Joshua Gee and the Principio Company

Fenton House

Links with early America

source: Fenton House,The National Trust, UK.   Source of Text of Fenton House section on Joshua Gee: "America Links"

The first recorded owner was ThomasSympson whose widow sold the house in 1707 to Joshua Gee (1667-1730).The front gates frame, bear the initials J.A.G Gee for Gee and his wife and are ofunusually high quality made by a craftsman working under Jean Tijou. Joshua Geehad close contacts with the American colonies and was one of the original mortgageesof Pennsylvania. On his death the house was left to hisyoungest son, Osgood Gee.After long periods of being let, (in 1765 the tenantwas named as John Hyndman) the house was sold by the family on Osgood's death in 1780.

Joshua Gee (1667-1730) was an original financier of the American state of Pennsylvania, bought Fenton House as its second owner in 1707, and was a founding partner with George Washington's father in the Principio Company, formed to produce pig iron in Maryland USA for sale in England.

A Quaker and a personal friend of William Penn,... He was one of eight men who procured Penn's release after he had been imprisoned for his steward's dishonesty. He was a merchant in silk, iron and other commodities and also an adviser to the Board of Trade and Plantations.The mementoes of Joshua Gee's ownership of Fenton House are his initials and those of his wife (JAG) entwined in the ironwork over the front gate.

Gee bought Fenton house in 1707, living there until his death in 1730.

Gee wrote an early classic of economics The Trade and Navigation of Great Britain considered (1729). His interest in the colonies accounts for his stance as one of the first important prophets of what was later to be called protectionism. (Protectionism is the creation of artificial barriers to keep out foreign products to help home industries).He was a key contributor to The British Merchant in its attacks on Defoe, writing in The Mercator in 1713-14.

His Trade and Navigation published fifteen years later, showed in the words of its subtitle: "That the surest way for a Nation to increase in Riches is to prevent the Importation of such Commodities as may be raised at Home'. He also wrote 'That this Kingdom is capable of raising within itself, and its Colonies, Materials for employing all our Poor in those Manufactures, which we now import from such of our Neighbours who refuse the Admission of ours.' The book was one of the most popular and influential of its day, going into seven further editions in the 18th century, and has recently been reprinted in facsimile in America for economics students.

Delaware Chapter XLVI. Volume Two- pp. 914-932

One of the families wholong resided in this hundred was the Englands, who were represented by JohnEngland, who was a Friend and one of the proprietors of the Principio Furnace,in Cecil County, Maryland. He came to this country from Staffordshire, England,in 1723, as manager of the furnace, and in 1726 purchased lands on White ClayCreek, in Mill Creek Hundred, at the mouth of Muddy Run. He also purchased landin Pencader and Christiana Hundreds. These tracts contained iron ore, and it wasto advance the interests of the furnace that they were purchased. He residedpart of the time on the east side of the Muddy Run, on land purchased of TobyLeech, where he soon afterwards built a dwelling-house and a grist-mill, whichhas since been known as England’s Mill. John England died in May, 1734. JosephEngland, a brother, came to this country the same year that John emigrated, andpurchased a large tract of land in West Nottingham, Chester County,Pennsylvania, and settled there. Soon after the death of John, Joseph tookcharge of the lands on White Clay Creek, and removed to that place. On February24, 1741, Allen and Joseph England, sons of John, who had remained in England,conveyed this property to Joseph England. The estate then contained four hundredacres. He became a Friend in 1730, and was an active member of the WestNottingham Meeting. In 1747 he built the present brick manor-house, and the millwas at that time or soon afterwards rebuilt. He died August 29, 1748, and by hiswill devised the mill property to his son Joseph, and the Nottingham property tohis son Samuel. A daughter, Joanna, married John Townsend, of Baltimore, andtheir descendants are now living in Baltimore and Philadelphia. Joseph, thesecond, resided at the mills all his life, and died February 5, 1791. He devisedthe farm to his son Joseph. Elizabeth, a daughter, married William Wollaston, adescendant of an old family in the vicinity. Another daughter, Sarah, marriedCapt. Robert Kirkwood, and settled at Odessa. Capt. Kirkwood was well andfavorably known on account of valuable services in the Revolutionary War, duringwhich he served in thirty-two engagements. Joseph England, the third, to whomthe mills were left, by his public life was identified with his county, havingserved in the Legislature between 1800 and 1828. He died April 24th of thelatter year, while a member of the Senate. Of his family was Joseph TownsendEngland, who removed to Baltimore and became an agent of the Baltimore and OhioRailroad, and was one of the founders of the Mercantile Library Company of thatcity. He died in 1876, leaving a son Charles, now a merchant in Baltimore.Another son, James B. England, is an attorney-at-law residing in Philadelphia. -- . Scharff.