Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Quaker Roots #4: LYDIA WRIGHT ON TRIAL

8GGM Lydia Wright Horner (1655-1713) Quaker daughter of 1635 immigrant, Peter Wright (known as founder of Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York) and wife of Quaker Isaac Horner (who emigrated from Yorkshire, England around 1677)
1661 Petition
"Some Considerations presented unto the King of England, & C. being Partly an Answer unto a petition and Addresse of the Gen. Court of Boston in New-England, Presented unto the King (As Is Said) Feb. Last, the 11th Day." [Edward Burrough, 1661]

Following the 1661 publication and delivery of this document to England's King Charles II detailing the religious intolerance and persecution of Quakers by Puritan law, England stopped Massachusetts courts from executing any more Quakers for professing their faith.  It did not, however, prevent Massachusetts from continuing to deal out harsh punishments instead.  The execution of Mary Dyer that year particularly sparked a passionate response from many Quakers -especially women.  Three of these women were sisters, Mary, Hannah, and my 8th great grandmother, Lydia Wright, daughters of 1635 English immigrants Peter and Alice Wright of Oyster Bay, Long Island.  
On Sunday, July 8, 1677 Lydia and other Friends silently accompanied Margaret Brewster into Boston's South Church during the service to protest current laws that punished Quakers for not conforming to Puritan religious practices.  Margaret, it should be noted, was dramatically dressed in sackcloth that day as a barefoot penitent with her hair down around her shoulders, ashes upon her head, and her face blackened. Needless to say, her wordless visual testimony had its intentionally disruptive effect and, as a result, she and her entourage were immediately arrested and placed in prison where they remained until their hearing the following month.  Lydia was twenty two years old. Here is the transcript as shown in the records of the Boston Court, August 4, 1677.
Clerk. Call Lydia Wright of Long-Island.
L. Wright. Here.
Gov. Are you one of the Women that came in with this Woman into Mr. Thatcher's Meeting-house to disturb him at his Worship?
L. W. I was; but I disturbed none, for I came in peaceably, and spake not a Word to Man, Woman, or Child.
Gov. What came you for then?
L. W. Have you not made a Law that we should come to your Meeting? For we were peaceably met together at our own Meeting-house, and some of your Constables came in, and haled some of our Friends out, and said, This is not a Place for you to worship God in. Then we asked him, Where we should worship God? Then they said, We must come to your publick Worship. And upon the First-day [Sunday] following I had something upon my Heart to come to your publick Worship, when we came in peaceably, and spake not a Word, yet we were haled to Prison, and there have been kept near a Month.
S. Broadstreet. Did you come there to hear the Word?
L. W. If the Word of God was there, I was ready to hear it.
Gov. Did your Parents give Consent you should come thither?
L. W. Yes, my Mother did.
Gov. Shew it.
L. W. If you will stay till I can send Home, I will engage to get from under my Mother's Hand, that she gave her Consent.
Juggins, a Magistrate, said, You are led by the Spirit of the Devil, to ramble up and down the Country, like Whores and Rogues a Cater-wawling.
L. W. Such Words do not become those who call themselves Christians, for they that sit to judge for God in Matters of Conscience, ought to be sober and serious, for Sobriety becomes the People of God, for these are a weighty and ponderous People.
Gov. Did you own this Woman?
L. W. I own her, and have Unity with her, and I do believe so have all the faithful Servants of the Lord, for I know the Power and Presence of the Lord was with us.
Juggins. You are mistaken: You do not know the Power of God; you are led by the Spirit and Light within you, which is of the Devil: There is but one God, and you do not worship that God which we worship.
L. W. I believe thou speakest Truth, for if you worshipped that God which we worship, you would not persecute his People, for we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the same God that Daniel worshipped.
So they cried, Take her away.
Following the hearings, the court clerk read the governor's sentence as required by the 1661 "more humane" law*:
~Margaret Brewster was to be tied to a cart's-tail at the South meeting-house, stripped to the waist and drawn through the town to receive twenty lashes across her bare body.
~Lydia and the two other women were to be tied to the cart, too. 
In the words of Joseph Besse, author of a 1753 book documenting the deplorable plight of 17th century Quakers:
"During the Examination of these Women, they appeared altogether unconcerned as to themselves, being fully resigned to whatsoever Sufferings might be their Portion; stedfastly maintaining their full Assurance of a divine Call to the Service they went upon, and a perfect Peace and Serenity of Mind in yielding Obedience thereunto:  In all which they seem to have really exercised the Faith and Patience of the Saints and People of God." (Joseph Besse, ``A Collection of the Sufferings of the People Called Quakers''; Vol. II (Chapter V: New England )
Note:  Lydia returned to Oyster Bay but was drawn to the colony of Barbados where Margaret Brewster lived.  She was granted a traveler's certificate by the Society of Friends Quarterly Meeting at Flushing, Long Island on 30th day of the 10th month [Dec.], 1682 that read:
...Friends at Barbadoes, Antigoe, Nevis, Jamaica ... where this may come greeting, whereas, the bearer hereof, our deare friend, Lydia Wright, hath ...time had drawings and moveings on her heart, and minde in ye love of God to visit the seed of God in those parts, and now finding freedom in his love, hath signified ye same unto consideration of this our men and women's Quarterly meeting, we, after a weighty consideration and examination of matters, in God's feare, for ye preservation and exaltation of God'struth, both in particular and in generall, we, with unanimous consent, did and doe aquiess with ye motion of her going to visit friends in your parts, as having good unity therein and therewith; moreover, yt she is one yt hath walked as becometh truth ever since her convincement, according to our knowledge ---- have not heard to ye contrary but has lived in unity with us, and we with her in ye truth. In which truth, that never changeth, we recommend this our deare friend and sister unto you, hoping and desiring your godly care over her, who are your brethren and sisters in ye same truth.
This lovingly written certificate was signed by over twenty members including her sisters Mary and Hannah, both of whom had also been imprisoned years earlier for witnessing their faith.  The meeting secretary's name headed the list:  Isaac Horner.  Lydia returned from Barbados to marry Isaac on 17th March, 1683/4.  Following the birth of their first child in 1685, Lydia and Isaac moved along with Mary and her husband to New Jersey, where the Horner family tree took root.  Sadly, Lydia's sister Hannah  drown on a missionary trip when a boat overturned on the western shore of Maryland.
*See Whittier's poem "The King's Missive"  in which the last Quaker condemned to death and twenty-seven other Quakers were released from prison:
 ..."So the door of the jail was open cast,
And, like Daniel, out of the lion's den
Tender youth and girlhood passed,
With age-bowed women and gray-locked men.
And the voice of one appointed to die
Was lifted in praise and thanks on high,
And the little maid from New Netherlands
Kissed, in her joy, the doomed man's hands."
 Both Mary and Hannah Wright of Long Island (in NY, then New Netherlands) were among the 27 Quakers released that day in 1661, with Hannah only fifteen or sixteen years old.  Since the poet was given facts from the case as background for writing this poem, it seems likely that the "little maid from New Netherlands" represented young Hannah, known as 'The Devotee'.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Our Quaker Roots #3: The Manumitter NATHAN BEAKES, Jr.

