Compiled by Mim Baughman
At Bridlington (Burlington) New Jersey, James Browne and other young men in the party assisted a surveyor named Richard Noble, who had arrived 2 years before. In 1679 it was there that James married Honour Clayton in "the primitive meeting house made of a sail taken from the Kent, it being the first marriage recorded in the state of NJ". In other words they were married in a tent; incidentally it was the first marriage recorded at Burlington. In 1678 her sister Prudence Clayton married Henry Reynolds, who later helped found Rising Sun (now in MD).
This introduction to both the Brown, Browne, Brun Families and the Reynolds Family was found on the internet, written by one of the Brown Family Members. As this brief history of the times and places are much the same we can get a general idea of what it was like for the Brown and Reynolds families of Cecil County. Since Henry Reynolds was our founding father until it is proved otherwise, I will consider most of my findings to relate to Reynolds' as well as the Browns. They were Quakers, owners of Nottingham Lots and shared the same living conditions of the important times in our homeland.
"Settling In The Wilderness"
Around 1701 William Penn visited Philadelphia and met with prominent area Quakers. Penn wanted to establish a claim to land bisecting a land grant previously awarded by the proprietor of Maryland, Lord Calvert. Calvert?s land grant intruded into land Penn considered to be part of Pennsylvania. He decided to solve the problem by settling the disputed area first. It is known that James and William Browne took pack horses in the summer or fall of 1701 and left New Castle Delaware looking for land in the area now known as Calvert MD, but which when settled was called the Nottingham Lots. Likely this exploration was at the request of Penn. The Nottingham Lots area is about 40 miles from Marcus Hook.
In 1701 wagons and carts were a rare commodity, and it was not until 1704 that laws were enacted in the area to create public roads and bridges. These laws authorized the roads 20 feet wide to be built, as well as bridges over rivers, creeks, and swamps. Road taxes included the construction and the maintenance. Frequently, roads were paved with planks of wood from the very trees being cut to clear the road. In time covers were built over many bridges to protect the flooring and timbers. These covered bridges could also protect travelers in time of storms.
The Quakers who agreed to move to this new wilderness from their established homes around the Philadelphia area no doubt do so for many reasons:
In support of William Penn?s land claim;
To proselytize among Leni Len?api further west;
To seek opportunity in largely undeveloped country;
Since Quakers didn?t believe in war, to avoid male family members from being pressed into the English Navy.
"James and William Select a Site"
They selected their final site on the basis that there was a large spring there, as well as trees taller and of greater girth than any other area through which they had passed. Furthermore, as in the Philadelphia area the trees were so tall a man could ride his horse under them, and shady enough to prevent the growth of underbrush. To them this indicated the soil must be superior, and would therefore make excellent farm land. Near the spring was a favorite camping ground of Lenni Lenape Natives, the local branch of whom were called Susquehannocks by the Europeans. These natives traveled from points east, to the head of the Chesapeake Bay, where they fished, crabbed, clammed, and oystered. The spring was on the north side of the road leading from Brick Meetinghouse to Rising Sun, and slightly east of the road which was the boundary between the Sixth and Ninth Election Districts (Route 473?). This same road is also described as being "an Indian trail from Chester County to the trading post at Palmer?s Island" near the mouth of the Susquehanna River.
The brothers felled trees and cleared land before returning to New Castle for supplies. Other Friends accompanied them back. It is thought that William Penn took a large team of Quakers on horseback south along the Delaware River to the town of New Castle DE, and from there cross country into the area he hoped to claim. This certainly means the Browne brothers and Penn were sufficiently well acquainted for him to trust their judgement in returning with the rest of his band of potential settlers. The Browne's populate the area, along with the Churchman, Job, Beeson, Reynolds, Emson, Richardson, Baily, and Cooper families.
In the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, ¾ of the southern line of Chester County ran along Nottingham. From Octorara to Big Elk Creek was all Nottingham. The Commissioners of Property felt that a grant and settlement of the lands in the lower part of Nottingham would be advantageous to the Proprietor?s need to render "the adjacent Barren Lands more valuable" which would also encourage settlement along the Susquehanna River.
"Brick Meeting House and the Nottingham Lots":
The settlement around the Brick Meeting House used a mailing address of Brick Meeting House, Chester County, Pa. After the Mason Dixon survey was completed in 1784, it became Brick Meeting House, Cecil County, Md. On May 12 the name was changed to Calvert Md, a name selected by the wife of the postmaster, Mrs. Hambleton. (Cecil County Maryland Tecentennial, 1974).
According to a 1901 Bi-Centennial book published at the Brick Meeting House, "The measures being determined an advance company to examine this territory set out from Chester in the early spring of 1701, headed by Penn in person, including William Brown, ? James Brown" and others who ended up with lots there "and proceeded on horseback with provisions and such necessary equipment as would enable them to spend the night in a camp?" on the several days trip to the area. (George Johnston, The History of Cecil Co. MD). In those early days not many wagons existed.
