Saturday, August 30, 2014

1693 Puritan Cotton Mather on Rules for Negros

Cotton Mather, (1663-1728) was a socially & politically influential New England Puritan minister

Cotton Mather's (1663-1728) RULES For the Society of NEGROES. 1693. (Mather's rules for allowing African Americans to worship in the church.)

WE the Miserable Children of Adam, and of Noah, thankfully Admiring and Accepting the Free-Grace of GOD, that Offers to Save us from our Miseries, by the Lord Jesus Christ, freely Resolve, with His Help, to become the Servants of that Glorious LORD.

And that we may be Assisted in the Service of our Heavenly Master, we now Join together in a SOCIETY, wherein the following RULES are to be observed.

I. It shall be our Endeavour, to Meet in the Evening after the Sabbath; and Pray together by Turns, one to Begin, and another to Conclude the Meeting; And between the two Prayers, a Psalm shall be Sung, and a Sermon Repeated.

II. Our coming to the Meeting, shall never be without the Leave of such as have Power over us: And we will be Careful, that our Meeting may Begin and Conclude between the Hours of Seven and Nine; and that we may not be unseasonably Absent from the Families whereto we pertain.

III. As we will, with the Help of God, at all Times avoid all Wicked Company, so we will Receive none into our Meeting, but such as have sensibly Reformed their Lives from all manner of Wickedness. And therefore, None shall be Admitted, without the Knowledge and Consent of the Minister of God in this Place; unto whom we will also carry every Person, that seeks for Admission among us; to be by Him Examined, Instructed and Exhorted.

IV. We will, as often as may be Obtain some Wise and of the English in the Neighbourhood, and especially the Offcers of the Church, to look in upon us, and by their Presence and Counsil, do what they think fitting for us.

V. If any of our Number, fall into the Sin of Drunkenness, or Swearing, or Cursing, or Lying, or Stealing, or notorious Disobedience or Unfaithfulness unto their Masters, we will Admonish him of his Miscarriage, and Forbid his coming to the Meeting, for at least one Fortnight; And except he then come with great Signs and Hopes of his Repentance, we will utterly Exclude him, with Blotting his Name out of our List.

VI. If any of our Society Dele himself with Fornication, we will give him our Admonition; and so, debar him from the Meeting, at least half a Year: Nor shall he Return to it, ever any more, without Exemplary Testimonies of his becoming a New Creature.

VII. We will, as we have Opportunity, set our selves to do all the Good we can, to the other Negro-Servants in the Town; And if any of them should, at unfit Hours, be Abroad, much more, if any of them should Run away from their Masters, we will afford them no Shelter: But we will do what in us lies, that they may be discovered, and punished. And if any of us, are found Faulty, in this Matter, they shall be no longer of us.

VIII. None of our Society shall be Absent from our Meeting, without giving a Reason of the Absence; And if it be found, that any have pretended unto their Owners, that they came unto the Meeting, when they were otherwise and elsewhere Employ'd, we will faithfully Inform their Owners, and also do what we can to Reclaim such Person from all such Evil Courses for the Future.

IX. It shall be expected from every one in the Society, that he learn the Catechism; And therefore, it shall be one of our usual Exercises, for one of us, to ask the Questions, and for all the rest in their Order, to say the Answers in the Catechism; Either, The New-English Catechism, or the Assemblies Catechism, or the Catechism in the Negro Christianized.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Martin Luther & Protestant Upheavals

Portrait of Martin Luther 1525 by Lucas the Elder Cranach Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)

In 1517, the priest & scholar Martin Luther approached the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, & nailed a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation. Many immigrants to the British American colonies arrived because of Protestant upheavals in their homelands.In his theses, Luther condemned the excesses & corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking payment—called "indulgences"—for the forgiveness of sins. At the time, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz & Pope Leo X, was in the midst of a major fundraising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Though Prince Frederick III the Wise had banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members traveled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for their sins.

Luther's frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 Theses, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into German & distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, & efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune. He refused to keep silent, however, & in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church. That same year, Luther again refused to recant his writings before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany, who issued the famous Edict of Worms declaring Luther an outlaw & a heretic & giving permission for anyone to kill him without consequence. Protected by Prince Frederick, Luther began working on a German translation of the Bible, a task that took 10 years to complete.

The term "Protestant" first appeared in 1529, when Charles V revoked a provision that allowed the ruler of each German state to choose whether they would enforce the Edict of Worms. A number of princes & other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would over the next 3 centuries revolutionize Western civilization.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quaker Martyr Mary Barrett Dyer c 1612-1660 Hanged in Massachusetts

Mary Barrett Dyer was born in England, & challenged the religious persecution of Quakers in the American colonies. She and her husband, William Dyer, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1635, just 2 years after they married in London.  She sympathized with Anne Hutchinson's religious views and moved to Rhode Island in 1638. Anne Hutchinson died in 1643. Mary and her husband William had a daughter Elizabeth in 1645.

A Quaker Meeting including both men & women with a woman on a tub talking

Mary Dyer returned to England, where she remained from 1650 to 1657. While there, she actually became a Quaker; and on her return to the colonies, she was arrested several times by Massachusetts authorities and warned to keep out of that colony because of her new faith.

Mary Dyer ignored these warnings and returned to Massachusetts in 1659 to visit friends. She was apprehended, jailed, and finally hanged on June 1 of 1660. Her death as a martyr led to the easing of anti-Quaker laws in Massachusetts.

Letters Between Mary Dyer, who was in jail, and her husband, who was trying to gain her release:

William Dyer's Letter of 30 August 1659 to Boston Magistrates for release of Mary Dyer from prison

Having received some letters from my wife, I am given to understand of her commitment to close prison to a place (according to description) not unlike Bishop Bonner's rooms ... It is a sad condition, in executing such cruelties towards their fellow creatures and sufferers ... Had you no commiseration of a tender soul that being wett to the skin, you cause her to thrust into a room whereon was nothing to sitt or lye down upon but dust .. had your dogg been wett you would have offered it the liberty of a chimney corner to dry itself, or had your hoggs been pend in a sty, you would have offered them some dry straw, or else you would have wanted mercy to your beast, but alas Christians now with you are used worse [than] hoggs or doggs ... oh merciless cruelties.

You have done more in persecution in one year than the worst bishops did in seven, and now to add more towards a tender woman ... that gave you no just cause against her for did she come to your meeting to disturb them as you call itt, or did she come to reprehend the magistrates? [She] only came to visit her friends in prison and when dispatching that her intent of returning to her family as she declared in her [statement] the next day to the Governor, therefore it is you that disturbed her, else why was she not let alone. [What] house entered she to molest or what did she, that like a malefactor she must be hauled to [prison] or what law did she transgress? She was about a business justifiable before God and all good men.

The worst of men, the bishops themselves, denied not the visitation and release of friends to their prisoners, which myself hath often experienced by visiting Mr. Prine, Mr. Smart and other eminent [men] yea when he was commanded close in the towne, I had resort once or twice a week and [I was] never fetched before authority to ask me wherefore I came to the towne, or Kings bench, or Gatehouse ... had there not been more adventurours tender hearted professors than yo'selves many of them you call godly ministers and others might have perished ... if that course you take had been in use with them, as to send for a person and ask them whe'fore they came thither. What hath not people in America the same liberty as beasts and birds to pass the land or air without examination?

Have you a law that says the light in M. Dyre is not M. Dyre's rule, if you have for that or any the fornamed a law, she may be made a transfresso', for words and your mittimus hold good, but if not, then have you imprisoned her and punisht her without law and against the Law of god and man ... behold my wife without law and against Law is imprison' and punished and so higly condemned for saying the light is the Rule! It is not your light within your rule by which you make and act such lawes for ye have no rule of Gods word in the Bible to make a law titled Quakers nor have you any order from the Supreme State of England to make such lawes. Therefore, it must be your light within you is your rule and you walk by ... Remember what Jesus Christ said, 'if the light that be in you is darkness, how great is that darkness.'

[illegible] ... conscience, the first and next words after appearance is 'You are a Quaker' see the steppes you follow and let their misry be your warning; and then if answer be not made according to the ruling will; away with them to the Cobhole or new Prison, or House of Correction ... And now Gentlemen consider their ends, and believe it, itt was certaine the Bishops ruine suddenly followed after their hott persuanes of some godly people by them called Puritans ... especially when they proceeded to suck the blood of Mr. Prine, Mr. Burton and Dr. Bostwicks eares, only them three and butt three, and they were as odious to them as the Quakers are to you.

What witness or legal testimony was taken that my wife Mary Dyre was a Quaker, if not before God and man how can you clear yourselves and seat of justice, from cruelty persecution ye as so fair as in you lies murder as to her and to myself and family oppression and tiranny. The God of trust knows all this. The God of truth knows all this. This is the sum and totals of a law title Quakers: that she is guilty of a breach of a tittled Quakers is as strange, that she is lawfully convicted of 2 witnesses is not hear of, that she must be banished by law tittled Quakers being not convicted by law but considered by surmise and condemned to close prison by Mr. Bellingham's suggestion is so absurd and ridiculous, the meanest pupil in law will hiss at such proceeds in Old Lawyers ... is your law tittled Quakers Felony or Treason, that vehement suspicion render them capable of suffering ... If you be men I suppose your fundamental lawes is that noe person shall be imprisoned or molested but upon the breach of a law, yett behold my wife without law and against law is imprisoned and punished.

My wife writes me word and information, ye she had been above a fortnight and had not trode on the ground, but saw it out your window; what inhumanity is this, had you never wives of your own, or ever any tender affection to a woman, deal so with a woman, what has nature forgotten if refreshment be debarred?

I have written thus plainly to you, being exceedingly sensible of the unjust molestations and detaining of my deare yokefellow, mine and my familyes want of her will crye loud in yo' eares together with her sufferings of your part but I questions not mercy favor and comfort from the most high of her owne soule, that at present my self and family bea by you deprived of the comfort and refreshment we might have enjoyed by her [presence].

Her husband
W. Dyre
Newport this 30 August 1659---------------------

Mary Dyer's First Letter Written from Prison, 1659

Whereas I am by many charged with the Guiltiness of my own Blood: if you mean in my Coming to Boston, I am therein clear, and justified by the Lord, in whose Will I came, who will require my Blood of you, be sure, who have made a Law to take away the Lives of the Innocent Servants of God, if they come among you who are called by you, 'Cursed Quakers,' altho I say, and am a Living Witness for them and the Lord, that he hath blessed them, and sent them unto you: Therefore, be not found Fighters against God, but let my Counsel and Request be accepted with you, To repeal all such Laws, that the Truth and Servants of the Lord, may have free Passage among you and you be kept from shedding innocent Blood, which I know there are many among you would not do, if they knew it so to be: Nor can the Enemy that stirreth you up thus to destroy this holy Seed, in any Measure contervail, the great Damage that you will by thus doing procure:

Therefeore, seeing the Lord hath not hid it from me, it lyeth upon me, in Love to your Souls, thus to persuade you: I have no Self Ends, the Lord knoweth, for if my Life were freely granted by you, it would not avail me, nor could I expect it of you, so long as I shall daily hear and see, of the Sufferings of these People, my dear Brethren and Seed, with whom my Life is bound up, as I have done these two Years, and not it is like to increase, even unto Death, for no evil Doing, but Coming among you: Was ever the like laws heard of, among a People that profess Christ come in the Flesh? And have such no other Weapons, but such Laws, to fight with against spiritual Wickedness with all, as you call it? Wo is me for you! Of whom take you Counsel! Search with the light of Christ in you, and it will show you of whom, as it hath done me, and many more, who have been disobedient and deceived, as now you are, which Light, as you come into, and obey what is made manifest to you therein, y ou will not repent, that you were kept from shedding Blood, tho be a Woman: It's not my own Life I seek (for I chose rather to suffer with the People of God, than to enjoy the Pleasures of Egypt) but the Life of the Seed, which I know the Lord hath blessed, and therefore seeks the Enemy thus vehemently the Life thereof to destroy, as in all ages he ever did: Oh! hearken not unto him, I beseech you, for the Seed's Sake, which is One in all, and is dear in the Sight of God; which they that touch, Touch the Apple of his Eye, and cannot escape his Wrath; whereof I having felt, cannot but persuade all men that I have to do withal, especially you who name the Name of Christ, to depart from such Iniquity, as SHEDDING BLOOD, EVEN OF THE SAINTS OF THE Most High.

Therefore let my Request have as much Acceptance with you, if you be Christians as Esther had with Ahasuerus* whose relation is short of that that's between Christians and my Request is the same that her's was: and he said not, that he had made a Law, and it would be dishonourable for him to revoke it: but when he understood that these People were so prized by her, and so nearly concerned her (as in Truth these are to me) as you may see what he did for her: Therefore I leave these Lines with you, appealing to the faithful and true Witness of God, which is One in all Consciences, before whom we must all appear; with whom I shall eternally rest, in Everlasting Joy and Peace, whether you will hear or forebear: With him is my Reward, with whom to live is my Joy, and to die is my Gain, tho' I had not had your forty-eight Hours Warning, for the Preparation of the Death of Mary Dyar.

And know this also, that if through the Enmity you shall declare yourselves worse than Ahasueras, and confirm your Law, tho' it were but the taking away the Life of one of us, That the Lord will overthrow both your Law and you, by his righteous Judgments and Plagues poured justly upon you who now whilst you are warned thereof, and tenderly sought unto, may avoid the one, by removing the other; If you neither hear nor obey the Lord nor his Servants, yet will he send more of his Servants among you, so that your End shall be frustrated, that think to restrain them, you call 'Cursed Quakers' from coming among you, by any Thing you can do to them; yea, verily, he hath a Seed here among you, for whom we have suffered all this while, and yet suffer: whom the Lord of the Harvest will send forth more Labourers to gather (out of the Mouths of the Devourers of all sorts) into his Fold, where he will lead them into fresh Pastures, even the Paths of Righteousness, for his Name's Sake: Oh! let non of you put this Day far from you, which verily in the light of the Lord I see approaching, even to many in and about Boston, which is the bitterest and darkest professing Place, and so to continue as long as you have done, that ever I heard of; let the time past therefore suffice, for such a Profession as bring forth such Fruits as these Laws are, In Love and in the Spirit of Meekness, I again beseech you, for I have no Enmity to the Persons of any; but you shall know, that God will not be mocked, but what you sow, that shall you reap from him, that will render to everyone according to the Deeds done in the Body, whether Good or Evil, Even so be it, saith

Mary Dyar-----------------

Mary Dyer's Second Letter Written from Prison, 1659 -- After the Hanging of Marmaduke & Stephenson

Once more the General Court, Assembled in Boston, speaks Mary Dyar, even as before: My life is not accepted, neither availeth me, in Comparison of the Lives and Liberty of the Truth and Servants of the Living God, for which in the Bowels of Love and Meekness I sought you; yet nevertheless, with wicked Hands have you put two of them to Death, which makes me to feel, that the Mercies of the Wicked is Cruelty. I rather chuse to die than to live, as from you, as Guilty of their innocent Blood. Therefore, seeing my Request is hindered, I leave you to the Righteous Judge and Searcher of all Hearts, who, with the pure measure of Light he hath given to every Man to profit withal, will in his due time let you see whose Servants you are, and of whom you have taken Counsel, which desire you to search into: But all his counsel hath been slighted, and, you would none of his reproofs. Read your Portion, Prov. 1:24 to 32. 'For verily the Night cometh on you apace, wherein no Man can Work, in which you shall assuredly fall to your own Master, in Obedience to the Lord, whom I serve with my Spirit, and to pity to your Souls, which you neither know nor pity: I can do no less than once more to warn you, to put away the Evil of your Doings, and Kiss the Son, the Light in you before his wrath be kindled in you; for where it is, nothing without you can help or deliver you out of his hand at all; and if these things be not so, then say, There hath been no prophet from the Lord sent amongst you: yet it is his Pleasure, by Things that are not, to bring to naught Things that are.

'When I heard your last Order read, it was a disturbance unto me, that was so freely Offering up my life to him that give it me, and sent me hither to do, which Obedience being his own Work, he gloriously accompanied with his Presence, and Peace, and Love in me, in which I rested from my labour, till by your Order, and the People, I was so far disturbed, that I could not retain anymore of the words thereof, than that I should return to Prison, and there remain Forty and Eight hours; to which I submitted, finding nothing from the Lord to the contrary, that I may know what his Pleasure and Counsel is concerning me, on whom I wait therefore, for he is my Life, and the length of my Days, and as I said before, I came at his command, and go at His command.

Mary Dyar-------------------

William Dyer's Letter of 27 May 1660 petitioning Boston Magistrates to spare Mary Dyer's life

Honor S',
It is not little greif of mind, and sadness of hart that I am necessitated to be so bold as to supplicate you' Honor self w' the Honorable Assembly of yo' Generall Courte to extend yo' mery and favo' once agen to me and my children, little did I dream that I shuld have had occasion to petition you in a matter of this nature, but so it is that throw the devine prouidence and yo' benignity my sonn obtayned so much pitty and mercy att yo' hands as to enjoy the life of his mother, now my supplication yo' Hono' is to begg affectioinately, the life of my deare wife, tis true I have not seen her aboue this half yeare and therefor cannot tell how in the frame of her spiritt she was moved thus againe to runn so great a Hazard to herself, and perplexity to me and mine and all her friends and well wishers; so itt is from Shelter Island about by Pequid Marragansett and to the Towne of Prouidence she secrettly and speedyly journyed, and as secretly from thence came to yo' jurisdiction, unhappy journy may I say, and woe to theat generatcon say I that gives occasion thus of grief and troble (to those that desire to be quiett) by helping one another (as I may say) to Hazard their lives for I know not watt end or to what purpose; If her zeale be so greatt as thus to adventure, oh lett your favoure and pitty surmount itt and save her life. Let not yo' forwanted Compassion bee conquared by her inconsiderate maddnesse, and how greatly will yo' renowne be spread if by so conquering yo' become victorious, what shall I say more, I know yo' are all sensible of my condition, and lett the reflect bee, and you will see whatt my peticon is and what will give me and mine peace, oh Lett mercies wings once more sore above justice ballance, and then whilst I live shall I exalt yo' goodness butt other wayes twill be a languishing sorrow, yea so great that I shuld gladly suffer thie blow att once much rather: I shall forebear to troble yo' Hn' with words neythe am I in capacity to expatiate myself at present; I only say that yo'selves have been and are or may bee husbands to wife or wiues, so am I: yea to once most dearely beloved: oh do not you deprive me of her, but I pray give her me once agena nd I shall bee so much obleiged for ever, that I shall endeavor continually to utter my thanks and render you Love and Honor most renowned: pitty me, I begg itt with teares, and rest you.

Most humble suppliant
W. Dyre
Portsmouth 27 of May 1660

Most honored sires, let thse lines by yo' fauo' bee my Peticon to your Honorable General Court at present sitting.

Mary Dyer was hanged 1 June 1660.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mothers & Children in 1600s British American Colonies

The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) The Mason Children - David, Joanna, and Abigail c 1670

The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Margaret Gibbs of Boston c 1670

The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Henry Gibbs of Boston c 1670

The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Robert Gibbs c 1670

Portrait of Alice Mason, by an unknown artist, C. 1670.

Portrait of Mary Mason, by unknown artist, C. 1670.

The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Mrs Elizabeth Freake and Baby Mary 1674

1679 Mrs. Richard Patteshall (Martha Woody) and Child. Atr Thomas Smith, American, c 1650–1691

The Freake Limner (active 1670–1674) is known by 10 similar portraits in oil on canvas that were painted of merchants, public officials, ministers, & children in Boston between 1670 and 1674. 

Some suggest that the painter was Augustine Clement (about 1600–1674) who trained in the Elizabethan style in England before sailing to New England.  However, there were about 14 artists working in Boston in the 17C, so attribution to Clement is purely speculative.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Women in 17th Century New England

In 17C New England, women usually arrived with family members to band together in cooperative religious communities organized for the collective good including shared economic goals. Almost immediately, their healthier living conditions allowed for reproduction by natural increase.

Intact family units let New England families adapt to their new world more easily. The New England family often planted just enough to sustain themselves within their community, unlike the profit driven Chesapeake family desperately trying to produce as much as possible.

The average colonial man in New England viewed himself as a member of a family group in which he had rights as well as obligations. Usually husbands & wives worked together for the good of their immediate & extended family and for the good of their community. Men spent most of their time working within with an extended family which sought interdependence with their wider community.

In early New England, both men & women believed that individuals and family should be subordinated to the demands of the greater community. A few portraits of 17C New England women & their children survive.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Life of Accused Massachusetts Witch Rebecca Nurse 1621-1692

Rebecca Nurse, "Oh Lord, help me! It is false. I am clear. For my life now lies in Your Hands..."

Rebecca Nurse (1621-1692), victim of the Salem witchcraft delusion, was born at Great Yarmouth, England, the oldest child of William & Joanna (Blessing) Towne. When she was about 20, the family came to America & settled in Salem, Mass. There Rebecca married Francis Nurse, a woodworker & “tray maker.” His affairs prospered, & he was able to buy a rich 300-acre farm in Salem Village (later Danvers), to which they removed in 1678. 

As their 8 children-Rebecca, Sarah, John, Samuel, Mary, Elizabeth, Francis & Benjamin- married, they were given land & houses on this property; so that by 1692, the old couple were surrounded by a brood of loyal descendants. Throughout her life Rebecca Nurse took particular pains in the education of her children. Though a member of the Salem Town Church, she usually attended the Rev. Samuel Parris’ church in nearby Salem Village, where she was seated (on the women’s side) with the Widow Putnam, matriarch of the most powerful local family, an indication of her respected place in the community.

As 1692 began, little but the infirmities of age, especially a growing deafness, disturbed the peaceful tenor of Rebecca Nurse’s life. In February of that year, however, several high-strung girls & women in the households of Samuel Parris & Thomas Putnam began to have hysterical outbursts, which were readily attributed to witchcraft. The important role of the Devil in Puritan theology made Massachusetts highly vulnerable to this still widely believed superstition, particularly at a time when Satan’s hand seemed so evident in the revocation of the colony’s charter, in Indian warfare, & in the decline of religious zeal. Furthermore, Salem Village, had special afflictions, including a divided congregation & land disputes involving the Putnams, the Nurse clan, & others.

When 3 accused witches were arrested, Rebecca Nurse took a guarded stand against the action, averring “that there was persons spoken of [as witches] that were as innocent as she was.” While the Rev. Mr. Parris & others fanned the flames of emotion she absented herself from meeting, & from the magistrates’ examinations of the accused. Consequently, when Mrs. Ann Putnam, Mrs. Putnam’s daughter (also named Ann), & others continued to suffer mysterious seizures, they readily added Rebecca Nurse to the list of their tormentors.

She was arrested on Mar. 24, 1692. The next day, when she was examined by 2 magistrates, “the great noise of the afflicted,” rolling about in their fits & howling accusations against her, was such that Samuel Parris, acting as clerk, admitted his inability to hear all the testimony. A man walking some distance from the meetinghouse later reported that he had never heard “such an hideous scrietch & noise” (Burr, p. 159). Undeterred, Mrs. Nurse earnestly professed her innocence. Great pressure was brought upon all the accused to plead their guilt, & in the outcome no “witch” who confessed was executed. However, neither Rebecca Nurse nor her 2 sisters who were also arrested would ever do so, refusing to “belay their souls.”

From March to June, Mrs. Nurse lay in chains in filthy & verminous jails in Salem & Boston, enduring false testimony, the mockery of visitors, & the humiliating search for “witches’ marks” on her body without losing her composure of her faith in God’s ultimate justice. The punishment for witchcraft was clearly set forth, in the Old Testament command “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” & in May 1692 a special Court of Oyer & Terminer, comprising 7 eminent men of Massachusetts, was established at Salem to execute this stern injunction upon the rapidly growing group of the accused. The first to be tried, Bridget Bishop, was hanged on June 10.

The trial or Rebecca Nurse came next, on June 30. Unlike some of the accused, she was unfailingly supported by her husband, her family, & many friends, & for a time it appeared that she might be cleared. Forty citizens of Salem Village, including 7 members of the Putnam family, signed petitions of her behalf. Although the trial gave full weight to the “spectral” evidence of those who testified to visits from her “shape,” the jury at first returned a verdict of not guilty. At this the “afflicted” girls in the courtroom began howling, moaning, & twitching, & the stern William Stoughton, chief justice of the court & lietenant governor of the Commonwealth, urged the jurymen to reconsider. They did so, but again returned, this time requesting that Mrs. Nurse be asked to explain one of her remarks. She was asked but, being deaf, did not hear the request & sat in silence. Now at last the jury brought in a guilty verdict, & Mrs. Nurse was sentenced to hang. Her family submitted to the court a deposition explaining her silence at the critical moment, as well as the innocuous meaning of the queried statement, but to no avail. They next petitioned the governor, Sir William Phips, for a reprieve, which was at first granted. Unnamed “Salem gentlemen” intervened, however, & the reprieve was withdrawn. On July 3, in her presence, an edict of excommunication was pronounced against Rebecca Nurse in the Salem church. About two weeks later she & 4 others were hanged on “Gallows Hill” in Salem. The bodies were at first placed in a common grave near the gallows.

Eleven more hangings-including those of Martha Corey & Mary Esty, Mrs. Nurse’s sister-occurred before the hysteria ran its course. None of those executed in 1692 had as much said in her favor & as little against her as did Rebecca Nurse, & the Nurse family continued to work for her vindication after her death. They refused reconciliation with Samuel Parris, & in 1696, for this & other reasons, Parris left the ministry.

In 1706 young Ann Putnam, seeking church membership was forced publicly to confess that it was “a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time;” she asked especial forgiveness for her accusations against Rebecca Nurse. Five years later the Massachusetts legislature reversed the convictions of Mrs. Nurse, her sister, & 12 others whose families had also petitioned. At last, in 1712, after 20 years, the Salem church revoked the excommunication of their former member “that it may no longer be a reproach to her memory & an occasion of grief to her children.”

Rebecca Nurse Homestead

According to descendants, Nurse’s children brought her body back to the property after her execution and buried her somewhere in the family graveyard on the property. In 1885, the Nurse family erected a monument in her memory. The house is still preserved, & two granite shafts mark the traditional burial site, the second commemorating those who signed the petition on her behalf.

Rebecca Nurse 1885 Monument

The monument includes a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier:
“O, Christian martyr! who for truth could die,
When all about thee owned the hideous lie!
The world, redeemed from superstition’s sway,
Is breathing freer for thy sake today.”

The other side of the monument reads:
“Accused of witchcraft she declared “I am innocent and God will clear my innocency.”
Once acquitted yet falsely condemned she suffered death July 19, 1692.
In loving memory of her Christian character even then fully attested by
forty of her neighbors This monument is erected July 1885.”

The story of Nurse and her family is the focus of the film Three Sovereigns for Sarah. The Sarah of the title is Sarah Cloyce, and the film follows her quest to clear the names of her executed sisters Mary Easty and Rebecca Nurse.

This posting based on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quakers in America 17C-18C

Hugh Barbour and J. William Frost, The Quakers (1988).  

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, began at the tail end of Europe’s Protestant Reformation in the 17th century. The missionary efforts of the earliest Friends took them to North America, where they became heavily involved in Pennsylvania politics before reversing their views on government participation in the mid-1750s. The Society became the first organization in history to ban slaveholding, and in the 1800s Quakers populated the abolitionist movement in numbers far exceeding their proportion of all Americans. 

Because the Protestant reformers of the 16C attempted to eliminate intermediaries between God and people, the Society of Friends, or Quakers, may be regarded as the fullest expression of the Reformation. Most reformers rejected some sacraments and priestly offices of the Roman Catholic church, but the Quakers omitted them all, including baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and any ordained, paid clergy. Quakers instead relied upon the direction of what they called “Christ within” or the Inner Light. Their worship consisted of waiting in silence until the Inner Light led members to share their religious concerns with the brethren.

