The Foulke Family, Part I

The Foulke family was one of the first families to arrive in Gwynedd in 1698. Like every family in the township, they came from Wales. The Foulke family left Coedyfoel to set sail at Liverpool. The ship they were on was called Robert and Elizabeth. Edward Foulke, the original Foulke, wrote a narrative, telling his account on his journey to the New World with his family:

"I had by my said wife, nine children ; to wit, four sons and five daughters; - whose names were as follows; viz.: Thomas, Hugh, Cadwallader, and Evan; Gwen, Grace, Jane, Catharine, and Margaret. We lived at a place called Coodyfoel, a farm belonging to Roger Prince, Esqr. of Rhewlass in Merionethshire aforesaid. But in process of time, I had an inclination to remove thence with my family to the Province of Pennsylvania, and in order thereto we set out on the 3rd day of the 2nd month [April] Annoque Domini 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 onboard the Robert and Elizabeth; and the next day set sail forIreland, where we arrived and staid until the ist of the 3rd month [May], and thence sailed again for Pennsylvania, and wereabout 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 corpse were cast over every day while it lasted. But through the favour and mercy of divine providence I, with my wife and nine children, escaped that sore mortality, and arrived safe at Philadelphia, about the 17th of 5th month [July], where we were kindly received and entertained by our Friends and old acquaintance until I purchased a tract of about seven hundred acres of land about sixteen miles from Philadelphia, on a part of which settled. And divers others of our company who cam together, settled near me about the same time, whic beginning of November, 1698 aforesaid, and the township named Gwynedd or Northwales. This account was written the 14th of 11th month [January] 1702 by Edward Foulke."

His house resided in Penllyn, next to the train station, where many generations occupied the home. After Edward was his eldest son Thomas settled part of his father's land after his marriage to Gwen Evans. His home had a data marker that marked 1728 with his and Gwen's initials. Then it was passed onto his eldest son William and his wife Hannah, then to his children.

His eldest daughter Jane married George Maris, and they both had a granddaughter named Susan Wilson Lukens who was a famous, local poet. She wrote, "Gleanings at Seventy-Five" in 1873, and "The Painter of Seville."

William's other two sons Caleb and Amos were merchants in Philadelphia, and their firm was called "Caleb and Amos Foulke." Caleb was one of the signers of a non-importation agreement of October 1765. Amos retired from the business, and his eldest son Owen took over his place to join his father. The firm was renamed "Caleb and Owen Foulke." The firm did large foreign trade; they exported flaxseed and imported linens from Newry, Belfast, and Cork.

Owen was a member of the First City Troop in 1798 in Philadelphia. He then studied law at Sunbury, PA.

Caleb and Amos married the daughters of Owen and Susanna Jones, Jane and Hannah, who were also the sisters of Lowery Jones, the mother of Sally Wister. Sally was the cousin of William and Hannah's children. Sally's family fled the city during the Revolutionary War, and stayed at her relative's, William and Hannah Folk's, house in Penllyn. Her house is what's today Grumblethorpe in Germantown, Philadelphia.

Excerpt from Sally Wister's Journal: Fifth Day, September 26th.

We were unusually silent all the morning; no passengers came by the house, except to the Mill, & we don't place much dependence on Mill news.
About twelve o'clock, cousin Jesse heard that Gen. Howe's army had moved down towards Philadelphia. Then, my dear, our hopes & fears were engaged for you. However, my advice is, summon up all your resolution, call Fortitude to your aid, and don't suffer your spirits to sink, my dear; there's nothing like courage; 'tis what I stand in need of myself, but unfortunately have little of it in my composition.
I was standing in the kitchen about 12, when somebody came to me in a hurry, screaming, 'Sally, Sally, here are the light horse!' This was by far the greatest fright I had endured ; fear tack'd wings to my feet; I was at the house in a moment; at the porch I stopt, and it really was the light horse.
I ran immediately to the western door, where the family were assembled, anxiously waiting for the event They rode up to the door and halted, and enquired if we had horses to sell; he was answer'd negatively.
'Have not you, sir,' to my father, 'two black horses?'
'Yes, but have no mind to dispose of them.'
My terror had by this time nearly subsided. The officer and men behav'd perfectly civil; the first drank two glasses of wine, rode away, bidding his men follow, which, after adieus in number, they did. The officer was Lieutenant Lindsay, of Bland's regiment, Lee's troop. The men, to our great joy, were Americans, and but 4 in all. What made us imagine them British, they wore blue and red, which with us is not common.
It has rained all this afternoon, and to present appearances, will all night In all probability the English will take possession of the city to-morrow or next day. What a change will it be! May the Almighty take you under His protection, for without His divine aid all human assistance is vain.
'May heaven's guardian arm protect my absent friends, From danger guard them, and from want defend.'
Forgive my dear, the repetition of these lines, but they just darted into my mind. Nothing worth relating has occurred this afternoon. Now for trifles. I have set a stocking on the needles, and intend to be mighty industrious. This evening some of our folks heard a very heavy cannon. We supposed it to be fir'd by the English. The report seem'd to come from Philada. We hear the American army will be within five miles of us tonight.
The uncertainty of our position engrosses me quite. Perhaps to be in the midst of war, and ruin, and the clang of arms. But we must hope the best
Here, my dear, passes an interval of several weeks, in which nothing happen'd worth the time and paper it wou'd take to write it The English, however, in the interim, had taken possession of the city.

