The Pott family of Llangirig

The ancestors of the Pott family of southeastern Pennsylvania lived in central Wales, in the parish of Llangirig, Montgomeryshire.1 It is a countryside of rolling hills, and the land outside of Philadelphia would have looked familiar to the early Potts immigrants.2 The Potts were farmers and their wills mention cows, horses and especially sheep. To sell the wool from their sheep, they would have ridden five miles through the hills to the nearest market town, in Llanidloes. There they would sell their goods in the old timber-framed market hall, and shop for goods in the booths surrounding the hall on fair days.3 Until the mid-1600s, when some of them became Quakers, they would have gone to the local church, dedicated to St. Curig.4 The town takes its name from the church; Llangirig means the church or enclosure of Curig.5

In February 1672 John Pott of Llangurig wrote his will.6 He called himself a yeoman and began the will with the usual religious clause.7 He named seven children, but no wife. His wife, whose name was Anne, must have died before him. The first child named in the will is Thomas, possibly named for John’s father, who has not been identified.8 A Thomas Pott of Llangirig wrote his will in August 1654, and named his daughter Anne and son-in-law John Pott; this is believed to be Anne’s father, not John’s, in spite of the coincidence of names.9 According to Thomas’ will, Anne and John lived on Nant-gwernog farm on the outskirts of Llangirig.10 Since they had eight children by 1654, John and Anne were probably married about 1630.11

John was not a wealthy man. He left each of his children sixpence except one, the daughter Sarah. She was to receive livestock, grain and “all the rest of my goods”, on condition that she pay his debts and legacies and execute the will.12 (The will was proved in 1673 by the court of the Bishop at Bangor.) The others were Thomas, George, Margaret, Ales, Elizabeth, and Anne. Thomas could not read and signed the will by mark. It was witnessed by John Pott and Thomas Pott, an indication that there were other Potts in the area, about whom little is known, since they did not leave wills.13 Another witness was Edward Jarman. The Jarman family were Quakers and one of them, John Jarman, immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1683 and settled in Radnor.14

In the spring of 1675, at the court in Welshpool, four Quakers of Llangirig were charged with non-attendance at Church and holding conventicles.15 In 1677 the authorities raided the house of John Jerman of Llanidloes while a Friends’ meeting was being held. John Pott was there, and he was punished by having a cow and six calves taken from him for a value of £12.10.0. Seven Quakers were thrown into prison; he may have been one of them.16 This John Pott was probably not the elderly man who had made his will three years earlier. It was probably a younger man, a nephew or even his grandson John, known to be a Quaker. A Quaker burial ground was established on the land of Nant-gwernog farm, called Quaker’s Garden in 1708 when it was granted as a burial ground for an annual rent of one peppercorn.17 It is not clear when the farm first came into the possession of the family, or when the first family members were buried there as Quakers. Some of them were Quakers in 1693, including John’s grandson, son of his son Thomas.

“The Pott family were still Quakers at the end of the 17th century, for in a Minute of Montgomeryshire Monthly Meeting held at Dolobran, 5th month, 1693, is entered: ‘care is to be taken to have the house of John Pott of Llangurig recorded for a meeting house at next Quarter Sessions.’ This, of course, was after the passing of the 1689 Toleration Act which allowed freedom of worship. The ‘house of John Pott’ was the farmhouse of Nantgwernog … This farm is situated close to another, Fedw ddu, whose owner, one Thomas Hamer, in 1708 sold land to the Quakers for a burial ground.”18

Thomas Pott, the son of John

Thomas Pott, son of John and Ann, was born about 1632. His parents lived on Nantgwernog farm and Thomas would have grown up there, one of eight children. Around 1656 he married a woman named Elizabeth; her last name is unknown.19 Since they were Quakers, they would have been married in a Quaker ceremony, probably in the house of one of the members. He was probably the Thomas Pott persecuted as a Quaker in 1675. In Poole (present-day Welshpool), the grand jury presented nine people for absenting themselves from services at the parish church. They were David Owen Edward and Griffith Jarman, John Pott, Thomas Pott, David Jenkin and his wife Jane, Sarah Rees, and James Hamer.20 Two years later the mayor of Llanidoes came with the constables to a Friends meeting at the house of John Jarman and committed seven Quakers to prison and fined others, including John Pott.21 He was fined one cow and six “yearly beasts”, worth £12.10.0.

