Monday, November 9, 2015

1698 Quakers, Pregnant Women, & Questionable Lawyers & Physicians - New Jersey, & Pennsylvania

Gabriel Thomas, An Account of 1698 Jersey & Pennsylvania

Gabriel Thomas was a colonist in West Jersey in the late 17th century. The following is his description of the colonies of West Jersey and Pennsylvania. Of particular interest is his description of women in Pennsylvania, and running a close 2nd is his opinion of lawyers and doctors.

West Jersey:

West Jersey lies between the Latitude of Forty, and Forty two Degrees; having the Main Sea on the South, East Jersey on the North, Hudson's Bay on the East, and Pennsylvania on the West.

The first Inhabitants of this Countrey were the Indians, being supposed to be part of the Ten dispersed Tribes of Israel; for indeed they are very like the Jews in their Persons, and something in their Practices and Worship...

The Dutch and Sweeds inform us that they are greatly decreased in number to what they were when they came first into this Country: And the Indians themselves say, that two of them die to every one Christian that comes in here...

The next who came there were the Dutch - which was between Forty and Fifty Years ago, though they made but very little Improvement, only built Two or Three Houses, upon an Island (called since by the English) Stacies-Island; and it remained so, till about the Year 1675. in which King Charles the Second (or the Duke of York, his Brother) gave the Countrey to Edward Billing, in whose time, one Major Fenwick went thither, with some others, and built a pretty Town, and call'd it Salam ; and in a few Years after a Ship from London, and another from Hull, sail'd thither with more People, who went higher up into the Countrey, and built there a Town, and called it Burlington, which is now the chiefest Town in that Countrey, though Salam is the ancientest; and a fine Market-Town it is, having several Fairs kept yearly in it; likewise well furnished with good store of most Necessaries for humane Support, as Bread, Beer, Beef, and Pork; as also Butter and Cheese, of which they freight several Vessels, and send them to Barbadoes, and other Islands.

There are very many fine stately Brick-Houses built, and a commodious Dock for Vessels to come in...

A Ship of Four Hundred Tuns may Sail up to this Town in the River Delaware ; for I my self have been on Board a Ship of that Burthen there : And several fine Ships and Vessels (besides Governour Cox's own great Ship) have been built there.

There are also two handsom Bridges to come in and out of the Town, called London and York-Bridges. The Town stands in an Island, the Tide flowing quite round about it. There are Water-Men who constantly Ply their Wherry [Ferry] Boats from that Town to the City of Philadelphia in Pensilvania, and to other places. . . .

There are several Meetings of Worship in this Country, viz. the Presbyterians, Quakers, and Anabaplists: Their Privilege as to Matter of Law, is the same both for Plaintiff and Defendant, as in England.

The Air is very Clear, Sweet and Wholesome; in the depth of Winter it is something colder, but as much hotter in the heighth of Summer than in England...

The Countrey inhabited by the Christians is divided into four Parts or Counties, tho' the Tenth part of it is not yet peopled; 'Tis far cheaper living there for Eatables than here in England; and either Men or Women that have a Trade, or are Labourers, can, if industrious, get near three times the Wages they commonly earn in EngIand.


... I must needs say, even the present Encouragements are very great and inviting, for Poor People (both Men and Women) of all kinds, can here get three times the Wages for their Labour they can in England or Wales.

I shall instance a few, which may serve... The first was a Black-Smith (my next Neighbour), who himself and one Negro Man he had, got Fifty Shillings in one Day, by working up a Hundred Pound Weight of Iron, which at Six Pence per Pound (and that is the common Price in that Countrey) amounts to that Summ.

And for Carpenters, both House and Ship, Brick-layers, Masons, either of these Trades-Men, will get between Five and Six Shillings every Day constantly.

As to Journey-Men Shoe-Makers, they have Two Shillings per Pair both for Men and Womens Shoes: And Journey-Men Taylors have Twelve Shillings per Week and their Diet. . .

The Rule for the Coopers I have almost forgot; but this I can affirm of some who went from Bristol (as their Neighbours report), that could hardly get their Livelihoods there, are now reckon'd in Pensilvania by a modest Comptation to be worth some Hundreds (if not thousands) of Pounds...

Of Lawyers and Physicians I shall say nothing, because this Countrey is very Peaceable and Healthy; long may it so continue and never have occasion for the Tongue of the one, nor the Pen of the other, both equally destructive to Mens Estates and Lives; besides forsooth, they, Hang-Man like, have a License to Murder and make Mischief.

Labouring-Men have commonly here, between 14 and 15 Pounds a Year, and their Meat, Drink, Washing and Lodging; and by the Day their Wages is generally between Eighteen Pence and a Half a Crown, and Diet also; But in Harvest they have usually between Three and Four Shillings each Day, and Diet.

The Maid Servants Wages is commonly betwixt Six and Ten Pounds per Annum, with very good Accommodation. And for the Women who get their Livelihood by their own Industry, their Labour is very dear...

Corn and Flesh, and what else serves Man for Drink, Food and Rayment, is much cheaper here than in England, or elsewhere; but the chief reason why Wages of Servants of all sorts is much higher here than there, arises from the great Fertility and Produce of the Place; besides, if these large Stipends were refused them, they would quickly set up for themselves, for they can have Provision very cheap, and Land for a very small matter, or next to nothing in comparison of the Purchase of Lands in England; and the Farmers there, can better afford to give that great Wages than the Farmers in England can, for several Reasons very obvious.

As First, their Land costs them (as I said but just now) little or nothing in comparison, of which the Farmers commonly will get twice the encrease of Corn for every Bushel they sow, that the Farmers in England can from the richest Land they have.

In the Second place, they have constantly good price for their Corn, by reason of the great and quick vent [trade] into Barbadoes and other Islands; through which means Silver is become more plentiful than here in England, considering the Number of People, and that causes a quick Trade for both Corn and Cattle; and that is the reason that Corn differs now from the Price formerly, else it would be at half the Price it was at then; for a Brother of mine (to my own particular knowledge) sold within the compass of one Week, about One Hundred and Twenty fat Beasts, most of them good handsom large Oxen.

Thirdly, They pay no Tithes, and their Taxes are inconsiderable; the Place is free for all Persuasions, in a Sober and Civil way; for the Church of England and the Quakers bear equal Share in the Government. They live Friendly and Well together; there is no Persecution for Religion, nor ever like to be; 'tis this that knocks all Commerce on the Head, together with high Imposts, strict Laws, and cramping Orders. Before I end this Paragraph, I shall add another Reason why Womens Wages are so exorbitant; they are not yet very numerous, which makes them stand upon high Terms for their several Services...

Reader, what I have here written, is not a Fiction, Flam, Whim, or any sinister Design, either to impose upon the Ignorant, or Credulous, or to curry Favour with the Rich and Mighty, but in meer Pity and pure Compassion to the Numbers of Poor Labouring Men, Women, and Children in England, half starv'd, visible in their meagre looks, that are continually wandering up and down looking for Employment without finding any, who here need not lie idle a moment, nor want due Encouragement or Reward for their Work, much less Vagabond or Drone it about.

Here are no Beggars to be seen (it is a Shame and Disgrace to the State that there are so many in England) nor indeed have any here the least Occasion or Temptation to take up that Scandalous Lazy Life.

