land and in Joseph Fisher's line; thence southeast by said line
128 perches to place of beginning." (6)
I have marked my estimate of the location of John's farm on the map near
the top of this page.
John sold or willed his land in three parcels. The first in 1708 was to
his oldest son, Rowland, who was willed a strip four-fifth of a mile long
and two-fifths in breadth on the eastern corner. Also in 1708 John sold the
middle 100 acres of his land to his neighbor, John Humphery. This piece
was nearly square in shape, and is now (in 1998) traversed b the highway
leading from the Springhouse to Three Tuns in the Gwynedd area. Ellis,
John's second son and our next ancestor, later bought or was willed the
remaining 359 acres. In 1732, following his 1731 move to the Oley Valley,
Ellis sold 187 acres of his portion of John's original farm, but I have not
found any record of when he sold the remainder.
I believe that John was married three times. The records are sketchy
and the information in them contradictory, but my best estimate is that
Martha Caimot was his first wife and also the mother of at least three
children, including Ellis. Martha, however, either died before John left
Wales or during the voyage, because records show John as the farther of
Rowland, Jane, and Ellis when he and Eleanor/Ellin/Ellen Ellis had two
daughters, Margaret and Gainor, in 1702 and 1704, respectively. John then
was a widower when he married Ellin Williams in February 1717. (7)
Three hundred years later, it is not surprising that I cannot find any
physical evidence --a cornerstone, fence, or building--of John Hugh's years
on his Gywnedd, farm. Remarkably, however, a number of the original place
The area is still called Gwynedd, and the site of the Society of
Friends Meeting House (church), established in 1699 is marked. A
grave yard, possibly dating from that time, and a new Meeting
House is on the site.
In 1996 a sign directs visitors to the site of the original Gwynedd
Some of the landmarks mentioned as boundary lines or reference
points in the official descriptions of John's land and the parcels that
he sold are there. These include, for example, Horsham, Whitpain,
the Springhouse, and Three Tuns.
Gwynedd now appears to be a more-or-less upscale suburban region
on the outer fringes of the northern Philadelphia suburbs. It is heavily
forested, with the houses set far enough apart that I suspect that zoning
dictates a minimum of five acres per lot.
(6) Websters Third New International Dictionary describes a perch, in the
context of British measurement, as , "Any of various units of measure for stonework."
(7) Unfortunately, Quaker records also show that Martha Caimot is
buried with John in the Exeter Friends Meeting burial ground. The
information is contradictory.
Click Here To Continue Reading