To most Protestants, this primary reliance on inward inspiration depreciated the authority of the Bible, the centrality of the historical Jesus and the Atonement, and hierarchy within church, state, and family. The earliest Quakers (in England, 1651-1660) seemed to confirm the worst suspicions of their critics by proselytizing with abandon and adding thousands to their numbers. Then and later, they were persecuted as “ranters” or anarchists. Even within the Society of Friends the significance of the Atonement and the Bible remained an unsettling question, causing schisms, especially in the nineteenth century. But Quakers enjoyed a complementary freedom from biblicism that permitted the Society uniquely to innovate and change radically over the centuries. Quaker abolitionism was one such innovation.

The missionary efforts of the earliest Friends, including founder George Fox, took them to North America where, as in England, they were persecuted. Massachusetts Bay Colony executed four. Quaker colonization of America, however, offered the prospect of a refuge and more. In contrast to other radical offspring of the Reformation, such as the Amish, Quakers believed that government was divinely instituted and virtuous men and women must help make it operate as God intended. No Quaker did more to enlist his brethren into public service than William Penn. In Pennsylvania, a responsive government of virtuous men would encourage peace, justice, charity, spiritual equality, and liberty for the benefit not just of Quakers but also of Native Americans and non-English refugees from Europe. It was to be a “Holy Experiment” and, in its way, as much a “City on a Hill” as New England.

Although the reality fell short of Penn’s utopian hopes, it still succeeded mightily in the opinion of immigrants and posterity. Ambition, envy, and avarice produced thirty years of tumultuous politics in the new province and left Penn convinced that his experiment had failed. But at the same time, Pennsylvania gained a reputation as the “best poor man’s country,” free of feudal elites, established churches, tithes, discriminatory oaths, high taxes, compulsory military service, and war. While Pennsylvania prospered, Quakers prospered more than others. They always composed the majority of the elite merchants of colonial Philadelphia as well as the most prosperous farmers of the eastern counties.

Although at odds with each other politically, Quakers nevertheless dominated the government of Pennsylvania. By 1740 Quaker politicians had become sufficiently anxious about their ever-declining proportion of the population and their more aggressive political enemies that they closed ranks and formed possibly the most formidable Whig political organization in colonial America, the Quaker party.

Ironically, political hegemony and social and economic preeminence raised dissenting voices among Friends, and in the 1750s they determined to reverse the direction the Society had taken since 1682. They believed that Quaker participation in government had brought with it intolerable compromises in such Quaker beliefs as pacifism and that many Friends, especially wealthy ones, had assimilated “worldly” secular behavior. After another generation there would be nothing left of Quakerism but the name, lamented one dissenter. To restore the integrity of the Society, reformers insisted on strict enforcement of all its mores, especially endogamy, and in the violence brought to Pennsylvania by the French and Indian War, they demanded that Quakers resign from public office rather than become bellicose. On the social front they moved quickly against deviancy, expelling more than one in five Friends by 1775, but not until the more intense public crisis of the Revolution did all Friends leave public office and the Holy Experiment completely end.

This sectarian revival in the Society brought with it an outburst of philanthropy and testimonies that have become synonymous with Quakerism. From 1755 to 1776, the Society became the first organization in history to ban slaveholding, and Quakers created abolition societies to promote emancipation. In the next century, Quakers populated the abolitionist movement in numbers far exceeding their proportion of all Americans. Some labored for such gradual solutions as the colonization of freedmen, while more conspicuous Quaker abolitionists espoused immediate emancipation. The latter were critically important to organizations like the American Anti-Slavery Society, the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, and the Female Antislavery Society, and to active resistance such as the “underground railway” in Pennsylvania and the Midwest. Following the example of eighteenth-century abolitionist Anthony Benezet, Friends showed an interest in the education and social progress of blacks. During Reconstruction, American and English Quakers raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for freedmen’s relief and established scores of schools for freedmen.

Penn’s legendary friendship with Native Americans partly underlay Quakers’ renewed pacifism during the French and Indian War and their concurrent departure from government. Thereafter they continued to pursue justice and charity for Native Americans and in the post-Civil War era lobbied and cooperated with the federal government in the administration of Indian affairs in the trans-Mississippi West.

Women Friends shared in all these testimonies and philanthropies. Since the 1650s when Margaret Fell invaluably aided George Fox, whom she later married, women’s role and status in the Society of Friends more closely approached equality with men’s than in any other Christian church. Preaching and ministering to mixed audiences, traveling extensively unaccompanied by men, regulating the lives of fellow Quaker women without men’s assistance (such as in church discipline and marriage arrangements), Quaker women knew a sphere of activity and attained a range of skills that surpassed those of their non-Quaker cohorts. Not surprisingly, historian Mary Maples Dunn found that in nineteenth-century America Quaker women comprised 40 percent of female abolitionists, 19 percent of feminists born before 1830, and 15 percent of suffragists born before 1830.

Although Quakers never returned to public office in any great number after 1776, they never retreated from politics. They believed that out of office, immune to the verdict of the ballot box, they could serve as democracy’s conscience better than ever before.

Although a more regimented Society emerged from the 18C reformation, the Society almost never disciplined a Friend over theology. That tolerance ended in the nineteenth century, however. In 1827 the venerable Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends split into an evangelical group (called the “orthodox”) and a liberal group (called “Hicksite”). In succeeding years, divisions increased, spreading to other areas and yearly meetings of America and also subdividing already fractured meetings. Anxiety over Unitarian theology, languishing membership, industrialization, and the disciplinary powers of meetings, among other things, contributed to the splits. Quaker energies and voices, which had been better focused since the 1750s, became dissipated in intramural recriminations. Quakers continued to practice antislavery, pacifism, and their traditional philanthropies, but not as one body.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wenlock Christison defends doomed Quakers in 1659 Puritan Massachusetts

Wenlock Christison Defending Quaker Witches in 1659 Puritan Massachusetts

Article from The Salisbury Times (now The Delmarva Times), Salisbury, Maryland by Dr. William H. Wroten, Jr.

"In the middle of the 17C, religious freedom was not a major characteristic of Puritan New England; in fact, persecutions were being committed; and Massachusetts was on the threshold of her witchcraft period. In September, 1659, three Quakers, Mary Dyer, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson counting martyrdom were banished from Massachusetts. All three, however, returned and the two men were hanged. Mrs. Dyer, after having her hands and legs bound, face covered and the rope adjusted about her neck was reprieved. When she returned again in the spring of 1660, she was executed. Later in the same year Quaker William Leddra was to suffer the same fate...

"Massachusetts theocracy was fighting a hopeless battle. The suffering of the Quakers was winning sympathy from thousands who were not necessarily interested in the Quaker doctrine. Shortly before the execution of Leddra, Wenlock Christison walked into the office of Governor John Endicott, and looking him straight in the eye said, "I came to warn you that you should shed no more innocent blood, for the blood that you have shed already cries to the Lord for vengeance to come upon you."

"For his action, Christison was brought to trial but the magistrates were not sure what should be done, for public sentiment was turning against the cruel persecutions. Yet there was one among the group who was not hesitant, and that was Governor Endicott. Pounding on the table, the good governor exclaimed, "You that will not consent, record it. I thank God I am not afraid to give judgment." Governor Endicott had his way and Christison was condemned to death, but the sentence was never carried out. Partly from fear of interference by the King and also because of the growing opposition by the people, persecution began to take milder forms.

