James Brown's Religion

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Date: 1656 to 1716
Location: Chester County, Pennsylvaniamap
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This page provides an analysis of the Quaker religion of James Brown (1656-1716; Brown-2470 on WikiTree), describing it in the context of the times, partly in an effort to learn more about his descendants.


The Quaker Religion of James Brown (1656-1716)


A study of the religion of James and Honor Brown does not directly answer any genealogical questions. The answers to the genealogical questions surrounding James b. 1681, the son of James and Honor, must be resolved by circumstantial evidence, 150 years of genealogical searching having failed to find direct evidence. Quakerism is referenced frequently in trying to interpret the circumstantial evidence. This analysis is an attempt to surpass simple stereotypes about Quakerism, and to ground our understanding of the Browns' Quakerism in the documentary sources that we possess, ambiguous though they may sometimes be.

James and William Brown. Born in England, James Brown and his brother William (1658-1746) emigrated to America as young men. James, who was two years older, came first and William arrived several years later. Based on the dates and locations of their marriages, James must have arrived shortly before 1679, and William between 1682 and 1684.

James and William were born in Poddington, Bedfordshire, to two Quakers, Richard Brown(e) and his wife Margery. Richard was a “Suffering Quaker” who had been imprisoned for his beliefs. We don’t know how James traveled to America. Richard had died in 1662, when James was 6. It does not seem likely James was a bonded servant. Bonded servants were not usually permitted to marry until their term was up. James, age 23, would not have been in America long enough to have worked off a passage indenture by August 1679.

William had married in England. His first wife Dorothy died on the journey. William and Dorothy’s son Joseph survived.[1] William arrived in North America before the fall of 1684. At that time he applied to the Chester Monthly Meeting for a certificate to marry Ann Mercer.[2] The Browns had two brothers, Daniel, the oldest, and Jeremiah, the youngest, who stayed in England.

Pennsylvania when James Brown arrived

The colony of West Jersey was established in 1674. On 3 March 1677, the colony’s administration, including trustee William Penn, and shareholders signed the document "Concessions and Agreements," which promised toleration of divergent religious views and protection of political rights. Title issues intervened to block the implementation of the Concessions and Agreements, as the governor of New York claimed the right to rule the colony. However, the colony began to attract Quaker settlers, who arrived and obtained land prior to Penn’s grant for Pennsylvania.[3] These early Quakers preceded Penn’s First Purchasers.[4]

Burlington MM (1678); William Clayton and Henry Reynolds. Burlington Monthly Meeting (MM) was founded in 1678. A ship with 230 Quakers, the Kent, had landed at Burlington’s location in 1677. William Clayton and family were listed as being on the ship.[5] Clayton purchased land in Marcus Hook, a Swedish settlement further down the Delaware (and across the river in Pennsylvania), in 1678. James Brown arrived in Marcus Hook sometime before August 1679. In August, James married Clayton’s daughter Honor at the Burlington MM. The Minutes noted James was from Marcus Hook.[6]

Prudence, another daughter of William Clayton, married Henry Reynolds[7] at the Burlington MM in January 1679.[8] Reynolds, Brown, and the Claytons all became neighbors in Marcus Hook. (Henry was from Chichester, Sussex, the place the Claytons had come from, and was a birthright Quaker. Evidence about his Quaker status as an adult is mixed; see Editor's notes. Henry had a minor role in the Keithian schism, as we will see below.) Marcus Hook (renamed Chichester) was a port on the Delaware River. A street paralleling the river became known as Discord Lane for the pubs which lined it. Discord Lane ran through the Reynolds, Clayton, and Brown properties. Adjacent lived John Bezer, one of Penn’s major investors, whose niece Elizabeth married William Clayton Jr.

Chester MM (1682). When the Chester MM was formed in 1682, the Browns and Claytons became members.[9]

Geography. Burlington, New Jersey is just across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Continuing downriver from Philadelphia, Marcus Hook/Chichester is another 20 miles. As can be seen on this Delaware County map, Chester is adjacent to Chichester, to the northeast, and Concord is northwest. In the early days, Concord meetings were often held at Chichester.

The Concord Monthly Meeting

In 1684, the Concord Meeting was created from the Chester Meeting. Marcus Hook (renamed Chichester) formed a part of the Concord Meeting. A meeting house was not built in Concord until 1700. In the early years, meetings rotated among members’ houses.

William Brown initially lived in Chichester. In 1690, he was participating in the Chester MM. His children with Ann Mercer, born from 1685 to 1694, appear in the births and deaths for Chester MM. In 1694, William bought land in Aston from one his wife’s relatives, and remained there until the beginning of 1704, when he moved to Nottingham.

The Men’s Minutes of the Concord MM start in June 1684.[10] The Women’s Minutes don’t start until 1705. From 1684 to March 1697, at the beginning of the notes for each meeting is a list of names. It appears to be the attendees, although there is no explanation given. After March 1697, the list does not appear. There is no explanation as to why.

Neither James nor William Brown were frequently attending members of the Concord MM.[11] William also attended Chester MM, but other than his marriages, a contribution in 1690, and births of his children, he does not appear in the minutes of Chester MM either. He may have been more involved in the Chester meeting than the records show, but Chester did not register attendance as Concord did, so it is hard to tell.

William became active in Concord MM after 1696, when Aston, where William had bought land in 1694, was transferred to the Concord meeting. William was elected in October 1698 to attend the Quarterly meeting, and was reselected from time to time. William also began to regularly be selected for visitations.

James never became very active. The births of Honor and James’s children are not listed in the Concord Minutes after 1685. There were only two occasions when James was asked to do a visitation. One was in 1689; the other was in 1704.

The attendance records noted above were kept for the monthly business and discipline meetings. Weekly meetings for worship were not recorded. It is likely this is where James participated. In 1685 James Brown had donated land for the Chichester meeting house and burial ground.[12] The meeting house was used for weekly worship. Only occasionally was it used as a venue for the Monthly Meeting for business and discipline, despite the absence of a Meeting House in Concord until 1700.

Stress within the Concord Meeting

In this section, we analyze several incidents that illustrate the chaotic and unsettled nature of Quakerism in Pennsylvania's first two decades. Conflicts within the Concord community may have arisen from personal and political enmities as well as philosophical differences; all contributed to the environment.

The period saw the development of two competing Quaker cultures, personified by William Brown and John Churchman, as we will discuss later in this section.

William Penn is well known for being a protector of liberty of conscience. Less well known is that in contrast to his religious beliefs, Penn favored strict regulations on speech. The political system Penn created provided that legislation be initiated by a small body, the Provincial Council, and then approved by a larger body, the Assembly. During the first assembly, which passed the laws which would govern the new colony, nearly half the laws passed in the first two sessions dealt with regulating the time, place, manner, and content of speech.

Penn envisioned his judges as exemplary Quakers enforcing a system of Quaker morality, without forcing citizens to become Quakers themselves. The role of the judges, in Penn’s view, required that citizens do nothing to tarnish the reputations of these exemplary men, who Penn hoped would persuade by example, not coercion. Implicit in Penn’s plan was that the magistrate should act something like an overseer in a Quaker meeting.

Political rivalries; dual leadership roles. Penn stayed in Pennsylvania from 1682 to 1684. Once he left, jockeying for power and accumulation of land produced contention, confusion, and at times political stalemate. Most early Quaker leaders had little experience of either power or wealth. Coherent strategies for advancement were few. Rivalries proliferated.

