James Family Archives


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Griffith James was the son of Evan James, who tradition says, was born on the passage from Wales, and of Margaret, daughter of Griffith Jones.  Their marriage certificate is printed in the Appendix.  David, the father of Evan, had suffered persecution in Wales, and is several times mentioned by Besse in his “Sufferings.”  In December, 1662, he was imprisoned three weeks for refusing to take the oath of allegiance.  In a more extended account of the same event, it appears he suffered with twenty-two others.  “Anno 1663.  About the month called January this year, David James [here follow the names of the rest] were committed to prison in Radnorshire until they should take the oath of allegiance, which yet had not been tendered them before their commitment.”  In 1674 David James attended a meeting at a house called Cloddian Cochion, within the corporation of Poole, where a small number of Friends were met together in silence.  Thomas Lloyd, of Dalabran (afterwards well known in Pennsylvania as Penn’s first deputy-governor), being present when fifteen armed men came to arrest those attending this meeting.  He requested them to remain awhile, and preached to them, for which offence he was fined, and most of those present.  That the David James here mentioned is the ancestor of this family is proved by papers in their possession.  He appears to have been one of those who purchased a right of land in Pennsylvania before leaving Wales; for his name is signed as a witness to two indentures of land from Richard Davies, gentleman, of Welshpoole, who had bought five thousand acres in Penn’s new province.  In the first indenture the land is granted on a peppercorn rent when lawfully demanded, two pounds per hundred acres being paid for it, reserving to Penn the annual quit-rent of a silver shilling as lord of the soil.  These old deeds are in the writer’s possession.  That from Penn bears his seal, which is appended to the parchment by a blue ribbon, and covered with a tin box four inches and a half in diameter, and an inch deep.

David James arrived in Pennsylvania in August, 1682, with Margaret, his wife, and probably went at once to Radnor, and settled on the land he had bought before coming over.  They lived in a cave while building a log-house.  This dwelling is remembered by the husband of the writer as standing in his boyhood, though much decayed by time.

The cave was excavated in the slope of the hill, and near a spring of fine water, celebrated before the coming of the white men as a favorite resting place of the Indians on the direct path westward.  The immigrant David built a good stone house, on one end of which are the initials of D&M/J and the date; but these have now been plastered over, and his descendants cannot remember the exact year, but know that is was early in 1700.  For a copy of the certificate sent over from the Friends’ Meeting, in Wales, in 1683, vide Appendix.

There is a tradition in the family that David James came in the same vessel with William Penn; but the writer has reason to believe that he came with Thomas Lloyd in the America, Captain Wasey, at the same time as Pastorius, an account of whose voyage appears in Chapter III.  Lloyd was the head of the Welsh colony, as Pastorius was the German one; and it is evident, from records now extant, that these two celebrated pioneers expected to found a colony, each distinct from Penn’s English one at Philadelphia.

History of the James Family by

Isabella Batchelder James, 1874.


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: