Showing posts with label lydia perkins wardwell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lydia perkins wardwell. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Quakers among us: 17th and 18th centuries

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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lydia Wardwell Perkins Quaker Newbury, Ma

My Article From the Newburyport News:

While the horrors of the Salem witch hysteria are widely known, some years before a less infamous trepidation, the Quaker persecutions, swept the colony during “one of the darkest blots in time.” Several Quakers seeking religious liberty in the Massachusetts Bay Colony suffered torture, and even the scaffold, at the hands of the Puritans. Absence from local parish services typically resulted in a summons, the consequences of which included heavy fines, whippings, or banishment. One Quakeress, Lydia (née Perkins) Wardwell made a stark declaration of protest in response to her summons, appearing skyclad in Newbury as a "sign" of the spiritual nakedness of her persecutors.

Yes, it’s true; Newbury can boast of its very own Lady Godiva. Unfortunately, she could not pull off her impromptu burlesque show in a house of worship without getting the strap. Though most historians question her sanity, Lydia’s motives for disrobing resembled the signs acted out by Hebrew prophets, a doctrine taken very seriously by both the Puritans and the Quakers. Her bold act was no doubt driven by the abuse and torture inflicted upon her family and friends by the Puritans.

Lydia's husband, Eliakim Wardwell of Hampton, N.H., was repeatedly harassed, bullied, and stripped of his assets because of his Quaker faith. He endured the stocks on more than one occasion, and records show that on April 8, 1662 , he was fined for his absence from church.  In addition to these offences, the Wardwell home was also the scene of a conflict while the couple harbored Wenlock Christison, a notable Quaker who was jailed in Boston with Mary Dyer and William Leddra in 1661. Though he escaped the scaffold, Christison was banished from the Mass. Bay Colony.

No doubt he was on the colony’s ten-most-wanted list, and Hampton’s Rev. Seaborn Cotton felt it his duty to “keep the wolves from his sheep.” Cotton, with “truncheon in hand, led a party of order-loving citizens” to the house of Wardwell, seized Christison, and shuffled him off to jail. Christison moved to safer territory in 1665, eventually settling in Talbot County, Maryland. He was elected to the lower house of the Maryland General Assembly and later inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s hero in “John Endicott,” one of three dramatic poems in a collection called “New England Tragedies.”
As Cotton confiscated lands from the Wardwell estate and bankrupted them with heavy fines for non-attendance of Sabbath services, Lydia managed to muster strength, a true testimony to her faith. She witnessed the heinous punishments inflicted by the courts, who viewed Quakers as “dangerous social outlaws.” Several of her friends were hanged or tortured:  their ears severed, and their tongues and body parts bored and branded with hot irons. Those sentenced to jail were often denied food and water.
Lydia was present in Dover, N.H. when three women who had refused to attend church were stripped naked to the waist, tied to a cart, and, though the weather was "bitter cold" that day, paraded around several local towns.   Eliakim Wardwell did not shy away from verbalizing his two cents on the matter. After calling the reverend a brute, back in stocks he went.

While the public flogging was administered, the Rev. Mr. Rayner "stood and looked and laughed at it.”
Lydia was also pursued by the church to answer for her absence from communion. By the time she was summoned for “separating from the church and teaching false doctrine” (Newbury Records), she well understood her fate with church elders. But surely her exhibitionist act was barely imaginable to the pious Puritan elite. She, being “a chaste and tender woman of exemplary modesty,” must have jolted quite a reaction from the locals. One account notes that the church meeting was so disrupted they could not reconvene nor assemble order. On the records of the court at Salem (Quarterly Sessions Court for Essex County), her sentence for the outburst was recorded as follows:

May 5th, 1663. Lydia Wardwell on her presentment for coming naked into Newbury meeting house. The sentence of the court is, that she shall be severely whipt and pay the costs and fees to the marshall of Hampton for bringing her. Costs, ten shillings, fees two shillings and sixpence.
After the session, Lydia was lugged off by Ipswich lawmen and taken to a tavern, the Joseph Baker House. “Amid a large circle of men and boys,” she was tied to a rough post and "lashed to the satisfaction of the crowd of onlookers" (Ipswich Chronicle Report).  One can only imagine the scene of pathetic prigs sipping ale and leering pitilessly while the constables who whipped her “tore her bosom as she writhed.”

To dodge the fussbudget herds and avoid further abuse, the Wardwells moved to Shrewsbury, N.J. after Lydia’s shocking protest. Eliakim became one of the first Quaker ministers in the town. Perhaps the family rested some satisfaction on the fact that the judgment of Heaven would fall upon their persecutors (a belief shared by the Puritans). It is bemusing to think that the Puritans, who left Mother England to escape similar persecution, would exact such brutal tactics of torment on the pacifistic Quakers.

Even more of a mystery is the whereabouts of Lydia’s petticoat. According to the story, she was wrapped in cloth and shuffled off to Hampton very abruptly. Her garments were left for safekeeping with fellow friend of the light Gov. John Easton, who perhaps stood outside to cheer his prophetess on. Though her petticoat may never be found, Lydia Wardell certainly taught us that the naked truth is always better than a well-dressed lie.