James Melvin first appears in Bucks county, PA in 1742. We have no information about his parents, and he may have been the immigrant ancestor for this line. We do not know the name of his wife; some believe her first name was Susannah, though it is not clear what that speculation is based on. A connection with the Barnes and other families in the area has been cited to suggest her surname was Barnes, but again, that is speculative. Based on the commonly cited DOB's of their children James probably married about 1735. Whether that was in America or elsewhere is not known. James is commonly identified as of Scot-Irish ancestry, but at the time James appears in Bucks County, the population there is overwhealmingly of German origin. At least one of his sons baptiszed his children in a Dutch Reformed church, but this may reflect his spouses preferences, rather than pointing to a Germanic origin for the Melvins. Certainly the surname "Melvin" seems to be more English than German in origin, but this may be an anglicized version of a German name.
James initially settled in the Rockhill area of Bucks County. In 1750 a 130 acre site was surveyed for him in that area, and it is assumed that this is where he made his home. James was active in both local and colony government, serving on road commissions for the County. In 1756 began the first of 11 consecutive terms as a representative to the State assembly.
In 1771 he moved to Lower Milford township where he purchased a 103-acre plantation. This was apparently financed by by mortgaging his Rockhill plantation, and by a later mortguage placed 1772 on the new plantation. James died a few years later (c1778), and these mortgauage debts were settled by his estate.
James and his wife had eight known children, including five boys and three girls, all but one of which are identified in his will of 1777. At least one child, James appears to have predeceased his father, as he is not listed in his fathers will. Of the remaining children three of the sons (Thomas John and Joseph) moved south into what is now West Virginia, settling in modern Jefferson and Berkely Counties. Joseph would later move even further south, settling in Washington Co, in northerastern TN. Samuel inherited his fathers land in Bucks County. He seems to have never married, dying there in shortly before 1800.
|POB:||Bucks Co, PA|
|POD:||Lower Milford, Bucks Co, PA|
|Thomas||c1736||c1807||?Jefferson Co, VA||Elizabeth||c1755||Bucks Co, PA||Listed in will of 1777; By 1768 he was in Frederick Co VA; Birth and baptism of Children of Thomas and Elizabeth, Abigail and John appear in church records of Tohickon Church, a Dutch reformed church. Abigail born 1756, John 1758, supporting a DOM of c1755|
|John Melvin (1737-1804)||1737||Sep 1804||Reedson, Jefferson Co., VA.||Elizabeth McCarty||We know but little about the early settlers in Haycock. In 1737
Surveyor-General Parsons laid out a tract of 300 acres on Haycock Run to John Anderson, but the location is not known. The 500-acre tract which Thomas and Patrick McCarty purchased of the Penns when they settled in Nockamixon in 1748, lay partly on the Haycock side of the creek and partly in Tinicum. March 3, 1738, John, Thomas and Richard Penn conveyed and confirmed to Silas McCarty 215 acres, half a mile west of Applebachsville, and the latter gave one acre to William Bryan and others on which to build a Baptist church and for a burying-ground. After his death his son, Carrel McCarty, (1) to whom the whole tract descended, confirmed this one acre, August 20, 1759, to William Bryan and Isaac Evans, in trust, for the use of the Baptist congregation at New Britain, upon which they erected a log meeting-house, which was allowed to fall down many years ago. [Davis 1905]
|James||Abt. 1739||Bet. 1772 - 1777||Bucks Co.|
Anne Griffith (c1769-1754)
|NOT Listed in will of 1777, and presumed deceased by that date.
|Susanna||c1739||?Bucks Co, PA||__ Dungworth||Listed in will of 1777|
|Joseph||c1740||1817||Washington Co., TN.?||Listed in will of 1777|
|Samuel||c1742||c1795||Bucks Co, PA||Listed in will of 1777|
|Jane||__ Barnes||Listed in will of 1777|
James Melvin, a Bucks County non-Quaker farmer and 11-term assemblyman, generally supported the legislature's stance on defense matters during the French and Indian War.
By June 1742 living in Bucks County.
By a 1750 warrant, a 135-acre property in Rockhill was surveyed to him.
Date? Assisted county government at the court's behest, in the survey of five roads.
