Chapter XLVIII

Newtown Township.

 

party one of its ardent adherents, he never sought or held office. He was during his later life an enlightened reader of the most substantial literature, and gifted with keen powers of perception. This he found a source of much pleasure and profit as advancing years deprived him of other means of enjoyment. He was in religion reared in the faith of the society of Friends. Mrs. Leedom's death occurred on the 7th of March, 1883, but a few months prior to that of her husband.

 

Chapter XLIX.

Nether Providence Township.

 

The territory now constituting the townships of Nether and Upper Providence was one of the early municipal divisions of the county. The origin of the name, as it relates to the district, is unknown, although it has been conjectured, doubtless correctly, that it was bestowed by "some of the early immigrants, and was given as a manifestation of their safe deliverance from the perils they had encountered in crossing the ocean."1 The first reference to Providence occurred at the court held Fifth month 1, 1683, when Richard Crosby and Andrew Nelson were appointed collectors of the "levie for Defraying the charges of the Cort-House and Prison att Chester." At the same court Thomas Nossiter was appointed constable for Providence. Three months thereafter, at the court held Eighth month 17, 1683, "the Inhabitance of Providence make their application for a highway leading to the town of Chester." Seventeen persons composed "the Grand Jury empanelled to look out a convenient highway leading from Providence to Chester," and the court ordered "that the Grand Jury doe meet on the 22nd instance at Thomas Nossiter's, then to consider the premises." Nossiter then had settled on a tract of two hundred acres between the present Ridley bridge and Butler's Lane, on the Providence great road. The latter highway was probably laid out in the early spring of 1684. The first record of the division of Providence into Nether and Upper Providence occurs in the minutes of Chester Friends' Meeting, on the "13th of ye 8th month, 1690."

1 Smith's "History of Delaware County," p. 387.

For over sixty years after Nether Providence is thus distinctly mentioned the southern line of the township was not that which it is at this present time, for Ridley township contained within its boundaries all that part of Nether Providence included in a line drawn from Strath Haven, on Crum Creek, to the wayside fountains on the Great Providence road, and thence to Dutton's edge-tool works on Ridley Creek. The inconvenience of this separation from the rest of Ridley township by the creeks mentioned was such that at length the owners of the real estate within the boundaries designated presented a petition to court, which was favorably acted on by the justice, and the prayer of the petitioners allowed. The petition was as follows:

"Chester ss.:

"To the Honourable Justices of the Court of Genll. Quarter Sessions of the Peace, to be held at Chester the Twenty seventh day of February, Anno Domini, 1753.

"The petition of John Sharpless, Daniel Sharpless, Isaac Weaver, and Thomas Swayne, inhabitants of the Westermost part of Ridley Township, in the County of Chester aforesaid,

"Humbly Showeth

"That your Petitioners live in a very remote Part of the township of Ridley, between Crum and Ridley Creeks joining to the Townships of Nether Providence far from the Principal Part of the inhabitants of the said township.

"That your Petitioners labour under very Great Hardships in being obliged, when warned by the Supervisors, to travel as far as the township of lower Darby to repair and amend the highways thereabouts, itt being upward of five miles from the nearest of your Petitioners Plantations, when the Inhabitants of the other end of the said township Seldom or never Come to repair the said Roads on that End of the Township where your Petitioners dwell, and also are at very Great inconveniency in being obliged to meet at the White horse tavern to Consult about any affairs Relative to the said Township.

"Your Petitioners therefore Pray that your Honours would be Pleased to take your Petitioners Case into Consideration and order that all that part of Ridley Township aforesaid lying to the Westward of the Eastermost line of the land late of Thomas Dell, the Elder, & Thomas Dell, ye younger, deceasd may be Joined to the Township of Nether Providence, and that the same may Always hereafter be deemed Taken and Esteemed to be part of the said Township of Nether Providence and your Petitioners as in Duty Bound Shall Pray."

In describing the early settlement in Nether Providence it is proposed to ignore the fact that any portion of the township was ever part of Ridley. At the southern extremity of Nether Providence, on Eighth month 20, 1683, John Nixon took up seventy-five acres, which estate was known as "Stanfield," and doubtless settled there. Richard Nixon is said to have emigrated from Wexford, Ireland, in the early part of the eighteenth century, but inasmuch as Richard Nixon was the father of Col. John Nixon, who was born in Chester County, it is very probable that Richard was a son or near relative of John Nixon, of Stanfield. Col. John Nixon was a noted merchant of Philadelphia, and was one of the founders, in 1770, of the Society of Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. He was during the Revolution one of the Committee of Safety, often acting as chairman of that body. He was lieutenant-colonel of the Third Pennsylvania Battalion in the defense of the Delaware River in 1776-77. He it was who on the 8th of July, 1776, read for the first time to the people of Philadelphia the Declaration of Independence from the platform of the observatory erected in 1769 in State-House yard to observe the transit of Venus. John Nixon, the settler, on Third month 4, 1691, sold the plantation to John Parker, and in 1700 he conveyed the estate to Samuel Carpenter and Caleb Pusey. James Irving and William T. Crook now own part of this tract. Above this land were two hundred acres, known as "Smallgaine," which was taken on rent by Thomas Nossiter, who settled on this tract in 1678. He was not a Friend.

 

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