Just follow the link from Quaker Strongrooms below for a good description of the history of silhouette portrait making in Colonial America with particular reference to Quakers. Also has details of how to make your own silhouette portraits!
Just follow the link from Quaker Strongrooms below for a good description of the history of silhouette portrait making in Colonial America with particular reference to Quakers. Also has details of how to make your own silhouette portraits!
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A talk, “John Woolman and the Utility of History” will be given by Geoffrey Plank on Tuesday 30 April 2013, 6-8pm, Quaker Library, Friends House, 173 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ
John Woolman has been described as a “Quaker saint,” an isolated mystic, singular even among a singular people. But as historian Geoffrey Plank recounts, this tailor, hog producer, shopkeeper, schoolteacher, and prominent Quaker minister was very much enmeshed in his local community in colonial New Jersey and was alert as well to events throughout the British Empire. Responding to the situation as he saw it, Woolman developed a comprehensive critique of his fellow Quakers and of the imperial economy, became one of his era’s most emphatic opponents of slaveholding, and helped develop a new form of protest by striving never to spend money in ways that might encourage slavery. Drawing on the diaries of contemporaries, personal correspondence, the minutes of Quaker meetings, business and probate records, pamphlets, and other sources, John Woolman’s Path to the Peaceable Kingdom shows that Woolman and his neighbours were far more engaged with the problems of inequality, trade, and warfare than anyone would know just from reading the Quaker’s own writings. Although he is famous as an abolitionist, the end of slavery was only part of Woolman’s project. Refusing to believe that the pursuit of self-interest could safely guide economic life, Woolman aimed for a miraculous global transformation: a universal disavowal of greed.
Geoffrey Plank will discuss the “moral utility” of studying history, with the abolitionist John Woolman (1720-1772) continuously at the centre of the analysis. Plank will look at Woolman from two angles, examining how Woolman thought about history and invoked it in his effort to instigate reform, and also considering how Woolman became history and the uses that have been made of his life story to inspire subsequent generations.
Register for a free place at www.quaker.org.uk/quakerhistory
For all enquiries please contact the Quaker Library firstname.lastname@example.org / or 020 7663 1135
Here’s an extract concerning John Woolman from my recent booklet on William Penn:“John Woolman (1720-1772) was a Quaker campaigner who spoke out against slavery in the Northern States. In his time, the number of slaves in New Jersey was high, as late as 1800 they numbered 12,422. In Perth Amboy, New Jersey, newly imported Africans arrived and a long barracks was built to accommodate them. In 1734, when Woolman was fourteen, an insurrection of slaves took place at Perth Amboy. The slaves, in an alliance with Native Americans and the French, attempted to kill their British owners. Some years later a slave convicted of crime was burned alive at Perth Amboy and a huge number of slaves from all the neighbouring townships were made to witnesses his slow and painful death. It was these and other events, made Woolman speak out. In his Journal he records the process of deciding to actively campaign amongst his fellow Quakers against slavery. “My employer, having a negro woman, sold her, and desired me to write a bill of sale….I felt uneasy at the thoughts of writing an instrument of slavery for one of my fellow-creatures, yet I remembered that it was my master who directed me to do it, and that it was an elderly man, a member of our Society [i.e. a Quaker], who bought her…. Sometime after this a young man of our Society spoke to me to write a conveyance of a slave to him, he having lately taken a negro into his house…. I spoke to him in goodwill; and he told me that keeping slaves was not altogether agreeable to his mind; but that the slave being a gift made to his wife, he had accepted her.” In 1746 Woolman set out on a 1,500 mile round-trip preaching on a number of topics including slavery. He visited fellow Quakers who owned slaves in Pennsylvania and attending Quaker meetings to speak out against human trafficking. In 1761 he wrote: “…. In this visit I was at two Quarterly and three Monthly Meetings, and in the love of truth I felt my way open to labour with some noted Friends who kept negroes.” In 1762 he wrote and had printed, “Considerations on keeping Negroes“. His distributed it to fellow Quakers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere and also, importantly, to slaves themselves: “….members of our religious society in general, among whom are some who keep negroes, and, being inclined to continue them in slavery, are not likely to be satisfied with such books being spread among a people, especially at their own expense, many of whose slaves are taught to read, and such, receiving them as a gift, often conceal them.”
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Last Thursday, as part of the Winter series of lectures organised by the Regional History, I delivered an illustrated talk on “The Quaker, William Penn ~ an alternative view of the founder of Pennsylvania”.
Despite the cold and rain there was a good turnout of 45-50 people (including local Quakers and staff from the American Museum, Claverton Manor, Bath) to hear my talk on role of William Penn and his family in the colonisation of Ireland, Transatlantic Slave Trade and European expansionism in the North Americas.