At the local level, hierarchies emerged as well. The Concord sources speak of “substantial members.” “Substantial members” attended the Quarterly or Yearly Meetings, became Ministers and Elders, and were expected to lead the meetings. In the first 75 years of the province, many of the substantial members assumed leadership roles in county government. A broader group was selected to perform visitations to try to persuade wayward members of the error of their ways, or to investigate such things as suitability for marriage.

At the county level involvement of the courts in people’s lives was extensive. Reputations were guarded carefully. Libel and slander were frequently litigated.

Not all Quakers were happy with their leaders. Jon Butler[13] notes that protests against Quaker leaders were recorded as early as 1685, including complaints of drunkenness and arrogance.

The case of Samuel Darke; importance of certificates (1683). At the time Quaker settlement began in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia didn’t exist. Penn plotted it out only after he received his grant. There was a colony in Burlington in West Jersey, where William Clayton had arrived. William Biles, a prominent Quaker intellectual from Somerset, had settled on the West Bank of the Delaware River at the Falls of the Delaware, next to the location where William Penn would establish his mansion, Pennsbury. The Burlington meeting had been established in 1678, a year after 230 Quakers including William Clayton had arrived on the Kent. Quakers from the western bank crossed the river to attend the Burlington business meeting. Early Yearly Meetings were held in Burlington before the Philadelphia Meeting supplanted it.

In 1683, the Falls Meeting on the western bank began meeting at William Biles’s house. Samuel Darke and Anna Knight appeared at the Falls seeking permission to marry. The Falls inquired of Burlington, but Burlington could not vouch for the clarity for marriage, as they had produced no certificate from England. After some back and forth with no permission coming, Samuel and Anna celebrated their marriage in a “disorderly” manner. One Falls Friend, William Beakes, had to condemn his attendance at the wedding. Beakes claimed he lost his way in the woods on the way to the meeting. (It is not clear how that resulted in his attendance at the wedding.)

The Darke incident was illustrative of the need for certificates, especially as regards the critical issue of marriage suitability. (Prior to easy communication and at a time when divorce was practically impossible, it was not unusual for people to abandon a family, move some distance away, and start over.[14])

Another function that certificates performed for Quakers was controlling the movements of members. Movement control was important economically for the colony. Prosperity depended on trade, and the Quakers had set up a trading network based in part of the use of certificates.

“The insistence upon honesty in business dealings gave Friends an edge in international business. Any Friend who traveled abroad was required to obtain a Certificate of Removal from his monthly meeting certifying that he was a Friend in good standing. The certificates were used to demonstrate that no one was attempting to commit bigamy or otherwise abandoning a family elsewhere, but they were also helpful in the information they provided international business partners. Anyone in good standing with his monthly meeting clearly could not be under a cloud for illicit business dealings or heavy debts, either at home or abroad. A professed Quaker could be trusted in business.”[15]

Controlling members' residence was important for religious reasons as well. Quaker practice depended heavily on the guiding hand of the meeting to overcome human temptation. Not all meetings were identical. The Chester Quarterly Meeting sought to ensure that membership in a meeting was determined by geography, not the relative attractiveness of the meeting.

Wither incident (1685).[16] As early as 1685, the dual nature of church and meeting leadership came under criticism. On 14 September 1685 the Concord minutes noted, “Thomas Usher give an account to ye meeting of Tho Withers abusing ye meeting saying [that] ye monthly meeting are Cheats if yt parsons may be witnesses after matters are refered to ye meeting .. out of ye meeting or at ye [Court].” Joseph Boshall was ordered to tell the charges to Wither, and to have him attend the next meeting. The minute was signed by Robert Pile and Thomas Usher.[17]

At the next meeting Wither appeared and said “that he cheated himself and not yt ye Meeting cheated him.”[17]

Wither’s own account has not been preserved. Most likely what concerned him was an action of debt for wages which had been filed by Joel Bayly against Wither at Court earlier in the month. Apparently the matter had previously been brought before the meeting for arbitration, as was the Quaker practice. Thomas Usher had testified at Court “that at a monthly meeting att Chichester it was there agreed between Joel Bayly and Thomas Wither the said Thomas Wither should pay the wages due to Joel Bayly.” Robert Pyle testified similarly about the statement made at the meeting. Sheriff Jeremiah Collett said Joel Bayly asked him to arbitrate the dispute, and when he asked Wither, Wither said he owed the wages.[18]

At the same court Bayly had sued Wither for assault and battery for beating Bayly up after Bayly had corrected Wither’s maid who had spoken contemptibly about Jeremiah Collett.[19]

The jury returned a verdict for Bayly in both cases. James Brown was a member of both juries.[20] Robert Pyle and Thomas Usher were among the Justices in the cases.

Wither’s complaint to the meeting pointed to a condition which had been created by the system which Penn had envisioned: the merging of prosecutorial, evidence giving, and judicial functions, and the merging of civic and religious procedures.

The concentration of function continued throughout the period. However, the role of the parties could vary greatly. In 1684, Wither, the Sheriff, sued William Taylor for saying Wither abused his servant, and was a Rogue and a Rascal, and if he went to England, he would be killed. Wither obtained a judgment of £40, and a finding that Taylor had broken the 29th law preserving the rights of the magistracy of the province.[21]

Certificates demanded (1687). On 14 November 1687, the Concord Meeting minutes contained the following: “...this meeting orders that all friends belonging to this meeting [shall bring in] their sertificats or verble testimony of friends yt Live hear of [their good Lives and] Conversations in old ingland to the next monthly meeting – & also yt philliph roman doth publish it in Chichester meeting...”[22]

On 12 December 1687, the Minutes noted: “According to the Last Monthly Meeting order most friends hath Complied...”[23] Robert Pyle and George Pearce were among those whose certificates gave satisfaction. Some stragglers (including William Clayton) added their certificates or testimony of Friends at subsequent meetings. There is no record that James Brown ever complied.

This order was not unique to Concord. The Philadelphia Meeting had made it one of their first orders of business. The timing of the order is curious, coming four to five years after the arrival of the original purchasers. There was no corresponding order at the adjacent Chester Monthly meeting. There is nothing in the Concord minutes which directly says why the order was being given.

Smolenski[24] sees the certificates as an attempt to establish credentials as orthodox Quakers. Citing Richard Vann, Smolenski notes that only one in 10 Quakers produced a certificate from England. Most of the other were either born in Pennsylvania, or converted once they got there. Given the lack of experience of “true” Quakerism, the American Friends established their own ways of doing of things, different from the English practice, producing “bastard Quakers.” The Friends who had been adult Quakers in England made a concerted effort to take leadership roles, both in the meeting and in the government.

Robert Pyle (sometimes spelled Pile[25]) and George Pearce were part of this effort. Both are frequently mentioned in the minutes. Both are frequently assigned tasks by the meeting. Both served in the government, Pyle as a justice in the court and member of the provincial assembly. His brother, Nicholas, who had interests in the Concord Mill along with Pearce, served in the assembly. Pearce served in the provincial assembly. The Pyles and Pearce were of minor importance on the provincial level. Their real power laid at the local level, in the Concord meeting, and in the government of Chester County.

Quaker discipline was not for everyone. Situations where some members of a group can boss others can produce members who are what modern law enforcement sometimes calls “badge heavy.” In the Concord Meeting, Robert Pyle was accused of being that sort of person. As we will see later, Pyle was also critical of the Browns.

The soul of Thomas Usher (1690). An interesting series of events was first recorded on 10 February 1690 and continued in the Concord Minutes through August 1690. As of August 1690 there is no resolution to the conflict. No paper of contrition or record of dismissal is recorded. Instead, the minutes go blank except for the names of those in attendance until the time of the Keithian schism.