Thomas and Elizabeth had eight known children before his death. He died before 1683, and in that year Elizabeth emigrated with her daughter Jane.22 In 7th month 1684 they requested their headright, fifty acres per person granted to servants, and the Commissioners issued a warrant for a hundred acres to be laid out, plus a lot in the city.23 being a servant”. (Minutes of the Board of Property, Minute Book G, 3rd month 1703.)] A month later the Commissioners ordered David Powell to survey the land “among the Welshmen for the conveniency of the poor woman”.24 Elizabeth probably did not live among the Welsh of Chester County, since in 1685 she married Edmund Bennet of Bucks County at the house of John Otter near Burlington.25 Edmund had immigrated from Bristol, where he had worked as a tobacco cutter. While still in England he bought rights to 1,000 acres of land. In 1682, 300 acres were laid out for him and in 1684 the remainder was laid out. He served in the Assembly, was a justice of the peace for Bucks County, and was a member of Middletown Meeting.26 He and Elizabeth moved to Philadelphia, where he died in 1692, leaving his estate to her.27 She was no longer a “poor woman”. Elizabeth’s daughter Jane Austin was one of the witnesses of his will.28 Elizabeth sold much of the land in Bucks County between 1691 and 1696.29 She died in 1707 in Philadelphia and was buried in the Friends burying ground there.30

Some of the children of Thomas and Elizabeth immigrated, including Thomas, David and Jonas, while John and George did not. Those who did live in Pennsylvania were very close, frequently signing as witnesses for each other’s weddings and serving as witnesses or executors for wills and deeds.31

Children of Thomas and Elizabeth:32

John, born about 1658, died before 1696 in Wales, father of the five orphan children.33 His wife’s name is unknown; he is sometimes said to have been killed for his faith, though this is unlikely. Five of the children came to Pennsylvania in 1698 on the William Galley and were under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. The meeting found places where the children could be placed as apprentices, and all five of them lived to marry. The children were: Thomas, John, Eleanor, Mary and Margaret.

Thomas, born about 1660, d. 1719, in Pennsylvania by 1686, married in 1712 Judith Smith of Long Island, a late marriage for him. He

became a traveling preacher for  the Friends, traveling to England, Ireland, the West Indies.34 William Penn referred to him as “honest Thomas Potts”. He built two mills on Frankford Creek, Cheltenham Township. He lived in Bristol Township, Philadelphia County, and died in 1719. His will named his wife Judith and son Thomas.35

George, born about 1662, married a woman named Joan and had children with her in Wales. They immigrated in 1690, but George died at sea. Joan was a midwife. “She, with her four daughters, settled in Germantown, where she supported her family by means of her profession”.36 She was a member of Germantown meeting and witnessed marriages there. She died in 1740. Philadelphia Monthly Meeting minutes said that her testimony at meetings was well received.

Jane, born about 1663, d. 1734, immigrated with her mother, married John Austin in 1686.37 John was a ship carpenter and in 1696 they moved to Philadelphia, presumably for his business. He died in 1707, killed by a falling timber. Children: Elizabeth, Ann, Samuel and Mary.

Jonas, born about 1665, d. 1719, married twice, the second time to Mary Burson. At different times he lived in Germantown (where he served as sheriff), Gilbert’s Manor (later Limerick Township), Philadelphia, and Saucon Township, Bucks County. The last record of him is around 1740 in Saucon Township; there is no evidence that he moved to Virginia with some of his sons. Children of Jonas: David, Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah, Jonathan, Deborah, Jonas.

Margaret, born about 1666, d. 1706, married Jacob Shoemaker, the emigrant, lived in Bristol Township, Philadelphia County. She was active in Abington Meeting, and attended Quarterly Meeting as a delegate. Jacob left a will in 1722, naming Margaret and his sons George, Jacob and Thomas.38, 39

Elizabeth, born 1667. She immigrated, possibly with her mother, and died unmarried in 1690. She was buried at Middletown Meeting.

