John's Attempts To Come To America

by Linda Allred Cooper

In 1695 John Allred wrote a letter to Phineas Pemberton asking for help to bring his family (his wife and three youngest sons Aron (also spelled Owen), Theophilus and Solomon) to Pennsylvania. John and his family were living in Manchester, England. Phineas was living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  John wrote that although he had communicated earlier with Ralph Ridgway about coming to America, his mother had been sick and he had been unable to leave her. She had since died, so John was ready to leave England for America.  This letter in the Pemberton Collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) was a huge find and documented the Allreds were trying to come to America.   Click Here to see that letter and read about its meaning to Allred History and Research.

(John’s first wife, and mother of his children, was Ellen Pemberton Allred who died in 1684.  The wife mentioned in this letter was John’s second wife, name unknown at this time.)  In 1724 and 1730, a man named Solomon Allred is listed on the Chester County, Pennsylvania, tax lists. Was this John’s youngest son or just someone with the same name – a coincidence? Did the family manage to come to America? If so, when? How did they pay for it?  Did the entire family come or just Solomon?  At that time we had no answers and no  further documentation about what happened to John Allred and his family after 1695.

About a year ago, Beverly Allred Schroeder (niece of Past AFO DNA Project Manager John Allred), was on the Internet searching for Solomon Allred. After many twists and turns, she came upon the Quaker Collections and the Gilbert Cope Family Collection and a mention of an abstract for Solomon Allred and land in Nottingham. The microfilm was located. The abstract of a letter dated 1-19-1719/20, said: 

“Solomon Alred of Nottingham writes to his
cozen Israel Pemberton of Philadelphia, asking his influence to obtain a grant of 100 acres on the north side of Nottingham, among the pine trees, near the palatine road. His wife sends her love.  Sign’s himself “Thy Lov. Kinsman”

At the bottom of the page was the notation “Pemberton papers”.  This was a huge find! This letter documents the Solomon Allred listed on the 1724 and 1730 Chester County tax lists really was the son of John Allred and his wife Ellen Pemberton Allred!  This letter documents that Solomon was living in Pennsylvania in 1719, closing that big mysterious gap in time between the 1695 letter and the 1724 tax list. This letter also tells us Solomon was married
by 1719, which adds more evidence to the fact that he was the father of some, if not all, of the men that were in North Carolina in the 1740s. At that time we had estimated four of those men (John, Thomas, Solomon and William) were probably born in the 1720s. But where was the original letter?

The AFO had already purchased microfilm of a portion of the Pemberton Papers housed at the HSP. A search was quickly made of this collection but there were no letters or documents of any kind for the year 1719 or several years prior or after.  So began the task of locating where the originals of the Gilbert Cope Collection were kept which turned out to be the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. A research trip was planned.

A few weeks ago some of our AFO researchers spent time at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Philadelphia searching for new information about our Allred ancestors. On this trip were John and Charlette Allred of Dublin, Ohio; Jim and Alice Allred Pottmyer of Arlington, Virginia; and Linda Allred Cooper of Pittsboro, North Carolina.

Once in the HSP, everyone fanned out and began “digging.” Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in finding the original 1719 letter (the search continues…), but we did find other tidbits in two other letters that add to our information about the Allreds:

Phineas Pemberton Correspondence 1688-1691; #484A:  On the “4th day, 8th month, 1693,” (October 4, 1693) Ralph Ridgway was at his home in Deansgate, Manchester, England. Ridgway was an active Quaker leader in Lancashire and personal friend of George Fox and William Penn.  He was also the leader and founder of Hardshaw Monthly Meeting (MM), the first Quaker Meeting in Manchester. This was not a traditional church building as you and I are familiar with, but a congregation that took turns meeting in each other’s homes or out buildings.  Many of the meetings took place in Ridgway’s home. Among the members of Hardshaw MM were John and Ellen Pemberton Allred. Ellen’s death in 1684 was recorded in East Hardshaw MM records and she was buried in their “burying ground” at Deansgate.