There was great discussion both during and after the talk about differing (and, I think, changed) perceptions of the historical role of Quakerism.
My thanks to the UWE Regional History Centre and the M-Shed for their help and support.
If you would like me to give a talk to your organisation then just get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to try to oblige.
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William Penn abandoned English Civil Law when it applied to enslaved Africans. Pennsylvania laws regarding slaves placed an emphasis on maternal (i.e. Black female slave), and not paternal (i.e. potential White colonist) provenance for slave offspring. Thus, Quaker law-makers attempted to establish slavery in perpetuity in the colony. In Pennsylvania this principle was allowed and defended as being the custom over time and also because it was the law in other countries.
In 1786 the State’s Supreme Court reinforced the status quo when it declared that, the principles of maternal provenance for Black and Mulatto children was and always had been the law.
It should also be noted that many of the slaves in Delaware were bought in Maryland or Philadelphia and the political and legal patterns in Pennsylvania exerted influence on Delaware even after that colony had ceased to be subject to Pennsylvanian laws in 1704.
Prior to 1700 slaves on the West Bank shared some of the legal rights as Whites; e.g. ‘Peter’ was a slave indicted by Kent County Grand Jury on suspicion of murdering a White woman and was found not guilty in 1699). Prior to the 18th Century Blacks were not singled out for particularly harsh treatment nor, if the Black person was free, was there a ban on inter-race marriages; e.g. a free Black, John Johnson of Kent County married Elizabeth, who was White.
But, in early C18th Pennsylvanian passed laws (also passed in Delaware) to codify the position of Black slaves:
In 1700, because White owners did not want to prosecute their slaves – and lose their labour, a series of Acts, supported by William Penn, were passed by the Pennsylvania legislature establishing separate ‘negro courts’(1) for ‘serious crimes’ (the term ‘negro’ was often a synonym for ‘slave’). This was a response to the growing Black population in the colony. In 1704, Delaware was granted its own legislation and actually scrapped these courts – only to re-introduce them in 1726.
Blacks faced different punishments:
The above law was repeated, except the punishment for attempted rape was whipping, branding, imprisonment and transportation and these same penalties were imposed for thefts of over £5. Theft valued under £5 meant whipping up to 39 lashes.
A further Law in 1705-06 forbid the mixture of races and inter-race marriage. For violations a White person could be fined £30, or sold as a servant for a period not exceeding 7 years.
A clergyman carrying out the marriage ceremony could be fined £100.
In Delaware ‘serious crimes’ included murder, manslaughter, buggery, robbery, rape and attempted rape. After 1726, slave masters were compensated two-thirds of the value of the slave put to death– this was a copy of the Pennsylvania Law of 1706. This compensation was paid by a court of two Justices of the Peace and six substantial freeholders. The compensation monies actually came from funds derived from a tax on imported slaves ~ what a vicious circle!
Traditionally the movement of slaves rested with their Pennsylvania owners. Because of complaints about Black people’s “tumultuous assemblies” a law was passed in 1705-06 stopping assembly of Blacks. No slave was allowed to go further than 10 miles without a leave of his master. The penalty was 10 lashes on the bare back. There was the same punishment for a slave who left his master’s home after 9pm or was found in a tippling house.
Also, Whites were forbidden to employ such slaves, or harbour, or shelter them (except in unseasonable weather). If they broke this law they faced a fine of 30 shillings for every 24 hours the slave was harboured. Blacks were also not allowed to gather in companies of more than 4 people.
(1) Such special courts for slaves were common in English American colonies including New York.
This ad is from the August 29, 1765, Pennsylvania Gazette, and describes a New York-to-Philadelphia stagecoach transportation service.
The image comes from the excellent blog on Early American newpapers: Rag Linen. It’s well worth a visit!
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William Penn (1644-1718) was married twice.
First marriage, 1672: Gulielma Springett (1644-164)
Children: William 1680-1720; Letitia (1678-1745)
Second marriage, 1696: Hannah Callowhill
Children: 4 died in childhood; John (The American) 1700-1746; Thomas, 1702-1775; Richard Snr, 1705-1771