Jealousie among Men is here very rare, and Barrenness among Women hardly to be heard of, nor are old Maids to be met with; for all commonly Marry before they are Twenty Years of Age, and seldom any young Married Women but hath a Child in her Belly, or one upon her Lap.

See: Gabriel Thomas, An Historical Description of the Province and Country of West-New-Jersey in America. London, 1698

N.B. I have to assume that since all of the women are pregnant, most of the men are, indeed, happy.

American Biography - Pioneer Prophet Quaker Jemima Wilkinson 1752-1819

Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819), religious leader, founder of a pioneer community in western New York, was born in Cumberland, R.I., the 4th of 6 daughters & 8th of 12 children of Jeremiah & Amey (Whipple) Wilkinson. She was of the 4th generation of her family in America, descended from Lawrence Wilkinson, an early freeman & colonial leader, who settled in Rhode Island about 1650. Her father, a successful farmer & orchardist, was a 1st cousin of Stephen Hopkins, several times governor of the colony & a signer of the Declaration of Independence, & of Esek Hopkins, 1st commander of the American navy. An older brother, Jeremiah, was a noted inventor in Cumberland. The Wilkinsons were Quakers.

Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819)

It is difficult to separate fact from folklore in the story of Jemima.  Little dependable information exists about Jemima’s childhood. Undoubtedly an influence on her development was the death of her mother, worn out by childbearing, when Jemima was only 12 or 13. Deeply interested in religious ideas, the girl read the standard works of Quaker theology & history & so thoroughly absorbed the King James version of the Bible, that scriptural phrases became an integral part of her spoken language. She also was caught up in the religious excitement that accompanied George Whitefield’s last visit to New England &, in August 1776, was dismissed from the Society of Friends for attending meetings of a New Light Baptist group in Cumberland.

In 1776, the 23-year-old woman became ill with a fever; the doctor who attended her later testified that the fever was “translated to the head.” In the course of this illness, she had a vision that convinced her, that she had died & had been sent back from the dead to preach to a sinful & dying world. From that moment, she refused to recognize the name of Jemima Wilkinson, calling herself instead the Publick Universal Friend; & for more than 40 years she firmly adhered to her belief that she was an agent of the Lord.

She began her ministry in southern New England. During the years of the American Revolution she traveled & preached in Rhode Island, eastern Massachusetts, & Connecticut, & after 1782, she made four visits of increasing duration to the vicinity of Philadelphia. Everywhere she attracted followers-both men & women-many of them persons of wealth & social distinction. Most important of these was Judge William Potter of South Kingston, R.I., who freed his slaves because of her teaching & gave up his political career; he also built a 14-room addition to his already spacious mansion for the Universal Friend to use as her headquarters in New England. A wealthy farmer, David Wagener, of Worcester, Pa., was another convert, whose home she used while in Pennsylvania. Meeting-houses were built for her in in East Greenwich, R.I., & New Milford, Conn. Although these were help by trustees in the name of a society of Universal Friends, the Universal Friends was a personal following of Jemima Wilkinson rather than an organized church or sect. Membership apparently was contingent solely upon acceptance of her requirement that “Ye cannot be my friends except de do whatsoever I command you.” The only printed guide for he followers was a small pamphlet entitled The Universal Friend’s Advice to Those of the Same Religious Society, first published for her in Philadelphia in 1784, & later reprinted, after her death, in Penn Yan, N.Y., in 1821 & 1833. This consisted almost entirely of seemingly unrelated quotations from the Bible.

Carriage of Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819)

As the Publick Universal Friend, Jemima Wilkinson preached no new or original theological concepts. Repent & forsake evil was the essence of her message; prepare for a future judgment, & “Do unto all men as you would be willing they should do unto you.” Nearly all of the practices she advocated, such as the use of plain language & clothing, opposition to war & violence & to Negro slavery, were standard Quaker beliefs. Celibacy was enjoined as a higher state of grace which she herself practiced & urged, although married couples who joined her society continued to live together & marriages took place among her followers. In this she was much less rigid than her contemporary ANN LEE, founder of the Shakers, with whom she was often compared. There is no indication that the women ever had any contact with each other, & the similarities between them probably stem from their common debt to Quakerism. The Universal Friend’s attraction was based on the emotional impact of her personality & the aura of mysticism that surrounded her. She apparently did little to discourage those of her followers who believed her to be a Messiah capable of performing miracles, although by he frequent denial of divine powers & her ambiguous description of her mission she avoided offending those who did not see in he the second coming of Christ. Several attempts at faith healing were recorded during her early ministry in New England, & she made prophecies & interpreted dreams throughout her life.

Jemima Wilkinson was described in her forties as “of middle stature, well made, of a florid countenance,” with “fine teeth, & beautiful eyes. ….Her black hair was cut short, carefully combed, & divided into three ringlets.” (Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Travels through the United States of North America, 1799, I, 112). Her manners of dress, however, was decidedly masculine. She customarily wore a flowing black robe patterned after a clergyman’s garb. Her followers referred to her, not as “she” or “her” but as “the Friend.”

Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819)

She conceived the idea of a settlement where the faithful could be free from the temptations of the “wicked world” as early as the winder of 1786-86, when scouts were sent to explore the Genesee country of western New York, publicized by the veterans of Gen. John Sullivan’s expedition during the Revolution. In 1788, followers of the Universal Friend began to clear the land o the west side of the Seneca Lake, the first important American outpost in this area. The “Friend’s Settlement” already had a population of 260 when the Universal Friend herself arrived 2 years later. Though the land was purchased by a common fund, common ownership of property was never practiced; each contributor was to received title to a tract of land proportionate to his investment. In practice this proved difficult to arrange, & disputes over land titles caused the defection of some important members, including Judge William Potter & his son. Jemima Wilkinson moved a few miles farther west in 1794, to the vicinity of Crooked Lake (now Keuka Lake), where, with many of the faithful, she established Jerusalem township. She called their settlement on Outlet Creek "Hopeton". She later purchased a tract near Branchport "and we shall call this place "The City of Jerusalem."

She herself owned no land but lived on the proceeds of an estate held in trust for he by a follower. Her home was always open to offer hospitality to travelers in the wilderness & to the Indians, with whom she had a cordial relationship. Not the least of her significance is the role she played in encouraging the settlement of western New York.

House of Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819)

During the last few years of her life she suffered from dropsy, & she succumbed to that illness in her 67th year at her home in Jerusalem township. Her body was placed in a stone vault in the cellar of her house but later was buried in an unmarked grave by 2 of her followers. Two of her disciples attempted to carry on the society after her death, but the group gradually disintegrated & within 2 decades had all but disappeared.

This posting based, in part, 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

Early American Spy? Quaker Lydia Barrington Darragh

It is said that on the night of December 2, 1777, Irish-born Philadelphia nurse Lydia Barrington Darragh (1729-1789) potentially saved lives for General George Washington's Continental Army, when she overheard the British planning a surprise attack on Washington's army for the following days.

On Second Street in Philadelphia, directly opposite the headquarters of Sir William Howe, the British commander, lived a Quaker couple, William & Lydia Darrah. Howe’s adjutant general took over part of the Darrah home for his quarters. On December 2, 1777, he advised Lydia to send all her family to bed early, apparently in anticipation of a meeting to be held at their home. At this time, Philadelphia was occupied by the British.