A plat of the land was developed, and lots were allocated to the following Quaker settlers: Ebenezer Empson, Cornelius Empson, John Churchman, Joel Bailey, James Cooper, James Brown, William Brown, Messer (Mercer) Brown (son of William), Robert Dutton, Andrew Job, Randall Janney, Henry Reynolds, Edward Beeson, John Beals, and John Richardson. The Proprietor (Wm. Penn) kept 2 lots for himself, and allocated Lot 30 as a Common Lot to be used for the construction of the Meeting House (Brick Meeting House). (Book for births and burials, April 28, 1778 East Nottingham Brick Meeting House.). The area was named Nottingham Lots, because William Brown had lived in a village called Puddington, near Williamsborough, Nottinghamshire, England. The lots were assigned by a drawing, therefore a man might have 2 non-contiguous lots.
It may be noted here that William Browne?s son Joseph, born in the spring of 1682, who had survived the ocean voyage (though his mother did not), is not included in this list of lot recipients. By 1701 Joseph would have been 19 years old. Did he stay in the Upland/Chichester area? As will be seen below, it appears his cousin William did.
William Browne, according to tradition, cut the first tree in the Nottingham settlement in 1701. He settled "far back in the wilderness" that year. It is known that the first Friends? meetings were held at his house, while the Meeting House was being built. His son Mercer (or Messer) would serve as a justice of Common Pleas. (History of Chester County, Pennsylvania). His brother James moved there after conveying his Chichester lands, which he called "Podington" to his son William on June 21, 1705. James also sold several other tracts he owned in Chichester Township prior to moving to Nottingham. (The Browns of Nottingham, Gilbert Cope, 1864)
In that wilderness there were huge trees, both hardwood and softwood; deer; elk, wildcats; boars; wolves; turkey; geese; ducks; curlew; pigeons; and Indian trails leading to Lenni Lenape villages. The native peoples were hunters, farmers, and fishermen using the food sources available to them. They were peaceful people who defended themselves from invasions by Iraqoi war parties when they had to, but who preferred trading to war.
"Pursuant to an agreement made 14th of ye 11 mo. Last pa 60, with Corneliaus Empson, the said Cornelius Requests a War?t for 15,000 a?s upon the terms proposed by the Comm?rs. Viz: 8 Pls p?r 100, to be paid within one Year and an English Shilling quitrent Ever after, or two bushells of Wheat p?r 100 at some Navigable Landing on Dellaware, the first year to be Clear of Quitrent, and accordingly a Warrant was Signed for the 15,000 A?s dated 7th mo., 1701-2 to the Persons following:
To Cornelius Empson 1,000 A?s, To John Richardson 1,000 A?s, To James Brown 1,000 A?s , to Henry Reynolds 1,000 A?s, " and so til we get to "Meser Brown 500 A?s, And the Proprietary for his Own Proper Use three thousand Acres if the Land will hold out, all in One Tract with Sufficient Allowance for Roads, according to the Method of Townships, beginning at the Northern Barrens between the main branch of Northeast River and Otteraroe Creek, and bounding in to the Southwards with and East and West Line parallel as near as may be to the Line of the Province, and Northward next the Barrens with a line Also parallel to the South Bounds in in the said Tract to run Eighteen Several Divisions of 1,000 A?s, Each, to be taken by Lotts, and the Surveyor to Draw the Proprietary?s three. The Warant directed to Hen. Hollingsworth". (Minutes of the Board of Property of the Province of Pennsylvaina, Volume 1 ? 1893, State Printer).
The above Minutes not only spell out the original intentions, in terms of lot size, but also attempt to describe the boundaries of the area. They also show that lots were assigned by "drawing lots" which meant putting lot numbers in a hat or other container and taking turns pulling out lot assignments. Therefore if you had a 2nd turn, your lots might not be contiguous. On purchasing the lots, settlers paid eight British pounds for each 100 acres; additionally, they were to pay one shilling or two bushels of good wheat yearly in quit rent.
The land warrant directed the surveyor to begin at the northern barrens, between the main branch of the North East River, and the Octararo Creek, with a southern boundary to be an east/west line parallel to the southern line of the Province. The Plat shows the tract to be 2 ½ miles east of the common land where the Brick Meetinghouse stands, running due west nearly 9 miles. West of the common for a distance of 3 miles, it was 3 ¼ miles wide; continuing 3 more miles at 3 miles wide. From the southwest corner there extended a parallelogram 1 ¼ mile long and ½ mile wide, including land recently called Vinegar Hill.
