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Phineas Pemberton


Phineas Pemberton [1650-1702]

A small portion of Phineas Pemberton's Bolton Farm survives today (see Bolton Mansion) in what is now the Holly Hill section of Levittown. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pemberton's importance in colonial Pennsylvania is revealed in Davis [1].

James Harrison, shoemaker, and Phineas Pemberton, grocer, Lancashire, were probably the most prominent immigrants to arrive in 1682. They sailed from Liverpool, 6, 7 mo, and landed in Maryland 2, 9 mo. [being 58 days from port to port. Randall Blackshaw was among the passengers]. Pemberton, who was the son-in-law of Harrison, brought with him his wife Phoebe, and children Abigail and Joseph, his father aged seventy-two, and his mother aged eighty-one. Mrs. Harrison accompanied her husband, and several servants and a number of friends. Leaving their families and goods at the house of William Dickinson, Choptank, Maryland, they proceeded by land to their destination, near the falls of Delaware. When they arrived at the site of Philadelphia, where they stayed over night, they were unable to get accommodations for their horses, but had to turn them out in the woods. In the morning they were not to be found, and they were obliged to go up to the falls by water. They stopped at William Yardley's, who had already commenced to build a dwelling. Pemberton, concluding to settle there, purchased a tract of three hundred acres, which he called "Grove Place." They returned to Maryland, where they passed the winter, and came back to Bucks county with their families, in May 1683. Harrison's certificate from the Hartshaw monthly meeting, gives him an exalted character, and his wife is called "a mother in Israel."

James Harrison was much esteemed by William Penn, who placed great reliance on him. Before leaving England Penn granted him five thousand acres of land, which he afterward located in Falls, Upper Makefield, Newtown and Wrightstown. He was appointed one of the Proprietary's commissioners of property, and the agent to manage his personal affairs. In 1685 he was made one of the three provincial judges, who made their circuit in a boat, rowed by a boatman paid by the province.

Pemberton probably lived with Harrison for a time, but how long is not known. He owned the "Bolton farm," in Bristol township, and is supposed to have lived in Bristol at one time. He married Phoebe Harrison a few years before leaving England, and had nine children in all, but only three left issue; Israel, who married Rachel Kirkbride, and Mary Jordan; James who married Hannah Lloyd, Mary Smith, and Miss Morton, and Abigail who married Stephen Jenkins. Israel became a leading merchant of Philadelphia, and died in 1754. Of ten children, but three survived him. Israel, who died in 1779; James in 1809; and John in 1794, while in Germany. Phineas Pemberton was the first clerk of the Bucks county courts, and served to his death. No doubt the Permbertons lived on the fat of the land. His daughter Abigail wrote him in 1697, that she had saved twelve barrels of cider for the family; and in their letters frequent mention is made of meat and drink. In one he speaks of "a goose wrapped up in the cloth, at the head of the little bag of walnuts," which he recommends them to "heep a little after it comes, but roast it, get a few grapes, and make a pudding in the belly." Phineas Pemberton's wife died in 1696, and he March 5, 1702, and both were buried on the point of land opposite Bile's island. One of his daughters married Jeremiah Langhorne. James Logan styles him "that pillar of Bucks county," and when Penn heard of his death he writes: I will mourn for poor Phineas Pemberton, the ablest, as well as one of the best men in the province." He lived in good style, and had a "sideboard" in his house. He owned land in several townships in Bucks.

[Among the members of Pemberton's household was Mary Becket, a young girl descended from the great family of Northumberland, who was married to Samuel Bowne, of Flushing, Long Island, October 4, 1694. When her mother married Becket she was a ward in chancery, and they had to fly to the continent, where he was killed in the religious war in Germany. May was the only child. Eleanor Becket, her mother, now married one Haydock, had two daughters who became Friends and came to America, but the time is not known.]

[Phineas Pemberton, who settled at first in Makefield, did not remain there very long, but removed to Falls township, where he spent his useful life of twenty years. He was the son of Ralph Pemberton and Margaret, his wife, daughter of Thomas Seddon, Warrington, England, and were married June 7, 1648. She died September 2, 1655. They had issue Phineas, born January 30, 1650, married first Phebe Harrison, daughter of James Harrison, and by her had issue, Ann, born October 22, 1677, died July 3, 1682; Abigail, born June 14, 1680, married Stephen Jenkins, November 22, 1750; Joseph, born May 11, 1682, died November, 1702; Israel, born February 20, 1684, married Rachel Reed, died January 14, 1754; Samuel, born February 3, 1686, died January 23, 1692; Phebe, born February 26, 1689, died August 30, 1698; Priscilla, born April 23, 1692, married Isaac Waterman; Ralph, born September 20, 1694, died November 18, 1694; Phineas Jennings, born April 17, 1696, died 1701. On the death of Phineas Pemberton's first wife he married Alice Hodgson, Burlington, by whom he had no children. Ralph Pemberton had a second son by his wife Margaret Seddon, Joseph, born April 12, 1652, died August 3, 1655. Phineas Pemberton acted a prominent part in the new colony; he was a member of Assembly from Bucks county for several terms, and chosen speaker, 1698.]

  1. Davis, W.W.H., History of Bucks County Pennsylvania, 1905, Lewis Publishing Company, New York


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