"Before this at Plymouth, Christison had been robbed of his waistcoat, had his Bible taken to pay for his fines, and suffered a whipping. Later he was banished from Boston and threatened with the death penalty should he return - but return he did, and on this occasion was told to renounce his religious principles or be executed. Although it was at this time that Christison saw Leddra hanged, he refused to change his faith or in any other way seek mercy from the court... 

"Back, by way of Salem, Wenlock Christison in June, 1664 met two other Quakers, Mary Thompson and Alice Gary, who recently had arrived from Virginia where they had been persecuted. Christison was shortly arrested on the old charge, and along with the women once again banished form the colony. Only this time all three were stripped to the waist, fastened to a cart and whipped through Boston, Roxbury and Dedham. Christison received ten lashes and the two ladies six lashes in each of the towns.

"Finding no haven in Rhode Island, (probably the only colony in all New England which could claim any religious toleration at this time) the three came back to Boston supposedly under the protection of the King's Agents. But again there was trouble, a trial and the sentence that they should be whipped out of the province. However, shortly after this all three sailed to the Caribbean region - never to return to New 1670 Wenlock Christison and Alice Gary were in Maryland. Dr. Peter Sharpe of Calvert County turned over to Christison 150 acres of land in Talbot County - a plantation fittingly named in Christison's case, the "Ending of Controversie."  The Quaker records of Talbot County show that a daughter, Elizabeth, was born to Wenlock and Mary Christison in 1673. 

"Christison soon rose to a position of trust in Maryland; he was one of the first Quakers to have the honor of holding public office. He became a member of the House of Delegates from Talbot County in 1676 and served in that body at St. Mary's City until his death in 1679." 

Post Script
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recreated Christison's 1661 trial in John Endicott, one of three dramatic poems in a collection called New England Tragedies.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Persecution in America - Puritans Banish & Execute Dissenters

Although they were victims of religious persecution in Europe, the Puritans supported the Old World theory that sanctioned it, the need for uniformity of religion in the state. Once in control in New England, they sought to break "the very neck of Schism and vile opinions."

The "business" of the first settlers, a Puritan minister recalled in 1681, "was not Toleration, but [they] were professed enemies of it."

Puritans expelled dissenters from their colonies, a fate that in 1636, befell Roger Williams and in 1638, Anne Hutchinson, America's first major female religious leader.

Expelled from Massachusetts in the dead of winter in 1636, former Puritan leader Roger Williams (1603-1683) issued an impassioned plea for freedom of conscience. He wrote, "God requireth not an uniformity of Religion to be inacted and inforced in any civill state; which inforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civill Warre, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls." Williams later founded Rhode Island on the principle of religious freedom. He welcomed people of every shade of religious belief, even some regarded as dangerously misguided, for nothing could change his view that "forced worship stinks in God's nostrils."

Those who defied the Puritans by persistently returning to their jurisdictions risked capital punishment, a penalty imposed on four Quakers between 1659 and 1661. Those killed included Mary Dyer.

Mary Dyer (d. 1660) first ran afoul of Massachusetts authorities for supporting theological dissenter Anne Hutchinson. As a result Dyer and her family were forced to move to Rhode Island in 1638. Converted to Quakerism in England in the 1650s, Dyer returned to New England and was three times arrested and banished from Massachusetts for spreading Quaker principles. Returning to Massachusetts a fourth time, she was hanged on June 1, 1660.

Reflecting on the seventeenth century's intolerance, Thomas Jefferson was unwilling to concede to Virginians any moral superiority to the Puritans. Beginning in 1659 Virginia enacted anti-Quaker laws, including the death penalty for refractory Quakers. Jefferson surmised that "if no capital execution took place here, as did in New England, it was not owing to the moderation of the church, or the spirit of the legislature."

In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson reflected on the religious intolerance in seventeenth-century Virginia, specifically on the anti-Quaker laws passed by the Virginia Assembly from 1659 onward. Jefferson apparently believed that it was no more than an historical accident that Quakers had not been physically punished or even executed in Virginia as they had been in Massachusetts.

See The Library of Congress.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fleeing to America - Persecution - Quakers from England

Early Quaker Meeting where men & women + dogs & cats are not separated.

The Quakers (or Religious Society of Friends) formed in England in 1652 around a charismatic leader, George Fox (1624-1691).

George Fox (1624-1691) wrote a letter of caution "To Friends beyond sea, that have Blacks and Indian slaves" in 1657. In 1671 he visited Barbados and urged Friends to treat their slaves better; his preaching in Barbados was subsequently published in London in 1676 as "Gospel Family-Order." This provided the beginnings of Quaker opposition to slavery. Following Fox, other Quakers became concerned over the treatment of slaves & formed the first abolition committee. Quakers remained instrumental in the anti-slavery campaign.

1700s English woodcut of a Quaker

Many scholars today consider Quakers as radical Puritans, because the Quakers carried to extremes many Puritan convictions. They stretched the sober deportment of the Puritans into a glorification of "plainness."

Quaker Meeting

Theologically, they expanded the Puritan concept of a church of individuals regenerated by the Holy Spirit to the idea of the indwelling of the Spirit or the "Light of Christ" in every person. Such teaching struck many of the Quakers' contemporaries as dangerous heresy. Quakers were severely persecuted in England for daring to deviate so far from orthodox Christianity.

Gracechurch Street Meeting, London ca.1779.

By 1680, 10,000 Quakers had been imprisoned in England, and 243 had died of torture and mistreatment in the King's jails. This reign of terror impelled Friends to seek refuge in New Jersey in the 1670s, where they soon became well entrenched.

English punishment 1656-Quaker whipped behind wagon

When Quaker leader William Penn (1644-1718) parlayed a 1681 debt owed by Charles II to his father into a charter for the province of Pennsylvania, many more Quakers were prepared to grasp the opportunity to live in a land where they might worship freely.

Quaker Synod

By 1685, as many as 8,000 Quakers had come to Pennsylvania. Although the Quakers may have resembled the Puritans in some religious beliefs and practices, they differed with them over the necessity of compelling religious uniformity in society.

Penn’s Treaty by the Pennsylvania Quaker folk artist Edward Hicks (1780–1849)

"One Almighty and eternal God . . . shall in no wayes be molested or prejudiced for their Religious Perswasion or Practice in matters of Faith and Worship, nor shall they be compelled at any time to frequent or maintain any Religious Worship, Place or Ministry whatever."

Quaker Meeting

Pennsylvania became a reference point a century later for Americans opposing plans for government-supported religion. "Witness the state of Pennsylvania," a group of Virginians urged its House of Delegates in 1785, "wherein no such [religious] Establishment hath taken place; their Government stands firm and which of the neighbouring States has Members of brighter Morals and more upright Characters."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Robert Beverley History of Virginia 1705 - Indians & their Dress

The History and Present State of Virginia, in Four Parts published originally in London in 1705.  Beverley, Robert, ca. 1673-1722.

Book III Of the Indians, their Religion, Laws, and Customs, in War and Peace

§ 1. The Indians are of the middling and largest stature of the English. They are straight and well proportioned, having the cleanest and most exact limbs in the world. They are so perfect in their outward frame, that I never heard of one single Indian that was either dwarfish, crooked, bandy-legged, or otherwise misshapen. But if they have any such practice among them as the Romans had, of exposing such children till they died, as were weak and misshapen at their birth, they are very shy of confessing it, and I could never yet learn that they had.

Their color, when they are grown up, is a chestnut brown and tawny; but much clearer in their infancy. Their skin comes afterwards to harden and grow blacker by greasing and sunning themselves. They have generally coal black hair, and very black eyes, which are most commonly graced with that sort of squint which many of the Jews are observed to have. Their women are generally beautiful, possessing shape and features agreeable enough, and wanting no charm but that of education and a fair complexion.

Indian man in his summer dress

§ 2. The men wear their hair cut after several fanciful fashions, sometimes greased, and sometimes painted. The great men, or better sort, preserve a long lock behind for distinction. They pull their beards up by the roots with musselshells, and both men and women do the same by the other parts of their body for cleanliness sake. The women wear the hair of the head very long, either hanging at their backs, or brought before in a single lock, bound up with a fillet of peak, or beads; sometimes also they wear it neatly tied up in a knot behind. It is commonly greased, and shining black, but never painted.

The people of condition, of both sexes, wear a sort of coronets on their heads, from four to six inches broad, open at the top, and composed of peak, or beads, or else of both interwoven together, and worked into figures, made by a nice mixture of the colors. Sometimes they wear a wreath of died furs, as likewise bracelets on their necks and arms. The common people go bareheaded, only sticking large shining feathers about their heads, as their fancies lead them.

§ 3. Their clothes are a large mantle, carelessly wrapped about their bodies, and sometimes girt close in the middle with a girdle. The upper part of this mantle is drawn close upon the shoulders, and the other hangs below their knees. When that's thrown off, they have only for modesty sake a piece of cloth, or a small skin tied round their waist, which reaches down to the middle of the thigh. The common sort tie only a string round their middle, and pass a piece of cloth or skin round between their thighs, which they turn at each end over the string.

Their shoes, when they wear any, are made of an entire piece of buckskin, except when they sew a piece to the bottom to thicken the sole. They are fastened on with running strings, the skin being drawn together like a purse on the top of the foot, and tied round the ankle. The Indian name of this kind of shoe is, moccasin.

But because a draught of these things will inform the reader more at first view than a description in many words, I shall present him with the following prints drawn by the life.

Tab. II. is an Indian man in his summer dress. The upper part of his hair is cut short to make a ridge, which stands up like the comb of a cock, the rest is either shorn off, or knotted behind his ear. On his head are stuck three feathers of the wild turkey, pheasant, hawk, or such like. At his ear is hung a fine shell with pearl drops. At his breast is a tablet, or fine shell, smooth as polished marble, which sometimes also hath etched on it a star, half moon, or other figure, according to the maker's fancy. Upon his neck and wrists hang strings of beads, peak and roenoke. His apron is made of a deer skin, gashed round the edges, which hang like tassels or fringe; at the upper end of the fringe is' an edging of peak, to make it finer. His quiver is of a thin bark; but sometimes they make it of the skin of a fox, or young wolf, with the head hanging to it, which has a wild sort of terror in it; and to make it yet more warlike, they tie it on with the tail of a panther, buffalo, or such like, letting the end hang down between their legs. The pricked lines on his shoulders, breast and legs, represent the figures painted thereon. In his left hand he holds a bow, and in his right an arrow. The mark upon his shoulderblade is a distinction used by the Indians in traveling, to show the nation they are of; and perhaps is the same with that which Baron Lahontan calls the arms and heraldry of the Indians. Thus the several lettered marks are used by several other nations about Virginia, when they make a journey to their friends and allies.

The landscape is a natural representation of an Indian field.

Tab. Ill is two Indian men in their winter dress. Seldom any but the elder people wore the winter cloaks (which they call match-coats) till they got a supply of European goods; and now most have them of one sort or other in the cold winter weather. Fig. 1 wears the proper Indian match-coat, which is made of skins, dressed with the fur on, sewed together, and worn with the fur inwards, having the edges also gashed for beauty's sake. On his feet are moccasins. By him stand some Indian cabins on the banks of the river. Fig. 2 wears the Duffield match-coat bought of the English; on his head is^a coronet of peak, on his legs are stockings made of Duffields: that is, they take a length to reach from the ankle to the knee, so broad as to wrap round the leg; this they sew together, letting the edges stand out at an inch beyond the seam. When this is on, they garter below knee, and fasten the lower end in the moccasin.

§4.1 don't find that the Indians have any other distinction in their dress, or the fashion of their hair, than only what a greater degree of riches enables them to make, except it be their religious persons, who are known by the particular cut of the hair and the unusual figure of their garments; as our clergy are distinguished by their canonical habit.

The habit of the Indian priest is a cloak made in the form of a woman's petticoat; but instead of tieing it about their middle, they fasten the gatherings about their neck and tie it upon the right shoulder, always keeping one arm out to use upon occasion. This cloak hangs even at the bottom, but reaches no lower than the middle of the thigh; but what is most particular in it is, that it is constantly made of a skin dressed soft, with the pelt or fur on the outside, and reversed ; insomuch, that when the cloak has been a little worn the hair falls down in flakes, and looks very shagged and frightful.
The cut of their hair is likewise peculiar to their function; for 'tis all shaven close except a thin crest, like a cock's comb, which stands bristling up, and runs in a semicircle from the forehead up along the crown to the nape of the neck. They likewise have a border of hair over the forehead, which by its own natural strength, and by the stiffening it receives from grease and paint, will stand out like the peak of a bonnet.

Tab. IV. Is a priest and a conjurer in their proper habits. The priest's habit is sufficiently described above. The conjurer shaves all his hair off, except the crest on the crown; upon his ear he wears the skin of some dark colored bird ; he, as well as the priest, is commonly grimed with soot or the like; to save his modesty he bangs an otter skin at his girdle, fastening the tail between his legs; upon his thigh hangs his pocket, which is fastened by tucking it under his girdle, the bottom of this is likewise fringed with tassels for ornament sake. In the middle between them is the Huskanawpen spoken of §32.

§5. The dress of the women is little different from that of the men, except in the tieing of their hair. The women of distinction wear deep necklaces, pendants and bracelets, made of small cylinders of the conch shell, which they call peak: they likewise keep their skin clean and shining with oil, while the men are commonly bedaubed all over with paint.

They are remarkable for having small round breasts, and so firm, that they are hardly ever observed to hang down, even in old women. They commonly go naked as far as the navel downward, and upward to the middle of the thigh, by which means they have the advantage of discovering their fine limbs and complete shape.

Tab. V. Is a couple of young women. The first wearing a coronet, necklace and bracelet of peak; the second a wreath of furs on her head, and her hair is bound with a fillet of peak and beads. Between the two is a woman under a tree making a basket of silk grass after their own manner.

Tab. VI. Is a woman and a boy running after her. One of her hands rests in her necklace of peak, and the other holds a gourd, in which they put water or other liquid.  

