Historical Collections Relating to Gwynedd

By Howard M. Jenkins

Second Edition


Chapter 5. Edward Foulke's Narrative of his Removal

Four years after the arrival of the settlers, Edward Foulke wrote, in Welsh, an account of his removal. This, translated into English many years later, by his grandson, Samuel Foulke of Richland, is a unique document. It is the only account of this immigration known to exist, written by one of the Gwynedd company, and it is more circumstantial and precise than almost any other referring to any of the Welsh settlers in Pennsylvania. Many copies of it are in existence, and it has been three or four time printed. No version of it within my knowledge differs materially from any other as to essential facts, but there are slight differences among different copies in the genealogical accounts which it presents. The copy here used is from that preserved by the late William Parker Foulke, of Philadelphia as follows:

A brief Genealogy of Edward Foulke, with an account of his family and their removal from Great Britain to Pennsylvania, written by himself, originally in British (title probably written by Samuel Foulke)

"I, Edward Foulke, was the son of Foulke, ap Thomas, ap Evan, ap Thomas, ap Robert, ap David Lloyd, ap David, ap Evan Vaughan (ap Evan), ap Griffith, ap Madoc, ap Ririd Flaidd, Lord of Penllyn, who dwelt at Rhiwaedog. My mother's name was Lowry, the daughter of Edward, ap David, ap Ellis, ap Robert, of the Parish of Llanvor in Merionethshire.

I was born on the 13th of 5th month, 1651, and when arrived at mature age, I married Eleanor the daughter of Hugh, ap Cadwallader, ap Rhys, of the Parish of Spytu in Denbighshire; her mother's name was Gwen, the daughter of Ellis, ap William, ap Hugh, ap Thomas, ap David, ap Madoc, ap Evan, ap Cott, ap Griffith, ap Madoc, ap Einion, ap Meredith of Cai-Fadog; and she was born in the same parish and shire with her husband.

I had, by my said wife, nine children, whose names are as follows: Thomas, Hugh, Cadwallader, and Evan; Grace, Gwen, Jane, Catherine, and Margaret. We lived at a place called Coed-y-foel, a beautiful farm, belonging to Roger Price esq., of Rhiwlas, Merionethshire, aforesaid. But in process of time, I had an inclination to remove with my family to the province of Pennsylvania; and in order thereto, we set out on the 3d day of the 2d month, A.D. 1698, and came in two days to Liverpool, where, with divers others who intended to go the voyage, we took shipping, the 17th of the same month, on board the Robert and Elizabeth, and the next day set sail for Ireland, where we arrived, and staid until the first of the 3d month, May, and then sailed again for Pennsylvania, and were about eleven weeks at sea. And the sore distemper of the bloody flux broke out in the vessel, of which died five and forty persons in our passage; the distemper was so mortal that two or three corpses were cast overboard every day while it lasted. But through favor and mercy of Divine Providence, I, with my wife and nine children, escaped that sore mortality, and arrived safe in Philadelphia, th 17th of the 5th month, July, where we were kindly received and hospitably entertained by our friends and old acquaintances.

I soon purchased a fine tract of land of about seven hundred acres, sixteen miles from Philadelphia, on a part of which I settled, and divers others of our company who came over sea with us, settled near me at the same time. This was the beginning of November, 1698, aforesaid, and the township was called Gwynedd, or North Wales. This account was written the 14th of th 11th month (January), A.D. 1702, by Edward Foulke. Translated from British into English by Samuel Foulke."

