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
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:
1713-May 1 a.
Joseph Sharp 2
Edmunds & Thos. John
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
f. Lowden died 1714.
g. Believe he purchased property from
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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:
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
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