Friday, October 31, 2014
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (Italian painter, 1503–1540), also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino, Madonna and Child with Angels and St. Jerome or Madonna with the Long Neck
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (Italian painter, 1503–1540), also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino, Madonna and Child with Saints
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (Italian painter, 1503–1540), also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino, Virgin and Child
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (Italian painter, 1503–1540), also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino, Rest on the Flight to Egypt
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (Italian painter, 1503–1540), also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino, The Holy Family
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (Italian painter, 1503–1540), also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino, Virgin and Child with an Angel
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (Italian painter, 1503–1540), also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino, Virgin and Child
In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were the core of early Western art.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819), religious leader, founder of a pioneer community in western New York. She was a charismatic American evangelist who preached total sexual abstinence and the Ten Commandments to her Quaker "Society of Universal Friends." Her family were strict Quakers, most of her views were from her upbringing in the Quaker religion.
She 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, a year of declaring Independence, 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. She saw herself as neither male or female. 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.
Bronski, Michael (2011). A Queer History of the United States. Xxx: Beacon Press. p. 50-51.
Hudson, David. History of Jemima Wilkinson: a preacheress of the eighteenth century
Wilkinson, Israel Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family in America 1869
Wisbey, Herbert A. Jr. Pioneer Prophetess Jemima Wilkinson, the Publick Universal Friend. Cornell University Press.
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
Frances Slocum (1773-1847), called Maconaquah, "The Little Bear," an adopted member of the Miami tribe, was taken from her family home by the Lenape in Pennsylvania, on November 2, 1778, and raised in the area that became Indiana. Frances was born into a family of early Quaker settlers of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, near Wilkes Barre.
Her parents, Jonathan Slocum and Ruth Tripp, came to Pennsylvania from Warwick, Rhode Island. Frances had 11 siblings, among them brothers Ebeneezer and Benjamin. These brothers found her 59 years later living on an Indian Reservation near Peru, Indiana. Despite the pleadings of her brothers, Frances refused to leave her family. She had been married twice and was the mother of four children.
Painting of Frances Slocum by Jennie Brownscombe, from the book, Frances Slocum; The Lost Sister of Wyoming, by Martha Bennett Phelps, 1916.
"I can well remember the day when the Delaware Indians came suddenly to our house. I remember that they killed and scalped a man near the door, taking the scalp with them. They then pushed the boy through the door; he came to me and we both went and hid under the staircase.
"They went up stairs and rifled the house, though I cannot remember what they took, except some loaf sugar and some bundles. I remember that they took me and the boy on their backs through the bushes. I believe the rest of the family had fled, except my mother.
"They carried us a long way, as it seemed to me, to a cave, where they had left their blankets and traveling things. It was over the mountain and a long way down on the other side. Here they stopped while it was yet light, and there we staid all night. I can remember nothing about that night, except that I was very tired, and lay down on the ground and cried till I was asleep.
"The next day we set out and traveled many days in the woods before we came to a village of Indians. When we stopped at night the Indians would cut down a few boughs of hemlock on which to sleep, and then make up a great fire of logs at their feet, which lasted all night.
"When they cooked anything they stuck a stick in it and held it to the fire as long as they chose. They drank at the brooks and springs, and for me they made a little cup of white birch bark, out of which I drank. I can only remember that they staid several days at this first village, but where it was I have no recollection.
"After they had been here some days, very early one morning two of the same Indians took a horse and placed the boy and me upon it, and again set out on their journey. One went before on foot and the other behind, driving the horse. In this way we traveled a long way till we came to a village where these Indians belonged.
"I now found that one of them was a Delaware chief by the name of Tuck Horse. This was a great Delaware name, but I do not know its meaning. We were kept here some days, when they came and took away the boy, and I never saw him again, and do not know what became of him.
"Early one morning this Tuck Horse came and took me, and dressed my hair in the Indian way, and then painted my face and skin. He then dressed me in beautiful wampum beads, and made me look, as I thought, very fine. I was much pleased with the beautiful wampum.
"We then lived on a hill, and I remember he took me by the hand and led me down to the river side to a house, where lived an old man and woman. They had once several children, but now they were all gone—either killed in battle, or having died very young. When the Indians thus lose all their children they often adopt some new child as their own, and treat it in all respects like their own. This is the reason why they so often carry away the children of white people.
