Llywn Du – The Home of the Humphrey Dynasty and Quakerism in Wales.
If you are a Quaker Friend, you will understand the high significance of Llwyn Du House in the founding of the Quaker movement and the historical links to Pennsylvania, USA.
The Humphrey Family
Records show the Humphrey family residing at Llwyn Du since the early 16th century (though it has been said there has been a dwelling on the site since the 12th century).
The Humphrey family was converted to the Quaker faith, in the mid-17th century at Llwyn Du, Llwyngwril, Merionethshire in Wales by Richard Davies of Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, who was a famous Quaker minister. Davies wrote an account of his travels in North Wales, and states that in 1662 Owen, his father, and his brothers Samuel and John Humphrey “continued faithful, serviceable men in their country, kept meetings in their houses – of which one was Llwyn Du.
With links to George Fox, William Penn, John Roberts and Rowland Ellis – by blood or by faith – the Humphrey family extended from Llwyn Du to Pennsylvania, USA.
Owen Humphrey was the second son of Humphrey ap Hugh and was born in the early 1600’s. He inherited Llwyn Du and remained there until his death at the end of the 17th century. Research implies George Fox visited Llwyn Du in the mid 17th century and he reported that some of the most respectable and highly influential inhabitants congregated at Llwyn Du – he would often refer to the house as Sea Syde. Owen Humphrey is frequently mentioned in Besse’s Sufferings- a printed record of the persecutions of the Quakers.
Owen’s siblings Samuel, John and Anne are significant to the USA’s founding history. They all migrated to Pennsylvania. Samuel with his wife Elizabeth Rees, John with his wife Jane and Anne wife of Ellis ap Rees. These siblings have exceptional importance in the Welsh colonisation of Pennsylvania.
Samuel Humphrey – Brother to Owen
When Samuel died, Elizabeth Rees went on to marry John Roberts. He was the original leader of the Welsh Settlers in Pennyslvania, who negotiated with William Penn the Welsh Tract.
The Welsh Tract
The Welsh Tract, also called the Welsh Baron – The Quakers and William Penn
At the end of the 17th century William Penn negotiated with John Roberts (husband of Elizabeth Rees – widow of Samuel Humphrey) and granted a vast amount of land on the Western side of Pennsylvania (now known as Delaware, Montgomery and Chester). This was the Welsh Tract agreement. Communities were subsequently given Welsh sounding names. Among these, communities were Merion and Bryn Mawr – formerly Humpreysville.
Anne Humphrey – Sister to Owen
Anne and Ellis were the parents of Rowland Ellis. Rowland was an important Quaker in Pennsylvania – he built Bryn Mawr House in 1704 – named after the family farm back in Wales. Today it is known as Harriton House. The modern town of Bryn Mawr is named after the house, and the National Register of Historic Places has it listed under the original name. Details of his family can be found here:
Owen Humphrey’s Daughter – Rebecca Humphrey
Rebecca married Robert Owen – the Quaker Minister who worked with William Penn to bring to America the Welsh Settlers. Robert Owen was one of the first settlers in Merion. Penn Cottage their home in Pennsylvania was built at the same time as the now famous Merion Meeting House.
Merion, Pennsylvania, USA
Today Merion Friends Meetinghouse is the most pictured Quaker meetinghouse in America, and was the first public building in the area. In 1998 it was named a National Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior.
Not only does its age, largely unaltered design, and continuous use make it a notable structure, but also the fact that Welsh members of the Society of Friends who built it represent the earliest migration of Celtic speaking Welsh in the Western Hemisphere.
Llwyndu history research courtesy of Anne-louise Perez.