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Edward Mathews, Historian, and other Thomas Family Reasearchers
18th--21st Centuries | Hilltown and New Britain
Edward Mathews, historian and author, is the major source of this material. He was descended from Evan Thomas of whom the following story relates. His paternal grandmother, Dinah Mathews Mathias, was granddaughter to Evan's daughter, Diana who married John Mathews. She married the Rev. Joseph Mathias (their children used the surname Mathews). The other Thomas family to which Mathews refers below is that of the Rev. William Thomas, founder of the Hillown Baptist Church. Edward was also William Thomas' descendant through this same grandmother, who was the grandaughter of John Mathews and Diana Thomas Mathews. Edward was born to Benjamin and Letitia Mathews in New Britian in 1837. Given his ancestry and birth a little over a century after the settling of Hilltown, he would have been privy to a great deal of oral family history, genealogical materials and other records which can't be located today. He never married but devoted his life to publishing an enormous number of historical and genealogical sketches of the Bucks-Montgomery area. Most was conserved only in scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, diaries and microfilm copies of long forgotten newspapers to which today's researchers have little access. It is very telling that he has little regard for the Evan Thomas family and enormous respect for that of William Thomas. This documents the attitude towards the loyalists even a hundred years after the revolution.
One must keep in mind when considering the information about the Thomas family and Hilltown that this was in the first years of settlement of these areas. Many records were either not kept or did not survive. It is amazing what still does exist and how much Mathews was able to reconstruct, although one must be careful to reassess dates and locations as there are errors. The information can be better evaluated in this day of online access to more information more quickly.
I'm indebted to 2 Jonas Potts researchers who went way beyond Mathews to find the deed that settled where Evan died. This confirmed that the Evan in Bucks and the one that died in Loudoun County, VA in 1757 are one and the same. Most of the rest of what follows is my original research. However, these two deserve enormous credit to track something that had alluded serious researchers for about two centuries. They gave Evan a new home and a new family.
Evan Thomas, Wales to PA
1720 | Wales to PA
From The Thomas Family of Hilltown, Bucks County, Penn" by Edward Matthews 1884: " Lewis Thomas and Evan Thomas, both Welshman, were among the earlier settlers of Hilltown, holding lands in the western portion, near Rieff's corner, and eastward of the village Telford. Evan's son Richard, succeeded him and they remained up to the time of the Revolution. They were not Baptists as were the other family of which this history relates. They were large landholders, were esteemed wealthy and aristocratic, and held a number of slaves. On the upper Bethlehem turnpike, half a mile above the divergence of the highway from the county line, near the blacksmith shop of Leonard Smith (Lee Fluck Farm), was the family grave yard, where besides family a considerable number of their slaves were buried. This burial place has now been ploughed over, and there is little to indicate that it was once the place of interment of a prominent and wealthy family of the colonial days. When the Revolutionary war broke out the sons of Richard Thomas, William and Evan became Tories and entered the British army. The former was a captain, and the latter accepted a commission and raised a troop of horsemen. He made several incursions into Bucks county, and was at the Battle of Crooked Billet (Hatboro), May 15, 1778. Their lands were confiscated by their treason, and at the close of the war they accepted lands in Nova Scotia from the British government. Evan Thomas afterwards returning to Hilltown and removing his family thither."
Papers read before the Society and other historical papers, Bucks County Historical Society. Louis Ely Thompson.1937. "Edward Mathews, in writing about the Thomases of Hilltown, says that Evan Thomas' family was of Welsh descent, that they were not related to the other Thomases of that township, and that they were an aristocratic and wealthy family possessed of much land and several slaves. Their home was near Rieff's Corner. William and Evan Thomas (Richard's son) were grandsons of the first Evan in Hilltown."
Evan Thomas was born sometime between 1670-1690 in Wales, probably in the vicinity of the Rhydwilyn Chapel in Pembrokeshire; died 1757 in Loudoun County, VA He married Mary before 1710 in Wales. She died 1721 in Pennsylvania. The information about his death is newly discovered by a team of resourceful, careful Jonas Potts researchers. They also discovered Evan had a second family in Hilltown--he married Ann and perhaps Sarah. One of these women was the mother of the children born then.
While Mathews says above that the Evan Thomas family was not Baptist, this applied to Richard not his father or siblings. *Mathews corrects this in later works. In 1720 the Montgomery (PA) Baptist Church received Evan and Mary Thomas from the Pembrokeshire, Wales Baptist Church. This church was the first Baptist Church in Pembroke--Rhydwilym. Statistics from Table 1 of the Transatlantic Brethren show the only 1720 arrivals to Montgomery Baptist were a man and a woman from Rhydwilym--Evan and Mary. On Rhydwilym’s c1696 church records is an Evan Thomas with wife Joan from Pembrin, County of Cardican (Penbryn, County of Cardigan). This could be the same Evan but this can't be known.
