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David James’ Indenture to 100 Acres of Land in Pennsylvania

from Richard Davies of Welch Poole, Montgomery County, Wales

to David Meredith of Llanbister, Radnor County, Wales

June 21, 1682


Transcription by Barbara James of Wilmington, North Carolina

Analysis by Larry P. James of Sacramento, California

Recorded on JFA Website - July 4, 2014



Line 1:  This Indenture made the twentyfirst day of June in the year of our Lord One thousand six hundred and eighty two and in the four and thirtieth year of the Reign of King Charles the Second over England and Between

Line 2:  “Richard Davies of Welch Poole in the county of Montgomery Gent. of the one part and David Meredith of thy parish of Llanbister in county of Radnor weaver of the other part whereas King Charles the second by his”

Line 3:  “Letter’s Patent’s under the great Seale of England bearing date the fourth day of March in the three and thirtieth year of his Reign for the considerations therein mentioned hath Given & Granted unto William Penn of”

Line 4:  “Worminghurst in the County of Sussex England & his heirs and Assigns All that part or parts of land in America with the territories therein conferred and thereunto belonging with six hundred acres: on the east by the Delaware”

Line 5:  “River from twelve miles distance Northward of new Castle Extending the three and fortieth degree of Northern Latitude and extendeth westward five degrees in longitude and is bounded on the north by a river”

Line 6:  “and twelve miles distant from New Castle aforesayd Northward and westward to the beginning of the fortieth degree of Northern Latitude and then by a straight line westward to the limit Longitude aforementioned”

Line 7:  “together with diverse great Powers Privileges and Authorities, Royalties All United and Ammenities and hath efected the Said Tract of land into a province or Sovereignty by the name of Pensylvania in order to”

Line 8:  “the establishing of a Colony and Plantation in the same, And doth hereby offer further granted to the Said William Penn his heirs and Assigns from time to time Power & Service to Assign, Alien, Grant, Enfe or Enfeoff such”

Line 9:  “parts and parcel of the Said province or Tract of land as he or they shall think fit to such person or persons as shall be willing to purchase the same in fee Simple, fee taile or for terms of life or years to be holden of the Said William Penn”

Line 10:  “his heirs and Assigns and of the Seigniory of Windsor by such services Afforded and Rents as shall see fitt to the said William Penn his Heirs and assigns And not partially of ye Said king his Heirs and successors not withstanding”

Line 11:  “the statute of Quia Emptores terrarum made in the Reign of King Edward the first and whereas also the said William Penn by an Indenture duly executed bearing Date the fifteenth day of September”

Line 12:  “last past between the Said William Penn of the one part and the Said Richard Davis of the other part for and in Consideration of the Sum of one hundred pounds sterling money paid him by the Said Richard Davis and of the Rents and”

Line 13:  “Services therein reserved and hereafter mentioned hath aliened, Granted, Bargained, Sold, Released and Confirmed unto the said Richard Davis in his actual possession then being by virtue of Bargain and Sale to him thereof made for”

Line 14:  “one whole year by an Indenture bearing Date the fourteenth day of September last past before the Date of the Indenture and by such of the Statute for transferring of this into possession and to his Heirs and assigns his full and just possession quantity”

Line 15:  “of five thousand acres of land (every acre to be alone asuxed and computed according to the dimensions of Acres mentioned and Appointed by the Statute made in the three and thirtieth year of the Reign of King Edward first) situate”

Line 16:  “Lying and being within the Said tract of land or point of Pennsylvania the Said five thousand acres to be allotted and set out in such places or place of the Said tract or point, and in such manner and at such time or times as”

Line 17:  “by Certain Commissions or Constitutions bearing Date the eleventh day of July last past Signed, Sealed, Executed, by and between the Said William Penn of the one part and ye Said Richard Davis and other purchasers of lands with my”

Line 18:  “Said tract or point of the other part are Agreed Limited and Appointed or hereafter to be Signed, Sealed and Executed by and between the same parts shall be Agreed, Limited and Appointed and also the aforsaid Right title and Interest of him the Said”

Line 19:  “William Penn of and to the Said five thousand Acres to have and to hold the Said five thousand Acres or the part and parts of the Same, to the Said Richard Davis his Heirs and Assigns forever, to beholden in free and common Array of”

