Merion Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
The Meeting, as a group of Quakers, began in 1682 upon arrival of the first boatload of the First Company of Welsh families fleeing persecution for their non-conformist worship in Wales. Edward Jones, son-in-law of Dr. Thomas Wynne, Quaker physician and friend of William Penn led them.
In 1695 the now thriving community in “Merion,” named in honor of their Welsh Merionethshire, built a stone meeting house, later to be enlarged. It stood on a well-used path linking the Welsh farms to Philadelphia. Tradition says William Penn visited and preached here. In the loft above the meeting room, school was held for girls and boys, including Indian children.
There is evidence that this is the most pictured Friends meeting house in the United States, if not the world, probably because of its age, and because it was easily accessible from a growing metropolis once a publishing center. Two additional acres were given the Meeting in 1801 and 1804 by John Dickinson, a participant in founding our nation who had family ties to Merion.
Merion Friends recently received a great honor when the meetinghouse was declared a National Landmark by the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. Weekly meetings for worship, as well as occasional weddings and burials in the adjacent grounds, continue to the present day.
A Glossary of terms used in the database is available to explain some of the Quaker terminology used in the original records.