Nicholas More

Male Abt 1638 - 1687

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  • Name  Nicholas More 
    Born  Abt 1638  England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  May 1687  Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Nicholas More

      Very little is known of Nicholas More's life in England except that he was born around 1638. He was an Anglican (Episcopalian). His marriage to Mary Hedge, the daughter of a wealthy London merchant allowed him to associate with the group of wealthy Quakers interested in settling America. Sharing interests with Penn regarding establishment of a colony in Pennsylvania he was made president of the 'Free Society of Traders in Pennsylvania' before he and his family left England in 1682 for the new world. The object of the 'Free Society' was the purchase of lands, with a view to agricultural settlement, the establishment of manufacturing businesses, for carrying on the lumber trade, fisheries and trade with the Indians. He arrived in October 1682, a few days after Penn. While still in London, he purchased 10,000 acres of land from Penn in October of 1681, which Penn called the 'Manor of Moreland.' The deed to the grant was finalized in 1684 and required More to pay Penn and his heirs forever, a silver shilling for every one hundred acres annually.

      On December 4, 1682, at Chester, Dr. More was chosen by Penn to be Philadelphia's representative to the first Provincial Council and was also chosen by Penn to be Speaker. In 1683, at a meeting of the Assembly, several members reported to the Governor and Council that Dr. More, in a public place, had spoken strongly against their proceedings. He was requested to avoid such discourse in the future as it was considered unreasonable and imprudent. In 1684, he was again a member of the Assembly for the County of Philadelphia and much to the opposition of some of the members was re-elected Speaker. On June 4, 1684, Penn commissioned Dr. More and four others as provincial judges for a term of two years. On July 12 of that year, the Provincial Council duly qualified More to act as one of the Judges of the Province and he was made chief justice. This was the forerunner of today's Supreme Court.

      On May 15, 1685, the Assembly drew up a declaration against More and presented it to the Provincial Council in the council chamber. They charged him with ten articles of various crimes and misdemeanors including assuming unlimited and arbitrary power, sending unlawful writs to the sheriffs, refusing a verdict brought in by a lawful jury, refusal to be accountable to the Council, denial of Council's authority, assuming the power to set the times of holding circuit courts, and placing himself above the reach of justice. The Assembly resolved to impeach and charge him with these crimes and requested the Provincial Council to remove him from office. He was ordered to appear before a special committee appointed to review the charges, however More did not appear, but pleaded sickness.

      Since Penn was back in England during the impeachment process, a letter was transmitted to him informing him of the Council's action and a second letter sent to Dr. More requesting him to desist acting in any court judicature. This was probably the first case of impeachment in this country. Penn did not approve of the Council's action and in a letter in 1687, changed the executive government to a board of five commissioners including Dr. More and two of his fellow judges; any three of whom constituted a quorum for transacting business. Whatever More was accused of, he enjoyed the confidence of Penn and spent his remaining years in an office of highest responsibility. After a languishing illness, he died intestate on May 23, 1687, very heavily in debt.

      In a letter dated September 13, 1686 from Dr. More to William Penn, and published by Penn in 1687 to prevent false reports about the colony, Dr. More gives a glowing account of the availability of all kinds of meats and grains, and writes: ''every one here is now perswaded of the fertility of the ground, and goodness of the climate, here being nothing wanting, with industry, that grows in England; and many delicious things, not attainable there; and we have this common advantage above England, that all things grow better, and with less labour.'

      The More family

      Land grants by Penn many times included a lot in the city of Philadelphia. This was the case with the More family. Dr. More's 10,000 acres entitled him to 7 city lots; 3 along the Schuylkill River and 4 just north of Society Hill. The More city residence was on lot number six, on the southeast corner of Second and Spruce Streets. The house belonged to the Society of Free Traders of which Dr. More was president. As president, he was given the honor to live in the house and resided there the greater part of his time.

      Sometime around 1685, More began to build himself a mansion, which he called Green Spring Plantation, and other buildings suitable for maintaining the estate. The estate was located along present day Oxford Avenue between the old Oxford Church and Roosevelt Boulevard in Somerton. Construction of the buildings was never completed. This site was in the extreme lower portion of the Manor, which later became part of Philadelphia. Dr. More's family included his wife Mary; a daughter Mary; Samuel; Rebeccah; Sarah; and Nicholas, Jr.

      Following the death of Dr. More in 1687, his wife Mary, nee Mary Hedge, did not long remain a widow. She married John Holme, the first Baptist in Philadelphia and a Justice of the Peace. They later moved to Salem, West New Jersey. Mary died in 1702; John in 1704. Daughter Mary married Elias Keach in 1687 and built a cabin in the Manor, southeast of present day Bethayres, where they lived for several years. In 1688, with twelve of their neighbors, they organized the first permanent Baptist congregation in Pennsylvania. This became the Pennepak Church in Lower Dublin Township and Keach was its first pastor. In 1692, the Keaches sold the greater part of their inherited land and sailed for England, never to return. Mary was the only member of the More family to actually live in the Manor. Young Samuel did not marry and died in 1694 at an early age. Rebeccah died in childhood.

      Sarah married William Sluby by the year 1700 and resided in Philadelphia. The Slubys became the guardians of Sarah's younger brother Nicholas in 1703, then around eighteen years of age. Sarah and her husband later moved to Chichester in the county of Chester. Nicholas, Jr., married Priscilla previous to 1713. No further information found. Boundaries of the Manor

      Nicholas More never held title to all of the land, which later comprised the Township of Moreland. Penn in his land grant to More intended the northeast boundary to be County Line Road, thinking that this road was going to be 825 yards southwest of where it is today. When County Line was permanently established in 1685, the intervening strip of land was sold to other settlers.

