Jane James (-1750) of Radnor Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania was the last and likely second wife of David James (c.1660-1739) of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes, Radnorshire, Wales who immigrated to North America in 1682.  Jane is known to have been residing at the old James family mansion in Radnor Township at the time of her death in 1750 under the care of her late husband’s youngest son Evan James (c.1715-c.1794).  Her last will and testament reveals only one biological relative, her nephew Joseph Davis/David indicating a connection to that family.  She also leaves bequests to three of David’s children, Isaac James, Sarah Thomas and Evan James; and one of his grandchildren, David James, the son of Isaac James.  

 

In his last will and testament, David James, clearly made arrangements for Jane’s maintenance following his death in 1739.  He left the responsibility of Jane’s care and support in the hands of his youngest son Evan who was the executor of his will and who  inherited the main corpus of his estate at the time of his passing.  David’s last will and testament provides:

 

“ITEM, I give unto my well beloved wife Jane James the bed and appurtenances and the use and benefit of the room we used to sleep in, the use and liberty of the cellar and her maintenance during her natural life, the one half of the cows and sheep & horse to ride on when she requires firewood brought to her hand and the sum of twenty pounds in money to be found and paid her by my Executor.  I also give her one iron pot and a case of drawers and the brass and pewter I leave to be divided between her and my two daughters Sarah and Rebecca.  But in case my said wife shall be inclined to live in some other place and not with my Executor or that she should happen to marry, then I give her as aforesaid and the sum of three pounds a year and one cow the said three pounds to be paid yearly covering her natural life and so declare that what share here left her is to be in full consideration of her thirds & Dower.”

 

In her own will, Jane leaves no part of her estate to David’s children Rebecca or Thomas, even though Thomas James is one of the individuals responsible for the final accounting of her estate.  In his will, David referred to Sarah and Rebecca as “my” children and not “our” children and contemplates the possibility that Jane may not wish to live with his children after his passing.  Jane refers to David’s daughter Sarah in her will as her “stepdaughter.”  Moreover, Jane does not refer to any of David James’ biological children as her own strongly suggesting that the children of David James were born through his first wife Margaret Mortimer.  

 

Interestingly, a significant portion of Jane’s estate is left to the children of Evan David, the owner of the farm located immediately to the south and bordering the James family property.  Evan David’s children include: Mary Davis, Isaac Davis, Susana Davis, Margaret Davis and David Davis.  Evan David is identified as a “friend” of David James in his last will and testament and was the son of Jenkin David who is reported to have occupied the parcel immediately to the south of the James family homestead as early as 1719.

 

Jenkin David, the father of the Evan David mentioned in Jane’s will, occupied the land in Radnor Township that was originally “laid out” for David James pursuant to the “rights” he had acquired through the indentures he purchased prior to coming to Pennsylvania in 1682.  Stephen ap Evan successfully procured this land on or about 1702 by way of purchase from David James’ eldest daughter Mary at a time when David was reportedly deceased.  Interestingly, there is no record of Jenkin David purchasing this land from Stephen ap Evan.  He merely began “occupying” this property later described as “Lot No. 108” in Radnor Township and is recorded as living there in 1719 when an assessment of the land was first performed.  On page 398 of her 1977 work, “A Rare and Pleasing Thing: Radnor Demography (1798) and Development” Katharine Hewitt Cummin reports:

 

See lot 106 for Stephen ap Evan’s acquisition of 397 acres of land.  One hundred of them became lot 106, another hundred, lot 107.  This [lot 108] the remainder piece, came into the hands of Jenkin David although no pertinent deed is recorded in Chester or Delaware counties.  He occupied the property from 1719 through 1727 (assessment records), his son Evan following from 1729 through 1779 and, thereafter, Isaac Davis who was son to Evan.”

 

           If there was indeed a family connection between Jane James and Evan David, such a relationship would suggest that Jane’s husband, David James, may have regained control of the property that was originally laid out for him through the indentures he purchased prior to 1682 and disposed of it by placing it under the control of a close family relation.

 

           It is fairly certain that Jane was buried in the cemetery grounds surrounding the Great Valley Baptist Church where her husband had previously been laid to rest.  In her will, Jane leaves adequate instructions concerning her funeral.  She bequeaths one pound to the repair of the graveyard where she is to be buried.  And she makes two separate gifts of one pound each to the ministers of the Great Valley Baptist Church: John Davis and Owen Thomas.

 

           The executor of her last will and testament is David’s youngest son Evan James who has been, for the past eleven years, responsible for her maintenance since his father’s passing in 1739.  David’s eldest son, Thomas James, is one of those charged with the final accounting of her estate.  Because of her collection of Welsh language books, it is quite likely that Jane too was born in Wales and spoke the Welsh language.  She appears to have been very generous with the resources left her by her late husband as the final accounting of her estate reveals she had made multiple loans to various individuals that remained unpaid at the time of her passing.

 

The pertinent documents concerning Jane’s final estate are as follows:

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Abstract of the Last Will and Testament of Jane James of Radnor, January 19, 1750.

