Bridgewater, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Built in 1861, for Fitz Eugene Dixon (1822-1880) and his wife, Catherine Chew Dallas (1827-1888). Situated seventeen-miles from Philadelphia along Bristol Pike, overlooking Neshaminy Creek, it replaced an earlier house that was finished in August, 1795, for Thomas Lee Shippen. That house burned down in 1861 and this house was built on its foundations. Twenty years later (1881), Farley was purchased by the Moore family, Iron Manufacturers, and it was still owned by their family in 1947....

This house is best associated with...

Thomas Lee Shippen

"Tommy" Shippen, of "Farley" Bucks Co., Pennsylvania


Elizabeth (Farley) Izard

Mrs "Betsy" Carter (Farley) Banister, Shippen, Izard


Fitz Eugene Dixon

Fitz-Eugene Dixon, of "Farley" Bucks County, Pennsylvania


Catherine (Dallas) Dixon

Mrs Catherine Chew (Dallas) Dixon


James Moore

James Moore, of Philadelphia; Iron Manufacturer of the Bush Hill Ironworks


Abigail (Reed) Moore

Mrs Abigail Sharpless (Reed) Moore


Abigail (Moore) Austin

Mrs "Abbie" Elizabeth (Moore) Austin


Esmonde Harper Austin

Esmonde H. Austin, of "Farley" Bucks County, Pennsylvania


F. Eugene Dixon was a native of Boston. He was a maternal grandson of the East India Merchant Benjamin Perrott Homer and his father was Consul-General to the Netherlands. Both his siblings lived in Toronto: his sister, Harriet, was the chatelaine of The Grange; and, his brother, B. Homer Dixon, lived at The Homewood where his collections of arms and armor likely influenced Eugene's son's collection of Heraldic stained-glass windows at Ronaele Manor. Having settled in Philadelphia, in 1850 Eugene married Catherine Chew Dallas, daughter of U.S. Vice-President George Mifflin Dallas who was then serving as the U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom. In 1860, Eugene bought Farley from the Shippens.

The Origins of Farleigh/Farley

There are two stories as to the origins of the house and its name: One supposes it to have been built in the early 1800s by Richard Paxton - remembered for driving a four-in-hand coach - whose family seat in England was at Farleigh Wallop, Hampshire. But, Thomas Lee Shippen (1822-1910) wrote from Petersburgh, Virginia in 1893: "I understand the first house was built by an Englishman, My William Allen or Allyn... I am under the impression my great-grandfather, Dr William Shippen (Chief Surgeon to the Continental Army) purchased the place from Mr A., but it might have been his father, also named Dr William Shippen. My father left there about 1835 or 1836 for Philadelphia". This hints at the more popular alternative that it was purchased by Chief Surgeon Shippen as a wedding present for his son, Tommy Shippen, who married was in 1791 to Betsy Farley. From 1795, they hosted upwards of 30-guests and its library swelled with 800-volumes.

The New House

The original house was built of stone, covered in stucco and painted white. But only months after Dixon had purchased the house from the Shippen family, on April 5th, 1861, it was lost to fire. Dixon's new house was built on the existing foundations.

The new house was constructed of Trenton brownstone, approached by, "a remarkably beautiful (and very long) avenue of trees from the Upper Newportville Road... and another wooded drive forms a second entrance below". The heavily wooded estate covered about 200-acres estate and adorning the 25-acre lawn that sloped down to the water was a cannon from the frigate U.S.S. Constitution that was launched in 1797 as the flagship of the Santo Domingo Station and then (1809) the North Atlantic Squadron.

Moores & Austins

Both the Dixons died here, and having survived his wife by two years, after F.E. Dixon died in 1880 his family sold Farley to James Moore in December, 1881. Moore was the owner of the Bush Hill Ironworks at Philadelphia and went into business with his son, Harry, as James Moore & Son. Both father and son lived here with Harry's mother, his two sisters and their husbands, David Townsend and Esmonde H. Austin. The siblings continued to live here with their children into the 20th century and were still resident in 1945. It is assumed that Farley was demolished after the death of Mrs Abbie (Moore) Austin, but if you know can add to its history, please log in and leave a comment. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 09/12/2021 and last updated on 10/12/2021.


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