Andover Townsman, Andover, MA September 19, 2013 The Quakers among us: 17th and 18th centuries Andover Stories By Kimberly Whitworth, Andover Historical Society
---- — The Quaker faith is not the first thing that comes to mind when you look out over Andover’s hills and view the many weather vane-topped church steeples dotting the landscape. Andover, along with most of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was founded by English Puritans.
North Parish Church — as well as other churches throughout Andover and North Andover — traces its roots to the Puritans who arrived during the Great Migration of the 1630s and settled the town. And within these Puritan communities, Quakers were present.
The story of Quakers among the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay is not one of acceptance and harmony. During the 17th century, both the Quaker and Puritan movements emerged in rejection of the Church of England. But this is where similarities in the two religions end.
Quakers professed tolerance and peace toward all, believing that God could speak to people directly. In contrast, Puritans believed the Bible supplied all religious authority. This led Puritans to strive for conformity in their communities, permitting no other religious groups within the borders of Massachusetts Bay.
Quakers began arriving in Massachusetts Bay during the 1650s. They challenged the established order, interrupting church services by shouting their disagreements with Puritan ideology. According to published accounts, one Quaker woman, Lydia Wardell, took her protest so far as to fully disrobe during services in Newbury while another Quaker woman, Deborah Buffam Wilson, protested in a similar fashion by walking naked through the streets of Salem.
During this time, a number of Quakers began settling in Salem. While the Quakers in Boston seemed far away from Andover, their presence in Salem felt alarmingly close to home.
Massachusetts Bay leaders acted quickly and passed a law against the “cursed sect,” banning Quakers from the colony. This law also imposed fines against anyone bringing a Quaker to the colony and proscribed corporeal punishment against any Quaker who returned to the colony after banishment.
The first members of North Parish Church agreed with the law enacted in 1657. Andover’s early congregation believed in religious conformity and saw toleration to be evidence of a lack of faith.
Historians and writers generally view Simon and Anne Bradstreet as moderate in their views, with Simon Bradstreet often described as a “just and benevolent leader.” Nevertheless, even though no Quakers disturbed the peace in Andover, some of the church’s members were prominent in Quaker persecutions, especially Simon Bradstreet in his capacity as magistrate.
Records show that at “... court in Ipswich, and in the ministerial councils at Newbury, he was zealous against offenders.” Bradstreet’s most notable persecution was that of Nicholas Phelps, a Salem resident whose descendants later settled in Andover.
Over time, Puritans accepted the presence of Quakers, but they remained a minority in Essex County. The most notable Quaker living in Andover during the 18th century was a man named Thomas Houghton.
Houghton left a wealth of letters, some of which are housed at the Andover Historical Society. From these letters and others, we learn he emigrated from England after his paper manufacturing business failed due to a lawsuit over what he considered an unjust tax on his product.
He arrived in Andover around 1789, finding employment at a new paper mill being set up on the “Shawshin River” by Judge Samuel Phillips. Phillips did not take an active role in the business, trusting the running of it to Houghton.
Houghton’s letters speak of his economical and moral habits, both of which find their origins in Quaker teaching. It is clear he applied these teachings to his work life because the paper mill became a profitable concern within a few years. By 1795, Phillips brought Houghton on as a partner. Houghton’s son eventually succeeded him in the business.
Adding a site link from Barbara Poole Life from the Roots blog pics of Andover graves
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Sunday, July 14, 2013
A Love Story Too Sad for Valentine’s Day - Deborah Wilson, a Quaker in very Puritan Salem Village by Heather Rojo
Deborah Buffum was born in 1639 in Salem, Massachusetts. Her family was the Quaker Buffum family, headed by her father Robert, who was regularly fined for non-attendance at the Puritan meetings. She married Robert Wilson in Marblehead in 1658, and had at least two children, a Deborah and a Robert.
The records describe Deborah as a Quaker like her parents, and the town History “The Peabody Story” describes her as very young, modest and retiring. One day in June 1662 she walked towards the meeting house stark naked in order to “call attention to the bareness of the religion of the accepted church which all were compelled to attend.”
Deborah was arrested before she got to the meeting house, and the court records say that for “barbarous and unhuman going naked through the town, is sentenced to be tied at a cart tail with her body naked downward to her waist, and whipped…till she come to her own house, not exceeding thirty stripes, and her mother Buffum and her sister Smith, that were abetted to her, etc, to be tied on either side of her at the cart tail naked to their shifts to the waist and accompany her…”
Her husband, Robert Wilson, was not a Quaker, but he obviously loved his wife. He walked beside the cart, putting his hat between the whip and his wife. I imagine it was one of those large brimmed, black Puritan style hats. Perhaps it was a hat like you see in Pilgrim cartoons. One of those hats would have made some sort of cushion from the whip.
According to the “Annals of Salem,” the constable sentenced to execute the punishment was Daniel Rumdel, who had “bowels of compassion” for his victim. He “on purpose” made his whippings miss or land lightly. Some accounts of this story have the constable sparing her with his own hat, and one account I read imagined a love story between the constable and the Quaker wife. However, the town histories state that the husband, Robert Wilson, put his own hand and hat between the whip and his wife. I’m sure that this kind hearted constable allowed the husband to walk there, and looked the other way at the “clapping [of] his hat sometimes between the whip and her back.”
After this Deborah was fined for non-attendance at the meeting house, until the court was informed she was “distempered in the head.” I suppose she was suffering from some sort of mental illness that perhaps began before the whipping incident. There are no more records on Deborah. She died in 1668, at about 30 years old.
Robert Wilson, her husband, remarried to Anna Trask. They had one child, Anna, born in 1674. Only one year later Robert was killed by the Indians at a massacre in Deerfield, Massachusetts, on 18 September 1675. Sixty four men from Essex County died in the attack, and were buried in one mass grave. Robert Wilson was about 45 years old. Cotton Mather wrote “In this black and fatal day… six and twenty children made orphans, all in one little plantation.” The site of the massacre was renamed “Bloody Brook.”
Deborah and Robert Wilson were my 9x great grandparents. For a family tree, please see my posting on September 21, 2009 at http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2009/09/buried-at-mall.html
For more information:
“Annals of Salem, Massachusetts” by Joseph B. Felt, 1827
“The Peabody Story” by John A. Wells, Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts, 1973, pages 136-7.
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo