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Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: October 1940 Volume 3 Number 4, Pages 95–100
I have been informed by the Sharp sisters that the most ancient deed to this estate was in Welsh, which had to be produced and translated before the Ivesters could consummate a more recent sale of part of the place. This deed I have not seen.
In this instance the exact meaning or significance of Travelgwyn is obscure. The Rev. Davies, pastor of the Great Valley Baptist Church and well versed in his native language, has kindly offered suggestions.
In the original Cymric it should stand as Trafelgwyn, as the substitution of v for f is English. Travel means a press or hatchel, i. e., toil or trouble, and gwyn may be translated to white, hence white toil or trouble.
Perhaps the original settlor, dismayed at the tremendous task before him of removing the great stand of hardwood and the draining of part of the large swamp, named it White Toil, because the Redmen in the immediate vicinity could not be induced to share in the labor.
This tract is just south of Berwyn, on either side of Waterloo Road and near the foot of Waters Hill, and is described in a lengthy deed dated December 4, 1706, of which the following is part:
"To all People To whom these presents come. Edward Hugh of the Township of East Town in the County of Chester and Province of Pensilvania, Yeoman, Greeting &c., there is a Certain Tract of Land Called Travelgwyn Situate Lying & being in East Town in the County of Chester afforsed Bounded on the North line with the land of Llwelyn David and on ye East End with the land of William Sharlow & on ye South Line with the Land of the af'd Edward Hughs and one on the West End with ye Land of Joseph Wood, Containing one hundred acres of Land, being part of five hundred acres which the fd Edward Hughs purchased of one Howel James as it doth & may more at large appear by his Deed bearing Date the nineteenth day of November in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and three, which five hundred acres being purchased by ye sd Howel James of one John Wood x x by his Deed bearing Date the sixteenth Day of March in the year 1699, x x which ye sd John Wood did purchase from his brother ye afforsd Joseph 'Wood, being son & heir of William Wood who was the first purchaser, x x twenty sixt day of June, 1690."
"Now know ye that the sd Edward Hughs for & on Consideration of ye sum of twenty pounds current silver Money of Pensilvania to him paid by Philip Davies of East Town, x x To have & to hold x unto sd Philip Davies and the heirs of the body of Margaret Hughs, sister of Edward Hughs."
Signed by Edward Hughs in the presence of Mary Jons, Morgan Hughs and William Davies.
This tract contained the original log cabin which has been described to me as a single-storied structure with double-pitched roof, one window and the door in front and a single window in the rear. It was possibly of two rooms, had a large open fireplace, and was situated until recently east of the present stone farmhouse and near to a spring of water on the old Ivester farm, the cabin being last used as a chickenhouse. At this period Trav-el-gwyn was mostly in timber, the swamp a covert for woodcock and the branch of the Darby Creek swarmed with speckled trout.
"This Indenture made the sixteenth Day of February In the ninth Year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George by the Grace of God King of Great Britain France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith &c. And the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred and Twenty Two. Between Philip Davies x x Yeoman and Margaret his wife of the one part, Edward Davies Eldest son & Heir of the said Philip Davies by the sd Hargaret his wife, of the Second part, and Evan Hugh of Easttown, Yeoman, of the Third part."
"Whereas, the said Philip Davies has built a Messuage or Dwelling house and made Several Other improvements on the Land, Now This Indenture witnesseth That the sd Philip Davies and Margaret his wife and Edward Their son for a consideration of the full and just sum of One Hundred and Seventy pounds of good and Lawful money of America to then in Hand paid (by Evan Hugh) at or before the Sealing and Delivery of these presents."
Signed by Philip, Margaret and Edward Davies with their marks in the presence of Wm. Davies, Thomas James, David Howell, John Davis, Morgan Hughs, Owen Hughs and C. Edwards. The foregoing owners were closely connected, Edward Hughs being a brother to Philip Davies' wife and Evan Hughs a nephew of the last and son of Edward Hughs, former owner. Philip Davies evidently built the stone house sometime between 1706 and 1722.
On February 20, 1723, this estate was sold by Evan, and Ann Hughes, of Easttown, to Griffith Hughes, clerk of Radnor, for 140 pounds. Here it is called Grovehall, formerly Travelgwyn. The deed was signed by Evan Hughes and the mark of his wife Ann.
