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George FoxQuakers. The sect of "Friends," who were called Quakers in derision, was founded at about the middle of the seventeenth century. At first they were called " Professors (or Children) of the Light," because of their fundamental principle that the light of Christ within was God's gift of salvation—that " Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." It is said that GEORGE FOX, the founder of the sect, when brought before magistrates at Derby, England, in 1650,told them to "quake before the Lord," when one of them (Gelvase Bennet) caught up the word "quake," and was the first who called the sect " Quakers.” They were generally known by that name afterwards. They spread rapidly in England, and were severely persecuted by the Church and State. At one time there were 4,000 of them in loathsome prisons in England. The most prominent of Fox's disciples was William Penn, who did much to alleviate their sufferings. Many died in prison or from the effects of imprisonment. Grievous fines were imposed, a large portion of which went to informers. They were insulted by the lower classes; their women and children were dragged by the hair along the streets; their meeting-houses were robbed of their windows; and, by order of King Charles and the Arch-New Netherland. He compelled the Lutherans to conform, and did not allow other sects to take root there. In 1657 a ship arrived at New Amsterdam, having on board several of " the accursed sect called Quakers." They had been banished from Boston, and were on their way from Barbadoes to Rhode Island, " where all kinds of scum dwell," wrote Dominie Megapolenses, " for it is nothing else than a sink of New England." Among the Friends were Dorothy Waugh and Mary Witherhead. They went from street to street in New Amsterdam, preaching their new doctrine to the gathered people. Stuyvesant ordered the women to be seized and cast into prison, where, for eight days, they were imprisoned in dirty, vermin-infested cells, with their hands tied behind them, when they were sent on board the ship in which they came, to be transported to Rhode Island. Robert Hodgson, who determined to remain in New Netherland, took up his abode at Hempstead, where a few Quakers were quietly settled. There he held a meeting, and Stuyvesant ordered him to his prison at New Amsterdam. Tied to the tail of a cart wherein sat two young women, offenders like himself, he was driven by a band of soldiers during the night through the woods to the city, where he was imprisoned in " a filthy jail," under sentence of such confinement for two years, to pay a heavy fine, and to have his days spent in hard labor, chained to a wheel-barrow with a negro, who lashed him with a heavy tarred rope. He was subjected to other cruel treatment at the hands of the governor, until the Dutch people, as well as the English, cried " Shame!" There were no other persecutions of the Friends in New Netherland after Hodgson's release.

Quaker Appearing Before Court of Charles II.

The executions of Mary Dyer in 1660 and William Leddra in 1661, both in Boston, caused an amazing addition to the number of converts to Quakerism. The same year monthly meetings were established in several places in New England, and not long afterwards quarterly meetings were organized. On hearing of the death of Leddra, Charles II. sent an order to Endicott to stop the persecutions and to send all accused persons to England for trial. This order was sent by the hand of Samuel Shattuck, a banished Quaker, who appeared before Governor Endicott with his hat on. The incensed governor was about to take the usual brutal steps to send him to prison, after ordering an officer to remove Shattuck's hat, when the latter handed the magistrate the order from the throne. Endicott was thunderstruck. He handed back Shattuck's hat and removed his own in deference to the presence of the King's messenger. He read the papers, and, directing Shattuck to withdraw, simply remarked, " We shall obey his Majesty's commands." A hurried conference was held with the other magistrates and ministers. They dared not send the accused persons to England, for they would be swift witnesses against the authorities of Massachusetts; so they ordered William Sutton, keeper of the Boston jail, to set all the Quakers free. So ended their severe persecution in New England; but the magistrates continued for some time to whip Quaker men and women, half naked, through the streets of Boston and Salem, until peremptorily forbidden to do so by the King.

After Massachusetts had suspended its laws against Quakers, Parliament made a law (1662) which provided that every five Quakers, meeting for religious worship, should be fined, for the first offence, $25; for the second offence, $50; and for the third offence to abjure the realm on oath, or be transported to the American colonies. Many refused to take the oath, and were transported. By an act of the Virginia legislature, passed in 1662, every master of a vessel who should import a Quaker, unless such as had been shipped from England under the above act, was subjected to a fine of 5,000 lbs. of tobacco for the first offence. Severe laws against other sectaries were passed in Virginia, and many of the Non-conformists in that colony, while Berkeley ruled, fled deep into the wilderness to avoid persecution.

Because the Friends refused to perform military duty or take an oath in Maryland they were subject to fines and imprisonment, but were not persecuted there on account of their religious views. When, in 1676, George Fox was in Maryland, his preaching was not hindered. He might be seen on the shores of the Chesapeake, preaching at the evening twilight, when the labors of the day were over, to a multitude of people, comprising members of the legislature and other distinguished men of the province, yeomen, and large groups of Indians, with chiefs and sachems, their wives and children, all led by their emperor.

