The village was laid out by John Biddis in 1796, naming the streets after his children and family, and the lanes after his favorite fruits and berries. Judge Biddis took his inspiration from the design of Philadelphia, the nation’s first capitol. Some say the name Milford came from Milford Haven in Wales, where John Biddis’ father William was born. Others say the Wells’ mill and the spot where the Delaware was forded resulted in the name Mill‐Ford.
Judge John Biddis brought his family from the plague‐stricken city of Philadelphia in 1793 to Wells Ferry (as Milford was then called), where he bought a huge tract of land and built a cottage. Immediately, Biddis divided up this land into some 530 lots on streets and service alleys and devised a scheme to market them. He called the village he laid out “Milford.” As an enticement to would‐be investors, he offered two acres outside of town for every lot purchased in town, and also proposed to erect in his envisioned “future seat of justice” an extensive manufactory for paper and pasteboard on the Sawkill. This plant (located on the site of the current Upper Mill) would become the first in the United States to use wood pulp in paper manufacture.
In 1795, Biddis returned to Philadelphia, continued inventing, and continued to be connected to Milford both for business, government and family reasons. Although he had no legal education, he was appointed by the governor to be an Associate Judge of the first courts to be held in these parts. Many of his children took up residence here, and their names – Ann, Catharine, Elizabeth, Sarah, George and John – live on in the names of our streets.