We are informed that the Rev. Griffith Hughes, the son of Richard Hughes of Merionethshire, was born about 1707, graduated from Oxford in 1732 and was appointed rector of Radnor, and Perkiomen (St. David's and St. James' Episcopal Churches) at a salary of 60 pounds per annum; but here we find that he was in Radnor and Easttown at least ten years earlier as a clerk and doubtless a student under the Rev. Weyman and Rev. Backhouse.
Rev. Griffith Hughes was both a naturalist and a literary man. He is said to have published some Welsh and English religious tracts, including one upon Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell, the Welsh congregation being fond of a little brimstone mixed with the sermons. He traveled much into the backwoods and speculated somewhat in land. In 1736 he removed rather abruptly to the Barbadoes where he became rector of the St. Lucy Episcopal Church and later left the Island even more mysteriously than his departure from Easttown.
In 1750 he published "The Natural History of Barbadoes" in ten folio volumes, vii and 314 pages of text, map, and 30 plates, mostly of plants. This work is found in nearly all "great scientific libraries and is occasionally quoted today in the catalogues of secondhand book stores.
On August 2, 1735, "being the Eight Year of the reign of King George the second," Griffith Hugh, Clerk, secured a loan of 95 pounds, 4 shillings from Mordecai Lewis of New Town, on
"all that Messuage plantation Now called and hereafter to be known by the name of Grove Hall. Beginning at a post Near, the Corner of an Old Grave Yard from thence N. 24° W. by Sharlow's Lane 78 p. to a corner of Peter Elliott's Land, thence N. 55° E. by P. Elliot's Land 210 p. to another corner, thence S. 24° E. by other Land of P. Elliots, Land of the sd Sharlow 78 p. to a post, thence S. 55° W. 210 p. to place of beginning."
This is the first attempt to describe the one hundred acre tract by meters and bounds and the first mention of the old grave yard.
The signature of Griffith Hughes has been cut from this document but attached is the receipt or acknowledgment of Mordecai Lewis:
"December 25, 1744. Rec'd of, John Hughes the Sum of Ninty Two pounds Two Shillings being Due by Mortgage on ground and Interest Due there on from Griffith Hughes of Barbadoes."
On February 13, 1743, an indenture
"Between Griffith Hughs, late of Easttown x x but now Rector of St. Lucy in the Island of Barbadoes, and John Hughs of Mirion in the County of Philadelphia, Yeoman, Attorney of the said Griffith Hughs Legally Constituted of the one part And Griffith James of Easttown afforsd, Yeoman, of the other part,"
Griffith James came into possession of Grove Hall for the sum of 120 pounds and here he lived for over twenty years.
Griffith Janes was a prominent member of the St. Davids' Church, died 10, 3, 1765 in his 67th year and was buried in the church yard.
There is a tradition that his daughter Hannah in her girlhood planted an acorn in the southeast corner of the yard of that which is now known as the Water's place, from which is now grown the great white oak almost two hundred years old.
Will of Griffith James, dated Aug. 24, 1764.
" x x First I commend my Soul unto the hands of Almighty God and my Body I commit to the Earth, x x Imprimis I will my debts and funeral charges shall be paid and Discharged.
Item I give and bequeath all my messuage Tenement Plantation and Tract of Land x x to my beloved Wife Ann to have and to hold duringer her natural life with all the Rents and Profits acruing thereon she making no spoil Waste or destruction thereupon and from and after her decease I give and devise to my loving daughter Hannah James to her heirs and Assigns forever.
Item I give and bequeath to my Wife her choice of the best horse and two Milch Cows also her choice of either of the stacks of Wheat now at the Barn and the sun of fifteen pounds lawful money to be paid "by my Executors in Six Months after my decease.
Item it is my Will that all the household Goods and furnature be equally divided between my wife and daughter.
Item I Give and bequeath to my daughter Hannah a Case of Drawers that Stands in the East end of my house with all the residue to me belonging Bonds Bills Chattels and Estate whatsoever is to be given my daughter delivered by my Executors to witt my good friends Mr. Isaac Wayne and John Morris. x x it is by Will that they dispose of the remainder of Stock and Inpliments not bequeathed, to public Sale, to put all the money in full for my daughter's use and to be paid her at her age of twenty one years."
This will was signed in the presence Morris Morris, Lewis Morris and Joshua Evans, the last two appearing before Benjamin Chew, Reg. Gen., the first in solemn affirmation and the latter on oath.
