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Evan and Richard Thomas, Wales to Hilltown, PA


Original research documenting preserved family history that Evan Sr., wife, Mary, and 4 children arrived from Pembroke Wales by 1720. Settled in Hilltown 1721; Evan died and buried New Britain Baptist Church cemetery. His death is recorded January 1, 1766. His children were Richard, Joseph, Evan, and Diana. He was the first Evan in Hilltown and New Britain. However, Thomas researchers must be careful; there were many others of this name is the surrounding area. And many married to Sarah's, Ann's and Mary's--the names of Evan's wives. He was also briefly married to an Elizabeth. There is no mention anywhere of any children beyond the four with Mary. This is the culmination of years of research. However, please evaluate my conclusions for yourselves. Individuals with an agenda have twisted my conclusions because they are attempting to break through a brick wall and need me to be wrong.


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Pictures & Records (47)

Richard Thomas, Hilltown, Bucks County, PA
Richard Thomas, Hilltown, Bucks County, PA
Richard Thomas property, Hilltown
Page 136
Page 136
Elizabeth Thomas will
Elizabeth Thomas will
Elizabeth Walton Thomas, will, Hilltown, Bucks County, PA 1784
Comparison marks of Evan of Bucks and Evan of Loudoun.jpg
Comparison marks of Evan of Bucks and Evan of Loudoun.jpg
Comparison of marks of Evan of Bucks and Evan of Loudoun
Evan Thomas 1734 Warrant
Evan Thomas 1734 Warrant
Frets Mill Hilltown PA.jpg
Frets Mill Hilltown PA.jpg
Evan Thomas Jr 1749.jpg
Evan Thomas Jr 1749.jpg
evan thomas jr 1749 pg2.jpg
evan thomas jr 1749 pg2.jpg
Evan Thomas mortgage to fox 1760
Evan Thomas mortgage to fox 1760
Evan Thomas Jr mortgage to Joseph Fox 1760 pg1
Evan Thomas Jr mortgage to Joseph Fox 1760 pg1
Evan Thomas John Lewis sale pg2
Evan Thomas John Lewis sale pg2
Evan Thomas John Lewis sale1733 Pg 4
Evan Thomas John Lewis sale1733 Pg 4
Evan Mort. B.jpeg
Evan Mort. B.jpeg
Evan Mort. A.jpeg
Evan Mort. A.jpeg
EvanThomas John Lewis sale pg5.jpg
EvanThomas John Lewis sale pg5.jpg
Edward Mathews New Britain
Edward Mathews New Britain
About Evan Thomas New Britain 1766 burial record.
Table 1 Transatlantic Brethren, Samuel Jones
Table 1 Transatlantic Brethren, Samuel Jones
Welsh immigrantion to PA Delaware Valley
Edward Mathews New Britain 2.jpg
Edward Mathews New Britain 2.jpg
Evan Thomas John Lewis sale 1733 pg1
Evan Thomas John Lewis sale 1733 pg1
New Britain PA 1876.png
New Britain PA 1876.png
Evan thomas John Lewis 1733 pg3
Evan thomas John Lewis 1733 pg3
Van Buskirk Young Sale 1724 pg3
Van Buskirk Young Sale 1724 pg3
Evan thomas 1729.jpg
Evan thomas 1729.jpg
evan thomas 1729 pg2.jpg
evan thomas 1729 pg2.jpg
Van Buskirk Young sale 1724 pg1
Van Buskirk Young sale 1724 pg1
Van Buskirk Young sale 1724 pg2
Van Buskirk Young sale 1724 pg2
evan thomas c1696
evan thomas c1696
Rhydwilym Church Record
Former property of Evan Thomas
Former property of Evan Thomas
Mortgaged 1755, passed to Edward Mathew c1757
thomas evan
thomas evan
Rhydwilym Church Record
thomas evan 1706
thomas evan 1706
Rhydwilym Church Record
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Richard Thomas

Wales to PA

Elizabeth Thomas will
3 images


From The Thomas Family of Hilltown, Bucks County, Penn" by Edward Matthews 1884: 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."


 Richard Thomas, born Bet. 1710 - 1716 in Wales; died 1776 in Hilltown, Pennsylvania. He was the son of  Evan Thomas and  Mary who died in 1721.  The family had arrived at the Montgomery Baptist Church in 1720. Evan and his family were living in Hilltown by 1721 and Evan became a large landholder. After Mary he married Elizabeth and by 1733 had married Sarah.  It may be Sarah who was Richard's link to the Abington Monthly Meeting.

Richard married  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. Mathews was a descendant of Richard's sister, Diana Thomas Mathews.  No doubt he was privy to a great deal of family legend. 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. However, there is a very curious entry in the Montogomery Baptist Church book: 1731, Nov. 16, baptized Elizabeth Walton.  This does raise the possibility that Richard had been baptized and that Elizabeth, despite her Quaker heritage, had been as well.  At some point she then returned to the Quaker fold bringing Richard with her.

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."

Deed: 1740,

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.



From Philadelphia County Court House

Died 1776

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 Sr., Immigrant Ancestor, c1685-1766

Born in Wales c1685 and Died in c1765 Bucks County, PA

Evan Thomas 1734 Warrant
35 images

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."

Both the place of his birth and death have been confirmed by newly found family letters.  This apparently was family tradition for generations but was not passed on to the most recent until now. It is likely when the part of the Thomas family returned from Canada to Chicago, they were uninterested in revealing their loyalist background found there to the children.

Evan Thomas was born between 1675-1688 in Wales, probably in the vicinity of the Rhydwilym Chapel in Pembrokeshire; died c1765 and was buried by 1/1/1766 in New Britain Baptist Church yard, Bucks County. The exact date of his death is not known. He married Mary before 1710 in Wales. She died 1721 in Pennsylvania. He then was married to Elizabeth, briefly, and then Sarah by 1732  as confirmed by two deeds of land sale attached. Sometime after 1738 he probably married Ann as confirmed by a 1757 land transaction.

 He was dismissed to New Britain Baptist Church in 1755 . Edward Mathews, his descendant, writes that he found an entry for Evan Thomas’ (Sr) death in New Britain Baptist Church records for Jan. 1 1776 (1766?). He quotes from church book: "1766, January 1st; Evan Thomas died."  There is another entry from church book: "Jan 1766, Brother Evan Thomas was dead and buried at the Society." This refers to Evan Sr. as Evan Thomas Jr was always referred to as Evan Thomas Jr in these church records.   Bonds were posted for Evan Jr.'s estate and Margaret, his wife, was appointed to administer the estate on May 6, 1766--so Evan Jr. had died shortly before that.

No will has been located in Bucks County for Evan, Sr. However, it's very likely that he settled his estate with his children before he died. By the time he died in c1765 it was not necessary for a will or probate hearing as he no longer held any real estate having sold his farm in 1757 to Edward Mathews. His wife’s signature is just a straight line which indicates age or infirmity, as well. (See attached samples). It was sold before he died he because he was obligated to a yearly “quit rent” to the Penns. The property was considered mortgaged or entailed meaning it could not be inherited. Edward Mathews  had to pick up this obligation as stated in the 1757 terms of sale.  Evan may have want to buy it outright from the Penns, which was permitted, which woukld be why be mortgaged it in 1755.  That would have meant it was "fee simple" and it didn't have to be disposed of before his death.  However, since this didn’t happen in 1755, Evan sold the land in August 1757 to have his estate in order.    It is very likely he was quite infirm and lived with one of his children.

 Children of Evan and Mary:

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, son of Simon and brother to Edward and Margaret Mathews

iii Evan, Jr. 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 establish New Valley Baptist Church near Lucketts.

There is no record or mention any other children than these in Bucks County or elsewhere.

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". Materials Towards A History of the Baptists by Morgan Edwards

While Mathews says above that the Evan Thomas  of Hilltown 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 by Samuel Jones shows the only 1720 arrivals to Montgomery Baptist were a man and a woman from Rhydwilym--Evan (I) 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 might be the same Evan but this can't be known.

Also there are two Thomas Evan who were baptized in 1704 & 1706 at Rhydwilym—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 monoglot 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 received 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 Church.


