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



THE PEMBERTON FAMILY. Four miles south of Morrisville, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, on the mainland, near the Delaware river, opposite Biles' Island, there is an old family graveyard, dating back to the ninth decade of the seventeenth century. It is one of the oldest graveyards in the county, if not in the state. Within its walls, measuring two rods square, lies the remains of four generations of one family, all of whom died in the short space of fifteen years. There rest the five young children of Phineas and Phebe (Harrison) Pemberton, as well as both the parents of these children. Near them also repose their grandparents, Ralph Pemberton, and James Harrison and Anne his wife; and adjoining lies the remains of their great-grandmother, Agnes Harrison, born in one of the last years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Not often, even in a well settled and long established country, is found such a number of generations, encompassed by one enclosure. The early history of the family that lies buried in this ancient burying ground is so closely interwoven with the history of the founding of Penn's colony on the Delaware and the causes that led up to that event, and so typical of that of most of the early families that formed the van guard (sic) of the Quaker emigrants to Pennsylvania,--explaining, as it does, the motive that led these early settlers to leave the land of their birth and seek homes in an unknown wilderness--that we wish to preface a brief account of the family with some account of the early sufferings of the Society of Friends, of which they were representative members. Let us take a glance at the condition of the Friends in England, prior to Penn's establishment of his colony in America.

The development of Quakerism in England under, let us say, the reign of Henry VIII, would have been an impossibility; but the growth of popular government and freedom of thought which were so firmly established by the genius and power of Oliver Cromwell, rendered possible that which would have been entirely impossible a century earlier. All the force of government, however, and all the power of the church were thrown against the Society of Friends, and no means were spared to persecute them and subject them to ignomy and contempt. No class of life or society was spared in these persecutions. Many of the early converts to Quakerism were of noble birth or people of power and influence in the realm. William Penn was "the companion of princes and the dispenser of royal favors." Thomas Elwood was of gentle birth, being nearly related through his mother to Lady Wenman. George Barclay was of good stock and a fine classical scholar. Yet all these men, because of their religious convictions, were frequently imprisoned, sometimes herded with the lowest felons and vilest prostitutes--"nasty sluts indeed they were." says Elwood in his autobiography. "Remember," said Phileas Pemberton, in an epistle that was intended as a preface to the "Book of Minutes of the Yearly Meeting of Friends," on the setting up of that body at Burlington, New Jersey; "Remember, we were a despised people in our native land, accounted by the world scarce worthy to have a name or place therein; daily liable to their spoil; and under great sufferings, by long and tedious imprisonments, sometimes to the loss of life--banishment, spoil of goods, beatings, mockings, and ill treatings; so that we had not been a people at this day had not the Lord stood by us and preserved us." (Friends' Miscellany, vol. vii, p. 42.) His description is not overdrawn: "Come out," they cried before Phineas Pemberton's door in 1678; "Come out, thou Papist dog, thou Jesuit, thou devil, come out." He was several times imprisoned in Chester and Lancaster castles, being confined in the latter prison in 1669, nineteen weeks and five days, and this, too, before he was twenty-one years of age.

James Harrison, who lies buried beside Phileas Pemberton and who was his father-in-law, was very active as a minister among Friends and was imprisoned in 1660, in Burgas-gate prison for nearly two months; in 1663 in the county jail of Worcester; in 1664, 1665, and 1666 in Chester castle: "But none of these things," says Phineas, were done unto us because of our evil deeds, but because of the exercise of our tender consciences towards our God." Nor were these cases exceptional; to such a pitch of nervousness had the government been wrought by the various plots, and so great was the fear of Catholic ascendency among the people at that time, that later in 1686, when James II issued the general pardon to all who were in prison on account of conscientious dissent, over twelve hundred Quakers--perfectly inoffensive and harmless subjects as they were--were released, "many having been immured in prisons, some of them twelve or fifteen years and upwards, for no crime but endeavoring to keep a good conscience towards God."

It was from this English barbarism and English oppression that William Penn invited his fellow Friends to join him in what he called his "Holy Experiment" in America. Accordingly, on the 5th of the 7th month (September), 1682, the Pembertons and Harrisons, with other families, sailed from Liverpool in the ship "Submission" for Pennsylvania. As it may be of interest to their descendants we give below the list of passengers on the "Submission." This list is taken from James Pemberton Parke's mss. account of the Pemberton family, 1825. It is from this manuscript that the account of the family published in the Friends' miscellany, vol. vii, is drawn. The latter, however, contains only a partial list of the passengers given below. Our list also contains some particulars not included in the list given in the "Sailing of the Ship Submission" in vol. i, no. I, of the "Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania," Philadelphia, 1895.

Passengers on board the ship "Submission."

Ralph Pemberton, Bolton, Lancashire, age 72; servants, Joseph Mather, Elizabeth Bradbury.