Ann James, the mother, died 10, 3, 1765, in her 67th year, leaving Hannah sole heir of Grove Hall. She married Whitehead, Weatherby who is thought to have been a son of Benjamin Weatherby, who was brother-in-law of Dr. Baxnado VanLeer of Marple and one time innkeeper at the old Blue Ball Tavern on the Conestoga Road, since he mentioned in his will of 8, 20, 1766, the children then living as Whitehead, Samuel, David, George, William, Benjamin, Septimus and Richard.
There is a family tradition, mentioned by Miss Ida May Davis, to the effect that the original Whitehead Wetherby (who was probably the grandfather of the present Whitehead Weatherby) came by his name. in a most curious way. Some English emigrants found him as an infant abandoned on board the ship before it left port and since the vessel touched a town called Wetherby on a branch of the Humber, they gave the fair-haired child the name of Wetherby, preceded by Whitehead and brought him to the land of opportunity.
There is another tradition of the later Whitehead Weatherby who was a staunch Whig, that during the Revolution a price was set upon his head and that when the British under Howe appeared in the neighborhood, Whitehead discreetly fled from home and hid in a tree top on Mount Zion (now Quigleytown).
The true story is that he was probably a scout for Wayne and that from his perch he observed the enemy's camp almost directly below him, just as Col. North spied upon them from Mount Joy, but with an important difference. Col. North was in uniform and beyond the lines, while Weatherby was in civilian dress and probably within the lines which extended to the Conestoga Road. North, if captured, would have been treated as a military prisoner, Weatherby would have hung.
After three day's absence of her brave husband, Hannah Weatherby concluded to go in search of him, so she attired herself in plain garments, but unfortunately neglected to remove her jewelry. She placed on her horse a bag of grain in which she had concealed some provisions for her husband, and set out alone, ostensibly for the mill.
The distance was not over a mile as the crow flies, but she had scarcely reached the Conestoga Road when she was surrounded by a band of Hessians eager for loot. They began to handle her roughly, when a gentlemanly British officer and his suite rode up most opportunely and escorted her safely home. Miss Davis has the nicely engraved silver shoe buckles Mrs. Weatherby wore on that occasion.
Whitehead Weatherby and his wife Hannah by deed dated 2, 17, 1786 conveyed the hundred acres to Isaac VanLeer in fee and on the same date the latter and his wife conveyed the same premises back again. Since Hannah had inherited, the deed was to her husband.
Weatherby died 5, 19, 1820, in his 80th year, having survived his wife five days, leaving a will dated 3, 13, 1813, whereby he devised to his son Joseph 4 acres of woodland and the remaining 96 acres to his eldest son Griffith Weatherby under certain conditions, and the latter died 9, 18, 1869, leaving a will 7, 17, 1858, whereby he gave, to Susan M. and George N. Waters 3 acres of woodland on the north end of his plantation; to Griffith Weatherby Johnson he gave the house and lot of 3 acres on the east side, and to Susan M. Waters the tract of land containing from 30 to 40 acres lying west of the road leading from Reeseville to Eagle Road.
He gave a 61,197 acre tract to Harriet Ivester. This included all that portion of his farm not thereinbefore disposed of and lying east of the before mentioned road, together with the dwelling house and buildings, provided that Susan M. Waters should have said house and "land for two years after his death; also said Griffith Weatherby Johnson, Susan M. and George N. Waters
"shall have right of way through this portion of my property leading from the said two 3 acre lots to said public road, said right of way to be by bars and gates where it is at present located and to continue forever."
It is remarkable that in the early deeds Easttown is written thus: "East Town," later "Eastown," and still later in the form used today. In all those documents Pennsylvania is written "Pensilvania." These old parchments also illustrate the evolution of the name Hughes, first it is "Hugh," then "Hughs," last the same form as a family name at present.
This coupletes the tale except mention of the ancient grave yard where some old settlers and Revolutionary and British soldiers lie buried; the only one certainly known now and probably the last interment were the bodies of Letty Scott and her babe.
A negro who worked for the Waters family was accustomed to husk corn at night in the field close to the south line to give himself more leisure to gad about during the daytime. He did not know that the cornfield was next to a graveyard long since forgotten save by the few. In the dark he had missed half the ears, so one of the family, to discourage him of nightwork, asked him if he ever saw any ghosts in the old graveyard. He had not, but he never again worked there after dark.
Page last updated: 2012-05-25 at 18:50 EDT