— Born in Wales c1685 and Died in c1765 Bucks County, 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 of Telford."
I have heard from another Thomas in Canada after posting this story that this was also the oral tradition of his branch. The first generation came to Bucks County, farmed and died there. At the end of the revolution, several of Richard's sons and families went to New Brunwick where they were first settlers. His story was more complete because they had been proud of being loyalists.
Evan Thomas was born between 1675-1688 in Wales, probably in the vicinity of the Rhydwilym Chapel in Pembrokeshire; died probably late1765 and was buried by 1/1/1766 in New Britain Baptist Church yard, Bucks Count, according to the church book. The exact date of his death is not known.
Evan 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. The church clerk was very consistent with Thomas family along with all others. He certainly would have wanted to have the correct Evan recorded as having died.
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. This is the very first step in probate so it was not underway before then. There were many opportunities for a court hearing earlier in the year had he died in January. Probate was almost always held within a few weeks of death. Evan Jr had several creditors along several children--everyone would have pushed for a timely settlement. It would not have been the case if he had died before April.
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 seems reasonable that 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 would 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 or moved to other land that is noted in a 1757, recorded 1767, deed of Robert Heaton. He probably eventually did pass this land to Evan, Jr. or sold it and neither is recorded in a timely fashion as happened often so hasn't be located.
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 was deeded 200 acres where he was already living 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. Although there is a piece on the northeastern end that may have stayed in Sr. possession a while.
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. Edward Farmar did have a sister named Sarah, who would have about Evan's age. My theory is Evan badly needed a wife in the1720's. Sarah Farmar had been orphaned as a young girl and left in the care of her much older siblings. She had not married and needed a husband and Evan needed someone to care for his minor children. The land which Evan later sold at a big profit was her dowry that encouraged Evan to marry an older woman beyond the age of childbearing. Hence no children.
When property was sold for such 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. It was actually deeded to Evan for a yearly quit rent of 10 shillings--part of the original warant to Farmar and Lowther from William Penn--so essentially they gave him the land. William Lowther was part of the Abington Monthly Meeting at the time Richard Thomas, Evan Sr's son, and Elizabeth Walton were married there. This could have been the link between the families.
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 probably even have allowed Evan and Ann to remain on the property a while 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. Actually that was his known occupation in VA as well. 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. That Evan Sr had actually disposed of all of his Bucks County land by then is far from certain as noted by border of Heaton deed.
COLONIAL LAND CUSTOMS: Usually when a man purchased land in a new area his former county/state of residence would be mentioned in the grantee deed. This helps you to trace his migration pattern backward. Many times a family would move on before being able to sell its property. In such instances the new residence's location will be mentioned in the old county's deed books when the land is sold. This was not the case in the Hilltown deeds or Loudoun will which strongly indicates Evan Sr. stayed in Hilltown. Most probative is no mention of Bucks County or the Bucks County children of Evan Sr. Had he gone to Loudoun County and written a will there only 4 weeks later it would have been incumbent upon him to validate his identity as having come from Bucks County and by same standard he would have mentioned his children there. That is a glaring omission.
As to when he married Ann it would have been after 1738 as Sarah was still alive then. The fact Ann didn't sign 1755 mortgage tells us nothing. Wives typically didn't sign mortgages just deeds of sale.
THEORIES WITH NO BASIS : As more individuals become involved in searching for their ancestors, the more misinformation and misapplied documentation is used to make connections that aren't valid. This is the case with two researchers interested in an Evan Thomas who died in 1757 in Loudoun County VA. They are attempting to claim it was Evan, Sr. However, his death is well confirmed in Bucks County to any reasonable person. As to his death documentation: the location of death and burial is confirmed by the New Britain Baptist Church burial record and Thomas descendant and Bucks County expert, Edward Mathews. Any claim to the contrary is totally unsubstantiated and based solely on misinterpreted, cherry picked documentation. Anyone who has read Mathews' work will see that he said he didn't know something when he didn't. If he was not certain about a fact he said may have been. He corrected his mistakes. Therefore without proof (not manipulating evidence) no one can assert he didn't know what he was saying. He obviously deliberately gives the impression that the church book entry applied to Evan, Sr. in 1766. There is NO correction, nor are there any qualifications. There is no doubt in his mind. He was the expert--those claiming he was wrong are not.
EVAN Jr. married to MARGARET MATHEWS
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.
DNA: To compare yours with descendants of Evan Thomas check Elisha Thomas in the Thomas DNA database.
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. legal.genealogist.com
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.