David Davies the Welshman of Neshaminy

David Davies was a Welshman, son of the wealthy Richard Davies. David came in 1683 and settled in Neshaminy, far away from his countrymen in the Welsh Tract. The next summer his father wrote to Penn, glad that his son had arrived, because many on the Morning Star had been sick with dysentery. Davies wrote, “I was som time under great Exercise by Vistions that I had seene that maney of them were cast {in}to the sea but … but my wife was all along wel satisfied of the wel being of her sonn.” 1

David had written to his father that some of his neighbors were agitating to choose him for the Assembly, though Richard was hoping that this would be put off until David had his plantation in better order. Richard added to Penn that, “I am glad that his servants writts soe wel of him and that they serve him in love and that he is carfull of them.”  By then Davies’ neighbors were complaining that his dog was running loose and attacking their hogs. Middletown Monthly Meeting sent a committee to deal with him, and force him to pay a fine to widow Walmsley for the loss of her sow. 2

In 1685 David was accused of killing one of his servants. Five of Bucks County’s most important Quakers were appointed to try him. There is no record of the trial, but Davies must have been acquitted.

Soon after Davies was in trouble again with the Middletown Monthly Meeting. His servant Margaret Evans was summoned before the women’s meeting because of her disorderly behavior. She claimed she tried to leave him, but being his bound servant and he very unwilling to set her free, she was forced to stay with him. The men’s meeting took over and summoned Davies before them. He said that he would marry her, contrary to their advice, probably since she was not free to object.

He did marry her, and he died twenty days later.

She had a son and named him David.

Two years later she asked for a certificate of clearness, intending to go back to England.

The story is a wild one, yet we don’t know the things we most want to know. Why did this young man die just after his marriage? And why did Margaret name her son after him?

  1. Dunn and Dunn, Papers of William Penn, volume 2.
  2. Middletown Monthly Meeting, men’s minutes, 1st month and 7th month 1684.

Hannah Salter and her notorious past

Hannah Salter came with her husband Henry in 1677 and settled in Salem, West Jersey. They owned 10,000 acres there, an enormous tract, much of it salt marsh around Lower Alloway Creek.  They were active as traders, Hannah as much as Henry. When Henry was sued by John Shackerly in 1678, for not fulfilling a sale of silver plate that Hannah made, Henry admitted that she bought and sold goods as much as he did, and the court found for Shackerly.

Henry died the following April, leaving his land to Hannah. They obviously lived a wealthy life. His inventory six embroidered chairs, “Turkey work”, a silver watch, a silver case and tooth picker.

Hannah moved across the river to Tacony and settled into the life of a real estate speculator. She bought and sold land in both West Jersey and Philadelphia County, over ten transactions. She was active in the courts. She sued people and they sued her, mostly over debts and land. She made her will in 1688 and died a week later. It must have been something infectious; her son John died the same week.

Here’s the back story that makes Hannah’s later life so unexpected. Before she married Henry, she had been a follower of James Nayler, leader of a Quaker splinter group. His small group of followers, mostly women, thought he was the Messiah. In October 1656 Naylor rode into Bristol on a donkey, with the women surrounding him, singing and strewing palms in his way. Mainstream Quakers were appalled. The authorities saw it as blasphemous. Naylor was tried and imprisoned for two years. Hannah acknowledged her fault, continued as a Quaker and ten years later married Henry Salter. What a pity she did not leave a memoir.

Hannah Day and her suitors

In 1692 John Day, a prosperous Quaker merchant of Philadelphia, was intending to go to sea. He wrote his will, left, and was never heard from again. He left a widow Hannah. She may have mourned for John but after a time she turned her eye toward remarriage.

Three years after John disappeared, the stern Friends of the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting advised Richard Sutton that he should not be too forward in getting into the affections of Hannah Day in order to marry. They told William Rakestraw the same thing. They advised Hannah not to entertain William Rakestraw, Richard Sutton nor any other person in order to marry until a certain account shall come of her husband John Day’s death.

Hannah tried again in 1699 with James Atkinson. By now it was seven years since John had left. The women’s meeting approved their proposal and brought it to the men, but the men’s meeting declared that, “There was no proof that  her late husband John Day is certainly dead, although long absent, therefore it is the advice of this meeting that they cannot proceed to marry among friends.” Hannah and James went ahead and married anyway; she died as his widow.

The meeting was not just hard on women. In 6th month  1687 Philadelphia meeting heard the appeal of the carpenter Thomas Marle. He explained that his wife Eleanor had been gone from him this eight or nine years, and desired their advice relating to his marrying again, as he was willing to change his condition. The monthly meeting put him off, and sent the question up to the Quarterly meeting, who sent it to the yearly meeting. The yearly meeting said that he could not take a wife among Friends if his wife might be yet living. He moved to another meeting and married a woman named Margaret. Since Thomas apparently ended up with ten children, he certainly did change his condition. 1

  1. It is not clear by which wife he had the children, but some of them must certainly have been by the second wife.

The people on the map: What was their religion?

