The first known inhabitants of Wales were the Iberians, who were short, dark and of Spanish-Portuguese extraction. When the Celts, who were from northern Europe and were fair, not necessarily fair-haired but of fair skin, and tall invaded northern Wales, they forced the Iberians into the southern part of Wales and by utilizing the almost impenetrable mountain vastnesses strategically, they were able to resist invasions of the Romans, Angles, Saxons, and Normans. There the royal tribes of Wales lived for centuries and maintained the most pure blood of the Celtic stock of Great Britain and Europe. The extravagantly scenic grandeur of northern Wales lends itself to the mystic past of the royal heritage of Wales. There are still traces of the Iberian element in the peoples of southern Wales and the later emigrants of Wales to the coal mining areas of Pennsylvania.

Northwestern Wales is considered a region of fabulous beauty with its mountains, lakes and ancient castles. It is referred to as the fabled land of song and story, only the fables were more truth than fiction. Wales still keeps its bright flame of individuality. Its people are poetic and musical - especially given to choir singing.

One of the last of the ancient kings was Cadwaladr of Gwynedd, Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon (Lloyd vol. 1, p. 230) “After the fall of the Cadwallon, the house of Cunedda was represented by his son Cadwaladr, who was king among the Britains in the days of Oswy of Northumbria. None of his deeds are recorded yet he must have been a figure of some distinction, for the bards of later ages regarded his name as one to conjure with....He died in the great plague of 664.”   “...the church of Eglays Ael or Llangawaldr in Anglesey claims him as its patron saint and founder ... some two miles east from Aberffraw in Anglesey.” On a modern map of Anglesey (part of northern Wales) is a small bay near Aberffraw called Porthcadaladr.

Cadwalader or Cadwallader (Encyclopedia of Names and Places) surnamed the “Blessed” died probably in 664 a British King. He was the son of Cadwallon, king of Gwynedd, whom he succeeded in 634. He obtained great fame by the heroic exploits which he performed in the defense of Wales against the Saxons and holds a high place in Welsh tradition and poetry. According to the prophecy of Merlin, he is one day to return to the world to expel the Saxons from the land. He came, in time, to be regarded as a saint, hence his surname the “Blessed.” Undoubtedly, many Cadwal(l)aders today are descended from those ancient kings. The banner of King Cadwaladr was emblazoned with the red dragon, and even today Wales bears the red dragon on its heraldic symbol. The name CADWAL(L)ADER in Welsh means “Valiant in Battle” and rings with its Celtic sound.

The religion of ancient Celtic Wales was a nature religion conducted by their priests or leaders called Druids. When Christianity came in the sixth century, the Celtic Church was formed. That continued until after Rome set up its Pope-controlled Catholic Church, Roman Catholicism was resisted for a while but finally in 664 at the Syned of Whitby, the differences between the Celtic Church and the Roman Church were adjusted with Roman influence prevailing. Both Henry VIII and later Queen Elizabeth were instrumental in breaking the hold of Roman Catholicism and the Anglican church was established and became increasingly more powerful.

In 1282 Edward I of England partially conquered northern Wales. He built the beautiful castle of Caernarvon. Here his son, Edward II the first English Prince of Wales, was born in 1284. Other English nobles built castles in the mountains round about. The Welsh were highly rebellious and antagonistic to the English until the coronation of Henry VII. His father, the Welsh-born Owen Tudor, married the widow of Henry V of England. Their son, Henry Tudor, after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field, where he defeated Richard III, became King Henry VII in 1485. When he entered London for his coronation with the red dragon flag of Cadwaladr borne before him, it was thought that Wales had recovered its independence again, but the Act of Union of 1536 united Wales to England with only the graceful heritage of a Prince of Wales to soothe them. Since that time, the first born son of the English Kings has been called the Prince of Wales. The present Prince Charles of England was made Prince of Wales on July 1, 1969, at the castle of Caernarvon with much pomp and heraldry.

The Friends, or Quakers as they are popularly called, had their rise in the turbulent years of the English Commonwealth period (1642-1660). The founder of the movement was George Fox. He was a born leader and a spiritual genius and drew many groups to him who were eager for a more complete reformation of the Church. The movement spread in England in the face of a fierce and brutal persecution, and from 1657 onward the Quakers sought refuge in America. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania was one of the notable figures of the Society of Friends. The movement had spread to Wales, and because of the simplicity of the Faith, was adopted by many of the most educated and the highest gentry of the land. William Penn was himself an aristocrat, who was practically disinherited by his family for becoming a Quaker - as most of the English Quakers were of the middle class.

William Penn was friendly with the Indians, bargained with them and took possession of Pennsylvania, where he started his “Holy Experiment”. He was very pleased to have many Welsh Quakers from the highest social order contact him to purchase 30,000 acres to settle in eastern Pennsylvania. The earliest settlers of this Welsh Tract were peers of William Penn and planned to establish an exclusive Welsh Quaker Barony, but the experiment failed. Later they bargained with Penn for 20,000 acres to add to the tract and more Welsh Quakers came, and later also some Welsh Presbyterians and Baptists. The towns in this great Welsh Tract - Bryn Mawr, Gwynedd, Bala-Cynwyd, Berwyn, Wyncote, Chalfonte, Malvern, and Merion are Celtic in sound and origin.

For many years after Great Britain and many European nations used surnames, Wales still used only one name, and the term “son of” was written “ap” with always the son's name first and continuing back through the father as John ap Hugh ap Thomas. When Wales started using surnames, the name Cadwal(l)ader was always a given name or first name, and it was not used as a surname until after the immigrants landed in America. Mothers in Wales often named their sons Cadwal(l)ader in honor of King Cadwaladr just as they named sons Arthur after the fabled King Arthur of ancient Welsh fame. That is the reason it is practically impossible to trace the Cadwal(l)ader lineage back in Wales with any certainty. Dr. Rawlins Cadwallader in his History said, “I have many Welsh parish records of births and deaths. They are impossible to trace as a family and I am perforced to start from four heads of families who came to Philadelphia. All four were Friends, all four had well-defined descendants, all four admitted relationship, and may have been cousins. The records of the original meetings in Wales under George Fox might clear it all up but I have not located them. They are probably lost.” He goes on to say, “There was a peculiar tradition in early Pennsylvania that the families were descendants of three brothers. It was widespread and undoubtedly referred to the three original Johns. Unfortunately the early minutes are not complete. A more exhaustive search might add the missing proof but of this I am doubtful”.

The three Johns that he is referring to are: John Cadwalader of Merion and then of Philadelphia, John Cadwallader of Horsham and then of Warminster, and John Cadwallader of Radnor. The fourth line is Robert Cadwallader or Cadwallader Roberts as he was later called. His male descendants carry the name of Roberts. John Cadwalader of Philadelphia was from Bala, Merionethshire; John Cadwallader of Horsham from Montgomeryshire; John Cadwallader of Radnor from Radnorshire; and Cadwallader Roberts from Bala, Merionethshire. These counties in Wales connect and are a small tract of some 15 miles by 45 miles. As there was much intermarriage between Quaker families both in Wales and the early United States, a certain amount of relationship would likely exist.

There has always been some controversy over the number of “L's” in the name of Cadwallader. The descendants of John C. of Philadelphia have always used just one “L”. The descendants of John C. of Horsham have used two “L's” although there is part of the Joseph branch who have used only one “L”. The John Cadwalader of Horsham Will in Philadelphia City Hall has just one used.