Fenwick, one of the purchasers of west Jersey, made the first settlement of members of his sect at Salem. Liberal offers were made to Friends in England if they would settle in New Jersey, where they would be free from persecution, and in 1677 several hundred came over. In March a company of 230 came in the ship Kent. Before they sailed King Charles gave them his blessing. The Kent reached New York in August, with commissioners to manage public affairs in New Jersey. The arrival was reported to Andros, who was governor of New York, and claimed political jurisdiction over the Jerseys. Fenwick, who denied the jurisdiction of the Duke of York in the collection of customs duties, was then in custody at New York, but was allowed to depart with the other Friends, on his own recognizance to answer in the autumn. On Aug. 16 the Kent arrived at New Castle, but it was three months before a permanent place was settled upon. That place was on the Delaware River, and was first named Beverly. Afterwards it was called Bridlington, after a parish in Yorkshire, England, whence many of the emigrants had come. The name was corrupted to Burlington, which it still bears. There the passengers of the Kent settled, and were soon joined by many others. The village prospered, and other settlements were made in its vicinity. Nearly all the settlers in west Jersey were members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. One of the earliest erected buildings for the public worship of Friends in New Jersey was at Crosswicks, about half-way between Allentown and the Delaware River. Before the Revolution they built a spacious meeting-house there of imported brick.

Quaker Town

Colonial Quaker Town

From the founding of the government of Pennsylvania the rule of the colony was held by the Quakers, they being more numerous than others. When wars with the French and Indians afflicted the colonies their peace principles made the members of the Assembly of that sect oppose appropriations of men and money for war purposes. When, in 1755, the frontiers of Pennsylvania were seriously threatened, the Quakers, though still a majority in the Assembly, could no longer resist the loud cry " To arms " in Philadelphia and reechoed from the frontiers. The hostile Indians were among the Juniata settlements. The proprietary party successfully stirred up the people. After a sharp struggle, the Assembly, in consideration of a voluntary subscription of £5,000 by the proprietaries. consented to levy a tax of £50,000, from which the estates of the latter were exempted. The expenditure of the amount was entrusted to a committee of seven, of whom a majority were members of the Assembly; and these became the managers of the war, now formally declared, against the Delawares and Shawnees. So the golden chain of friendship which bound the Indians to William Penn was first broken. This was the first time the Quakers were driven into an open participation in war. Some of the more conscientious resigned their seats in the Assembly, and others declined a reelection. So it was that, in 1755, the rule of the Quakers in the administration of public affairs in Pennsylvania came to an end.

The " Testimony " of Friends, or Quakers, at their yearly meeting in Philadelphia in May, 1775, against the movements of the American patriots attracted special attention to that body. The papers and records of their yearly meeting in New Jersey, captured by Sullivan in his expedition against the loyalist regiments on Staten Island, gave Congress the first proof of the general disaffection of the society. The Congress recommended the executives of the several colonies or States to watch their movements; and the executive council of Pennsylvania were earnestly exhorted to arrest and secure the persons of eleven of the leading men of that society in Philadelphia, whose names were given. It was done, Aug. 28, 1777, and John Fisher, Abel James, James Pemberton, Henry Drinker, Israel Pemberton, John Pemberton, John James, Samuel Pleasants, Thomas Wharton, Sr., Thomas Fisher, and Samuel Fisher, leading members, were banished to Fredericksburg, Va. The reason given by Congress for this act was that when the enemy were pressing on towards Philadelphia in December, 1777, a certain seditious publication, addressed " To our Friends and Brethren in Religious Profession in these and the adjacent Provinces," signed John Pemberton, in and on behalf of the " Meeting of Sufferings," held in Philadelphia, Dec. 26, 1776, had been widely circulated among Friends throughout the States. At the same time the Congress instructed the board of war to send to Fredericksburg John Penn, the governor, and Benjamin Chew, chief-justice of Pennsylvania, for safe custody. While the British army was in Philadelphia in 1778, Joseph Galloway, an active Tory, and others employed John Roberts and Abraham Carlisle, members of the Society of Friends, as secret agents in detecting foes to the British government. Carlisle was a sort of inquisitor-general, watching at the entrances to the city, pointing out and causing the arrest of Whigs, who were first cast into prison and then granted permission to pass the lines. Both Roberts and Carlisle acted as guides to British expeditions when they went out of Philadelphia to fall upon and massacre their countrymen. These facts being laid before Congress, that body caused the arrest of Roberts and Carlisle. They were tried, found guilty, and hanged.

 

 

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