A Brief History of the Homestead at Penllyn
Written by Larry Foulke and Originally published in the Foulke Family Herald, April 1991
It seems proper that an account should be given of what happened to the old Edward and Eleanor Foulke homestead at Penllyn. No Foulke descendants remained there at the time of its destruction in the early 1980's.
The oldest son of Edward and Eleanor, Thomas Foulke (?-1762), willed most of the original tract to his second son, William. Edward (1707-1770), the eldest son of Thomas, had married Margaret Griffith and was living on the Griffith tract when Thomas' will was written.
William Foulke (1708-1775) married Hannah Jones of Montgomery in 1734 in Gwynedd Meeting House. William Foulke probably erected the modern version of the homestead, which with later additions was called the Foulke Mansion, on the site of the earlier dwelling built by his grandfather, Edward, the immigrant. A stone flour mill built by William was torn down in 1896.
The will of William Foulke, probated in 1775, left his farm and mill to his son, Jesse (1742-1821), with a life interest in the estate to Hannah, his wife. At the time of the Revolutionary War, Hannah was living on the farm with three unmarried children. Jesse, head of the family and operator of the mill, was 35 years old, Priscilla was 33 years old and Lydia was 21.
Amos Foulke (1740-1793), an older son of William and Hannah, had gone to Philadelphia to live and had married Hannah Jones of Philadelphia. Amos died when their son Edward (1784-1851) was 9 years old, and the boy's mother sent him to the old homestead to be raised by his Uncle Jesse and Aunt Priscilla. This Edward married Tacy Jones of Montgomery in 1810 and continued to live on the old homestead and follow in his Uncle Jesse's footsteps in the operation of the farm and mill.
When Uncle Jesse died, however, he did not leave the Foulke homestead to his brother Amos's son Edward, but to his sister Lydia's son Jesse (his namesake no doubt).
Lydia Foulke, the youngest of William and Hannah Foulke's children, married John Spencer of Moreland. Their son Jesse (1790-1841) received the homestead from his Uncle Jesse in a will probated in 1821.
Jesse Spencer married Mary Custard and had five children. Their son George is the one of interest to us. He married Ella L. Shoemaker and inherited the homestead from his father. George and Ella Spencer sold the homestead (that had come to them from Jesse Foulke, the brother of George's grandmother, Lydia Foulke Spencer) to John Henry Drinker in 1855.
The Edward and Tacy Foulke family and the Jesse and Mary Spencer family left the established Gwynedd Meeting and with a few other Friends built a Meeting House on land given from the original Foulke tract, that had come to them through William Foulke, the grandson of Edward, the immigrant.
The original Foulke homestead and mansion existed at the time of the 200th Anniversary of Descendants of Edward and Eleanor Foulke held in May 1898, at the Gwynedd Meeting House. At the time of this reunion, the house was owned by Albert E. Caldwell. It was opened for visits by the attendees at the 200th Anniversary celebration.
Although little is known about the history of the mansion prior to its destruction, many old photographs do exist. It is always unfortunate when historically interesting and important buildings are destroyed before they can be saved, but the Foulke family is very fortunate. Although we no longer have the mansion or land, we not only know the exact location of the family homestead, but we also have a rich written and pictorial history of our family homestead to pass on to future generations.
Copyright © 1991 Foulke Family Association.
Section last updated February 02, 2001