Religious affiliation is more difficult to categorize than occupation or immigration. Affiliation could change over time, as when some Quakers followed George Keith in 1692 and became Baptists or Anglicans. And it was not always recorded. The Quakers were the only group with surviving early records. If someone does not appear in the Quaker records, does that mean that they were not Quaker, or simply that they were not active in the meeting?

Evidence for religion comes from Quaker meeting records, burial records of non-Friends, wills (for example, those with bequests to other churches). sometimes by association with people of known affiliation, like the Dungan family of Baptists.

Certain assumptions are reasonable. The Swedes were overwhelmingly Lutheran, many attending the church at Wicaco, later Gloria Dei. There were known Anglicans in the province, such as William Markham and George Foreman. There were people whose behavior shows that they were not Friends, like Gilbert Wheeler the unruly innkeeper.

Using available evidence, religious affiliation was classified into Quakers, Lutherans, Unknown, and Other, a category that included Baptists, Anglicans, and the occasional Catholic. As the table shows, the people on the map were predominantly Quaker.


Does this mean that the people in the province were predominately Quaker? The answer is no. There were many people missing from the map who show up in court records, wills, and land records, and many of them were not Friends. Since the Quaker meeting houses were too small to hold the population, even in the early years, it is clear that many people in the province were unchurched.

The people on the map: Where were they from?

The people on Holme’s map were from many of the same regions as Quakers in general, even though they were not all Quaker. The evidence for origin comes from land records,especially for First Purchasers and people who sold their land while still in England, English Quaker records, certificates of removal, and a smattering of other sources.

Because of the particular records that give place of origin, we know the origin of almost all who did not immigrate. Many of them were First Purchasers. Those who immigrated appear in many records, most of which don’t show origin. This is the same pattern as for occupation.

The map shows the pattern of emigration. 1

Map of origins

The cities of London and Bristol provide many of the people, especially the merchants. Many of the farmers and artisans came from a few counties, especially Cheshire and Wiltshire. There were few from East Anglia; that was Puritan country. 2 Some of the clusters reflect patterns of immigration. For example a cluster from Derbyshire ended up in Darby township, Delaware County. More analysis would probably show more clusters like this. And of course the Welsh predominately settled in the Welsh Tract.


  1. Adapted from Dunn and Dunn, Papers of William Penn, volume 2.
  2. See David Hackett Fischer’s informative work, Albion’s Seed, for more on regional differences.

The People on Holme’s map: What were their occupations?

The next question about the people on Holme’s map is about their occupations. How did they support themselves and their families? The evidence for occupation comes from many sources—primarily deeds and wills, but occasionally from other places such as letters. For some of the people, almost a quarter of the total, their occupation is unknown. In many cases it can be presumed to be farming, but they are not counted as farmers unless they are actually described this way in a record.

When we break down the numbers of people on the map by occupation and whether they immigrated or not, we see an interesting pattern. Many of the gentlemen and merchants did not immigrate; their interest in the colony was as investors or supporters of Penn’s vision. Many of the artisans and farmers, the “middling sort”, did immigrate. They formed the backbone of the colony—the largest single group. These were the people whom Penn had hoped to attract when he advertised the colony. The Swedes, who were neither immigrants nor non-immigrants, but in a category of their own, were generally farmers.

It may seem paradoxical that more of the occupations are unknown for the immigrants than the non-immigrants. (As will be seen, this is also the pattern for their origins.) This is a result of the records available for them. Many of the non-immigrants were First Purchasers, whose origin and occupation were given in their deed of lease and release from Penn. Many of the immigrants were not First Purchasers; they were late purchasers of land from Penn or bought rights or land from others. The records that include them, such as church or court records, typically do not specify occupation.

Here are the occupations, broken out by immigration status.

Gentlemen1621037 (inc 3 women)

There are several interesting points here. As already noted, merchants and gentlemen did not immigrate at the level of farmers and artisans. It might be surprising that so many farmers immigrated, since they would seem to be tied to their land. Obviously many Quaker farmers found a way to leave their land in England (or Ireland or Wales) and start over a new place. The climate in Pennsylvania was comparable, though more extreme, than that of England, but their skills would have served them well. Another interesting point concerns the Swedes. They would have needed some services, such as milling and blacksmithing, and in fact they had a mill, but the names of people who provided those services are unknown. Perhaps some of the Swedes whose occupations are unknown were in fact millers or smiths. Finally, many of the women, especially the widows who headed households, probably engaged in farming, as discussed in the post on classification, though they were never described that way. When women appear in a will or deed they are described by their status, not their occupation. So strong is this status identification for them that some women on the map are described only as “Widow Bond” or “Widow Hurst”. To our modern eyes they are denied the dignity of a given name.

Next: Where were the people from?

The people on Holme’s map: Classifying their occupations

The occupations of Pennsylvania in the 1680s fall into six categories: artisans, farmers, merchants, gentlemen, service providers, and others. These categories are for the men on the map. The women are a special case and get counted separately.