Line 20:  “him the Said William Penn out of the Seignory of Windsor performing and Paying therefore yearly unto the Said William Penn his Heirs and Assigns the Price or Quit Rent of one Shilling for every hundred Acre of the five”

Line 21:  “thousand Acres at or upon the first day of March forever in lieu and stead of all services and Demands whatsoever as in and by the Said and aforsaid Indenture (greater participation for with confirmed herein and more fully and at last may appear”

Line 22:  “Now this Indenture witnesseth that the Said Richard Davis as well for and in consideration of the sum of five pounds sterling money paid in hand and By the Said David Meredith the same whereof he the Said”

Line 23:  “Richard Davis Doth hereby acknowledge and thereof and all parties thereof Doth acquit and discharge the Said David Meredith his Executors and Administrators As of the Rents and Services herein held or reserved hath Aliened, Granted”

Line 24:  “Bargained, Sold Released and Confirmed and by these presents Doth Alien, Grant, Bargain Sell Release and Convey unto the Said David Meredith in his situate possession now being by venture and Bargain and Sale made for one whole”

Line 25:  “year by Indenture bearing date the Day next before the Date of those presents and by force of the statute for transferring of asset into possession, and to his Heirs and Assigns the full and just portion and quantity of one hundred Acres of the land aforesaid”

Line 26:  “(every acres to be admeasured and computed according to the dimensions of acres mentioned and Appointed in and by the statute made in the three and thirtieth year of the Reign of King Edward the first) situate Lying and being within the Said Tract of land or”

Line 27:  “point of Pennsylvania, the Said one hundred acres to be allotted and set out, in Such place or places of the Said Tract or points and in Such manner and at Such time or times as by Certain Commissions or Constitutions bearing date the eleventh”

Line 28:  “day of July last past.  And Signed Sealed and executed by and between the Said William Penn of the one part and the Said Richard Davis and other purchasers of land within the Said Tract or points of the other part are Aliened Limited and Appointed”

Line 29:  “or hereafter to be Signed, Sealed, and Executed by and between the same parts Shall be Agreed, Limited and Appointed And after all the Affair Right title and Interest of him the said Richard Davis of in and to the Said one hundred acres and all Deeds touching the”

Line 30:  “Same only to have and to hold the Said one hundred acres and every part and parts of the same and all Deeds touching the Same only to him the Said David Meredith his Heirs and Assigns forever.  To the part of him the Said David Meredith his Heirs”

Line 31:  “and Assigns forever to beholden in fee and common succage of him the Said William Penn his Heirs and Assigns as of the Seigniory of Windsor yealding and paying therefore yearly unto the Said William Penn his Heirs and Assigns the price or Quit”

Line 32:  “Rent of one shilling for the Said one hundred acres at or upon the first day of March forever in lieu and stead of all Services and Demands whatsoever and the Said Richard Davis for himself and his Heirs and Assigns doth Covenant and Agree to and with the Said”

Line 33:  “David Meredith his Heirs and Assigns, in manner and form following (that is to say) that he the Said Richard Davis his Heirs and Assigns shall and will (by and before such time or times as for that purpose are limited and appointed in and by such Commissions or constitution”

Line 34:  “made, or hereafter to be made, as aforesaid.) Clear Acquit and Disaffirm the Said one hundred acres to be set out as shall be therein appointed and every part of the same, of and from, all manner of Titles and Claims of any guardian or Statute of the Said Tract”

Line 35:  “or Point And also that he the Said David Meredith his Heirs and Assigns shall and may quietly and peaceably have hold and enjoy the Said one hundred acres and by part thereof according to the true intent and meaning of these present without th”

Line 36:  “rett, Disturbance or Interruption, of the Said Richard Davis and his Heirs and Assigns or any person or persons whatsoever Claiming or to claim, from, by or under him, or any of them And further, that the Said William Penn his Heirs and”

Line 37:  “Assigns and the Said Richard Davis and his Heirs shall and will from time to time make, do, and execute, all such further and other Articles, thing and things, Conveyances and Appureances whatsoever as by, or in pursuant of or according to, the true intent of such”

Line 38:  “Commissions or Constitutions so made or to be made, as aforesaid, shall be Agreed or Appointed for the better conveying and Appearing of the said one hundred Acres, to him the Said David Meredith and his Heirs to the use of him, and his Heirs.  And lastly it is the true intent and”