1. When William Penn became ill in 1712, his wife, Hannah Penn acted as proprietor.
When William Penn died in 1718, Hannah took charge of the colony and arranged for the proprietorship to be proportioned to her sons in the following ways:
– John (The American): Chief Proprietor, ½ interest
– Thomas Penn: ¼ interest
– Richard Penn Snr: ¼ interest
2. When John (The American) died in 1746:
– Thomas Penn: Chief Proprietor, had a ¾ interest
– Richard Penn Snr: had a ¼ interest
3. When Richard Snr died in 1771:
– Thomas Penn: Chief Proprietor, had a ¾ interest
– John (of Stoke) Penn (son of Thomas): had a ¼ interest
4. When Thomas Penn died in 1775:
– John (of Stoke) Penn (son of Thomas): had a ¾ interest
– John Penn (son of Richard Snr): had a ¼ interest
Click here to view a Spanish language trailer for a film on the Siege of Santo Domingo of 1655. It was a major battle fought between April 23 to April 30, 1655 at the Spanish Colony of Santo Domingo (Hispaniola). A force of 2400 Spanish troops led by Governor Don Bernardino Meneses and Bracamonte, Count of Peñalba, defeated a force of 13,120 troops and 34 ships of the English Commonwealth Navy led by Admiral Sir William Penn .
So, the question is … does anyone know the title of the film in question?
 Admiral Penn was the Sea General who, with English land forces, went on to capture the island of Jamaica from the Spanish, thus establishing that island as the centre of English slave trading and sugar production.
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In 1643, aged 22, (Admiral Sir) William Penn (1621-1670) was appointed as a Captain in the Royal Navy. In the same year he married Margaret Van der Schure (Jasper). At the end of this blog entry there is a short pdf slideshow relating to the life of Margaret Penn.
Margaret van der Schure has been described as a ‘gay widow’. Her father might well have been John Baptist Jasper, a merchant of the Strand, London who became a “prolific purchaser of confiscated royal goods“. He “may have been a leading London Merchant “ (so his affairs could have been complimentary to the Penn family’s own mercantile interests – see previous blog entry on Giles Penn). Perhaps the two families had on-going business/trading connections?
In 1642, (Admiral Sir) William Penn was on leave in London so it may have been then that he met Margaret. They married in 1643 at St Martin-within-Ludgate, 40 Ludgate Hill, London and close to Margaret’s family home in the Strand.. The church of St. Martin-within-Ludgate was destroyed by the Great Fire of London of 1666 and was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. There is reported to be a display by the door which commemorates Admiral Sir William Penn.
Their marriage is recorded thus: “1643. June 6th. Williame Penne and Margaret van der Schuren, by Dr Dyke, Lecturer…witness Mr Roach, churchwarden then”
The marriage is also record in the City of London Guildhall; perhaps this second certificate was needed for Penn to claim the compensation for Margaret’s loss of Irish estates: “1643. June 6. William Penne and Margaret van der Schuren by Mr Dyke, Lecturer.”
The use of Mr Dyke, a Lecturer (a holder of a stipend for preaching) to officiate the marriage shows the couple’s Puritan dissatisfaction with beneficed clergy.
After their marriage they lived in “Tower Gardens and the navy quarters where they were only able to afford two rooms”. When (Admiral Sir) William Penn was promoted in 1644, he and Margaret moved to a house that belonged to Charles II:
“…built with brick linings backward and adjoining to the east side of a former tenement, consisting of one hall, a parlour and a kitchen…with divided cellar underneath same and, above stairs, in first storey two fair chambers and on second storey two more and two garrets over the same with a yard before the same, now in possession of William Penn.”
It was in this house that the Quaker, William Penn (1644 -1718), was born on 14th October, 1644. With his father frequently absent at sea for long periods of time, It was Margaret who was to have the greater influence on the emotional and religious development of her son.
Margaret and her husband were, no doubt, a plain, Purtian couple, and, when they were married, lived in moderate circumstances in lodgings near the Tower of London. The diarist, Samuel Pepys, who had a close association with the family over a number of years, wrote of their beginnings with information he obtained from a Mrs Turner:
“She [Mrs Turner] says that he was a pityfull [fellow] when she first knew them; his lady was one of the sourest, dirty women, that ever she saw; that they took two chambers, one over the othr, for themselves and child in Tower Hill; that for many years together they eat more meals at her house than at their own that she brought my lady who was then a dirty slattern with her stockings hanging about her heels so that afterwards the people of the whole Hill did say that Mrs Turner made Mrs Pen a gentlewoman.”
Although plainly dressed the Penn newly weds still had a capacity for high spirits. (Admiral) Penn is described by Pepys as one whose pranks included “drinking the susceptible into a stupor, singing bawdt songs and supping at midnight off bread-and-butter on the roof” Pepys found Penn “a very merry fellow” with a wife with a similar approach to life. Pepys also described Margaret’s pranks as including “flinging Pepys on a bed at a party and heaping female guests upon him”.
