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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

Cornelius Ridley

Cornelius Ridley; Photo courtesy of the Ridley Family Archives & Sam Lemon, great-great-grandson

Cornelius Ridley

Photograph courtesy of
the Ridley Family Archives and
Samuel M. Lemon, M.S.,


Cornelius Ridley

(A biographical sketch by Samuel M. Lemon, M.S., samlemon@comcast.net, great-great-grandson of Cornelius & Martha Jane Parham Ridley)

Father of William H. Ridley, Esq. and husband of Martha Jane Parham Ridley.

Photo taken c. 1895.

The story of the man often called, "Lawyer Ridley," begins with his parents - Cornelius Ridley and Martha Jane Parham - former slaves on neighboring plantations in Southampton County, Virginia. Separately, they escaped during the Civil War, and later reunited here in Media, where they were taken in by Isaac and Elizabeth Smedly Yarnall - local Quakers who lived on Providence Road. As they began to find work and establish themselves here, they later moved to the little house on the corner of Front Street and Providence Road, which is now known as the "Minshall House." It was there, on June 12, 1867, that William Henry Ridley born.

Cornelius and Martha Jane Ridley became respected members of the community and obtained gainful employment. As deeply spiritual people, they were among the founders of Campbell A.M.E. Church, at the corner of Third and Olive Streets. Martha Jane took in laundry and did whitewashing on houses. Cornelius drove a delivery wagon for Hawley & Snowden's Hardware Store on State Street in Media. They worked hard and saved their money. And in 1872, they bought a small house which formerly stood at 308 North Olive Street. The home remained in the family for over a century, before it was eventually torn down.










If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about individuals in Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

2002 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/17/05