Line 39:  “meaning of all the parts to those present for the better preserving and servicing the title of the Said one hundred Acres. And the Said David Meredith Doth for himself his Heirs and Assigns covenant promise and agree to and with the Said Richard Davis his Heirs”

Line 40:  “and Assigns that he the Said David Meredith his Heirs and Assigns, within six months after such time as a Public Register Shall be Appointed and settled within the Said tract or point shall and will _____ and _____ those present or forfeit and _____ of the same to be proved and”

Line 41:  “Enrolled in the Said Register in Such manner and Sort, as shall before that purpose ordained or appointed . In Witness whereof the Said _________ to those present Indentures their hands and Seals An---thaneably have set, the day and year first above written.”

FIRST FOLD:  “Richard Davis”

SECOND FOLD:  “David Meredith

BACK PAGE (Upper Left):

Line 1:  “Sealed and Delivered”

Lin 2:  “In the presence and sight of”

Line 3:  “Samuel Miles”

Line 4:  “Edward Jones”

Line 5:  “David James”

Line 6:  “John Evans”

Line 7:  “Richard Jones”

Line 8:  “Dan Morris”

BACK PAGE (Upper Center):

Line 1:  “Received by me the within named Richard”

Line 2:  “Davies of and from ye within named David ap”

Line 3:  “Meredith ye sum of two pounds sterling being”

Line 4:  “ye consideration money from the mentioned of and from the”

Line 5:  “said two pounds of the Said Richard Davis doe”

Line 6:  “hereby for my Heirs and Assigns Release and”

Line 7:  “Quit Claim the said David Meredith his Heirs”

Line 8:  “Executors, Administrators and Assigns and every”

Line 9:  “of them by these presents Witness my”

Line 10:  “hand this twentieth day of June Anno. Dom.”

Line 11:  “Annog RRs Caroln secundi Angliar Er Triceferimo”

Line 12:  “quarto”

Line 13:  “Witneseth Richard Davis”

Line 14:  “Recorded in the office of Scrolls and Public Registry”

Line 15:  “At Philadelphia ________________________”

Line 16:  “Tho. Lloyd M.”



Date and Nature of the Contract


     Line 1 sets forth the nature and the date of this particular instrument.  The document is identified as an “indenture,” a legal contract controlling a particular land transaction entered into on June 21, 1682.  The term comes from the medieval English “indenture of retainer”, meaning a legal contract written in duplicate on the same sheet, with the copies separated by cutting along a jagged or “toothed” line so that the teeth of the two parts could later be refitted to confirm authenticity, hence the term “indenture.”  Such documents are also known as “chirographs.”  Each party to the deed would then retain a part.  When the agreement was made before a court of law a tripartite indenture was made. This particular indenture entitled the bearer, originally David Merideth of Llanbister, Radnorshire, Wales, to 100 acres of land in the recently established English colony of Pennsylvania the location of which to be later identified by a land commission to be established at a future unspecified date.


Parties to the Agreement


     Line 2 sets forth the original parties to this particular indenture identified as Richard Davies of Welsh Poole in the County of Montgomery, Wales of the first part and David Meredith of the parish of Llanbister in the County of Radnor of the other part.  A large number of the early Quaker immigrants to Pennsylvania came from northern Wales and the English counties on the Welsh border.  Collectively, First Purchasers, as they were referred, from Wales and the border counties bought 100,000 acres of the approximate 45,000 square miles in Pennsylvania granted to William Penn by King Charles II of England.


     Richard Davies was a leading Quaker from Welshpool and one of the earliest and largest investors in William Penn’s colony.  In July 1681 Richard Davies signed William Penn’s Concessions to the First Purchasers and bought 5000 acres from Penn, which he distributed, in small parcels to twenty-seven fellow Welshmen.  Later, Davies would purchase another 1,250 acres for his son David Davies who came over to Pennsylvania in 1683.  Although maintaining vital family and community ties with the relatives and neighbors who had migrated to America, Richard Davies never traveled to North America and remained in Wales.  See “William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania: A Documentary History” by University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983, page 373.


