The Flushing Remonstrance

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: Dec 1657 [unknown]
Surnames/tags: Quakers New Amsterdam
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The goal of this project is to define the historical moment & zeitgeist, identify the persons in the Flushing Court

Right now this project just has one member, me. I am Chas Vigneron.

Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing
to Governor Stuyvesant,
December 27, 1657

Right Honorable

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Wee desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand or fall to his own Master. Wee are bounde by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith. And though for the present we seem to be unsensible for the law and the Law giver, yet when death and the Law assault us, if wee have our advocate to seeke, who shall plead for us in this case of conscience betwixt God and our own souls; the powers of this world can neither attach us, neither excuse us, for if God justifye who can condemn and if God condemn there is none can justifye.

And for those jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are destructive unto Magistracy and Ministerye, that cannot bee, for the Magistrate hath his sword in his hand and the Minister hath the sword in his hand, as witnesse those two great examples, which all Magistrates and Ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom God raised up maintained and defended against all enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore that of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing. And as the Lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an outward liberty in the state, by the law written in his heart designed for the good of all, and can truly judge who is good, who is evil, who is true and who is false, and can pass definitive sentence of life or death against that man which arises up against the fundamental law of the States General; soe he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto life and a savor of death unto death.

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Saviour sayeth it is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour sayeth this is the law and the prophets.

Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.

Written this 27th of December in the year 1657, by mee.

Edward Hart, Clericus

Here are some of the tasks that need to be done. I'll add the text and list of signatories.

  • IF you are descendant of anyone in the room, contact me, edit them in.
  • I've great records and book resources so if you don't find me, I'll probably find them.
  • Who are them?
    • Edward Hart, Clericus;
    • Tobias Feake;
    • The marke of William Noble;
    • William Thorne, Seignior,;
    • The marke of William Thorne, Jr. ;
    • Edward Tarne;
    • John Store;
    • Nathaniel Hefferd;
    • Benjamin Hubbard;
    • The marke of William Pidgion;
    • The marke of George Clere;
    • Elias Doughtie;
    • Antonie Feild;
    • Richard Stocton; (possibly Richard "the emigrant" Stockton)
    • Edward Griffine;
    • John Townesend;
    • Nathaniell Tue;
    • Nicholas Blackford;
    • The marke of Micah Tue;
    • The marke of Philip Ud;
    • Robert Field, senior;
    • Robert Field, junior;
    • Nich Colas Parsell;
    • Michael Milner;
    • Henry Townsend;
    • George Wright;
    • John Foard;
    • Henry Semtell;
    • Edward Hart;
    • John Mastine;
    • Edward Farrington;
    • in the room, Magistrate William Lawrence : Lawrence-695
    • behind the scenes: Governor Pitter Styvensant : Stuyvesant-3

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History of Flushing

Henry Waller, 1899, Public Domain


Flushing's religious experience, thus far, had not been 1656 altogether satisfactory. Since the Rev. Mr. Doughty's forced resignation, the village had been without the regular services of a minister. When, therefore, William Wickendam, a cobbler from Rhode Island — who did not stick to his last — essayed to minister to the religious wants of the people, he was by many kindly received. The Sheriff, William Hallet, offered his house as a place of meeting. Wickendam was not content with exhorting his neighbors and leading them in prayer. He undertook to administer the Sacraments. He "went with the people into the river and dipped them." The Dutch ministers, the Rev. John Megapolensis and the Rev. Samuel Drisius, sent to the classis of Amsterdam an account of Flushing's religious condition: "At Flushing, they heretofore had a Presbyterian preacher who conformed to our Church, but many of them became imbued with divers opinions, and it was with

  • 1 The Rev. Francis Doughty.


them quote homines tot sententiue.** They absented themselves from preaching, nor would they pay the preacher his promised stipend. The said preacher was obliged to leave the place, and to repair to the English Virginias. Now they have been some years without a minister. Last year a fomenter of error came there. He was a cobbler from Rhode Island, in New England, and stated that he was commissioned by Christ. He began to preach at Flushing and then went, with the people, into the river and dipped them. This becoming known here, the Fiscaal proceeded thither and brought him along. He was banished the Province. *2

We have, also, an official account of the trial. It states that William Hallet, born in Dorsetshire, age about forty, "has had the audacity to call and allow to be called conventicles and gatherings at his house, and to permit there in contemptuous disobedience of published, and several times renewed, placats of the Director-General and Council, an exegesis and interpretation of God's Holy Word, as he confesses, the administration and service of the Sacraments by one William Wickendam, while the latter, as he ought to have known, had, neither by ecclesiastical nor secular authority, been called thereto. *3

