Gwynedd Friends Meeting

Gwynedd Friends Meeting Burial Records 1715-1749, including the fatal epidemic of 1745

Transcribed by James Quinn and Matthew Quinn

The burial records were written as they happened and appear to be for Gwynedd Preparative Meeting only. It is apparent that many of the deaths among friends are not accounted for in this record, perhaps because they are buired on their farms and perhaps because the burial book was not faithfully attended to. This transcription was made from microfilm stored at the Friends Historical Center at Swarthmore College. As can be seen about 2 or 3 people were buried per year in a normal year. In 1745, a fatal epidemic visited Gwynedd that killed many of the children. Although, a yellow fever epidemic was known to occur throughout colonial America in 1745, the pattern of deaths (mainly children) and the rapidity of its spread (all the deaths occurred in 2 months) suggest diphtheria. Waterborne diseases would be less likely as archeological remains suggest settlers at Gwynedd used wells and spring houses for their water. The epidemic seems to have had a profound effect on Gwynedd. From 1725-1745 Gwynedd was called the School for Prophets, but not afterwards. Many fewer births are found in the Gwynedd records in the years following 1745. The epidemic seems to have started at the home of Thomas Evans who described himself as an innkeeper and his wife Elizabeth Evans. Their house is likely the one still standing in Lower Gwynedd on Sumneytown Pike near the intersection of Evans Rd. From there it spread to the Rees Harry family (located west on what is now Prospect Ave. near Old Church Rd. in Upper Gwynedd) and then northwards to the John Davies home located at about Prospect and Hancock now. Within a month it had spread throughout the Gwynedd Prepatory Meeting area hitting families in Towamencin (Joseph Lucken), Montgomery (John Jones) and New Britain, Bucks (John Forman) and Whitpain as well as throughout Upper and Lower Gwynedd. A diptheria epidemic broke out in Philadelphia in 1746 perhaps a continuance of the one that hit Gwynedd the year before. Diphtheria had also hit New York and New England in 1744, the year before it hit Gwynedd (Genealogical Encyclopedia of Colonial America, by Christina K. Schaefer p 21, on-line through Google Books).


While not in the burial book, the oldest stone is that of Martha Bates buried next to the old meeting house in 1714.


1. Catherine daughter of John and Jane Johns


1. Richard son of Meridith Davies and Gwen his wife

2. William son of Evan Evans buried 9th of 10th month

3. Mary wife of Rowland Roberts buried 4th day 12th month

4. Anne wife of Thomas Evans

5. Hugh Roberts of Dublin


1. Hannah daughter of Evan and Elizabeth Evans 12th month


1. John son of John and Ellin Evans 3 years 7 months

2. Samuel son of Samuel and Margaret Thomas 16th of 2nd month


1. Mary daughter of Samuel and Margaret Thomas

2. Josiah Jones son of Robert and Anne Jones

3. Edward son of Thomas and Elizabeth Evans

4. Samuel ????son

5. Evan Evans 44 years old

6. Owen Evans 64 years old


1. Abram Daws Sr. 26th 12th month


1. John Davis 4th day 3rd month

Note: Howard Jenkins writes that Cadwalader Roberts (son of Robert Cadwalader) died of small pox 7th day, 3rd mo 1731