On 10 February, a paper was attached to the Chichester meeting house. “Awake Awake all you inhabitants of Pennsilvaniah and all which have erred from the grace of God which was given you to proffitt withall least the Lord cutt you off as he hath done in former Ages in ye Wilderness [signed] FH”[26] The focus of the complaint was Robert Pyle, probably the most prominent member of the Concord Meeting. The author was Francis Harrison, a “substantial” Friend, who had served a term as county judge. Harrison claimed that Robert Pyle “destroyed the soul of Thomas Usher” in disciplining Thomas for “calling John Harding and Philip Romon[27] Liers and Carpeing spirits.” Francis also charged that Pyle “swayed the meeting,” a grave accusation in that it denied the members of the meeting had reached unity by listening to the voice from their inner light.[28]

The last entry about the incident has Francis censured, noting that "there is a spirit of Bitterness in Frances Harrison," and the case continued. There is no reference to the case after that.[29] However Harrison’s fate was resolved, the struggle over the soul of Thomas Usher illustrates the intensity of the cleavages extant in the Concord MM. The sources don’t identify factions, if they exist. (When Jacob Chandler, who had earlier been an active member of the Concord Monthly Meeting, left the Quakers in 1698, the minutes refer to his joining the “Separates.”[30]) There is evidence that sides were fluid, and Friends who were allied on one occasion could be opponents in others. And there is evidence that the cleavages continued in one form or another through the eighteenth century.

The Keithian Schism (1691-3 and afterward). Stresses within the Pennsylvania Quaker organization surfaced dramatically during the Keithian schism. Signs of the schism continued to appear for the rest of the seventeenth century. George Keith, a Scottish Quaker,[31] came to Chichester from Philadelphia, where his ideas and preaching had antagonized much of the Quaker establishment.

Keith, by some accounts an erudite but vain and intolerant Quaker, first became concerned because he felt that Pennsylvania Quakers had lost sight of true Christian doctrine regarding the importance of Jesus Christ relative to the Inner Light that many centered their faith around. (There were additional issues some of which today may seem arcane, including the question of a dual resurrection, education of the young, and the fate of unenlightened children after death.) The remedy Keith proposed was a reorganization of Quaker discipline, including two tests required for membership and a new system of elders. His proposal ignored the existing hierarchy of Quaker ministers and monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings, which were generally dominated by the rich and powerful of colonial Pennsylvania who often held dual roles as church leaders and civil magistrates. Later, Keith argued explicitly that no Quaker minister had a right to sit as a civil magistrate.[32]

During the acrimonious struggle, some colonial officials, who were also prominent Quaker ministers, sued Keith and his publisher, William Bradford, for libel. However, rather than silence Keith or end the controversy, the trials further aroused feelings on both sides. Later, a physical confrontation occurred during which the Keithians and their opponents each tore down the others' galleries in the Philadelphia meeting house. For that, the London Quakers rebuked both parties. Ultimately, Keith returned to England where he was disowned by the Quakers in 1695. Some small Keithian groups, sometimes called "Christian Quakers," persisted in Pennsylvania until around 1700 with varying membership, until disputes finally tore them apart.

As with other events of the time, there are differing interpretations of the cause of the schism and the motivations of the various participants. Many agree that, regardless of their religious beliefs, many Keithians were among the lower rungs of colonial Pennsylvania society both socially and economically. (There was also conflict between well-to-do anti-Proprietary colonists and Penn associates, but that discussion is beyond the scope of this analysis.)

The story of James Brown’s Keithian temptation is related in the biography of his brother William which was appended to the Nottingham record of births and deaths in January 1786.[33] [1] James was taken by Keith’s rhetoric, and mentioned it to William. James favored Keith, but William had reservations. William reminded James of the “silent conversations” they had back in England, leading to their experience of the Inner Light. Keith, on his way to Henry Reynolds's house to preach, invited James to follow. William’s words had had an effect, and James did not go.

The Nottingham Minutes biography ends its description of the Browns’ involvement with Keith on this note, but that may not have been the end of the story. Henry Reynolds was James’s brother-in-law, married to Honor’s sister. According to Peden and Launey, Henry was not a Friend.[34] James and Henry and their families continued contact well into the eighteenth century and perhaps beyond. Although Henry stayed in Chichester when James and William moved to Nottingham, Henry bought land in Nottingham. His sons settled there. Three of William's children married Reynolds children (Richard Brown married Hannah Reynolds, Hannah Brown married Henry Reynolds, and Mary Brown married William Reynolds). When some Brown grandchildren moved into Lancaster County, some Reynolds grandchildren were already there.[35]

The Keithians did not keep rosters which have survived, so it is not clear whether Henry was an active participant in the schism, or just a one-time host of a Keith meeting. James was still a Quaker when he died in 1716. James experienced friction with the Quaker leaders throughout the time the schism was occurring. The records don’t record the theological basis of the friction, so we don't know whether it was due to James's Keithian sympathies or not. But the friction was critical to understanding James’s religion, and to the atmosphere in which his son James b. 1681 came of age.

Chester directive (1701). In 1701 the Chester Quarterly Meeting (QM) sent out a directive on the certificates of removal: “This meeting taking into Consideration the moveing of friends from one Months meeting to another in this Government without producing Certificate from the meeting they came from, the ill tendency of wch being taken into Consideration by this meeting do therefore agree that from hence-forth if any friend remove from one monthly meeting to another that they produce a Certificate from the monthly meeting they came last from, to that they next settle in, And that each monthly meeting acquaint the overseers of each first days meeting to take care herein.”[36]

The directive does not spell out the ill tendency which was of concern. One possibility is that the QM, composed of the “substantial” Friends from the monthly meetings, was trying to avoid Friends shopping from meeting to meeting for a disciplinary regime which they liked. Severity of discipline varied greatly from meeting to meeting.[37]

The Chester directive was part of a process begun after the Keithian schism to try to re-establish unity among Friends. In 1695, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting created the post of overseer.[38] In 1699, they created a Preparatory Meeting before the Monthly Meeting. In 1704, they published Rules of Discipline. Smolenski[39] describes the process:

“The [Philadelphia Yearly] Meeting also made other changes [besides publishing devotional literature] in the wake of the schism intended to preserve order. It appointed Quaker ‘overseers’ in each monthly meeting to monitor individual Friends' behavior. It also established ‘preparative meetings,’ in which overseers and other ‘weighty’ friends gathered before each monthly meeting to determine the subjects to be discussed that month. Not satisfied with these institutional changes, Quaker leaders then took steps to outline a general code of conduct for all provincial Friends, appointing fifteen members of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to scan early Quaker writings and compile them into ‘One Paper'. This resulted in the 1704 manuscript, 'Rules of Discipline of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting,' issued to all the monthly meetings under Philadelphia’s purview.”

This central control extended out from the Chester QM to subordinate meetings as well. For example, when the Nottingham Meeting was created in 1706 (the Monthly Meeting was established later, in 1730), Robert Pyle was part of the organizing committee, even though he lived in Bethel, and never bought land in, or moved to, Nottingham.[40] In its early years, the Nottingham meeting for worship met at William Brown's house.