  • 2 Documentary History of New York, III, 71.
  • 3 Documents XIV, 369.
  • "with many people come many opinions"**


As the result of the trial, Hallet was degraded from office, fined £50 Flemish, and banished from the Province ; Wickendam was fined £100 and banished. When it was discovered that Wickendam was a poor man, with a family, and was a cobbler by trade, "to which he does not properly attend," his fine was remitted. He was, however, ban- ished, and so passes beyond our field of view. Hallet pleaded for mercy. His sentence of banishment was remitted, nd he was allowed to remain in the Province as a private citizen, if he should pay his fine at sight.

In the summer of the following year (Aug. 6, 1657), 1557 the ship Woodhouse brought to New Netherland, several members of the Society of Friends. * Many of them went to Rhode Island, "where all kinds of scum dwell"- said Domine Magapolensis. Some, however, came to Long Island, under the leadership of Robert Hodgson, and settled in Jamaica and Flushing. The Friends of Jamaica and Flushing, for a time, held their meetings in Jamaica, at the house of Henry Townsend. Townsend was arrested, fined £8 Flemish, and ordered to leave the Province within six weeks. A proclamation was issued, imposing a fine of £50 on any one who sheltered a Quaker for one night, one half

  • 4 Fiint's Early Long Island, p. 175
  • Brodhead, New York, p, 636.


of the fine to go to the informer. " Any vessel, bringing Quakers to the Province, was to be confiscated. "^ This cruel law called out the famous and noble remonstrance of Flushing, which was signed by twenty-eight freeholders of Flushing, and two from Jamaica. ^ The Remonstrance said : "Ye have been pleased to send up unto us a certain prohibition, or command, that we should not retaine or entertaine any of those people called Quakers. . . We cannot condemn them. . . neither stretch out our hands against them, to punish, banish or persecute them. . . We are commanded by the Law to do good to all men . . . That which is of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing . . . Our only desire is not to offend one of these little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title he appears, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see any thing of God in any of them, desiring to do unto all men, as we desire that all men should do unto us, which is the true Law both of Church and State . . . Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse or regresse into our town and houses . . . This is according to the Patent and Charter of our

  • 5 Laws of New Netherland.
  • 6 Appendix II.<bk


town . . . which we are not willing to infringe or violate. " This Remonstrance, dated Dec. 27th., was written by Edward Hart, town Clerk, and carried to New Amsterdam, early in January, by Tobias Feake, the Sheriff, who 1658 had succeeded William Hallet in that office. Feake and Hart, together with Edward Farrington and William Noble, Magistrates and signers of the Remonstrance, were arrested and imprisoned. Noble and Farrington humbly craved pardon "for acting so inconsiderately," and, promising to oflfend no more, were pardoned on the tenth of January. About two weeks later, January 23rd. , Hart also weakened and pleaded for mercy. He said : "My humble request is for your mercy, not your judgment : and that you would be pleased to consider my poor estate and condition, and relieve me from my bonds and imprisonment, and I shall endeavor hereafter to walk inoffensively unto your Lordships." He was pardoned, on condition that he paid the costs. On Sheriff Feake, fell the weight of Stuyvesant's wrath. The Sheriff had given lodging to "that heretical and abominable sect called Quakers," and had been foremost in securing signatures to "a seditious and detestable chartabel. " For this he was degraded from office, and sentenced to pay a fine of two hundred guilders, or to be banished.

  • 7 Documents XIV, 402


As the result of this disturbance, an ordinance was passed, March 26th., which stated that for this "seditious and mutinous" remonstrance, the town richly deserved "to be corrected and punished by the annulment of the privileges and exemptions granted ... by patent and by the enlargement thereof." Therefore, "in order to prevent in future the disorder which commonly arises from general town-meetings, or village assemblies," no such meetings should be held, without the consent of the Director-General and the Council. Instead of town-meetings, seven persons should "be chosen and appointed out of the best, most reasonable and most respectable inhabitants, who shall be called Tribunes or Town'smen, to be employed by the Schout and Magistrates as counselors on and about any Town matters." Whatever was decided by the Schout, Magistrates and Tribunes, the inhabitants should obey, "on pain of arbitrary correction." The ordinance further stated, that, "for the want of a good, pious and orthodox minister, . . . the inhabitants had fallen into disregard of Divine worship, and profanation of the Sabbath . . . into heresy and indecent licentiousness." The town was, therefore, ordered, "to look out and inquire for a good, honest and orthodox minister." Each landholder was to be required to apply for a special patent and hence-forth to pay an annual


tax of twelve stivers for each Dutch morgan of land, for the support of the minister — the deficit to be made up, by the Director-General, from the tithes. All persons who were unwilling to submit to these requirements, were ordered to dispose of their goods and, within six weeks, to quit the Province. All others, and all new comers, were to sign a pledge of obedience. *