Recorded on Page 519 of the Abstract of Wills and Administrations of Chester County, Pennsylvania:

 

Jane James Radnor

January 19, 1750/1.  January 30, 1750  J. 348

 

To nephew Joseph David £1.  To David son of Isaac James 10/.  To Sarah Thomas my step daughter best apparel.  To Mary daughter of Evan Davis £1.  To Susanna Margaret & David Davis £1 each.  Remainder to Evan James who is Executor.  Test. Signed I.  Witnessed Rees Thomas.  Evan David.

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

The Last Will and Testament of Jane James (January 19, 1750/1)

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, Will Book J, Page 348

 

I Jane James of Radnor in he County of Chester and Province of Pennsylvania being sick and weak in body but of a sound disposing memory considering the uncertainty of this life and that it is appointed to die am desirous to settle my temporal estate in manner following.

 

First:  I will and devise that my dust debts and funeral expenses be paid and discharged by my executor hereafter named.

 

ITEM, I give unto nephew Joseph Davis one pound.

 

ITEM, I give David James son of Isaac James ten shillings.

 

ITEM, I give Isaac James one rug and two best blankets.

 

ITEM, I give Sarah Thomas my Step Daughter the best suit of my wearing apparel.

 

ITEM, I give Mary Davis the daughter of Evan David one pound.

 

ITEM, I give Isaac Davis one pound.

 

ITEM, I give Susana Davis one pound.

 

ITEM, I give Margaret Davis one pound.

 

ITEM, I give David Davis one pound.

 

ITEM, I give John Davis Minister one pound.

 

ITEM, I give Owen Thomas Minister one pound.

 

ITEM, I give one pound towards repairing the graveyard where I shall be buried.

 

ITEM, I give Evan James the remainder of my effects whom I appoint and nominate Executor of last will and testament and do hereby revoke all other will or wills made by me ratifying and confirming this to be my last will and testament.

 

In witness thereof I have unto set my hand & seal this nineteenth day of January in the year of our Lord one Thousand seven hundred and fifty.  Signed sealed and published and declared by the said Jane James to be her last will and testament.

 

In the presence of R. Thomas

Evan David     Jane James

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

A true inventory of the goods of Jane James lately deceased.  Valued as followeth

 

Money in the house………………………………………………….  5 – 0 – 0

To a bond of James John……………………………………………  10 – 0 – 0

Ditto to another Rees Price……………………………………….… 7 – 0 – 0

Ditto to another John Williams and Llewellyn Martin……………...10 – 0 – 0

Ditto to another John David………………………………………….  3 – 0 – 0

Ditto James Mathers and John Mathers………………………….. . 6 – 0 – 0

Ditto David Thomas………………………………………………….   3 – 0 – 0

Ditto to Samuel Henry to a cash note……………………………… 2 – 0 – 0

Gown and Petticoat…………………………………………………… 1 – 0 – 0

Gown and Petticoat…………………………………………………… 1 – 0 – 0

Loope Gown and Quilt………………………………………………..  1 – 0 – 0

3 Petticoats and a Gown……………………………………………..  1 – 0 – 0

3 Cloaks………………………………………………………………..  1 – 0 – 0

2 Safeguard and Gown and Petticoat………………………………  0 – 8 – 0

2 Bodises………………………………………………………………  1 – 0 – 0

7 Shifts…………………………………………………………………  1 – 0 – 0

4 Aprons……………………………………………………………….   0 – 8 – 0

To Caps………………………………………………………………… 1 – 0 – 0

Table Cloaths………………………………………………………….. 0 – 10 – 0

Two silk Handkerchiefs……………………………………………….  0 – 5 – 0

10 Handkerchiefs……………………………………………………...  6 – 0 – 0

2 Hoods………………………………………………………………… 0 – 2 – 0

Aprons, Baskets and other things…………………………………… 0 – 4 – 0

2 Shifts and two pillow cases………………………………………… 0 – 10 – 0

2 Shifts…………………………………………………………………. 0 – 10 – 0

Beds and Bed cloaths………………………………………………… 5 – 0 – 0

Brass and Pewters……………………………………………………. 0 – 12 – 0

Saddle and Bridles……………………………………………………. 0 – 15 – 0

Bible and other Welsh Books……………………………………….. 1 – 0 – 0

Cases and Drawers and Chests…………………………………….  2 – 10 – 0

Shifts and Towels…………………………………………………….   0 – 11 – 0

Two wheels…………………………………………………………….  0 – 10 – 0

Box and Bonnets……………………………………………………… 0 – 10 – 0

To Stockings…………………………………………………………… 0 – 10 – 0

Brass Skillet…………………………………………………………… 0 – 3 – 0

To shoes……………………………………………………………….  0 – 12 – 0

70 – 9 – 0

 

As Valued by the subscribers

R.W. Thomas

Obadiah Worday

Thomas James

Thomas Jones

 

The Last Will and Testament and Estate of Jane James (-1750) of Radnor Township, Pennsylvania,

January 19, 1750

 

 

Recorded on Page 519 of the Abstract of Wills and Administrations of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, Will Book J, Page 348

 

 

with analysis by Larry P. James

March 17, 2012