New Garden Historical Commission
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The Lamborns and
presented at an Annual
New Garden History Night
November 11, 2011
Margaret B. Jones, Ph.D.
Land that today constitutes the New Garden Township Park is
part of the 350 acres granted in 1716, to James Starr by William
Penn, Jr. Starr was one of the 27 Irish Quakers who took up land
in New Garden Township in the early 1700s. Starrs
wooded tract, spliced by two streams, extended, using modern
roads as approximate boundaries, from Penn Green Road to Starr
Road, to Newark Road and north to the southern boundary of New
Garden Meetings cemetery. Almost immediately James Starr
began to sell off parcels. The 200 acres, of which we are
interested, had several owners before being purchased by Thomas
Lamborn in 1783.
But this is getting ahead of our story of the Lamborn family.
We begin with a young man named Robert Lamborn, born in 1697 in
Berkshire, England. According to baptismal records Robert was
born of Episcopalian parents. When he was a young teenager,
Robert fell in love with a girl named Sarah Swayne, whose parents
were Quakers. This attachment seemed hopeless. Both sets of
parents were opposed to an alliance and furthermore, the Swaynes
were planning to leave England; they were going to immigrate to
In 1711, the Swayne family, seeking relief from persecution
for their Quaker beliefs, set sail for the New World. Robert had
no idea where in America the family might have settled, so there
wasnt even any correspondence between the two young people.
Despite the separation, Robert was determined to find his love.
He was not going to let a vast ocean do what a parental veto as
well as time and distance might do. He determined to find Sarah
and finally in 1713, at the age of 16, he secured permission from
his parents to immigrate, going as an indentured servant to New
The story goes that upon completing his seven years indenture,
Robert went to Philadelphia to search for Francis Swayne, Sarah
father. He was successful; one of the first persons he met on the
street was Francis Swayne. Not knowing how he would be received,
he approached Swayne and was delighted to see a welcoming smile.
Francis Swayne invited young Robert to his home near London
Grove, (a distance of about 30 miles) saying, I have only
one horse, but we will ride and hitch. (One rode a few
miles and hitched the horse some distance ahead of the walking
traveler, who coming to the horse would ride until he passed the
walker. This would continue giving each an opportunity to ride as
well as to walk.) Francis Swayne arranged the hitches so that he
was the first to arrive home. He immediately sent his daughter,
Sarah, to meet Robert. With this romantic reunion accomplished,
and the opposition of her parents removed, Robert and Sarah were
free to eventually marry.
Robert Lamborn (1697-1775) Sarah Swayne (1700-1776)
The Swayne farm was on Street Road, east of London Grove.
Robert Lamborn, using a gift from his father, also purchased land
on Street Road, but a mile west of London Grove. Here he built a
log house and created a farmstead of outbuildings. Eventually,
Robert joined the Society of Friends and in 1722, he and Sarah
Swayne were married. Thomas and Sarah Lamborn reared a family of
nine children. (Robert, William, Ann, Elizabeth, Francis, John,
Thomas, Josiah, Sarah)
(The first crossroads west of London Grove on Street Road,
today is known as Lamborntown. You can see the large brick house
built by Roberts son, William. which stands near the site
of Robert Lamborns log homestead.)
Thomas Lamborn (1738-1812) Dinah Carson (1744-1807)
We are interested, however, in Robert and Sarah Lamborns
son Thomas, born in 1738. In 1763, when Thomas was 25 years old,
he married an 18 year old Quaker minister, Dinah Carson. (In
Quaker circles in those days, the ability to provide vocal
ministry in Meeting was considered very high status and Dinahs
messages were much appreciated.) In 1777, Thomas Lamborn rented
the land that would one day become our Park and in 1783, he
purchased this 200 acre farm he had been renting. Here he, and
his wife Dinah, would rear 9 children in the log house, built in
the early 1740s, probably by an earlier owner, one Robert Brown.
This land that Thomas Lamborn purchased, was to be in Lamborn
hands for more than a century. But for a 24 year interval, it was
Lamborn land from 1783 until 1929, a time period of 146 years.
Most likely the appeal of this land to Thomas was the stream that
flowed through the valley. Thomas Lamborn was a tanner and to
establish a tannery, he required a reliable source of water in
which to treat the hides. Given the multiple uses of leather in
the colonial economy, tanneries abounded in southern Chester
Think now of what was happening in 1777. Thomas and Dinah had
moved their family to the log house in April. Their first harvest
was in the barn. Then in early September, General Howes
British army was poised, ready to march to from the head of the
Elk River to Chadds Ford. Howe deployed his Hessian allies under
General Knuthausan to protect the western flank. The route of the
Hessian army was from the Delaware line to the intersection of
Sharp and Rt 41, then called the Gap-Newport Pike. The Hessians
camped around the Allen Tavern; they were living off the
land, and they were less than a mile from the Lamborn farm.
For these soldiers, the motto was take anything you can
carry. Dinah Lamborn was reputed to have met the stripping
of their possessions by both armies by firmly stating her
testimony, Let us trust in the Lord.
Thomas and Dinah Lamborn were staunch pacifists, plain spoken
advocates for peace. In the face of the Revolutionary War, they
experienced deprivations both from the marauding Hessian Army,
and also from Colonial Militiamen. The colonial militia viewed
anyone who refused to paying the levied taxes or to contribute to
the war effort as a traitor and therefore fair game.
On one occasion Thomas Lamborn was plowing in the field when
some militiamen detached his horses from his plow, appropriated
them for the use of the army and left Thomas standing by his
plow. Another time, the militia beat sheaves of wheat against the
posts in his barn to remove the grain, threw the straw back into
the mow, saying, There, Lamborn may have that. In the
winter of 1781, in lieu of war taxes that Thomas Lamborn had
refused to pay, Colonial authorities confiscated 2 cows, 6 sheep,
4 lambs, 2 pewter dishes, and 2 plates. Altogether, during the
War years, Thomas Lamborn was fined about 769 pounds or $4000,
all because he refused to support the Patriot cause.
With all of these losses, it is no wonder that in 1787, there
is a record of Thomas Lamborn being sheriffed out.
When the sale day occurred, however, Thomas brother,
William Lamborn, was the buyer. Brother, William came to Thomas
rescue, buying the farm, selling off 120 acres to recover his
cost and returning the remaining 100 acres to Thomas. During the
last years of Thomas and Dinahs lives, their son,
Thomas,Jr., to whom they had deeded the farm, and his sister,
Miriam, who never married, cared for their parents. Thomas was
afflicted with asthma and Dinah had such rheumatism that for the
last 8 years of her life, she could not walk. Dinah died in 1807,
Thomas in 1812. Both were buried near members of his Lamborn
family in the Friends Burying Ground at London Grove Meeting.
Thomas Lamborn, Jr. (1774-1843) Phoebe Hobson
Thomas, Jr.. born in 1774, married Phoebe Hobson; a girl he
probably had known all his life. Phoebe was three years his
junior and had grown up on the neighboring farm. They married in
1807, the year his mother, Dinah died. Thomas Jr. and Phoebe
Lamborn reared 5 children on the farm
.Hannah, John, Hobson,
Elizabeth and Thomas III.
Writing of his father in later years, Thomas, Jrs son,
Thomas,III said, Father prospered. In 1816, just four
years after his fathers death, Thomas, Jr. built a two
story brick addition to his log house. And about a decade later,
he demolished the old log house that was probably about 80 years
old and replaced it with a stone kitchen wing. Apparently the
Franklin stove was not in common use because this kitchen
included a large cooking fireplace and a built in bake oven.
Thomas, Jr. was also able to repurchase the 120 acres of land
that his Uncle William had sold to pay his fathers debts.
The farm once again contained 200 plus acres. In 1817, Thomas
Lamborn was taxed for a brick house, frame barn, log barn and two
log tenant houses.
There is a story that involved Thomas, Jr.
of an accident that occurred in the early 1820s. One
evening after dark, Adam Musketeer, a Lancaster County farmer,
and his son were driving down Rt 41, then the Gap Newport Pike,
with a 4-horse team. Their wagon was loaded with 3 hogsheads of
whiskey. Father and son were hurrying to reach the New Garden
Tavern (on the corner of Sharp Road) for the night. In the
darkness, they drove off the edge of the little bridge spanning
the stream that crossed the road (located today in the edge of
the woods on the St.Gabriels property). The wagon
overturned and Musketeer was thrown from his seat.
