George’s Land by Sharon Castle

(Notes plus 2 PPT slides)


Letters:  We are so extremely fortunate in this family to have the transcripts of 8 letters written by George back to his family in England.  So incredible to have his own words describing his life and experience.  So I am going to include a few. 


When George arrived in Philadelphia in 1699, he lived in Bristol Township near his cousin, James. He worked as a farmer and linen weaver.  Like a day laborer.  Not indentured.


After two and a half years, (1702/03)  George had saved enough money to buy land.  Think what this must have meant. In England, land was divided into manors overseen by Lords and landed gentry, and sections of manors were leased out to be worked by commoners and peasants. Most people never dreamed of owning their own land. British America changed that. William Penn’s vision of the good life included political and religious liberty combined with economic security based on land ownership. Therefore, buying his own land in America would have meant a great deal to our George.


George wrote to this family in England that “I live a single life and hath builded a Shop, and doth follow weaving of linen cloth, but I have bought 450 acres of land in the Woods, but doth not live on it yet.” The 450 acres be bought consisted of one tract of 250 acres for 22 British pounds ($31.59 today) and an adjoining tract of 200 acres for 12 British pounds ($17.23 today) in the northern corner of Buckingham Township (see Township A in previous Figure 19).


We have the Deeds, as they were recorded by the Doylestown Recorder of Deeds.  The descriptions of the boundaries are interesting: “Beginning at a heap of stone . . . ” The land was primeval forest and would need to be cleared and have a house built on it before George could live there. At some point he moved from Bristol to Makefield Township (see Township C and D in previous Figure 19), which would have been closer to his land.


George in 1712:  Although he said the land was good and bad with hills and vales, he found great abundance. “Victuals is good and plenty . . .” Common products of the land included wheat, rye, barley, oats, beans, peas, buckwheat, Indian corn, apples, peaches, and cherries. There were plenty of cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, fish, deer, turkeys, pheasants, partridges, grapes, strawberries, mulberries, and whimberries. “There is many sorts of wood . . .” such as black oak, white oak, red oak, chestnut, and walnut.

When George married Sarah Scarborough in 1710, they lived on her family’s land in Solebury Township, while he continued to clear and farm his own land.  Most of their children were born there. 


In 1715, George wrote to his brother:

Hoping these few lines will find you in good health, as I and my Wife and child is at present blessed be the Lord for it . . .The greatest share of people in our parts is called Quakers and Meetings are kept in good order, there is a great many monthly meeting houses built. I can take my Horse and ride to any of 8 meetings in a morning before the Meeting begins. . . We make our own cloth both linen and wollen and sometimes I weave for wages I clears land and plows I count I have 100 bushels of Corn this year very good wheat Rye and Barley and Indian corn, I plant trees and hath Apples Peaches and Cherries and I have good land and wants more hands to help me I have 4 Cows and 4 Horses and 31 Swine. . . Philadelphia is our greatest town we have . . . Bristol is a market town . . . We have a fine large country with great conveniency in it . . . My Son is 2 years 5 months old his name is Stephanus.


Sometime after his last letter in 1722, they moved to George’s 450 acres. Their last child was born there. George died two years later, after finally moving onto his own land, having owned it for 22 years.  In his Will, he left his “Plantation” or “Wood Land” to Sarah until she married or died, at which point the land would be equally divided among his surviving children.  (Girls included.)  Sarah did marry again, to Mathew Hall in 1731.  Subsequently, George’s land was divided among his 6 children.  Four of them sold their land to Mathew Hall, including our Stephanaus, Absalom, and James, who moved to Virginia and bought land there   It was all out of the Haworth family by 1776.


Land provided shelter, food, and livelihood, but it also meant belonging—a permanent stake in the new country.  We can see the importance of George buying land and leaving it to his children.  For them it meant home, security, participation in society, and their future. 


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