[now returning to Howard Jenkin's prose]

Referring to the ancestry mentioned by Edward Foulke, it may be remarked the Rhirid Flaidd, "who dwelt at Rhiwaedog," is frequently alluded to in the Welsh chronicles of the later half of the twelth century. Details may be conveniently found concerning him and several families of North Wales who trace their descent from him, in the "Annals of Antiquities of the Counties and County Families of Wales", under the particular chapter devoted to Merionethshire. It says (p. 678):

"This distinguished man, Lord of Penllyn (a cantref containing five parishes north of the Bala Lake), Eifonydd, Pennant, Melangell, and Glyn, in Powis, and, as some say, of eleven towns or trefs in the hundred of Oswestry, has been occasionally described, but erroneously, as founder of one of the fifteen noble tribes of North Wales. At the same time his territories were larger and his influence much more extensive than those of several of the founders of noble tribes. He flourished at the time of Henry II, and his son Richard I. Paternally his descent was from Cynedda Wledig, but maternally it is alleged that his lineage was Norman, his mother being a descendant of Richard, Earl of Avranches, by his son William, whose brother was Hugh Lupus Earl of Chester. Whether Rhirid was called Flaidd (the wolf), from a cognomen of his maternal ancestors, or from the possession of a hungry and savage nature, it is not easy to say. His eldest son Madoc had a son, Rhirid Fychan (the younger, or the little), who married into the family of Fychan (Vaughan), of Nannau, and from him were descended the subsequents Vaughans of Nannau and Rhug. From his son David Pothon, who married Cicely, daughter of Sir Alexander Myddleton, Lord of Myddelton, in Shropshire, the Myddletons of Chirk Castle were descended, retaining the maternal name."

[p. 684] "Vaughan of Llanuwchllyn. --This family of Vaughan, of the sept of Rhirid Flaidd, Lord of Penllyn, were long settled in the parish of Llanuwchlly, probably at Glan-Llynn, on the margin of Bala Lake **** The head of this house in 1588 was Robert Vaughan, Esq. His arms according to Dwnn, were --Vert, a chevron between three wolve's heads erased, arg. --the insignia of Rhirid Flaidd.

Edwards of Prysg. --John Edwards, of Prysg, near Llanuwchlly, living in 1588, was of the lineage of Rhirid Flaidd, Lord of Penllyn, in the same line *** with the Vaughans of Llanuwchlly, mentioned above. The arms of Edwards of Prysg were those of Rhirid Flaidd, --Vert, a chevron between three wolves' heads erased, arg."

[p. 682] "Rhiwaedog, near Bala, a spot of historic interest by reason of the great battle which tradition relates was fought here between the Welsh, under Llywarch Hen, the prince-bard, and the Saxons, when the aged bard lsot Cynddelw, the last survivor of his twenty-four sons, whose sanguinary character gave its name to the place (rhiw, a declivity; and gwaedog, bloody). It is situated in the narrow and long valley of Hirnant, nearly two miles from the Dee, and an equal distance from the mansion of Aaberhirnant. Rhirid Flaidd is said by Yorke ('Royal Tirbes') to have dwelt at Rhiwaedog."

[p. 682] "While Merionydd was the central and most prominent district in these parts, and as such most frequently mentioned, the cantref of Penllyn, about the Bala Lake, now forming parts of Merionethshire, was also an important lordship, always or mostly under separate government. **** Penllyn was the patrimony of Rhirid Flaidd, temp. Henry II., and continued in his son Madoc and grandson Rhirid Fychan (corrupted Vaughan), from whom several of the chief old families of Merionethshire bearing that name are traced."

[p. 705] "Lloyd, John, Esq., of Plas-issaf, Merionethshire. **** This family derives its descent from Rhirid Flaidd, of Rhiwaedog, Lord of Penllyn, from whom are descended the Lloyds of Rhiwaedog" **** etc.

Edward Foulke, whatever may have been the relative rank and influence of his ancestor Rhirid Flaidd, in the rude age when he figured as a local chieftain, was himself a plain Welsh farmer, occupying, as he says, the farm of Coed-y-foel, a part of the estate of Roger Price, of Rhiwlas. This farm is still known by that name, and is owned (1883) by Richard J. Lloyd-Price, Esq., of Rhiwlas, a lineal descendant of Roger. Its name signifies "the wood of the bare hill" --i.e. a wood around the base of a hill whose crown is bare, -- and this describes the place. It lies along the river Treweryn, in a charming valley, on the east side of the stream. Rhiwlas is distant a mile, and the market-town of Bala about two miles. The Treweryn is a considerable stream, coming down from the mountains, northwest of Bala, and flowing for several miles east and south through a narrow valley between the mountains called, on one side Arening Vawr (great), and Arenig Bach (little). The parish is Llanvor, from which many of the Welsh settlers in Eastern Pennsylvania came, and the region, picturesque and romantic, is fairly characteristic of northern Wales. Many names near by will be recognized by students of the records of immigration that came from these parts, --Bala, the town and the lake; the river Dee, famous for its beauty; Rhiwaedog, celebrated in Welsh history; the swift and clear Treweryn; and numerous others mentioned in the old accounts.