The son called to his father, but receiving no response, set
off in the dark for help. The first house he reached was a tenant
house on Thomas Lamborns farm. A black family who had a
real fear of kidnappers, occupied the house. They refused to open
the door or to believe the boys story. Seeing a light in
the distance, the boy then hurried across the fields, knocked and
roused Thomas Lamborn,Jr. Taking a lantern, and saddling his
horse, Lamborn returned with the boy to the scene of the
accident. Here they found the elder Musketeer lying beneath one
of his hogsheads, dead.
Placing the dead man across his horse, Thomas Lamborn carried
him to his house for an inquest the next morning. Kind neighbors
took the boy home and the local storekeepers each purchased a
hogshead of whiskey. To this day, the small stream that flows
from Ellis Allens farm (now Marsden) across the road to
Thomas Lamborns farm is known as Whiskey Run.
Thomas Lamborn, Jr. was much involved in the life of his
Quaker Meeting at New Garden. For many years he opened graves for
burial in the cemetery. In the summer of 1824, he reported
opening 62 graves in two months during an epidemic of typhoid
fever. Can you imagine the loss to the community of 62 lives in
Thomass wife, Phoebe Hobson Lamborn, died in 1836, in
her 59th year. Her obituary read: She was of a meek and quiet
spirit, her patience continued under suffering, and resignation
to the divine will. From this one might guess that Phoebe had a
long final illness. A year after her death, Thomas Jr., married
again, marrying Rachel Yarnell. She survived him.
The Thomas Lamborn, Jr. family attended Meeting for Worship in
what we call the Lower New Garden Meeting House. Orthodox Friends
built this Meeting House in 1831. In 1827, there had been a
schism among Friends. Those who were concerned with social issues
such as abolition of slavery, followed a Quaker preacher named
Elias Hicks and called themselves Hicksite Friends. By contrast,
Orthodox Friends were more concerned with words of the gospel and
the life of the spirit. The Lamborns belonged to the group called
Orthodox and worshipped in the Lower Meeting House. (All the
Friends Meetings in the Philadelphia area suffered the same
Apparently Thomas Lamborn, Jr. suffered from heart disease for
many years and anticipated a sudden death. Consequently, at
different times, he wrote words of advice and counsel to his
surviving children. He gave these to a trusted friend writing,
If thou survive me, please come to our house and read them
in a solemn and deliberate manner to my family when I am no more.
Thomas Lamborn (Jr.) several times said he thought he
should suddenly leave this world; adding, It matters not
how or when or what pains of body I have, for the peace of my
soul is above all. The world cannot give it, and thanks be to
God, it cannot take it away. I believe death will leave no sting
and the grave have no victory.
One First Day morning at Meeting for Worship, Thomas Lamborn,
Jr. spoke aloud, repeating the language of the apostle: For
I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at
hand; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I
have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown
of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give
me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that
love his appearing. Five days later he retired for the
night as usual and was found, expired in his bed. He died on 9th
month, 28, 1843 at the age of 69 years.
Thomas Lamborn, Jr. willed his farmland to his two sons, each
to have a farm. Thomas III inherited the eastern parcel, and John
received the western farm. Thus the Lamborn house whose occupants
we have been following, became the home of Thomas III. (John
built the red brick house which today sits in the center of
Landenberg Hunt residential development.)
Thomas Lamborn III (1821-1892) Mary Hayes (1826-1919)
Yhomas, III, born in 1821, had been the student in his family.
For several years he attended Enoch Lewis academy on the
adjoining farm (the farm south of New Garden Elementary School)
and then he went to Westtown Boarding School. In 1839, when he
was 18, he served as an assistant mathematics teacher there. His
interest in astronomy had been fostered during his years in Enoch
Lewis school when he anticipated several eclipses as well
as the transit of Venus for the year 1882 (which he lived to
witness as he had predicted).