 Church records also show Diana, Evan, Jr. & Joseph Thomas, children of Evan Thomas  baptized 1730 at Montgomery. So it can be assumed that Evan  was reinstated as two of the children were minors. Evan Sr  was received in New Britain with his daughter, Diana, and son, Joseph, on October 30th, 1755. There is no record of his dismissal later to Virginia or anywhere although other dismissals are recorded. The fact that he was transferred with two his children would indicate no rift with them in 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 to PA 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. During 1720's & 30's Evan owned a great deal of land southeast of the large tract owned by Andreas Van Buskirk. It may be this land about which Mathews was talking--it is not too far from Reiff's Corner, east of Telford and in the western part of the township.

 Although there could have been an earlier record, 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. Certainly, this could be land he purchased in 1721.

 He bought 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.

 In 1732 Evan Sr., 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. This property along with above mentioned one  totaling 200 acres was bought for 10 shillings from Edward Farmar/Farmer and William Lowther in 1729. In 1738 Evan Sr. and Sarah passed by contract the 2nd 100 acres acquired in 1729 to Evan Jr. It does appear that the majority of the land that was originally shown as belonging to the Evans on the 1876 map attached eventually belonged to Evan, Jr. probably as gifts.

 No marriage record or death date has been found for Sarah. Nor is there any evidence documentary or circumstantial that she and Evan had any children. Nothing more is known about her, 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.

 Another 150 acre tract of land in New Britain was warranted in 1734 by Evan Thomas Sr. The northeasterly 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 where Evan and Ann appear to have lived was sold to Edward Mathew, son of Simon, brother-in-law to two of Evan's children. Mathew may even have allowed Evan and Ann to remain on the property as he owned a mill and a dwelling house near Fretz Mill which he didn’t sell and along with other land until 1760. His occupation is noted as miller in the 1757 deed from Evan Thomas. Edward Mathews, author, wrote a piece first published in the Doylestown Democrat in 1800's about this property that was then known as the Sliffer Homestead that on the attached map of New Britain would be the J. Funk property.  Whether  Evan Sr had actually disposed of all of his Bucks County land by then in not known.



The following file #400 applies to Evan, Jr. not Sr.(I) 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 sold it in ’44. (A point of interest Evan, Jr. signed his full name on one document and later used a mark. This could be related to incapacity of some sort as well. He died fairly young and appeared to have some financial hardship.)

 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 all minors--papers mention several children, male and female, who are unnamed.  There is a very good chance that two of the daughters were Jane and Rebekka.  An Elisha Thomas b1760 may also be connected. 

 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 totaling 115+ acres was purchased by David Mathias. At least 20 additional acres had been sold to Ebezner Owen.


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 Montgomery 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)

9) Judy Russell. The Legal Genealogist.

10) Bucks County Probate Records, Orphans' Court Records 1766-1801 vol 1-2

11) The Sliffer Homestead, Edward Mathews, Doyletown Democrat, before 1887

12) New Britain Baptist Church Record Book, 1754-

13) Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants, 1694-1742. [Vol. I]

14) A HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS - Volume - 2 - By Morgan Edwards A.M.

Church and Court Records Strong Indication of Death and Burial in 1766 of Evan Sr and Evan, Jr in Bucks County

Bucks County

Comparison marks of Evan of Bucks and Evan of Loudoun.jpg
35 images

The first record known to belong to Evan in Philadelphia area was at the Montogmery Baptist Church. He may however arrived a little earlier.  Evan Thomas arrived in Hilltown with his wife, Mary, and four children in 1721—Evan, Jr., Richard, Diana and Joseph in 1721. Here he became a large land holder. There has been a great deal of confusion caused as to which land records belong to him and which to his son, Evan Jr. Land and court records didn’t often differentiate between father and son. However, church records always did—therein lies the answer.

Father and Son almost certainly die in Bucks County, c1765 and 1766

Evan Thomas Sr. died in Hilltown in probably in very late 1765 confirmed by the following facts from Mathews, Historian, Bucks County land records, and NBBC church records. Evan Sr was dismissed to New Britain Baptist Church in 1755 where he remained until his death. He is missing from the 1764 list of members living and those "belonging"** to the church, possibly because  he was no longer active in the church (and therefore not considered to belong) or he died earlier and it was not recorded until 1766 when Joseph was leaving for VA.  His death was noteworthy as his son, Joseph, was ordained there. His son-in-law, John Mathew, was a deacon. Evan, himself along with wife, Mary, had come from the first Baptist church in Wales to become a very early member at Montogmery and in 1755 one of the earlier member at New Britain Baptist Church.

