Langdale, Margaret
Letter dated Philadelphia 26th 7th Mo., 1723 to her “Dear Relations, concerning the death of her husband Josiah Langdale, while on board the ship London Hope enroute to Philadelphia from England, 1723

folio, 3 pages, written in ink in a legible, early 18th century hand, on un-watermarked 18th century paper, damp-stained, separation along fold, else in good condition, unsigned, docketed on verso Copy/Letter Margt. Langdale to her Relations.” Either a retained copy or a period fair copy of Langdale’s letter.

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Josiah Langdale (1672-1723) and Margaret Burton

     In May 1693, at the age of twenty, the same year he inherited his father’s land, Josiah Langdale, had a deep religious experience and was converted to the Quaker faith in a meeting at Bridlington, England. Within about a year, he felt called to the ministry and saw it as his mission eventually to travel to America to spread the faith. In the year 1700, at age 27, he began his first visit to America. He returned to England and reported on his work in 1705. This visit to America coincided with the early years of the War of Spanish Succession, known in America as Queen Anne’s War, which continued until 1713.

     In 1710, at age 37, he married Margaret Burton. Five years later, the War of Spanish Succession having ended, he made a second trip to America (1715-1716), sailing first to Boston. Josiah Langdale, with his traveling missionary partner, Thomas Thomson, are recorded as requesting certificates from the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for their return to England via the West Indies. Langdale and Thomson had come to Philadelphia with certificates from their monthly meetings in Skypsea, eastern Yorkshire, and Hitching in Harford County, respectively.

     While Langdale was away, Margaret did similar missionary work in Ireland, and, after his return, continued such activity on the continent. On these missionary trips Josiah and Margaret each traveled in the company of another minister of the same sex, which was the usual Quaker pattern.

     By 1720, Josiah had resolved to move to America, so he sailed a third time across the Atlantic, to make living arrangements for his family (1720-1721). By this time, he and Margaret had a daughter, Mary, and a son, John. They all boarded the London Hope, in 1723, bound for Philadelphia.

    A legal transaction, recorded in 1723, at about the time Margaret Burton arrived in Philadelphia with her two young children, and news of her husband Josiah Langdale’s death, reveals that Josiah, probably during his last trip, had acquired property in Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where it appears that he had planned to live once moving to America permanently.

       The two children of Margaret Burton and Josiah Langdale were Mary and John Langdale.

    Mary Langdale was born 26 May 1713, at Bridlington, Yorkshire, England. She married Samuel Coates (1711-1748) on 13 June 1734 at Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and died 23 December 1770, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Coates was the son of Thomas Coates and Beulah Jacques.

    John Langdale was born 1715, at Bridlington, and died 18 September 1769, in Philadelphia. He married Sarah Hudson (1678-1780) about 1735 at Burlington, where Hudson appears to have lived. She was the daughter of William Hudson and Jane Evans.

    After the death of her husband Josiah Langdale, Margaret was married a second time, to Samuel Preston of Philadelphia, in 1724.

     Margaret Burton/Langdale/Preston was a travelling minister. That is, she felt called to travel to disseminate Quaker beliefs and nurture Friends in distant meetings. A large proportion of Quaker travelling ministers from the earliest days were women, enduring considerable hardship to take their message to meetings around the country and overseas. At a time when women were discouraged from speaking in public this was bravery indeed.

     During Josiah’s second visit to America from 1715 to 1716, Margaret Langdale undertook a religious visit to Ireland, and she journeyed to the continent around 1717. She continued her travelling ministry once she was in America, visiting widely – in the short period between 1724 and 1729 she visited Long Island, Rhode Island, Nantucket, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Philadelphia Monthly Meeting’s testimony to Samuel Preston, included a paragraph related to Margaret’s ministry which describes her “excellent gift in the ministry.” She lived in Philadelphia, where she died in 1742.

     Much of the biographical material for Margaret Burton is taken from “Judge Harley and his Boys: the Langdale Story,” by John Lancaster (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2002) as viewed online at:

There is also biographical material on the London Society of Friends’ Library at:

The letter reads, in part:

“Philadelphia 26th of 7th Mo 1723

My Near & Dear Relations…

I suppose you maybe now have heard of we left London towards the beginning of ye second month of second day of the week & on ye fourth day following sett sail from Gravesend, my dearest creature was then very unwell, but did not expect his sickness would have proved mortall, on ye seventh day following he grew worse & we being then not very farr from a town, I muched desired to send for a docter but could not prevail with him, he said & his whole reliance was upon the Lord who if he saw meet could restore him to health again, on the first day he made his will and after setting his outward concerns to satisfaction did then impart divine & excellent counsel to me & his dear children, as also to ye rest of [those] present, and then sung a sweet & melodious song to ye Lord; on the second day evening he departed this life like a lamb. I was present at that time…

I tenderly intreat & advise all you my dear relations and friends every where to be very carefull how you judge or censure him for removing his ffamily into this part of ye world for tho he is gone and I and my drs children left behind yet I have never entertained so much as one hard thought concerning him for this undertaking; before we sett forward on our voyage I was very easey and finding a freedom in my self to comply with my dear husband’s inclinations, I am persuaded I have much more satisfaction in so doing yet I should have had by detaining him longer contrary to his mind.

There is brave people here & I believe truth will mightily prosper in these parts, the care of ye church grows upon many for ye maintain good order and discipline and he sayeth that worthy woman Deborah (which we read of in ye Holy Scriptures), that my heart is towards the elders n Israel who offer themselves willingly…

The yearly meeting here is just over which was very large & some say they never knew a better. Benj. Kidd & John Estaugh were both very kind to my dr husband in his sickness, the Master of ye ship was like a father to me & my poor children. My dr love to dear Lydia Lancaster, her service together with her companion & sister [Robinson] believe will never be forgotten by some here, they have a great place in friends hearts the Lord if it be his will, send forth many more faithfull labourers for his harvest truly is great, here are yet many whose hearts are like a barren wilderness whom I have faith to believe will become as a fruitfull ffield, notwithstanding some like the bad fishes.

Copy Letter Margt. Langdale to her Relations.”