In 1762 named to assist in dividing Bucks County into districts for the election of supervisors of the highway.
In 1763, surveyed the prospective township of Haycock on behalf of the inhabitants who petitioned the county court for township status. Apparently the survey was not well done as the local magistrates stated that "if the said Petitioners are Desirous of having a Township Laid Out," they should "Employ a Surveyor who Understands his Business." [Need specific source].
1756-1767 served eleven consecutive terms in the state legislature
In 1771 moved to Lower Milford, acquiring a 103-acre plantation
Borrowed £300 aparently to acquire the planation by mortgaging his Rockhill plantation.
1772 borrowed an additional £100, by mortgaging his new home. Debts were settled by his estate.
24 September 1777, wrote will
8 December 1778 will probated
Will includes small bequests to his children ranging from £10 to £40. His inventory was considered by some genealogists to be relatively small, which they took to indicating that he had distributed his wealth prior to his death. The home plantation in Lower Milford was left to his son Samuel, who sold the plantation in June 1779 for £1125. This may suggest that James was a man of substance at his death, though th is may have been a case of being "land rich and dollar poor".
The Will of James Melvin 24 September 1777
Whereas, I James Melvin of Lower Milford (Twp) in the County of Bucks, (Pennsylvania), being weak in body but of sound mind and memory and considering the uncertainty of time, do make and put in writing this my last will and testament in the manner and form following:
First, I will that all my just debts and funeral expenses be carefully paid and discharged.
Item: I give and devise unto my son Samuel Melvin, his heirs and assigns, forever all my Plantation and Tract of Land whereon I now live in the Township of Lower Milford aforesaid, containing one hundred and three acres and a quarter or thereabout;
Item: I give unto my daughter Susanna Dungworth living with me, her bed and all its appurtenances and her wearing apparel, and I give her also the sum of forty pounds in current money of America;
Item: I give unto my son Thomas Melvin' the sum of ten pounds, and to my son John Melvin I give the like sum of ten pounds, and to my son Joseph Melvin I give the sum of ten pounds, and to my daughter Jane Barnes I give the sum of ten pounds, and to my daughter Mary Crossley I give the like sum of ten pounds, currency aforesaid;
Item: I give to my son Samuel above named all the residue of my goods and effects whatsoever that shall remain after the payment of my debts and legacies aforesaid, and I do hereby ordain and appoint my said son Samuel Melvin to be my executor of this my last will and testament.
In witness hereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-fourth day of September in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Seven.
Signed and sealed and declared by the said testator to be his last will and testament in the presence of us.
- signed James Melvin
- William Edwards
- Charles Dungworth
- Samuel Foulke
The 8th day of December, Anno Domini, 1778 appeared William Edwards and Samuel Foulke, two of the witnessed to the written instrument of writing, who on their solemn affirmations did declare and say, that they were present at the execution thereof, and saw and heard the within named James Melvin, the testator, sign, seal and publish the same as and for his Last Will and Testament and that at the time of his so doing, he was of sound mind, memory and understanding to the best of their knowledge and belief.
Before me, John Hart, Deputy Register.
Be it remembered that on this 8th day of December, 1778, this the last Will and Testament of James Melvin, deceased, was duly proved, whereas Probate and Letters Testamentary were granted to Samuel Melvin, the Executor therein named, he being first solemnly sworn well and truly to administer the goods and chattels, rights and credits of the said Deceased, and that he would within one month from the date hereof exhibit into the Register's Office for the said County a true inventory and conscionable appraisement of the same, and within twelve months, or when thereunto required, render a just accounting of his whole administration.
Witness my hand and seal of Office the day and year above said, John Hart, Deputy Register.
Extract of A JournalEdit
Source: Davis 1905.