Phineas Pemberton, Bolton, Lancashire, age 33; servants, William Smith, servant of Phineas Pemberton, came in Friends' Adventure, arrived 7th mo. 28, 1682

Phebe Pemberton, wife of Phineas, daughter of James Harrison, age 23

Abigail Pemberton, daughter of Phineas, age 3 years.

Joseph Pemberton, son of same, aged one year.

James Harrison, Bolton, Lancashire, age 57 years; servants, Joseph Steward, Allis Dickerson, Jane Lyon.

Agnes Harrison, Bolton, Lancashire, mother of James, age 81.

Ann Harrison, his wife, Bolton, Lancashire, age 61.

Robert Bond, son of Thomas Bond, of Waddicar Hall, near Garstang, Lancashire, age 16; being left by his father to the tuition of sd. James Harrison.

Lydia Wharmsby, of Bolton, afsd., age 42.

Randolph Blackshaw, Hollingee, in the Co. of Chester, servants, Sarah Bradbury, Roger Bradbury, and Elinor his wife and their children Hager, Jacob, Joseph, Martha, and Sarah.

Alice Blackshaw, his wife, and their children, Phebe, Sarah, Jacob, Mary, Nehemiah, Martha and Abraham, the latter died at sea, 8 mo. 2d, 1682.

Ellis Jones, and Jane his wife, County of Denby or Flint, in Wales, and their children, Barbara, Dorothy, Mary and Isaac Jones. "Servants of the Governor Penn these came."

Jane Mode and Margery Mode of Wales, daughters of Thomas Winn, and the wife of sd. Thomas Winn; servants, Hareclif Hodges, servant of Thomas Winn.

James Clayton, of Middlewitch, Chester, blacksmith, and Jane his wife, and children James, Sarah, John, Mary, Joshua and Lydia.

The list conforms to the account given in the original "Book of Arrivals" in the handwriting of Phineas Pemberton, now in possession of the Bucks County Historical Society. The list given in the Publications of the Genealogical Society, above referred to, gives, in addition to the above, "Richard Radclif, of Lancashire, aged 21," and Ellen Holland, whose name adjoins that of Hareclif Jones; Joseph Clayton, aged 5," and omits Joshua Jones; and gives the age of Barbara Jones as 13, gives "Margery and Jane Mede, aged 11 1-2 and 15 respectively. It also gives Rebeckah Winn, 20 years," but omits the name of ____ Winn, wife of Thomas. In re, Winn and Mode, see "Penna. Magazine of History and Biography," vol. ix, p 231, also "Genealogy of Fisher Family, 1896, pp. 15, 199, and "Ancestry of Dr. Thomas Wynne," 1904.

James Settle, captain of the ship "Submission," was by the terms of his agreement to proceed with the ship to the "Delaware River or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, to the best convenience of the freighters," but through his dishonesty they were taken into Maryland, to their very great disadvantage where after a severe storm they had encountered at sea, on 8 mo. 2, 1682, they arrived in the Patuxent river, on the 30th of October, and unloaded their goods at Choptank. Here James Harrison and Phineas Pemberton, his son-in-law, left their respective families, at the house of William Dickenson, and proceeded overland to the place of their original destination, the "falls of the Delaware," in Bucks county. William Penn, who had arrived on October 21, was at that time in New York; Harrison and Pemberton had hoped to meet him at New Castle. When they arrived at the present site of Philadelphia they could not procure entertainment for their horses, and so "spancelled" them and turned them into the woods. The next morning they sought for them in vain they having strayed so far in the woods that one of them was not found until the following January. After two days searching they were obliged to proceed up the river in a boat. Philadelphia was not then founded, and the country was a wilderness.

James Harrison had received grants of 5,000 acres of land of Penn, when in England, a short time before his departure for America. Most of this land was subsequently located in Bucks county. In the following spring, 1683, Harrison and Pemberton brought their families and household goods from Maryland to this county, Harrison stopping at Upland, now Chester, on the way south, to attend the first Assembly, to which he had been elected. Until Phineas could erect a house in Bucks county, he and his family stayed at the house of Lyonel Brittian, who had arrived in Bucks, 4 mo. (June) 1680. On 11 mo. 17, 1683, Phineas Pemberton purchased a tract of 500 acres on the Delaware, opposite Oreclan's (later Biles') Island and built a house there. It must have been a satisfaction to him, after the storms at sea and wanderings on land, to have his family at last under his own roof-tree. This plantation he called "Grove Place." He appears, however, at first to have called it "Sapasse," since letters to him from friends in England in 1684 were addressed "Sapasse, Bucks County." It was part of a tract of over 8,000 acres of land, purchased by Penn from an old Indian king, and had once been a royalty called "Sepassain." (On Peter Lindstrom's map of 1654, in Sharp and Westcott's "History of Philadelphia," vol. i, p. 75, the name appears as "Sipaessing Land"). The old burying ground before referred to was located on this tract. Being desirous of erecting a more comfortable home for his family, Phineas Pemberton funished one in 1687. On the lintel of the door was this inscription:


"P. P. 7 D. 2 mo. 1687."

