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POWYS Archives has recently bought a rare manuscript that documents land bought in Pennsylvania in the seventeenth century.

The indenture dated 1682 records a sale by Richard Davies, the prominent Quaker of Cloddiau, Welshpool, to Margaret James a spinster of the parish of Newchurch, Radnorshire, of two hundred acres of land in Pennsylvania.

The document was purchased with the help of the Powysland Club, the historical society for the county of Montgomeryshire, and the Powys Family History Society.

David Hall, Chair of the Powysland Club commented:

“Rare manuscripts of this type are important and contribute to the rich heritage and culture of the county.  The Powysland Club promotes and supports historical research, and we plan to publish a transcript of the 1682 conveyance in our next edition of the Montgomeryshire Collections.  We hope this will encourage more research about local families who emigrated to America in the seventeenth century.”

Phil Bufton, Chair of Powys Family History Society, said:

“Many families in America can trace their routes to the old counties of Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire, and this manuscript provides direct evidence of local people buying land and emigrating to Pennsylvania almost 340 years ago. Powys Family History Society welcomes new members, and we can provide advice about different sources for family history research.”

Cllr Rachel Powell, Powys County Council Portfolio Holder for Young People and Culture said:

“We are extremely pleased that we have managed to secure this important manuscript for Powys Archives and wish to thank the Powysland Club and Powys Family History Society for helping us to purchase it. Powys residents and visitors to the county are very welcome to visit the service in Llandrindod Wells and view this and many other unique documents which may help with family and local history research.”

The indenture was witnessed and signed by several future Welsh immigrants, who essentially founded Radnor Township, and was later recorded at the Registry in Philadelphia under the signature of Thomas Lloyd, Master of the Rolls and Deputy Governor to William Penn. Lloyd was also a Montgomeryshire man, a son of Charles Lloyd of Dolobran. Margaret James married just a week later and she herself emigrated to Pennsylvania.

Quakers in seventeenth-century Wales faced imprisonment and fines for failing to take the Oath of Allegiance and for openly practising their faith. Because of this many sought a new home in the United States. However, because Quakers also suffered persecution there, William Penn and other British Quakers set about buying tracts of land, purchasing a large part of what is now New Jersey. Radnor Township is one of the oldest municipalities in Pennsylvania and was founded as a part of the “Welsh tract”.

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