When Howe's headquarters proved too small to hold meetings, he often commandeered a large upstairs room in the Darraghs' house. Although uncorroborated by contemporary written evidence, family oral history relates that Mrs. Darragh regularly would eavesdrop & take notes on the British meetings from an adjoining room & would conceal the notes by sewing them into her coat before passing them onto American troops stationed outside the city.

On the evening of December 2, 1777, Darragh overheard the British commanders planning a surprise attack on Washington's army at Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania, for December 4 & 5.

The morning after the British meeting in her home, determined to get word to the patriots, 48-year-old Lydia crossed the street to Howe’s headquarters & requested a pass to go to a miller at Frankfort to obtain flour. With the pass, she went through the British lines, left her bag to be filled at the mill, and then hurried northward, and delivered her warning.

Lydia then returned to the mill, paid for her bag of flour, and re-entered the city, unsuspected. The forewarned Washington intensified his patrols. She never made the story public during her lifetime, & her daughter told people about her heroism after her death.

The British did march towards Whitemarsh on the evening of December 4, 1777, & were surprised to find General Washington & the Continental Army waiting for them. After three inconclusive days of skirmishing, General Howe chose to return his troops to the relative safety of Philadelphia.


“Lydia Darragh” Independence Hall Association

Bohrer, Melissa Lukeman. Glory, Passion and Principle, the Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution (New York: Atria Books, 2003).

Wright, Mike. What They Didn’t Teach You About the American Revolution (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1999).

Bohrer, Melissa Lukeman.  Glory, Passion and Principle, the Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution. (New York: Atria Books, 2003).

Somerville, Mollie. Women and the American Revolution. (National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1974)

“Story of Lydia Darragh,” Explore PA History, n.d., (19 June 2006).

Wright, Mike. What They Didn’t Teach You About the American Revolution. (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1999).

McLane, Allan. Unknown Hero of the American Revolution published in the American Heritage Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 6, October, 1959.

American Biography - Philadelphia-born, Quaker Minister Rebecca Jones 1739-1818

Rebecca Jones (1739-1818), Quaker minister, was born in Philadelphia, the only daughter of William & Mary Jones. Her father, a sailor, died at sea when she was too young to remember him, leaving 2 children, Rebecca & an older brother. Her mother, a loyal member of the Church of England, conducted a school for little girls in her home. Eager for Rebecca to become a teacher, her mother made sure that her daughter obtained a good education.

As a girl “romping Becky Jones” often attended Friends meetings with her playmates. The Quakers (or Religious Society of Friends) had formed in England in 1652, around a charismatic leader, George Fox (1624-1691). Many saw 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." 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. By 1680, 10,000 Quakers had been imprisoned in England; & 243 had died of torture & 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.

In 1681, when Quaker leader William Penn (1644-1718) parlayed a 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. By 1685, as many as 8,000 Quakers had come to Pennsylvania. Although the Quakers may have resembled the Puritans in some religious beliefs & practices, they differed with them over the necessity of compelling religious uniformity in society.

When little Rebecca Jones began to refrain from such “ornamental branches” of her studies as music & dancing, her mother realized the that Quaker influence was striking deeper than she liked & sought to thwart it. The conflict wore heavily on Rebecca, who was also undergoing an intense inner struggle to surrender her own will to God’s. This she eventually achieved, aided by encouragements in 1755, from a visiting English Friend, Catherine Peyton.

After long hesitation Rebecca Jones in 1758, at 19, began to speak in the Friends meetings for worship, an open indication of her adoption of the Quaker faith. Two years later her gift in the ministry was “acknowledged” by her meeting, her mother thereupon becoming reconciled to the daughter’s decision.

Rebecca Jones thus became one of the laymen & women by whom the Quaker ministry has traditionally been performed. For over 20 years, she combined this ministry with teaching her mother’s school, which she too over upon her mother’s illness & death in 1761, though her inclination had been to find some other means of livelihood. She proved an able & respected schoolmistress.

Early Quakers

She was a devoted friend of the famous Quaker minister John Woolman, who once penned mottoes for her pupils’ writing lessons. She retained, in her unassuming way, a certain “queenly dignity,” as well as an easy & gracious manner. These qualities enhanced the effectiveness of her speaking. Among women of her time she stood out for her intellectual capacity, quick wit, strength of character, & “sanctified common sense.”

In 1784, while at the height of her power as a preacher, Rebecca Jones gave up her school & laid before her monthly meeting her wish to visit Friends in England, a concern she had long cherished. Credentials were granted, & she sailed with 6 other Friends from Philadelphia. So impressed was the captain, Thomas Truxtun, later a naval here of the war with France, that he declared in London he had brought over an American Quaker lady who possesses more sense than both Houses of Parliament.

On arriving, the Friends sent straight to the Yearly Meeting, where a petition, long endorsed by American Friends, to establish a woman’s meeting for discipline, with more powers that the women’s meeting had had previously, was about to be presented to the men’s meeting. Rebecca Jones was instrumental in securing its approval.

Silhouette of Rebecca Jones. Early Quakers objected to having their portraits drawn or painted, but likenesses drawn from tracing a shadow casting and trimming out the resulting shape were considered acceptable by the church.

During the next 4 years, with a succession of the ablest women Friends as companions, she traversed the length & breadth of England & also visited Scotland ,Wales, & Ireland. She impressed her hearers with the need for a revival of zeal & simplicity. Her memorandum of her tour enumerated 1,578 meetings for worship & discipline & 1,120 meetings with Friends in the station of servants, apprentices, & laborers (for whom she had a special concern), besides innumerable religious family visits. Her message particularly reached the young. Under a sense of “fresh & sure direction,” she returned home in the summer of 1788.

Having given up teaching, she now earned her living by keeping a little ship which her English friends kept supplied with “lawns & cambrics & find cap muslins.” She continued he preaching, frequently attending yearly & quarterly meetings in various parts of the Northeastern states, especially in New Jersey & New England.

She fell ill in the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, in which 4,000 Philadelphians died, but lived to resume herm ministry & the wide correspondence which was a major activity of her later years. In the mid-1790s, she contributed her knowledge of Friends education in England to the founding of Westtown (Pa.) School, a boarding school which opened in the spring of 1799, patterned after the Ackworth Friends School in Yorkshire.

For more than 50 years Rebecca Jones was a trusted counselor & informal almoner, “eminent for leading the cause of the poor.” Her home was always open to those in trouble or wishing her advice; possessing “singular penetration on discovering cases of distress, and delicacy in affording relief” (Allinson, p. 256), she was also a frequent visitor at Friends almshouses.

In 1813, she suffered an attack of typhus fever; & for the last 5 years of her life, she was confined almost entirely to her home, where she was devotedly card for by Bernice Chattin Allinson, a young widow whom she had taken in as a daughter. Rebecca Jones died in Philadelphia in 1818, in her 79th year. She was buried in the Friends ground on Mulberry (now Arch) Street on the morning of the yearly meeting of ministers & elders.

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

American Biography - The diary & sad life of Mary Wright Cooper (1714-1778) of Oyster Bay, NY

On July 13, 1769, Mary Wright Cooper wrote in her diary, "This day is forty years sinc I left my father’s house and come here, and here have I seene littel els but harde labour and sorrow, crosses of every kind. I think in every repect the state of my affairs is more then forty times worse then when I came here first, except that I am nearer the desierered haven."