In 1846, Thomas III married Mary Hayes, who was described as
an estimable young woman, who proved herself a good wife and
mother. The couple had nine children, three of whom died as
infants. (Israel, Hayes. d., Isaiah, Mary, Thomas H., Charles,
Joseph, Edward. d., Hannah. d.)
Born into an Orthodox Quaker family, Thomas III was a bit of a
misfit at Lower New Garden Meeting. He often provided vocal
ministry and was a registered minister, but his messages were not
well received. He felt charity and fellowship should not be
confined to the narrow limits of the Quaker community. His
public ministry was activated by love to God and goodwill to men.
Thomas III exerted his voice, his pen and his influence against
the social issues of the day. He strongly opposed slavery,
advocated peace, and decried the manufacture of intoxicating
beverages. Soon, he was deemed out of unity, and was
dismissed or read out of Meeting.
In 1854, Thomas IIIs brother, John, sold his farm, the
western tract of their fathers farm back to Thomas. Once
again, the Lamborn farm was an intact 200 acres. But in December
of 1858, just four years later, Thomas III advertised his farm
for sale. He listed the never failing springs and streams, wells
of good soft water, ten acres of timber, a good apple orchard,
cherry trees and other fruit, described his land as smooth and
rolling, divided into convenient fields with good fencing. Why
did Thomas III wish to sell his ancestral land?
Thomas III felt it his place as a Quaker minister to uphold
the spirituality of the gospel and to extend love to all branches
of the Christian church and he needed to live where there were
others who agreed with him. The Lamborn farm was sold to Pennock
Hoopes. ThenThomas III and Mary were free to leave New Garden.
They moved first to Scipio, NY and then to Kansas, to a farm
much isolated from society, where Thomas felt free to
speak when he felt it right to do so and as the way opened.
Josiah Lamborn (1850-1929) Mary Hoopes (1852-1898)
Pennock Hoopes owned the Lamborn homestead from 1860 to his
death in 1884. The farm then came back into the Lamborn family
when it was sold to Josiah Lamborn, nephew to Thomas III. (His
father was Thomas IIIs brother, John.) Josiah, who had been
born in 1850, was married in 1879, to Mary Hoopes, daughter of
Israel and Mary Hoopes. The couple had four children: Percy,
Nathan, Robert and Sarah.
Josiah Lamborns contemporaries described him as a
man of unquestionable ability and sagacity for business,
possessing great energy and strength. This enabled him to carry
on successfully whatever he undertook on his farm. Soon after
purchasing the farm of his uncle, grandfather and
great-grandfather, he began to make improvements. In 1888, he
reroofed his house and made changes in the east room
Other additions to the house were the two porches and
ultimately stucco to cover the soft brick. The major construction
on the farm was a 65 by 18 foot hog house. (Josiah Lamborn had
been a butcher prior to purchasing the Lamborn homestead.) His
business included not only butchering, but also processing milk.
Josiah operated a creamery on the farm as well as one in
Avondale, making butter. To separate the milk into cream and
whey, make butter of the cream and feed the whey to his hogs,
illustrates his efficient operation. For 50 years Josiah Lamborn
maintained a stall at the Reading Terminal Market where he sold
his butter and pork. For 50 years, he went weekly to
Philadelphia, probably carting his products by wagon to the train
station in Toughkenamon, or perhaps Avondale.
Mary Lamborn died in 1910 by which time son, 25-year-old
Nathan, was a partner in his fathers farming/marketing
enterprise. In 1924, Josiah decided to retire. He spent his last
five years with his brothers, Alfred and Hugh Lamborn in
Colorado. Illness brought him home to the Chester County Hospital
where he died following surgery. The year was 1929. With the
onset of the great depression, farm prices were at an all time
low. Nathan sold the farm, probably to settle his fathers
estate. And the tenure of the Lamborns on their ancestral land,
broken by only the 24 years interval, was at an end after 146
years,. Today the Lamborn farm is our Township Park and its
centerpiece is the farmhouse which sheltered the Lamborn family
for so many years. The history of the house and the Lamborn
family is so very typical of the history of most of New Gardens
farms and of their Quaker farm families. From the Revolutionary
War to the Great Depression, the Lamborns story mirrors the
story of New Gardens Quaker farm families during the 18th
and 19th centuries.