Also there are two Thomas Evan who were baptized in 1704 & 1706--could be he or his father. The church of Rhydwilym had a wide geographical ambit, from mid-Cardigan to Amroth by the sea, from Haverfordwest to Llanllawddog. But after 1700 it began to become more concentrated in the vicinity of the Rhydwilym Chapel; other churches having been established in those areas more distant.
The early membership at Montgomery and other Pennsylvania Baptist church were monglot Welshmen. They settled near each other to speak the language and maintain their communities. Most of very first members at Montgomery were from Rhydwilym.
Montgomery Baptist Church records: Evan and Mary Thomas arrived from the Baptist Church Pembrokeshire, Wales 1720
Mary, wife of Evan Thomas died 12//22/1721
Elizabeth, wife of Evan Thomas received Jan. 1724
Died, 10/28/1724 Elizabeth wife of Evan Thomas
1726 Evan Thomas "cut off" for several untruths and oft repeated drunkenness
1755 Evan Thomas dismissed to New Britain Chruch.
Church records show Diana, Evan, Jr. & Joseph Thomas, children of Evan Thomas, baptized 1730. Evan Sr was received in New Britain with his daughter, Diana, and son, Joseph, on October 30th, 1755.
I have not been able to find the earliest property records for land for Evan and Lewis Thomas near Reiff's corner that Mathews referenced. The only Evans, father and son, who had land in earliest Hilltown immigrated 1720 and moved to Hilltown in 1721. They may have been tenants or squatters or the deeds were not recorded but traced from later transactions.
The first Hilltown record I found for Evan was in 1724 on the southeast side of land Andreas Van Buskirk sold to Bernard Young. Young's and Evan's property in 1730 was divided by the "Great Road", today the Hilltown Pike. The general location of this property appears to be in the southwestern part of the town east of Chalfont Road, south of Hilltown Pike and west of Callowhill Road. He and/or Evan Jr.bought another 200 acres in this area from Edward Farmer and William Lowther in 1729. This property is on or near the Hilltown/New Britain border and is described only as being in Bucks County. Although one tract is known to have adjoined Van Buskirk, William Thomas, and John Humphrey and the other adjoined land of said Evan on the northwest side and was said to already be in his possession. (See Deeds Attached)
There are Hilltown land records for Robert Heaton in 1757, '59 & '68 which border on property of Evan Thomas. It seems to be the same land as where Evan Sr's original property was located. However, it is not known which Evan owned this land by 1757. The Heaton family bought this property bordering Evan Thomas from the Vastines who "had of" William Baldwin in 1721. This William Baldwin is mentioned in the same deed as Evan, Bernard Young and Andreas Van Buskirk in 1724. Evan's original property would have bordered some of Baldwin's 500 acres plot at that time.
He and/or Evan Jr.bought another 200 acres in this area from Edward Farmer and William Lowther in 1729. This property is on or near the Hilltown/New Britain border and is described only as being in Bucks County. Although one tract is known to have adjoined Van Buskirk, William Thomas, and John Humphrey and the other adjoined land of said Evan on the northwest side and was said to already be in his possession. (See Deeds Attached)
It is difficult to differentiate between father and son because unless they both appeared in the document Jr and Sr were not used. Also, sometimes the same property was referred to as being in Hilltown or in New Britain--this seems to happen when the land was near the township line. So it may be that the same Evan Thomas was called yeoman of Hilltown or yeoman of New Britain. As to who bought the property originally from Farmer and Lowther, I think it was probably Evan Sr buying it the name of Evan Jr who would have been too young to sign an enforceable contract. However, this is still open to question.
Transactions by Evan Thomas after 1730 appear to refer mostly to Evan Jr. In 1733 Evan, Jr. and Sarah (wife) Thomas sold property in Hilltown to John Lewis near Frets Mill. At the time of the sale the record described him as Evan Thomas, yeoman, Hilltown. He or his father, Evan, had purchased this property along with above mentioned one, totaling 200 acres for 10 shillings from Edward Farmer and William Lowther in 1729. My thinking that this is Evan Jr and not his father is suggested by the fact that the land described in the deed was bordered by Owen Evan and William James as is his land shown in a 1734 warrant. (See attached survey, deed and map of Fretz Mill in images). Another factor that causes me to lean to property's being sold by Evan Jr is that the deed is signed with a signature. Evan Sr. signed at least 3 documents with a mark. In the Transatlanta Brethren the Baptists in Wales were described as of lowly economic class, uneducated. Evan Sr probably didn't read or write. However, this again is an open question. It does appear that the majority of the land that is shown as belonging to the Evan Thomases on the 1876 map attached eventually belonged to Evan, Jr.