William Brown and John Churchman. The role of overseer probably caused some tension among the Quakers. In 1710, the Nottingham meeting requested William Brown and John Churchman Sr. be replaced as overseers.[41] This was unusual. Most replacements came when the current occupant requested to be relieved of duty. A few years later, William Brown was again made overseer. Apparently John Churchman was not returned to the job.[42]

John’s son John Churchman Jr. later became a reformer who sought and succeeded in imposing a stricter discipline of Friends at the price of a smaller Society. When John Churchman, Jr. was traveling in London in the early 1750s[43], he would sit silently through meetings he visited, assessing the spiritual vitality or morbidity of the meeting. After the meeting it was the custom of a visiting minister to partake of the hospitality of the local Quakers. In his journal Churchman noted he avoided such gatherings, not wanting to be deflected by the warmth of Quaker hospitality from his mission of revitalization.[44]

William Brown, on the other hand, had by request hosted the Nottingham meeting from 1705 until 1709 when the meeting house was built. The records are not sufficient to say John Sr. was replaced because he was too strict, but clearly Friends were concerned about the performance of the persons recommending discipline.

Two cultures. In the contrast between William Brown and John Churchman, Junior one can see the germ of the two Quaker cultures that emerged in the second half of the eighteenth century. The interplay of the two cultures can be seen in a 1696 entry in the minutes. In spite of the poor quality of the images, we may discern that the Chichester Friends (a majority of whom were members of the Clayton extended family) were meeting for worship privately among themselves, rather than attending a formal Quaker meeting. (Cope summarized the page in one sentence: "The meeting concerned for the smallness of first day meetings at Chichester.")[45]

The difference between the Churchmans and William Brown was subtle. Both had a lasting influence on Nottingham Quakers. William Brown’s biography was inscribed in the Meeting Minutes over 50 years after his death. John Churchman, Junior’s memoirs were published, and are still consulted by historians of the Quakers.

After Brown died, Churchman, Junior led the effort to make Quaker discipline more strict. While Brown was alive, Churchman had yet to put his ideas forward. Brown appears to have been beloved, while Churchman appears to have been respected. Churchman had a theological bent. Brown appears to have been more pastoral.

The families were related by marriage. John Churchman, Junior married William Brown’s niece, Margaret. William’s son Mercer married John Junior’s sister Dinah. Whatever differences existed, they did not cause any formal break between the two families.

The Browns and Claytons are disciplined

Clayton confession (1681). William Clayton had been made a judge of the Upland Court, the predecessor of the Chester Court under the Duke of York. The first meeting of Chester MM was 10 January 1682 (recorded as 11th month 1681 Old Style) at the home of Robert Wade. Inscribed at the beginning of the Minute Register, before the first entry, is a nearly illegible entry in which "I Will: Clayton the Elder" confesses that "I did Sin... in Consenting to the marriage of my dautter Prudens to hendry Runolls hee beeing not a faythful Frind."[46] A much more legible copy of the apology was recorded in the minutes of the Burlington monthly meeting.[47][48]

There is no explanation of why the apology was made, or why it was entered in the book. It dealt with a marriage three years before,[8] which was approved by the Burlington meeting "notwithstanding wee whose Names are Under written have not Satisfaction in thair Proseeding itt not being Answerable to Truth yet after some Consideration & in tenderness to the[m] and the family Conserned wee thought good too permitt thair Joyning to gether in Marraige." Someone, it appeared, wanted to require William to clear himself right from the start.

According to Barry Levy[49]: “The religious standing of men in Chester and the Welsh Tract often hinged on rearing good children and providing good marriages for them. Those who could not control their own family had no claim to religious honor or trust...When more than one child married out, even if a father did not cooperate, the parents lost prestige and were often subject to the criticism of the meeting.”

Despite his auspicious start as a judge, and his early purchase of land, William Clayton did not become a leader of the Concord Meeting.

Honor accused (1688). James seems to have been a good Quaker in the early years. In 1685, he donated land for the meeting house. He did not attend every meeting, but until 1688, he avoided trouble. In 1688 things changed when Honor was accused of an improper relationship with John Bradshaw. Robert Pyle made the accusation. Honor refused to admit guilt. The charges against Honor went to the quarterly meeting. A committee of four women, three from Chester and one from the Concord meeting, was appointed to inquire. This was common among the Quakers for issues like sex which were thought to be more appropriate for women. Robert Pyle wrote a note for the meeting that Honor had been found guilty of "only" suffering John Bradshaw to be too familiar. It is interesting that Pyle implied there had been a greater charge.[50] The committee found no scandalous behavior, only a failure to rebuff familiarity. Honor apologized to the quarterly meeting.

Bradshaw may have had a reputation as a womanizer. In 1689 Bradshaw was in court said to have promised marriage, but instead fathered a bastard child.[51] Adultery was the most serious offense in the Quaker disciplinary system. Eighty-seven percent of those found to have committed adultery were dismissed.[52]

James apologizes (1689). Nearly as soon as Honor's problem was resolved, on 9 March 1689 the meeting ordered William Clayton Jr. to require James Brown to appear to answer “to such things as shall be required of him.”

In April James asked to put off the matter, but the meeting found the matter “conserning James Browne into a weighty consideration finding it makes to the dishonour of the blessed truth.” The meeting told Jacob Chandler, John Kingman, Philip Roman, Nathaniel Lamplugh, and Robert Pile to have James come to the next meeting.

At the next meeting James read a paper. It said: “It was required of mee to sattisfie friends concerning a Chaine that my boy found & brought to my house, which was Lost from Peter Sturds Legg which John Wickam borrowed of my boy – This is to Sattisfie you I did aske him what he would give for his Chaine the very day it was found, but did not say I had it but had not othe-- intent but to have something for finding it, But by so doeing it have occationd many Reports to the dishonor of the Truth which I am very sorry for And do Condeme my selfe for it, & for Keeping it so Long”[53]

James was told to read the paper at the Chichester Meeting.

It is hard to comprehend why this process occurred. In June 1688, James had been sued by Henry Jones for £152, which suit resulted in a judgment against James and an order for execution against his property. The suit appears to involve a far more serious dishonor to blessed truth than the chain incident, but there is no mention of it in the minutes, and no discipline or intervention is noted.[54]

Unlawful marriage (1698). On 4 March 1698 Benjamin Engram and Jeane Hendrix were married at James Brown’s home in Chichester. On 8 March 1698, the newlyweds, James and Honor Brown, William and Elizabeth Flower (Chichester neighbors of the Browns), John Childe (the clerk of the Chester County court), the servant maid of James Brown (who is otherwise unnamed), and six other people were indicted for unlawful marriage or being present at an unlawful marriage. The foreperson of the Grand Jury was George Pearce, a “weighty” Quaker and business partner of Robert Pyle’s brother.[55] Quakers were subject to such lawsuits in England, where the Anglican Church had a monopoly on marriage. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Anglicans tried to spread the monopoly through the colonies. Maryland, for example, had changed in 1692 into a colony with an Anglican Established Church. However, no church had been established in Pennsylvania, and most Grand Jurors were Friends.

The documents we have do not explain what happened. There is no record of any further action in the case. Quite possibly the indicted persons were never arraigned, tried, or convicted. This is unlikely to have been related to the Keithian controversy. George Keith had become an Anglican priest by this time. He would not have married someone in a private home. Quakers frequently celebrated marriages at private homes, often that of the bride’s parents. The Concord minutes do not reflect that Benjamin and Jeane asked for or were granted permission by the meeting to marry. Had George Pearce “swayed” the other jurors to consider a marriage unsanctioned by the meeting as illegal? Was this another attempt to merge the apparatus of state and meeting? Whatever the answers to these questions, James and Honor Brown were on the other side of another dispute from “weighty” or “substantial” Friends.


