Saturday, December 28, 2013

17th century Quaker Persecutions New Bedford, MA

From History of Bristol County, Massachusetts Part One

Among the orders of the court concerning the Quakers was the following:
"If any person or persons called Quakers, or other such like vagabonds, shall come into any town in this government, the marshal or constable shall apprehend him or them, and upon examining, so appearing, he shall whip them, or cause them to be whipped, with rods so it exceeds not fifteen stripes, and to give him or them a pass to depart the government, and if they be found without the pass and not acting thereunto they shall be punished again as formerly; and in case the constable shall be unwilling to whip them, and cannot find any one to do it, they shall bring them to Plymouth to the under-marshal, and he shall inflict it."
Another regulation says, "Whereas, by order of court, all free men of this corporation, as Quakers, or such as encourage them, or such as speak contemptuously of the laws thereof, or such as are judged by court grossly scandalous, as liars, drunkards, swearers, shall lose their freedom in this corporation."

1651. Ralph Allen, Sr., and wife, George Allen and wife, and William Allen are presented with others for uot attending public worship according to law. Arthur Howland, for not attending public worship. This Arthur seems to have been a troublesome fellow to the strict Puritans of the colony. Ralph Allen and Richard Kirby are fined five pounds, or to be whipped, for vile sketches against ordinances. Richard Kirby info

1655. Sarah Kirby sentenced to be whipped for divers suspicious speeches.(sister Jane Landers also in court with her but no record of punishment)

1656, Sunday. Persons for meeting at the house of William Allen are summoned to answer for the misdemeanor.

1656. Sarah Kirby whipped for disturbing public worship.

1657. Arthur Howland, for permitting a Quaker meeting in his house, and for inviting such as were under government, children and others, to come to said meeting, was sentenced by the court to find securities for his good behavior; in case he should refuse he is fined four pounds. He refused to give bonds, and was fined. "The said Arthur Howland, for resisting the constable of Marshfield in the execution of his office, and abusing him in words by threatening speeches, is fined five pounds." And again, Arthur Howland, for presenting a writing in court, which said writing, on the reading thereof, appeared to be of dangerous consequences, he owning it to be his own, and for making known the said writing to others, was sentenced by court to find securities for his good behavior. We have now another Howland upon the stage.

1657. "Henry Howland, for entertaining a meeting in his house, contrary to order of Court, is fined ten shillings." And still another, Louth Howland, "for speaking opprobriously of the ministers of God's word, is sentenced to set in the stocks for the space of an hour or during pleasure of Court, which was performed and so released paying the fee."

1657. Ralph Allen, Jr., and William Allen being summoned, appeared to answer for a tumultuous carriage at a meeting of the Quakers at Sandwich ; their being admonished in that respect were cleared, notwithstanding irreverently carrying themselves before the court, coming in before thein with their hats on, were fined twenty shillings apiece.

Here is the case of the whipping and fining before spoken of,—

1658. H. Norton and John Rouse were sentenced to be whipped for coming into the jurisdiction contrary to call. The sentence was executed. "The same day performed," is the language of the record, and the under-marshal requiring his fees they refused to pay them, and they were again returned to prison until they would pay.

1658. William Allen is fined forty shillings for entertaining Quaker meeting. About this time there was a part added—demanded, as says the record— because, among other things, "of the letting loose as a scourge upon us those gangrene-like doctrines and persons called Quakers." 

1659. We now find upon the records the following: "The Court taking notice of sundry scandalous falsehoods in a letter of Isaac Robinson's tending greatly to the prejudice of this government and incouragement of those commonly called Quakers, and thereby liable according to law to disenfranchisement, yet we at present forbear the sentence until further inquiry."

1660. Daniel Butler for rescuing a strange Quaker was sentenced to be whipped. Joseph Allen fined ten shillings for attending a Quaker meeting. Here wehave some wholesale operations,—twenty-five persons were fmed ten shillings eaeh for attending Quaker meeting, and among them were Joseph, Benjamin, William, and Matthew Allen, Richard Kirby and Richard Kirby (2d), and Daniel and Obadiah Butler. For more family info  Howland-Kirby papers

1661. The obstinate Howlands are again introduced. Henry Rowland for entertaining a Quaker meeting in his house is twice fined four pounds. Loeth Howland breaks the Sabbath and is fined ten shillings.

1662. Another Howland Sabbath-breaker. Samuel Howland, having no meal in the house, went to the mill and took home his grist. Fined ten shillings, or the whip.

1664. Arthur Howland is again in difficulty. But it is not for new heresy of opinion that he is brought before the magnates of the land. The following is the record: "Arthur Howland, for inveighling Mistress Elizabeth Prince and making motion of marriage to her, and prosecuting the same contrary to her parents' liking and without their consent and directly contrary to their mind and will, was sentenced to pay a fine of five pounds, and to find securities for his good behavior, and in special that he desist from the use of any means to obtain or retain her affections as aforesaid." He paid his fine, a pretty heavy one for those days, and gave the bonds required by the sentence of the court. "Arthur Howland acknowledges to owe unto our sovereign lord the king the sum of fifty dollars; John Duncan, the sum of twenty-five dollars; Timothy Williams, the sum of twenty-five dollars. The condition that whereas the said Arthur Howland hath disorderly and unrighteously endeavored to obtain the affections of Mistress Elizabeth Prince, against the mind and will of her parents. If, therefore, the said Arthur Howland shall for the future refrain and desist from the use of any means to obtain or retain her affections as aforesaid, and appear at the court of His Majesty, to ho hnlden at Plymouth the first Tuesday in July next, and in the mean time be of good behavior towards our sovereign lord the king and all his liege people, and not depart the said court without license, that then, etc."
The next year we find him again before the court, and again coming under a solemn agreement no further to offend in the premises.

Some Future Family Quaker Pictures 

Picture Jim Gresela Contact

Abraham H. Howland served as the first mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts. A leading Quaker businessman of the time, he was elected shortly after the incorporation of New Bedford in 1847. A man of esteem and wealth, he lived in the prominent neighborhood of County Street in New Bedford.

             Picture Above of Henrietta Howland Green aka the “Witch of Wall Street” 

             Picture Above Howland Triple Portrait George Howland & Sons


  1. Thank you for this list of events. They help illustrate the fact that local authorities ignored the instructions from Charles II that were brought back by Samuel Shattuck about 1661. Essentially, Charles said, lay off the Quakers. If only.

  2. Samuel Shattuck was step-son of Thomas Gardner of Salem.