Nothing more is known of Sarah, although it is possible that she was connected to either the Farmar or Lowther family. When property was sold for an undervalued price as the above property was it is often because there is a relationship by marriage of some sort between the two parties to the sale. William Lowther was part of the Abington Monthly Meeting at the time Richard Thomas, Evan Sr's son, and Elizabeth Walton were married there. Perhaps there is a connection there.
There was another 150 acre tract of land in New Britain warranted in 1734 by Evan. The northeastly border began at the Green Hill School House on Callowhill Rd. running southwest 201 perches,then southeasterly for almost a mile to Ferry Road.
In 1757 this piece of land was sold to Edward Mathew, son of Simon. Edward Mathews, author, wrote a piece first published in the Doyletown Democrat about what was then known as the Sliffer Homestead and on the attached map of New Britain would be the J. Funk property. Mathews had not found the warrant nor did he find the 1806 deed which was uncovered very recently after outstanding research by those two Jonas Potts researchers. In finding this deed they verified the 1757 will of Evan Thomas in Loudoun County belonged to Evan of Bucks. They confirmed that Evan did die in Loudoun County in 1757, shortly after selling the property. Also, this gave Evan a second family that I had never found in Bucks—sons James and David; a daughter, possibly Mary, who was married to Jonas Potts. His wife at the time was Ann. It will have to wait until it is determined whether Sarah mentioned above was wife of Evan Jr. or Sr, before it can be assumed that Ann was the mother of these children.
There has to be an interesting story surrounding why they went--Evan had to be very close to 70. It appears that the most likely for them to have travelled was to Frederick, MD to the Carolina Road--crossing the Potomac by Aubrey's ferry. They would come to Shenando Road which would take them west to Hillsboro. This would have been a difficult and dangerous journey. I believe the property described in his will in or near the Hillsboro Gap in the Short Hills (see attached map).
Children of Evan Thomas and Mary are:
i. Richard Thomas, born Bet. 1710 - 1716 in Wales; died 1776 in Hilltown, Pennsylvania; married Elizabeth Walton 1736 in Abington Meeting, PA.
ii. Diana married John Mathews
iii Evan married Margaret Mathews in 1742 in Philadelphia Presbyterian Church. Died 1766
iv. Joseph married Martha Lewis in Philadelphia, Presbyterian Church in 1737. Ordained Baptist minister 1766 New Britain, PA. He was in 1766 dismissed to Loudoun County, Virginia to serve a church there. If his father were to go to Loudoun County, this would have been the time.
Evan's arrival in Hilltown in 1721 is confirmed by biographical information for his son, Joseph from Va Baptist Register XXXIX: "Joseph Thomas b.1718 Wales, came to Hilltown in 1721 with parents. Joseph baptized by Benjamin Griffith in 1730 in Montgomery Church, Montgomery Co. Pa. Ordained at New Britain in 1766, preached 1750-60". Montgomery Baptist Church records show Evan, Jr. & Joseph Thomas, sons of Evan Thomas, baptized 1730.
It appears that he distributed at least some of his Hilltown property before 1749 to Evan Jr. as is indicated by property lines in 1749 mortgage of Evan Jr, who appeared to have financial difficulties. He may have distributed it all to children prior to his death.
The following file #400 also applies to Evan, Jr. who bought property on his father's line in 1734 and mortgaged it in 1749. Evan, Jr. also bought property in Hilltown in '36 and New Britain in '34.
Orphan's Court File #400 - Evan Thomas, Hilltown
Dec 8, 1766 - Widow Margaret. Sons John and Benjamin over 14 petition for guardians. Thomas Jones, Jr. appointed for John, Joseph Lunn for Benjamin. There were other children who were not minors.
Source: Book 1, Orphans Court Records, Bucks Co., Pa. Margaret was ordered by court to sell all land and mansion house to cover debts and expenses for children. The land totalling 115+ acres was purchased by David Mathias. At least 20 additional acres had been sold to Ebezener Owens as part of the court ordered settlement.
This record, in addition to a land record in 1744 in which Evan and Margaret sell property in Hilltown, has led earlier researchers to erroneously conclude that Evan, the father, left a widow, Margaret. However, this is Margaret Mathews who married Evan, Jr. son of Evan who arrived in 1720.