According to A History of Cecil County, by George Johnson, 1881 his interpretation of the plat his research had uncovered indicated that the whole Township of Nottingham consisted of 30 lots. He says they are 1 ½ mile long and ½ mile wide. This means, Johnson says, that the 18 divisions of 1,000 lots each originally planned did not occur. Instead the lots were around 500 acres. Johnson attributes this discrepancy to the politics in England at the time.
Twenty years before Penn?s grant of the Nottingham Lots, Lord Baltimore had granted one George Talbot the Susquehanna Manor, which would have included all of Nottingham Lots and beyond, well into Pennsylvania. In other words the Nottingham Lots were already part of the Susquehanna Manor grant to Talbot. Johnson concludes "It was a masterly stroke of policy on the part of Penn to cut Susquehanna Manor in twain, and plant a settlement of his followers in the midst of it. This was the surest way of thwarting the efforts of Lord Baltimore and his agents to extend his jurisdiction to the 40 degree of north latitude" should Baltimore try to claim parts of Pennsylvania.
"The Mason Dixon Line"
Because of the contention over the Nottingham Lots between the Proprietors of Pennsylvania and Maryland, in 1765
the surveyors Mason and Dixon were commissioned to establish the correct, and legal, line between the two colonies. They were to place stone markers one mile apart, along that boundary, which would be called the Mason Dixon Line. As of 1980 some of those markers still existed.
Although the area was originally called Nottingham Lots, once the Mason Dixon survey was completed, Maryland successfully laid claim to the larger portion of the lots. By 1878 the Post Office adopted the present name of Calvert where Brick Meeting House stood. Cross Keys Tavern was built in 1744, and was the mid-point between Philadelphia and Baltimore on Old Baltimore Pike. The white oak tree at the old crossroads has been ring dated to 1661 by the Maryland Forestry.
A survey map drafted in 1702 shows William Brown with lots 23, 28, and 33; and James Brown with lots 14, and 27. Lot 14 was opposite lot 28, and lot 27 adjacent to it on the western side. With the new boundary line legally established by Mason and Dixon,.the majority of the land was established as part of Maryland. This created legal problems for the settlers, whose ownership papers were Pennsylvanian. (The Browns of Nottingham, Chester County Historical Society)
In 1787 the descendents of these first settlers sent a letter to the Board of Property in Philadelphia designed to ensure their property titles. This letter describes Penn?s warrant granted in 1701 for 18,000 acres. It states the land was divided into "upwards of 30 Lotts called Nottingham" near the boundary between the Provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Since the boundary remained in contention between the two Provinces, the settlers never paid the purchase money, nor were patents issued to confirm the land. When the boundary line was finally determined, 20 lots of 490 acres each, and 2 double lots of 980 acres each fell entirely into Maryland, together with most of 9 other lots and 2 double lots. Only about 1200 acres (the north lots) were actually in Pennsylvania.
The Board of Property ordered a resurvey, peformed by George Churchman, of the north end of the lots. As a result, Isaac Haines received a Triangle; John Churchman, and Oblong; George Churchman, a Trapezium; Jeremiah Brown was given Brown?s Forest; John Harvey received Harvey?s Hope. William Churcham received Fair Hill; John Lewden, Rockland; Eli Kirk, Mount Rocky, and Jacob Brown Jr. received Carpenter Hall. (Around the Boundaries of Chester County, W.W. MacElree, 1934)
In 1788 the proprietors of Nottingham also "caused to be recorded among the land records of Cecil County", to ensure their claim on the lots now designated as in Maryland. Baltimore approved the claims.
"Brick Meeting House"
In 1705 meetings were being held in William?s home. The first log meeting house was built during 1708-9 of chestnut and yellow poplar logs. "At quarterly meeting 3 mo.2, 1709 _ The months meeting of Chichester moves to this meeting and whereas the meeting of worship that hath to this time beeen kept at the house of William Brown in Nottingham, may for the future be kept at the new meeting-house there built for that end and purpose every weekly first and fift days, which this meeting approves off untill further order." (History of Chester County, Furthey & Cope)
This wooden building burned down in 1724 and was replaced by a brick meeting house. When that partially burned down again it was restored using a stone addition in 1748. The name remained the Brick Meetinghouse. Tradition says that the roof was of slate found in the Octorara Creek, but the site of the slate has been lost. Although the Monthly Meeting that East Nottingham Meeting was originally associated with was the Chichester Monthly Meeting, by "4, 13, 1715" it was requested and approved that Brick Meeting be associated with "New-work", which was much closer. (A History of Chester County, Furthy and Cope, 1881)
Once the area was settled, the population grew rapidly. Penn was actively recruiting settlers from throughout Europe. And in those days farmers had large families. It is necessary to understand this growth, as it will affect where records can be found. Brick Meeting, also called Nottingham Meeting and East Nottingham Meeting, was transferred to Newark Monthly Meeting in 1715. In 1718 it became part of New Garden Monthly Meeting. In 1730, Nottingham Monthly Meeting was established, consisting of East Nottingham Meeting, West Nottingham Meeting, and Bush River Meeting. (Immigration of Irish Quakers, Albert Cook Myers, 1902)
Referring to James and William Brown, the brothers who were among the Quakers settling the Nottingham Lots, the Biographical Annals of Lancaster Count, Pa., the Illustrated (Publishers: J.H.Beers & Co.) says "from these brothers have descended most of that name now residing in the southern ends of Chester and Lancaster counties, Pa., and the northern end of Cecil county, in Maryland."
