What is the meaning of Quaker phrase "not being answerable to truth" [closed]

+7 votes

I transcribed, as best I could, the record of the marriage of Henry Reynolds and Prudence Clayton. I would like to know the specific possible meanings of this phrase.

"Henry Reynols & Prudence Clayton having declared their Intentions of Marriage at two several meetings & notwithstanding we whose names are under written have not satisfaction in thair proseeding itt not being answerable to truth yet after some consideration & in tenderness to them and the family conserned wee thought good too permitt thair Joyning to gether in Marraige at A meeting in Burlington upon ye River Dallawar ye .10th. of ye .11.th month 1678"

If I'm understanding correctly, those who were present, the witnesses, which included all the Clayton family, supported the marriage but there was some objection at the time of their proclaiming intentions among the other friends. Some important background...Henry grew up with the Clayton family, back in Chichester, Sussex, England. He and his family are recorded in the minutes there. He was a member by birth. Both surnames appear together as witnesses and in other capacities. He came to America shortly before the Claytons and immigrated with those first Quaker settlers, before Penn. Could the fact that none of his family are present and involved be what is contrary to truth? What are the possibilities? I'll keep trying to find the intentions records, where the answer may be.

WikiTree profile: Henry Reynolds
closed with the note: I received a sufficient answer from Michael Cayley
in Genealogy Help by Connie Mack G2G5 (5.5k points)
closed by Connie Mack
Hi Connie, these are cousins of mine. Before going over to the profile I took the phrase to mean he was not a member of a Quaker meeting so in effect Prudence was asking to marry out of unity. The profile narrative seems to state that though he may have been a birth right Quaker that he had either renounced, left or somehow separated himself from the Quakers, at least for a time. It would appear his having been a Quaker at one time (and who knows what promises may have been made when the intentions were made) is likely what led the meeting to approve the marriage.
Thanks for the input, T. All of the family show up repeatedly in the American Quaker minutes, his children's births, participation, etc. So it doesn't make sense that he renounced or was disowned. I'm thinking it may be that he hadn't proven membership through a certificate of removal. If he left England not knowing where he would land or even if there was yet an established meeting, he would have to immigrate empty handed unless he just asked for a statement of good standing from Chichester MM back in England. I don't know if they ever did that.
Is he in the minutes on this side of the pond before the marriage?
Just a side note - in that time, "ye" (especially if the 'e' is superscript (slightly raised)) was shorthand for "the".

There are some other shortcuts they used too, but I don't see them in your transcription.
T, it looks to me like no one has answered your question.  The answer is that nothing has been found so far (other than the two marriage intentions).
Yes, Rob.  "Ye" means "the."  "Yt" means "that."  And just today I found some new ones in the early Burlington minutes, including "Ym" for "them."

5 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
The phrasing is unclear, but, looking at Henry’s profile, the likely answer becomes a little more obvious.

Henry was a birthright Quaker. As a birthright Quaker he would have remained technically a Quaker throughout his life, unless he was formally disowned (ie expelled), and he does not seem to have been disowned. So he was probably technically still a Quaker when he got married. But he seems to have let his Quaker involvement lapse, and did not get a Quaker certificate of transfer when he moved to America. He might therefore have been regarded as not answerable to the truth and not a faithful Friend, though still a Quaker by birthright.

The phrase "not answerable to the truth" could also mean, as R J Horace has said, that he was a Quaker but his way of life or his financial/business affairs in some way went against Quaker values; that he had been visited because of this; and that he had not responded well to admonitions.

But my money would be on his not being a Quaker actively involved with a Meeting at the time of his marriage - but still a birthright Quaker.

I hope this helps. And I hope it is clear.
by Michael Cayley G2G6 Mach 7 (78.6k points)
selected by Elizabeth Ernst
Thank you, Michael. This makes perfect sense to me, knowing some of the sources out there for him. So far I haven't been able to find a transfer or disownment. The timing of his father in-law's "confession" leads me to believe that he was embarrassed by the law suit against Henry and felt compelled to distance himself from him.
Yes, thanks for your help, Michael!  Your explanation does make perfect sense.
Connie, a couple final thoughts.  If Henry had been visited, as Michael suggests above as one possibility, there might be a record of that.  Will you be looking?  As for the Will Clayton apology:  I don't recall ever before seeing an apology recorded that wasn't preceded by a meeting (or sometimes many meetings) in which the Quakers discussed the undesirable behavior.  It seems more likely to me that the apology was demanded, not spontaneous.  Just a guess though.
Yes, I'll be looking for any and everything I can find and I will add a section to Henry's bio when I'm done. Right now I'm going through the court records and see he was assigned as constable for Chichester in the midst of all his law suits so he must have had the trust of the community. This followed after the accusation of killing his servant. As for the apology, wasn't the meeting just being formed at that time? His is the first page of the book and if there was no meeting prior to the date then there wouldn't be record of a demand. Maybe it was an informal strong suggestion.Just guessing but it appears they continued to interact with each other and I would think if he would keep his distance after that. I wish William had wrote a will. That might confirm or deny their continued relationship.
+3 votes
Henry wasn't a Quaker.