"I was brought to these old people to have them adopt me, if they would. They seemed unwilling at first, but after Tuck Horse had talked with them awhile, they agreed to it, and this was my home. They gave me the name of We-let-a-wash, which was the name of their youngest child whom they had lately buried. It had now got to be the fall of the year (1779), for chestnuts had come.
"The Indians were very numerous here, and here we remained all the following winter. The Indians were in the service of the British, and were furnished by them with provisions. They seemed to be the gathered remnants of several nations of Indians. I remember that there was a fort here.
"In the spring I went with the parents who had adopted me, to Sandusky, where we spent the next summer; but in the fall we returned again to the fort—the place where I was made an Indian child—and here we spent the second winter, (1780).
"In the next spring we went down to a large river, which is Detroit River, where we stopped and built a great number of bark canoes. I might have said before, that there was war between the British and the Americans, and that the American army had driven the Indians around the fort where I was adopted. In their fights I remember the Indians used to take and bring home scalps, but I do not know how many.
"When our canoes were all done we went up Detroit River, where we remained about three years. I think peace had now been made between the British and Americans, and so we lived by hunting, fishing, and raising corn...
"The reason why we staid here so long was, that we heard that the Americans had destroyed all our villages and corn fields. After these years my family and another Delaware family removed to Ke-ki-ong-a (now Fort Wayne). I don't know where the other Indians went.
"This was now our home, and I suppose we lived here as many as twenty-six or thirty years. I was there long after I was full grown, and I was there at the time of Harmar's defeat. At the time this battle was fought the women and children were all made to run north. I cannot remember whether the Indians took any prisoners, or brought home any scalps at this time. After the battle they all scattered to their various homes, as was their custom, till gathered again for some particular object. I then returned again to Ke-ki-ong-a. The Indians who returned from this battle were Delawares, Pottawatamies, Shawnese and Miamis.
"I was always treated well and kindly; and while I lived with them I was married to a Delaware. He afterwards left me and the country, and went west of the Mississippi. The Delawares and Miamis were then all living together.
"I was afterwards married to a Miami, a chief, and a deaf man. His name was She-pan-can-ah. After being married to him I had four children—two boys and two girls. My boys both died while young. The girls are living and are here in this room at the present time.
"I cannot recollect much about the Indian wars with the whites, which were so common and so bloody. I well remember a battle and a defeat of the Americans at Fort Washington, which is now Cincinnati. I remember how Wayne, or ' Mad Anthony,' drove the Indians away and built the fort.
"The Indians then scattered all over the country, and lived upon game, which was very abundant. After this they encamped all along on Eel River. After peace was made we all returned to Fort Wayne and received provisions from the Americans, and there I lived a long time.
"I had removed with my family to the Mississinewa River some time before the battle of Tippecanoe. The Indians who fought in that battle were the Kickapoos, Pottawatamies and Shawnese. The Miamis were not there. I heard of the battle on the Mississinewa, but my husband was a deaf man, and never went to the wars, and I did not know much about them."
George Winter 1810-1876 Francis Slocum
At the conclusion of this account of her capture, life and wanderings with the Indians for so many years, there was a pause for a few minutes. Every one present seemed deeply impressed with the story and the simple, artless manner in which it was related. In a short time the conversation was resumed:
"We live where our father and mother used to live, on the banks of the beautiful Susquehanna, and we want you to return with us; we will give you of our property, and you shall be one of us and share all that we have. You shall have a good house and everything you desire. Oh, do go back with us!"
George Winter 1810-1876 Francis Slocum and daughter
"No, I cannot," was the sad but firm reply. " I have always lived with the Indians; they have always used me very kindly; I am used to them. The Great Spirit has always allowed me to live with them, and I wish to live and die with them.
Your wah-puh-mone [looking glass] may be longer than mine, but this is my home. I do not wish to live any better, or anywhere else, and I think the Great Spirit has permitted me to live so long because I have always lived with the Indians. I should have died sooner if I had left them.
My husband and my boys are buried here, and I cannot leave them. On his dying day my husband charged me not to leave the Indians. I have a house and large lands, two daughters, a son-in-law, three grand-children, and everything to make me comfortable; why should I go and be like a fish out of water?"