NATHAN BEAKES, Jr. 1760-1831 (nephew of 7th GGMother Sarah Beakes Potts)  grandson of 1683 immigrant William Beakes, Jr. and great grandson of immigrants Mahlon Stacy and William Beakes, Sr.

"Oh, make Thou us, through centuries long,
In peace secure, in justice strong;
Around our gift of freedom draw
The safeguards of Thy righteous law
And, cast in some diviner mould,
Let the new cycle shame the old!"
(John Greenleaf Whittier, v.6 of "Centennial Hymn")
With the signature shown above, Nathan Beakes Jr. legally manumitted a slave in his household on 30th December 1793.  The handwritten New Jersey document reads:
"I Nathan Beakes of the Township of Trenton in the County of Hunterdon* do hereby certify that I have manumitted and set free and by these presents do manumit and set free my Negro Slave named Caesar, discharging him from all further services to me as a slave.  In witness whereof I have [  ] set my hand & seal this thirtieth Day of December one thousand seven Hundred and ninety three ~ Nathan Beakes  ...Sealed and delivered in the presence of  [two signatures]"
* (Hunterdon County was founded in 1714, from northern part of West Jersey, including part of Burlington County)
As a fourth-generation Quaker, cousin Nathan was part of an early American movement to abolish slavery that began at the table of another ancestor, Thones Kunders over a century before.   After the Revolutionary War, New Jersey passed legislation called "An Act to prevent the Importation of Slaves into the State of New Jersey, and to authorize the Manumission of them under certain Restrictions, and to prevent the Abuse of Slaves,"
This 1786 state law was seen as a victory for the abolitionist movement and set in motion a process that allowed slave-holders like Nathan a legal right to free his slaves under certain conditions, which he met by this additional document that states:
from the New Jersey State Archives
"Hunterdon County [  ]  We do hereby certify, that on this thirtieth Day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven Hundred and ninety three Nathan Beakes of the Township of Trenton in the said County of Hunterdon brought before us two of the overseers of the poor of [  ] said Township and two of the Justices of the Peace of the said County, his slave named Caesar, who on view and Examination appears to us to be sound in mind, and not under any bodily Incapacity of attaining a Support, and also is not under twenty-one years of Age nor above thirty five:  In witness whereof we have hereunto set our Hands the thirtieth day of December one Thousand Seven hundred and ninety three  (Overseers of the Poor of the Township of Trenton:  Jos. Brimley, James B. Nachett) and (Justices of the Peace of the County of Hunterdon:  Jas. Simm, [  ?  ]"
Only five years later, the law was repealed to raise the upper age for legal manumission to forty years.  In 1804 new laws were passed to further define New Jersey's plan for "Gradual Abolition of Slavery" and then were repealed in 1820 but continued the manumission process which required that children of slaves born after the 4th of July 1804 were declared "free" but bound as servants to the owners of their mothers for a period of twenty-five years* for males and twenty-one years for females. In the 1830 Hunterdon County Federal Census, the household of Nathan Beakes is listed:
Free White Persons -Males- 30 thru 39: 1 (possibly Nathan's son Morgan, age 35)
Free White Persons -Males- 70 thru 79: 1 (Nathan, age 70)
Free White Persons -Females- 60-69: 1 (his wife Mary [Trent], age 68)
Free Colored Persons -Males- 36-54: 1 (possibly Caesar)
Free Colored Persons -Females- Under 10: 1
Free Colored Persons -Females- 24 thru 35: 1
Slaves -Males- 24 thru 35: 1*
Total Free White Persons: 3
Total Free Colored Persons: 3
Nathan Beakes, Jr. died the following year, at which time the one male slave in his household was probably of legal age to be free, as were the rest of the former slaves who remained -as many did- working for their former 'owners.'  
Neither Nathan nor his wife would live long enough to see the end of slavery in New Jersey with the 1846 "Act to Abolish Slavery" or national abolition legislation, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865.  The Quaker poet Whittier celebrated the centennial of our nation's freedom with a message of hope and reform for the people of that nation: 
"...Let the new cycle shame the old"