Townships in Chester County, Pa.
From: History of Chester County, Pennsylvania
By: Charles William Heathcore, A. M., Ph. D.
Department of Social Studies, State Normal School
West Chester, PA 1926

Search Historical Newspaper Collections


One of the most interesting studies in the history of our county is the founding of the townships. We have given the outstanding facts and interesting points, but a book could be written about the townships. We have arranged them alphabetically as we believe the study will prove more helpful in this way.

Birmingham. - Birmingham, originally called Brummagem, was established between 1684 and 1686. Originally this township was composed of several large farms, each numbering five hundred acres or more. In 1721, the Society of Friends secured a grant of land on which Bermingham Meeting House was built and where a part of the Battle of the Brandywine was fought.

East Bradford and West Bradford. - Bradford, which was the original township, was established about 1705. A large number of the original landowners were folks who lived in England and who never lived here but sold their holdings to those who settled here. However, in 1731, the court granted a number of petitioners the right to organize a separate township to be known as East Bradford. The remaining portion of the original township became known as West Bradford.

East Brandywine and West Brandywine. - Brandywine was the original township which was organized in 1790. It received its name from its geographic position to Brandywine Creek. In 1844, the township was divided into East and West Brandywine.

Caln, East Caln and West Caln. - Cain, the original township, was organized about 1702, by settlers from Caln, England. West Cain was organized about 1744. The size of East Caln has varied according to adjustments made between 1790 and 1868.

Charlestown. - This township derived its name from Charles Pickering, of Asmore, Cheshire, England. The 'Creek which flows through the township was given his surname. Charles Pickering came to America with William Penn from whom he obtained a large tract of land bordering on Pickering Creek. For a time, he thought he had found silver on his land but analysis of it in England proved he was mistaken. Pickering was later drowned while crossing the Atlantic. His estate was divided among sixteen of his friends to whom he had bequeathed it.

North Coventry, South Coventry and East Coventry. - In 1719, all of the territory embraced by these townships north of French Creek was called "Skoolkill District." Samuel Nutt, a settler from Coventry, Warwickshire, England, named the township after Coventry, England. North and South Coventry were organized in 1841, and East Coventry was formed out of a portion of North Coventry in 1844.

Easttown. - This township was organized about 1704. Its extreme eastward position in the county accounts for its name. It became generally known in later history as the home of Anthony Wayne.

Elk. - This township was formed in 1857 by a part of the territory taken from East Nottingham.

East Fallowfield and West Fallowfield. - The original township, Fallowfield, was established between 1714 and 1718. It was more than likely named for Lancelot Fallowfield, of Great Strickland, Westmoreland County, England, who had secured right to the land from William Penn. The land was purchased fro Fallowfield by John Salkeld, a Quaker minister who came into Chester County in 1714. As a result of a long agitation extending from 1731 to 1743, East and West Fallow-field were formed.

Franklin. - Franklin was organized in 1852 from the southeastern portion of New London.

East Goshen and West Goshen. - The original township was Goshen which was erected more than likely in 1704. It was divided into East and West Goshen in 1817.

Highland. - This township was organized in 1853, being separated from West Fallowfield.

Honey Brook. - This township was erected in 1789 from territory taken from West Nantmeal. The word "Nantmeal" is Welsh and means Honey Brook.

Kennett. - This township was established about 1705. It was more than likely named for a village by that name in Wiltshire, England.

London Britain. - This township was organized about 1725 although discussion and determination to formulate it dates much earlier. Quite a colony of 'Welsh were among the earliest settlers.

Londonderry - It was settled by folks very largely from Londonderry, Ireland, hence its name. It was organized into a township in 1734.

Londongrove. - This township was erected in 1723. The larger number of settlers were members of the Society of Friends.

East Marlborough and West Marlborough - The original township known as Marlborough was erected in 1704 and derived its name from Marlborough, England. Between 1729 and 1730, the township was divided into East and West Marlborough. "Cedarcroft," the home of Bayard Taylor, is located in East Marlborough.

East and West Nantmeal. - The early settlers of Nantmeal were largely Welsh by whom the township was named after Nantmeal, in Radnorshire, Wales The earliest surveys were made about 1717-1719. Between 1739-1740, the township was divided into East Nantmeal and West Nantmeal. By this time, a number of Scotch-Irish had moved into this section.

New Garden. - The earliest survey of this section was made in 1700. The township was settled by many settlers, particularly Friends who came from New Garden, Ireland, hence the name of the township.

Newlin. - In 1681, William Penn deeded 20,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania to the "Free Society of Traders." In 1724, this organization, through its trustees, sold 7,100 acres of its possessions to Nathaniel Newlin. This afterwards became the township under his name. The Indians lodged a claim to a strip of land (1726) about a mile wide on each side of the Brandywine. The provincial authorities became interested in the matter and helped to settle it.

New London. - It seems that about 1704, the first surveys were made in this section. Before the Mason and Dixon line was established between Pennsylvania and Maryland, considerable trouble was caused by landowners because of confused claims, resulting from an indefinite boundary line between the provinces.

East and West Nottingham. - This township was named for Nottingham, England. The first surveys were made in 1702. Between 1715-1718 the names of East and West Nottingham appear.

Upper Oxford and Lower Oxford. - These were organized in 1797 from the original township Oxford which was laid out in 1754.

Penn. - The township was organized in 1817 by a part being taken from Londonderry. Jennersville, located in this township, was named for Dr. Edward Jenner who discovered vaccination.

Pennsbury - was formed in 1770.

East Pikeland and West Pikeland. - The original township was known as Pikeland because the original grant of land was given by William Penn to Joseph Pike, of Cork, Ireland, 1705. The township was divided into East and West Pikeland in 1838.

Pocopson. - This township was erected in 1849, and derived its name from the creek which flows through it.

Sadsbury and West Sadsbury. - Sadsbury, the original township, was formed in 1717. It was originally written "Sudbury." In 1878, West Sadsbury was organized.

Schuylkill. - Schuylkill was created in 1826 and derived its name from the river which is its eastern boundary.

Thornbury. - This is one of the earliest and smallest townships of the county and was erected in 1687.

Tredyffrin. - It was organized about 1706. Its settlers were largely Welsh as the name signifies. In the early records, the name was spelled "Tre:yr:Dffryn," which means "Tre" or "town" and "Dyffrin" or "wide valley," or the word means "valley town."

Uwchlan and Upper Uwchlan. - Uwchlan, the original township, was developed about 1712 by the Welsh Friends who came into this section in considerable numbers. The original spelling was Uwchlan which signifies "Upland." The township was divided in 1858 and thus Upper Uwchlan was formed.

Valley. - This township was formed in 1852.

East and West Vincent. - The original township was called Vincent and settlers came into this section very early. Large numbers of German pioneers made this section their new home. East and West Vincent were organized out of the township in 1832.

Wallace. - Wallace was erected in 1852 from West Nantmeal territory.

Warwick. - This township was formed in 1842 from a portion of East Nantmeal. It derived its name from the famous iron works within its border. Here the famous Franklin Stoves (the invention of Benjamin Franklin) were made. Cannon and cannon balls were also supplied to the Continental Army.

Westtown. - This township was first surveyed about 1685.

East Whiteland and West Whiteland. - The original township of Whiteland was formed about 1704. Within its borders large numbers of Welsh settled. By decree of the court the township was divided in 1765.

Willistown. - This township was also organized in 1704.

Return to [ PA History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

All pages copyright 2009. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy