History of Bucks County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
Names and Page # Index


THE JAMES FAMILY

The JAMES family of Bucks county is of Welsh origin, being descended from John JAMES and Elizabeth, his wife, who with sons Thomas, William Josiah, and Isaac, migrated in the year 1711 from the parish of Riddillyn, Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and settled in Montgomery township, Philadelphia, (now Montgomery) county. They were Welsh Baptists, and the vanguard of the little colony of that denomination who eight years later organized themselves into a church known as the Montgomery Baptist church, of which the JAMES family were members for many years. New Britain and Hilltown Baptist churches were offshoots of this ancient church. The JAMES family contributed largely to the moral and financial support of the New Britain church for many generations.

Whether the family settled originally in Montgomery or in New Britain is problematical. According to Rev. Morgan EDWARDS, the great Baptist historian, the Rev. Abel MORGAN, pastor of Pennypack church, preached to the little colony at Montgomery prior to the organization of the church, at the house of John EVANS, who arrived from Pembrokeshire a year prior to the arrival of the JAMES family, and the JAMES family formed part of the assembly. At that period all the land on the Bucks county side of the line belonged to other than actual settlers, in large tracts, and it is more than probable that the JAMES family were tenants on some of this land. In 1720 John JAMES and his eldest son Thomas purchased one thousand acres in New Britain township, Bucks county, including a portion of the present borough of Chalfont, and extending eastward at least two miles, and north westerly at its western end nearly as far, being in the shape of the letter L. Between that date and 1726, when they made a division of the land between them, they conveyed nearly one half of this tract to the other three brothers, William, Josiah and Isaac, and William and Thomas had purchased other tracts adjoining on the northeast until the family owned nearly if not quite 2,000 acres, extending from Chalfont far into what is now Doylestown township, and up across Pine Run and North Branch to the old highway leading through New Galena. Two of the brothers, Josiah and Isaac, do not seem to have left descendants in Bucks county, though both owned portions of the original 1,000 acre purchase. Josiah married, May 21, 1724, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas PERRY of Great Valley Baptist church, Chester county, and a year later she was received as a member of Montgomery church, but June 16, 1727, they received a dismissal to Great Valley and probably settled in Chester county. Isaac JAMES was a blacksmith, and resided in Montgomery township. He married, November 26, 1729, Ann JONES. We have no further record of him other than his conveyance of his New Britain land about 1742. Josiah had received 235 acres of the 1,000 acre purchase in 1722, and conveyed it to his brother in 1725. Of the daughters of John and Elizabeth JAMES, Sarah, the eldest, as shown by the records of Montgomery church, married Benjamin PHILLIPS, March 2, 1727, but in the will of her father twenty years later she is mentioned as Sarah LEWIS. Rebecca, we learn from the same source, was married to a miner. Mary was single at her father's death in 1749, and was requested to live with her brother Thomas. Elizabeth JAMES died prior to her husband.

Thomas JAMES,eldest son of John and Elizabeth, was born in Wales about 1690, and died in New Britain in April, 1772. As previously stated, he was one of the original purchasers of the 1,000 acres of which he retained possibly 300 acres, and in 1731, purchased over 200 acres of the society lands of Joseph KIRKBRIDE, most of which, however, he conveyed to his sons several years prior to his death. He married, May 15, 1722, Jane DAVIS, and she was baptised as a member of Montgomery church, November 19, 1725. They had four sons and two daughters, Thomas, the eldest, lived and died on a portion of the old plantation in New Britain, but is said to have left no issue to survive him. Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, married Benjamin BUTLER about 1746, and had one daughter, Ann, who married (first) Thomas MORRIS, and (second) Moses AARON. Benjamin BUTLER died about 1750.

James JAMES, second son of Thomas and Jane, married Elizabeth EATON in 1762. His father had conveyed to him in 1755, 167 acres, part of which is now the property of the estate of Eugene JAMES, deceased, one-half mile west of New Britain, and here he lived until the close of the Revolution, when he exchanged with Peter EATON for land in Rowan county, North Carolina, and removed thither taking with him three of the children of his brother John.

John JAMES, third son of Thomas and Jane, received by deed from his father in 1761 a farm of two hundred acres, and lived thereon his entire life. He was a member of the New Britian Company of Associators in 1775, and a private in Captain Henry DARRAH's company, when in service under Lieutenant Colonel (later General) John LACEY, November 1, 1777. He died in March, 1779. John JAMES was twice married, first on August 13, 1762, to Magdalena KESHLEN, (or KESHLER) a German woman, by whom he had two children; Margaret, born 1763, died March 3, 1821, married Morgan JAMES, son of John, and grandson of William JAMES; and Benjamin JAMES, born 1765, removed to Bryant's Settlement, Rowan county, North Carolina, with his uncle James JAMES about 1785. John JAMES married (second) June 14, 1766, Edith EATON, a sister to his brother James' wife, and had by her two children Catharine and James. In his will dated February 10, 1779, proved March 10, 1779, he directs that Catharine's share of his estate be left in the hands of her "Aunt Elizabeth James;" this was the wife of James JAMES, with whom all three of the younger children removed to North Carolina. James, the youngest son, was devised 200 acres of land in Chestnut Hill township, Northampton county.

Samuel JAMES, youngest son of Thomas and Jane, received from his father a farm of about 150 acres just northeast of Chalfont, and died there in 1804 He married, April 8, 1765, Anna KESHLEN, a sister to his brother John's first wife, and had five children; 1. Samuel, who married Elizabeth SHEWELL, and removed to Maryland, where he died in 1847; 2. Levi, who married Rebecca POLK and was the father of Samuel P. and grandfather of Levi L. JAMES, late a member of the bar, and father of Robert JAMES, deceased, whose son Louis H. was also a lawyer, and Lydia, who married John G. MANN; 3. Elizabeth, married Isaac OAKFORD; 4. Margaret, married John WOLFE; and 5. Ann JAMES. Levi married late in life Mary POLK, nee GOOD, who survived him many years.

William JAMES, son of the emigrant John JAMES and Elizabeth his wife, from whom most of the family now residing in Bucks county are descended, was born in Pembrokeshire about 1692, and died in New Britain township, Bucks county, in 1778 He seems to have been the favorite son, and was the largest landowner of the family. In the year 1725 his father and brother Thomas conveyed to him 206 acres of the 1,000 acre purchase, and in the same year he purchased of his brother Josiah his allotment of 235 acres of the same. In 1738 he purchased of John Kirkbridge 2207 acres of the society lands, part of which is still the property of his descendants. He also owned other tracts of land near Chalfont, which became the property of his sons-in-law. He conveyed practically all of his land to his children in his life time - in 1749 to John the 206 acres, and to Isaac the 207 acres; and in 1758 to Abel the 235 acres. William JAMES married in 1718. The name of his wife was Mary, but nothing more is known of her. She was baptized at Montgomery church in 1719 as "Mary, wife of William James."she died about 1765. William and Mary JAMES had five children; John; Isaac; Margaret, who married Henry LEWIS; Abel; and Rebecca, who married Simon BUTLER, JR.

John JAMES, eldest son of William and Mary, born 1719, died 1785, was a carpenter and joiner by trade, but since he retained possession of his farm and resided thereon his whole life, it is to be supposed his principal occupation was the tilling of the soil.  He married, May 20, 1740, Elizabeth, daughter of Lewis EVANS, and was the father of ten children, nine of whom grew to maturity, viz: 1. Josiah, born 1741, died December 11, 1816, married Elizabeth EVANS.  2. William, born 1742, died May 10, 1828, married January 25, 1769, Rebecca WILLIAMS.   3. Isaac, born 1744, married Jemima MASON, and removed to the state of Ohio.  4.  Ebenezar, born 1746, died 1815, had no children.  5. Simon, born 1748, died 1814, married Elizabeth HINES.  6. Morgan, born April 27, 1752, died April 18, 1816, married Margaret JAMES, daughter of John, as before stated.  7. Elizabeth, married John CALLENDER.  8. Mary, married Nathan EVANS.  9. Alice married Thomas MATTHIAS.  Of the above Josiah and Elizabeth were the great-grandparents of Robert E. James, Esq., of Easton, Pennsylvania, and the children of William and Rebecca all removed to the west.  The only one who left descendants in Bucks of the name was Morgan, and Margaret.

Morgan JAMES, sixth son of John and Elizabeth JAMES, was born on the old plantation in New Britain, April 27, 1752.  At the breaking out of the Revolution he, with his brothers Josiah, William, Isaac, became members of the Associated Company of New Britain militia.  Morgan was later a private in Captain Henry Darrah's company, and was in active service under General John Lacey.  His brothers, Isaac, Ebenezer, Simon and William, were also in this company.  Morgan James married, as before stated, Margaret

JAMES, daughter of John and Magdalene.  Their children were: 1. Lydia, who married Mathew THOMAS.  2. Benjamin, born November 28, 1786, died May 24, 1865, married Elizabeth, daughter of Moses AARON, and widow of James POOLE, left no issue.  3. Naomi, born February 26, 1793, died November 4, 1871, married Jacob CONRAD.   4. Isaiah, born August 27, 1798, died September 23, 1886, married Caroline JAMES, daughter of Abel JAMES.