When William's other son Jesse died, he didn't pass down the house to Amos' son Edward. He left it to his youngest sister's namesake son Jesse instead after Jesse died. Jesse's son George inherited the homestead next, then to John Henry Drinker in 1855.

The homestead was then passed onto Thomas' great-great-grandson William. During his occupancy, the Civil War began. The debate about slavery became the hot topic during the time, and in Lower Gwynedd, Quakers occupied the place, and they long recognized the injustice of keeping slaves. Around this area was where the Underground Railroad took place. People in the North like the Quakers helped slaves flee northward, and allowed them to stay with them during their escape to freedom. Penllyn was one of the major stops on the Underground Railroad.

"The southern track of the railroad, which ran from Plymouth Meeting to Buckingham (Bucks County), had a station near Penllyn, near the Orthodox Friends Meeting House, run by William Foulke.  Eliza Ambler Foulke, historian of the Gwynedd Friends Meeting, wrote of 'a large mound on the side of the meeting house, opposite the graveyard and easily discernible from the road' which her grandmother identified as a sheltering cave used to hide fugitive slaves."

William sold the property to D.C. Wharton. William and his family were featured in the 1850 census data.

The Foulke mansion was demolished in the 1980s.

The Foulke Mansion (Photo taken possibly in 1910s based on the clothes those children in the photo were wearing)
Thomas Foulke's Family Tree Part 1(Levi)
Thomas Foulke's Family Tree Part 2 (Caleb and Amos)
Thomas Foulke's Family Tree Part 3 (Lydia)

I wasn't clear exactly how many houses the Foulke family had. Since William sold the property to D.C. Wharton, it seems that Wharton had more than one property. It could be that the Foulke family had more than one house. When I found out about William and his family helping the slaves escape, I also found the property that use to be the Orthodox Friends Meeting House. It was run by William Foulke at the time. That house was owned by D.C. Wharton at the time.

Going back to the Foulke mansion, it's questionable where exactly their original house was located. I decided to look into the Ambler Gazette archives to find exactly where this house was located.

Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station; J. D. Scott, Publisher
Montgomery County 1893, Upper and Lower Gwynedd Townships, Lansdale, North Wales, Spring House, Ambler Right; J. L. Smith, Publisher
Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., 1916, Plate 29; A. H. Mueller, Publisher

I was able to find while mansion is the REAL Foulke mansion. It was the property that was owned by LTC Edgar J. Pershing. He was a resident of Penllyn for 25 years, and lived at the old Foulke mansion. He restored the house to its colonial appearance. He served in World War I as the Judge Advocate General's Dept. of the U.S. Army Service Corps. He wrote The Pershing Family in America, a history and genealogy of his family.

Clipping from Ambler Gazette: March 15, 1934 (Pg 6)


"A Brief History of the Homestead at Penllyn." Foulke Family Association. Last modified February 02, 2001.

"Foulke Family Helps the Underground Railroad." Foulke Family Association. Last modified February 02, 2001.

"FOULKE Genealogy." WikiTree. Accessed July 7, 2020.

"Foulke Mansion." Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. Accessed July 7, 2020.

Herman, Andrew Mark. Postcard History Series: Eastern Montgomery County. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 1999): 76.

Jenkins, Howard Malcolm. Historical collections relating to Gwynedd, a township of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, settled, 1696, by immigrants from Wales, with some data referring to the adjoining township, of Montgomery, also settled by Welsh. (Philadelphia: Howard Malcolm Jenkins, 1897): 33-39, 62, 233-281.

Mueller, A.H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 29, 1916.

"Sally Wister's Journal." Museum of the American Revolution. Last modified September 12, 2018.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station, 1877.

Smith, J. L. Montgomery County 1893, Upper and Lower Gwynedd Townships, Lansdale, North Wales, Spring House, Ambler Right, 1893.

"The 1898 Foulke Reunion Memorial Volume." Foulke Family Association. Accessed June 7, 2020.

"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed July 8, 2020.

#pahistory #lowergwynedd #foulkefamily #sallywister #philly #philadelphia #germantown #undergroundrailroad #Wales #Welsh #quakers #architecture #colonial #historicpreservation #penllyn #revolutionarywar #penllynpike #penllynbluebellpike #penllynstation #amblergazette #archives #googlebooks #familytree #ancestry #1850censusdata

77 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All