Barnsleys Ford, Pennsylvania

How did Barnsleys Ford, Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about the naming of Barnsleys Ford, Pennsylvania, the people who settled it, and the industry rising within it.

An early crossing on Neshaminy Creek at Flushing. The first mention of this ford by name appears in an Act of Assembly passed March 9, 1771, declaring “the rivers Delaware and Lehigh and parts of Neshaminy Creek as far up as Barnsley’s Ford, and no further,” to be common highways for navigation. This definitely locates the ford on Neshaminy Creek and presumably at or quite near the head of tidewater. It was named for Major Thomas Barnsley, of the Goth Royal American Regiment of the British Army, who on March 29, 1763, then a resident of Philadelphia and four years before he retired from the service, purchased from Colonel James Coultas a 537-acre tract on Neshaminy Creek in Bensalem Township, which had been part of the former Rodman-Hicks tract, about four miles from Bristol. Major Barnsley later (the exact date unknown) built a fine brick mansion on this property, about a half mile west of Newportville and called it Croydon Lodge. It was entirely destroyed by fire on the night of October 30, 1906.1 Major Barnsley, who never married, died in 1771, and the property passed to the Swift family and was held by them until 1882, when it was purchased by Dr. Obadiah Dingee. It was while the property was in the possession of the widow of his son, Dr. Richard Dingee, that the old mansion was burned. As Major Barnsley left no issue and his property passed into other hands, there was nothing to perpetuate his name with the ford. While some writers locate it at Newportville, it was almost certainly located at Flushing, below Newportville, as Major Barnsley’s land bordered Neshaminy Creek at Flushing. Further authority for this statement is found in William Bache’s2 account of the British raid on Bristol on Good Friday, 1777. Mr. Bache, on information received from Samuel Allen, an aged resident of Bristol who owned the militia guard house at the corner of Otter and Mill streets and knew much about Revolutionary Bristol and vicinity, says that the detachment of loyalists who made the raid “arrived at the ford now called Flushing Mills, below Newportville, in the night, where they concealed themselves until the next morning of the attack.” So much change has occurred in this vicinity in recent times that the actual site of Barnsley’s Ford probably could not be readily found at this day.


MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.

  1. A good description of this charming old mansion may be found in The Bristol Pike, by S. F. Hotchkin, 1893, pp. 348. 349. []
  2. Historical Sketches of Bristol Borough, by William Bache, 1853, p. 19. []

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