The first death and burial in NBBC records is Brother Evan Thomas on Jan. 1, 1766. Edward Mathews writes that he found an entry for Evan Thomas’ (Sr. ) death in New Britain Baptist Church records for Jan. 1 1776 (1766?). He quotes from church book: "1776, January 1st; Evan Thomas died." However, this is not the correct date--likely a typo. It is also possible he had died be a while before and it was recorded then because his son was leaving   There is a New Britain land record for 1774 which refers to the land of the late Evan Thomas. Since Evan had died about 8 years earlier in Bucks County the surveyors knew of his death.

There is another entry from church book: "Jan 1st. 1766, Brother Evan Thomas was dead and buried at the Society." Both records would without much doubt apply to Evan Sr. as church records always differentiated with a suffix when they were referring to Evan Jr--in 1758 in his dismission to NBBC and in the last entry for him in 1764 in the membership list--meaning his father was still alive at that time and in the area. Church records appeared to be very consistent in using Jr to indicate a son.  They certainly would have been in the case of a death. Another way is which Evan Sr was differentiated from Jr was in the spelling of the surname Jr's was always spelled in full--Thomas, while Sr' s was abbreviated To Thos.

Orphan Court Records also confirm that Evan Jr. died in 1766. So  Evan Sr. and his son, Evan, Jr. died within a year of each other. Evan Jr. died intestate as did his father.  Bonds were posted for the estate and Margaret was appointed administratrix on May 6, 1766, meaning he had died shortly before that.  Also his inventory includes corn, wheat and and rye in the ground meaning he was very likely alive at the time of spring planting in 1766.  His death was not recorded at the church because this was still often not always recorded.  In fact the only other record for 1766 mentioned several members requested dismissal to follow Joseph Thomas to Virginia.  The next death is in 1767.

Given that Edward Mathews, was not only an expert on local Baptist church records and but also an Evan Thomas Sr. descendant, considered the entry he found "significant" and found it to apply to Evan, Sr, it is very unlikely otherwise. That would be consistent with other church book entries. Mathews stayed in the Hilltown area his whole life, writing much about its history in the mid to late 19th century being privy to much oral history of Bucks County. 

He had the advantage of seeing all the various records from the church at one time allowing him to know which applied to father and which to son. Without that same advantage careful assessment is needed to know to which Evan the January entries applied to avoid mistaking them for Evan, Jr. Such an assumption as led researchers to confuse father and son, as well as, on at least one occasion Evan Sr. was confused with an Evan in Loudoun County who died in 1757. However, there is documentation that these men are not the same person.  Among other things, in addition to Mathews' confirmation Evan Sr. was buried 1766 in Bucks County, these two men used clearly different marks on documents in 1755 & 1757 and had completely different children--an absolute case of mistaken identity.

Such was Mathews stature as an expert on these records it would have to be proven that entry didn't belong to Evan Sr. before it can be considered to be anyone else's.

It is interesting to note that before Evan Sr.'s death is recorded an entry in December of 1765 that his son, Joseph, has been given permission to go to Loudoun County to found a Baptist church. In Jan. 1766 there is a note that several people of the Baptist persuasion are going with him.  Maybe Joseph felt he could leave now that his father had died.

Even if one were not to accept that 1766 church book entry applies to Evan, Sr.  He would have died earlier in Bucks, as there is nothing anywhere that even suggests he left. He was an elderly man and would not have moved to a new location.  His children were all in Bucks.

**A great deal has been made by some researchers about the New Britain Baptist Church's 1764 membership list and the fact that Evan Thomas, Sr was not on it. They claimed this meant he was dead. However, the heading of the list is "an account of all the member now living and belonging to the Church of New Britain". The word belonging is critical to the interpretation of who would be included and who might be excluded. A multitude of writings by Christian theologians describe "belonging to" as a step greater than membership--it means active participation and commitment to the church and its people. If one were unable or uninterested in active involvement one could still be a member of the church but not belong to the group. That means someone of Evan's age easily could have no longer actively participated as in belonging but still be a member. It can not be assumed that he was dead possibly just infirm. Hence, a logical explanation for his missing from the list in 1764 but later appearing as dead and buried at the Society. That renders the list irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. The reason all Baptist churches in the area compiled these lists was to be able to provide an accounting of all active members to the Philadelphia Baptist Association.