David, born about 1670, d. 1730, m. 1693/94 Alice Croasdale, daughter of Thomas and Agnes

(Hawthornthwaite). Alice had come as a child in 1682 on the Lamb with her parents.40 David and Alice lived in Bristol Township, Philadelphia County. He was active in Germantown Meeting and served in the Provincial Assembly. In his will of 1730, he named his children Thomas, John, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Stephen, Mary, Rebecca, Daniel, Nathan, Ezekiel.41

  1. Llangirig is a parish, in the hundred of Llanidloes, in the county of Montgomery or Montgomeryshire. Llangirig can be spelled with variations like Llangurig or Llangirrig.
  2. The family name is always given as Potts in the Pennsylvania records, but in the records in Wales it is Pott. Claudia Davenport-Sullivan, who has studied the family carefully, suggested that it was changed in the generation of John Potts, who died in Wales by 1698.
  3. Wikipedia entry for “Old Market Hall, Llanidloes”, on en.wikipedia.org, accessed May 2020.
  4. Edward Hamer and H. W. Lloyd, History of the Parish of Llangurig, 1875.
  5. Hamer and Lloyd, p. 3.
  6. The will is online at Ancestry, Wales, Wills and Probate 1513-1858, Bangor 1576-1858, Reel 460, Image 1121. Note that he was indexed for search purposes as Lott instead of Pott. (The orthography of his last name is slightly misleading in the will.) A transcription is on the Ancestry tree of Claudia Davenport-Sullivan, “This is the End (Potts)”, person John Pott, https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/72329624?cfpid=38269213405&dtid=100. She includes in the gallery the images of the will and inventory, their transcriptions, and a map of Nant-gwernog Farm.
  7. The wording of the religious clause, and the use of the month name as February instead of 12th month, suggest that he was not a Quaker.
  8. There are apparently no extant parish records before the 1680s. This makes it difficult to sort out relationships, especially in a family where the names of Thomas and John recur constantly. A Thomas Pott of Llangurig wrote his will in August 1654; it was proved and the inventory taken in 1658. (See the image and transcript on the Ancestry tree of Claudia Davenport-Sullivan, person Thomas Pott, gallery page. Also online at Ancestry, Wales, Wills and Probate 1513-1858, Bangor 1576-1858, Reel 457, image 1115.) He names various children and grandchildren, but part of the paper has decayed and about a quarter of the middle is missing. The remaining wording, although specific, is difficult to interpret. Thomas left a legacy to “Anne my n’rall daughter wife of John Pott of Nant-ynernog”, to John Pott son of the same John, to Margaret “my gran(d child)… (of my n’rall s)onne John Pott”. The words in parentheses were added by Claudia Davenport-Sullivan as she studied the will. The word “n’rall” or natural did not mean illegitimate, but instead meant “a child of one’s body”. (Thomas Maxwell Potts, The Potts Family in Great Britain and America, 1901, p. 75) Claudia argued that since Anne could not have married her own brother, that there were two different men named John Pott, one a son of this Thomas, and another one who married Thomas’ daughter Anne. As she wrote, “It appears that he was specific in his description of his son-in-law as ‘John Pott late of Nantynernog’ and his son as ‘my n’rall sonne John Pott’, which provides excellent evidence that they are two very different individuals, not one and the same.” (Findagrave page for Thomas Pott, died Apr 1658, written by Claudia Davenport-Sullivan in September 2018). If the will were taken from a copybook, as most American wills are, one could argue that the copyist made a mistake in the name, but the digitized images seem to be from original papers, since they are in a variety of handwritings. The clerk who wrote the will signed his name, Morgan Evans. The implication of the existence of two men named John Pott, about the same age and living in the same place, is that the Pott family was more than just the family of this Thomas. He must have had siblings and cousins, many named Pott, and his daughter Anne married one of them. It is important to note that there was a large Potts family in Cheshire, England, which is often confused with this family. There is no reason to believe that the Welsh family intermarried with the English family at any point. (See the notes on Claudia Davenport-Sullivan’s Ancestry tree for the Pott family.) Some of the English Potts family came to West Jersey and founded a branch there.
  9. Anne Pott and her husband John Pott must have been cousins, either first cousins or more distant.
  10. See the footnote above for more detail on the will of Thomas Pott. Claudia Davenport-Sullivan includes an 1875 map showing the location of the farm in the gallery page for John Pott in her Ancestry tree. (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/72329624/person/38268317511/facts.)