Sources for Evan Thomas of Hilltown
1) Genealogical Material copied by Mrs. Philip Meridith Allen, Blue Bell, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, over a period of years, also by Miss Elma C. Bishop, Berwick, Pennsylvania, Wilcox-Roads-Rhoads
2) The Thomas Family of Hilltown, Bucks, Penna by Edward Matthews. "Wandering through Historic Hilltown" Edward Matthews. Matthews researched early land records of the Hilltown area while writing of another Thomas family in the area.
3) Byberry Waltons, 3rd edition, Norman Walton Swayne
4) Bucks County Deed Book; Bucks County Grantor/ Grantee Index
5) History of Montgpmery Baptist Church, Edward Mathews
6)Va Baptist Register XXXIX
7) Papers read before the Society and other historical papers, Bucks County Historical Society. Louis Ely Thompson. 1937
8) Transatlantic Brethren: Rev. Samuel Jones (1735-1814) and His Friends : Baptists in Wales, Pennsylvania, and Beyond (Google eBook)
1710-1776 | Wales to PA
1. Richard Thomas, born Bet. 1710 - 1716 in Wales; died 1776 in Hilltown, Pennsylvania. He was the son of 2. Evan Thomas and 3. Mary. He married (1) Elizabeth Walton 1736 in Abington Meeting, PA. She was born Abt. 1718 in Pennsylvania (Byberry), and died 1785 in Hilltown, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Joshua Walton and Cassandra Albertson
Noted historian Edward Mathews is the primary source for information regarding Evan and his son, Richard. Mathews' information likely came from oral history as no primary materials have been found to document Evan and Richard's relationship. It seems that Evan could have been a brother to Lewis Thomas. Lewis' children followed the Welsh naming pattern to use Lewis as a surname.
Papers read before the Society and other historical papers, Bucks County Historical Society. Louis Ely Thompson.1937. "Edward Mathews, in writing about the Thomases of Hilltown, says that Evan Thomas' family was of Welsh descent, that they were not related to the other Thomases of that township, and that they were an aristocratic and wealthy family possessed of much land and several slaves. Their home was near Rieff's Corner. William and Evan Thomas (Richard's son) were grandsons of the first Evan in Hilltown." I have been able to document that there was only one Evan in Hilltown in the early years which I consider proof that Richard is the son of Evan from Pembrokeshire who came to Hilltown in 1721 per Baptist history.
Evan was a Baptist but there is no record of Richard's having been baptized or having been a church member. Richard was a Quaker at the time of his marriage. This has led some researchers to conclude that Richard was descended from Quakers. However, an extensive search of Quaker materials revealed no information about Richard prior to his marriage to Elizabeth. There are no Abington records of his transfering to that meeting or of his having been born in Montgomery County. Mathews felt he was a native of Wales--since there is no record of his having been born in Pennsylvania this appears likely. All his children were eventually dismissed from the Gwynedd MM-William for marrying out and other misconduct. Martha for conceiving a child out of wedlock. All the others for marrying out. It does not appear that the Quaker belief was a very strong influence on Richard or his children
Richard received a patent for land along the Saucon Creek in Northampton County, PA in 1739. However, he abandoned it to move to Hilltown.
From the " Wandering through Historic Hilltown" a collection of old historical articles written by Edward Mathews: "It was in 1740 that Henry Paxon sold to Richard Thomas, as much as 320 acres situated along the county line. This extended for perhaps a mile ana a half along the townships' boundaries and northeast half a mile over the rugged regime of hill and dale. This was part of the 650 acres Jeremiah Langhorne hand sold to Henry Paxon. This was sold to Richard Thomas for 690 pounds--indicating no improvements. This piece extended along the county line for 440 perches, climbing the long slope above Reiff's Corner and over the rolling country beyond.
" This Thomas family waxed thriving and prosperous, were considered somewhat aristocratic and were slave holders. In the tax list of 1774 we have the names Richard Thomas and his son, Evan Thomas. the death of Richard Thomas took place in 1776. His son, Levi Thomas inherited 162 acres, or one-half of the tract bought in 1740."
Richard and his family moved from Lower Dublin, which today is part of Philadelphia, about 1745. Mathews believed he was about 70 at the time of his death and was not certain where he lived on his plantation which included in 1880 the lands of Appenzeller, Fluck, Zearfoos, Brandt and Nyce. Appenzeller was an employee of Richard Thomas, living as a tenant farmer on his land. Richard's son, Levi, lived on the Appenzeller farm, and perhaps his parents lived with him. His son Evan lived on the former Reiff property.
Speaking of the Fluck farm, Mathews said a newer house succeeded an old dwelling, probably of logs, which stood near the road and beyond the driveway to the barn that had been built by the Thomas family. "Like all property bordering the county line and the Sellersville turnpike for a mile northwest of Reiff's corner, this belonged to the ancient Thomas family."
This indenture made the Twenty First day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty. Between Richard Thomas of Lower Dublin Township in the County of Philadelphia, Mason, and Elizabeth his wife of the first part and Jorg Henrich Hirzell of Richill in the County of Bucks, yeoman. WHEREAS by Indenture bearing date the thirteenth day of October last past, Henry Paxson of Middleton in the said county of Bucks, tanner, * * * did grant and con-vey unto the said Richard Thomas * * * a certain tract of land situate near a place called Perheassing in the said county of Bucks (which since the laying out of townships in those parts is found to be within the limits of Hilltown Township * * * NOW THIS INDENTURE WITNESSETH that the said Richard Thomas and Elizabeth his wife for and in consideration of the sum of Ninety pounds * * * HAVE granted, bargained, sold, released and confirmed unto the said Jorg Henrich Hirzell a certain piece of land, part of the aforesaid bounded by lands of said Richard Thomas, Evan Griffith and Henry Hartly, containing one hundred acres * * * IN WITNESS whereof the said parties to these presents have interchangeably set their hands and seals hereunto. Dated the Day and Year first above written.,,RICHARD Thomas Elizabeth Thomas.
From Gwynedd Monthly Meeting records: 26-11-1741 Richard Thomas and wife produced certificate from Abington Monthly meeting for self and wife.
3rd Gwynedd. 30, 1761. Richard Thomas has purchased a slave, and he being in this meeting, Friends had a good opportunity to lay the inconsistency of the practice before him.
The inhabitants along the route of the new road as laid out by the road jury, became dissatisfied, and at the March term of Court, in 1744-1745, joined in a petition for relief, and asked for a change of location of route. The petition reads:-- "Whereas, the Honorable Court of Quarter Sessions held for the County in September last, Did Grant and Order, to Lay out a Road from the line Dividing ye Counties of Phila. & Bucks, (beginning at a Corner of Richard Thomas's Land), to ye Road Leading from George Myer's Mill to ye Great Road (Allentown) Leading to Philada, which was accordingly Laid out, which Road is very Detrimental to many of ye Inhabitants, Chiefly to Joost (Yost) Cope, John Shelenberger & Jacob Leydy, whose Plantations it breaks very incommodiously too, ye Ground also being very mirie & bad, your Petitioners therefore pray that ye said Road, (which is not Confirm at yet), May be Dropt."
August 29, 1745
The Pennsylvania Gazette
To be sold by publick Vendue, on the 5th of September next, A Fulling Mill and House, with all the Tools belonging to the Mill, in exceeding good Order, some Houshold Goods, and 200 Bushels of Charcoal; also 8 Acres of good Land, 4 of which Meadow, well water'd, and fenced in with a good Hedge, and a good young Orchard, Out houses, &c. The Mill is situate about 12 Miles from Philadelphia, near Pennypeck Creek, within Half a Mile of Busseltown. Any Person inclining to purchase, may apply to Richard Thomas, living on the Premises, where the Vendue will be kept. Twelve Months Credit will be given for one Half of the Money, provided the other Half is paid in three Months after the Sale. The Vendue will begin at Ten o'Clock, RICHARD THOMAS.
From the Pa Gazzette 1746: Came to the plantation of Richard Thomas, of Hilton township, Bucks county, the latter end of April last, a roan filley, something more than a year old, branded on the near buttock KN. The owner, describing her other marks, and paying charges, may have her again.
September 4, 1746, The Pennsylvania Gazette: ON Monday the 22d of this Instant September, will be exposed to sale by Vendue, the Fulling Mill in Lower Dublin, Philadelphia County, which formerly belong'd to Richard Thomas, the same is in exceeding good repair, together with all the Implements and Utensils necessary for Fulling, Dying, Tentering, Sheering, Pressing, &c. with a good Dwelling House, a Working Shop, and Out houses, and Eight Acres of good Land, the greatest Part Meadow, all within Fence and well situated for Business. Then and there will be sold an English Waggon and Gears, good working and riding Horse, sheep [?], Plow and Plow irons, &c. The Conditions of sale will then be made known SAMUEL THOMAS.
