Letters: Hannah Penn 1722 and James Logan 1734 - on the situation of Theodore Coleby
Letter - Hannah Penn to James Logan
London, 25th of Febry, 1722
The occasion of the present is upon the application of Theodore Colby, who desires yet a warrant may be granted him, for the laying out two thousand and four, or five hundred acres of land, part of five thousand acres formerly intended to be granted by my late Husband to Coll. Markham. I have had recourse to thy former letter to me about this affaire, and must be of thy opinion, yet that grant ought in justice to be made good, and therefore I am willing that it should be effectually done. My desire therefore is that thou wilt use thy best endeavours, to transact his matter so, with the rest concerned, as that both this gentleman, and the daughter, or whoever else have a just claim, under Coll. Markham, for the residue of the 5,000 acres may have right done them, and I shall allways be ready to do anything further, yet can be required on my part, to confirm the same, I am with good wishes for thy self, and family,
Thy loving Friend,
[source] William Penn 1644 - 1718; An exhibition of holograph letters and autograph documents, selected from source materials in the Blumhaven Collection; published online at scribd.com, by Richard Castor, September 2012.
James Logan's Remarks, 1734
James Logan's opinion on certain land titles in Pennsylvania. Gives his recollections on a large land grant that went from Governor William Markham to his descendants, including his widow Joana Markham, his daughter Mary Ann Markham Brown, his step-daughter Elizabeth Jobson Regnier, and his widow's nephew Theodore Colby.
Being desired to give my Sentim" on the case of Anne Brown, Daughter to Coll. William Markham as she has presented it to our Proprietor Thomas Penn Esq. I shall here give what I know of that affair being probably better acquainted with it than any other person now living with all the Truth and exactness in my power. Coll Markhams name being by some means entred amongst the List of the first Purchasers of Lands in this Province for y" quantity of five thousand acres tho I could never learn that he had any Grant by Deeds as all other Purchasers had presuming on that while he was Secretary of the Province to cause Some Tracts of Lands in the Countrey and Lotts in the City to be survey'd to him. The late Proprietor coming over in the year 1699 with whom I also at the same time came as his Secretary, being offended with that Gentleman for some part of his Conduct as Govern' which he then was, objected also to him that he had presumed to make those surveys without any right, and therefore declared them void. Jacob Regnier with whom I had an intimate acquaintance having married Govern Markham's wife's daughter in his frequent journeys between New York & Maryl" applied to me to know whether on a Grant to him from his father in law he might not have some of that Land, I told him the case, and so it lay for many years after. One Theodore Colby Nephew to Govern Markhams' Widow upon some encouragem" from his Aunt came over to her from London about the year 1717 or 1718 to New York, where great notice was taken of him for his Integrity and some other qualities by Brigadier Hunter then Govern' of New York who was known to express a particular friendship for me. He in discourse with T. Colby found y" Gent was under some disappointm" in his expectations from his Aunt, but understood that she had offered him between 2 & 3 thous" acres of the Land her deceased husband had Claimed in Pensilv" which might be of some value to him if he could procure it. The Brigadier hereupon as the Widow expected made use of his Interest with me while I was at N. York on some public business in y Month of May & June, 1719 & to try to obtain a Grant of the Land for him. I answered as I could not find Coll. Markham ever had any Right it was not in mine or our Commission" Power to give the Land and if he ever obtain'd it, it must be by a Grant directly from the Proprietor's Heirs or Exet. The Brigadier being then extreamly afflicted with y Sciatica had some thought of taking a Voyage to Britain to try for a Cure & desired that in case he went I would give him a Lett to the Exec" in Colby's favour and he would himself Sollicite it I desired to See the Right that he claim'd by, upon w" before I left N. York T. Colby produced some an Authentic Deed from his Aunt for 2400 Acres of it, and at the Same time a Copy of it Sign'd as I remember by the Same Witnesses that had sign'd the Original. He also gave me a Petition to the Commissioners which he begg'd me to lay before them in case the Brigadier should not embark for England. But he did embark the following July and forwarded my Lett as directed. Yet nothing was done in it till Colby in the year 1722 went over himself and then waiting on M" Penn with a Lett from the Brigadier, he procured her Letter to me of ye 25" of febry 1723 directing that Theod. Colby should have the sd 2400 Acres of Land & also that the Remaind" of the 5000 Acres should be granted to such as had the right of claim under W" Markham w" Lett. I have, he also obtain'd a Duplicate of it directed to y" Widow Markham that by vertue of those who claim'd the Remaind" might obtain it Theod. Colby inclosing this Lett to me in his own of the 8 March following viz 1723 desired I would help him in the disposal of the Land, an opportunity for Engl" presenting very soon after my Receipt of it I told him I design'd to embark myself for Engl'd the Same Summer accordingly I did embark and arriv'd in London ye Nov" following where T. Colby soon met me & earnestly press'd me to buy his Land but he was in so weak a State of health that he appear'd to me unfit for business & his distemper grew so fast on him that the next Spring it terminated in Distraction w" brought him up to one of those houses provided for persons in that Condition where not long after he ended his Life.