The initials signifying Phineas and Phebe Pemberton. This lintel is now in the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. This house Pemberton moved after his second marriage to another tract of land five miles distant and more in the interior. It was taken down in 1802 by his grandson, James Pemberton. In the year 1687 a great deal of sickness prevailed in the colony, and Phineas Pemberton lost his father Ralph Pemberton, and his father-in-law James Harrison. Agnes Harrison, the mother of James, also died. Three years later Anne (Heath) Harrison, the widow of James died; and in 1696 Phineas lost his wife Phebe, who died 8 mo. 30, 1696, exactly fourteen years after her arrival in Patuxent river, Maryland.

On the 18th day of May 1699, Phineas Pemberton maried, at the Meeting House at Falls, Alice Hodgson, "of Burlington, in the Province of West Jersey, spinster, daughter of Robert Hodgson, late of Rhode Island, deceased." The following names, as witnesses appear on the marriage certificate:

Alice Dickerson, Joseph Borden,

Martha Drake, John Borradaill,

Ann Elett, Saml. Beakes,

Ann Jennings, Arthur Cooke,

Elenor Hoopes, John Simcocke,

Mary Baker, Saml. Jennings

Abigail Sidwell, Thos. Duckett,

Eliz. Browdon, Jos. Growdon,

Sarah Surket, Mahlon Stacy,

Mary Webster, Henry Baker,

Phebe Kirkbride, Richard Hough

Sarah Jennings, Will. Dunkin,

Grace Lloyd, Isaac Mariott,

Mary Badcoke, Peter Worrall,

Elizabeth Badok, Edward Lucas,

Ann Borden, Abraham Anthony,

Elizabeth Stacy, John Cooke,

Sarah Stacy, John Sidwell,

William Croasdell, Robert Hodgson,

George Browne, Philip England,

John Surket, Junr., Mary Yardley,

Joseph Large, Abell Janney,

Peter Webster, Jos. Janney,

Seth Hill Mary Williams

Edwd. Penington Abigail Pemberton

Tho. Brock Eliz. Janney

Joseph Kirkbride Joseph Pemberton

John Jones Israel Pemberton

Jeremiah Langhorn Thomas Yardley

William Ellett Rand’l Blackshaw

John Biles Joseph Mather

The original certificate is in the possession of a descendant, Mr. Henry Pemberton, of Philadelphia. Phineas had no children by his second wife. After his death she married, in 1704, Thomas Bradford, being also his second wife. She died August 28, 1711.

James Harrison was at an early date the friend and confidant of Penn. "He was," says Proud, "one of the Proprietor’s first Commissioners of Property, was divers years in great esteem with him, and his agent at Pennsbury, being a man of good education and a preacher among the Quakers." In the library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania at Thirteenth and Locust streets, Philadelphia, (Penn mss. Domestic Letters) there are many original letters from Penn to Harrison, some of them written before Penn left England. They undoubtedly belong to the collection of Pemberton mss. (1) now owned by the Historical Society, since they contain an index drawn in the handwriting of Phineas Pemberton. Many of these letters from Penn are interesting in that they contain reference to matters current in the earliest days of the colony, and also occasionally give a picture of political life in England.

Phineas Pemberton took an active part in the public affairs of the colony as well as of Bucks county. He was a member of provincial council in 1685-7, 1695, and 1697-9; was a member of assembly 1689, 1694, 1698 (the latter year he was speaker), and in 1700, and a member of Penn’s council of state in 1701. But it was in the affairs of Bucks county, where he lived, that his activity and usefulness was the greatest and his work of the most value. He was beyond doubt the most prominent man of his time in the county and the most efficient, as shown by the mass of records he has left behind him in his own handwriting, and by the number of official positions he filled. In addition to filling the local positions of register of wills, recorder, and clerk of all the courts, he held for a time the positions of master of the rolls, register general, and recorder of proprietary quit-rents for the province; and the records of the county up to the time of his fatal illness are entirely in his handwriting, and are models worthy of imitation by officials of our day. The records of the different courts left by him are invaluable to the historian, and greatly superior to those of his successors in office in the matter of lucidity and completeness. Many of our historians have noticed and acknowledged this fact, which is apparent to all that have had access to them. Buck, in his "History of Bucks County," referring to the records left by Pemberton, says, "they comprise the earliest records of Bucks county offices, and, though they have been referred to by different writers, comparatively little has been heretofore published from them. To us they have rendered valuable aid and we must acknowledge our indebtedness for information that could, possibly, from no other source have been obtained." In like manner Battle, in his "History of Bucks County," writing on the same subject, states, "From that period (i.e. 1683) until disabled by a fatal illness, save an unimportant interval, the records of the county were written wholly by his hand; and in them he has left a memorial of himself that will not be lost so long as the history of the commonwealth which he helped to establish shall be read." (2)