Mary's family had long been a part of Oyster Bay. Her ancestor Peter Wright was called the Father of Oyster Bay. Originally inhabited by the Matinecock Indians, Oyster Bay was founded by the Dutch in 1615.  When the Dutch settled there, they named the area for the rich beds of shellfish that flourished in the surrounding waters.  

In 1653, English colonists Peter Wright, Samuel Mayo and the Rev. William Leverich came from Cape Cod and settled near Oyster Bay Harbor.  During the colonial era, Oyster Bay had a reputation as a hotbed of smuggling, and it was Captain Kidd's last port of call before sailing to Boston, where he was arrested, transported to London and hanged .

Mary's parents, William Wright (1680-1759) & Elizabeth Rhodes (1689-1734), had been born on Long Island. Mary had 7 siblings, 3 of whom died young: John Wright (1707-1750); Ann Wright (1710-died young); Elizabeth Wright (1712-1733); William Wright (1715-died young); Sarah Wright (1719-1780); Elizabeth Wright (1723-1770); and Caleb Wright (1730-1752). 

Mary was married, before her last 2 siblings were born. Although Mary's mother died when she was 20, she remained close to her father and remembered his death years later.  Mary Wright was only 14, when she married Joseph Cooper (b 1705) in 1728, in St. George's Chapel, Hempstead, Long Island, New York.

By the age of 18, she had her first child. Mary Wright & Thomas Cooper had 6 children: Elizabeth Ann Cooper (1734-1755); Martha Cooper (1737-1749); Esther Cooper (1744-1778); Mercy Cooper (1750-died young); Caleb Cooper (1754-died young); and Isaac Cooper (1756-died young). Mary was especially touched by the death of her baby son, Isaac.

Mary began her diary at age 54, continuing from 1768-1773, while tending the family farm & providing meals & rooms for travelers along their busy road, with her husband at Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York.  Her diary entries are often brief & cryptic, but they do give us an insight into the hardships, both emotional and physical, experienced in everyday life working on the land. They also give us a glimpse of the impact of faith on their lives, as many looked to the teachings of English evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770).

Whitefield briefly served as a parish priest in Savannah, Georgia in 1738; visited the colonies 7 times; & died at Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1770. He was one of the chief movers of the Great Awakening & the Methodist movement. The adoption of his methods at church meetings by the Baptists was responsible for their schism into the New Lights, who followed him, and the Regulars, who adhered to the old way & disparaged revivals. Mary's diary covers the height of his American years.

October the 3, Tuesday. Dear Lord, bless the day to us and prosper the worke of our hands. A fine warm day. Ms. Weekes com here to make my gown.

[October 5] Wednsday. A very warme rain most of the day. Sent wheate to mill...

[October 11] Tuesday. Like for rain. Wee are much hurried drying appels. Extreeme high wind this night but no rain.

[October 12] [We]dnsday. Fine clear day. Much hurried drying appels...

[November 17] Thirsday. A fine clear and still day...Evening. I am much tired cookeing and washing dishes. Evening Epreham went home with the girls but come bak again.

November the 18, Friday. A fine warm day with a south wind. Ester and Epreham is gon to Huntan Town to carry my coverleds to the weaver...

November the 20, Sabbath. A very grevous storme of rain and snow. It has beene a tiresom day to me. It is now bed time and I have not had won minuts rest today.

[December 23] Friday. Very cold with a north west wind that blows the snow all day. We are cleaning the house. I am tired almost to death.

[December 24] Saterday. Very cold. I am tired almost to death. Rachel (wife of Mary's nephew) is gone to town. We are a lone. I am drying and ironing my cloths til allmost brake of day. This evening is the Newlights’ Covnant meeten. I am thinking of the events of tomorrow with greate delight. O Lord, prepare us to selebrate the day of thy nitevity and o my Savour be neare to them that shall commorate thy dying love the day ensuing.

December the 25, Sabbath. Christmas. A fine clear day. The sun shines warm. Oh, may the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. Peter Underhill gave out the breade and wine this day to some whose hearts the Lord had touched. Though I sat in the meeten with great delight, yet I came home with a heavy hearte. I went to meeten in the slay with Whippo and come home with John Wright and Nicolas and their sister Anne Crooker (children of Mary's brother John)...1769...
[January 7] Saterday. A fine clear and still morning with white frost on the ground but soone clouds over. Some hail but soone turns to a small rain and mist. Sister gone home. Evening. O, I am tired almost to death waiteing on visseters. My feet ach as if the bones was laid bare. Not one day’s rest have I had this weeke. I have no time to take care of my cloths or even to think my thoughts...

[February 12] Sabbath. Something cold still. I hoped for some rest but am forst to get dinner and slave hard all day long Old George Weekes here. Hannah and Edd Weeks here...

Febeaury the 19, Sabbath. Fine warme and still as yesterday and more so. I went to the Newlig[ht] meeten with greate delight and offer my self to be a member with them. seemed to be very glad but I was sudingly seased with a great horror and darkeness. E think darkeness as might be felt. O, my God, why hast thou forsaken me. Thou knowest that in the sinsarity and uprightness of my hearte I have done this, moved as I did belive by Thy spirit. Evening, I came home before the worship began, most distrest.

[February 20] Moonday. Fine warme weather. O, I am in greate darkness still...

Feabery the 26, Sabbath. A storm of rain with a north east wind. The wind and rain cease by the midel of the afternoon. I feel dul and distrest and did not go to meeten...

[M]arch the 12, Sabbath. Much warmer and like to be a fine day. O, I am trying to fit my cloths to go to meeten in as much distres as my heart can hold. Am. L. and Eb Colw. came here. I am forced to get diner and cannot go to meten atall. Alas, how unhappy and meresabel I am. I feele banished from God and all good...

[April 14] Friday. Some clouds and wind, cold. Easter (Mary's daughter who had separated from her husband & returned home to live) gone from home on some buisness. Tabthea come here. Our people (slaves) quriel with her and Semon Cooper turned her out of doors and threw her over the fence to my greate grief and sorrow...

April the 16, 1769. Sabbath. Clear but a cold west wind. The sun shine bright to my sorrow, for had it hid his face it might have hid sorrow from my eyes...

[April 19] Wednsday. Like to be a rainey day but clear in the afternoon. I am unwell and up very late.

[April 20] Thirsday. O, I am so very sik so that I cannot set up all day nor all night. Very cold snow some hours in the day.

[April 21] Friday. Clear but cold. I feele much beter all day. Evening, I am sik again.

[April 22] Saterday. Clear but cold. O, I am sik all day long. Up very late but I have got my cloths iorned. Endurstres. (Industrious)...

[May 3] Wednesday. A fine clear morning. The early songsters warbling their notes and all nature seemes to smile, but a darke cloud hangs continuly over my soul and makes the days and nights pass heavily along.

[May 4] Thirsday. A fine clear morning. I went frome hom on some buisness. Come home disopinted.

May the 6, 1769, Saterday. A fine warme day. Cleare and pleasant. I a hurred, dirty and distresed as ever.

[May 7] Sabbath. I am much distrest. No cloths irond, freted and tired almost to death and forst to stay at home.

[May 13] Saterday. Much hard worke, dirty and distrest. This night is our Covnant meeten but I cannot go to my greate surprise. Sister comes here this night much distrest about her sons. We seeme to have little or no sence of any thing but our troubels.

May the 14, Sabbath. Very hot weather. We went to meeten senceles dull and sleepe.

