Solomon Allred of Chester County, PA
March 30, 2003
Who was the Solomon Allred who appears on tax lists in the 1720's in Chester County, Pennsylvania? As the saying goes, that's the "$64 Million Dollar Question". After a collaborative effort on the part of all the researchers listed above, we are a little closer to figuring this out.
Church Records in Eccles Parish, Lancashire, England, document the birth of Solomon Allred as November 12, 1680. He was the youngest child of John and Ellen Pemberton Allred. John and Ellen were raising their family in turbulent times. England was experiencing the birth of two new religions, Quaker and Presbyterian, and the economy was in very bad shape after many years of political upheaval following the death of Queen Elizabeth I.
Ellen died in 1684 per church records. After that, the family seemed to disappear from records until a letter was found dated 1695 which states John was in Manchester, England with a 2nd wife and three of his sons, Owen, Theophilus and Solomon. In the letter, John was asking "Cousin" Phineas Pemberton for financial help so he could bring his family to Pennsylvania. Phineas was wealthy and politically well-connected, a close friend and ally of William Penn. Phineas' father, Ralph Pemberton, was also the first cousin of Ellen Pemberton Allred.
Finding the Pemberton connection was exciting because this family left a huge amount of family, personal and business, files and letters which are stored in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in downtown Philadelphia. This is where the 1695 letter was found and this is where we learned about the Pemberton family and their move from England to Pennsylvania, which I will elaborate on here. First, I must "back up" and start with Phineas' father-in-law, James Harrison.
James Harrison became involved in the Quaker movement during it's "conception" in the late 1650's. Harrison helped organized many Quaker meetings and he was arrested for attending these meetings several times ( per Joseph Besse's Collection of Sufferings). When Phineas Pemberton met Harrison's daughter, Phoebe, family records say it was love at first sight. This young love no doubt played a part in Phineas becoming interested in the Quaker faith - after all, he would have wanted to impress his new love's father, so probably started by simply asking questions about this new religion and/or attending a few Quaker meetings.
(The photos you see of Besse's book were made at and with the permission of the Friends Library of Swarthmore College, Chester County, PA. Photos were taken of an original edition of the book, published in 1753.)
Phineas was converted and became a Quaker, showing up in various court and church records when he was arrested for attending Quaker meetings beginning in 1660. He became very involved in spreading the Quaker message and organizing meetings, and by the early 1680's had made the acquaintance of William Penn. When Penn began sending people to the American Colony of Pennsylvania in 1682, James Harrison, his new son-in-law Phineas Pemberton, and several members of their families sailed on the ship Submission. (Click here for translation of the Penn flyer on the right of your screen.)
Phineas' cousin, Ellen Pemberton Allred and her husband, John Allred, were also listed in various sources as being arrested for attending Quaker meetings in 1661. John Allred was also arrested during this time for attending Presbyterian meetings. Although we don't have any proof that John ever joined the Quaker church, Ellen's death (1684) is recorded in Quaker records which list her as a member of the East Hardshaw Quaker MM (Eccles Parish, Lancashire, England). After Ellen's death, we lose track of John and their children for a few years.
Two years prior to Ellen's death, Phineas Pemberton, his wife and children, Phineas' father, Ralph, Phineas' father-in-law, James Harrison, and other members of their family sailed to Pennsylvania aboard the ship, Submission, owned by William Penn. This voyage is documented by the Submission ship's log, Pemberton family records and other sources.
Phineas Pemberton kept detailed records of all business, religious and family dealings and thankfully this collection was donated to the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 1972. Through his records, we have learned a tremendous amount about the Pembertons, Harrisons, their friends, neighbors, the early years and formation of the Quaker religion and early colonial life in Pennsylvania. Best of all, in this collection we found the letter written by John Allred to Phineas in 1695!
In this letter, John Allred says he is living in Manchester, England, with his wife (2nd marriage) and three of his sons: Owen (20), Theophilus (19) and Solomon (16). John notes that another son, named Phineas, has "gone to be a soldier". John explains that he replied to Phineas' earlier letters, but for some reason Phineas did not receive them. John says that he wanted to come to Pennsylvania earlier, but his mother was ill, and has since died. John then explains that he is ready to bring his family to Pennsylvania, but needs Phineas to send enough money to pay their way as John can not afford it. (Knowing John's first wife, Ellen, died in 1684, this letter documents the fact that John had remarried.)
Did Phineas send John any money? Did John bring his family to Pennsylvania? We don't know, but the search for answers continues. Parish records in Lancashire, England document the following information about some of John and Ellen's children:
John married Lydia Berry and
they had four children:
Phineas had a daughter, Abigail, who was christened in 1703.
Thophilus had a son, Thomas, christened July 7, 1717 and buried November 1717. Ten years later, Theophilus was died and was buried March 11, 1727.
