November 14, 1701, Cornelius Empson for himself and several others presented a petition to the Commissioners of Property at Philadelphia proposing to make a settlement "on a tract of land about half way between Delaware and Susquehannah, or nearer the latter, being about 24 miles distant from New Castle, on Octorara river, in case they may have a grant of 20,000 acres in the said place". On March 1, 1702 [new style] a warrant for land was issued for land "beginning at the Northern Barrens between the [main branch of the Northeast river and the Octorara Creek] and bounding it to the southward with an east and west line parallel as near as may be to the line of the Province, and northward next the Barrens with a line also parallel to the south bounds, and in the said tract run 18 several divisions, each of 1000 acres." The tract was surveyed seven and one half miles west of the northeast corner of Maryland and extending westward thence to the Octorara Creek about ten miles. The south line was nearly straight but the north line had offsets to include good land and leave out the "barrens." It was about three miles north to south at the widest part. [These barrens consist of outcroppings of serpentine stone, an early product of the metamorphic process from ancient seabeds, and are almost unique in the world. Some of them today can be seen in the Nottingham Park of Chester County and nearby.]

Early purchasers were John Guest, Edward Beeson, Henry Reynolds, John Richardson, Cornelius Empson, Ebenezer Empson, Joel Baily, James Cooper, James Brown, Randal Janney, John Churchman, William Brown, Robert Dutton, Samuel Littler, Andrew Job, and John Bales (or Beals). The large tract is said to have received the name Nottingham when first laid out, and it was doubtless so called in remembrance of the town or county of Nottingham in England. It was supposed all to be in Pennsylvania, but when the Mason Dixon line was later drawn a great part of the tract fell into Maryland. "Owing, no doubt, to the variation of the compass, the lines, which were intended to be parallel to the Maryland line, run a little south in going westward". The land north of this tract was described as "back of Nottingham" and was subsequently taken up in various sized and mostly irregular tracts by settlers, and was at length included in the township of Nottingham. The early surveys were for a long time known by the distinctive appellation of "Nottingham Lotts." In 1788 petitions were filed with the state legislatures of Pennsylvania and Maryland to confirm the ownership of tracts which might have crossed into neighboring jurisdictions. Since that time, the present Borough of Oxford, the township of Londonderry, and other municipalities have been formed from the Nottingham tract, and Nottingham itself has been split into East and West Nottingham Townships, as well as Elk Township.

This page updated on February 28, 2009