From Northampton County records: Mortgage for 194pds, 19s, 3 p, 9 May 1765. Mortgager, John Custard, Heidelberg twp and his wf Ann. Mortgagee, Thomas Thomas, Hilltown twp. Bucks Co. Property, 135 acres near Lizard Creek by land late George Custard deceased, vacant land, and land of John Rhoads (which was one of four tracts which John Jennings, late sheriff, by writ, sold to Richard Thomas, 19 Sept 1763; Then to Richard Thomas, Hilltowns, Bucks Co and his wife Elisabeth, sold to John Custard, 8 April 1765.
WILL OF RICHARD THOMAS
From Philadelphia County Court House
Be it Remembered that I Richard Thomas of Hilltown in the County of Bucks and Province of Pennsylvania Yeoman being Sick of body, but of Sound Mind, Memory, and Understanding, think it necessary to dispose of those Worldly Goods that God in Mercy hath given me to Enjoy by this my Last will and Testament in Manor hereafter Expressed, That is to Say first of all I will that all my Just Debts and funeral Expenses be well truly and faithfully paid and discharged.
Item I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Elisabeth one feather Bed and all the apurtenanies thereunto belonging of her choice of my beds, one Iron Pot and one Small brass kettle, one Cow of her Choice, and my will in that my Said wife Shall have the priveledge of my two back rooms down Stears and in the kitchen what may be thought Necessary for her to do her work in, and also roome in the Seller for her use all the said priviledges to Continue during her widdow hood and no longer, And my Son Levi Shall during his Mother's widdowhood find and Provide for his said Mother Eight bushels of wheat a year and four of rye Also one good fat Hog and one quarter of beef a year one barrel of Syder a year and water Syder what she may have occation of and apples for her use, fifteen punds of flax and ten of wool a year, And Shall keep her a Cow winter and Sumer and find her a Horse to ride on where She has occation to goe and Shall Cut and hall to the door as much fire wood as may be Necessary for her use, during her widdowhood, and my Said son shall pay unto his said Mother yerly and Every during her natural life the Sume of Six pounds of Pennsylvania Currency.
Item I give and bequeath unto my Son William Thomas the full and Just Sume of fifty pounds of Pennsylvania Currency.
Item I give and bequeath unto my son Josia the full and Just sume of forty pounds of like money as aforre said.
Item I give and bequeath unto my Son Joshua the full and Just sume of forthy pounds and like money affore said.
Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Hannah Coocker the full and Just Sume of forty pounds of like money as affore said to be paid in Eight Equall Payments the first to be made in one year after my decease and the remainder in yearly payments untill the whole is pade.
Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Martha the full and Just Sume of fifty Pounds of like money as affore said, and also my little Negroe Girl Called Rose Untill She attains to the age of thirty years, and my will is that then, if She lives to the age of thirty years, She Shall from thence forward be a free Negroe as although She had never been a slave.
Item I give and bequeath unto my Negroe Felis her freedom when she Attains to the age of thirty years and that She shall from thence forward to a free woman.
Item I give and Devise and bequeath unto my Son Evan Thomas Sixty four Acres and thirty four perches of Land where on he lives Sittuated in Hilltown afforesaid. According to the Draught of the said Land, with all the buildings, and appurtenances thereon Erected to hold to him his heirs and Assigns for Ever he paying in consideration thereof to his brother Levi one year after my decease to Enable him to pay my Just debts and the Leagicies before Mentioned.
Item I give devise and bequeath unto my Son Levi Thomas the remainder of my Land and Plantation I live on Sittuate in Hilltown affore Containing by Estimation one Hundred and Sixty acres be it more or be it less, with all the buildings and apurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining to hold to him his heirs and assigns for Ever, he allowing and paying in Lue thereof to his Mother yearly and Every year the Sum of Money and Privaligies Mentioned in this my will to her.
Item I do hereby Constitute Depute and appoint my Son Evan and Levi Thomas both of Hilltown affore Said to be Joynt and Co Executors of this my Last will and Testament, Giveing them full power and absolute authority to Sell and dispose of all my Lands and Tenaments that are in North Hampton County they being over the blue mountain with all the buildings and Improvements and appurtenances thereunto Belonging or in any wise Appertaining, Giving them full Power and Abslolute Authority to make and Execute a Good and Effectual Coveance in Law on the Same Unto Such Person or persons that may or Shall Purcase the Same and unto his or their Heirs and assigns for Ever
as I my Self might or could do were I living, Also I will and direct that Sale be made of all my Personal Estate Goods and Chattles, save what is before bequeathed, and the Monies arising from the Sale of my said Lands and from my Personal Estate after paying my said debts and funeral Expenses and the Leagicies hereby bequeathed, if any there be remaining, I give and bequeath unto my said wife Elisabeth, and to my said Children William, Josia, Joshua, Evan, Levi, Hannah, and Martha to be Equally divided between them Share and Share alike. I do hereby Nominate and appoint my friends Thomas Thomas and Henry Rees to be Trustees of this my Last Will and
Testament to see it accomplished. Finally I do revoke, anul and make Void all former and other Wills by me heretofore made or declared to be made Either by word of Mouth or in writing Ratifieing and Confirming this only written on both Sides of this Sheet of Paper to be my last.
