Page images

.Christopher Holder and John Copeland, who were in his house, the door being open,—a pitiful shift, and manifesting the depth of their envy and wickedness,-yet they proceeded to fine them twenty shillings a-piece for not putting off their hats, and distress to the value of five pounds was taken from them to satisfy it. And at this Court, First month, 1658, they enacted:

[ocr errors]

"That no inhabitant entertain any person commonly called a Quaker, under the penalty of five pounds, or whipping. That "if any such person come into any township within that govern"ment, he that knows or suspects him to be such a one shall "acquaint the constable or his deputy, upon pain of presentment "and being liable to censure in Court; and upon which, the "constable or his deputy shall diligently endeavour to apprehend "him, and command him to depart the township or government; "if he delay or refuse to depart, the constable shall bring him be"fore the magistrate of the township, if there be any; and where "there is none, to the selectmen appointed by the Court for that "purpose, who shall cause him to be whipped or pay five pounds, "and to be conveyed out of the township; and the same course


to be taken with them as often as they transgress this order; "and that no person or persons be suffered to resort to them "whilst in custody. That no meetings of such persons, whether "strangers or others, be kept by any person in any place within "that government, under the penalty of forty shillings a time for "every speaker, and ten shillings a time for every hearer, and "forty shillings a time for the owner of the place that permits "them so to speak together; and if any meet together and are "silent, every person so meeting together shall pay ten shillings "a time, and the owner of the place forty shillings a time. And "that no public meeting be from thenceforth set up, but such "as the Court shall approve of." And that they might be sure to have advantage enough against those people, and to impoverish their estates and undo their families, and to wear them out, they ordered all who were not freemen to take the oath of fidelity to their government, upon the penalty of five pounds. And that they might be sure to keep out all such for the future from

being inhabitants in their government, they ordered, "That for the future none be so suffered, but such as shall be allowed of by the governors and two of the assistants." By reason of which unrighteous laws, so contrary to right and liberty, and many others made on purpose to ensnare and oppress the innocent, such cruelties have been exercised as are hard to relate, and too long to mention in all the particulars; only take a general view of them, for unto you they appertain both in example and punishment; and then I shall touch on some of the particulars as they come to my hands. The following letter from a sometime magistrate and commander of theirs to his friend in England, formerly of that jurisdiction also, and a magistrate therein, was manifestly written from a sense thereof:

"As for the state and condition of things amongst us, it is sad, "and like so to continue; the Antichristian persecuting spirit is "very active, and that in the powers of this world. He that "will not whip and lash, persecute and punish men that differ in "matters of religion, must not sit on the bench, nor sustain any "office in the commonwealth. Last election, Mr. Hatherly and "myself left off the bench, and I was discharged of my cap"tainship because I had entertained some of the Quakers at my "house, thereby that I might be the better acquainted with their "principles. I thought it better so to do, than with the blind "world to censure, condemn, rail at, and revile them, when they "neither saw their persons nor knew any of their principles. "But the Quakers and myself cannot close in divers things; and "so I signified to the Court I was no Quaker, but must bear "my testimony against sundry things that they held, as I had "occasion and opportunity. But withal I told them that as I


was no Quaker, so I would be no persecutor., This spirit did "work those two years that I was of the magistracy; during "which time I was on sundry occasions forced to declare my dis"sent in sundry actings of that nature; which, although done "with all moderation of expression, together with due respect "unto the rest, yet it wrought great disaffection and prejudice in "them against me; so that if I should say some of themselves

"set others on work to frame a petition against me, that so they "might have a seeming ground from others, though first moved "and acted by themselves, to lay me what they could under re"proach, I should do no wrong. The petition was with nineteen "hands; it will be too long to make rehearsal. It wrought such "a disturbance in our town, and in our military company, that "when the Act of Court was read in the head of the company, "had not I been present and made a speech to them, I fear there "had been such actings as would have been of a sad consequence. "The Court was again followed with another petition of fifty-four "hands, and the Court returned the petitioners an answer with “much plausibleness of speech, carrying with it great show of re"spect to them, readily acknowledging with the petitioners my "parts and gifts, and how useful I had been in my place; pro"fessing they had nothing at all against me, only in that thing "of giving entertainment to the Quakers; whereas I broke no "law in giving them a night's lodging or two and some victuals. For, our law then was,-'If any entertain a Quaker, and keep "him after he is warned by a magistrate to depart, the party "so entertaining shall pay twenty shillings a week for entertain"ing them. A law hath been made since,-If any entertain a "Quaker, if but a quarter of an hour, he is to forfeit five pounds.'