When her birth family could not convince her to leave the village, the Slocum family hired George Winter to paint a portrait of Frances & her daughter. Winter wrote descriptions of her family in his journals. The artist wrote of Frances in 1839, "Frances Slocum's face bore the marks of deep-seated lines. The muscles of her cheeks were like corded rises, and her forehead ran in almost right angular lines. There was indication of no unwanted cares upon her countenance beyond time's influence which peculiarly marks the decline of life...She bore the impress of old age, without its extreme feebleness. Her hair which was evidently of dark brown color was now frosted. Though bearing some resemblance to her family, yet her cheek bones seemed to bear the Indian characteristic in that particular - face broad, nose somewhat bulby, mouth perhaps indicating some degree of severity. In her ears she wore some few ear bobs."
Susan Sleeper-Smith, Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes (Amherst:University of Massachusetts Press, 2001)
John F Meginnes,Women in America from Colonial Times to the 20th Century: Biography of Frances Slocum (New York: Arno Press, 1891, reprint 1974)
Stewart Rafert,The Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People 1654-1994 (Indiana Historical Society, 1996)
James Axtell, The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America(New York: Oxford University Press, 1985)
Jim J. Buss, "They Found and Left Her an Indian: Gender, Race, and the Whitening of Young Bear. "Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Jun 01, 2008; Vol. 29, No. 2/3, p. 1-35.
Susan Sleeper-Smith, Enduring Nations: Native Americans in the Midwest, ed. R. David Edmunds(Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008)
"Winter's Description of Francis [sic]Slocum," Indiana Quarterly Magazine of History 1:3 (1905)
Quaker author and preacher Bathsheba Bowers was born in 1672, in Massachusettes, and died at age 46 in 1718, in South Carolina. She was one of 12 children born to Benanuel Bowers and his wife Elizabeth Dunster.
Her mother Elizabeth was a young orphan sent from England to live with her uncle Henry Dunster, who was the president of Harvard College between 1640 and 1654, and spent the last few years of his life as a pastor in Scituate, Massachusettes.
Her father, Benanuel Bowers, was a determined Quaker who fled England to settle in Charlestown, near Boston, Massachusettes, only to find a flurry of Puritan persecution. Seven of their children grew to adulthood amid the threats and violence which surrounded their family.
Benanuel Bowers was a militant Quaker defender and suffered much for his religion by fine, whip, and prison. Like his daughter Bathsheba, he enjoyed writing. Some of his letters are preserved in the Middlesex County Courthouse. One addressed to Thomas Danforth the magistrate, is dated March 3, 1677, when little Bathsheba was only five.
Bathsheba's father owned 20 acres in Charlestown. He suffered fines repeatedly and imprisonment for various offences, such as absenting himself from meeting, and giving a cup of milk to a poor Quaker woman who had been whipped and imprisoned two days and nights without food or water.
As personal animosities and community hatred of Quakers began to increase, the Bowers decided to send 4 of their daughters to Philadelphia, which had a large and welcoming Quaker community.
Much of what we know about Bathsheba Bowers comes from the letter journal of her niece, Ann Curtis Clay Bolton, the daughter of Bathsheba's sister Elizabeth Anna who married Wenlock Curtis of Philadelphia. This diary is in the form of letters addressed to her physician, Dr. Anderson, of Maryland, the first of which was written in 1739.
Ann Bolton, wrote of her aunt's description of her immigrant grandfather, "My Grandfather, Benanuel Bowers was born in England of honest Parents, but his father, being a man of stern temper, and a rigid Oliverian, obliged my Grandfather (who out of a pious zeal, turned to the religion of the Quakers) to flee for succour into New England...
"He purchased a farm near Boston and then married. Both were Quakers. The Zealots of the Presbyterian party ousted them. They escaped with their lives, though not without whippings, and imprisonments, and the loss of a great part of their worldly substance...
"When my Grandfather was grown old, he sent, with his wife's consent, four of his eldest daughters to Philadelphia, hearing a great character of Friends in this city. Their eldest daughter married Timothy Hanson and settled on a plantation near Frankford. Their youngest daughter was married to George Lownes of Springfield, Chester Co."
But Bathsheba Bowers remained single. Anna wrote that she was of "middle stature" and "beautiful when young," but singularly stern and morose. "She was crossed in love when she was about eighteen...
"She seemed to have little regard for riches, but her thirst for knowledge being boundless after she had finished her house and Garden, and they were as beautiful as her hands cou'd make them, or heart could wish, she retired herself in them free from Society as if she had lived in a Cave under Ground or on the top of a high mountain, but as nothing ever satisfied her so about half a mile distant under Society Hill She built a Small (country) house close by the best Spring of Water perhaps as was in our City.
"This house she furnished with books a Table a Cup in which she or any that visited her (but they were few, and seldom drank of that Spring). What name she gave her new house I know not but some People gave it the name of Bathsheba's Bower (for you must know her Name was Bathsheba Bowers) but some a little ill Natured called it Bathsheba's folly.
"As for the place it has ever since bore the name of Bathsheba's Spring or Well—for like Absalom I suppose she was willing to have something to bear up her Name, and being too Strict a virtuoso could not expect fame and favour here by any methods than such of her own raising and spreading.
"Those motives I suppose led her about the same time to write the History of her Life (in which she freely declared her failings) with her own hand which was no sooner finished than Printed and distributed about the world Gratis."
Ann described her aunt as a hard taskmaster, with whom she lived as a young girl until she was 13. Aunt Bathsheba was a gardener and a vegetarian for the last 20 years of her life. She was also a fine seamstress and made her living in Philadelphia making mantuas. A mantua (from the French Manteuil ) is an article of women's clothing worn in the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century. Originally it was a loose gown, the later mantua was an overgown or robe typically worn over an underdress or stomacher and petticoat.
Although Bathsheba Bowers was a Quaker by profession, Ann reported that she was, "so Wild in her Notions it was hard to find out of what religion she really was of. She read her Bible much but I think sometimes to no better purpose than to afford matter for dispute in w[hich] she was always positive."
In New York in 1709, Philadelphia Quaker William Bradford published a 23 page booklet by Bathsheba Bowers entitled "An Alarm Sounded to Prepare the Inhabitants of the World to Meet the Lord in the Way of His Judgment" along with a history of her life and other writings. In the same year, Bathsheba Bowers became a Quaker preacher, taking her ministry to South Carolina, where she would live for nearly 10 years. Because she made her living as a mantua maker, she could pick up that trade in her new homeplace.
Ann wrote of one of her aunt's experiences in South Carolina. "She had a belief she could never die. She removed to South Carolina where the Indians Early one morning surprised the place—killed and took Prisoners several in the house adjoining to her. Yet she moved not out of her Bed, but when two Men offered their assistance to carry her away, she said Providence would protect her, and indeed so it proved at that time, for those two men no doubt by the Direction of providence took her in her Bed for she could not rise, conveyed her into their Boat and carried her away in Safety tho' the Indians pursued and shot after them."
Bathsheba Bowers lives on through her autobiography. She used the conventions of the established New England spiritual autobiography to trace her journey through life as a series of fears to be overcome and to set an example that others might follow. She compared herself to Job outlining a progression of divinely predestined tests which eventually placed her in a personal relationship with God. Bathsheba Bowers overcame fears of nudity, death, hell, pride, and even preaching, writing, and publishing to attain her spiritual self-control.
She claimed that her most difficult struggle was with her own ambition. While she saw publication of her spiritual autobiography as a triumph over her personal fears, she worried about the potential scorn it might bring on her, "...tis best known to my self how long I labored under a reluctancy, and how very unwilling I was to appear in print at all; for it was, indeed, a secret terror to...hear my Reputation called in question, without being stung to the heart." Perhaps this is why she moved from Philadelphia to South Carolina just as her autobiography was published.
Although Bathsheba Bowers's work joined the spiritual autobiographies written by women in New England as a means of joining a congregation, Bathsheba's booklet added a Quaker perspective to the intensely personal genre. Her writings also included poetry just as American Anne Bradstreet had published before her. English Quakers, men and women, published their spiritual struggles in journals, but early 18th century American Quaker women rarely published their writings.
Bethsheba's diary is in the form of letters addressed to her physician, Dr. Anderson, of Maryland, the first of which was written in 1739. It begins:
"For some reason perhaps Dr. not unknown to you I step out of the common Road and first Mention my family on my Mother's side.
"My Grandffather Benanuel Bowers was Born in England of honest Parents but his father being a Man of a Stern temper, and a rigid Oliverian Obliged my Grandfather (who out of a Pious zeal turned to the religion of the Quakers) to flee for succor into New England.
"My Grandmother's name was Elizabeth Dunster; She was Born in Lancashire in Old England, but her Parents dying when she was young her Unkle Dunster, who was himself at that time President of the College in New England, sent for her thither and discharged his Duty to her not only in that of a kind Unkle but a good Christian and tender father. By all reports he was a man of great Wisdom, exemplary Piety, and peculiar sweetness of temper.