[May 15] Moonday. Very hot. We began to cleane house much hurried.

[May 16] Tuesday. Exceeding hot. Linde here. Evening. Peter here. We are all very dul and lifeless. Oh Lord, direct our ways...

June the 1, 1769, Thirsday. A most vemant cold north east wind. We all went to the Quaker meeten where a multitude were geathered to here a woman preach that lately come from England, and a most amebel woman she is. Tex: “Of the leaven put in three masuess of meal...”

July the 13, 1769, Thirsday. This day is forty years sinc I left my father’s house and come here, and here have I seene littel els but harde labour and sorrow, crosses of every kind. I think in every repect the state of my affairs is more then forty times worse then when I came here first, except that I am nearer the desierered haven. A fine clear cool day. I am un well.

August the 1. New moon this morning. Tuesday. A fine clear cool morning. I feele much distrest, fearing I shall hear from some of my credtors. Afternoon, I have done my worke and feele something more comfortabl. I went to Salle Wheeler’s to meet Ester and Salle but am sent after in greate hurre. Ben Hildrith is come here in a littel boate with two men with him. I am up late and much freted them and their two dogs which they keep att tabel and in the bedroom with them.

[August 2] Wednesday. The first I hearde this morning was Ben’s dogs barking and yeling in the bed room. They did nothing but drink them selves drunk all the day long and sent for more rum.

[August 3] Thirsday. The wind is not fare to go home, so they cary the girls to town in the boate. Ben behaved like a blackgarde soundrel and as if he had been hurried by the devil

[August 4] Friday. They set sail to go home to my great joy, and I desier I may never see them here again. I greately dread the cleaning of house after this detested gang.

[August 5] Saterday. A fin clear cool day. Much hard worke cleaneing the house. An old Indian come here to day that lets fortans and ueses charmes to cure tooth ach and drive away rats. O Lord, thou knowest that my soul abhors these abominations. Lay not this sin to my charge. On Thirsday I had an extreme pain in my back and hip so th I could not go with out cryin out...

August the 20, Sabbath. Like for rain but the shower went by us. I and Ester went to meeten. Some Indans and one Black man com from Montalk. Ben Jethrow and Siah Baman preach all day long and while late in the night. I and Ester come home alone very late in the night. I fell in the Brook. I am tired and very much distrest...

[August 23] Wednsday. A fine clear morning with a cold north wind. My hearte is burnt with anger and discontent, want of every nessesary thing in life and in constant feare of gapeing credtors consums my strength and wasts my days. The horrer of these things with the continued cross of my family, like to so many horse leeches, prays upon my vitals, and if the Lord does not prevent will bring me to the house appointed for all liveing. Salle Burtis here...

August the 27, 1769, Sabbath. Very gretely hurred getting this company a way to the Greate Meten. I went to the Nigh light meeten to here a Black man preach. Felt nothing but distres. Very greately tired and freted, walkin home so fast.

[August 28] Moonday. Clear weather but not a fair wind for New England. Up late this night. I am much distrist and know now what to dow. O Lord, lead my ways and let my life be in this sight. Docter Wright come here this day.

August the 29, Tuesday. We are hurred to set said for New England, very greately against my will. The tumulting waves look frightfull. But thro infinate mercy we came safe to Mr. Hildrith house in two hours wheare we weare recived with many welcoms and used with the utmost kindness by all the famaly. Cloudy and like for rain every day this weeke but none come except some small showers, not more than due. Nothing remarkabel except that we had the heavyest bread I have ever seene. Mr. Dibel come to se us and said that he was going to change places with Epnetus for the nex Sabbath. After he had talked against Mr. Whitefield as much and something more than we could well beare to, he left us and we saw him no more. One day we went into the woods together...

[September 30] Saterday. Very high north east wind. Very cloudy most of the day. Afternoon changes to a south wind. We are very busie cooking for the work men. Evening, they eate ther supper. The more parte went away. Some stay to dance, very greatly aganst my will. Some anger about the danceing. Some time in the night come up a shower of rain and thunder. Easter and Salle was frighted very greatly and come down. Easter like to have fits.

October the 1, 1769, Sabbath. West wind and like for fair weather. Simon Cooper quarel very greately about Ester dancing. He got in a unxpresabel rage and struck her. I am going to meeten but no not how to get over the Broock, the tide is so high. I come to meeten just as they ware coming out of the house. I did not stay to the evening meeten and yet come home sometime in the night...

November the 9. This day is ten years since my father departed this life.

November the 12. Sabbath. Some small rain this morning tho it did not rain hard, yet hendered me from going to meeten. Salle and Lidg here most of the day. Clears at evening with a very harde north west wind. I and Ester went to the night meeten. We had a comfortabel meeten, but coming home the tide was high and the wind extreeme harde but throw mercy we got safe home. I went to bed very cold. We had little or no fier...

November the 19, Sabbath. Very cold, frose hard last night. We are hurreing to meeten. Siah Baman and Melat Peter is com to town. I come to town just as the meeten was out. I went to se Rebeca Weekes. Evening, we went to meeten to Phebe Weekes’ house. Siah Bamon tx: “Except ye eate the flest of the son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” Peter Undrill tx, of Abraham’s sarvant sent to take a wife for his master’s son. A very greate number of peopel was thare. I am Frances come home but the girls staid all night. We had a very happy meeten...

[December 13] Wednsday. Clears with a most frightfull harde west wind. Grows extreeme cold and freses hard all of a suding. This day is thirty seven years since my dear and amible sister Elisabeth departed this life...


[January 24] Thirsday. A fine clear still morning with a white frost. This afternoon is 3 weeks since Easter and those with her took the small pox...

Febeaury the 1, 1771, Friday. Clear but a harde west wind. The Lord has brought my daughter home to me, well of the small pox. What shall I render to the Lord for all his mercys?

[February 2] Saterday. I an unwell and much aflected for fear of the small pox. I had envited some of my friends to come here to se Ester and dade17 would not let me have a turkey to roast for supper and I am so affected and ashamed about it that I feele as I should never get over it. I got to bed feard and distressed at 1 or 2 a’clok in the mornin

Feb. the 3, 1771, Sabbath. I waked up frighted much about the small pox. Fine clear weather, a west wind but not cold. Esther thought the people would a fraid of her, so we did not go to meeten. Nico and Anne went from here this morning but John all day long.

March the 10, Sabbath. This surprising storme continues yet and encreses. The hail cesses this this morning and floods of rain pores down with frightfull gusts of wind which blew away parte of the kitchen. We have hardely a dry place in the house. I suffered much this day with the wet and cold, and am up all night...

May the fifth, 1771, Sabbath. Very cold with a west wind. I went to town and found Ester in the Cove. I took her with me. We went by the New Lite meeten and so along til we come to the Quaker meeten ho[use] where we went in and hear so[me] poor preaching. O Lord, grant some lite to these poore benighted peopel. I spoke with those that I wanted to so we come back and went to the New Lite meeten and then home at night. O, I sik with the cholic. We had some showers of rain as we went...


[June 27] Saterday. A fine clear pleasant day and Ester went to the Quaker meeten. one woman preach, tx: “He come to his own, but they recived him not, but as many as recived him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God.” One man preach, another woman prayd. O Lord, is not this peopel ignorant of the greate and needfull doctrine of the gospil? O thou that has the residue of the spirite, I pray the, enlitein these that set in darkness...

