300 YEARS OF QUAKERS IN QUAKERTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA
The first claim to land in The Swamp of Richland was filed by Griffith Jones, a Quaker, a member of the Free Society of Traders, a provincial assemblyman, and later, the 4th mayor of Philadelphia. In 1701 he had several thousand acres surveyed in the area that is now Richland. In 1703, the Proprietor’s Manor of Richland was established, what is now Milford Township. On a property deed transferred between government officials in 1705 the entire region was first called “the Township of Richland.” Quaker settlement of The Swamp then began. The first documented permanent settlers arrived in 1708. By 1710 Meetings for Worship were being held in Friends’ homes. Quaker farmers were attracted by the fertile soil and relocated from Byberry, Abington and Gwynedd Monthly Meetings. By 1715 there were enough Friends in the area that ‘official permission’ to hold Meetings for Worship “at Ye Swamp” was granted by Gwynedd. A Meetinghouse, the first church in the region, was built on station road at Old Bethlehem Pike in 1723. By 1730 it had been relocated to its current site; near the center of The Swamp and the Quaker community that had sprung up there. That same year, Swamp Road (Rte 313) was completed to the county seat at Newtown. In 1732, Richland and Milford became ‘official’ townships in Bucks County. Richland became an independent Monthly Meeting in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1742. At about the same time the first school in Upper Bucks County was established by the Friends. The region experience a large influx of German immigrants and other communities grew in the area, but the Quaker influence continued to dominate. Richland Meeting was active in the anti-alcohol and tobacco and the Quaker Reform movements of the mid-1700’s. The Friends offered benevolent support to the Revolutionary effort, and were significantly active in the anti-slavery movement, operating an important ‘station’ in the Underground Railroad network. The “Quakers’ Town” post office was ‘officially’ named in 1803. When the borough was incorporated in 1854, there was no question that it would be called Quakertown. From this community’s origins and across the ensuing centuries, Richland Friends Meeting has remained a relevant and active religious institution and an important part of the community in Upper Bucks County.
RICHLAND FRIENDS MEETING