Isaac JAMES, second son of William and Mary JAMES, born in New Britain about 1726, received form his father in 1749 a deed for over 200 acres of land upon which he lived his entire life.  He was constable of New Britain township for many years.   He died very suddenly in 1766, aged about fifty years.  His wife, whom he married in 1751, was Sarah THOMAS, daughter of John THOMAS, who came to New Britain from Wales in 1726 and died there in 1750.  The children of Isaac and Sarah (THOMAS) JAMES were

1. Abiah, born 1745, died December 1, 1834, married September 22, 1773, Rachel WILLIAMS.  2. John, born 1747, a soldier in the Revolution, married Dorothy JONES.  3. Abel, born 1749, died 1798, married Elizabeth HINES.  4. Nathan, born 1754, died 1845, married Sarah DUNGAN.  5. Samuel, born 1760, died 1848, married Elizabeth CORNELL and removed to North Caorlina in 1785.   6. Uslega, born 1762, died 1844, married Joseph MORRIS.  7. William, born 1764, died 1854, removed to Reading, Berks county, Pennsylvaniua.  8. Benjamin, born 1766, died 1854, married Ann WILLIAMS.  Tracy, died young.   Of these Abiah, Abel, Nathan and Benjamin have descendants residing in Doylestown, and will be noticed later in this sketch.

Abel, the youngest son of William and Mary JAMES, born about 1729, died September, 1770, at Dover, Delaware, was in some respects the most prominent of the family in his generation.  He received a liberal education and was possessed of ample means and early evinced a taste for mercantile pursuits.  He married Mary, daughter of Thomas HOWELL, of Warwick, in 1756, and entered into business in Philadelphia and Dover, Delaware, and was for several years very successful.  An unfortunate speculation ruined him, and the worry and strain of his financial difficulties brought on a fever from which he died while at Dover.  His plantation of 235 acres in New Britain had been heavily mortgaged to tide him over a financial speculation and was sold.  He left five sons and four daughters, viz: 1. Daniel, the eldest son, was a clerk for his father at Dover at the time of the failure; after his father's death he secured a position as clerk at Durham Iron Works, then operated by Joseph GALLOWAY.  At the closing of the furnace in 1776 he returned to Delaware and joined Proctor's Delaware regiment as a lieutenant, was promoted to captain, and served throughout the war.  2. William, the second son, was also a solder in the Revolution, first enlisting in Captain Edward Jones' company recruited in Hilltown, and later serving in Captain John Spear's company in the Eleventh Pennsylvania Regiment.  3. Margaret, married William KERR, of Warwick.  4. John JAMES was a noted millwright, and lived and died in Lower Dublin township, Philadelphia county.  5. Mary, married Abel THOMAS of Hilltown; they removed first to Harford county, Maryland, and later to Rockbridge county, Virginia.  6. Martha, married Asa THOMAS, brother of Abel*  {*Catharine, another daughter, married Mr. HILT, an iron master, having iron works in the extreme western end of Virginia.]

Abel H., youngest child of Abel and Mary (HOWELL) JAMES, was born January 1, 1771, a few months after his father's death.  When quite a youth he went with his brother-in-law, Abel THOMAS, to Maryland, and a few years later to Virginia, near the Natural Bridge, where he engaged in the transportation of produce down the James river.  The boats were built at Lexington, and on reaching tidewater were sold as well as the cargo, and a new one built for the next trip.  He returned to Bucks county in 1803 to marry Catharine OWEN, daughter of Griffith OWEN, Esq. of HIlltown, intending to return with her to Virginia.  He was, however, persuaded to remain in Bucks county, and in 1804 he opened a store at what is now Hagersville, on the Bethlehem road, above Dublin, which he conducted a few years when he opened a store at Lewis' Tavern, in Hilltown.  A few years later he purchased the store property at Leidytown and remained there one year, when he purchased the tavern and store, known as Lewis', at what is now Hilltown postoffice and remained there until his death, June 11, 1838.  His wife died August 12, 1810, and he married (second) Gainor MATHIAS, a widow.  His children were: Caroline, born September 2, 1804, died September 5, 1888, married Colonel Isiah JAMES, before mentioned; Mary, born March 6, 1806, died young.  Owen, born 1807, died young.  John Owen JAMES, the great Philadelphia merchant, born March 8, 1809, died June 26, 1883.  Catharine OWEN, who married Abel H. JAMES, was born in Hilltown township, Bucks county, June 17, 1781.  She was the eldest daughter of Griffith OWEN, Esq., and his wife Jane HUGHES.