"My Grandfather not long after his coming to New England purchased a farm near Boston, and then married my Grandmother, tho they had but a small beginning yet God So blest them that they increased in substance, were both Devout Quakers and famous for their Christian Charity and Liberality to people of all perswasions on religion who to Escape the Stormy Wind and tempest that raged horribly in England flocked thither."
The writer also speaking of her grandparents..."the outrage and violence of fiery zealots of the Presbyterian Party who then had the ruling power in their own hands, however they slept with their lives tho' not without Cruel whippings and imprisonment and the loss of part of their worldly substance."
The Life of Mrs. Robert Clay, afterwards Mrs. Robert Bolton Author: Ann Bolton and the Rev. Jehu Curtis Bolton Publication: Philadelphia, 1928. Copy at the Universtiy of Maryland.
Petrulionis, Sandra Harbert (1998). "Bathsheba Bowers". Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Women Prose Writers to 1820 200. pp. 62–66.
Stevenson, Jane & Peter Davidson (2001). Early Modern Women Poets (1520-1700): An Anthology. Oxford University Press
Potts, William J. (1879). "Notes and Queries: Bathsheba Bowers". Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 3 (1)
Krieg, Joann Peck (1979). "Bathsheba Bowers". In Mainiero, Lina. American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present 1. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co
Anson, Bert. The Miami Indians (Norman:University of Oklahoma Press, 1970)
In 1708, Ann Keith Walker (1637- a 1708) appeared before the all male Royal Governor and Council in Williamsburg, Virginia, in a continuing dispute between her and George Walker (c1640-1732), her husband, over their religious beliefs and practices.
Ann, a member of the Church of England who tried to attend services regularly, faced opposition from her husband. He tried to prevent her from attending the church of her choice, and he was also adamant in his determination to direct the religious education of their children.
Ann Keith & George Walker, both born in Virginia, had married in 1691. George was a boat pilot on the James River, a gunner, and a shopkeeper at Fort Point Comfort. Ann had produced twins Elizabeth & Margaret in 1692; Jacob in 1694; Helen in 1696; George in 1698; Sarah in 1700; and Frances in 1702.
Unable to resove their differences, husband and wife both complained to the governor and Council. She asked for full liberty to attend church, to pursue her religious beliefs, and to raise her children as members of the Church of England. He asked for confirmation of his authority as a father to direct the religious education of their children.
The governor and Council granted both requests in part. Ann Walker was allowed freedom to attend church as she wished; and George Walker, "as Long as he proffesses to Be a Christian and Continues in the Exercise of it," was allowed to direct the religious education of their children, retaining "that authority over his Children that properly Belongs to Every Christian man."
The Church of England was the established church in colonial Virginia; but by 1708, many Virginians were Presbyterians or Quakers, as some earlier Virginians had been Puritans and later many Virginians became Baptists or Methodists.
The case of Ann Walker demonstrates the importance of religious beliefs among early Virginians; how differences of religious opinion could divide members of a family; how such important differences affected the religious education of children; how family members might call on the government to settle such controversies; and how men ruled in 18th-century Virginia.
In this instance, the authority of the husband prevailed over the wishes of the mother, even though the mother was a confirmed & committed member of the Church of England, the official church of the British American colonies, and the father was not.
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.,
http://www.explorepahistory.com/odocument.php?docId=50 (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.
Sophia Wigington Hume (1702-1774), Quaker minister & religious writer, was born in Charleston, SC., one of the children of Henry Wigington (Wiginton), a prosperous landowner & colony official, & Susanna (Bayley) Wigington. Henry Wigington was an Anglican; his wife had been brought up as a Quaker by her mother, Mary Fisher, who had been a minister in England before settling with her second husband in Charleston. Sophia Wigington was reared an Anglican & given an education fit for a young lady of fashion. She was married in 1721, to Robert Hume, a lawyer, landowner, & public official. Two of their children lived to adulthood: Susanna Wigington, born in 1722, & Alexander Wigington, 1729.