Pepys describes his first meeting with Margaret Penn in August, 1664:
“At noon dined at home and after dinner my wife and I to Sir W Pen’s to see his lady, the first time, wo was well looked, fat short old Dutch woman, but one that hath been heretofore pretty handsome, and is now very discreet and I beleive hath more wit than her husband. Here we stayed talking a good while and very well please I was with the old woman at first visit.” At a later date Pepys says that Margaret is “mighty homely and looks old.”
10 years after their marriage (Admiral Sir) William Penn petitioned for restitution of wife’s estates in ‘County Clare, Rneanna and Jasper’s Bridge’. He appealed to Oliver Cromwell, who acted and passed an order in Council on 1st September, 1654:
“On consideration of the petition of General William Penn one of the admirals at se; Ordered, by his Highness and the council, that as a mark of favour to him and in consideration of his sufferings in an estate of his wife’s in Ireland, lands in Ireland yet undisposed of be set forth to him and his heirs of three hundred pounds per annum value, as the same worth in the year 1640; and that, for empowering the Lord-Deputy and council to set forth the same accordingly, an ordinance be brought in.”
Cromwell himself also addressed a letter to the Lord-Deputy and council in Ireland on 4th December:
“Gentlemen, Ourselves and council having thought fit, in consideration of the great losses sustained by General Penn and his wife by the rebellion in Ireland, and as remuneration of his good and faithful services performed to the Commonwealth to order that lands to the value of £300 per year, in Ireland as they were let in the year 1640, to be settled on General Penn and his heirs; and for such as he is now engaged in further service for the commonwealth in the present expedition by sea, and cannot himself look after the settling of the said estate, it is our will and pleasure, that lands of the said value be speedily surveyed and set forth in such place where there is a castle or convenient house for habitation upon them and near to some town or garrison, for the security and encouragement of such as he shall engage to plant and manure the same, and if it be, such lands as are already planted … We do earnestly and specially recommend the premises to your care, and remain, your loving friend, [Signed] Oliver Cromwell”
The castle that was awarded was Macroom, near the town of Cork. Margaret Penn often went to Ireland and lived there for long periods of time on one or other of the family’s estates. Post the 1661 Act of Settlement in Ireland it was Margaret Penn, in her husband’s absence, who dealt with the legal transference of Macroom Castle to the Earl of Clancarty and the Penn appropriation of the estates of Shanagarry in East Cork & Konakilty in West Cork and the appointment of the Admiral as governor and captain of the castle and fort of Kinsale.
When the Great Plague hit London in 1665 the Admiral was working for the British Naval Board, Margaret and the family remained in London until September in which month they moved to safer lodgings in Woolwich.
On the 11th January, 1666 Pepys wrote:
“All of us by invitation to Sir W Penn’s and much company, among others the Lieutenant of the Tower and Dr Whistler and his [prospective] son-in-law Lower, servant to Mrs Margaret Penn”. Anthony Lowther later married William & Margaret’s daughter, also named Margaret and referred to in the family as ‘Peg’. (This couple will be the subject of a future blog posting)
The Penns acquired a country house at Walthamstow (now in London, E17) as did their close family friend and Bristolian, Sir William Batten (d. 1667), a surveyor of the Navy. They both often entertained Samuel Pepys there, probably in Marsh Street (now High Street) where Margaret Penn was rated as living. Another theory suggests that they lived in Clay Street (now Forest Road).
When the Admiral resigned from the Navy Board in 1669 he gave up his house in Navy Gardens. London. The family went to live in the countryside at Wanstead (now part of North East London) and it was there that Margaret’s husband died on 16th September, 1670. His will stated:
“And first I doe will and devise unto my deare Wife Dame Margaret Penn to be paid unto her immediately after my decease the Summe of three hundred pounds sterling together with all my jewels other than what I shall hereinafter devise … the use during her life of one full moiety of all my plate … and all Coaches and Coach-horses or Coach-mares.”
Margaret accompanied the Admiral’s cortege from Wanstead to Bristol for his burial in St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol.
Margaret’s son, Richard , who had been left one hundred and twenty pounds a year until he was twenty-one, and then four thousand pounds, by the Admiral, survived his father by only three years. He died on 9th April, 1673, and buried at Walthamstow.
Margaret Penn died, twelve years after her husband’s death, in 1682.Sources: 1. An Uncommon Sailor – a portrait of Admiral Sir William Penn, Lucie Street, The Kensal Press, 1986. 2. www.hallvworthington.com/Penn/FamilyHistory.html
Click on the following title to download a pdf slide show on Margaret Penn – Wife of Admiral Sir William Penn
In the open public space Millennium Square, Bristol, UK there is a statue to the Quaker, William Penn. It is yet another uncritical public portrayal of William Penn – no word here, in the old slaving port of Bristol, of Penn being a slave owner, nor is there any mention of the displacement of Native Americans or the despoilation of a wilderness. Rather there is a poorly crafted scroll with the words: “Death is but crossing the World as Friends do the seas, they live in one another still.”