In witness where of I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal this Nineteenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy two 1772.
Signed Rhrd Thomas
Witnesses: Thos. Thomas, Henry Reese, John Cope
Proved May 8, 1776
Notes for Elizabeth Walton:
Will Abstracts Book 4, Bucks Co. 1778-1786: 4.348
Elizabeth Thomas, Widow. October 4,1784 Proved 1-10-1785
"Relict of Richard Thomas Son: Levi, exr. Daugther: Martha and her son Jonathan
Witnesses: Benjamin Griifith, Jonathan Walton, Cadwd. Morris
Their marriage is confirmed by: Record of June 1736 marriage per: Family History Library: Linages of Hereditary Society Members, 1600's - 1900's Sons and Daughter of Pilgrims, VolII, Linage of Members, page 189
Photocopy of Elizabeth's will is included in accompanying images.
Evan Thomas, son of Richard, loyalist
1780 | Hilltown, Pa
From Gwynedd Men's Disciplinary minutes: 10th Gwynedd Overseers acquaint the meeting that Evan Thomas has left his usual place of abode and that it is reported he now resides in Philadelphia and is active in military employment. David Evans and John Ambler are desired to make inquiry and endeavour to treat with him in that matter. [This is Evan Thomas, son of Richard and Elizabeth (Walton) Thomas of Hilltown twp., Bucks County.]
From Loyalists of Pennsylvania : "On February 14th, 1778, Hovenden s troop of Philadelphia Light Dragoons went up the Bristol road, and Captain Evan Thomas with his Bucks County Volunteers took the Bustleton road. On their return they brought back most of the officials of Bucks County. During the same month they made other forays into the County of Bucks, as the result of which they captured a number of Continental soldiers, a quantity of cloth greatly needed by Washington s army at Valley Forge, and a drove of 130 cattle. About a month later the Queen s Rangers, the New Jersey Volunteers, and other troops to the num ber of about 1,500 men engaged in foraging expeditions into New Jersey..."
8th It being reported that Evan Thomas is gone away with the English army so that there is not any prospect of serving him with a copy of the Testification against him therefore it is directed to be entered in the minutes as follows: Whereas Evan Thomas having had a birthright in Society with us the people called Quakers but of late having left his wife and Children and went to Philadelphia to reside and having taken an Active part in War contrary to the peacable principles we profess to the World one friend having had an opprotunity of treating with him in order to Convince him of the Inconsistency of his conduct with his professions he appeared kind but as he had engaged in war seemed inclined to continue in the practice therefore for the clearing of truth we do hereby disown him the said Evan Thomas from being any longer a member of our community with us until he by a Godly sorrow for his past conduct condemns it to the satisfaction of friends that he may is our desire.
Biographical Sketches of Loyalists, vol 2, p. 353 (Sabine's Loyalists, 1864): "Evan Thomas. Of Pennsylvania. He commanded a company of Loyalists called the Bucks County Volunteers; and for a time was engaged in predatory warfare in the vicinity of Philadelphia. At on time his company acted with the Queen's Rangers, embarked on expeditions with them, and considered themselves as under Simcoe's protection. (Went to Yorktown with Benedict Arnold. 1780 held prisoner there) Attainted of treason and estate confiscated. Settled at New Brunswick. He died at Pennfield, December 1835, aged ninety, leaving children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great great grandchildren." Evan Thomas was the son of Richard Thomas of Hilltown twp., Bucks Co., PA, one of the slave owners visited by the Committee formed to persuade members of Gwynedd to free their slaves.
A number of persons in this county joined the British army and drew their swords against their country. Among these were Edward Jones, of Hilltown, who raised a company of cavalry in that township and New Britain; Evan Thomas, of the same township, commanded a company in Simcoe's Rangers, was in the attack on Lacey at the Crooked Billet, went with Arnold to Virginia in 1780, and was among the prisoners at Yorktown. After the war he removed his family to New Brunswick, where he died.
Introduction to the Loyalists of Bucks County
1776-1783 | Bucks County, PA
From: Papers read before the Society and other historical papers, Bucks County Historical Society. Louis Ely Thompson.
Edward Mathews, in writing about the Thomases of Hilltown, says that Evan Thomas' family was of Welsh descent, that they were not related to the other Thomases of that township, and that they were an aristocratic and wealthy family possessed of much land and several slaves. Their home was near Rieff's Corner. William and Evan Thomas were grandsons of the first Evan in Hilltown.^
In the list of those who associated themselves to resist British aggression, there are several Thomases enrolled in Hilltown Township and five others of that name who were listed as Non- Associators. The names of William and Evan Thomas do not appear on either list. The name of an Evan Thomas does appear among the Non-Associators in Buckingham. Whether this was the same Evan who afterwards was captain of the Bucks County Volunteers is a question.
When General Howe's army occupied Philadelphia after the battle of Brandywine, William and Evan Thomas among other Loyalists from Bucks joined him there. William was made a captain of Loyalist troops. His name seldom appears in the his tories and Evan is given credit for organizing and leading a troop of mounted men called the Bucks County Volunteers.
1 "The Thomas Family of Hilltown," Edward Mathews, page 1.
206 INTRODUCTION TO LOYALISTS OF BUCKS COUNTY Evan Thomas at that time was in his early thirties. He must have been a vigorous fellow to endure the hardships of the many campaigns and must also have been endowed with a spirit of leadership, since he organized his troop of dragoons and com- manded them throughout the remainder of the war. At Toms River his men fought as foot soldiers, having been transported from New York in boats. It is disappointing that so little is known about Evan Thomas in this country; the records are so meager that there is not enough from which to make an appraisal of his character nor to enable one to visualize his personality.
The Block House Fight at Toms River was of no great mili- tary importance. Captain Thomas and his men captured the little fort, burned it, and threw its spiked guns into the river. After they had burned the whole village, they carried the sur- vivors of the garrison away as prisoners. Lieutenant Roberts was severely wounded in the assault on the stockade-like fort and it was necessary to hasten back to New York with him and the other wounded Loyalists. The victors were elated over the cap- ture of Captain Joshua Huddy, the redoubtable Whig m.ilitia captain, who commanded the little garrison of the fort. A few days after the return to New York, a party of New Jersey Loyal- ists under the command of Captain Richard Lippincott of Shrewsbury carried Captain Huddy down to Atlantic Highlands and, without a trial, hanged him on an hastily improvised gal- lows.
The Americans were greatly exasperated when the news of the burning of the town and the death of Huddy spread over the now thoroughly incensed country and many of the British also deprecated the unwarranted hanging. General Washington, after a dignified correspondence with the British General Clinton, determined to retaliate in kind. After consulting with his gen- erals, he decided upon the selection of an officer from among the British prisoners taken at Yorktown who would be hanged if Captain Lippincott were not surrendered. The unfortunate choice fell on Captain Asgill, a young officer of the First Regiment of Foot and the only son of a wealthy English baronet. Wash- ington's ultimatum was, "To save the innocent, I demand the guilty." Now there was the devil to pay. Captain Lippincott was court-martialled by the British and acquitted on his defence that he had acted under the orders of William Franklin, the deposed Loyalist Governor of New Jersey and now President of
INTRODUCTION TO LOYALISTS OF BUCKS COUNTY 207
the Board of Associated Loyalists in New York. Franklin took the next ship for England. The Asgill family and their friends moved heaven and earth to save Captain Asgill 's innocent neck from the hangman's noose, and at last Count de Vergennes, Prime Minister of Louis XVI, interceded with the American Con- gress, whereupon Captain Asgill's "ticket was killed," so to speak, and he was allowed to return to the British lines. That is not the whole story, but the brief account may explain the reper- cussion of the victory of the Bucks County Volunteers at Toms River which agitated ofificialdom in America and Europe as well.
What caused Evan Thomas and his fellow Loyalists to abandon their homes and property in Bucks County and fight their countrymen thus? If the Loyalists are to be judged by the sizes of their estates and by their prosperous condition and in many cases by the elevation of the offices which they held, one would assume that they were somewhat satisfied with things as they were under the rule of Parliament and wished to maintain the established order for the security of their lives and their properties. Or did they merely join what seemed to be the wanning party? Whatever the reasons were, greater animosities were stirred up between them and their Whig neighbors, and a greater spirit of vindictiveness evinced in both parties in Bucks County, than was displayed by the British themselves.