     David Meredith on the other hand was a prominent “weaver” from the parish of Llanbister in Radnor County who purchased a total of 650 acres of William Penn’s land, the first 100 from Richard Davies and another 550 from William Penn and his land commissioners between 1683 and 1689.  In 1701, William Penn’s land commissioners formerly acknowledged that 350 acres of the whole had been “laid out” for David Meredith within the territory identified as Radnor Township.  David Meredith did not actually live in Radnor Township but instead settled in neighboring Whiteland Township, which was adjacent to Radnor and also in Chester County.  Nevertheless, because of his holdings in Radnor Township, David Meredith was taxed as a resident and counted among those most influential in the early development of Radnor.


Title History


     Lines 2 and 3 make reference to the historic agreement referred to as “Letters Patent” between William Penn and King Chares II of England entered into on March 4, 1681 in which King Charles granted William Penn a New World colony as payment for a debt of 16,000 pounds the King owned to Penn’s father, a deceased admiral in the British Navy.  It was a shrewd move on the part of Charles.  By giving Penn a colony in America, he managed to pay off an outstanding debt and at the same time rid his country of Quakers, a religious sect that constantly challenged English laws and the legitimacy of the Anglican Church, the nation’s established church.  The tract of land, as noted above, consisted of 45,000 square miles of land, an area almost as large as England itself.  King Charles named the new colony, “Penn’s woods” or “Pennsylvania” in honor of the admiral.  William Penn called the capital city Philadelphia, meaning the “City of Brotherly Love,” to reflect his desire that his colony serve as a haven for Quakers and other oppressed Christians seeking religious freedom.


Location of Property


     Lines 4 through 6 set forth the location or area within which the 100 acres described in this indenture would be situated.  In the original 1681 Charter of King Charles II to William Penn the area intended to make up the colony of Pennsylvania was described as such:  “…bounded on the East by Delaware River, from twelve miles distance, Northward of New Castle Town unto the three and fortieth degree of Northern latitude if the said River doeth extend so far Northwards, but if the said River shall not extend so far Northward, then the said River so far as it doth extend, and from the head of the said River the Eastern bounds are to be determined by a meridian line, to be drawn from the head of the said River unto the said three and fortieth degree, the said land to extend Westwards, five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said Eastern Bounds, and the said lands to be bounded on the North, by the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of Northern latitude, and on the south, by a circle drawn at twelve miles, distance from New Castle Northwards, and Westwards unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of Northern Latitude and then by a straight line Westwards, to the limit of Longitude above mentioned.”  The language used in Lines 4 through 6 also makes reference to a smaller 600-acre segment, which may be the focus of this particular agreement.  Nevertheless, the language used in the immediate document is very similar to the general language used to describe the approximate 45,000 square miles in Pennsylvania William Penn was granted by King Charles II.  Consequently, the immediate indenture provides almost no direct indication of where, within Penn’s original grant, this particular 100 acres would be located.  In essence, this indenture is saying that somewhere amongst Penn’s 45,000 square miles of land, the bearer of this indenture is entitled to 100 acres.


Terms of Governance


     Lines 7 through 11 set forth a description of the how the lands that are the subject of this indenture are to be governed.  Specifically, Line 7 points out that these lands are to be considered a province of England by the name “Pennsylvania.”  It was the principle desire of the Welsh Quakers to obtain religious freedom and escape the persecution that they had been experiencing in the 1680’s.  Thus, the desire was to establish a separate colony or “barony” in America.  By so doing, the Welsh Quakers hoped to preserve the language and customs of their homeland.

In 1681 several Welsh Quaker gentlemen met with William Penn in London and obtained a tract of forty thousand acres in Pennsylvania.  A verbal agreement was reached which assured the Welsh that their settlement would be indivisible and would constitute a “barony” with the right of self-government.  Although the boundaries of the barony were laid out in 1682, they were not established officially until 1687.  In general, its borders covered eleven and one-half townships in Delaware, Chester and Montgomery counties, including Radnor, Haverford, Upper and Lower Merion, West Whiteland, East Westland, Willistown, West and East Goshen, Treyffrin, part of West Town and all of East Town.  Almost all of the early settlers on this tract were Welsh and the majority was Quakers.  Many of the settlers were members of the Welsh gentry and their servants, and the others came from the yeoman class.

The Welsh Quaker exclusiveness of the barony and hope of exercising separate civil authority on one undivided tract through Quaker meetins did not las long.  By 1690 all separate privileges for the Welsh barony were lost within Pennsylvania.  Also by that time, Welsh Baptists, Anglicans, and Presbyterians, as well as English and German settlers, had established homes on the Welsh Tract.


