William Branson was born June 29, 1684. He came from the parish of Sonning in Berkshire, England three miles from Reading. His father and grandfather, Nathaniel I and II were shoemakers and Quakers. His mother was Mary Bacon of Blewberry, Berkshire.
In 1683, Nathaniel Branson II purchased 1250 acres of land in the "new province" from William Penn for 25 pounds. The elder Branson never came to American but conveyed the property to William on August 28, 1707.
The next year, a young 24-year-old William Branson came to Philadelphia on the ship "Golden Lion" to seek his fortune.
The tract of land deeded him by his father made up the north central portion of what later became East and West Brandywine townships.
Branson was first listed as a "joiner" (carpenter). He must have followed this trade for at least ten years, for he is listed as a Freeman in the Minutes of the Common Council, having purchased his license to operate as an individual tradesman on May 20, 1717.
Later he was called a "shopkeeper" and by 1726, a "merchant." As "William Branson, Trader," he was part of a meeting in Philadelphia in 1729 called to fix the value of European currency used in the colony. In 1744, he was designated "William Branson, Gentleman."
Through the years, Branson purchased considerable property in Philadelphia and Chester County. His holdings in Coventry and Nantmeal townships had rich iron deposits.
He bought the site of Reading Furnace by deed dated Feb. 28, 1723 and was the partner of Samuel Nutt and Mordicai Lincoln--the great-grandfather of Abraham Lincoln. Branson bought out Lincoln in 1725 becoming the principal owner.
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