In the midst of this attempt to stamp out Quakerism, 1660 there came to Flushing a number of French Huguenots, who introduced the industry of horticulture, for which the town has ever since been famous. « 

Among the influential inhabitants of Flushing, at this 1661 period, was John Bowne, who is described as "a plain, strong-minded, English farmer, "i" He was born at Matlock, Derbyshire, England, in 1627. In 1649, he emigrated to Boston. Two years later, he visited Flushing, with his brother-in-law, Edward Farrington. Later, we find him settled in Flushing. Here, in 1656, he married Hannah, daughter of Robert Fields (or Feke, as the name sometimes

  • 8 Laws of New Netherlands p. 338-42.
  • 9 Flint's Early Long Island, p. 183
  • 10 Brodhead's New York, 705
  • 11 Underhill writes to John Winthrop, Jr., April 12,

1656: "Sir, I wase latli at Flushing. Hanna Feke is to be married to verri jentiele young man, of gud abilliti, of a louli fetture, and gud behaflor. "

  • Mass. Hist. Coll. Fourth Series, VII, 183.


appears), and sister to Captain John Underbill's second wife. Bowne's house, built in 1661, still stands on the avenue that bears his name, and presents a quaint and beautiful picture of early Flushing. Bowne's wife was a member of the society of Friends. Meetings at this time were held secretly in the woods. Bowne attended' these meetings with his wife, at first out of curiosity, but he soon became interested, and invited the Quakers to meet at his house. Later, he became a member of the society. The magistrates of Jamaica notified the Director-General, that Bowne's house had become a "conventicle" for the Quakers of all the neighboring villages. Bowne was arrested, fined £25 Flemish, and threatened with banishment. ^- He re- fused to pay the fine. After three months imprisonment, "for the welfare of the community," he was told that he would be transported "in the first ship ready to sail," should he continue obstinate. Bowne remained firm. On

12 An ordinance was passed, in September of this year, ordering, that "beside the Reformed worship and service, no conventicles or meetings shall be kept in this Province, whether it be in houses, barnes, ships, barkes, nor in the woods, nor fields, under forfeiture of fifty guldens, for the first time, for every person present, and twice as much for every person who exhorted or taught, or who shall have lent his house, barn or other place." "Seditious and erroneous books, writings and letters" were to be confiscated, and the importer and distributor of such writings was to be fined 100 guldens.

  • Laws of New Netherlands p. 428


the ninth of January, of the following year, he was sent to Holland, on the Guilded Fox. He stated his case to the Directors of the West India Company, who set him at liberty, and rebuked Stuyvesant. They wrote to the latter : "Although it is our cordial desire that similar and other sectarians may not be found there, yet as the contrary seems to be the fact, we doubt very much whether vigorous proceedings against them ought not to be discontinued ; unless, indeed, you intend to check and destroy your population, which, in the youth of your existence, ought rather to be encouraged by all possible means . . . The conscience of men ought to remain free and unshackled. Let every one remain free, as long as he is modest, moderate, his political conduct irreproachable, and as long as he does not offend othei's or oppose the government. ^^ Bowne returned to Flushing after two years' absence. At this early period, Quaker meeting was held at different houses; viz., those of John Bowne, John Farrington, Hugh Cowperthwaite, Ben- jamin Field and Dr. John Rodman, i3*

It must not be supposed that the Dutch were exceptional in their treatment of the Quakers. The Church of England colony in Virginia had similar laws ; Puritan New England

  • 13 Brodhead's New York /, 705 et sq
  • 14 Onderdonks Friends on Long Island, p. 94.