     On Line 10, the indenture makes reference to the “Seigniory of Windsor.”  The term “seigniory” refers to a feudal lordship, the position, authority or domain of a feudal Lord.  Hence it was the intention of the drafters of this indenture that the barony to be established in Pennsylvania would take the shape of a feudal lordship, with William Penn remaining Lord over the land.


     On Line 11 there is a reference to the statute of ”Quia Emptores Terrarum” made in the Reign of King Edward I (circa 1290).  This provision is intended to prevent tenants from alienating or disposing of their lands to others by subinfedation, a practice by which tenants, holding land under the king or other superior lord, carved out new and distinct tenures in their turn by sub-letting or alienating a part of their lands.  Instead, tenants who wished to alienate or sell their land had to do so by “substitution.”  The statute, along with its companion statute of “Quo Warranto” was intended to remedy land ownership disputes and consequent financial difficulties that resulted from the breakdown of the feudal system.


Continuation of Title History


     Lines 12 through 18 continue with an historical account of the agreement between William Penn and Richard Davies whereby Mr. Davies purchased 5000 acres of land from William Penn for the price of 100 pounds sterling.


Assessment of Quit Rent


     Lines 19 through 21 describe the controversial obligation of “Quit Rent” due William Penn by the purchasers of the lands granted to him by King Charles II.  The Quit Rent obligation was not designed to be a tax levied upon the residents for the support of a local government.  Rather, the Quit Rent was a form of direct homage to the lord of the land, namely William Penn.  The Quit Rent obligation was intended by Penn to be the mechanism whereby he would secure a perpetual source of wealth and fortune from the colonists who occupied his barony.  The Welch Quakers who arrived in Pennsylvania were so loath to pay the Quit Rent that Penn suspended the obligation through 1685.  After Penn departed North America in 1684, almost no effort was made to collect the quit rent until Penn’s appointment of John Blackwell as deputy governor in September of 1688.  Thereafter, the Welsh Quakers continued to resist Penn’s efforts to collect Quit Rent through his appointed deputy governor.


Terms of the Indenture


     Lines 22 through 29 set forth the particular terms of this indenture.  In exchange for 100 acres of land within William Penn’s colony of Pennsylvania, the precise location of which to be later determined by the Land Commissioners working for William Penn, David Meredith agrees to pay 5 pounds sterling money.   As noted above, the Indenture also calls for the payment of 1 Shilling of Quit Rent payable to William Penn due at the beginning of every year (March) to last in perpetuity.


Declaration of Conveyance


     Lines 30 through 34 commencing with the language “to have and to hold” the indenture sets forth the official declaration of conveyance of the lands by Richard Davies to David Meredith.  The indenture provides that the bearer will be beholden in “fee and common succage” to William Penn his Heirs and Assigns as of the Seigniory of Windsor and thereafter be obligated to pay to William Penn quitrent as was contemplated under the original planned feudal arrangement.

Warranties of Sale


     Lines 35 through 41 set forth the warranties surrounding this particular transaction.  The indenture provides that David Meredith and his heirs are entitled to hold this land without “threat, disturbance or interruption” by Richard Davies or anyone else laying claim to this land.


Witnesses to the Transaction and Official Acknowledgement


     On the fold and backside of the Indenture are set forth signatures of the parties to the transaction.  The names of Richard Davies and David Meredith appear in the folds of the Indenture.  On the back is a collection of six different individuals who are identified as witnesses to the Indenture beginning with:  Samuel Miles, Edward Jones, David James, John Evans, Richard Jones and Dan Morris.  Several of these men including Samuel Miles and David James were also purchasers of 100 acres of land from the holdings of William Penn.  As this particular Indenture wound up in the hands of David James it is believed that David Meredith sold this particular Indenture directly to David James prior to his departure to Pennsylvania.


Recording of the Indenture


     On the back of the document is a certification by Richard Davies that he received from David Meredith 2 pounds sterling money to quick claims this deed.  It is also recorded that the Indenture was recorded in Philadelphia at the Office of Scrolls and Public Registry by one of William Penn’s appointed magistrates, Thomas Lloyd.


Analysis by Larry P. James