James Brown was a birthright Quaker, but he never became a “substantial” Friend. His brother William had become a “substantial” Friend by the time of James’s death, and went on to become a “Public Friend,” a minister who traveled around the country. Two of James’s grandsons, William Brown (c. 1705-1786) and James Brown (c. 1712-1772; "James the Hatter") also became ministers.

Nottingham. After James and Honor moved to Nottingham in 1702, they were not subject to any more discipline. Of their children, only James b. 1681 married a non-Quaker, and only James b. 1681 was disciplined while James or Honor was alive. On the other hand, neither James nor Honor took a prominent role in Quaker affairs. The Concord Women’s Minutes begin in 1705. We have not found Honor mentioned in them. James was asked to do a visitation on one occasion in 1704, but he is only mentioned after that in connection with the marriages of his children.

James never left the Quakers, but it is hard to be precise about his religious opinions. We have noted some of the cleavages within the Quakers in the tumultuous years of the seventeenth century. Clearly James differed from the leadership of the Concord meeting, but is hard to specify, based on the sources we have, what those differences were. Once James and Honor were in Nottingham, they become less visible. Partly this may be due to regularization of Quaker life represented by overseers, preparatory meetings, and the Book of Discipline. Partly it may be due to the remoteness of Nottingham. Ordinary members like James were not expected to attend the Monthly Meeting in Concord. Overseers attended and reported, but ordinary members only came when they wanted a certificate, permission to marry, or were summoned.

Son James. James b. 1681 came of age during the height of the religious turmoil. He was 11 at the critical juncture in 1692 (the Keithian Schism), and was 17 when his parents were indicted for being at an illegal marriage (in Chichester). There is no evidence as to how James reacted. He was a birthright Quaker, but that did not necessarily mean he was a good or active one. He did not formally become severed from the Friends until 1721. Based on his application for readmission in 1753, James never completely renounced his birthright. Our best guess is that he was ambivalent, as his father appeared to be. There is no way to be sure whether James b. 1681 lived his life by Quaker principles, or not.

One plausible scenario is that James had not moved to Nottingham with his parents in 1702, but, being an adult, had chosen to stay in Chester (a few miles up the river from Chichester; see map).[56] The 1721 Rawle v. Brown lawsuit referred to James as "late of Chester."[57] The Chester MM was less strict than Nottingham, and James could have married a non-Quaker for his first marriage without it becoming a problem that the meeting felt compelled to confront. Then, in 1716, his dying father hoped to reunite the family by leaving James, his first-born son, his Nottingham plantation, and requiring that James help Daniel with his farm, and that James not dispose of his inheritance without the permission of Jeremiah Brown and Mercer Brown.[58] Thus James moved to Nottingham in 1716.

Editor's notes

I will be happy to discuss anything included on this page and make corrections if necessary. I have depended on other researchers for some of the information, in particular a distant Brown cousin who has spent years studying the Browns, the Quakers, and Pennsylvania history. My own role is mainly that of an editor. - Julie Kelts, October 2019

Henry Reynolds

The section below on Henry Reynolds is based on information presented above, on Henry's profile, on some of his children's profiles, and in two G2G threads (What is the meaning of Quaker phrase "not being answerable to truth" and Help with transcription please) as well as input from several researchers. Some comments are taken from private correspondence, with the writers' permission.

Henry Reynolds played a significant role in the Browns' and Claytons' lives. As noted above, Henry married Prudence Clayton. Three of their children married children of William Brown, James Brown's brother. As noted elsewhere, some children of those children (i.e. William's and Henry's grandchildren) moved into Lancaster County, Pennsylvania along with several of James's grandchildren including our own ancestors. ("Our own ancestors" refers to ancestors of the managers of this page.)

Although it is only incidental to the issues discussed on this page, it is worth noting that we do not agree with some information presented on Henry's profile as of April 2020.

The records show that Henry was born a Quaker (in England in 1655), and as a child in England participated in Quaker activities such as the wedding of his sister in 1669 when he was 13 years old. Our questions are: Did he practice the Quaker faith as an adult? Even if not, having been a Quaker, was he still regarded as a Quaker by his friends and family? How should we describe him?

We believe the most reasonable interpretation of all the available evidence is that Henry Reynolds was a birthright Quaker, but not a practicing Quaker as an adult. Whether he was regarded as a Quaker by his friends and associates may depend on whether they viewed Quakership as a family identity, or as a matter of meeting membership.

Quaker meeting records. We have done our best to locate all available Quaker records surviving from Henry's era, which include records from three different meetings as listed below. Impediments to making full use of the records include inconsistent spelling in the original records, poor imaging, poor transcribing, and poor indexing.

Burlington: The earliest American records of Henry are from the Burlington, New Jersey meeting, where his marriage intentions and marriage were recorded in late 1678 and early 1679.
Chester: By 1682 Henry had purchased land across the river from Burlington in Chichester, Pennsylvania.[59] The Chester meeting was formed that year. (It had earlier met as the Upland Meeting, a satellite of Burlington.) The births register of the Chester meeting includes an entry for Henry's and Prudence's first child, Margaret, born in 1680.
Concord: The Concord meeting was created in 1684. Concord minutes include this entry:
"The children of Prudent Rinols of Chichester:
1 Margaret Rinols born the 25th of the first month 1680 [last two digits on following image]
2 Mary Rinols born the fifteenth of the fourth month 1682
3 Frances Rinols born the fifteenth of the Eight month 1684
4 Prudent Rinols born the twentieth of the third month 1687"[60]
Notably, only the mother is listed. Births for several other families are also listed on the page, and all other entries include both father and mother.

Marriage: Henry and Prudence had a Quaker marriage. Twice in 1678 (the second is January 1679 New Style) they declared their marriage intentions to the Burlington meeting. Eight days after the second declaration, they were married. The Quaker record says: "Henry Reynols & Prudence Clayton having Declared their Intentions of Marriage at two generall Meetings & Notwithstanding wee 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 familly Conserned wee thought good too permitt thair Joyning to gether in Marraige... " In other words, according to one researcher, "What is not answerable to truth is the marriage itself, not Henry. We have no way of knowing why this view of the proposed marriage was reached."

One record suggests the reason. In 1870, the Concord Monthly Meeting appointed members to reconstruct a list of early meeting records. Henry's marriage record states: "Henry Reynolds of Chichester, not a member, and Prudence Clayton, dau. of William and Elizabeth Clayton, Sr..."[61]

In 1682, Prudence's father, William Clayton, confessed his sin of allowing his daughter to marry Henry "he being not a faithfull friend." Different interpretations have been offered. We believe it had more to do with William Clayton's personal conflicts with other Quakers than with Henry. Alternatively, another researcher apparently attributes the confession to a dispute between William and Henry. Whichever it was, the action suggests that it was Henry, not Prudence, who caused the marriage to be "not answerable to Truth."

Wife and children. Prudence, like Henry, came from a Quaker family. As is also the case for Henry, Quaker records for her are scarce after their marriage and the birth of their first children (in fact, no contemporaneously recorded records have been found). See the section on reconstructed and unpublished records below.

Children: Of the nine children born to Henry and Prudence who are listed below, seven appear to be documented in Quaker records. Contemporaneously recorded Quaker birth records appear to exist for only the first four children (through 1687), and of those, only the earliest, dated 1680, names Henry as the father.

