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Evan Morgan and Johanna BilesJohn Morgan was born in Philadelphia on October 16, 1735. His father was Evan Morgan, who came to Pennsylvania about 1717 with his father, David, and at least one brother, Thomas. Grandfather David Morgan soon returned to Wales, leaving his American family the proud legacy he inscribed on the flyleaf of the family Bible:
I, David Morgan, Gentleman of Wales, bequeath to my descendants in America the comfortable certainty: They came neither from Kings or Nobles but from a long line of true Gentlemen and women with unstained Names.
This same pride in their race was expressed by John's youngest brother George, who once wrote that their "ancestors retired to the mountains rather than be enslaved by William of Normandy, called William the Conqueror."
Evan Morgan bought a lot and built a house in Chester in 1725, and soon acquired other property there as well. By 1730, however, hew as a shopkeeper in Philadelphia , prospering as the town grew. At the Sign of the Two Sugar Loaves in Market Street (where for a time the mathematician Theophilus Grew was his partner), he dealt in a wide variety of goods, which he advertised from time to time in Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1734, for example, he offered looking glasses, loaf sugar, window glass, currants, raisins, Holland duck, Russia linen, French poplin, long and short tobacco pipes, wool cards, pins, needles, writing paper, quarto Bibles, pepper, nutmegs, cinnamon, pickled codfish, iron pots, brass pans, course and fine salt, and a good many other articles, "besides all sorts of haberdashery ware, … also a choice parcel of English stays and women's bodices, and all sorts of stay trimmings." Once, during a period of religious revival, Evan Morgan appended to an advertisement an acid reminder to those indebted to him to come and pay their said Debts, without any further Notice, in order to prevent further trouble. As there has been a great deal of Talk of Religion, of Faith, of Good Works, &c. in our Days, me thinks it would do well amongst other things, that People would Remember the apostolical Injunction in Rom. 13. v. 7, 8, 'Render to all their Dues, owe no Man any thing, but love one another.
Evan Morgan had married in 1724 Joanna Biles, grand-daughter of William Biles, one of the earliest Quaker settlers of Bucks County, who had preceded William Penn to America. William Biles was a justice of the Upland Court, and it was at this house that the first known meeting of Friends at the Falls of Neshaminy was held in 1683. Of Joann's great-grandfather Blackshaw, family tradition states that he was a country gentlemen of Cheshire, who commanded a company in the army of Charles I. Randall Blackshaw, son of the Cavalier captain, became a Quaker and , in 1682, migrated to America, where he purchased 1,500 acres of land near the Falls of Neshaminy. Joanna Biles was thus descended from two of the earliest and staunchest Quaker families in the colony. When she married Baptist Evan Morgan she was, of course, promptly disowned. She remained Quaker, however, and reared her children in the Friendly way. A member of Joanna Bile's family had inscribed a Bible, too - with a stern Protestant warning against priestcraft and holy water.
Evan and Joanna Morgan had nine children. Morris, the oldest, "open, generous & brave, " died of yellow fever in the West Indies, and his only son died young, as a family record states, by some unspecified "Act of Bravary." Young Evan, also older than John, was a storekeeper in Philadelphia, but died childless at the outbreak of the Revolution. Thomas, younger than John, died of yellow fever in Jamaica. Benjamin was lost at sea in 1762, while John was studying medicine at Edinburgh. The youngest boy, George, had a long career as an Indian trader, land speculator, and scientific farmer, and left his name at Morganza in western Pennsylvania . He and John were often associated, and his son was John's principal heir. Of the three daughters of Evan and Joanna Morgan, Martha married, Mary remained single, and Hannah became the wife of Dr. Samuel Stillman, a Boston minister described as "one of the best of Men," with whom John and his wife often corresponded.
Joanna Morgan died in 1743 bearing her ninth child and sixth son. Left a widower with several small children including the baby, Evan Morgan rewrote his will to provide for them. In 1748, when John was a schoolboy of thirteen and George, the youngest, was only five, Evan Morgan died. In addition to the house and store, he left five or six other "tenements" in Philadelphia, four acres of well-fenced pasture on the Lower Ferry Road, the house in Chester, a quarter-interest in the Mount Holly Iron Works, ten acres in the Northern Liberties of the city, a ground rent in Delaware worth £18 a year, some servants, and a Negro woman, twenty-one years old, "very fit for town or country business." His personal property and store inventory were worth more than £1,000. They were not rich, but that they would never want was another "comfortable certainty" of the Morgan family.
The bulk of their fathers' estate was divided equally among the six sons. Morris and Evan, the oldest, received additional specific bequests, while to john and the three youngest boys their father left a silver spoon each. By the terms of the will the children's uncle, Thomas Morgan of Chester, and Evan's friend, Samuel Hazard of Philadelphia were named executors. In addition Evan appointed four trustees for the minor children. One of these was the Baptist minister Jenkin Jones; another was William Allen.
A neighbor of Evan Morgan in Water Street, William Allen was said to be the wealthiest merchant in the city; and to the direction of his business and the management of his properties he added careers of distinguished public service and of liberal patronage of worthy causes. A student in the Middle Temple and sometime pensioner of Clare College, Cambridge, Allen had traveled in France before he returned home in 1726 to enter business. He was soon elected to the Provincial Assembly and then chosen mayor of Philadelphia. At the time of Evan Morgan's death he held the judicial post of Recorder of the city; two years later, in 1750, he was named Chief Justice of the Province.8
1. Davis History of Bucks County. . . 1876
2. An Illustrated History of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Wm H. Egle, M.D. (1876)
3. Place Names of Bucks County . . . compiled by George Mac Reynolds (Doylestown, PA: Bucks Co. Historical Society, 1942)
4. History of Bucks County Pennsylvania Volume I, William W. H. Davis, A.M.
4a. THE JOURNAL, NOVEMBER 1998, PUBLISHED BY THE BUCKS COUNTY GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
5. History of Bucks County Pennsylvania Volume II, William W. H. Davis, A.M.
6. History of Bucks County Pennsylvania Volume III, William W. H. Davis, A.M.
7. Battle's History of Bucks County. . . 1887
8. John Morgan by Whitfield J. Bell, Jr. -- 1965 Trustees University of Pennsylvania (available at the Spruance Library)
LEVITTOWN'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY
BUCKS COUNTY RESEARCHER
Quakertown Alive Main Street Project
DELHAAS-WILSON CLASS OF 1960
This website was created as a guide to the history and genealogy of Bucks County Pennsylvania . All efforts have been made to be accurate and to document sources. Some of the material has been contributed and published, with permission, in good faith. I am always open to suggestions. Enjoy! Nancy
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