[August 9] Sabbath. A fine pleasant day. We hurred to meeten and a very happy meeten we had. The Christans seemes full of exersise. Five Negor men gave them selves members to the meeten.

October 15, Thirsday. Clear and warme. I went from home to carry a letter and tea cittel to Jet’s boate that is loading above Eel Creeck. I went to March Coons, to Robersons, to Prock Coon’s. I stayed a littel while att each house and then sot of with old Mrs. MCoon and Prock to find the way home. Prock wint with me to Cove Brook. We tramted up high hills, crosst woods and barran fieds, crost a find orchard full of appels, and at last arived at Cove Brook where Prock left me. In my way home I met Cus John Wright who had been in persute of the same boate. When I come home I found Bille Wright and Josh Hammon waiteing for the boate to take them in. They are going to Yorke. Jest after sundown come Jet and Ben Hawx in persute of the boate. They are going to Yorke, two...

[November 24] Tuesday. Very warme still. Dade is gon to carry the hogs to Townsend Parrish. Salle and Bette Burtis went to Docter Potter to day to take the small pox. O Lord, have mercy on them, are they not some of thy redeemed ons? Reveal thy love to them, heal thier souls and bodys and bring them home to thier mouring mother in helth and safty. New moon at 7 a’clok this night, north east wind and some littel snow but very warme. Jerushe and Sarah MCoon here. Abb Colwell here...

Christmas, December the 25 day, Friday. Warme, the sun shines bright and warme. I and Salle hurred away to meeten and staide to the night meeten. A very great white frost and very cold coming home.

[December 26] Saterday. North east wind and rain but not cold. Ruth and some man to be baptised at Samuel Townsend’s. I hurred a way on horse back with out any saddel, but they was gon before I got thare, so I come home in the rain and did not go down to meeten. I hearde they had a very greate meeten and 12 people offered to the church.

[December 27] Sabbath. Cloude and some small rain, very mude. A very greate meeten, some much afected, others crying out aloud. Salle unwell, I carred her to Josh Hammon’s. Ester gon to Whippo’s. His wife is unwell. Some small rain and very darke. I come home alone and had no hurt or fright thro mercy...


[January 13] Wednsday. Fine clear weather, not very cold. I and Salle are going to the night meeten. I went to se Daniel parish. He told me he had a sight of me and tho I had done many things that ware good in theme selves, yet I was not in the spirite of the Gospel. O Lord, known to the is the case of every soul which thou hast made. If I have had no saveing grace all this while, but have been deciveing my self, O Lord, the gift is thine and not in my power. O Lord, now let me share with a number whome thou delitest to bless...

[March 24] Wednsday. A fine clear warme day. I felt heavy harted and so distrest that I colud hardely set up about Uncel and Aunt. After Ester was gon to se Uncel about five a’clok this afternoon the Lord met with my soul in mercy and told me that thier departed souls should mount on the wings of saraphs to the relms of etarnal day, and that thier weathered limbs should have their dusty bed like the bounding robe and made parfet in thier Savour’s righteousness. Immortal youth and beauty mount to meet their redeemer in the clouds of heaven...

May the 8, Saterday. A cold south wind. Ester and Polle come home this morning from meeten. To day is thirteene years since I parted with my son Isaac. O, sorrow and loss unspakabel...

June the 29, Tuesday. South west wind, cloude, some thunder and a fine shower of rain this after noon and a bright rain bow appeared some thing longer then uesal which raised my thoughts to the bright relms of day. I longed to se that head once crowned with thorne, that dean parson treated with scorn and cruelty for sinful me. The dasling luster of his face I faint. I can find no word to express my ideas, my greatest vews seeme to be of my Jesus seated on a throne of glory in the bright relms of etarnel day. The pleaseing luster of his eyes out shine the wonders of the skys. In raptures and sweet delight I fell a sleep. O, that my last moments may be like these...

[September 12] Sabbath. A stormy wind and some rain in the fore noon. I and Ester went to meeten the afternoon but very few peopel at meeten. I feele much distrest to se the dissolute state of the New Lite church which but few weekes past was greate and a florishing peopel. Why is it forsking and dissolate the Lord only knows. I and Ester come home in the rain...

October the 4, Monday. A fine clear warme day. My harte is full of anguish for the deplorabel state of the Newlite church. O Lord how long?...

[October 8] Friday. Warme weather. I and Ester much talk about the New Lite church...

Note: Brother John Wright married Zervia Wright, daughter of Edmond. Brother Caleb Wright married Freelove Coles, daughter of Wright Coles. Sister Sarah Wright married John Townsend, son of John Townsend. Sister Elizabeth Wright did not marry.

NB. About slaves in Oyster Bay. The Oyster Bay Historical Society has a Bill of Sale for a Slave Girl in the town in 1721.
Deed of Sale from Thomas kirby to David Vallantine for a negro Wench.
Know all Men by these Presents That I Thomas Kirby of Oyster-bay in Queens County on Nessau Island within the province of New York Yoeman, for and in considration of the Sum of Fifety-Pounds of good and Lawful Currant Money of New York to me in hand paid by Nathan Coles and David Vallantine both of Oyster bay in ye county, Island &Prov i nce aforesaid, Yoemen, where of I do hereby - acknowledge the Receipt, and am therewith fully Satisfied and contented; have Bargeined Sold Lef t over and Delivered and by these Presents do Bargein Sell and Deliver unto they the Seid Nathan Coles and David Vallantine one Negroe girl aged about two years called by name Peg, and one Bessy. The said Negroes - to have ant to hold to ye proper use and behoove of them the - Said Nathan Coles and David Vallantine theirs Executors - administrators & Assigns forever, and I the Seid Thomas Kirby for mySelf my Heirs Executors Administrators the Said Bargained Negroes unto the Said Nathan Coles and David Val lantine their Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns - ageinst all and all Manner of Persons Shall Warrant and - forever Defend by these Presents In witness whereof with the Delivery of the Said Negroes I have hereunto Sett my hand & seal this tenth Day of January in the Year of our Lord Christ one thousand Sevenhundred & twenty one, two, and in the Eigth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George of great Britain France, & Ireland King & C.
See: National Humanities Center, 2008

George Bradford Brainerd (American, 1845-1887). Camp Fire, Oyster Bay, Long Island, ca. 1872-1887

Manuscripts of the 1721 Slave Bill of Sale and of the Diary of Mary Wright Cooper, located at the Oyster Bay, New York Historical Society.

The Diary of Mary Cooper: Life on a Long Island Farm, 1768-1773, ed. Field Horne (Oyster Bay, New York, Historical Society, 1981)

American Biography - NY Indentured Servant Elizabeth Ashbridge 1713–1755 Becomes a Quaker

"Once he came up to me, took out his penknife, & said 'If you offer to go to meeting tomorrow, with this knife I'll cripple you, for you shall not be a Quaker.'"

Elizabeth Ashbridge (1713–1755) was born in England & brought up a member of the Anglican faith. At the age of 14 she eloped , but her husband soon died.  Rejected by her family, she sailed for New York in 1732, as an indentured servant. (An indentured servant was an immigrant who signed a contract to work for an employer, or master, in the colonies for 4 to 7 years). Forced to sign an indenture to pay for her passage, she worked as a house servant in conditions that "would make the most strong heart pity the Misfortunes of a young creature as I was." After 3 years she bought out the remainder of her contract supporting herself as a seamstress.