Margaret, born 1680. No Quaker record found except birth which was noted in the Chester and Concord meeting minutes (the latter indexed by Ancestry as Margaret Vinols).[62][63] Several sources suggest she married a man named Maulder, Molder, or Moulder. She appears in her father's 1720 will, receiving one shilling and listed only by her first name.
Mary, born 1682. Birth listed with those of three siblings in Concord meeting records as noted above and on Hinshaw Concord meeting index card (see below) for Prudence Reynolds.[64] Several sources suggest she married a man named Isaac Sharp or Scharp. Not listed in her father's 1724 will, which left one shilling each to his four daughters.
Francis, born 1684. "Francis’ birth and the births of his six oldest children are recorded in the Quaker records of Concord MM, PA" according to his WikiTree profile, but no source is listed.[65] He is listed (as Frances) in the Concord birth record and on the related Hinshaw index card.[66] Francis's declaration of marriage intention was recorded in the October 1712 minutes of the Concord Monthly Meeting. Francis and some of his children and grandchildren have their own listings in the Hinshaw Index.
Prudence, born 1687. Birth noted in Concord meeting record. Some sources suggest she married Benjamin Moulder. She appears in her father's 1724 will, receiving one shilling and listed only by her first name. A Hinshaw index card (image 633 of 2886), which names her as the daughter of Henry and Prudence (Clayton) Reynolds, states that she married John Dutton in 1733. However, this is an error in the index. The Quaker minutes in which the marriage is recorded are available on-line, and they show that the father of the Prudence who married John Dutton was Francis Reynolds (Henry's son).[67]
Deborah, born 1689. Birth date per History of Chester County, Pennsylvania.[68] She appears in her father's 1724 will, receiving one shilling and listed only by her first name. FamilySearch (profile L1C8-S9S) and some Ancestry trees suggest she married Nathan Smart (born 1690) of New Jersey, but no marriage record is included. (Nathan is Smart-1809 on WikiTree, and his wife Deborah Reynolds is Reynolds-9025. She is not attached to parents, and the only documentation of her profile is Ancestry Family Trees.)
Henry Jr., born 1693. Birth date from History of Chester County.[68] No Quaker birth record found, nor marriage record. Married Hannah Brown, daughter of William Brown (James's brother). Their children's births are recorded in Quaker minutes, as is Henry's death.
John, born 1695. Birth date from History of Chester County.[68] No WikiTree profile. No Quaker records. Was left 210 acres in his father's 1724 will. Appears on Chester County tax lists.
Hannah, born 1697. Birth date from History of Chester County.[68] Married Richard Brown, son of William Brown, as recorded in the Concord Women's minutes. Death recorded in Chester County New Garden minutes.
William, born 1701. (An earlier William may have died as an infant; no WikiTree profile and no Quaker records found for the earlier William; a 1691 birth is included in the History of Chester County.) Birth and death recorded (retrospectively) in Centre MM minutes, Guilford County, North Carolina. Married Mary Brown, daughter of William. Marriage recorded in Chester County New Garden Quaker minutes.

Meeting membership. There is no evidence that Henry ever presented a certificate to a Pennsylvania Quaker meeting, nor participated in meetings as an adult, other than marrying.

We do not know exactly when Henry arrived in the colonies. We know that he attended a wedding in England in 1669, and we know that his own wedding took place in New Jersey in 1679, with intentions being expressed in late 1678. Some derivative sources state he arrived in 1676, and FindAGrave says he came on the Kent, the same ship that Prudence's parents, and presumably Prudence herself, arrived on in 1677, but that is not documented. A date closer to 1676 than 1669 seems likely, because the best evidence suggests Henry arrived as an adult, not accompanied by family members. His father, William Reynolds, had died in England in 1664. (His mother, who had remarried to John Carter, died in England around 1688.)

At the times the Burlington, Chester, and Concord meetings were formed (1678-1684), it was not yet regular practice to require certificates of members, either upon admission to the meeting or for young people wishing to marry. In 1687, the Concord meeting demanded that all current members bring in certificates or testimony of Friends that would verify their "good Lives." The names of those who produced certificates were recorded in the minutes of subsequent meetings. Neither Prudence nor Henry were among those producing certificates or testimony. (Note that 1687 is the date of the last Reynolds child's birth entry in the Concord minutes.)

The Concord Meeting had been formed in 1684 as an offshoot of the Chester Meeting. For at least the first ten years, the Concord/Chichester minutes noted the members who were present at the meeting. Henry never appeared on the list for any month.

Reconstructed and unpublished Quaker records. The evidence from these is contradictory and difficult or impossible to analyze without access to the original sources:

In addition to his six-volume Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, William Wade Hinshaw extracted information from the minutes of 300 Quaker meetings which was recorded on thousands of index cards. He died before he could compile and publish the information, and his widow donated the index cards to Swarthmore College. Ancestry has imaged them and made them available on-line in a collection entitled William Wade Hinshaw's Index to Unpublished Quaker Records, organized alphabetically within each meeting collection. There is an index card for Prudence in the Concord Monthly Meeting collection. As noted above, four of her children's births are listed on her index card.[69] There is no index card for Henry. Notably, Henry's and Prudence's first four children (born from 1680 through 1687) are listed on the index, but the others are not. Other index cards were created for these members of Henry's and Prudence's family: two of their children, Francis and Hannah; five of their grandchildren (four of Francis's children and one of William's); and several great grandchildren (all grandchildren of Francis).[70]

Hinshaw also prepared index cards for the Chester Meeting. The Reynolds section is much briefer, only eight index cards listing five different people. There is a card for Henry, listing his daughter Margaret's 1680 birth.[71] There are four index cards for Henry's grandson Jacob and his second wife. The remaining three cannot be identified.

Some of the Hinshaw index card entries can be traced to Quaker records on-line at Ancestry.com. Unfortunately, not all the index cards include references to the original records, and spelling differences are not always noted. And of course, Hinshaw could not anticipate transcription errors or indexing errors in the Ancestry documents; thus, it can be difficult to find the sources of the Hinshaw entries even when they are on-line, as is illustrated above by the record of the births of Henry's and Prudence's first four children.

As noted above, in 1870, the Concord Monthly Meeting appointed members to reconstruct a list of early meeting records. Henry's marriage record states: "Henry Reynolds of Chichester, not a member, and Prudence Clayton, dau. of William and Elizabeth Clayton, Sr..."

"A list of the first members of the Monthly Meeting of Chichester and Concord (as gleaned from the records...)," indexed under Births and Burials of the Concord Monthly Meeting at Ancestry.com (images 40 through 51 of 79), was reconstructed 200+ years after the fact, as can be seen from the page preceding this listing which shows a date of 1915. Prudence and Henry are both dated 1684.

Other records:

In 1681, Henry was summoned to court for "selling strong Liquors by small measure in his house Contrary, to ye Gov'no's & Councells order."[72] According to the record, Henry "upon his submission to ye Cort, was discharged." We believe "submission" refers to an appearance in court, and that the charges were dismissed. Selling liquor was no doubt extremely common along the waterfront where Henry lived (see our reference above to "Discord Lane"), where the pubs were frequented by sailors and pirates. We mention the incident here for the sake of completeness.

In 1685, Henry was accused of beating a servant to death. He sued one accuser, Justa Anderson, for defamation. James Sanderlaine and William Haukes testified that Anderson told them about the beating. Thomas Persons testified that he saw Henry threaten the maid with fire tongs. William Cornell said that Henry "Beat his maide with a Broome staffe and afterward kicked her." Wooly Rosen[73] testified that Henry struck his maid with a broom staff. Another witness testified about what she had heard, and two witnesses said they saw the maid lying by the fire the night she died. Countering that testimony, Henry's mother-in-law, Prudence Clayton, said that when she laid out the dead body she did not recall seeing "any manner of hurt about her." Henry lost the suit for defamation and was required to pay six pence in damages, but there is no record of him being prosecuted for the beating.[74]

Around 1691-3, George Keith, a dissident Quaker, came to Pennsylvania. Henry hosted a meeting at his home where Keith preached.