Phineas Pemberton died March 1, 1701-2, at the age of fifty-two years, and was buried in the old graveyard above referred to. "Poor Phineas" wrote Penn to Logan on September 8, 1701, "is a dying man, and was not at the election, though he crept (as I may say) to Meeting yesterday. I am grieved at it; for he has not his fellow, and without him this is a poor country indeed." Again, in a letter from London to Logan in 1702, Penn writes, "I mourn for poor Phineas Pemberton, the ablest as well as one of the best men in the Province. My dear love to his widow and sons and daughters." Samuel Carpenter, in a letter to Penn, quoted in J. Pemberton Parke’s mss., writes, "Phineas Pemberton died the 1st mo. last, and will be greatly missed, having left few or none in these parts or adjacent, like him for wisdom, integrity, and general service, and he was a true friend to thee and the government. It is a matter of sorrow when I call to mind and consider that the best of our men are taken away, and how many are gone and how few to supply their places."

Of the nine children of Phineas and Phebe (Harrison) Pemberton. but three survived him for any length of time: Abigail, who married, November 14, 1704, Stephen Jenkins, and settled in Abington township—her descendants being the founders of Jenkintown—Priscilla, married, 1708-9, Isaac Waterman, and settled at Holmesburg; and Israel, the only son, who lived to manhood, married 2 mo. 12, 1710, Rachel Read, daughter of Charles Read, a provincial councillor. He was an active and influential Friend, and for nineteen consecutive years a member of colonial assembly. He left three sons: Israel Jr., born 1715; James, born 1723; and John, born 1727. Of these, John, who was a prominent preacher among Friends, left no issue, and James left only daughters, one of whom married Dr. Parke. and another Anthony Morris. Israel Jr. married Sarah Kirkbride of Bucks county, and had two daughters, and one son, Joseph, who married Ann Galloway of Maryland, first cousin of Joseph Galloway. the Bucks county loyalist, and died at the early age of thirty-six, leaving a large family, of whom John Pemberton, born in 1783, was in 1812 the only male representative of the family in America. He married Rebecca Clifford. and left a large family, of whom Henry Pemberton, of Philadelphia, referred to in this sketch, was the fifth. A complete genealogy of the descendants of Phineas Pemberton will be found in Glenn’s Genealogy of the Lloyd, Pemberton and Parke Families. "Phila., 1898. Isreal (sic), James and John, the sons of Israel and grandsons of Phineas, were prominent in the religious, political, social and business life of Philiadelphia (sic), where their descendants are still found.

Further accounts of the Pemberton Family, may be found in Appleton’s "Cyclopaedia of American Biography," vol. iv, p. 706; Westcott’s "Historic Mansions of Philadelphia," p. 494; Sarah E. Titcomb’s "Early New England People," p. 52; "Glenn’s Genealogy;" and "Friends’ Miscelany," vol. vii, both before referred to.

(1) This collection, mounted in about one hundred volumes, extends over a period of about two hundred years from a date before the birth of Penn to within modern times. It was presented to the Society in 1891 by Henry Pemberton, of Philadelphia, and comprises mss. of the Pemberton, Harrison, Galloway, Rawle, Shoemaker, Clifford and other families. Two volumes of letters now in the "Etting Collection" of the same Society, belonged originally to this collection as they are docketed on the outside of the handwriting of James Pemberton. Harrison was a member of the first provincial council, which met in Philadelphia on the tenth day of the first month, 1682-3. In the same year, he was a member of the committee to draw up the charter of the colony. In 1685 he was appointed by Penn as chief justice of the supreme court, but declined to serve: but the following year he accepted the position of associate justice. He was Penn’s steward and agent in Pennsylvania until his death on October 6, 1687. His daughter Phebe married Phineas Pemberton, the 1st day of 11 mo. (January) 1676-7, at the house of John Haydock, in Coppull, near Standish, Lancashire, England, under the supervision of Hardshaw Monthly Meeting of Friends.

(2) "The Records of Arrivals" published in vol. ix of Penna. Mag. of History and Biography, was compiled by Phineas Pemberton, although through an editorial oversight it is not accredited to him therein. This record has proved very valuable in genealogical and historical research. The original Record of Arrivals in Bucks County in Pemberton’s handwriting is in possession of Bucks County Historical Society, while that of Philadelphia and elsewhere is in the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Text taken from pages 1-5 of:

Davis, William W. H., A.M., History of BucksCounty, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: the Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] volume III

Transcribed April 2000 by Earl Goodman of PA as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

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