James Family Archives


•  Researching the Past

•  Education for the Present

•  Preservation for the Future



Children of David James (circa 1660-1739) and Margaret Jane Mortimer of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes, Radnorshire, Wales:


1.   Mary James:  born in Radnorshire, Wales prior to October 1682; married July 4, 1705 to John David/Davies, son of Ellis David; accompanied her mother and father from Wales in 1682 to Pennsylvania; nominated as executrix over her father’s estate in 1702; known children include:  Elizabeth Davies, David Davies, Jane Davies and Susannah Davies.


2.   Thomas James:  born circa 1690 in Radnor Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania; first marriage in 1738 to Mary Jones (1716-1745), daughter of Griffith and Catherine John of Tredyffrin, Pennsylvania; second marriage in 1749 to Sarah Henderson (1720-1800), daughter of Alexander Henderson (1696-1771) and his wife Jane (-1775); baptized in 1733 at the Great Valley Baptist Church and given lands by his father David and step-mother Jane in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County in the vicinity of Mount Joy; died in January 1753 in testate; custody of his surviving children determined by the Philadelphia Orphan Court; known children through Mary Jones include:  Enoch James, Leah James and Elias James; known children through Sarah Henderson include:  Daniel James and Jonathan James.


3.   Rebecca James:  born circa 1705 in Radnor Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania; married circa 1730 in Pennsylvania to John Miles, son of Richard Miles and Sarah Evans; known children include:  Rebecca Miles, Catherine Miles, Jane Miles, Sarah Miles, Enos Miles, James Miles, John Miles and Hannah Miles.


4.   Sarah James:  born February 13, 1710/11 in Radnor Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania; married February 18, 1736/37 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania to John Thomas (1713-1790), Baptist minister, son of William Thomas and Ann Griffith; died April 2 or 5, 1805 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania; buried at Hilltown Baptist Churchyard, Bucks County, Pennsylvania; known children include:  Anna Thomas, Rebecca Thomas, Leah Thomas and Sarah Thomas.


5.   Isaac James:  born in Radnor Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Isaac is known to have at least one son:  David James.


6.   Evan James:  born circa 1715 in Radnor Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania; married June 8, 1739 to Margaret Jones (-1790), daughter of Griffith and Rachel John of Tredyffrin, Pennsylvania; baptized in 1733 at the Great Valley Baptist Church; inherited James family homestead in Radnor from his father David and donated a half acre thereof for the construction of a Methodist Chruch atop James Hill where the family settled in October of 1682, the present site of Radnor United Methodist Church; died circa 1794; buried in an unmarked grave at Radnor United Methodist Church Cemetery, Bryn Mawr, Delaware County, Pennsylvania; known children include:  Rebecca James, Griffith James, Samuel James, Hannah James and Rachel James.





David James (circa 1660-1739) was born to a Quaker family in Wales between the parishes of Glascwm and Llandegley in the county of Radnorshire.  He was the son of Thomas James (occurring in the record 1637-1662) and Mary ferch Thomas.  He was also the grandson of James ap David (occurring in the record 1606-1637) of Llandegley - the progenitor of the James family. On November 27, 1680 David married Margaret Jane Mortimer, the daughter of Edward Mortimer (1631-1704) of Fyfield, Wiltshire, England and Catherine Houston.  The couple gave birth to their first child, Mary James, prior to the departure from Wales.


In 1660 King Charles II was restored to the throne of England heralding in a dark period in English history known as the Restoration.  This followed five years of rule from 1653 to 1658 by Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector and head of state of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.  With the Restoration the Anglican bishops were restored to their prior positions of power within Parliament launching a period of strict Anglican orthodoxy and persecution of “non-conformist” denominations or “sects.”  Among those dealt a very heavy hand were members of the Religious Society of Friends (“Quakers”) to which the James family belonged.  During this period of severe religious persecution members of the James family were arrested, imprisoned and persecuted because of their unwillingness to swear an oath of allegiance to King Charles the II and the Anglican Church.  By 1680 the James family was forced to sell their water-powered grist mill called Bettws Mill near Hundred House, located between Llandegley and Glascwm parishes in Radnorshire.  This mill was constructed by the family’s progenitor James ap David in 1630.