In spite of those acts, there is no record of a Quaker meeting ever counseling or disowning Henry. We believe the most logical explanation is that Henry had never joined the Concord meeting.

Around 1702, Henry Reynolds bought two of the newly laid out Nottingham Lots, nos. 5 and 19. He did not move there; his sons did. Henry died in 1724, with no further record having been left regarding his Quaker affiliations. His death is documented by his estate records.[75] There is also a FindAGrave memorial[76], which states that his burial place is unknown. Henry's widow, Prudence, died four years later, likewise with no Quaker death record having been found.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cope, Gilbert. The Browns of Nottingham. West Chester, Pa., 1864 pp. 4-6 image
  2. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Chester Monthly Meeting, Men´s Minutes, 1681-1721 (Ancestry.com, image 5 of 197) image
  3. Smolenski, John. Friends and strangers: the making of a Creole culture in colonial Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, c. 2010, pp. 33-37
  4. A definition and a little more information can be found at WikiTree page "Early Pennsylvania Land Records"
  5. Meldrum, Charlotte D. Early church records of Burlington County, New Jersey. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1994, vol. 1 p. v
  6. Meldrum, Early church records, vol. 1 p. 48
  7. See Editor's note at the end of this page for discussion of Henry Reynolds's life and his significance to this analysis.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The marriage date in the Quaker record is "ye 10th of ye 11th month 1678," Old Style; see U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, New Jersey, Burlington, Burlington Monthly Meeting, Marriage, Births and Deaths 1677-1765 (Ancestry record, image 11 of 143) image transcription
  9. This can be inferred about the Browns from the listing of their son James's 1681 birth in the meeting records: Born March 17, 1681 (Old Style) per U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Chester Monthly Meeting, Births 1677 (Ancestry.com, image 2 of 102): "The 17th Day of the 1st Month – – 1681 James Browne Son of James and Hannah Browne. Was borne then att Marcus hook In the Province of Pensilvania"; it can be inferred about the Claytons from William Clayton's apology entered into the minutes as described elsewhere on this page
  10. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 1 of 457) image
  11. James and William Brown Concord MM attendance 1684-1697
  12. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 6 of 457); deed dated 4 December 1685 from James Brown to Wm. Clayton Sr., Philip Romon, Robert Pyle, Jacob Chandler, John Bushell, and John Kingman for Quakers of Chichester (two acres) image
  13. Butler, Jon. Into Pennsylvania's Spiritual Abyss: The Rise and Fall of the Later Keithians, 1693-1703. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 101, No. 2, 1977, p. 154
  14. See Hartog, Hendrick. Man and wife in America: a history. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. Hartog’s study starts in 1790, but divorce by abandonment existed before that, as attested by frequent entries in the Pennsylvania Gazette.
  15. Schweitzer, Mary M. Custom and contract: household, government, and the economy in colonial Pennsylvania. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, p. 60
  16. Wither is generally referred to as "Withers" in the Quaker meeting records, but "Wither" in the Chester County court records; we will use "Wither" here
  17. 17.0 17.1 U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 5 of 457) image; the edges of the pages were cut off when these minutes were photographed; a more complete transcription was done by Gilbert Cope which we have used to fill in some missing words, but it is not available for use on-line
  18. Record of the courts of Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1681-1697. Colonial Society of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pa.: Patterson & White Company, 1910, [vol. 1] p. 57 image
  19. Record of the Chester Courts, vol. 1 p. 58 image
  20. Record of the Chester Courts, vol. 1 pp. 57-58
  21. Record of the Chester Courts, vol. 1 pp. 41-42 image
  22. This is our transcription, from U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 13 of 457), image with additions from Gilbert Cope in brackets
  23. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 13 of 457) image
  24. Smolenski, Friends and strangers, pp. 174-175
  25. Robert is listed as "Pyle" on WikiTree; we will use "Pyle" on this page except when quoting records that list him as "Pile"; if it is indeed his signature in the September 1685 minutes, and not a clerk's, then apparently he himself spelled the name "Pile" (at least sometimes)
  26. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 25 of 457) image; as with other Concord minutes from this period, we have used a Gilbert Cope transcription to fill in gaps in the record reproduced on Ancestry.com
  27. spelled "Roman" on WikiTree but appears to be "Romon" in many, but not all, of the Quaker records
  28. The Ancestry.com image (image 27 of 457) of the June (4th month) 1690 suffers the usual problem of its edges being cut off and Cope did not transcribe the entire record, but we can see that the minutes report: "...the sense of this meeting is that Frances Harrison [missing words] saying that Robert Pile doth sway the meeting..."
  29. The April and June minutes from images 27 and 28 of the same Ancestry.com series, augmented by Gilbert Cope paraphrased transcriptions, show that Harrison was censured twice, first for charging Pyle with swaying the meeting, and the second time for accusing Pyle of destroying Thomas Usher's soul, because he had acted "by the order & in ye behalf of the meeting" in saying "'Thomas it is the sense of the meeting that thou art justly blameable for calling John Harding & Phillip Romon Liers & Carpeing Spirits"
  30. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes. 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 73 of 457) image
  31. George Keith on Wikipedia
  32. Butler, Pennsylvania's Spiritual Abyss, p. 450
  33. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Nottingham Monthly Meeting, Births and Deaths 1691-1883 (Ancestry.com, image 302 of 558) image
  34. Peden, Henry C., Jr. and Launey, John Pitts. Early church records of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, vol. 2. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1997, p. 247. The page is part of a reconstructed list of early Concord Monthly Meeting records undertaken by the members from 1870 to 1876, as explained by the authors on page 177 of the book. The entry stating Henry was not a member is his marriage record: "Henry Reynolds of Chichester, not a member, and Prudence Clayton, dau. of William and Elizabeth Clayton, Sr., m. 10th of 11th mo, 1678 at Burlington, West Jersey..." See also Editor's notes at the end of this page.
  35. Grandchildren of James Brown who lived in Lancaster County include James Brown (son of James), Joshua Brown (son of Jeremiah), and Jeremiah Brown (son of Daniel). James's daughter Mary Brown Butterfield also lived in Lancaster County. William's grandchildren who lived in Lancaster County include Anne Brown Sidwell (daughter of Thomas). Henry Reynolds Jr. was an early landholder in Little Britain, Lancaster County. At least two of his sons, Henry and Jacob, settled there.
  36. Society of Friends, Chester Quarterly Meeting (Delaware County, Pennsylvania); Cope, Gilbert, 12 May 1701; FHL film no. 432022, item 2, p. 55
  37. Marietta, Jack D. The reformation of American Quakerism, 1748-1783. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, c. 1984, p. 27. Marietta analyzed 10,000 Pennsylvania Quaker disciplinary records dated from 1682 to 1776, and found a wide range of disciplinary practices, ranging from some meetings that disowned most offenders to others that pardoned many more than they disowned. Concord was among the most severe meetings. In addition to differing rates of disownment, meetings also varied in the number of infractions for which they imposed discipline.
  38. In earlier years, “elder” and “overseer” were almost interchangeable terms but later, elders were identified with spiritual concerns while overseers were identified with the more corporeal needs of community including morality and conduct as well as decisions regarding applications for membership and dismissals, according to the Quaker pamphlet "A Handbook for Elders and Overseers" at https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/quakerbooks/59, images 6 and 7. Thanks to Jenny Mortimer for this note.
