Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania

In my last post we learned that there were three Quaker migrations to Pennsylvania – one of which was from Wales.  Today, we’ll talk about that Welsh Settlement.

Of great interest to genealogists and historians is the Welsh Settlement of Pennsylvania because of its ties to William Penn and the first settlers. William Penn “advertised” to the Welsh Quakers, of which he was a prominent minister, to settle in his new Colony, and come they did.  Penn designated one specific “Welsh Tract” of 30,000 – later 50,000 – acres to be settled by Welsh Settlers.

Distribution of 5,000 Acre Lots

Penn’s plan was to sell the land to gentlemen, who by all indication, became the first “land companies” in 5,000 acre lots.  These tracts would in turn be sold by the “companies” to settlers.  The first arrivals came in 1682, one year after Penn’s arrival. The first Welsh Land Companies were as follows:

  1. John ap Thomas, of Llaithgwm, Merionethshire and Dr. Edward Jones, of Bala, Merionethshire…5,000 acres
  2. Charles Lloyd, of Dolobran, Montgomeryshire and Margaret Davies, widow, of Dolobran….5,000 acres
  3. John Bevan, of Treverigg, Glamorganshire….2,000 acres
  4. John ap John, of Ruabon, Denbighshire and Dr. Thomas Wynne, of Caerwys, Flintshire…5,000 acres
  5. Lewis ap David, of Llandewy Velfry, Pembrokshire…..3,000 acres
  6. Richard ap Thomas, of Whitford Garne, Flintshire….5,000 acres
  7. Richard Davies, of Welshpool, Montgomeryshire….5,000 acres

Where’s this Welsh Tract?

It’s referred to as the Merion Tract, but it includes the following townships all within or partially contained in Montgomery County, northeast of Philadelphia.

  1. Lower Merion
  2. a portion of Upper Merion
  3. Haverford
  4. Radnor,
  5. Tredyffrin
  6. Whiteland
  7. Willistown,
  8. East Town
  9. Goshen,
  10. and part of West Town

Other Welsh Tracts

This was not the only “Welsh Tract” in Pennsylvania.  There were ones in Chester County and at Gwynedd or “North Wales.”  Further, there were Welsh Settlements in New Castle County, Delaware and in the Carolinas.

The Records

If your ancestors came from Wales in the late 17th or early 18th Centuries and settled in Pennsylvania, they could very well be among the first land purchasers from these land companies.  The book, Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania  The Early Settlers is an extraction of the first 276 pages of the book by Charles H. Browning, Welsh Settlement of Pennsylvania published by William J. Campbell, Pennsylvania.  Each chapter is an exceptionally detailed account of the distribution of the land including dates, locations, plat maps, often formal pedigrees, and at a minimum a casual description of family ties.  It’s an extraordinary work.

Even if your family didn’t settle this Welsh Tract, they may have married into one of the families and been mentioned by association.  If your family is part of pre-1750 Pennsylvania, this book is well worth a look.

I’ll give you a couple of examples of what you’ll find here.

  • Hugh Jones received by deed, 18 March 1681, from Thomas & Jones 156 1/4 acres.  He sold John Roberts, malter, 76 1/4 acres.  He and his son held the rest, in Merion Township.
  • Catherine Price, d. an infant, and was buried on her father’s land, in Merion, 23, 8 mo. 1682.  This was the first death and burial in this little settlement, at the Falls of Schuykill, two months after arrival here.
  • Dr. Thomas Wynne was married three times….

This should give you some idea of the treasures found within.  The book again is the Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania  The Early Settlers, and I believe it is available on microfilm, too, through the Family History Library.

Maybe this will open a door to an ancestor not yet found!

Happy Researching!

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