The boy wears a necklace of runtees, in his right hand is an Indian rattle, and in his left a roasting ear of corn. Round his waist is a small string, and another brought cross through his crotch, and for decency a soft skin is fastened before.

Runtees are made of the conch shell as the peak is, only the shape is flat and round like a cheese, and drilled edge ways.

Monday, August 4, 2014

1661 On Improving the Virginia Church

It all sounds vaguely familiar...Build some towns, raise some money, tax the rich, educate the kids, & institute term limits...

DISCOVERING The true Ground of that CHURCH’S Unhappiness, and the only true Remedy.

As it was presented to the Right Reverend Father in God Guilbert Lord Bishop of London, September 2, 1661.
Now publish’d to further the Welfare of that and the like PLANTATIONS: By R. G 1662

To show the unhappy State of the Church in Virginia, and the true Remedy of it, I shall first give a brief Description of the Manner of our People’s scattered Habitations there; next show the sad unhappy consequences of such their scattered Living both in reference to themselves and the poor Heathen that are about them, and by the way briefly set down the cause of scattering their Habitations, then proceed to propound the Remedy, and means of procuring it; next assert the Benefits of it in reference both to themselves, and the Heathen; set down the cause why this Remedy has not been hitherto compassed: and lastly, till it can be procured, give directions for the present supply of their Churches.

That part of Virginia which has at present craved your Lordship’s Assistance to preserve the Christian Religion, and to promote the Building of God’s Church among them, by supplying them with sufficient Ministers of the Gospel, is bounded on the North by the great River Patomek, on the South by the River Chawan, including also the Land inhabited on the East side of Chesipiack Bay, called Accomack, and contains above half as much Land as England; it is divided into several Counties, and those Counties contain in all about Fifty Parishes, the Families whereof are dispersedly and scatteringly seated upon the sides of Rivers...

The Families of such Parishes being seated after this manner, at such distances from each other, many of them are very remote from the House of God, though placed in the midst of them. Many Parishes as yet want both Churches and Glebes, and I think not above a fifth part of them are supplied with Ministers, where there are Ministers the People meet together Weekly, but once upon the Lord’s day, and sometimes not at all, being hindered by Extremities of Wind and Weather: and divers of the more remote Families being discouraged, by the length of tediousness of the way, through extremities of heat in Summer, frost and Snow in Winter, and tempestuous weather in both, do very seldom repair thither.

By which brief Description of their manner of seating themselves in that Wilderness, Your Lordship may easily apprehend that their very manner of Planting themselves, has caused them hitherto to rob God in a great measure of that public Worship and Service, which as a Homage due to his great name, he requires to be constantly paid to him, at the times appointed for it, in the public Congregations of his people in his House of Prayer.

This sacrilege I judge to be the prime cause of their long-languishing, improsperous condition...But though this be the saddest Consequence of their dispersed manner of Planting themselves (for what Misery can be greater than to live under the Curse of God?) yet this has a very sad Train of Attendants which are likewise consequences of their scattered Planting. For, hence is the great want of Christian Neighborhood, or brotherly admonition, of holy Examples of religious Persons, of the Comfort of theirs, and their Minister’s Administrations in Sickness, and Distresses, of the Benefit of Christian and Civil Conference and Commerce.

And hence it is, that the most faithful and vigilant Pastors, assisted by the most careful Church-wardens, cannot possibly take notice of the Vices that reign in their Families, of the spiritual defects in their Conversations, or if they have notice of them, and provide Spiritual Remedies in their public Ministry, it is a hazard if they that are most concerned in them be present at the application of them: and if they should spend time in visiting their remote and far distant habitations, they would have little or none left for their necessary Studies, and to provide necessary spiritual food for the rest of their Flocks. And hence it is that through the licentious lives of many of them, the Christian Religion is like still to be dishonored, and the Name of God to be blasphemed among the Heathen, who are near them, and oft among them, and consequently their Conversion hindered.

Lastly, their almost general want of Schools for the education of their Children is another consequence of their scattered planting, of most sad consideration, most of all bewailed of Parents there, and therefore the arguments drawn from thence, most likely to prevail with them cheerfully to embrace the Remedy. This want of Schools, as it renders a very numerous generation of Christian Children born in Virginia (who naturally are of beautiful and comely Persons, and generally of more ingenious Spirits than these in England) unserviceable for any great Employments either in Church or State, so likewise it obstructs the hopefullest way they have, for the Conversion of the Heathen, which is, by winning the Heathen to bring in their Children to be taught and instructed in our Schools, together with the Children of the Christians...

The cause of their dispersed Seating was at first a privilege indulged by the royal Grant of having a right to 50 Acres of Land, for every person they should transport at their own charges: by which means some men transporting many Servants thither, and others purchasing the Rights of those that did, took possession of great tracts of Land at their pleasure, and by Degrees scattered their Plantations through the Country after the manner before described, although therefore from the premises, it is easy to conclude that the only way of remedy for Virginia’s disease (without which all other help will only palliate not cure) must be by procuring Towns to be built, and inhabited in their several Counties...Your Lordship will best inform your self in this by consulting with Virginia’s present Honorable Governor Sir William Berkeley, or their late Edward Diggs Esq.

What way soever they determine to be best, I shall humbly in obedience to your Lordship’s command endeavor to contribute towards the compassing this Remedy by propounding,

1 That your Lordship would be pleased to acquaint the King with the necessity of promoting the building Towns in each County of Virginia, upon the consideration of the fore-mentioned sad Consequences of their present manner of living there.

2 That your Lordship upon the fore-going consideration, be pleased to move the pitiful, and charitable heart of His gracious Majesty (considering the Poverty and needs of Virginia) for a Collection to be in all the Churches of his three Kingdoms (there being considerable numbers of each Kingdom ) for the promoting a work of so great Charity to the Souls of many thousands of his Loyal Subjects...

3 That the way of dispensing such collections for sending Work-men over for the building Towns and Schools, and the assistance the persons that shall inhabit them shall contribute towards them may be determined here, by the advice of Virginia’s present or late Honorable Governors...

Fourthly, That those Planters who have such a considerable number of Servants, as may be judged may enable them for it, if they be not willing (for I have heard some express their willingness, and some their averseness) may by His Majesty’s Authority be enjoined to contribute the Assistance that shall be thought meet for them, to build themselves houses in the Towns nearest to them, and to inhabit them, for they having horses enough in that Country, may be convenienced, as their occasions require, to visit their Plantations...

Fifthly, That for a continual supply of able Ministers for their Churches, after a set term of years, Your Lordship would please to endeavor the procuring an Act of Parliament, whereby a certain number of Fellowships, as they happen to be next proportionably vacant in both the Universities, may bear the name of Virginia Fellowships, so long as the Needs of that Church shall require it; and none be admitted to them, but such as shall engage by promise to hold them seven years and no longer; and at the expiration of those seven years, transport themselves to Virginia, and serve that Church in the Office of the Ministry seven years more, (the Church there providing for them) which being expired, they shall be left to their own Liberty to return or not...

These things being procured, I think Virginia will be in the most probable way (that her present condition can admit) of being cured of the forementioned evils of her scattered Planting.