In 1681, within a year of his marriage to Margaret Jane Mortimer, David James (1660-1739) purchased rights to 100 acres of land, sight unseen, in Sir William Penn’s new colony of Pennsylvania in North America through his land agent Richard Davies while still living in Radnorshire, Wales. David, his wife Margaret along with their infant daughter Mary hastily departed Bristol, Wales in the Fall of 1682 and arrived at Penn’s Landing in present day Philadelphia on October 28 aboard the sailing ship Bristol Factor, captained by Roger Drew.  David, Margaret and Mary were permitted to sail to Pennsylvania on a certificate of passage issued to Evan Oliver, a tradesman and fellow Quaker from Radnorshire.  Upon their arrival the James family staked out their claim to 100 acres of Pennsylvania wilderness in an area identified as the “Welsh Tract.”  The center of David’s original claim is marked today by the Radnor United Methodist Church in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania just outside Philadelphia atop Garret Hill, originally known as James Hill.


In 1692, a prominent Quaker by the name of George Keith and eight of his followers including Thomas Powell, accused the Religious Society of Friends at the Yearly Meeting in Philadelphia of "lax discipline and doctrinal impurity" and were disowned from the Society. From 1692 to 1695 these separated "Keithian Quakers" held their meetings at Powell's home at Ridley Creek, Edgemont Township, Chester County, with Keith as their leader. They appealed to London for vindication, but in 1695 the English Quakers also repudiated Keith, causing him to "quit" the Quakers and return to England, where five years later he became an Anglican priest and missionary.  The meetings at Powell's continued, where a former follower turned Seventh Day Baptist minister named Able Noble, convinced some of them to be baptized in June of 1697. Some settlers from Radnor in the Welsh Tract, including Ann Miles' brothers Samuel and Richard Miles, came there to be baptized before 1701.  David James is believed to have been among them as Samuel Miles was his brother-in-law.  In 1700 the group at Powell's split in a dispute about the day the Sabbath was to be observed. Those that chose Saturday left the group to form the Seventh Day Baptists at Newton. The group that remained at Powell's was preached to by the Welsh Episcopal minister Reverend Evan Evans. Reverend Evans worked on creating an Episcopal Church at Chester. When George Keith returned to speak at Thomas Powell's in Feb 1702, Powell was a church warden at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.  Others, including the James and Miles families would go on to establish the Baptist Church in the Great Valley in present day Devon, Pennsylvania.  David James would eventually be laid to rest in the cemetery that surrounds the Great Valley Baptist Church in 1739 and bequeath a sum for the construction of a wall around the cemetery.


On December 23, 1701, a resurvey of the lands granted to the settlers of the Welsh Tract by Richard Davies on behalf of William Penn was ordered by Penn’s Quaker Land Commissioners.  This was performed to accommodate multiple conflicting land grants by William Penn to the Welsh Settlers.  The survey was made on February 16, 1702 and included the 100 acres granted to David James in 1681.  This resurvey affected lands in what were later to become known as Merion Township, Montgomery County; Radnor and New Town Townships, Delaware County; and, Goshen Township, Chester County.  Following the resurvey, the lands settled by David James in Radnor Township were deemed by Penn’s Quaker Land Commissioners to be the property of a prominent Quaker by the name of David Merideth.  The original 100 acres and additional 100 acres of “head land” belonging to David James were determined to rest immediately south of the land actually settled by David James, and, as of 1702 occupied by Stephan ab Evan.  The legal dispossession of David’s land by the Quaker Land Commissioners is believed to have been in retaliation for David’s participation in the Keithian Schism and subsequent conversion to the Baptist denomination.  In that same year, legal title to David’s lands occupied by Stephan ab Evan were conveyed to him by David’s daughter Mary James who had remained a Quaker, acting as her father’s executrix.  Mary was also permitted to charge Stephan ab Evan “quit-rent” for his use of the land from the time of his arrival in the Welsh Tract.  Because of his conversion David had been “disowned” and declared “dead” in the eyes of the “Public Quakers” who controlled Penn’s Land Commission.  Even though David Merideth hired land agents in an effort sell the land David James had occupied since 1682 with the intent of giving the proceeds to his daughter as a dowry, David James was never forcibly required to vacate his land.