Common mistakes regarding Evan Thomas, Sr. first Evan of Hilltown

Hilltown, Bucks County

Evan and Richard Thomas researchers beware.  It is absolutely essential that you verify your information about this family before passing it along as fact.  There has been a lot of confusion regarding Evan Sr and Junior.   Evan Sr. came from Wales with his wife MARY.  It's his son, Evan, Jr also born in Wales, who married Margaret Mathews, daughter of Simon Mathew.  Richard's parents are Mary and Evan, Evan Jr was his brother.  Both Evan Sr and Jr died in c1766 in Bucks County. This has caused confusion as to where and when Evan Sr. died.  Richard, son of Evan, Sr also had a son named Evan. There were three Evans in Hilltown and New Britain at the same time--all the same family. 

Another problem arises from confusion with the family of Evan  and Mary Thomas, of Llanykeaven, Pembrokeshire who arrived c1682.  Evan Sr. of Hilltown and New Britain is not their son.  They were Quakers.  Evan of Hilltown was a Baptist, arriving from Pembrokeshire c1720.  Nor is Evan of Hilltown in anyway connected to an Evan and Margaret of Doloran, Pendecar, Carmarthenshire, Wales.YurI

Evan Thomas, Sr. and Junior died within a few months of each other--Evan, Sr very late December 1765 or very early Jan. 1766. The New Britain Baptist Church was just beginning to record deaths so their church book had many missing entries.  It takes  a bit of analysis to determine that it was Evan Sr who died or at least was buried there on January 1, 1766--eight years after his last known land record.  However, Edward Mathews, Bucks County historian, was quite clear that it was Evan, Sr.   Evan, Jr's death in April/May 1766 was not recorded in the church book--court records do show probate initiated on May 6, 1766, however.  Far too long after the January death in the church book for it to be Evan, Jr. as probate took place very quickly to protect the assests for heirs and creditors.  From Feb-April 1766 several wills were proved in close promixity to Hilltown, so if Evan Jr. had died prior to mid April 1766 there was ample opportunity for a probate hearing before May.

Finally there is this statement attributable to a Potts researcher:  "The evidence STRONGLY suggests that Evan Thomas Sr. of Bucks Co. went to Loudoun Co. and died shortly after arriving there."  It is totally without basis. There are a few coincidences that might lead one to think this if one were not familiar with Evan, Sr.and didn't vet the idea completely.  There is no real evidence that suggests this at all.  The facts  Evan Sr.'s death is recorded in 1766 in Bucks County and that the Evans' marks on legal documents in 1755 and 1757 are very different, rule Evan of Loudoun out completely.  While it was not required that the marks be consistent there is a big difference in one month between those made in Bucks County and the mark on the 1757 Loudoun County will.  The professional genealogist with a background in law and those fellow librarians experienced in working with early documents whom I consulted agreed.  Their experience was that even our most illiterate ancestors were fairly consistent in how they made their marks, especially when it was something more than a simple X.  Also, associated with the claim that Evan of Hilltown is Evan of Loudoun, is the misassignment of the Rev Joseph Thomas is the son of Sarah, Evan's third wife.  This has to have been done deliberately to make a incorrect theory stronger, as there is very clear evidence that Mary was his mother. The children of the two Evans are not the same.  This idea is a stretch without any concrete evidence at all.



Edward Mathews, Historian and Hilltown Thomas Descendant


Mathews is my primary source of Hilltown Thomas info.  He had direct contact with his Evan Thomas ancestors who would have known Evan's daughter, Dianah.  His oral history would be exacting. He was  an expert on local records.  If he indicates Evan senior died c1766 in New Britain and was buried in the New Britain Baptist Church cementery, as is Mathews and his family, it is not to be rejected--he knew this church, its history and records.  He knew the Evan Thomas family and their history.  

His writing style was that of a newspaper writer who included direct quotes from a source for documentation rather that footnote.  In this case he is telling the reader that that Evan had died c1766 by quoting the church book.  If one is going reject this they should strong proof that it isn't so.