James Steel being at N. York in the year 1726 he purchased of the Widow Brown and her Daughter 2000 Acres of the Remainder of Coll. Markham's for w" on his Return he produced to the Comm" her Daughter Joannah's Deed as also that other Duplicate of M" Penn's own Lett to make good the claim, and he then told me the Widow had given him an Instruction where Theod. Colby's heirs might be found in Lond if he had any Inclination to purchase his Land. Accordingly going over himself to Engl" in 1729 he made the Purchase.
It therefore appears to me somewhat Surprizing how the Widow Brown could possibly be persuaded to represent her case as She calls it in a Manner so inconsistent with common Justice and in some part with her own knowledge, but probably she knew not the whole. The Widow Markham's Original Deed to her Nephew w" as I have said was produced to me it seems is not now to be found.
Theod. Colby as appears by his Lett" to me of w" I have Several, when he left New York in 1722 fully intended to return thither within one year, & therefore probably not expecting an opp" of disposing of the Land in Engl" if he should obtain it, for w" he depended on my Lett to Mrs. Penn and not on his Deed from his Aunt, he might probably I say leave the Deed in N. York and if so some there might be the most capable of accounting for it. But Coll Markham had no Deeds and the Grant depends wholly on Mrs. Penns Lett which expressly gives those 2400 Acres to Theodor Colby therefore if there never had been a Deed to him from his Aunt the Right from him is good. But that there truly was such a Deed of which I had and brought with me a true Copy still in being I am an Evidence which I here certify under my hand this 25" of June 1734. JL
[source] The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 33; Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1909.
James Logan to Thomas Penn
Stenton, 11 Aug', 1734.
May it please the Propr'iet':
Having recd the 2 Letters from thy Serv', just as I was going into the chaise; I forbore reading them then, but calling at Ja. Steel's, I there look 'd on Brown 's [Mary Ann Markham Brown], but had not patience to goe quite through the first side. She is certainly a base woman, to dispute facts so clear, and above all, to endeavour to overthrow them by another piece of wickedness, equal to the first. In reading the Land in Colby's Lettr, yor (your) Land. She gave Ja Steel Colby's Original Lettr to his Aunt, w (which) he has, and there it is the Land. She may probably have a duplicate, and of the ye (the) will make a yr (your) & from thence draw a prevaricating argum'; but I am as fully satisfied in the case, as I have ever been in any fact, that his aunt gave him a firm Title for the Land, and that it was absolutely his. I saw (& shall in a proper place depose it) an authentic Deed from his Aunt, & brought from N. York with me the copy of it, Signed, as I remember, by the persons themselves who witnessed the original, and she is an Infamous . . for disputing the truth of what I have so asserted. I never had any manner of Inclination to be concerned with that affair of ye (the) Land, and would much rather be clear of it, as I really design to be. But after the accot I gave in my representation. as they never had any legal right, I cannot see after what has past, what room there is to be any way concern'd about it . . .
[source] Pennsylvania Archives; Blair and Egle, 1878.
Do you want to know more?
Link to James Logan
Link to Mary Ann Markham (widow Brown)
Link to Theodore Coleby
Letters of Hannah Penn and James Logan; prepared by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2015.