1. Ruth daughter of John and Jane Jones

2. Catherine wife of Thomas Evans


1. Ellin wife of Edward Foulke

2. Elizabeth Evans wife of Owen Evans


1. Cadwalder son of Richard and Gwen Morris

2. Margaret daughter of Thomas and Gwen Foulke


1. William son of William and Rebecca Arwyn 12-11


1. Robert Humphrey

2. Margaret daughter of Robert Humphrey

3. Elizabeth daughter of Robert and Margaret Humphrey

4. Anne daughter of Robert and Margaret Humphrey

5. Benjamin son of John and Jane Jones

6. Gwen wife of Richard Morris 3-8

7. Caleb son of Thomas and Gwen Foulke 7-7


1. Samuel son of Abraham and Mary Daws 24th 9th month

2. Richard Morris deceased 22nd 6th month


1. William son of William and Rebecca Arwyn


1. Rees David of Upper Dublin buried 10-2


1. David son of Joshua and Elizabeth Dickinson 4th day 8th month


1. Gainor wife of Edward Foulke 14th 7th month

2. Daniel his son buried 19th

3. Margaret his daughter buried 27th

4. Thomas Williams buried 17th 8th month

5. Susannah daughter 18th

6. Sarah his wife 28th

7. Catherine daughter of John and Jane Jones 26th 9th month

Note:  There is a stone at Gwynedd that belongs to Edward Foulke, the immigrant, but his name is not recorded in the burial book.


1. Priscilla daughter of John and Jane Jones and wife of Evan Jones buried at Merion 25th 10th month


1. Cadwalader Evans 4th month

July 1745

2. Jane wife of William Jones and daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Evans 4 day 5th month [JQ, age 21]

3. Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Evans and Elizabeth his wife 5th day 5th month [JQ: a child]