Though her mother returned to Quakerism before 1719, & tried to lead her children in that direction, Sophia Wigington Hume for a time remained a faithful Anglican. By her own account she practiced “the art of japanning with Prints,” lived books & music, delighted in plays & balls, passionately enjoyed fine clothes & jewelry, & walked aristocratically “with mincing Steps & outstretched Neck.” During two illnesses, however, she came to believe that these frivolities endangered her soul. The second crisis, which took place about 1740, three years after her husband’s death, led to a conversion that preoccupied her mind for the rest of her life. Believing that God would spare her only if she would forsake vanity for Quaker simplicity, she burned “the most vile” of her finery, but being a widow in reduced circumstances could not resist the temptation to sell her “Watch & Equipage chased with Heathenish Devices, as also Diamond ornament etc.” Shortly after her recovery she moved to England, where she lived in London near her daughter & finally joined the Society of Friends.
Sophia Hume became a public figure reluctantly in 1747, when she felt a divine call to return to Charleston to reprove the self-indulgences of the inhabitants & call them to repentance. She obeyed the call, even though it meant humiliating herself on the scene of her former elegance. Arriving near the end of the year, she carried out he mission at public meetings in spite of some rude interruptions. She also inspired the city’s small Quaker group to reviver regular worship. To spread her message farther, she wrote An Exhortation to the Inhabitants of the Province of South-Carolina &, to get it printed quickly, took the manuscript to Philadelphia. She spent several happy months in that city & in travel to attend nearby religious meetings & was entertained by leading Friends, who also raised money to publish her book. It was printed before the end of 1748 (& in five later editions in England & America); the author arrived home in London in December or January.
Though she preached publicly in South Carolina & Pennsylvania, Sophia Hume did not receive recognition as a minister from her monthly meeting in London until later, possibly not until 1763. As early as 1752, though, her utterances settled on two topics: decrying luxury & warning its devotees of their dangers; & exhorting Friends to renew sectarian strictness, a theme which probably explains the increasing respect for her ministry as zeal for this goal spread during the 1760’s. Her writings, while always frankly advocating Quaker principles, for the most part developed the first of these topics & were addressed to Christians at large. The Exhortation, with its parade of long quotations from the learned & its extensive examinations of Scripture, actually conveyed a fairly simple appeal for repentance & reformation, its strength derived from Sophia Hume’s lifelong gift for strong phrases & intense, incantation prose.
A Caution to Such as Observe Days & Times (published in its final form c. 1763) was briefer & better organized; though first written to denounce religious festivals, in the later editions it proceeded to offer incisive remarks on a number of theological & social topics. The social ethics were largely traditional, but she expounded a Quaker view of conversion with an unusual emphasis on the "rational pleasure & divine delight” produced by the irradiation of the believer by Christ’s light & the benevolence to all mankind that resulted from true love of God.
Among Quaker women of her day, Sophia Hume had an extraordinary knowledge of the arts, literature, & theology-to some extent the product of her years as an Anglican. Although conversion curbed & guided her intellectual pursuits within limits approved by Quakers, she yet found it hard to justify erudition in a woman-& harder to justify her public life-by her own principles. The result was a paradoxical career: as minister & write she upheld the traditional view that woman should lead a secluded life devoted to home & church; as a Quaker bluestocking she expounded Scripture & culled quotations from ancient & modern Christian writers to defend her sect & its tenet that the indwelling spirit of Christ is the most reliable source of religious truth.
She felt a divine call to service in Charleston again in 1767. The situation was dire: the fellowship of Friends there had dwindled to one, the old wooden meetinghouse was dilapidated, & a backslider claimed to own the land on which it stood. Though often compelled to rest her slight & ailing body, Sophia Hume managed to revive interest in Quakerism by preaching to large public meetings, & tried to persuade London & Philadelphia Friends to replace the old structure with a brick meetinghouse that would stand until God might gather a church to use it. Unable to win support for this plan, she embarked for England in April 1768. She died in 1774, presumably in London, of a seizure described as apoplexy. Her body was interred in Friends’ Burial Ground near Bunhill Fields.
Lee S. Burchfield, "Sophia Hume", in American Women Prose Writers to 1820. Edited by Carla Mulford. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999. (Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 200)
Phyllis Mack, "Religion, Feminism, and the Problem of Agency: Reflections on Eighteenth‐Century Quakerism" in Signs Vol. 29, No. 1 (Autumn 2003), pp. 149-177.
Margaret Hope Bacon, Mothers of Feminism: The Story of Quaker Women in America (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986).
Carol Stoneburner and John Stoneburner, eds., The Influence of Quaker Women on American History (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1986)
Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971
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.
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.
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
"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.
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).