Merion Mercies Blog

Monday 20 January 2020 | 12:05 pm | digitlchic

The Welsh Tract setting of MERION MERCIES — as described by Proprietor William Penn in this 1684 correspondence, to be surveyed and established as a contiguous 40,000-acre “Barony” along the western bank of the Schuylkill River — holds unique, early distinction:

“Whereas divers considerable persons among ye Welsh Friends have requested me yt all ye Lands Purchased of me by those of North Wales and South Wales, together with ye adjacent counties to ym, as Haverfordshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire, about fourty thousand acres, may be layd out contiguously as one Barony, alledging yt ye number allready come and suddenly to come, are such as will be capable of planting ye same much wthin ye proportion allowed by ye custom of ye country, & so not lye in large and useless vacancies. And because I am Inclined and determined to agree and favour ym wth any reasonable Conveniency & priviledge: I do hereby charge thee & strictly require thee to lay out ye sd tract of Land in as uniform a manner, as conveniently may be, upon ye West side of Skoolkill river, running three miles upon ye same, & two miles backward, & then extend ye parallell wth ye river six miles, and to run westwardly so far as till ye sd quantity of land be Compleately surveyed unto ym.

“Given at Pennsbury, ye 13th 1st mo. 1684.


“— To THS. HOLMES, Surveyor General.”


Merion Mercies Blog

Monday 20 January 2020 | 12:10 am | Andrew Hubsch

Central to the narrative heart of MERION MERCIES is the interplay of Welsh Tract events and history’s grander sweep, the collision of first-person, local vignettes with larger national (and even international) ramifications.  To wit, when the late-summer correspondence below is drafted and sent from the Welsh Tract in September 1777, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army has just lost the battle of Brandywine, and is about to yield the rebel capital of Philadelphia.  The brutal encampment at Valley Forge is still four months away — an unknown, and wholly unknowable, future — yet the prescience of General George Washington’s acute plea to Congress is clear:  act now, or our army (and our cause) will surely perish come winter.

“To The President of Congress

Buck Tavern, three o’clock p.m., 15 September 1777

Sir —

The main body of the enemy, from the best intelligence I have been able to get, lies near Dilworthtown, not far from the field of action, where they have been busily employed in burying their dead, which, from accounts, amounted to a very considerable number.  We are moving up this road to get between the enemy and Swedes’ Ford, and to prevent them from turning our right flank, which they seem to have a violent inclination to effect, by all their movements.  I would beg leave to recommend in the most earnest manner, that some board or committee be appointed, or some mode adopted, for obtaining supplies of blankets for the troops.  Many are now without them, and, the season becoming cold, they will be injured in their health, and unfitted for service, unless they are immediately provided with them.  Our supplies in this instance, as well as in every article of clothing, cannot be too great, as there are frequent losses not easily to be avoided.  [Emphasis added.]  I would also observe, that I think, in point of prudence and sound policy, every species of provisions should be removed from the city, except such as will be necessary to supply the present demands of this army.  I have been told there are considerable quantities in private hands, which should not he suffered to remain a moment longer than till they can be conveyed away.

I have the honor to be, &c.

— Gen. G. Washington”