I see now that his profile has a Quaker sticker.  I will review my own information and update this post shortly.

Update:  Looking in more detail at Henry's profile, the first paragraph appears to state he was not a Quaker, although it is confusing.

An interesting side note is that, during the Quakers' Keithian Schism, Henry apparently hosted a meeting in his home where Keith preached.  There is a little information about that on a free-space page I created:  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:James_Brown%27s_Religion

Update:  See Michael Cayley's answer.
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (295k points)
edited by Julie Kelts
That is why I asked this question and have been gathering the evidence I keep running across that he was, in fact, a Friend. He shows up repeatedly in the Minutes, as do his children. Even the history books say he was among those Quakers that preceded Penn's group, including William Clayton.
Do you have some specific references?  I don't see any minutes cited on his profile, other than his birth, and his marriage in which it appears to be stated that he was not a Friend.
Connie, after some more looking, I still do not find any Quaker minutes (other than those already mentioned) listing Henry.  I found one record on Ancestry, described as "Hinshaw index to Selected Quaker Records," listing the charter members of the Chester Monthly Meeting, with a date of approximately 1681 to 1689, which included Prudence Clayton and her father and brother William.  Henry was not on the list.

What history books were you referring to that describe Henry as a Quaker?
Thanks for the link, Julie. Prudence Clayton on that list is mother of Prudence and wife of William Clayton. Daughter Prudence had the surname Reynolds by that time. Henry started in Marcus Hook, married in Burlington then settled in Chichester. I'm working on finding and gathering any sources.
I did wonder about the surname.  But why isn't Prudence the daughter on the list?
Connie, I've e-mailed a cousin of mine who has done a lot of research on the Browns and Claytons and related families.  If he has any more information I'll post back here.

Was Henry an ancestor of yours?  I'm afraid he doesn't seem like the nicest guy.  Here is a link to an interesting record.  I won't add it to his profile, but in the interest of completeness: In 1685, Henry Reynolds sued Justa Anderson for defamation after Justa told others that Henry beat his indentured servant to death.  Several people testified.  Henry lost the case, but apparently wasn't prosecuted.


Well, Julie, I didn't think he was in my family but as it turns out, he may be. I was trying to locate the right family that is my son's paternal line and think I need to track the Quaker records for this family transfering to North Carolina, to tie it in. I read about the murder accusation but you might want to read this page because it has the specific details of the court case. As a side note I don't avoid adding the less complimentary info to my family tree. How else can we learn why those aggrivations called sins are visited upon future generations from days gone by.wink 

Was there a date on that page? I'm wondering if they had already moved on to their new home.

Thanks.  (I looked for that earlier but the Live as Free People website has an error in an internal link.)  Most of the first part of that comes from the link I gave you.  Not sure whether I had seen the rest before.  The court record didn't state the trial took place in Philadelphia so that was a little confusing.

I have some information about the intermarriage of Henry and Prudence's children with the William Brown family.  I think it is also on the religion page.  If it would be useful, I can look further.  One such couple, William Reynolds and his wife Mary Brown, went to North Carolina.

Connie, it looks like we were both just now posting at the same time.  What page are you asking about?
One more observation for now:  My cousin also points out that maybe the reason that Henry, who wasn't a Quaker, hosted the George Keith lecture was that he was a tavern keeper.  Maybe it was good for business, although we don't usually imagine Quakers drinking during sermons!
+5 votes
As I understand it, they'd declare their intentions in the separate men's and women's meetings, which they had done.  Then a couple of men and a couple of women would be delegated to make discreet enquiries.  Usually the minutes would then say something vague about "all things being clear".

In this case evidently all things weren't.  They'd be looking for anything which might suggest that the pair wouldn't be a good Quaker couple raising good Quaker children.  Something like debts or drinking would probably be a problem, even if not serious enough to get you unfriended, but mostly they'd be looking for a lack of moral rectitude.