In August 1783 a Hessian surgeon, who had participated in the Revolution, on the side of the British, set out on a journey from Philadelphia to the Lehigh and beyond, before returning home. We begin to quote from his journal at the time he entered Rockhill township, when he says:
"The same afternoon we arrived at another farm in a very uneven and stony region called 'Rocky Hill,' situated in Bucks county. At this place we met a young man who pays but ten shillings tax for 74 acres, of which considerable is woodland. Among other taxes, which are assessed in Pennsylvania, is one styled the 'bachelor's tax;' every male person who is 21 years of age, and not married, pays a yearly tax of twelve shillings, six pence, Pennsylvania currency. Inconsiderable as this tax is, it, however, has its desired effect, as the liability to derision, to which the young men are open, and the ease with which industrious hands can support a family, soon causes them to change their social status. This is an old established tax here, as well as in Maryland, and lately established in South Carolina, as they have been convinced of its usefulness to arrive at a desired result.*]
"The farmers here use a seed plough, called the 'Bucks County plow.' The wheat is scattered on the fallow ground and then plowed under. It is customary to reckon from one-half to one bushel to seed to the acre, according as the land has before been cultivated. Generally it is expected to harvest ten or fifteen bushels of wheat per acre, from land that has been manured; in the neighborhood of Reading and the Tulpehocken valley, the average is 40-50 bushels. A wagon with four horses will haul 40-50 bushels of wheat to the city, and it is sold there for one Spanish dollar a bushel. As many persons own a large quantity of land, they cannot make use of it all, and consequently many acres remain uncultivated for five, six or seven years. Frequently, for the first year a crop of rye is sown, the second year wheat and English grass seed, and after the wheat is harvested, it is used for five years as pasture. For a second crop it is customary to sow buckwheat.*]
"Most of the lime used in Philadelphia comes from the neighborhood of Whitemarsh or Plymouth, 15 or 17 miles distant. Nearer than that there is no pure limestone, and wood is also very scarce. From there, up to within five miles of Bethlehem there are no traces of limestone. Formerly the lime was delivered in Philadelphia for one shilling per bushel. A four horse team can haul from 40-50 bushels. Every farm has its orchard, when the trees becomes old a new one is started, at a new spot, as the general belief is that young trees will not thrive where the old ones stood. People also have land enough and do not like to engage in the labor of plowing up the land, and improving it with manure or other mixture. There is no attention paid to the variety of fruit; apples and peaches are about all that are cultivated, the former, however, might be greatly improved.*]
"After leaving the foregoing host and traveling through a continuous forest, we reached 'Rocky Hill' township, but we only saw a few scattered houses. The road is fitly called 'Rocky Hill.' A blue basaltic and also a slaty gneiss rock covered the surface under which, however, the red, Jersey soil is found. We passed through a devastated forest of at least 2,000 acres, which had been cut down for fuel at a charcoal furnace. After the owner had used up all the wood it was abandoned. The forest consists of oak, beech and birch. The bark of the latter is used for tanning. On this dry unproductive soil, we saw nothing but small trunks of all kinds of trees. None of them appeared very old. Most of the thickets we met with are composed of young trees, as the first settlers have a custom of clearing their lands with fire, but the fire often spreads too far, and the original forests were destroyed. Nowhere will you meet with such a diversity of fencing as in America; almost every minute you will see a different style, and people cannot help wondering at the inventive genius of the inhabitants. Generally there are dry enclosures, either thin stakes of cleft trees, which are entwined in various ways or laid one on top of the other, or upright posts are placed against each other and interlaced. The so called worm fences were the most frequent. They are made of chestnut wood, as it makes the lightest fence, and when the bark is off will last a long time. Green hedge are rarely met with, and then only in a few towns, as the labor of planting and taking care of them is too great.*]
Williams, Richard T. and Mildred C. Williams, 1971. Index of Wills of Buck County Pennsylvania, 1684-1850. p. 108, Will of James Melvin, 1778, Lower Milford, number 1586.
Hinke, William John, 1925. A history of the Tohickon Union Church, Bedminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania : with copy of church records, Reformed congregation, 1745-1869, Lutheran congregation, 1749-1840
DAVIS, W. W. H. 1876, 1905. THE HISTORY OF BUCKS COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA from the discovery of the Delaware to the present time. Second Edition, Revised With a Genealogical and Personal History of Bucks County Prepared Under the Editorial Supervision of Warren S. Ely, Genealogist Member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Librarian of the Bucks County Historical Society. John W. Jordan, LL.D Of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania New York, Chicago The Lewis Publishing Co., 1905 . [The online version of this work seems to be a merger of the 1876 and 1905 edition, combing notes from the two.]