Owen (also listed as Aaron in
some records) married Jane Leach and they had three children:
But, what happened to Solomon? To date, after his christening, no record of him has been found in England. However, a Solomon Allred has been found living in the West Nottingham Township of Chester County, Pennsylvania per the 1724 and 1730 tax lists. Is this the same Solomon who was the son of John and Ellen? This looks very likely - but I caution that we have not found concrete evidence of this yet.
Is this Solomon the father of the four men who came to North Carolina in the 1750's? Again, very likely - but again, I caution that we have not found concrete evidence of this yet either.
We do have some very strong circumstantial evidence that it was John and Ellen's son, Solomon, who was living in Chester County, PA, and his sons did come to North Carolina. Here's the evidence that we have:
* As you read above, John and Ellen's youngest son, Solomon, was born 1680, but no records have been found documenting what happened to him after 1695. In 1695, John wrote the letter to Phineas, telling about his family which included his youngest son, Solomon. John said he wanted to bring his family to Pennsylvania. Solomon was 16 years old at that time.
* Phineas and his family were very well known, well respected, and very wealthy; more than able to send money to the Allred family members who wished to come to Pennsylvania.
* Phineas and the Pemberton family remained in close contact with John Allred and his family as documented by family records and letters on file in the Pemberton Collection (PA Historical Society). It stands to reason that Solomon would have maintained this contact after his parents' deaths.
* Some of John and Ellen's children were named Theophilus, Phineas, John, and of course, Phineas. Family naming patterns are a well known genealogy clue. The Solomon Allred who received a land grant in North Carolina in 1752 had sons named Theophilus, Phineas, John, and Solomon. These names appear again and again over the generations in this family along with the names William and Thomas. John's brother was named Thomas. Ellen's uncle was named William.
* In 1724 and 1730 when a Solomon Allred appears on the tax list for West Nottingham Township, Chester County, PA, no other information about his age or family is listed.
* The Solomon Allred born in Eccles Parish, Lancashire, England in 1680 would have been 44 years old in 1724. A little old, perhaps, to be starting a family, but still definitely young enough to have a wife and children. Based on various clues such as the ages of their own children, we have estimated the four "original" men (John, Solomon, Thomas and William) may have been born between 1725 - 1735.
* Solomon Allred is listed on tax lists in 1724 and 1730 for West Nottingham Township in Chester County, PA. Randall Janney owned one of the West Nottingham lots. Randall's mother was Margaret Heath Janney, sister of Ann Heath Harrison, wife of James Harrison (Phineas Pemberton's in-laws). An interesting family connection and coincidence.
* On the 1730 tax list, Solomon Allred is listed directly below Jeremiah York, signifying they were neighbors. This same Jeremiah York receives a land grant and is a close neighbor of John and Thomas Allred in Randolph County, NC in the 1750's.
* Samuel Finley also appears on tax lists in the West Nottingham Township, Chester County, PA with Solomon Allred and Jeremiah York.
* Samuel Finley moved to Prince Georges County where he died in 1737. Per his will, his entire estate was left to John Aldred who was a minor at the time, meaning he was less than 21 years old at that time. This puts his birth sometime after 1726. Mike Marshall narrows the estimated birth sometime between 1722 - 1738, the same time period we are estimating the four "original" men were probably born in.
* Joseph Chapline was appointed John Aldred's guardian per court records.
* Jeremiah York moved to old Frederick County, Virginia where he lived for a few years. When he moved, he sold his land to William Chapline. William's brother was Joseph Chapline - the same Joseph Chapline who was appointed John Aldred's guardian.
That's a lot of evidence, and more is being looked at "as we speak". Nothing concrete yet, but enough to lead us to believe the Solomon Allred who was living in Chester County, PA was the same Solomon Allred born to John and Ellen in Eccles Parish, Lancashire, England. Solomon had Pemberton cousins living in Pennsylvania. He had family connections to Randall Janney who lived in West Nottingham Township where Solomon lived in the 1720's. Solomon was the right age to have had sons the same age as the four men who came to North Carolina.
Solomon was a neighbor of Jeremiah York and Samuel Finley in Pennsylvania. John and Thomas were neighbors of Jeremiah York in North Carolina. Samuel Finely left his entire estate to an orphan named John Aldred. The witness on the will was William Chapline. Jeremiah York sold his land to William's brother, Joseph Chapline.
So, this is where our research is concentrating right now. Was Solomon, son of John and Ellen, the father of the four men who came to North Carolina? Was the John Aldred who inherited Samuel Finley's estate Solomon's son? Did this John travel with Jeremiah York to North Carolina, bringing his brothers with him?
It sure looks like it - but this is all circumstantial at this time. Research continues. If you would like to help, please contact us! There are lots of jobs available and "fresh eyes and ideas" are always welcome!!