A Voice From The Past Echoing In The Present Early Local Historian Edward Mathews Chronicled The Region's Bygone Days. By Joseph S. Kennedy, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT Posted:December 14, 1997

LANSDALE — Those who spend their careers researching and writing local history seldom receive the fame and fortune of popular national historians. Yet the local historian makes a vital contribution to our understanding of the past by bringing to life a part of the national historical puzzle.

Such a man was Edward Mathews, whose early work in the history of our region still makes an impact in the present.

Like so many early local historians, Mathews had no formal training in that field.

``I have a natural taste for historical research . . . and a good memory for dates and figures,'' Mathews once said of his work.

His writing was distinguished by its detail and meticulous documentation.

According to the records of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Mathews was born on a family farm in New Britain, Bucks County, on Feb. 9, 1837. He came from a family of Welsh Baptists who had lived in the area for several generations. As a boy, he received a basic education in the schools in New Britain, and, as a teenager, he was apprenticed in the printing office of the Bucks County Intelligencer in Doylestown.

His work in the newspaper printing shop required him to do a great deal of reading, which acted as continuing education for him.

Poor health kept him, as a young man, from completing his apprenticeship, but later he did spend several winters working in a newspaper office in North Adams, Mass.

At age 41, in 1878, he took a job as a writer for a weekly newspaper, the North Wales Record. He started writing articles on local history that became popular with readers. His stories usually dealt with old houses or tracts of land such as a single farm in which he would track the transfer of the property from the time of William Penn. In doing this, he was unearthing historical primary sources.

By the 1880s, he was contributing articles to other papers in Montgomery County, such as the Lansdale Republican, Ambler Gazette, Skippack Transcript, Harleysville News, and Norristown Herald. With these various outlets, he was covering the local history of large parts of Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

He never made much money. Notes from one of his diaries indicate that in 1912 he had an income of $275.62 for the year.

Mathews was a bachelor with a large circle of friends. He usually dined at restaurants but was frequently invited to dine with friends. As a working newspaper writer, he was able to obtain passes for railroad and trolley lines. He also received free passes to various forms of entertainment such as plays, lectures and baseball games.

Thanks to the transit passes, he was able to visit Florida, New England and Colorado, and he usually spent a week at Ocean Grove, N.J.

By the 1890s, he discovered the bicycle and became a great biker, cycling from his home in North Wales and later Lansdale to places such as Fort Washington, Paoli and Brandywine.

During that decade, he began to write books on the history of local families, such as the Thomases and Rosenbergers, and on the history of specific locations, such as Towamencin, Hatfield, and the Montgomery Baptist Church.

Never much of a social mixer, he was fond of children and cats. Every Sunday he attended a different Protestant church in the region but never joined any of them.

While well-known among historical circles, he was a shy man, and when asked to give papers before the historical society on a number of occasions, he would write the paper and have someone else read it to the society's membership. In 1910, he was made an honorary member of the historical society. As a result, he gave the society his diaries - which noted details of his historical research - along with a series of scrapbooks of his writing, and other items of local historical interest.

``I have endeavored to preserve my writings that are not in book form. . . . These will be of value to somebody when I am gone,'' wrote Mathews in a letter to the society.

Alice Smith, librarian of the society, reports that the scrapbooks and diaries are still widely used by researchers looking into families and historic houses in the North Penn area.

Mathews fell ill while visiting his niece in New Britain and died New Years Day, 1916, at 79. He was buried with four generations of his family on the grounds of the New Britain Baptist Church.

Evan Sr, Bucks County, 1757-66

A great deal has been made on the Thomas Ancestry board about the New Britain Baptist Church's 1764 membership list and the fact that Evan Thomas, Sr was not on it. It was claimed this meant he was dead and therefore it was junior whose death was recorded 1/1/66. However, the heading of the list is "an account of all the member now living and belonging to the Church of New Britain". The word belonging is critical to the interpretation of who would be included and who might be excluded. A multitude of writings and sermons by Christian theologians describe "belonging to" as a step greater than membership--it means active participation and commitment a church and its people. Scripture supports this concept. 

If one were unable or uninterested in active involvement one could still be a member of the church but not belong to the group. That means someone of Evan's age easily could have no longer actively participated as in belonging but still be a member. It cannot be assumed that he was dead possibly just aged and infirm. Hence, a logical explanation for his missing from the list in 1764 but later appearing as dead and buried at the Society. That renders the list irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. The reason all Baptist churches in the area compiled these lists was to be able to provide an accounting of all active members to the Philadelphia Baptist Association.  Edward Mathews because of his knowledge of the church would have known this. 