On the 11th day, first month of 1727 a lot embracing 5 acres and some perches granted by James King and William Harris for the construction of a meeting house. This was called the Little Brick Meetinghouse, given to the members of the monthly meeting of Nottingham and New Garden. It was about 1 ¼ miles southwest of Rising Sun. It may have been part of Penn?s lot # 20. In 1730, the above mentioned monthly meeting was divided into two: Nottingham Monthly Meeting held at Brick Meetinghouse; and East Nottingham and New Garden held at New Garden, Chester County PA. At the same time, a preparative meeting was established at Little Brick Meetinghouse.
"The Walking Purchase"
In 1718 William Penn died, and his land office became inactive. When that occurred, numerous squatters moved onto Penn family holdings, illegally claiming Penn land without paying for it. When William?s sons Thomas and John, from his 2nd wife investigated they discovered in 1732 that the Penn family was deeply in debt. Some historians believe that William?s trusted associates had cheated him, for the question arises "How could the proprietor of the colony Pennsylvania, with such bountiful resources, and income from both the land and those resources become so poor that close friends had to keep him out of debtors prison?"
In 1751 six members of the Browne family, 4 men and 2 women, were ministers of the Nottingham Monthly Meeting. During this same year Thomas Penn, son of William, married Lady Juliana Fermor, the 4th daughter of Lord Pomfret of Easton-Neston, Northamptonshire, England. To honor his bride, Thomas created, in Pennsylvania, the county of Northampton and established the town of Easton as it?s county seat. This town had been established somewhere between 1739 and 1742 at the intersection of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers, called by the Lenni Lenape natives "Lechauwitank". This translates to "the place at the forks" of the 2 rivers. (Historic Easton, M. Summa, F. Summa, and L. Buscemi Sr., Arcadia Publishing, 2000)
Thomas Penn and his brother John would become infamous for the "Walking Purchase". The two brothers did not share their father?s idealism perhaps from having seen their father cheated by his trusted business associates. Certainly they had the incentive of needing to overcome debilitating family debt. Some historians think the brothers were influenced by William Allen and James Logan of Easton, who benefited by the end result of the Walking Purchase.
In any case, Thomas and John produced a deed of sale for land they claimed their father had acquired from local natives back in 1686. They claimed land as far as a man could walk in a day and a half. They then hired 3 men, Edward Marshall, Solomon Jennings and Edward Yeates to walk the western boundary of the purchase. The local Lenni Len?api chief, Lappawinzo, had his own native observers escorting the men. On the morning of September 17, 1737, at dawn the walk began. Jennings quit after 18 miles; the next day Yeates collapsed (and died 3 days later); but Marshall managed to cover 65 miles in 18 hours, gaining for the Penn brothers about 1200 square miles along the Delaware River. The chief realized the first day that he was being cheated. His own men were dropping off the pace as well. (Historic Easton, M. Summa, F. Summa, and L. Buscemi Sr., Arcadia Publishing, 2000)
There is a world of difference between a casual walk of perhaps 2 miles per hour and the brisk 3.6 miles per hour managed by Marshall. In 1965, when this writer went through Army basic training, trainees were expected to march at 4 miles in an hour or less to pass part of their physical fitness requirements, near the end of basic training. You can see why Mr. Marshall had a reputation as a renowned walker.
To average that speed for 18 hours is an amazing physical feat, even in that time when people were used to walking long distances. William Penn had made a point (for moral reasons) of not cheating the natives he met, even learning several Lenni Len?api dialects. The natives called him "Brother Onas" and his treaties usually included language stating that the natives and the white men should "live in love as long as the sun gives light".
After his sons cheated the Lenni Len?api of so much good land along the Delaware River, it became obvious that the new English proprietors would not prosecute anyone who cheated the Native Americans in Pennsylvania. From the Fall of 1737 forward, it became common for whites in this colony to get away with cheating and committing mayhem on native peoples without fear of prosecution.
Wooden plank roads are a vast improvement over dirt roads, getting neither dusty nor muddy.
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