Griffith OWEN, the grandfather of the Griffith mentioned above, was a native of Wales and came to America in 1721, settling in Hilltown.  He was received into Montgomery Baptist church, and on June 30, 1731, married Margaret, daughter of Thomas MORGAN, who it is said accompanied him from Wales to Bucks county.  Griffith OWEN, Sr., was one of the most prominent men of Hilltown.  He was captain of the Hilltown company of Associators in 1747-8, raised for the defence of the frontiers and was a member of colonial assembly from 1749 to 1760.  He died October 18, 1764.  He had three sons, Owen, Ebenezer and Levi; and one daughter, Rachel Erwin.  His eldest son, Owen OWEN, married Catharine JONES about 1756, and had eight children; Abel, Elizabeth, Griffith, Edward, Owen Margaret, Sarah and Mary.  Griffith, the second son, was born February 9, 1758.  He was one of the trustees of Hilltown Baptist church, and a very prominent man in the community. He was commissioned a justice of the peace in 1801, and served in that office until prevented by the infirmities of age from discharging its duties.  He died February 5, 1840.  His wife, Jane, was the daughter of Christopher HUGHES, of Bedminster and was born September 1, 1759, died January 9, 1841.

Isaiah JAMES was a very prominent man in local and county affairs, a member of New Britain Church, he always took an active part in all its affairs and was a consistent member thereof.  After his marriage he lived for a number of years in Hilltown township.  In 1849 he purchased the New Britain farm, now owned by the estate of his son, Eugene, and made his home thereon for several years, conveying it to Eugene in 1870.  Like all the family he was an ardent Democrat in politics and always took an active part in his party's councils.  He was a member of the Assembly, 1834-1838, and Prothonotary of Bucks county 1848-1851.   The children of Isaiah and Caroline JAMES were Abel H., born April 16, 1825, died September 20, 1850.  He was a man of more than ordinary culture and fine ability.  He served as Deputy Prothonotary during his father's incumbency of that office up to the time of his death.  Isabella, born August 9, 1828, married Dr. Thomas P. KEPHARD; she is now residing in Doylestown with her daughter Florence.  Eugene, born March 31, 1831, died August 22, 1896, married Martha J., daughter of Abiah J. and Miranda (JAMES) RIALE.  Isaiah JAMES, the father, was for many years a Colonel of militia, and was almost universally known as Col. James.

Abiah JAMES, eldest son of Isaac and Sarah (THOMAS) JAMES, born in 1745, died December 1, 1834.  He accepted the 222 acre farm of his father, under proceedings in partition in 1789, but soon after conveyed a portion thereof to his brothers.  He married September 22, 1773, Rachel WILLIAMS, and had six children, viz: 1. Margaret, married Joshua RIALE and had, Abiah J., who married Miranda, daughter of Joseph and Martha (MANN) JAMES; Rachel who married Joseph EVANA; Elizabeth, who married Josiah LUNN; Ann, and Sarah who married David STEPHENS,  2. Col. Nathan JAMES, a soldier in the U. S. army who served through the war of 1812.  3. Elizabeth who married William HINES, and had children, Nathan, Dr. A. J., deceased, late of Doylestown, Elizabeth and Emily.  4.  Abiah, married Pamela JONES.  5. Martha, died unmarried, and Benjamin W., who married Elizabeth BLACK, daughter of Elias and Cynthia (JAMES) BLACK.

Abel JAMES, second son of Isaac and Sarah (Thomas) JAMES, born 1749, died 1798, married Elizabeth BARTON, who removed to Baltimore, Maryland.  James who removed to Ohio.   John, who died unmarried and Cynthia, who married Elias BLACK, the latter being the parents of Elizabeth, who married Benjamin W. JAMES.  Benjamin W. and Elizabeth had one son, Abiah R., who married Josephine LEAVITT and is now living in Doylestown township.  A sketch of their only son Wynne JAMES, Esq., will follow.   Nathan JAMES, third son of Isaac and Sarah (THOMAS) JAMES, born 1754, died 1845, married Sarah DUNGHAN, and had four tchildren. 1. John D. for many years Court Crier, married Sarah CLINE, and had Elizabeth who married Asher COX, Nathan C., a life long member of the Bucks County bar, Sarah, who married Jacob SHADE, and Henrietta.  2. Ann, or Nancy, married Jesse CALLENDER.    3. Joseph, married, Martha MANN, and had Miranda, who married Abiah J. RIALE, Wilhelmina, Charles, Joseph, Louisa and Susan.  4. Simon, married Mary MEREDITH.

Benjamin youngest son of Isaac and Sarah (THOMAS) JAMES, born 1766, died 1854, was a farmer and resided in New Britain township.  He married Ann or Nancy WILLIAMS, daughter of Benjamin WILLIAMS.  She died in 1838.  Their children were: 1. Uslega, married Edward ROBERTS; 2. Isaac W., married Ann MEREDITH; 3. Abiah, married Charlotte AARON; 4. Thomas C. never married; 5. Elizabeth M., died unmarried; 6. Sarah Maria, married (first) Hervey MATHIAS,  (second) John G. MANN; 7. Abel, died unmarried; 8. Silas H. died unmarried; 9. Oliver P., M.D., and two daughters who died young.

Text taken from pages 61-62 of:

Davis, William W.H., A.M. History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

 Transcribed August 2000 by Betty Breithaupt of California as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published September 2000 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/


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