• New London, Pennsylvania

    Chester County

    In browsing through the Association for Gravestone Studies Web site, we came across an intriguing item from Bob Berg, asking for information about a Churchyard in New London, PA. Since we are doing a feature on New Londons in the U.S., and had not turned up any evidence of such a town, we were very curious and e-mailed Bob right away. It turned out he was looking for the cemetery in which one of his early ancestors was buried. That ancestor, James Hutchison and his friend Robert Fulton, Sr. founded a Presbyterian church - near Philadelphia - in 1735. Francis Alison, then described as "the best Latin scholar in America," was the pastor for the next fifteen years, and established a "classical school."

    According to Berg, who quotes The History of the Presbyterian Church in America—beginning in 1741, there was a schism in the church, indirectly a result of the Great Awakening. Alison's academy was taken under the care of the Philadelphia Synod, and an unsuccessful attempt was made to send its graduates to Yale for further training. In 1749, Alison moved on to take a post in the academy at Philadelphia established with the help of Benjamin Franklin.

    After the schism, the church at New London became a "seceeder" church and brought over the first Associate Presbyterian pastor to come from Ireland. "So," writes Berg, "the church begun by my ancestor, James Hutchison, and his friend Robert Fulton, Sr., was a group of malcontents! By the way, at the suggestion of Francis Alison, the Philadelphia Synod wrote a letter to King George III in 1766 asking him to repeal the Stamp Act. (Of course, it was repealed in March, 1766 - perhaps before the king ever received the letter!)"

    New London is now enveloped in Philadelphia, but according to Bob, relatives visited the church cemetery in the 1940s. Any Philadelphians know where the churchyard is—and more about the early New London, PA?

    Recently we got the following email from the Hoover Family:

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