Before William Penn, Jr. obtained his patent, he arranged for Griffith Owen, James Logan, and Robert Ashton to act as his attorneys and sell his land, for he was returning to England and did not wish to retain it. Probably the first land was granted to Mary Rowland in 1708, and consisted of seven hundred acres lying below Toughkenamon Hills. Apparently Thomas Rowland owned this piece of land earlier than that date, for Mary joined him after her first husband, Nathaniel Richards, died in 1700. They named their estate "Marberry" and a Deed to this property was made over to Mary Rowland in 1708, upon the death of her second husband. Part of the land was conveyed to her son, also Nathaniel Richards, by Mary and her third husband, Evan Powell of Nottingham.
Within three years after that first Deed was conveyed, several families of the Society of Friends arrived, most from County Carlow, Ireland. They, too, may have been here for a few years before Deeds were recorded for their properties. Of the approximately thirty families who first settled in New Garden Township, twenty were Irish Friends. Mary Rowland and Abram Marshall were Friends, but not from Ireland.
John Evans, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, was believed to have exerted a malign influence on Penn, Jr., for after disposing of 5413 acres, all but five hundred of the remaining acres were sold to Evans, and the tract is sometimes known as "Col. Evans Manor." He reconveyed part of it by 1720, but retained a large share for himself. Nine of the new landowners were located in the aforementioned section of Delaware. All paid about twenty pounds per hundred acres for their land.
The names and plot sizes of those first landowners and the dates on which the purchases were recorded follow:
Name Acres Date
1. Mary Rowland 700 1708
2. John Miller 1013 1713-May 1 a.
3. Robert Johnson 200 unknown
4. Evan Evans 500 1713 b.
5. James Lindley 200 1713
6. Thomas Garnett 300 1714
7. Joseph Sharp 2 plots 200 each 1714-March 25
8. John Sharp 300 unknown
9. Michael Lightfoot 300 1713
10. John Wily 200 1713
11. Thomas Jackson 200 1713 c.
12. William Halliday unknown 1713
13. Abram Marshall unknown 1713
14. Thos. Edmunds & Thos. John 350 in Delaware
15. Reece Meredith 216 in Delaware
16. John Miller 250 unknown d.
17. Anthony Houston 100 in Delaware
18. William Rutledge 250 in Delaware
19. Simon Hadley 1000 in Delaware
20. Benjamin Fred (or Fredd) 300 1715 e.
21. John Lowden 300 1713 f.
22. Thomas Milhous 200 unknown g.
23. James Starr 350 1713
24. Francis Hobson 200 1713
25. Gayen Miller 700 1713
26. Joseph Hutton 250 1713
27. William Huse 200 in Delaware
28. John Thomas 150 unknown
29. William Carpenter 1050 1746
30. William Miller 1000 1734 h.
31. John Evans 100 retained unknown i.
a. Miller died in 1714 and land went to his sons: James - 300 acres; Joseph - 300 acres; and William - 400 acres.
b. Old map indicates he is "of Phila. - Clerk, probably a Welshman."
c. Sold to William Rowan in 1722.
d. Sold later to Daniel Worsley.
e. Purchased Thomas Garnett property in 1715.
f. Lowden died 1714.
g. Believe he purchased property from William Tanner.
h. This section was unimproved and known for many years as "The Waste Lands." It was in the southern end of the Township.
i. Believe this section retained later became part of London Britain Township.
Not all of these early landowners may have settled here. Gayen Miller, for example, was an early settler in Kennett Square and had large holdings there.
The majority of these Friends were of English stock who had lived in Ireland for a generation or more and had become changed by their Irish and Scotch-Irish neighbors. Used to privation and hardship, they were well-prepared to cope with the difficulties of a new country.
Ireland was very unsettled at that time with heavy English restraints on trade, enforced payment of tithes to the Anglican Church, and native Irish conspiring to drive out the English in order to regain their lands. Younger members of the Society of Friends chafed under the strict discipline of the Society, and rules were broken so often that it was deemed necessary to leave the corrupting influences that existed there. Those Meetings with a strong Irish element tended to be more liberal in administering their rules of discipline.
Immigrant Friends in and around Philadelphia and Chester provided food and shelter for the new arrivals, and helped them locate home sites. The newcomers had little money, but were mostly young and vigorous and found favorable opportunities here. New Garden was selected as a land "affected by ties of kin and friendship." As soon as farm sites were chosen, family processions to the "plantations" began along Indian trails and paths marked by blazed trees. Women usually rode pack horses while men and boys walked, driving flocks and herds ahead through the woods. In areas along the Delaware River, new settlers lived in caves until houses were built. While there are cave-like areas in New Garden that would have offered similar shelter, there is no record that they lived in them.
Home sites were chosen on low ground or southern slopes for Winter protection, and near springs. Work was tackled eagerly, for no longer were they tenants, but now landowners. Log houses were quickly erected, hand sawed and hand hewn, with doors hung on wooden hinges or hide straps. There were no locks, but the string used to lift the heavy latch was drawn inside at night for protection. A stone chimney at one end of the building was used for both cooking and heating. Inside, the room was crude with roughhewn furniture, and bare floors only, occasionally, covered with a rug or two. Women, girls and young children tended to the household chores and gardening, while men and older boys cleared and planted land in the Summer, and devoted the Winter to making shoes and iron implements, household furniture, and utensils. They fought the foxes and wolves that preyed on farm fowl, and the black bears that sometimes stole their pigs.
Travelling conditions were poor, but produce was taken to market where it was exchanged for needed items, and these early Quakers visited often. They were sociable people and many events brought them together - harvests, huskings, raisings, public sales, meeting, weddings and funerals. Courtship was a solemn affair and young men needed consent of a girl's parents to proceed. Without such permission, before courting began, the couple had to confess to the error of their ways before the Meeting or marriage was denied.
Strong drink was used freely and rum or cider often accompanied meals, but drunkenness was not tolerated. If one became belligerent or foolish, the Meeting severely dealt with him and he was disowned if such conduct persisted. Dancing and card playing brought severe reprimands. Earliest dress was similar to that of other Pennsylvania settlers of the same class for it was not until after 1725 that Friends began an effective protest against extravagant apparel and adopted the simpler homespun drab and gray. Men wore leather breeches, often deerskin, and coarse cloth coats; women wore linsey and worsted.
It is believed that John Lowden, a noted Minister of the Society of Friends, suggested that the new homeland be named after the Meeting from which most had emigrated in County Carlow. A letter received by New Garden Friends Meeting in 1965 from Coolrog, Grange Park, Waterford, Eire, confirms its existence:
"There certainly was a New Garden Meeting in Ireland, in County Carlow, and the Meeting emigrated almost en masse to found the first New Garden in America - the burying ground there is still under the care of Friends of Dublin Monthly Meeting."
John Miller, who owned 1013 acres of land, built and conducted the first grist mill in the area, now part of Avondale. The closest mill had been at Upland about twenty miles away. Farmers came from as far away as Lancaster to have grain processed there. Miller was from County Tyrone, Ireland, and more affluent than some of his neighbors, but an inventory made at the time of his death in 1714 indicates how bare and meager the homes of that time were:
"Three Ruggs; two pare of Sheets; fourteen yards of Cloath; two pillows; two bed ricks; three bedd steds; twelve napkins and two table cloaths; twelve felt hats; on Chist; 1 beef barrell; 1 brewing Ceive; one washing tub & a half bushell; two dozen of trenshers fourteen noggens and three platters; one Couch and two tables; three puter dishes; twelve plates; one tankard a Saltseler & a mustard cup; two brass and one Iron Candlestick; one beef barrell; A Copper kettle and three Iron potts; an old Gunn barrell and a spitt; nine Sickles; a spade & two shovles; Seven barrs of Lead; some barr Iron; two Crooks and two Smoothing Irons; four old bells."
Miller's inventory of land and animals was made separately. Pots and pans were highly valued and willed to others upon the owner's death, and when William Halliday died in 1741 he left to his daughter, Deborah Lindley, "my big pott that I brought from Ireland" and to his daughter-in-law "a gridle."
John Lowden owned three hundred acres of land and died the same year. He was a weaver by trade as well as a minister, and left the following:
"1 Cow and Calf; a horse; wheat 6 acres; a ffeather Bedd and Bedding; a fflock Bedd and Bedding; Course Sheets; Table Linnen; Wareing Apparell; Linnings; 2 Saddles and a pair of Boots; Iron Tools; Gunn and Gunn Barrell; Small irons; Two potts; Pewter & two Brass Candlesticks; two Chests; an old box; some Wooden Vessels; a Spade; 300 acres of land (Total value of estate 205 pounds, 2 shillings)."
The absence of furniture items is probably due to the fact that they were crudely built and not thought worth including. A typical New Garden dinner table was a rough board on trestles covered with a cloth and napkins, maybe of linen brought from Ireland. Dishes were usually wood with a few pieces of pewter, and the centerpiece was most likely the salt cellar. In some colonial homes guests were divided at the dining table, and those of higher social order were placed, "above the salt" while those of lesser order were seated "below the salt."
On some tables earthenware was used, but no covered dishes, saucers, glass or china. Wooden tankards held water or liquor. Large pewter platters held the meats and vegetables. Knives were used but no forks, so napkins were a necessity for cleaning hands.
The population of New Garden Township grew from 22 taxables in 1715 to over a hundred by 1722 when London Grove Township was included in the assessment, along with some landowners in what is now London Britain Township who were taxed as "inhabitants adjacent to New Garden." When assessments were reduced in 1724 to the Township proper the number was again 22. The tax list of 1715 has been copied with the same spelling of names that appeared in the original:
Name Pounds Shillings Pence
Mary Miller 9 0
Evan Powell 10 8
Nathaniel Richards 2 3
Michael Lightfoot 2 0
William Holeday 2 7
Margret Lowden 2 0
James Linley 4 6
Thomas Jackson 3 0
James Starr 3 0
Francis Hobson 2 0
Joseph Garnet 1 6
Rich'd Tranter 1 6
Robert Johnson 2 0
John Sharp 3 6
Joseph Hollen 2 4
Joseph Sharp 2 0
John Willey 2 0
J Thomas Garnet 3 9
Benjamin Fred 2 1
William Taner 1 8
John Renfroe 2 0
Stephen Nayles 1 0
3 7 2
In 1729 there were 36 taxables with four "Freemen" included; and by 1776 there was a total of 54 people listed. It wasn't exactly overcrowded.
A large emigration of Scotch-Irish to Pennsylvania occurred between 1717 and 1773. Most arrived during the last two years of that period and many moved on to Lancaster County, finding "Philadelphia, Bucks, and Chester Counties quite fully occupied by English and Germans." Some settled in New Garden Township, but most moved to the western part of the County. They were Protestants and generally Presbyterians.
The lower end of the Township held a few Welsh Baptist families who spilled over from the Welsh Tract in New Castle County, Delaware. None of the earliest settlers of New Garden Township were believed to have been German immigrants.