Artisans were people who made things. Carpenters, tailors and shoemakers were the most common, along with maulsters who made beer. John Bowyer was a shipwright. Some of them had occupations in England that would been irrelevant in the new world; Edmond Bennet had been a tobacco cutter in Bristol but probably became a farmer in Bucks County.

Farmers included those who called themselves yeomen or husbandmen. These names had meant different things in England. For example a yeoman owned his own land. But in early Pennsylvania the terms seem to be used interchangeably. It is important to note that even most people with other occupations such as artisans and millers also carried on farming. That is, they lived on substantial plots of land and raised crops for their family, even while earning income in other ways. 1

The term merchant covered everyone from wealthy men like Samuel Carpenter who traded with England and the West Indies, to those who kept a small shop and sold dry goods and groceries. To be called a merchant was a status symbol. No one described himself as a shopkeeper, but there must have been many, in both the city and the countryside.

Gentlemen did not have to work for a living. The Penn family, his relatives the Lowthers, wealthy merchants—they lived on income from investments and rents. Thomas Hudson of Macclesfield, Chester, was a land speculator who bought 5000 acres, sent his servants in 1685 to have the land laid out, did not immigrate. Richard Ingelo came on the Welcome with Penn, served as clerk of the council, went back to England in 1686 when he inherited property there. Like merchant, gentleman was an term of aspiration; some prosperous farmers described themselves as gentlemen in their wills.

Some men (and one known women) provided  a service: blacksmiths, millers, innkeepers, carters, ferrymen, midwife. These were essential, and in the case of ferrymen, sought-after positions. The council granted the Schuylkill ferry rights to Philip England, but in 1693 William Powell tried to muscle into the business and was rebuffed by the council. Innkeepers were supposedly licensed, frequently in trouble for selling beer without a license, frequently in trouble for selling rum to the Indians. The one known midwife was Mary Bradwell, who lived to be a hundred and named great-grandchildren in her will. There must have been other midwives whose names were not preserved.

Some occupations are unusual and form a mixed group: the Swedish minister, doctors, surveyors, clerk, schoolmaster, mariner. Except for the mariner, this would be called a white-collar group. They were probably all literate. But some of them were also probably farmers. For example, John Southworth was the clerk for Philadelphia County in 1683 but also owned 500 acres of land.

The women on the map are a special case, when considering occupation. Of the 34 women on the map, only a few were wealthy enough to live on their income, such as Gulielma Penn and Margaret Lowther. Of the others, 21 were widows, including 8 who were widowed during the voyage or immediately after. These women would need to support themselves and their families with their main asset—their land. Although women were never described as farmers, many of them must have hired laborers (or had adult sons) to run a farm.

Next: The results for occupation

  1. Remember that the income was probably not money as we think of it. Currency was scarce in the early days, as Pennsylvania was not allowed to mint its own coin, and many payments were in “country currency” like a bushel of wheat.

The people on the map: did they immigrate?

Identifying the names on Thomas Holme’s map of the three counties required matching them to records from the time: church, land, court, immigration, probate, and more. Once that was done, the records were studied to see if they formed a pattern to match a single person. Of the 600-plus unique names on Thomas Holme’s map, 608 can be identified in this way. 1

With the people identified, we can answer questions about them. Did they immigrate? What were their occupations? Origins? Religious affiliation? Some of these are straightforward, others trickier to define.

The question of immigration is straightforward, and the evidence is usually clear. Evidence for immigration comes from any record that shows them living in Pennsylvania: a deed, a will, church records such as Quaker meeting minutes, signing a petition such as the tax protest of 1692.

Of the 608 identified people, 476 were believed to have immigrated. This includes one or two where the evidence is shaky, and a few people who settled for a while, then went back to England, like Henry Maddock of Chester County. 2

That leaves 89 people who did not immigrate, including a few probables. Some non-immigrants were wealthy investors like Daniel Cox and Matthias Vincent who had no intention of settling in the colony. Some middling Quakers bought land, possibly with intention of immigrating, then changed their minds and sold the land to others. For example, Henry Bailey, a member of Marsden Meeting in Yorkshire, bought 1500 acres, did not immigrate, and sold his Bucks County land to Alexander Giles. Bailey may have been one of those Quakers who believed in serving his faith by staying in England, rather than leaving. He was jailed and fined there between 1682 and 1690. 3

The Swedes were a separate case. Most of the Swedes on the map had been born in New Sweden (before it was taken over by the Dutch and later the English). They weren’t non-immigrants like those who stayed in England, but they also did not share the immigrant experience of a sea voyage and cultural upheaval. They were culturally Swedes and Finns, but Americans by birth. There were 43 of them on the map. 4

We find that the majority of people on the map immigrated or were born here. The absentee landlords were a minority. In that sense the map gives a mostly true picture of who was there living on it.

Next: Their occupations.

  1. See the previous post for the few remaining puzzles.
  2. The evidence for Richard Coats is mixed. There are no records of him in Pennsylvania except the Blackwell Rent Roll, which usually includes only residents.
  3. Reference: Gilbert Cope on the Bailey family.
  4. See the work of Peter Stebbins Craig for the early Swedes, in his long series of articles and two books.