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LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP, MONTGOMERY
NE of the oldest seats near Philadelphia is Harriton on the Gulf Road about half a mile from Bryn Mawr in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County. It was built in 1704 by Rowland Ellis, one of the
settlers in the Welsh Barony, and has endured comparatively little changed to the present time. The house, two storeys in height with a high pitched roof lighted by dormers, is T shaped, substantially built of native grey field stone. Its lines and general aspect, as might be expected, show all the little characteristic peculiarities of the type usually found in the buildings erected by the Welsh settlers. It might he said they spoke in Georgian with a Welsh accent.
The main part of the house is thirty-seven feet long and twenty-two in depth, while the wing in the middle of the rear is twenty-two by nineteen feet-a large house for the Colonists of those early days, but the Welsh always liked large houses. The house-door admits directly to a great living-room into which a smaller parlour opens. The dining-room, stairway, and kitchens are in the rear.
In 1719 Richard Harrison, the son-in-law of Isaac Norris, came hither from Maryland and bought the estate from the Ellises. In 1774 Hannah Harrison, the daughter of Richard and Hannah Norris Harrison and heiress to the Harriton estate, then in her forty-seventh
year, was married to Charles Thomson, a widower of forty-five, whom John Adams called the “ Sam Adams of Philadelphia.”
Charles Thomson was born at Maghera, County Derry, Ireland, in 1729, and when eleven years old came out to America with his father, brother, and three sisters. The father died on the way over and the five children were unceremoniously put off at Newcastle by the captain, who wished to avoid further care of them. By the aid of the friends he soon made for himself and through his quick wit and indomitable determination to succeed, he supported himself and gained a serviceable education.
In 1750 we find him in the position of tutor in the College of Philadelphia, and for some years thereafter he
gave his time to teaching. Subsequently he became a merchant and also took an active part in politics. He was a politician by temperament and inevitably gravitated into political prominence in the years that were to follow. He served on various important committees, signed the Non-Importation Agreement of 1765 and in 1774 became a member of the General Assembly for the City of Philadelphia.
Upon the assembling of the Continental Congress in Carpenters' Hall, a secretary was required who was not a delegate. Charles Thomson was chosen upon the nomination of Thomas Mifflin. He had just married Miss Harrison and on the very morning that Congress assembled, drove in to the city with her from Harriton, on what was really the wedding trip, all unconscious of the duties awaiting him. As he stepped out of the “chair" in which they were riding, a messenger came up bearing the
compliments of Peyton Randolph, president of the Congress, and desired Mr. Thomson's immediate attendance at the session just assembling. Taking a hasty leave of his bride, he went at once to discharge his new office. As an amends for her curtailed bridal tour Congress voted Mrs. Thomson a present. It came in the form of a silver urn which has been proudly treasured ever since.
Mr. Thomson filled the secretaryship so ably that he continued to serve Congress in that capacity for fourteen years. During the Revolutionary struggle and the infancy of the young Republic no one had a better opportunity than he to know all the inmost details of all that occurred. He was strongly urged to put all this knowledge of secret history into permanent form. He began the task but saw, as he progressed, that the reputations of so many men, then invested with the halo of patriotism, would be hopelessly blasted that he gave up the undertaking in disgust and burned all his
papers. Charles Thomson continued master of Harriton till his death in 1824, after which the estate descended to Mrs. Levi Morris, a relative of Mrs. Thomson's, from whom it passed in time to the Vaux family, the present possessors.
EASTTOWN TOWNSHIP, CHESTER
AYNESBOROUGH is situated in the Township of Easttown and the County of Chester, within two miles of Paoli and four miles of Valley Forge. It was the countryseat of Captain Isaac Wayne, youngest son
of Anthony Wayne who went from Yorkshire, England, to County Wicklow, Ireland, and commanded a troop of dragoons at the battle of the Boyne in the forces of William III. He emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1722 and, after spending two years examining the country, purchased sixteen hundred acres in Chester County and erected his house. There were four sons. Of these Isaac owned and cultivated the five hundred acres in Easttown Township still constituting Waynesborough. He also conducted a tannery and took an active part in the political controversies of the times, serving, too, as captain in the French and Indian War, having raised two companies to fight during 1755, 1757 and 1788. He was a tall, handsome man, of soldierly bearing, blunt in speech after the fashion of those much in garrison life, a good horseman, and a high liver, but temperate. He accumulated a large estate and enlarged the house at Waynesborough considerably. It is built of brown irregular stone with white pointing and has a wing at each end. Over the doorway is a hood which is not horizontal. A carpenter who daily passed the house to his work was so disturbed by this hood that he offered to straighten