Monday, February 6, 2017

The Short Family and William Penn's "Welcome"

Illustration: The Departure of the "Welcome"

I was doing some research on my Short ancestry recently when I made an interesting connection. It seems quite likely that my immigrant ancestor Adam Short (1667-1748) came to America on William Penn's ship Welcome. Unfortunately, "quite likely" is the best conclusion I'll ever be able to make, because if the Welcome had a passenger list, it does not survive. There is no way to be completely certain about the passengers on that boat. However, many researchers have compiled assumed passenger lists based on anecdotal evidence, and a number of these lists include Adam Short, his mother, sisters and uncle among those who sailed on the Welcome.

A little history about William Penn and the Welcome:
William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed. (Wikipedia)

Welcome was the first of an eventual fleet of over twenty ships that sailed from England to Pennsylvania, bringing with them Quakers escaping religious persecution. Welcome was important, as the first ship, and it carried William Penn himself to America. The passengers left Deal, England on September 1, 1682 and arrived in Pennsylvania 52 days later.

The passengers were about 102 and not all of Penn's company. As the passenger list was full, others who desired to sail were compelled to wait for later boats, which numbered about 21 vessels. The passengers must have been closely packed, like sardines, the poor cooking and odors of stuffy cabins must have rendered life unendurable, but blessed are those who do not expect much for they will not be disappointed. While escaping the dangers of the sea and the capture by Spanish privateers, an epidemic of small-pox carried away about one-third of the original number. It must have been heart-rending to see the ones they loved sewed up in sail- cloth, weighted at the feet and slid down the gangplank. There must have been great anxiety for the remaining ones, if the officers should be stricken there would be no one to sail the vessel and all might be lost. During the trying voyage Penn attended the sick and dying, giving comfort and consolation to the entire company. (Voyage of William Penn in ship "Welcome" 1682)

I descend from the Short family via my Greene, Campbell and Smith lines. My immigrant ancestor, Adam Short, was born in England in about 1667. He sailed to America as a teenager, settled in New Castle, Delaware, and died there on March 29, 1748, at the age of 81. The Short family came from Gatton, on the border of Surrey and Sussex, where Adam's father, Adam Short Sr., died in 1674, at the young age of 32. Adam was just seven when he lost his father. Eight years later, in 1682, it is believed that Adam's mother, Miriam Ingram Short, decided to take her children to America with William Penn. Adam had two sisters, Ann and Miriam. Also traveling with them was his paternal uncle, Isaac Ingram. Unfortunately, disaster stuck on this voyage. A smallpox epidemic swept through the passenger cabins, killing both Miriam (the elder) and Isaac. This left young Adam, Ann and Miriam orphaned in a new country.

Most, but not all, of the lists of assumed Welcome passengers include Miriam Short and her three children. The Welcome Society, a lineage group with membership made up of Welcome descendants, lists Miriam Short, her children and her brother Isaac as accepted passengers. When I traveled to the New England Historic Genealogical Library last year, one of the texts I was most eager to review was The Welcome Claimants Proved, Disproved and Doubtful With An Account of Some of Their Descendants by George E. McCracken. It's a very thorough review of the potential Welcome passengers, with examination of the merits of their inclusion. McCracken had quite a bit to say about the Short family, and eventually deemed it very probable that the Short children were, indeed, passengers on Welcome. He believed it was also likely, although with less certainty, that their mother was aboard the ship with them. Since Isaac Ingram wrote a will on the Welcome, before his death from Smallpox, he is known to have been a passenger.

There are several good reasons to believe that the Short children, at least, were on the Welcome. Miriam Short was in Pennsylvania by February 1683, when her new marriage to Welcome passenger George Thompson was challenged in court as having violated the rules of the fledgling province. The marriage was eventually allowed to stand, and it establishes Miriam in Pennsylvania, in close relationship to other Welcome passengers, just months after the ship's landing. In 1719, Adam Short testified in a land ownership lawsuit in Delaware. George McCracken wrote that in the course of his deposition, Adam recalled events from as early as 1682, placing him in America with the earliest of the William Penn ships. 

Isaac Ingram died aboard the Welcome in 1682. His will survives and is archived in Philadelphia. In this document he left £30, held by Ambrose Riggs in Gatton, and all his property aboard ship to his nieces and nephew. He also mentions his late sister Miriam, who likely died just days before him. Since he bequeaths the siblings his goods on board ship, it seems incredibly likely that they were actually there and able to collect his personal items. Here is the text of Isaac's will:
"vpon the twenty sixt day of ye seauenth month one thousand six eighty & two. I Issaak Ingram late of Garton late of Surrey yeoman, Being weake of body yet of perfect mind and memory doe make this my last will and testament on board the wellcome Robt Greenaway Mr. bound for Pensilvania as foll. Item I giue & bequeath vnto my Sister Miriam Short late deseased her three children Adam Short Miriam Short & Anne Short all that thirty pownds lying in Ambrose Riggs hands living at Garton in ye county of Surrey to be equally deuided betweene them viz ten pownds a peece further it is my will & mind that my Sisters children aforesd haue all the goods on board the Wellcome equally devided betweene them."
While we cannot know for certain if Adam Short was a Welcome passenger, it seems very likely that he was. This connection to Pennsylvania's early history, and to William Penn himself is an exciting revelation.


  1. Thank you for posting this. Your work is appreciated. I have recently discovered that I am a descendant of Ann Short.

    1. I am a descendant of Miriam Short; thanks for sharing!

    2. My grandmother was Ann Short and Adam Short was my 7th great grandfather.

    3. I too am a descendant of Anne Short(2-Baily, 3-Harlan, 4-Martin, 5-Miller, 6- Hovenstein, 7-Derrick, 8-Price).

    4. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story & info I am a descendant of Ann Short I am a bit confused re: names & relations...all my research lists Ann (born Short)...daughter of Adam Short & Mary Ann INGRAM Short...wouldn't that make UNCLE ISSAC INGRAM her MATERNAL UNCLE rather than paternal...???

  2. I am not sure my other two posts were properly posted. I am a descendant of Miriam Short from her third husband, Aaron Coppock. I moved to that area of Pennsylvania in the early 80's. Chester County P.A. was truly a wonderful place at that time. I quickly learned that Ann Short and her husband, a Bailey, had built a big stone house just a mile from mine. It was then owned by the former Chef D'Equipe of the U.S. Dressage Team , Jessica Ranshausen(SP).Blue Hill Farm is still there, though surrounded by big fake colonial stone homes, but the village of Embreeville hasn't changed. My old home is now a big stone mansion built by the young bankruptcy lawyer who purchased it from me in 1992.The village is the same, though,right along one branch of the legendary Brandywine River.
    Miriam Short and her husband are reputedly buried in the Quaker Meetinghouse in East Nottingham P.A. I think the Meetinghouse is now in Maryland below the Mason Dixon Line, just an hours drive south of Embreeville.Great historic stories survive of the area

  3. I'm a descendant of Adam Short. He was my 7th great-grandfather.