had worse ones. In Massachusetts, Quakers were not only fined and imprisoned ; they were whipped, their ears were cut off, their tongues were bored with hot irons, and some of them were put to death, i^ Nothing can be said in justification of persecution for religious belief : but, in this cruel treatment of the Quakers, something may be said by way of explanation. The early Quakers were not all the quiet, orderly persons whom we to-day are apt to associate with the name. Many of them were the wildest fanatics. To read, for instance, that certain persons were arrested, fined and imprisoned for "bearing testimony," gives one the impression that the civil authorities were altogether cruel and unreasonable ; but the action of the authorities does not appear so unreasonable, when we know that "to bear testimony" frequently meant that women went through the streets, stark naked, crying: "Woe! Woe!" and called down curses on all who differed with them. If persons, of any name, should, to-day, thus destroy the peace and shock the sense of modesty of any community, they would, without doubt, be punished. The Quakers' disregard of titles and offices, we are inclined to consider a harmless ^idiosyncrasy, but in those days it not infrequently amounted to contempt of court, and open insult to officials. In New England,

  • 15 Eliotts History of New England /, 289 et sg.


Quakers had been guiilty of many excesses, 16 Some of the first Quakers that arrived in New Neatherland, came from New England. The sect, therefore, had a bad name, before any of its members appeared among the Dutch. As stated above, all this is said by way of explanation, and not in justification of religious persecution. The injustice com- mitted was, in punishing a whole sect for the misconduct of some of its members. The more reasonable Quakers, them- selves, condemned the excesses of these fanatics. It is not generally remembered, that it was Charles II who compelled the Puritans to cease persecuting the Quakers. For the excessively religious New Englanders to be taught toleration by such a master, is one of the strange things in history.

  • 16 Elliot's New England IT, 299.



The line of division, between New Netherland and the colonies of New Haven and Connecticut, had, from the beginning, been the subject of much dispute. As early as 1650, a treaty, known as the Hartford treaty, was signed, which gave all of Long Island east of Oyster Bay, and that part of the mainland east of Greenwich Bay, to the "United Colonies of the English," "until a full and final determination be agreed upon in Europe, by the mutual consent of the two states of England and Holland.'" This treaty was ratified by the States General, but not by England. Six years after the treaty had been signed, the English encroached upon Long Island, west of the line that had been agreed upon, and extended their settlements far into West Chester, The inhabitants of Flushing were also troubled by Indians. On April 13, 1662, Messrs. Lawrence, Noble and Hallet were sent to notify the Director-General that the Indians were demanding pay for the land in Flushing. They asked that the Indians' "mouthes may bee stopped and our selves i)reserved from any danger."

  • Documents, XIV, 512.


Advice was finally received from Holland that all hope 1663 of settling the dispute in Europe must be abandoned. 2 Encroachment on the land of West Chester continued. Agents were sent from Connecticut to the English towns on Long Island, to stir up discontent. The Director- General, therefore, went to Boston, with the hope of settling the dispute. Nothing, however, was accomplished. The New Englanders denied that the Dutch had any right to lands in the new world. It was all the King's land: the Dutch were intruders. Stuyvesant was compelled to return empty-handed to New Amsterdam.

In the meantime, the English towns on Long Island became restless. A petition, signed by certain inhabitants of Jamaica, Middleburgh and Hempstead, was sent to Hartford, praying that colony, "to cast over us the scurts of your government and protecktion. ' '

In October, Stuyvesant sent a delegation to Hartford, to make one more attempt to settle the boundary question. In vain an appeal was made to the treaty of 1650 : the Hartford men declared it void. After much debate, the

  • 2 Edward Fisher was Clerk of Flushing during this

year. Richard Cornell was sent to New Amsterdam to make arrangements for the tithes, being authorized to offer 100 schepel of grain — half of pease and half of wheat.

  • Documents XIV, 531.


Hartford deputies announced, as their ultimatum, that West Chester must be given up to Connecticut, and that the English towns on Long Island be allowed to occupy a position of quasi-independence — Connecticut agreeing to exercise no authority over them, if the Dutch would refrain from coercing them.

New disturbances, which arose among the inhabitants of the English towns on Long Island, in November, compelled Stuyvesant to agree to these terms. Anthony Waters, of Hempstead, and John Coe, a "miller of Middleburgh, " with a force of nearly a hundred men, went to Flushing and the other English towns, declared that the country belonged to the King, removed the magistrates, and appointed others. To make the revolution complete, new names were given to several towns. Jamaica (or, as it was then written, Gemego) became Crafford ; Flushing became Newarke ; Newtown (or Middleburgh) became Hastings. Stuyvesant realized that he was powerless, and hastened to accept the terms offered by the Hartford convention. 1664 '

  • 3 O'Callaghan's New Netherland II, 497 et sq.

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