Sounds like tongues had wagged, but nothing could be proved.
by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (555k points)
Another good find.  Thank you.  I don't think that proves he was a Quaker, however.  Those old histories often combine some truth with some family legends and hearsay.

It's a bit easier to read when I invert the color but still horrible. I don't think it says he's not a friend. What I read is "him beeing not a Faythful Frind"  Faithful is the key word, don't you think? The date might shed more light. I see  page number 2, 1st day of the ? month but can't make out the year. Next is page 3 and says the 11th month 1681 so we have a clue as to what might make William sorry to be associated with Henry. The date of court for selling strong drink was March 14, 1681. "“Henry Reynolds having appeared at this court to answer for his selling strong liquors by small measure in his house contrary to the governor’s and council’s order: upon his submission to the court, was discharged.” What does submission to the court mean in this case? Quakers used alcohol, by the way. Eventually they put the pressure on to avoid grain alcohol or strong drink and clearly didn't tolerate drunkenness. But they did partake. I read a lot of minutes on the subject.

ETA: Here is the image inverted.

I don't think "faithful" is anything but an embellishment on "Friend," and not meaningful.  Just my opinion.

Our interpretation of the entry (of the Will Clayton confession) in the minutes book is that it was inserted at the beginning, without a date.

I don't know what submission means; maybe acquiescence in agreeing to stop selling liquor.

Yes, I know Quakers used alcohol.  But not normally during meetings, did they?

Edit:  I misremembered about the confession not having a date.  See below.

Every minute book has a first page. I don't understand what you mean. It does have a date, just not easy to read. As I said, I see the page number 2 at the very top and on the next line, 1st day of the 7, if I'm reading  it right. But the year is in the non readable area. Page 3, as I said, is later in the year of 1681 so this was most likely written September 1, 1681, 3 years after they were married. He was selling drink in small measure from his house, not from the Friends meeting house. It sounds like he was selling shots as if he had a tavern. Apparently the government banned the sale? Here is the image inverted. Maybe you will see the date. I think you're right, submit to not sell any more.

Connie and Julie, you might want to bring SJ Baty in on this discussion. He's done extensive research on the earlier Clayton family and did most of the clean-up of erroneous info that was previously found in WikiTree. He may have some things of use socked away in his research files.

Regarding Quakers and alcohol. The Quaker prohibition against alcohol is a much later thing. Max Carter has a good, short, historical discussion on that here. I have at least two direct Quaker ancestors who owned taverns in Philadelphia and Virginia. The one in Philadelphia was in the same building as the home and I have little doubt that some of the gatherings not held at the meeting house were held in the tavern...whether the tavern served during those meetings I have not a clue.

Thanks, T. I sent an invitation.
T, thanks for the interesting video link.
Coincidentally, I have just finished a book about a leading 18th/19th century family of Quaker iron founders, who brewed beer for their workforce, some of whom were Quakers - and almost certainly drank alcohol themselves.
Given the state of the water supply, alcohol was the most healthful beverage!
Just so :-)
+3 votes
I'm not absolutely postive, but close. I believe these quotes answer what "truth" was in question. From the Burlington Minutes the following year:

"(16)Att ye monthly Meeting att Jno Woostons house in Burlington ye 6th of ye 9th mo 1679

John Ashton of Shackmaxon upon ye River Dellaware & Patience Taylor of Burlington proposed their Intentions of Mariage being ye first time & Desired their concent. And further Conference passed as touching ye alteration of ye Monthly Meeting but nothing concluded about itt.

(17) Att a monthly meeting att Jno Woolstons house in Burlington ye 4th of ye 10th mo 1679

John Ashton proposed his Intentions of taking Patience Taylor to wife ye second time which was Unitted.

Also freinds had much Conference about ye apointing of two Persons or friends to Enquire into ye Clearnes of such as Should oppose their Intentions of Mariage but nothing Concluded.

(18) At a Monthly Meeting held at Jno Woolstons house in Burlington ye 1st of ye 11th mo 1679

Where was further conference whether itt ws nott fitt yt ye Meetings should Proceed according to ye Practice of friends in England as in the Case of Marriages."
by Connie Mack G2G5 (5.5k points)
edited by Connie Mack
Sorry, I'm confused.
It appears there was an early dispute over whether they should follow the custom back in England  to assign 2 people to inquire, question the couple after they proclaimed their intentions the first time. The question was addressed for the next couple of years. Out of tenderness toward Henry and Prudence, they apparently put the dispute aside for a time and continued to marry couples based on proclamation of intentions without any inquiry. That custom is like meetings before marriage in the Catholic faith, counseling in order to receive permission to marry in the church. There are many months though, where no business was taken up so perhaps it was just one or a few that wanted to push the subject. At the Monthly Meeting held on 2 Sep 1680 there were a few couples offering their first intentions, and they "desired ye Meetings Approbation". 2nd intentions were reported 6 Oct 1680 and "ye Meeting did Consent" or "was permitted".  At that same meeting though, William Hewlings & Dorothy E? of Burlington proposed their Intentions of Marriage a first time. Samuel Jenings & John Burton are appointed to Enquire into their Clearness.