4. Margaret daughter of Rees and Mary Harry 7th day 5th month [JQ: born between 1730 and 1745]

5. Mary daughter of John and Mary Davies 10th day 5th month [JQ:  born between 1730 and 1745]

6. Mary wife of Abraham Griffith

7. Nathan son of John and Mary Davies 11th day 5th month

8. Catherine wife of Theophilias William 11th day 5th month

9. Anne daughter of John and Mary Davies 11th day 5th month

10. Robert all three 13th day 5th month

11. Hannah daughter of John and Mary Roberts 14th day 5th month

12. Robert son of Robert and Jane Hugh 16th day

13. Mary wife of Robert Evans 16th day

14. Elis son of Robert and Jane Hugh 18th day

15. Rebecca daughter of Owen and Mary Evans 18th day

16. Ellin daughter of Robert and Jane Hugh 20th day

17. Son of Rich Osborne 20th day

18. Son of Aubrey and Ellin Roberts 22nd

19. Son of John Starkey 24th day

20. Child of Jenkin and Ellin Morris

21. Evan Foulke 25th day

22. John son of Owen and Jane Roberts 26th day

23. Elizabeth Roberts widow 27th

24. Edward son of William Robert and Anne 27th

25. Margaret daughter of John and Jane Jones 28th day

26. Child of Sam Sanders 28th

27. Edward son of Evan and Ellin Foulke 29th day

28. Daughter of Evan and Anne Foulke 29th day

29. William son of Evan and Elizabeth Evans 30th

30. Evan son of Thomas and Mary Evans 30th

31. Sarah daughter of Hugh and Margaret Evans 31st

32. Child of Rich Osbourne 30th

33. Child of Grace Roberts 30th

34. Child of Moses Peters 30th

August 1745

35. Child of Joseph Luckens 3rd 6th month

36. Hannah daughter of Evan and Elizabeth Evans 4th

37. Child of John Lowrey 4th

38. Anne daughter of Evan and Ellin Foulke 4th

39. Mordicai son of John and Elizabeth Roberts 4th

40. Ellin daughter of Evan and Anne Foulke 5th

41. Son of Robert and Rachel Davies 6th

42. William son of Robert and Rachel Davies 7th

43.Daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Edward 8th

44. Child of Isaac Jones and Elizabeth his wife 8th

45. Son of John Forman 8th

46. Jane daughter of John and Margaret Hank 9th

47. Child of Joseph Luckens 9th

48. Elizabeth wife of John Robert Cadwalder 12th

49. Hugh David's child 12th

50. Evan Foulke's daughter 13th

51. Mary daughter of Hugh and Mary Evans 13th

52. Widow Starkey 15th (see note 1 below)

53. George son of Isaac and Elizabeth Jones 15th

54. Child of Moses Peters 15th

55. Elizabeth daughter of William Williams Taylor 15th

56. Child of William Morgan 18th

57. Catherine William Widow 18th

58. Hannah daughter of William Williams Taylor 18th

59. Child of Edward and Elizabeth Evans 18th

60. Martha child of William Williams Taylor 20th

61. Child of Hugh David 23rd

62. Sarah child of William Williams Taylor 24th

63. Child of Hugh Jones 24th


1. Margaret daughter of William and Hannah Foulke 11-1

2. Richard son of Benjamin and Elizabeth Cox 6-7


1. Evan Evans 26th of 5th month

2. John Evans 23rd day of 9th month

3. Evan son of John and Margaret Evans died 21st of April aged 9 months

4. Owen Evans May 1st


1. Mary Roberts widow of William Roberts 16th of 6th month in Frederick county Virginia

2. Catherine Williams 17th of 10th month aged 88

3. Cadwalder son of John and Jane Roberts 16th day 3rd month

4. Evan son of Thomas and Gwen Foulke 11-12

5. Sarah daughter of William and Hanah Foulke


1. Elizabeth wife of John Forman 12-12

2. Sarah daughter Jeptha and Anne Lewis 9-9

3. Margaret daughter of Ben and Anne David

Note 1. The Starkey family of Montgomery township. John Starkey (died 1742/3) was an early settler in the southeastern end of Montgomery township off Horsham Road, adjacent Horsham township. His family appears to have been hard hit by the epidemic, and his children are orphaned when his wife Sarah, died 15, 6mo., 1745, along with probably 2 of the children. The next year, 1746, Sheriff Nicholas Scull sold the farm. Some of the children may have stayed with local families and some may have gone to relatives in Monmouth Co., NJ. Eventually some of the children go west to Frederick or Loudoun Co., Virginia. Here is a brief chronology of this family:

1692 - Montgomery twp land sold to Mary Channelhouse (nee Bull) by Thomas Potter. She later married John Starkey and is the mother of John Starkey of Montgomery twp.
1734 - Philadelphia Co. tax list, John Starky, 200 acres, Montgomery twp.
1742/3 - John Starkey dies and left a will dated 10 mo. (December) 9, 1742, naming wife Sarah (executor) and children John, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah and Rachel. William Williams, George Lewis, Joseph Naylor and Isaac Jones were named trustees. Philadelphia County Will Book G, page 52 proved June 20, 1743.
1745 - Gwynedd MH, Buried Son of John Starkey 24th day of 5 mo. (epidemic hits Gwynedd MM)
1745 - Sarah Starkey leaves will dated 6 mo. (August), 8, 1745 naming children Elizabeth, John, Jacob, Joseph, Sarah and Rachel. Joseph Naylor and Isaac Jones are named executors. Will H43 proved September 18, 1745.
1745 - Gwynedd MH, Buried Widow Starkey 15th of 6 mo. (epidemic) - surviving children now orphans
1746 - Starkey farm sold at Sheriff's sale to Joseph Kenderdine
1749, 30 of 3mo. - "Hannah Williams and Elisabeth Jones are appointed to have a Certificate ready for Rachel Starky by the next Monthly Meeting" [she is in New Jersey, we think - JQ]
1749, 24, 5 mo. "Application being made for some Months past by Rachel Starky to this Meeting for a Certificate to recomend her to Meeting where to she belongs, frds appointed are yet to have one drawn."
1751 - Gwynedd MM, son John Starkey signs the marriage certificate of Cephas Child and Priscilla Naylor, daughter of Joseph Naylor (who had died 1746).

Note 2. See an account of a probable diphtheria epidemic in New Hampshire in 1735 HERE... Diphtheria at this time was called the throat distemper and could be confused with scarlet fever or T2 toxin poisoning from fungal contaminated grain which also kills mostly children. The timing of the disease (summer) is more typical of T2 toxin which compromises the immune system, perhaps combined with scarlet fever. The high rate of death favors diphtheria. In any case, an epidemic of the throat distemper was recorded in 1745 in the neighboring states of New York and New Jersey by Cadwallader Colden.