The Worland Family in America and Beyond

I began my life in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, on an island filled with forests and wild rhododendrons. I was separated from my Worland family there at an early age. Recently, I was reunited with my family and learned of my heritage. And so, this journey to know my ancestors began. The Worlands, Gideons, Newtons, Conards... they were the colonists, the settlers, the pioneers. They fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War. This is their story, and the story of a nation. -Deci Worland MacKinnon

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gwynedd and North Wales, Pennsylvania

North Wales is a borough in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. It is a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is one of the three historic population centers that make up the North Penn Valley. The population was 3,342 at the 2000 census.
As its name suggests, North Wales was settled by Welsh immigrants who named it after North Wales in Wales. Part of a 1702 William Penn land grant, this rich farming country was given the name "Gwynedd" for the homeland of the earliest settlers and it began as a pastoral village in agricultural Gwynedd Township. In 1741, Gwynedd contained 93 taxables, and Montgomery township 54.

The Welsh Tract, also called the Welsh Barony, was a portion of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania settled largely by Welsh-speaking Quakers. It covers 40,000 acres to the west of Philadelphia. The original settlers, led by John Roberts, negotiated with William Penn in 1684 to constitute the Tract as a separate county whose local government would use the Welsh language, since many of the settlers spoke no English. Notwithstanding this agreement, by the 1690s the land had already been partitioned into different counties, despite appeals from the Welsh settlers, and the Tract never gained self-government.

The area is now part of Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties. Many towns in the area still bear Welsh names. Some, such as Lower Merion, Upper Merion, Bala Cynwyd, Radnor and Haverford Township, are named after places in Wales. Others, such as Tredyffrin or Uwchlan, have independent Welsh names. Some communities in the area that formerly comprised the Welsh Tract were subsequently given Welsh names. Among these were Gladwyne, formerly "Merion Square" (which was given its new name in 1891 in order to imitate the stylish Welsh names of adjoining towns, although the name is meaningless in Welsh), and Bryn Mawr, formerly "Humphreysville" (which was renamed in 1869).

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