Friday, March 8, 2013


 Elizabeth and Robert's daughter, HANNAH FEAKE married JOHN BOWNE 7 May 1656.
sketch of Bowne House circa 1850
(In a letter dated April 12, 1656, Captain John Underhill wrote John Winthrop, Jr.
"Sir, I wase latli at Vlissingen (Flushing). Hanna Feke is to be married to verri jintiele young man,
of gud abilliti, of a louli fetture, and gud behafior.")
[Underhill married Hannah's sister, Elizabeth and John "Jack" Winthrop, Jr. was their mother's second cousin and brother to her first husband, Henry Winthrop.]  

Their home, completed in 1661, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as the oldest house in Flushing, NY -and one of the oldest in the state of New York.
But, more importantly, it is a structure of historical importance for the early fight for religious freedom in America.
  Hannah became a member of the Society of Friends, who held their meetings in the woods to avoid persecution for not worshipping in the approved church of New Netherland - the Reformed Dutch Church.** 

John soon invited the group to hold their meetings in the Bowne home
-an illegal act that would soon spur government action against Bowne.
In the book The Quaker Cross, A Story of the Old Bowne House by Cornelia Mitchell Parsons, 1911, we get a closer look at the Bowne household:   “The new dwelling was certainly most attractive- with its large, sunny kitchen and great fireplace (holding a log of wood of such enormous proportions that it had to be drawn into place by oxen), and its oven and swinging cranes were there…
“Almost opposite the hearth were raised seats, where the ministers and elders sat during meeting.  John had consecrated this room to the worship of God, as he had promised that day in the wood.  Here every First Day (or Sunday) all Friends gathered from far and near that the might wait upon God, listening to the Divine Voice as it spoke to their souls..." 
In August, 1662, a complaint was made by the new magistrate because John Bowne was allowing Quakers to hold their meetings in his house.   Since this action was against the law, citizens were forbidden to bring the ‘strolling people called Quakers’ into the Province without government consent.  Director General Peter Stuyvesant and other authorities had the complaint posted in the village.  It read:
’Letter of Sententions of the Lord’s Director-General and Council of the New Nethelands upon Thursday, fourteenth of September, 1662.  Because John Bowne, at present prisoner, dwelling at Vlissingen, Long Island, has made no scruple in Vilependention of the orders and mandates of the Director-General and Council of the New Netherlands, made and published against the Quakers, not only to lodge and entertain some of that Heretick and abominable sect called Quakers, but moreover had condescended unto them at several times to hold their Conventicles and meetings in his house, where he (not alone but his whole family) had been present, by which also the said abominable sect (   ) and ministers of the word of God do blame (   ) do undermine both the policy and worship of God, not only by strengthening their wrongful opinions, but also others be led out of the right way, which altogether are acts of all consequence whereout is like to redound much evil: Heresies and differencies, directly and quite contrary to the orders and mandates of the Lords Director and Counsellor of the New Netherlands; and therefore he out to be corrected as an example to others and mandates of the Lords Director and Counsellor of the New Netherlands…”

The suggested “correction” included imprisonment, a fine of 5820 pounds Flemish, and warning to abstain from all future meetings or be ‘condemned in a double boete’ and banished from New Netherland.  Though not yet imprisoned, Bowne understood that he faced serious consequences by continuing to host the Quaker meetings.
This news spread quickly and Bowne’s friends cautioned him to back down.  It was John’s fearless belief, however, that “God’s worship should not be neglected” (p.126) and again held meeting in his home on Sunday.  At sunset armed men arrived with a warrant from the Governor with orders to arrest John Bowne.  Bowne recorded the following in his journal:
"in the year 1662 nustil on the first day of 7th month Resolued [Resolved Waldron, the schout or sheriff of New Netherland] the scout Came to my house att vlishing* with a company of meen with sords and gonns (where I was tending my wife being sike in bed and my yongest child sike in my armes which was both soe Ill that wee watched too or three with them) hee tould mee I must goe with him to the generall [Stuyvesant] I tould him my famiely was not in a condishon for mee to leu them hee sead hee could not helpe that hee must folow his order but would not show it mee soe it beeing to late to goe that day hee left his men there and went to drinking in the towne and Came agenn in the night and with him the scout of the toune before whome I demanded his order which hee denyed before many people but at last I say it by which order hee was to take such as hee should find in vnlowfull meetings but found mee in non   [*Since Bowne's writing was phonetic, it is easy to see how the town name evolved through the years into "Flushing".]
(Bowne's transcriber attached the following note:  
**In the Provisional Regulations for the Colonists in 1624, the Directors of the West India Company definitely stated, "no other form of divine worship than that of the reformed religion would be tolerated". This was repeated in the Freedoms and Exemptions of 1640, "no other religion should be publicly admitted in New Netherland except the Reformed.

Today the original building houses the Bowne House Historical Society museum open to the public.

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