Penn’s statue stands with those of three other men with Bristol-ish connections: Cary Grant (actor), William Tyndale (15th century translator of the bible into English) and Thomas Chatterton (poet). All the pieces are by the US-born artist Lawrence Holofcener and, to my mind, the Penn piece is particularly awful!
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Admiral Sir William Penn was the father of the Quaker William Penn. As noted earlier the Admiral is buried in St Mary Redcliffe church, Bristol, England. What many people in Bristol, including many of Jamaican decent, do not know is that he was the Sea General responsible for the attack on the Spanish slave colony of Jamaica and annexing it as an English colony in 1654.At the end of this post there is a pdf download of slides I used during my recent series of talks in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Feel free to use them as an educational resource if you wish.
During 1654 (when England was a Republic under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell) Admiral Penn offered his services and his fleet to the exiled King Charles II. Charles asked him to wait for a more opportune time before changing political sides. But then, in October the same year, Penn had no scruples about being appointed as Cromwell’s Admiral to take the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti). This was part of Cromwell’s colonial Western Design. Later that year a Sea-Armament of 30 – 60 ships and 4,000 soldiers set sail from England bound for Hispaniola. Sea General Penn and the land-army General, Venables, had numerous disagreements, (Penn, as we’ve seen, was equivocal in his support for the Cromwellian regime and Venables was an ardent Parliamentarian, this, coupled with their equal yet divided commands, lead to much mutual hostility).
The fleet was reinforced by about 5,000, reluctant recruits from Barbados and the Leeward Islands who were taken on at St. Kitts. The English reinforcements were nominated by colonial Regimental Commanders who took the opportunity of sending people they considered to be undesirable and their number included an indentured labourer and soon-to-be-famous privateer, Henry Morgan.
While in Barbados the resident colonists were unwilling to get involved in the Cromwellian escapade and were reluctant to release their slaves and indentured servants to fight against the Spanish. In fact the Barbadian planters and colonists had been doing a prosperous trade with New England colonies and with the Netherlands, in direct conflict with English foreign policy. They were not about to see themselves as subject to rule from a remote Republican England especially as its population of some 30,000 people included a sizable number of Royalists who had fled there after being so recently defeated. It is also worth noting that just four years earlier, in 1650, Barbados had come out in support of King Charles II and their rebellion had been put down by the use of two men-of-war and 1,000 troops.
On April 14th, 1655, the force landed on Hispaniola and set off on a sixty-mile march during which they were ambushed and later repulsed by the Spanish before being thoroughly defeated and fleeing in panic on April 25th. English soldiers then started dying at an alarming rate; in total 1,000 of the English troops died, either in battle or from disease. After re-assembling, licking their wounds and burying their dead, the English force set off for the Spanish possession of Jamaica, an island that they knew to be poorly defended and seen as a much less important prize. Thirty-eight ships sailed into Port Royal (Kingston) which was quickly captured. Spanish Town was then plundered by English troops. Many of the Spanish on Jamaica escaped, but not before releasing their slaves – who were to become known as the Maroons. Penn and Venables left Jamaica leaving Vice Admiral Goodison and Major General Fortesque in charge of a very dispirited force. Over the next few years troops died of starvation and disease, they refused to grow crops believing they would be sent home if there was no food. The English were attacked by the freed Spanish slaves.The Governors; Fortesque, Sedgwick and Brayne, died, one after the other. English colonists encouraged to go to Jamaica from other islands fared little better than the troops.
When Penn returned to London he was dismissed from his post and punished by spending time in the Tower of London. Cromwell wrote to Admiral Blake:
‘It is too sad a truth, the Expedition to the West Indies has failed! Sea-General Penn and Land-General Venables have themselves come home, one after the other, with the disgraceful news; and are lodged in the Tower [of London], a fortnight ago, for quitting their posts without orders.’
When Penn had returned from the West Indies he brought back a slave named, Sampson. The Admiral had acquired ownership of him in Barbados by trading him for his original, personal servant slave, Anthony. Penn is also known to have owned at least one further slave named, Jack.
When Penn retired to the castle and estates of Macroom he wrote a code of naval tactics which was later incorporated by the Duke of York into his ‘Sailing and Fighting Instructions’; which became the standard text for British naval expansionist tactics for some centuries.