SHIPWRECK STORY AND

ALLISON AND LATTA CONNECTION IN CHESTER COUNTY, PA

 

By Sue Lattea Cox, Branch 17

 

 

I have been researching the Latta family, trying to figure out more information about the early shipwreck and trying to pinpoint just what was going on in the Cecil County, Maryland and Chester County, Pennsylvania area when our Latta family came to America about 1738 or 1739.

I searched the internet for ships that came from Ireland to the coast of Maryland/Delaware during that time period. On Rootsweb’s “Immigrants from Ireland to America” a list of ships traveling from Ireland to America are listed. Subtracting those ships that didn’t come into Maryland/Delaware, and then subtracting all ships except those traveling in 1738 or 1739, and then subtracting those lists with only a few passengers, I found one ship in particular that was of interest. That ship was the WALPOOLE, which was substituted for the ship COCKERMOUTH of the Whitehaven line. On April 18, 1738, an advertisement appeared in the Dublin Journal which read: “The Ship Cockermouth of Whitehaven (the town in England where the ship was from), Burthen 250 Tons, newly rebuilt, and well fitted, manned and victualed, mounted with great Guns, and a sufficient Quantity of small Arms, Captain James Patton Commander, will be in Dublin the latter end of April, or Beginning of May in order to take in Passengers for Virginia, Maryland, or Pennsylvania: (those for Pennsylvania to be landed at the Head of Chessypeak Bay, either at Bohemia Landing or Elk River.) Whoever is inclinded to go in the said Ship from Dublin, may apply to Mr. Matthew Houghton, Mr. John Hornby, Mr. Campbell Merchants there, or to the said Captain at Mr. Heath’s at the Flag on Temple Bar, or on the Custom House Key, and on the Change at Change House, who will article with them. The said ship, when victualed and fitted, will sail directly from Dublin to Loughswilly in the County of Donnegal. Whoever is inclined to go with her from thence as Passengers, to any of the aforesaid Places, may apply to Mr. Collin Campbell, Mr. John Preston in Derry, Mr. Daniel M’Farland near Burn Cranoughy, or Mr. John Hutchinson of Glenvain, to Mr. Robert Smith of Rathmullen, and to Mr. David Thompson of Rathmalton. Those from Limerick must apply to Mr. Isaac Patton, or to Mr. Charles Linde at Coleraine, and at Monaghan to Mr. William Jeep. Those from the Counties of Tyrone and Armagh may apply to Messrs. James and Thomas Sommervill in Dungannon, who goes with the Ship with their Families. All the aforesaid Gentlemen will enter into Articles with passengers according to Custom; The Ship being five foot one half between Decks, which is very commodious for Passengers, and may assure themselves not to be crowded, but in all respects civilly used. N. B. Any Tradesmen or others that have a Mind to go as Servants, may apply to the Captain or Gentlemen aforesaid.”

At the time of the advertisement, the COCKERMOUTH had been run aground with a load of goods, and the ship WALPOOLE had been substituted in her place.

At that time, the ship’s Captain, James Patton, was working for prosperous Irish Presbyterian merchant by the name of Walter Lutwidge. Based out of Whitehaven, England, and trading in tobacco from Maryland and Virginia, Lutwidge owned several ships including Couckermouth and the Walpoole. Patton sailed from Whitehaven, England in Walter Lutwidge’s ship WALPOOLE on March 16, 1738. The ship lay some weeks at Dublin, taking on passengers and indentured servants. Sometime after April 28, the WALPOOLE set sale for Lough Swilly (see map). Lough Swilly was an area of Ireland where the Ewing, Allison and Latta family lived in close proximity to. Some of the Ewing family lived at Inch Island, in the bay of Lough Swilly. Some of the Latta family records were found in St. Johnstown, and the Allison family had roots in Rathmelton, north of Letterkenny. The family of James Patton lived near Rathmullan, just north of Inch Island.

Meanwhile, John Preston, Patton’s brother-in-law and agent in Derry, was signing up passengers to go as settlers to Virginia. Many of these would disembark in Virginia and settle in the Draper’s Meadow area of Virginia (modern Blacksburg.) It is probably here in the heartland of the Paton and Preston families that most of the immigrants came aboard in that area. The WALPOOLE arrived in Virginia sometime between August 23-26, 1738. Peter Burke, an indentured servant on board, noted in his indentured papers that the ship arrived in Chesapeake Bay on August 23, 1738. An article in the Augusta Historical Bulletin states that the Warpoole was entered into the records of the Custom House at Belle Haven (present day Alexandria, Virginia) on August 25, 1738. Two families on board the ship who settled in Virginia were the Grahams and the Prestons. Both family histories states that the voyage was not smooth sailing. Late August would have been hurricane season along the American coast. Like the Grahams, the Preston family later recounted a great storm that washed their possessions overboard and left them nearly empty handed when they arrived in America. The Warpoole reportedly had 65 passengers on board, with about forty leaving the ship at Virginia.

If the ship did go on to Bohemia Landing on the Elk River in Cecil County, Maryland, those remaining on the ship could have been Latta family members.

Looking at the history of the Bohemia Manor in Cecil County, I found that according to John Thomas Scharf’s History of Maryland, in 1710, Charles Rumsey (the owner of Bohemia Manor at the time) presented a petition asking to open an ordinary at his home and in support thereof “shewing that he was a liver at the head of Bohemia River and that he had a wife and several small children to maintain, which to him were very chargeable, and continual passengers coming to his house, travelers from this province for Pennsylvania and from Pennsylvania to this province, and to whom he in modesty gives entertainment and lodgings, victuals, etc. without pay, with in time may amount to considerable sums of money.” After 1777, the emergence of new ports on the Chesapeake Bay like Baltimore and broader changes in trade patterns all helped to diminish the importance of the overland route across the Peninsula over the course of the 18th-century. Bohemia Landing became a local landing but gone were the days when it served as any more significant link in the mid-Atlantic trade network. Cultural Resource Survey: Hunter Research, Inc.

A history of the William Latta and Agnes Rhea family states that they had a daughter named Elizabeth Latta who married John McCrabb, her first cousin. The McCrabb family came to America in 1738 and settled in the Wilmington, DE area, and later moved to Holston Co., TN. (Was the McCrabb family traveling with the Latta family?)

So who came to America in 1738? The family of Rev. James Latta and his wife, Mary Alision Latta, and their children (exact number unknown), William Rhea, brother of Agnes Rhea (according to family history), and the McCrabb family. In 1750, there is a “Matthew Latta” who dies in Chester County, PA. His estate is administered by a Robert Young, who administers the estate of his mother, Margaret Young, who lived in E. Nottingham in 1750 also. Was Matthew Latta also aboard the ship in 1738, and who is he related to?

Looking at the History of Delaware, Chapter 1: Francis Alison’s Academy, I found that Francis Alison, a brother to Mary Alison, wife of Rev. James Latta, graduated from the University of Edinburgh in January 1732, and was licensed in June 1735 by the Presbytery of Letterkenny, in Donegal and soon after being licensed he left for America. The article states that Francis Alison landed at New Castle, Delaware in 1735. If this was the course of travel that Francis Alison took to reach America, we might assume that his sister and her family would take the same route, unless they happened to see the article published for the Walpoole and decided on a route to the Bohemia Landing on the Elk River. By 1736 Alison became affiliated with the Presbytery of New Castle, and by 1737 he was pastor of the Presbyterian church at New London, in southern Chester County, just north of the Bohemia Landing. New London being just east of and bordering the settlement of East Nottingham.

In 1743, Francis Allison is granted a land warrant bearing date the 29th day of May, for 15 acres situate in East Nottingham and New London Townships. A Joseph Allison is granted a warrant beside of Francis Allison at the same time. These two pieces of property were situate along a branch of the Elk River. Another neighbor to the south of Joseph Allison’s property is Wm. McKean, a tavern keeper, whose wife dies in 1742, and whose two sons, Thomas and Robert, ages 8 and 10, are taken in by the Francis Allison family.

