In 1683 a small group of Quakers, from the Cheshire region of England, landed at the City of Chester in the Province of Pennsylvania. These members of the Society of Friends had determined to seek a new way life, away from the religious persecution they had suffered in their native England, and settle in the new land of William Penn’s Holy experiment. Of these early first purchasers, as they were known, three men Francis Stanfield, Jonathon Hayes and John Howell were the largest landowners in what was to become Marple Township. Stanfield, whose youngest daughter had been born in Marpool, England, may have been responsible for providing the name of the township. These three men played a prominent roll in the development of Marple Township. They helped to determine the Townships borders and roads as well as providing for a collection of a tax for assistance to the poor. Since Marple Township was originally a part of Chester County, Jonathan Hayes served as a justice on the Chester County Court.
During the pre-revolutionary period many of the early farms, or plantations as they were then known, in the township gave way to trades. With an increase in population crafts such as weavers, millers, joiners and tanners began to develop to serve the enlarging community.
Although no action took place in Marple during The Revolutionary war the people in the community suffered depravations at the hand of the Continental and the British armies. Since it was against the Quaker faith to take an oath or participate in a conflict, many of the plantations in the township were raided by both armies with the loss of food, clothing and livestock.
With the end of hostilities life in Marple settled back its normal routines. The major focus of the area was still farming and those industries that supported an agrarian life style. The center of social life remained the churches in the area. In 1834 a group of local residents belonging to the Middletown Presbyterian Congregation decided to build a church of their own in Marple making Marple Presbyterian church the first and oldest church in the township.
After the Civil War and with the beginning of the industrial revolution in America Marple Township experienced a leveling off of population growth. This may be attributed to the fact that most of the job opportunities in industry and manufacturing were centered in communities along the Delaware River and transportation to these areas was limited. It took until the turn of the 20th century and the construction of the rail transportation to the western suburbs to reverse this trend.
The largest period of development in the township came at the conclusion of World War II. After the war resources for manufacturing and building became readily available. Improvement to roads, public transportation and the availability of the automobile made Marple Township a suburban community.
Marple, a first class township, has evolved over the course of 300 plus years from a small group of people seeking freedom for their religious beliefs to a vibrant, diverse and proud community of approximately 25,000 residents.
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