  39. Smolenski, Friends and strangers, p. 233
  40. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records,1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 128 of 457): "Robert Pyle and George Pearce is appointed to go...to notingham..." image
  41. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 152 of 457): "Friends from Nottingham Meeting Request to this Meeting for John Bales & [cut off] to be overseers in the room of William Brown & John Churchman this Meet [cut off] of it til further orders." image
  42. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 159 of 457): "John Bales & Robt Dutton being Overseers for Nottingham Meeting desire [cut off] their service, this meeting appoints William Brown Senr & James King [cut off]" image
  43. with William Brown (c. 1705-1786, James's grandson and William's great nephew
  44. Marrietta, Jack D., Reformation of American Quakerism, pp. 33-35
  45. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, image 52 of 457) image Unfortunately, the Ancestry microfilm is of poor quality, the clerk's penmanship is not too good, as for other pages of the minutes in this series the edge has been cut off, and it is one of those minutes that Cope elected to summarize. Our transcription is here.
  46. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Chester Monthly Meeting, 1597-1598 (Ancestry.com, image 2 of 84; note that these minutes appear to have been mis-labeled by Ancestry because they are not from 1597-8) image
  47. Launey, John Pitts and Wright, F. Edward. Early church records of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, vol. 1. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1997, p. 75
  48. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 Haverford College; Haverford, Pennsylvania; Minutes, 1678-1737; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes image 32 of 570 transcription
  49. Levy, Barry. Quakers and the American Family. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 141-142
  50. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, images 16 and 17 of 457) image; see our transcription here
  51. Record of the Chester Courts, vol. 1 p. 148 image
  52. Marrietta, Jack D., Reformation of American Quakerism, pp. 6-7
  53. U.S. Quaker Meeting Minutes, 1681-1935, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1683-1756 (Ancestry.com, images 20-21) image; see our transcription here
  54. Record of the Chester Courts, vol. 1 pp. 125-6 image
  55. Lapp, Dorothy and Dunlap, Frances B. Record of the courts of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Colonial Society of Pennsylvania, 1910, vol. 2, page 15: "Wee of the Grand Inquest presents Benjamin Engram & Jeane Hendrix his wife for being unlawfully married at the house of James Brown's of Chichester the 4th of the 1st month 1698. Wee of the Grand Inquest presents John Childe; James Brown; Oner Brown; Ann Huffington; William Flower; Elizabeth Flower; James Miller, Peter Johnson; Morton Cannoet; Thomas Chandler; William Thomas; James Brownes servant maid; these being witnesses to the unlawful marriage of Benjamin Engram's Chichester the ninth of the first month 1698........George Pearce, foreman"
  56. Note that the on-line Chester County tax records do not begin until 1716, so they cannot help us here
  57. Rawle v. Brown transcription
  58. James Brown will
  59. The date can be seen on this map
  60. A seven-image document at Ancestry.com entitled Concord Monthly Meeting, Minutes 1680-1701, within the Delaware County, Pennsylvania collection includes the entry on the third page. To view the image(s), see the second source listed for Margaret Reynolds's birth
  61. Launey, John Pitts and Peden, Henry C., Jr., Early church records of Delaware County Pennsylvania, vol. 2. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1997, p. 247
  62. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Births 1677; Collection: Quaker Meeting Records; Call Number: MR Ph 99: Name: Margeet Renolds Birth Date: 25 Jul 1680 Birth Date on Image: 25 Fifth 1680 Birth Place: Marcus Hook Father: Henry Renolds Mother: Prudence Renolds Event Type: Birth Monthly Meeting: Chester Monthly Meeting Type (Orthodox or Hicksite): Orthodox Yearly Meeting: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Meeting State: Pennsylvania Meeting County: Chester image 2 of 102
  63. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Minutes, 1680-1701; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 124: Name: Margaret Vinols Birth Date: 25 Jan Birth Date on Image: 25 First Birth Place: Delaware, Pennsylvania Father: Prudent Vinols Event Type: Birth Monthly Meeting: Concord Monthly Meeting Yearly Meeting: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Meeting State: Pennsylvania Meeting County: Delaware image
  64. Ancestry.com. U.S., Hinshaw Index to Selected Quaker Records, 1680-1940, Original data: Hinshaw, William Wade. William Wade Hinshaw's Index to Unpublished Quaker Records. Swarthmore, Pennsylvania: Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College: Name: Mary Reynolds Birth Date: 15 Apr 1682 State: Pennsylvania Monthly Meeting: Concord Monthly Meeting image 631 of 2886
  65. His birth is also recorded in a register of births reconstructed in 1885, which date can be learned from "Directions to Recorders" on page 2 of the book, instructing meetings to begin recording the names of members in 1885, and encouraging meetings which wish to do so to begin with an earlier date. Francis's children's births are listed on page 14 of the register, image 16 of 84 at Ancestry.com
  66. Ancestry.com. U.S., Hinshaw Index to Selected Quaker Records, 1680-1940, Original data: Hinshaw, William Wade. William Wade Hinshaw's Index to Unpublished Quaker Records. Swarthmore, Pennsylvania: Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College: Name: Frances Reynolds Birth Date: 15 Aug 1684 State: Pennsylvania Monthly Meeting: Concord Monthly Meeting image 631 of 2886
  67. U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, Concord Monthly Meeting, Births and Marriages 1693-1808 image 101 of 477 at Ancestry.com; the relationship is also correctly stated on another Hinshaw index card, image 613 of 2886 (for Francis)
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 68.3 Futhey, J. Smith and Cope, Gilbert. History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches. Louis H. Everts, Philadelphia, 1881, p. 710
  69. The source is linked to children Mary and Francis above
  70. See analysis
  71. Henry Reynolds in Hinshaw Chester Meeting index
  72. Record of the Chester Courts, vol. 1 p. 58
  73. probably Wolla Rawson
  74. Record of the Chester Courts, vol. 1, pp. 53-4
  75. Ancestry.com, Pennsylvania, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, Chester County, Estate Papers, No 116-261, 1700-1810, will is image 395 of 892 or see free Ancestry image; see preceding images for additional documents. Note that Henry's will is dated 1720, four years before his death.
  76. Find A Grave: Memorial #98922822
  • Gilbert Cope transcriptions of Quaker meeting minutes mentioned several times above are from FamilySearch FHL film no. 432022; it is not on-line but can be viewed at Family History Centers

List of attached documents

Sources consulted for the Keithian Schism section

  • Levy, Barry. Quakers and the American Family. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988
  • Three articles downloadable as a PDF from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/571f06f145bf21e7d87b8867/t/5a8d96cde4966bb779064853/1519228624310/Week+6+-+Quaker+Schisms.pdf:
    • Butler, Jon. "Gospel Order Improved": The Keithian Schism and the Exercise of Quaker Ministerial Authority in Pennsylvania. The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 3, 1974, pp. 431-452
    • Butler, Jon. Into Pennsylvania's Spiritual Abyss: The Rise and Fall of the Later Keithians, 1693-1703. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 101, No. 2, 1977, pp. 151-170
    • Frost, J. William. Unlikely Controversialists: Caleb Pusey and George Keith. Quaker History, Vol. 64, No. 1, Spring 1975, pp. 16-36
  • The Tryals of Peter Boss, George Keith, Thomas Budd, and William Bradford, Quakers for several great misdemeanors (as was pretended by their adversaries) before a court of Quakers at the sessions held at Philadelphia in Pensylvania, the ninth, tenth, and twelfth days of December, 1692 : giving also an account of the most arbitrary procedure of that court. website

See also


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