A Jones Family History
the first three hundred years (1700-2000)

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The Sea Voyage

This is the type of vessel that Francis and Rachel Jones and Family (a group of seven people) would have taken from Pembrokeshire, Wales, departing from a port in Wales or Ireland, probably on a ship originating in Whitehaven, Liverpool or Bristol, England which stopped in Wales or Ireland to pick up groups of Quakers.


The ship would have arrived to Pennsylvania to the port of Philadelphia, Newcastle or Delaware.  Starting in 1682, the most popular port of entry for Friends was Newcastle PA, the closest to Chester, the site of William Penn’s grant and availability of land.


Our specific Jones family is documented in July of 1711 in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and again after arriving in Philadelphia in December of 1711.  The seven months between these two dates would have been more than enough time for the Atlantic crossing, unless their ship was waylaid or diverted to the West Indies (there was a Quaker colony in Barbados at the time).

Despite my best efforts, I have not discovered the name of the vessel our ancestors took nor their port of departure or port of entry, although it was most likely Newcastle PA. the closest I came was this historical account of the crossing of Irish Quakers of the time.


The following excerpt was taken from an exceptionally detailed book by Albert Cook Myers, “Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania – 1682-1750” (online text edited for readability):


“How the immigrants got to the Colonies  The principal ports in Ireland from which Irish Quakers embarked for Pennsylvania were Belfast, Cork and Waterford, with frequent vessels sailing directly from the Irish ports.  More often, though, passage was taken in vessels which had sailed from Whitehaven, Liverpool, or Bristol, in England, and which touched at the Irish ports for passengers and cargo. Philadelphia was the principal port of entry, but many settlers landed at New Castle, on the Delaware, and some few at points in Maryland and Virginia.


The voyage was a long and trying one, especially so when attended by rough weather. The length of the passage varied all the way from six weeks to three months. Vessels were often driven far out of the course by contrary winds and carried as far south as the West Indies. Dangerous diseases, such as smallpox, were of frequent occurrence, and many passengers died at sea. During the French Wars, vessels were often attacked and the passengers imprisoned or subjected to loss of property and to harsh treatment. As an instance of this, may be cited the case of Samuel Massey and family who sailed from Cork in 1710, intending for Philadelphia, but the vessel was seized by the French and they were carried off to the Island of Antigua in the West Indies.  Finally, after much suffering and hardship, they reached Philadelphia, but so impoverished that they were unable to pay for their passage from Antigua, and Philadelphia Monthly Meeting had to assist them to the extent of thirty pounds. The French had taken even their certificate of removal, and Massey had to request the meeting in Cork to send a duplicate certificate.” [1]


Although the Francis Jones family is not mentioned in Myers’ many lists of Irish Quakers who immigrated to Pennsylvania, many of the families named (Cox, Parke, Lindley, Coates), were later related by marriage to Francis Jones’ descendants. We know without a doubt that Francis and Rachel Jones were both Irish born and raised and early Quakers (converted in Ireland near the beginning of the movement), but since they had moved to a Quaker community in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, three years before embarking for America, they were probably not officially counted among Myers' “Irish Quakers”.


Various members of the family are mentioned in Quaker meeting notes in Chester County PA between 1711-1721, so we know they stayed near Philadelphia for at least the first decade and probably originally landed at the port of Newcastle PA in December, 1711. Unfortunately, we can’t be certain as no record of their actual date of arrival or their ship has been found. This would be a good project for further research, and might lead also to discovering the fate of the missing son, Jonas, age 16 at the time of the crossing.

The hardships endured by immigrants aboard ships crossing the Atlantic during this period are almost beyond our imagining today. The memoir of a German immigrant who crossed in 1750 - forty years after the Jones Family made the crossing - gives the following hair-raising account: 

"...during the voyage there is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of seasickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply-salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably.

Add to this want of provisions, hunger, thirst, frost, heat, dampness, anxiety, want, afflictions and lamentations, together with other trouble, as e.g., the lice abound so frightfully, especially on sick people, that they can be scraped off the body. The misery reaches a climax when a gale rages for two or three nights and days, so that every one believes that the ship will go to the bottom with all human beings on board. In such a visitation the people cry and pray most piteously.

No one can have an idea of the sufferings which women in confinement have to bear with their innocent children on board these ships. Few of this class escape with their lives; many a mother is cast into the water with her child as soon as she is dead. One day, just as we had a heavy gale, a woman in our ship, who was to give birth and could not give birth under the circumstances, was pushed through a loophole (porthole) in the ship and dropped into the sea, because she was far in the rear of the ship and could not be brought forward.

Children from one to seven years rarely survive the voyage; and many a time parents are compelled to see their children miserably suffer and die from hunger, thirst, and sickness, and then to see them cast into the water. I witnessed such misery in no less than thirty-two children in our ship, all of whom were thrown into the sea. The parents grieve all the more since their children find no resting place in the earth, but are devoured by the monsters of the sea. It is a notable fact that children who have not yet had the measles or smallpox generally get them on board the ship, and mostly die of them. ..."  Passage To America, 1750," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000)

Port of Philadelphia, 1756

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