Henry Joel Cadbury was born on December 1, 1883, at 1125 Mount Vernon Street, Philadelphia, the youngest child and fourth son of Joel Cadbury, Jr., and Anna Kaighn Lowry Cadbury. His parents were both birthright members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) with roots stretching back to the establishment of the Society in mid-seventeenth-centuryEngland and its early transmittal to American soil. An ancestor of Anna Cadbury's, John Bartram ( 1699-1777), was the pioneer American botanist, whose Observations, based on his travels in the Alleghenies, Catskills, Carolinas, and Florida earned him appointment as botanist to the king and are still studied today. John's son William Bartram, a naturalist as well as botanist, is best known for the excellent quality of his writings and illustrations in the journals of his travels. Though John Bartram was disowned by his monthly meeting when some members suspected him of deism, the Bartrams as a family have remained deeply entrenched in American Quakerism.
The Cadburys were an English Quaker family until one ancestor, Joel Cadbury, came to Philadelphia in 1815 and married his first cousin Caroline Warder in 1822, thus establishing an American branch. The English Cadburys developed Cadbury chocolate, known throughout the world, and were noted social reformers. Joel Cadbury's nephew George Cadbury ( 1839-1922) laid out a model garden village for his chocolate factory employees which influenced subsequent town planning in many countries. His wife, Elizabeth Cadbury, was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her work in education, housing, and peace.
A tradition for social concern and of noblesse oblige was strong