The story of my family’s coming to America begins in a small town in Essex, England and ends with their very own ‘Welcome’ to America.
Henry Worley was born into a small farming family in Essex in 1642. However, he had bigger visions for his life, and in his early 20s he moved to London. There, he established himself as a furniture maker. In 1667, he married Ann Stone, daughter of a prominent London merchant who was also a member of the fledgling Quaker sect.
Ann and Henry had two sons, Francis in 1669, and Henry in 1672. A daughter, Elizabeth, was born to the couple in 1673. However, she died when she was only a few months old. Then, in December 1674, Henry Sr. died of ‘a fever.’
By the norms of the day, Ann could not remain a widow with young children. She soon was courted by a last maker, Caleb Pusey. They had a surprisingly long courtship for the time, but were married in 1681 at the Devonshire Meetinghouse in London.
Increasingly, the Quakers were coming under scrutiny from officials of the established Church of England. In 1682, the Quaker leader, William Penn, determined that the sect should find a new home in America. Penn had a substantial land-grant as a result of money owed to his father by the king. So in August, 1682, Penn and a number of his followers boarded a single galleon for the ocean voyage. The small ship was dubbed the ‘Welcome.’ On board were Caleb and Ann Pusey and the Worley boys, Francis and Henry.
After a relatively uneventful voyage, the ‘Welcome’ landed near what is now New Castle, Delaware in October 1682. (During the voyage, Ann gave birth to a daughter, who was christened ‘Elizabeth’, the name of her deceased older sister.)
The party continued north on the Delaware River to a point just south of the current location of the Philadelphia International Airport. There, they went ashore and Penn christened his claim ‘Pennsylvania’, meaning “Penn’s Woods.”
At this stage of the new colony’s history, there was little need for a last maker — the builder of the wooden forms around which shoes are made. There was, however, a need to prepare flour from the grain that had been brought on the voyage. There would also be the next year’s harvest to consider.
Penn designated Caleb Pusey as the colony’s grain miller and directed him to establish a mill with all possible speed. A substantial creek had been noted flowing into the Delaware River just to the south of their landing point. Pusey determined that it would be a good place for a mill, and designated the waterway ‘Chester Creek.’ With communal help, a grain mill powered by waterwheel was constructed.
However, there was not sufficient time before winter to construct living quarters for the grain miller’s family. The Pusey family spent the winter of 1682-83 living in a hole in the ground covered by logs near the site of the mill.
The Rock House
In the summer of 1683, Caleb built a house of river rock near the mill. it was immediately adjacent to the hole where they had spent the winter, which was filled in to create a garden.
Over the years, a couple of additions were made to the house but Caleb’s construction has stood the test of time. The rock house, now a museum called the Caleb Pusey House, still exists in the southeast Philadelphia suburb of Upland. I took the photograph at the right when I visited the house in 1992. It was somewhat surreal to realize that I was walking on the same floor planks that my seventh great-grandfather had played on more than 300 years prior.
Both Francis and Henry went on to become pillars of Pennsylvania’s Quaker community. Henry’s descendants* largely stayed in place in eastern Pennsylvania and areas immediately south. Francis’s descendants moved west in the next generation, settling initially in Greene County, Pennsylvania near present day Pittsburgh. My lineage moved on over time, into Illinois and Kansas. That’s the subject of another post
- Henry Worley (1642-1674)
- Francis Worley (1669-1726)
- Brassey Worley (1701-1783)
- Brice Worley (1740-1809)
- David Achor Worley (1775-1851)
- Robert Lee Worley (1815-1871)
- Zenas Cornelius Worley (1841-1908)**
- Perry Albert Worley (1876-1932)
- Arlie Roy Worley (1911-1992)
- And me.
*As an aside, the comedienne Joanne Worley is descended from Henry, making her my 6th cousin.
**More on this unusual name in a later post.