On this day, Ridgway was writing to his good friend and fellow Quaker, Phineas Pemberton, who lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Phineas was the son of Ralph Pemberton and together, along with some extended family members, had sailed from England to Pennsylvania aboard one of William Penn’s ships, Submission, just one year earlier in 1682.  Ralph Pemberton was the Uncle of Ellen Pemberton Allred. This family was very “closeknit”; Phineas spoke of his “Aunt Ellen” in several of his personal letters.

Ridgway’s letter was full of news about various friends, some married, some gave birth, some dead. At the end of the letter, just before closing, he wrote “thy kinsman Jno Orrett [John Allred] and his children doe now worke and are pretty well to live as I understand by him….”  This is wonderful news! Previous research had shown John Allred had struggled for many years to work and provide for his family. Documents found in Lancashire Court Records detail how each time he had found a place for his family to live and for himself to work, the neighbors/community ousted him because he was a Quaker.  Religious persecution was fierce in 17th Century England! Ridgway’s letter brought welcome news that the family was finally doing well, working and thriving.  Click Here to read more about John and Ellen's lives as Quakers in England.

Some of our researchers had seen references to this letter during previous research sessions but this was our first chance to obtain a copy of the original letter and verify its contents.

On the 28th day, 11th month, 1686 (September 23, 1686), William Penn was at his home, Worminghurst House, Sussex, England. On this day, he was writing a long (10-page) letter to his good friend James Harrison who lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Harrison’s daughter, Phoebe, was married to Phineas Pemberton.  Harrison was not only a good friend of Penn’s, he also worked as the Steward (Manager) for Penn’s colonial summer home, Pennsbury Manor, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Penn’s letter was filled with news of mutual friends and Penn’s travels throughout England as he continued to spread the message of the Quaker Doctrine. Toward the end of the second page, Penn wrote:

“I have an eye to the man thou writ about and his family but one John Aldred of Pendleton related to P. Pemberton yet came to me at Manchester to be helped over on the terms I published for the poor. I may do what I can for him.”

“Terms I published for the poor” meant entering into a contract or bond as an Indentured Servant. It is estimated that half of the immigrants to Colonial American paid for their passage from the Old World to America by becoming Indentured Servants. Quakers (and others) needed the help on their farms and Indentured Servants were much cheaper and easier to come by than slaves. For the immigrant who could not afford the price of passage on a ship to America, this was a very appealing option. Some were able to make private contracts with friends or family who were already in Pennsylvania.

Most, however, made an agreement with the ship’s owner or captain. In exchange for passage, the immigrant would be put up for auction or sale as an Indentured Servant once he/she arrived in America. The ship’s owner and/or captain then pocketed the money as passage payment.  Indentured servitude was a long-term extension of the old English one-year hire for agricultural labor. Terms ranged from one to seven years (children served the longest indentures), with a typical one being 4 or 5 years. The difference between indentured servants and slaves, on a day-to-day basis, was hard to define. The biggest difference was time: the Indentured Servant eventually worked off the agreed upon time, but the slave was a slave for life. While indentured, the servant’s labor, if not the servant himself, was a commodity that could be sold or traded or inherited, on the discretion of his owner. The discipline records of the Quaker meetings cover several cases of members called to account for cruelty to indentured servants, and these tales tell of servants whipped, beaten and locked up for laziness. Of course, as with slaves, some owners were more humane than others.

We now have a little more information about our first American ancestors. John was trying every means possible to bring his family to Pennsylvania, including approaching William Penn. That must have been an intimidating thing for a poor “woolen weaver” to do, approach a very wealthy and well known man and ask for help. John had strength of character!  One of his children did make it to America and was living as a free man in 1719, married and trying to obtain land. If he had arrived as an Indentured Servant, he had worked off his servitude and was ambitious enough to want his own land and home for his family.