By 1718 David James was still occupying the 100 acres of land settled in 1682, the same land determined in 1702 by Penn’s Land Commissioners to be the property of David Merideth.  That same year David increased his land holdings in Radnor Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania to 253 acres by purchasing the land he had originally settled in 1682 and an additional 153 acres of adjacent land from David Meredith.  Thereafter, legal title to the lands originally settled by David James in 1682 were secured.  The James family would continue to reside on this same land for over 140 years (1682-1823) - four generations through Thomas Potts James (1803-1882), the great, great grandson of David James (circa 1660-1739) before it would be finally sold off.  On this land all of David’s children,with the exception of his first daughter, Mary James, would be born.




Records of the James Family Archives.


James/Claunch Family Bible of Violet Nadine Negus (1929-2013) a descendant of Mary Susan James (1836-1905) of Bedford County, Virginia who married John J. Claunch (1836-1877) in Johnson County, Missouri.


Last Will and Testament of David James (1739) Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, Will Book F, Page 117.


Last Will and Testament and Estate of Jane James (-1750) of Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, January 19, 1750/51, Abstract of Wills and Administrations of Chester County, Pennsylvania, Page 519; Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, Will Book J, Page 348


Record of Marriage of John Davies of Gwynedd and Mary James of Radnor dated May 4, 1705 at Radnor Meeting House,  Witnesses, Col 4 under bride and groom: David Meredith, Stephen Evans, John Evans, Richard Moore, John Moore, David Jones, Mary Meredith.” [JQ], from List from Haverford Records (now Radnor MM), Historical Collections Relating to Gwynedd, by Howard M. Jenkins, Second Edition, 1897, Chapter 12. Early Monthly Meeting Records of Marriages:  Other Lists of Marriages and Deaths.


Marriage Certificate of Evan James & Margaret Jones dated June 8, 1739, from “Memorial of Thomas Potts, Junior, Who Settled in Pennsylvania, With an Historical-Genealogical Account of His Descendants to the Eighth Generation,” by Mrs. Isabella Batchelder James (1810-1901), published 1874, page 393.


Autobiography of Reverend Isaac James, M.D. (1869) Transcribed by Reverend Joseph F. DiPaolo, February 2006.


Early History of the James Family as Recorded by Isabella Batchelder James (1810-1901), wife of Dr. Thomas Potts James (1803-1882) in her seminal work “Memorial of Thomas Potts, Junior Who Settled in Pennsylvania With An Historic-Genealogical Account of His Descendants To The Eight Generation,” Privately Printed in Cambridge 1874; Page 251, Fourth Generation, No. 59, Henrietta Potts.


Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania” by Thomas Allen Glen; originally published in Oxford, England 1911-1913.


Welsh Settlement of Pennsylvania” by Charles Browning; published in Philadelphia, 1912.


Biography of Thomas James (1690-1753), June 2, 1999 by Larry P. James.


“Building America - The Colonial History of David James (c.1660-1739) of Llandegley and Glascwm Parishes, Radnorshire, Wales,” Revised January 10, 2021, by Larry P. James.


Thomas James (1690-1753), Find A Grave Memorial, ID No. 86716432, by Marty Rutledge, added March 13, 2012.


Mary (Jones) James (1714-1744) Id., Memorial ID No. 39193896, by The Ancestor Hunter, added July 7, 2009.


Sarah (James) Thomas (1710-1805), Id., Memorial ID No. 39834453, by Ann Gilmore, added July 24, 2009.


Evan James (1715-1794), Id., Memorial ID No. 218552391, by James Family Archives, added November 13, 2020


Updated: January 18, 2021