James Wills Cooper of Burlington & Hester Gardiner Proposed their INtentions of Mariage ye First Time Tho Budd & Tho Barton are appointed to inquire in to their Clearness."

It looks to me like between Sept. 2 and Oct 6, the 1st intentions and 2nd intentions of the couples previously listed, there was a decision made that from then on, they would assign two people to inquire, once the 1st intention was presented.

Right.  I see what you mean about the discussion concerning whether the meetings should proceed as they had in England.  I don't understand the exact connection to "truth."

In your transcription above, i think the word "ill" is actually "itt."  See image.  You can see the faint crossbar.

Connie, I hope you don't think I'm giving you a hard time.  You've done some good research.  It's just fun to have someone to discuss these things with.  I've literally spent months of my life on these people, to what end I'm not yet sure.

Thanks. I fixed that and another mistake. Thanks for your help. Of course I don't think you're giving me a hard time. I'm really appreciative of your input, since you're already so familiar with the family. After I gather what I think is all there is, I'll add a Quaker section to Henry's bio with the sources.
I forgot to address "truth". If I understand the Quaker mindset sufficiently, the truth is revealed where 2 or more are gathered together and in agreement. Having two people assigned to inquire as to their clarity and fitness for marriage as Friends assures they are united in spirit and in truth. "Where two are gathered in my name, there I am also," if memory serves me correctly.
Oh!  I had been assuming (based on I don't know what) that "truth" meant acknowledging Quaker beliefs.
References like this to "Truth" in a Quaker context in the period can mean quite a number of things. George Fox and other early Quakers quite often accused other Friends of not responding to "truth" or of being "out of the truth" or some such phrase when they wanted to express disapproval. They did not mean that those they said this of were not Quakers. An early Quaker who took an oath or paid tithes - and some did, despite the general Quaker belief that these things were wrong - might be accused of not acting according to "truth", but would still be regarded as a Quaker. And so on.
Thanks, Michael.
That makes perfect sense. Thank you once again, Michael.
+1 vote

Good morning, Connie.  I'm posting another answer because the discussions are growing so long.

Are you still unsure as to whether Henry Reynolds was a Quaker?

I am looking for my work notes on the Will Clayton confession.  I did spend a long time on that transcription, which as you know is quite frustrating.  When I can answer your recent questions, I will add to this answer.

Update:  For the purpose of discussion, because I want us all to have access to all the information, I have uploaded a scan of two paragraphs from the Launey & Wright book I cited above.  As I have said, I believe the transcription has errors and goes beyond what can be seen in the image we have access to.  But here it is:

Another update:  Having reviewed the document, and the above transcription again today, I think the transcription is likely more accurate than I gave the authors credit for last September.

by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (295k points)
edited by Julie Kelts

Here is my own transcription (done last September), which I abbreviated for posting to the religion page:

At a mon meeting [upper right corner of page missing or not photographed]

the 15 Day of the 7 month In...

I Will: Clayton the Elder doe

the same...

in the hewmillity of my soul -- 

that I did Sin


and br

in Consenting to the marriage of my

dautter Prudens to hendry Runolls

hee beeing not a faythful Frind

hopping that you my Frindes of the

monthly meeting will [end of this line and following four lines crossed out]

Looking that over again now, I think I can identify a few more words, but nothing that changes the meaning.

Thank you. This is very close to what I've transcribed so far. I'd like to figure out some of what is crossed out too. I still think Henry was a Quaker until I read he renounced them or they disowned him. I also believe that not a Faithful Friend means in William's eyes, Henry went against the truth somehow and was not faithful, but still a Friend. I thought about trying to contact the Burlington.  Friends to see if they would weigh in on this.
Connie, I'm e-mailing you my most recent thoughts on the transcription.  

If Henry renounced the Quakers, would that be recorded in a meeting?  That's something I've never seen.

If he never joined a meeting once settling in New Jersey, then they wouldn't have had occasion to disown him, would they?  As to what happened back in England, I'm not very familiar with English Quaker records, but I haven't come across any information one way or the other--no meeting minutes that included him, and no disownment.

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