Ashbridge had a cruel master, so she married a 2nd time in order to escape a desperate situation. (A female indentured servant could be released from her contract if an acceptable suitor was prepared to buy out her remaining period of service.) She reported that her new husband, a school teacher named Sullivan, "fell in love with me for my dancing." Ashbridge was attracted by his worldliness. One day she set out from their home in New Jersey to visit relatives in Pennsylvania. Once she arrived, she immediately learned that they were Quakers. 

At first Ashbridge was shocked because she had no idea her relatives had joined this religion, which was not accepted by Anglicans or even other Puritan groups. Like traditional Puritans, Quakers advocated a strict moral & spiritual life. Unlike Puritans, however, they believed in direct individual communication with God through an "inner light." Both the Quakers & the Puritans considered the Church of England corrupt & in need of reform. The Puritans were trying to make reforms from within the church, however, & all of their ministers were ordained (officially appointed) in the church. Quakers refused to have anything to do with an established church. They held their meetings in private homes, & anyone who felt especially inspired could lead a meeting or become a traveling minister. Puritans were therefore highly suspicious of the Quakers, who rejected the very basis of Puritan society—officially appointed ministers & an organized church. Since the Puritans dominated New England & parts of surrounding colonies, Quakers frequently encountered persecution. They were also shunned by Anglicans, who found them troublesome & a threat to the basis of English society. By the mid-1700s, when Ashbridge went to Pennsylvania, other religious groups had settled in the colony & Quakers were sometimes harassed.

During her visit, Ashbridge became interested in Quakerism & converted to the faith. She decided to stay in Pennsylvania & took a teaching position at a nearby school. She was afraid to let anyone know she was a Quaker, however, & was careful not to wear the plain clothing that would identify her as a Friend, another name for Quaker. When she found a teaching job for her husband she wrote & asked him to join her. By the time Sullivan, who despised the Quaker religion, reached Pennsylvania he had learned about her conversion. Once again Ashbridge found herself in a miserable situation. Her husband often became violently drunk, and he was extremely abusive toward her because he did not approve of Quakers. Ashbridge's autobiography tells the story of her struggle to remain a Quaker in spite of mistreatment from an alcoholic husband.

When I came to Trent-town Ferry, I felt no small mortification on hearing that my relations were all Quakers, and, what was worst of all, that my aunt was a preacher. I was exceedingly prejudiced against this people, and often wondered how they could call themselves Christians.

I repented my coming, and was almost inclined to turn back; yet, as I was so far on my journey, I proceeded, though I expected but little comfort from my visit, How little was I aware it would bring me to the knowledge of the truth!

I went from Trent-town to Philadelphia by water, and from thence to my uncle’s on horseback. My uncle was dead, and my aunt married again; yet, both she and her husband received me in the kindest manner. I had scarcely been three hours in the house, before my opinion of these people began to alter.

I perceived a book lying upon the table, and, being fond of reading, took it up; my aunt observed me, and said, “Cousin, that is a Quaker’s book.” She saw I was not a Quaker, and supposed I would not like it. I made her no answer, but queried with myself, what can these people write about? I have heard that they deny the scriptures, and have no other bible than George Fox’s Journal,— denying, also, all the holy ordinances.

But, before I had read two pages, my heart burned within me, and, for fear I should be seen, I went into the garden. 1 sat down, and, as the piece was short, read it before I returned, though I was often obliged to stop to give vent to my tears. The fulness of my heart produced the involuntary exclamation of,

“My God, must I, if ever I come to the knowledge of thy truth, be of this man’s opinion, who has sought thee as I have done; and must I join this people, to whom, a few hours ago, I preferred the papists. O, thou God of my salvation, and of my life; who hath abundantly manifested thy long suffering and tender mercy, in redeeming me as from the lowest hell, I beseech thee to direct use in the right way, and keep me from error; so will I perform my covenant, and think nothing too near to part with for thy name’s sake. O, happy peoples thus beloved of God!”

Alter having collected myself, I washed my face, that it might not be perceived I had been weeping. In the night I got but little sleep; the enemy of mankind haunted me with his insinuations, by suggesting that I was one of those that wavered, and not steadfast in faith; and advancing several texts of scripture against me, as that, in the latter days, there should be those who would deceive the very elect; that of such were the people I was among, and that I was in danger of being deluded.

Warned in this manner, (from the right source as I thought,) I resolved to be aware of those deceivers, and for some weeks did not touch one of their books. The next day, being the first of the week, I was desirous of going to church, which was distant about four miles; but being a stranger, and having no one to go with me, I gave up all thoughts of that and, as most of the family were going to meeting, I went there with them.

As we sat in silence, I looked over the meeting, and said to myself, “How like fools these people sit; how much better would it be to stay at home, and read the Bible, or some good book, than come here and go to sleep.” As for me I was very drowsy; and, while asleep, had nearly fallen down. This was the last time I ever fell asleep in a meeting. I now began to be lifted up with spiritual pride, and to think myself better than they; but this disposition of mind did not last long.

It may seem strange that, after living so long with one of this society at Dublin, I should yet be so much a stranger to them. In answer, let it be considered that, while I was there, I never read any of their books nor went to one meeting; besides, I had heard such accounts of them, as made me think that, of all societies, they were the worst. But he who knows the sincerity of the heart, looked on my weakness with pity; I was permitted to see my error, and shown that these were the people I ought to join.

A few weeks afterwards, there was an afternoon meeting at my uncle’s, at which a minister named William Hammans was present. I was highly prejudiced against him when he stood up, but I was soon humbled; for he preached the gospel with such power that I was obliged to confess it was the truth. But, though he was the instrument of assisting me out of many doubts, my mind was not wholly freed from them.

The morning before this meeting I had been disputing with my uncle about baptisms which was the subject handled by this minister, who removed all my scruples beyond objection, and yet I seemed loath to believe that the sermon I had heard proceeded from divine revelation. I accused my aunt and uncle of having spoken of me to the friend; but they cleared themselves, by telling me, that they had not seen him, since my coming, until he came into the meeting.

I then viewed him as the messenger of God to me, and, laying aside my prejudices, opened; the beauty of which was shown to me, with the glory of those who continued faithful to it. I had also revealed to me the emptiness of all shadows and types, which, though proper in their day, were now, by the coming of the Son of God, at an end, and everlasting righteousness, which is a work in the heart, was to be established in the room thereof, I was permitted to see that all I had gone through was to prepare me for this day; and that the time was near, when it would be required of me, to go and declare to others what the God of mercy had done for my soul; at which I was surprised, and desired to be excused lest I should bring dishonour, to the truth, and cause his holy name to be evil spoken of.

Of these things I let no one know. I feared discovery and did not even appear like a friend.

I now hired to keep school, and, hearing of a place for my husband, I wrote, and desired him to come, though I did not let him know how it was with me.

I loved to go to meetings, but did not love to be seen going on weekdays, and therefore went to them. from my school, through the woods. Notwithstanding all my care, the neighbours, (who were not friends,) soon began to revile me with the name of Quaker; adding, that they supposed I intended to be a fool, and turn preacher.

