Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707

By Albert Cook Myers | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

THE book here reprinted was the largest and most pretenstious that had yet appeared descriptive of the twin provinces on the Delaware. The author was a Welsh yeoman who, having been a pioneer in Penn's colony during the fifteen years of his young manhood, the very period of its rise and development to this time, had returned to the Old World, and in 1697 prepared this account from his experiences and observation. The work was published the following year in London. The first part, which has to do with Pennsylvania, is dedicated to William Penn, and apparently was issued with his knowledge and encouragement, although Penn's recent removal to Bristol and subsequent travels in Ireland doubtless gave him no opportunity to read either the manuscript or proof of the book.

Gabriel Thomas was the author. He had his origin in the extreme southeastern part of Wales, in Monmouthshire, not far from the English border and at no great distance from Bristol. Pontemoil, a little place nestling at the foot of a spur of the Drynos mountains, was his birthplace. There he first saw the light in March, 1661. His parents, Lewis and Grace Thomas, who had lived at the place as early as 1650, were Quakers. One Lewis Thomas, a dissenting Quaker liberated from Monmouth jail in 1671, was probably the father. No further records of Gabriel Thomas in Wales have been found.

In the fall of 1681, being then in his twenty-first year, Gabriel Thomas set out for Pennsylvania, sailing from London with the first company of Penn's emigrants in the ship John and Sarah. At Philadelphia, he informs us, "I saw the first Cellar when it was digging for the use of our Gouvernour Will. Penn." His parents with nearly all of their eight chil

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