      Then in 1689, following More's death, while the Manor was being divided among his children, the Proprietary Commissioners of Property directed a re-survey of the Manor and found an 'overplus' of about 1,300 acres, again on the northeast side. This second strip was 550 yards wide and it too was sold to other settlers.

      This double strip of land, referred to as 'The Strip' in legal documents, comprised the area between Byberry and County Line Roads. In 1718, after the More family sold their holdings in the Manor, the Court of Quarter Sessions re-united 'The Strip' with the Manor to create the

      Township of Moreland.

      In 1784, upon the formation of Montgomery County, the lower, irregular part of the Manor extending nearly to the Delaware River, containing approximately 3,700 acres, remained inside Philadelphia County and became a distinct Township of Moreland. However, in 1854, it was merged into Philadelphia and lost its separate identity.

      The boundaries of Moreland Township are: on the southwest side, Welsh and Moreland Roads; on the northwest side, Township Line and Blair Mill Roads; on the northeast side, County Line Road; and in the southeast, from a point at the intersection of Moreland and Pine Roads, the boundary extends cross country in a northeast direction to County Line Road. The Manor divided among the heirs

      Dr. More, in ill health during his final years, died in May of 1687. On May 23, 1687, his wife Mary became Administratrix of the family properties and for fifteen years, presided over their liquidation until her death in 1702. Dr. More left no will and no instructions for any use he intended for the Manor.

      On January 1, 1688, John Holmes, husband of the Dr. More's widow, and Elias Keach, husband of Dr. More's Daughter Mary met and decided on the following, which was endorsed by the Orphans Court on January 7, 1688.

      It was agreed that 600 acres of the Manor, later to become part of Philadelphia, would be sold to pay for the outstanding debts of Dr. More. The agreement was accompanied by a plot plan with approximate acreage for the division of the rest of the Manor. The Manor, rectangular in shape, was divided among the More children in long strips of land extending from top to bottom. Mary More Keach received 1,552 acres, however it was in two tracts at opposite corners of the Manor. Rebeccah, already deceased, was given the two alternate sections to those of Mary, comprising 1,552 acres. Samuel received 3,104 acres; Nicholas, 1,552 acres; and Sarah, 1,552 acres.

      The heirs of Dr. More did not retain their land holdings for very long, but began selling parcels as early as 1691.

      The Manor is sold

      Much of the Manor was sold piecemeal, largely to land speculators who were wealthy Philadelphians. Settlers were scattered unevenly over the countryside, but the speculators were in no hurry to sell as taxes were nominal and land prices were sure to increase with demand. In 1691 and 1692, Mary More Keach and her husband, by then living in Burlington, West New Jersey, disposed of the greater part of their land in the Manor and sailed for England, never to return again. In 1738, the unsold part of Mary's inheritance comes into question. Mary had one child, Hannah, married to Revitt Harrison. Hannah appointed her son John, attorney for her lands in Pennsylvania in 1738, and he, soon after, arrived in the Manor to claim his grandmother's land. Not only was Mary's unsold inheritance to be settled upon, but also a one-fifth claim to the land of her late sister Rebeccah. Unfortunately, Nicholas the son and his sister Sarah had calmly appropriated Rebeccah's land as the surviving kin in Pennsylvania and sold the land to others. Deeds of Release were never signed by Mary to any of the purchasers, therefore the settlers had to make settlements with John Harrison to obtain clear titles to their lands. These settlements were finally completed by the year 1746. John Harrison did not return to England, but took up residence in Hatboro, where he operated a village store. He died in 1747. Samuel More, soon after coming of age, disposed of 300 acres of his 3,104 acre inheritance on October 10, 1694, which turned out to be his first and last sale. He died shortly after this transaction and in his will dated November 6, 1694, left his remaining property in equal shares to his mother, brother Nicholas and sister Sarah.

      In 1695, following an audit of the More estate showing a debt of 270 pounds, 300 acres of land including the More Manor House were sold to satisfy the debt. This sale did not completely solve the More Estate's financial problems and on December 19, 1696, another 600 acres of unimproved land was sold.

      By 1703, Sarah and her brother, Nicholas, were the remaining joint owners of the unsold, undeveloped portions of the Manor, comprising about 5,115 acres, mostly in the upper end of the tract. On March 26, 1703, they sold 1,200 acres to Thomas Shute and Nicholas Waln, two land speculators. This is the area of today's Willow Grove and a good portion of Upper Moreland. The land remained in their hands until Old York Road was actually in use in 1711 and 1712. It appears that by 1713, all of the lands of the Manor were in the hands of others.

      !A Synopsis of the History of MORELAND TOWNSHIP (Pennsylvania) and WILLOW GROVE
      Upper Moreland Historical Association
      Joe Thomas
    Person ID  I57569  Bryant
    Last Modified  25 Nov 2006 

    Family  Mary Hedge,   b. Abt 1644,   d. 1702, New Jersey Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  22 Dec 1670  St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Mary Hedges of St Catherine Coleman wed Nicholas More 22 Dec 1670
     1. Mary More,   b. 1671
     2. Samuel More,   b. Abt 1673,   d. 1694
     3. Rebeccah More,   b. Abt 1673,   d. Abt 1680
     4. Sarah More,   b. Abt 1675
     5. Nicholas More, Jr.,   b. Abt 1685
    Family ID  F3667  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Abt 1638 - England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 22 Dec 1670 - St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, Middlesex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - May 1687 - Pennsylvania Link to Google Earth
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