James Family Archives


•  Researching the Past

•  Education for the Present

•  Preservation for the Future



Chapter One
Building America - The Colonial History of David James (c.1660-1739)
of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes in Radnorshire, Wales


“It must be clearly understood that when David James arrived in Pennsylvania on October 28, 1682 there was no Radnor Township, there was no Chester County, there was no City of Philadelphia, only a vast wilderness of 40,000 square miles with a large swath east of the Delaware River designated by William Penn as the “Welsh Tract.” Unless this situation is fully grasped, one cannot begin to understand events that transpired over the next 30 years.”

On October 28, 1682, David James, his wife Margaret Jane (nee “Mortimer”) James of Llandegley and Glascwm parishes in Radnorshire, Wales, and their infant daughter Mary James had just endured a grueling two-month voyage at sea across the Atlantic. They departed the Port of Bristol, England onboard the sailing ship Bristol Factor, captained by Roger Drew, in August of that same year. They arrived at the settlement of Upland (present day Philadelphia) where they disembarked along with the passengers of two other vessels chartered by William Penn. These included the Welcome and the Unicorn. There, at what today is known as “Penn’s Landing,” they were greeted by a small group of settlers, mostly Swedish in ethnicity, whose arrival had predated their own by only a few years. [1]

1  See, William Penn’s Twenty-Three Ships, by Marion Balderston, published in The Pennsylvania, Genealogical Magazine, Volume XXIII, No. 2 (1963), pp. 54-57, “Evan Oliver and David James, whose name does not appear on the port books, brought a certificate from Bristol dated 26 6 m (Aug) 1682, obtained at the last moment before the Bristol Factor finished loading goods for Pennsylvania. David James of Llandegley and Glascwm, Radnorshire, weaver, was included in Oliver’s certificate, but his wife Margaret James and daughter Mary had to write back to Wales for theirs.” And, “Early in July the most famous of the 1682 ships, the 284 ton Welcome, was being loaded in the Thames with goods for Pennsylvania. William Penn, its most celebrated passenger, was not listed in the London port book, since he did not bring goods for barter or sale. He boarded the vessel 29 or 30 August when it was in the Downs, off Deal; departure would have been soon after… The Welcome’s first landfall was probably about the same as the Factor’s; certain it is they dropped anchor first at New Castle 27 October, and finally at Upland the next day, 28 October 1682.”