His narrative of his removal indicates that Edward Foulke possessed some education, and it must have been superior to the average of his time. His "Exhortation", addressed to his children, late in life, is a good piece of composition. Some details concerning his life in Wales, previous to his removal, have come down by tradition, and are doubtless trustworthy. His purpose of immigration, it is said, was formed from his conviction of the hardships and injustice inflicted upon those subject to a monarchial government. He had attended, the tradition says, at a military muster or drill, required by law, when a person in his company, a kinsman, engaged in exercise with a broad-sword or other weapon, had the cap of his knee struck off by his antagonist. The bystanders, with the one who had inflicted the injury, showed no regret at the occurrence, but rather exulted over it, while Edward, distressed at the suffering of his kinsman, was shocked to consider that the barbarous occurrence was a natural outgrowth of the system under which they lived. His mind turned to Pennsylvania as a place of escape, but he felt extreme reluctance to undertake the difficulties and perils of the long voyage with his large family. He "opened" the matter, however, to his wife, and she, as the tradition says, regarded the impression that had been made upon his mind as having a Divine origin, and while he hesitated and argued the pecuniary disadvantage a removal might be, she earnestly declared to him that "He that revealed this to thee can bless a very little in America to us, and can blast a great deal in our native land."

[The following is taken in substance from the MS. Journal of Joseph Foulke of Gwynedd]

Being accounted an excellent singer, large companies were in the habit of collecting at their house on First-days to hear Edward sing. "But with this he became uneasy, as he found that his company was of no advantage to him, nor he to them, as their time was spent in vain and trifling amusements. On one occasion, expressing his uneasiness to his wife, he found that she shared the feeling, and was dissatisfied both with the singing and some of the singers. She urged that the way to spend First-day with profit would be to read the Scriptures, and said that then the undesirable part of the company would soon become weary and leave them, while their truest and most valuable friends would adhere to them more closely. The plan being adopted, it was found as his wife anticipated; when companies had collected, and Edward was tempted to undue levity, she would say, 'Put away, and get the Bible'. The light and unprofitable portion of their visitors soon fell away, while others more weighty and solid continued with them. Their meeting and Scripture reading continued for some time, and the gatherings at their house increased. At length Eleanor reminded her husband of his exercise of mind on the subject of emigration, and said that as they had so evidently benefited by their following the path of duty in regard to the observance of First-day, it remained for them to proceed in the removal to Pennsylvania, which had also been indicated to them. And when they resolved upon the step, some who had attended their meeting came with them."

The insight we get by this narrative helps us to estimate very precisely the character of Edward Foulke and his family. But it must be distinctly observed that at the time of their coming they were not Friends. Like the Evanses, and all the other settlers except John Hugh and John Humphrey, they had been inclined to the Friends, but had not actually joined them.

[Editor's note, 2002: From "Remember Me", by Dorothy Cole and Deborah Trammell, we have another version of the voyage to Wales from Captain Samuel Smith: "Shortly after they got to sea, the bloody flux began among the passengers, and proved very mortal. Forty-five of them and three sailors having died before their arrival at Philadelphia. When arrived they met with kind reception, not only from their relatives and acquaintances that were in the country before, but from others who were the strangers to them, in that they understood not their language, so that it then appeared to them that Christian love provided even among those of different speech and profession, for they were not now many of them of those called Quakers."]

More on Edward Foulke: Foulke Genealogy; Foulke Family Association Web Site

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