  11. Thomas Pott, father of Anne, wrote in his will in 1654 that she had eight children. He did not name them, except for John. That is the child who is missing in John’s 1672 will; he must have died before his father.
  12. The will was proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Bangor on 21 May 1673. The other children may have received a portion as they reached adulthood; there is no way to know.
  13. See the discussion in the footnote above.
  14. The name could be written as Jerman or Jarman.
  15. E. Ronald Morris, “Quakerism in West Montgomeryshire”, Montgomeryshire Collections, vol. 56, 1959-1960, online National Library of Wales, accessed April 2020.
  16. Morris.
  17. Various online references, including the Journal of the Friends Historical Society, 1914, vol. 11, p. 107, an inventory of burial grounds and meeting houses in Montgomeryshire. It is not clear who donated the land.
  18. Morris.
  19. Some claim that her last name was Bassett. There is no evidence for this.
  20. Thomas M. Potts, The Potts Family, 1901
  21. Joseph Besse, Suffering of the People called Quakers, 1753, vol. 1, p. 757.
  22. Claudia Davenport-Sullivan suggested that Thomas was still alive when Elizabeth immigrated, which is improbable on the face of it. She said that the Historical Society of Pennsylvania might have letters that he wrote to her after she arrived in Pennsylvania. A search in the HSP catalog found no trace of such letters. The more plausible assumption is that he died in Wales and his widow came over as a servant.
  23. The city lots were originally given out as a bonus when people bought land in the countryside. People who bought more land got bigger city lots in better locations. The 50 acres of headright land were given to servants when they had served out their terms, between one year and seven years depending on the terms of the indenture. In 1703 John Austin requested a resurvey from the Commissioners of Property, for the 100 acres. The record is ambiguous about Elizabeth, but his wife Jane’s portion was for “[her
  24. Copied Survey Books, D81, page 403, image 202, online on the website of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, at https://www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Research-Online/Pages/Land-Records-Overview.aspx, under “Images of all surveys”.
  25. Edmund Bennet was an early settler in Northampton, shown on the map of Thomas Holme.
  26. Craig Horle and Marianne Wokeck, eds, Lawmaking and Legislators in PA, vol. 1, 1991, p. 198.
  27. Philadelphia County wills, Book A, p. 210.
  28. The coincidence of Jane Austin being the daughter of Elizabeth Bennet did not occur to me until I had researched this family for several years.
  29. Bucks County deeds, various books, 1691, 1692, 1696.
  30. Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, Births deaths and burials 1688-1826, image 123, on Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records 1681-1935.
  31. Thomas M. Potts devotes an entire chapter to this topic in his 1901 book. In the chapter “Kinship of the Potts’ of Pennsylvania”, he lists over twenty examples of interactions between the members of the first generation, as well as their children.
  32. The Potts Family. George is not in the book, but is listed in other web sources on this family, including Claudia Davenport-Sullivan’s series of well-documented Findagrave biographies.
  33. Claudia Davenport-Sullivan’s public Ancestry tree at: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/72329624/person/38263318889/facts.
  34. He witnessed the marriage of his sister Jane to John Austin in 1686. After Thomas’ death, Judith married the widower Thomas Sharp of Gloucester, West Jersey. She survived him.
  35. Philadelphia County wills, Book D, p. 133. There is information about Thomas on the FindaGrave page for “Thomas ‘Miller’ Potts”, written by Claudia Davenport-Sullivan.
  36. Findagrave page for “Jone Unknown Potts”, written by Claudia Davenport-Sullivan.
  37. Besides her mother, her brothers Thomas and Jonas signed as witnesses. (Middletown Monthly Meeting, Minutes 1664-1807, image 44, on Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records 1681-1935, Bucks County)
  38. The Findagrave page of “Jonas Potts 1”, written by Claudia Davenport-Sullivan. Also see a post by her to the Potts Message Board, on Ancestry, on 24 March 2013, edited 2019.
  39. Philadelphia County wills, Book D, p. 351. A daughter Susanna had died before her father.
  40. The Croasdales were part of the well-known group traveling together with a certificate from Settle Monthly Meeting. Sometimes said to have been on the Welcome, they actually came on the Lamb. (Marion Balderston, “William Penn’s Twenty Three Ships”, in Walter Sheppard, Passengers and Ships prior to 1684; George McCracken, The Welcome Claimants, 1970).
  41. Philadelphia County wills, Book E, p. 142. There was no mention of Alice; she had died before him.

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