In addition, there is  a correction to 1764 list just following it in the church book. There apparently was confusion between Joseph and Thomas Barton.  First it was recorded Joseph was baptized and he was listed as a member.  Then Joseph was crossed out and changed to Thomas. It clearly illustrates that despite protests to the contrary the list was flawed, which makes it of no value as to who isn't on it. However, I think the most likely reason he isn't on it was that he was inactive--didn't belong.


 Another thing to observe there appears not always to be a correlation with the date of the event's happening and when it is entered into the church book. It looks to me as though the date in the book is the date of the entry, not the date of the event. So it cannot be interpreted literally every time when considering when someone died or was received. This pretty much removes any likelihood, as far as I'm concerned, as to the 1764 list and the 1766 church book  entry of senior's death being in conflict.

I think Evan Sr. sold his land in '57 because it was encumbered by a"quit rent" and possibly a mortgage. So could not be left to an heir. It had to be sold before he died.  He was older and death was nearer. When he was younger he signed his name in full, by 1755 he was using a mark. Because being able to sign one's name was a sign of literacy, anyone who could sign in full did, so the use of the mark suggests he was infirm in some way. Hence, at some point, he was not likely to be farming or active in the church. And certainly he was too old to travel to the frontier of Loudoun County VA, even if he had any reason to go, which certainly isn't at all apparent either.

By selling to Edward Mathew he was probably able to remain on land, at least for a while. However, he could have gone with one of his children. Hence, no land record. When he did die there was no need for probate or will, as there was probably no land and certainly no minor children. Hence no record of the exact date of his death in Bucks County. This all fits together with his having died before 1764 or being to old then to actively belong to the church. Hence, not on list.

 The church record in1766 does not record the death of Evan Thomas Junior, as was their consistent custom but rather records just Evan Thomas, as was the way they usually recorded seniors.. Hence, the record applies to senior. No proof or even suggestion anywhere in Bucks County that this is incorrect. Hence I am convinced he died in Bucks County, as we have claimed all along.

 I'm quite aware of genealogical research standards. I am a retired research/reference librarian. My whole career involved research. For some time I worked in New England in a large public library with a well-recognized family history library. I taught genealogical research classes to our patrons, this included evaluation of materials. I did paid research for families. I have trouble being patronized by someone who considers his knowledge or experience is superior to mine. I consider myself very well versed in assessing materials. It was part of my professional responsibilities. I worked in conjunction with coworker who was LDS and very knowledgeable about their sources. In addition, on site was a librarian with a master's in colonial artifacts and documents-- I consulted with her about your research--especially the marks question. She agreed they were not the same. This is further confirmation Evan, Sr. didn't go to Loudoun.

Mathews was most familiar with these records.  I believe he is more qualified than any one of us and he would have seen the membership list as part of the church book and therefore not likely to be wrong. He had the advantage of knowing the area history. Also he had hands on access to all the records. He had first-hand familiarity with the church and cemetery. He would have been familiar with court records as well. As to junior's probate, while court was occasionally held several months after death, as a rule it was much sooner. Junior was in debt which would have necessitated timely action.

I believe it is so unlikely senior would have left at his age, the death  record is most likely to apply to him. That combined with issue of the marks and only 6 weeks between the time Evan, Sr sells property in NB and Evan of Loudoun writes his will. Loudoun Evan's inventory does not match at all what I would expect of an old man who just came from Pennsylvania and who had been described as somewhat wealthy and aristocratic. It does look like what a longtime frontiersman would have owned.

As to Mathews work, he was not trying to write a family history, so only used records he found around which to create his articles. If pieces were missing he did not supply information based on his own assumptions. I believe his work is more credible than most. He was my primary source for other Thomas family members—his findings were born out by other materials.

Topic Details

Evan Sr.:
dies 1765--Bucks County 1
Elizabeth Thomas:
31 Dec 1784 1
Settled 1721:
Evan & family settled Hilltown, PA 1
Name: Richard Dies Hilltown 1776 1
Name: Evan Thomas Jr dies Hilltown 1766 1

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