In the fall of 1743, Francis Allison opens his New London Academy, and among the first class we find the following students: Robert and Thomas McKean, George Read of Delaware, James Smith of Pennsylvania, Hugh Williamson, John Ewing, John Cochran, Charles Thomson, James Latta, Matthew Wilson and Paul Jackson. The first class was perhaps the most remarkable one, possibly the most distinguished in terms of the later achievements of its members, taken as a whole, of any class in any school in America. Some became distinguished statesmen (governors, congressmen, signers of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution), others became doctors, merchants and scholars of reputation. If James Latta was born in 1732 in Ireland, he would have been about 9 years old when he attended Allison’s school. Many of Allison’s students were thought to have walked to school from their homes nearby. Tradition has it that the first class was held in a room above Allison’s spring house. The school prospered under Allison’s direction, and after 8 years it was moved from Thunder Hill, the area where Allison lived, to the center of the village. Allison offered courses in languages, philosophy and divinity. Languages meant Latin and Greek, with possibly a bit of Hebrew; philosophy referred to practically all branches then known of the arts and sciences. Every morning Allison critically examined compositions by the students, in English and Latin – themes, epistles, descriptions and abridgements of the Spectator and Guardian, essays of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. One student, Charles Thomson, told of walking the forty-five miles to Philadelphia to buy a copy of the Spectator. Another student, John Ewing, who was afterwards a tutor in the school, it was said that he would frequently ride thirty or forty miles to borrow a book on science or mathematics.

The bond between the first class must have been a strong one, as Rev. James Latta later named one of his sons “John Ewing Latta.” It is also interesting to note that Rev. John Ewing supervised the setting of the stones in the Mason Dixon Line in 1764 in the Cecil County area, when he served as one of the commissioners of Pennsylvania.

So who else is found in the Cecil County, Maryland area at that time? In 1766 we find a Robert Latta on the tax list in North Milford Hundred, but he is listed in the 1768 tax list for St. Mary Ann’s Parish, Octorara Hundred as “Robert Latta – run” meaning that he left the area. Is this the Robert Latta of Branch 32 living in Bart Township of Lancaster County?

Branch 32 notes: Lieut. Gov. John Latta says about 1784, "The above Ephraim Latta (son of Robert Latta of Branch 32) lived in close proximity to the Latta settlement in Chester Co., Pa., (was E. Nottingham referred to as the “Latta settlement?”) the native place of Rev. James W. Latta, Branch 8. There is a deed at the Court House which tells of Samuel Latta buying land in Bart Tp. of his "Uncle James". If this is the Rev. James Latta, then Robert of Bart Tp. and Rev. James Latta of Drumore, were brothers. Both townships were in the south section of the county, and in the same locality.”

Other Nottingham settlers were “Friends” or Quakers. Rev. James Brown lived in East Nottingham, and his brother, Rev. William Brown lived in West Nottingham. Also in Cecil County were members of the Alexander family, related to Rev. James Alexander of the Laggan Presbytery in Ireland who came to America in 1681.

Matthew Latta (probably Branch 8) is listed as a freeman in East Nottingham township, according to the tax list of 1749 in Chester County PA. James Latta, possibly the James of Branch 8, paid taxes in the same area in 1749. As noted above, in 1750, Matthew's estate was settled in Chester County, PA.

So here we have all these families living in Cecil County, Maryland, and Chester County, Pennsylvania, at this time, who also have roots in the same general area of Lough Swilly, Ireland.

These families gradually moved further north into Chester County to Sadsbury and Nantmel townships, then further into Pennsylvania.

Looking at Note F, we see a marriage at the Old Swedes Church in Delaware in December, 1745 for Elizabeth Latty and Thomas Bowles. (Church records also lists baptizing of two daughters - "Baptized in the Marlborough Church, child Mary, born April 1, 1750, baptized May 1st, parents, Thomas and Mrs. Bowles"; and 1758 - "child Sarah, born April 27, baptized June 27th, parents Thomas and Elizabeth Bowles." Their son, Thomas Bowles, Rev. War soldier from Orange Co., NC stated in his pension application that he was "born in Lancaster County, PA, and was taken by his parents, at the age of about eighteen months, to Orange County, NC." His file also states that he was 69 years old in 1832, which would place his birth date at about 1763, making the family's migration to NC about 1765. Thomas Bowles had a land patent for 200 acres in Lancaster County, PA on June 19, 1744. The "History of Lancaster County by S. C. Stevenson" stated that he lived next to John Taylor, over Susquehanna. The "History of Lancaster County by Franklin Ellis and Samuel Evans (1883) page 974 stated that he lived in Martic township. It further stated that the Muddy Run Presbyterian Church was established in 1742, and that almost the whole congregation moved to South Carolina due to the Indian attacks. PA Land Warrant map C26-3 shows Thomas Bowles land as being in present Fawn now Peach Bottom Township in the County of York when surveyed in 1838 for James Ramsey. The Will of Thomas Bowles (senior) in Orange County, NC in 1789 was witnessed by James Latta, James Latta, Jr. and Jane Davis (see Jane Latta Davis next line) The Will identifies wife Elizabeth, sons Thomas, William, and John, and daughters, Elizabeth Murdock, Sarah Bowles, and granddaughter Sarah Clark (perhaps daughter of daughter Mary) "In the name of God, amen, I, Thomas Bowls of Orange County, and State of North Carolina, being at present weak in body but in as reasonable mind and memory blessed be God for his mercy, and calling to mind the mortality of my body do make and ordain this my last will and testament, and first of all I recommend my Soul into the hand of God that gave it and my body to the Earth to be buried in a descent and Christian like manner at the ?? of my friends and as touching my worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me, I give bequeath and devise in the following manner, that is to say, First I give to my wife, ELIZABETH BOWLS three cows and one horse or mare (?), saddle and bridle, one good feather bed and furniture, one trunk and boxes what she pleases to take, one woolen wheel and one linnen wheel and cheek (?), one iron pot of her choice, one iron cettle (kettle), and one brass one, a pair fire tongs and pot rack and the half of the pewter. I give and bequeath to my two sons THOMAS BOWLS and WILLIAM BOWLS all that piece or parsel of land whereon I now live situated lying on both sides of the North Fork of Little River containing two hundred and two acres as will appear by grant from JOHN EMBRY to be equally divided in quantity between said THOMAS and WILLIAM BOWLS. My son THOMAS BOWLS to have that part whereon is the dwelling house and improvements, notwithstanding it is the intent of my will that my wife ELIZABETH BOWLS have her maintance by the produce of the improvement during her widowhood. I give and bequeath to my son JOHN BOWLS twenty pounds current money to be paid arrising as a moiety out of the above improvement payable by my son THOMAS BOWLS. I give and bequeath to my daughter ELIZABETH MURDAK (or possibly Murdock) twenty pounds current money as a moiety arrising out of the improved part bequeathed to my son WILLIAM BOWLS, which two sums of twenty pounds is not to be paid until a full year after my decease and I ratify and confirm the above gifts bequeathed to my two sons THOMAS BOWLS and WILLIAM BOWLS with all other gifts given by me or granted heretofore to them and their heirs and assigns forever; allowing an equal devision between them both of all the Plantation utenshals (utensils). I give and bequeath to my daughter SARAH BOWLS ten shillings together with all gifts granted by me heretofore given to her. I give and bequeath to my grand daughter SARAH CLARK one horse and two cows; after my just debts and funeral charges is paid, all the remains and remainder of my estate not mentioned in this grant to be equally divided between my wife, ELIZABETH BOWLS and my son THOMAS BOWLS and my son WILLIAM BOWLS and I make and ordain them my said two sons THOMAS BOWLS and WILLIAM BOWLS sole executors of this my last will according to my true intent and meaning and no other. In witness whereof I the said THOMAS BOWLS have to this my last will and testament set my hand and seal this thirtieth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine, signed sealed and delivered by the said THOMAS BOWLS as and for his last will and testament. In the presence of us who were present at the signing and sealing thereof (signed THOMAS BOWLS - his mark); JAMES LATTA, JANE DAVIS (her mark) JAMES LATTA JUNIOR.

On May 14, 1751, there is a marriage for Jane Latta and Robert Davis. The marriage records of Orange County, NC show that Thomas Bowles, Jr. married Anne Davis on May 16, 1791. The bondsman was Robert Davis, who may be her father.

Migration of families from Pennsylvania to North Carolina along the Great Wagon Road at this time were due to higher land prices in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and the overcrowded conditions of the area. So many people left the Nottingham settlement on the Maryland/Pennsylvania border for North Carolina that there was a settlement in North Carolina called the “Nottingham settlement.” In 1749, a James Allison and his wife Mary, of Cecil County, MD were granted 350 acres on the Carolina frontier, and on April 3, 1751, James Allison’s brother, Andrew of Colerain twp, Lancaster County, PA recorded a land warrant for 640 acres in the same general area. In 1755, we find a James Latta in the Orange County taxes, and a listing for a Thomas Lovelatty, which could be Thomas Love Latty.

Is there a relationship here with Branch 7, Branch 15, and Branch 31, Orange County, NC Latta families? Come on Latta researchers, help me out.