Another, 'That if any see a Quaker, he is bound if he live six "miles or more from the constable, yet he must presently go and "give notice to the constable, or else is subject to the censure of "the Court' (which may be hanging). Another, 'That if the "constable know or hear of any Quaker in his precincts, he is "presently to apprehend him; and if he will not presently depart "the town, the constable is to whip him and send him away.' "And divers have been whipped with us in our Patent; and "truly to tell you plainly, that the whipping of them with that "cruelty as some have been whipped, and their patience under "it, hath sometimes been the occasion of gaining more adherents "to them, than if they had suffered them openly to have preached "a sermon."

[ocr errors]

"Also another law. That if there be a Quaker meeting any

"where in this colony, the party in whose house or on whose 'ground it is, is to pay forty shillings; the preaching Quaker "forty shillings, and every hearer forty shillings; yea, and if "they have meetings, though nothing be spoken when they so "meet, which they say it so falls out sometimes,—our last law,— "that now they are to be apprehended, and carried before a "magistrate, and by him committed to be kept close prisoners, "until they will promise to depart and never come again; and "will also pay their fees, (which I perceive they will do neither "the one nor the other), and they must be kept only with the "county's allowance, which is but small, namely, coarse bread "and water. No friend may bring them anything; none may "be permitted to speak with them; nay, if they have money of "their own, they may not make use of that to relieve themselves.

"In the Massachusetts, namely Boston colony, after they have 66 whipped them and cut their ears, they have now at last gone the "furthest step they can; they banish them upon pain of death, if "ever they come there again. We expect that we must do the "like; we must dance after their pipe. Now Plymouth saddle "is on the bay horse, viz., Boston, we shall follow them on the For, it is well if in some there be not a desire to be "their apes and imitators in all their proceedings in things of this "nature.


"All these carnal and Antichristian ways, being not of God's "appointment, effect nothing as to the obstructing or hindering "of them in their way or course. It is only the Word and Spirit "of the Lord that is able to convince gainsayers; they are the "mighty weapons of a Christian's warfare, by which great and "mighty things are done and accomplished.

"They have many meetings and many adherents; almost the "whole town of Sandwich is adhering towards them; and give "me leave a little to acquaint you with their sufferings, which is "grievous unto, and saddens the hearts of most of the precious "saints of God. It lies down and rises up with them, and they "cannot put it out of their minds, to see and hear of poor fam"ilies deprived of their comforts, and brought into penury and


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"want; you may say, by what means? and, to what end? As "far as I am able to judge of the end, it is to force them from "their homes and lawful habitations, and to drive them out of "their coasts. The Massachusetts have banished six of their in"habitants, to be gone upon pain of death; and I wish that "blood be not shed. But our poor people are pillaged and plun"dered of their goods; and haply, when they have no more to "satisfy their insatiable desire, at last may be forced to flee, and "glad they have their lives for a prey.

"As for the means by which they are impoverished; these in "the first place were scrupulous of an oath; why then we must "put in force an old law, 'That all must take the oath of fidel"ity.' This being tendered, they will not take it; and then we "must add more force to the law; and that is, 'If any man refuse "or neglect to take it by such a time, he shall pay five pounds, "or depart the colony.' When the time is come they are the


same as they were; then goes out the marshal, and fetcheth "away their cows and other cattle. Well, another Court comes, "they are required to take the oath again; they cannot, then five "pounds more. On this account thirty-five head of cattle, as Į "have been credibly informed, hath been by the authority of our "Court taken from them the latter part of this Summer; and "these people say, 'If they have more right to them than them"selves, let them take them.' Some that had a cow only, some "two cows, some three cows and many small children in their "families, to whom in Summer-time a cow or two was the great"est outward comfort they had for their subsistence. A poor weaver that hath seven or eight small children, I know not "which, he himself lame in his body, had but two cows, and "both taken from him. The marshal asked him what he would "do? he must have his cows. The man said, 'That God that 'gave him them, he doubted not but would still provide for





"To fill up the measure yet more full, though to the further "emptying of Sandwich men of their outward comforts, at the "last Court of Assistants, the first Tuesday of this instant, the

« PreviousContinue »