Thus did I receive the same censure, which, about a year before, I had passed on one of the handmaids of the Lord in Boston. I was so weak, that I could not bear the reproach. In order to change their opinion, I went into greater excess of apparel than I had freedom to do, even before I became acquainted with friends. In this condition I continued till my husband came, and then began the trial of my faith.

Before he reached me, he heard I was turned Quaker; at which he stamped, and said, “I had rather have heard she was dead, Well as I love her; for, if it be so, all my comfort is gone.” He then came to me; it was after an absence of four months; I got up and said to him, “My dear, I am glad to see thee.”

At this, he flew into a great rage, exclaiming, “The devil thee, thee, thee, don’t thee me.” I endeavoured, by every mild means, to pacify him; and, at length, got him fit to speak to my relations. As soon after this as we were alone, he said to me, “And so I see your Quaker relations have made you one” I replied, that they had not, (which was true,) I never told them how it was with me.

He said he would not stay amongst them; and, having found a place to his mind, hired, and came directly back to fetch me, walking in one afternoon, thirty miles to keep me from meeting the next day, which was first day. He took me, after resting this day, to the place where he had hired, and to lodgings he had engaged: at the house of a churchwarden. This man was a bitter enemy of Friends, and did all he could to irritate my husband against them.

Though I did not appear like a Friend, they all believed me to be one. When my husband and he used to be making their diversions and reviling, I sat in silence, though now and then an involuntary sigh broke from me; at which he would say, “There, did not I tell you your wife was a Quaker, and she will become a preacher.”

On such an occasion as this, my husband once came up to me, in a great rage, and shaking his hand over me, said, “You had better be hanged in that day.” I was seized with horror, and again plunged into despair, which continued nearly three months. I was afraid that, by denying the Lord, the heavens would be shut against me.

I walked much alone in the woods, and there, where no eye saw, or ear heard me, lamented my miserable condition. Often have I wandered, from morning till night, without food, I was brought so low that my life became a burden to me; and the devil seemed to vaunt that, though the sins of my youth were forgiven me, yet now I had committed an unpardonable sin, and hell would inevitably be my portion, and my torments would be greater than if I had hanged myself at first.

In the night, when, under this painful distress of mind, I could not sleep, if my husband perceived me weeping, he would revile me for it. At length, when he and his friend thought themselves too weak to overset me, he went to the priest at Chester, to inquire what he could do with me.

This man knew I was a member of the Church, for I had shown him my certificate. His advice was, to take me out of Pennsylvania, and settle in some place where there were no Quakers. My husband replied, he did not care where we went, if he could but restore me to my natural liveliness of temper.

As for me, I had no resolution to oppose their proposals nor much cared where I went. I seemed to have nothing to hope for. I daily expected to be made a victim of divine wrath, and was possessed with the idea that this would be by thunder.

When the time of removal came, I was not permitted to bid my relations farewell; and, as my husband was poor, and kept no horse, I was obliged to travel on foot.

We came to Wilmington, fifteen miles, and from thence to Philadelphia by water. Here we stopt at a tavern, where I became the spectacle and discourse of the company. My husband told them his wife had become a Quaker; and he designed, if possible, to find out a place where there was none: (thought I,) I was once in a condition to deserve that name, but now it is over with me. O that I might, from a true hope, once more have an opportunity to confess the truth; though I was sure of all manner of cruelties, I would not regard them.

Such were my concerns, while he was entertaining the company with my story, in which he told them that I had been a good dancer, but now he could get me neither to dance or sing. One of the company then started up and said, “I’ll fetch a fiddle, and we’ll have a good dance;” a proposal with which my husband was pleased.

When the fiddle was brought, my husband came and said to me, “My dear, shake off that gloom, and let us have a civil dance; you would, now and then, when you were a good churchwoman, and that’s better than a stiff Quaker,”

I had taken up the resolution not to comply with his request, whatever might be the consequence; this I let him know, though I durst say little, for fear of his choleric temper. He pulled me round the room, till the tears fell from my eyes, at the sight of which the musician stopt, and said “I’ll play no more; let your wife alone...”

Finding that all the means he had yet used could not alter my resolutions, he several times struck me with severe blows. I endeavoured to bear all with patience, believing that the time would come when he would see I was in the right.

Once he came up to me, took out his penknife, and said, “If you offer to go to meeting to-morrow, with this knife I’ll cripple you; for you shall not be a Quaker.” I made hint no answer. In the morning, I set out as usual; he did not attempt to harm me.

Having despaired of recovering me himself, he fled, for help, to the priest, whom he told, that I had been a very religious woman, in the way of the Church of England, of which I was a member, and had a good certificate from Long Island; that I was now bewitched, and had turned Quaker, which almost broke his heart; and, therefore, he desired that, as he was one who had the cure of souls, he would come and pay me a visit, and use his endeavours to reclaim me, which he hoped, by the blessing of God, would be done.

The priest consented, and fixed the time for his coming, which was that day two weeks, as he said he could not come sooner. My husband came home extremely pleased, and told me of it. I replied, with a smile, I trusted I should be enabled to give a reason for the hope within me; yet I believed, at the same time, that the priest would never trouble himself about me, which proved to be the case.

Before the day he appointed came, it was required of me, in a more public manner, to confess to the world what I was. I felt myself called to give up to prayer in meeting. I trembled, and would freely have given up my life to be excused. What rendered the required service harder on me was, that I was not yet taken under the care of friends; and was kept from requesting to be so, for fear I should bring a scandal on the society. I begged to be excused till I had joined, and then I would give up freely.

The answer was, “I am a covenant-keeping God, and the word that I spake to thee, when I found thee in distress, even that I would never forsake thee, if thou wouldst be obedient to what I should make known unto thee, I will assuredly make good. If thou refusest, my spirit shall not always strive. Fear not, I will make way for thee through all thy difficulties, which shall be many, for my name’s sake; but, be faithful, and I will give thee a crown of life.” To this language I answered “Thy will, O God, be done; I am in thy hand, do with me according to thy word;” and I then prayed.

This day, as usual, I had gone to meeting on foot. While my husband (as he afterwards told me) was lying on the bed, these words crossed his mind “Lord, where shall I fly to shun thee,” &c. upon which he arose, and, seeing it rain, got the horse and set off to fetch me, arriving just as the meeting broke up.

I got on horseback as quickly as possible, lest he should hear I had been speaking; he did hear of it nevertheless, and, as soon as we were in the woods, began with saying, “Why do you mean thus to make my life unhappy? What, could you not be a Quaker, without turning fool in this manner?”

I answered in tears, “My dear, look on me with pity, if thou hast any; canst thou think that I, in the bloom of my days, would bear all that thou knowest of, and much that thou knowest not of, if I did not feel it my duty.” These words touched him, and he said, “Well, I’ll e’en give you up; I see it wont avail to strive; if it be of God I cannot overthrow it; and, if of yourself, it will soon fall.” I saw the tears stand in his eyes, at which I was overcome with joy, and began already to reap the fruits of my obedience. But my trials were not yet over...

One night in a drunken stupor her husband enlisted himself in the army and was soon called to serve, which he refused claiming his Quaker religion as the reason why. This resulted in a horrific beating that hospitalized & killed him within a year.

Five years later Elizabeth married a third husband, his name Aaron Ashbridge. Aaron was a well-known & respected member within the Quaker community in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

See: Elizabeth Ashbridge, Some Account of the Early Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge (Philadelphia: H. and T. Kite, 1807).