“Some Scraps of New England History” The American Sentinel 7, 38, pp. 300, 301.


THE last article closed with the statement that the laws against the Quakers were not allowed to become a dead letter but were enforced in the regular Puritan way. Just what that way was will appear from the following order issued in 1657 by Governor Endicott:—

To the marshall general of his deputy: You are to take with you the executioner, and repair to the house of correction, and there see him cut of the right ears of John Copeland, Christopher Holder, and John Rouse, Quakers, in execution of the sentence of the court of assistants for the breach of the law instituted, “Quakers.”

In the latter of the same year the following order was issued by the court:—

Whereas Daniel Southwick and Provided Southwick, son and daughter of Lawrence Southwick, absenting themselves from the public ordinances, have been fined by the courts of Salem and Ipswich, pretending they have no assistance, and resolving not to work, the court, upon perusal of the law, which was made upon account of the dates, in answer to what should be done for the satisfaction of the fines, resolves that the treasurers of the several counties are and shall be fully empowered to sell said persons to any of the English nation, at Virginia or Barbadoes, to answer the said fines.

With this latter sentence there is connected an important series of events. As stated in this order, these two persons were son and daughter of Lawrence Southwick. Lawrence Southwick and his wife Cassandra, were an aged couple who had been members of the Salem church until about the close of 1656. They had three children, Joseph, who was a man grown, and the two mentioned above, who were but mere youth. The old gentleman and his wife were arrested at the beginning of the year 1657, upon a charge of harboring Quakers. The old gentleman was released, but as a Quaker tract was found upon his wife, she was imprisoned seven weeks and fined forty shillings. If they were not Quakers before, this made them such, and likewise some of their friends. A number of them now withdrew from the Salem church, and worshiped by themselves. All were arrested. Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick and their son Joseph, were taken to Boston to be dealt with. Upon their arrival there, February 3, without even the form of a trial they were whipped and imprisoned eleven days, the weather being extremely cold. In addition to this, they were fined four pounds and thirteen shillings, for six weeks’ absence from church on Sun days, and their cattle were seized and sold to pay this fine.

The following summer two Quakers, William Leddra and William Brend, went to Salem. They with five others, among whom were the Southwicks who before had suffered, were arrested for meeting together. They were all taken to Boston, and put all together in a room in the prison, of which the windows were boarded up close. Food was denied them unless they would work to pay for it. “To work when wrongfully confined, was against the Quaker’s conscience.” They therefore went five days without anything to eat. This, however, was only a part of their sufferings, for on the second day of their imprisonment, they all were severely whipped, and then with raw wounds were thrown back into the close dark room, in the July heat, with nothing to lie upon but the bare boards. On the second day afterwards they were informed that they could go if they would pay the constables and jail fees. They refused to pay anything. The next day the jailer, in order to force them to yield, took Brend, and with irons bound his neck and heels together, and kept him that way for sixteen hours, from five o’clock in the morning till me nine o’clock at night.

The next day Brend was put to the mill and ordered to work. He could not have worked if he would, as he could scarcely move; but he would not have worked if he could and so he refused. Then in a rage “the gaoler took a pitched rope, about an inch thick, and gave him twenty blows over his back and arms with; all his strength, till the rope untwisted; then he fetched another rope, thicker and stronger, and told Brend that he would cause him to bow to the law of the country, and make him work. Brend thought this in the highest degree unreasonable, since he had committed no evil, and was wholly unable to work, having been kept five days without eating, and whipped also, and now thus unmercifully beaten. Yet in the morning the gaoler relented not, but began to beat again with his pitched rope on the poor man’s bruised body, and foaming at the mouth like a madman, with violence laid four score and seventeen more blows upon him, as other prisoners, who beheld this cruelty with grief and passion reported. And if his strength and his rope had not failed him, he would have laid on more. He thought also to give him the next morning as many blows more …. To what condition these blows must have brought the body of Brend, who had nothing on but a serge cossack over-shirt, may easily be conceived. His back and arms were bruised and bleeding, and the blood hanging, as it were, in bags under his arms, and so into one was his flesh beaten that the sign of a particular blow could not be seen. His body being thus cruelly tortured, he lay down upon the boards so extremely weakened that the natural parts decaying, and his strength failing, his body turned cold; there seemed, as it were, a struggle between life and death; his senses were stopped, and he had for some time neither seeing, feeling, nor hearing; till at length a divine power prevailing, life broke through death, and the breath of the Lord was breathed in his nostrils.”

The people now, horrified at the outrage, would bear no more. A cry was raised, they rushed to the jail, and rescued the tortured prisoner. This rather frightened the government. Endicott sent his own family doctor to succor Brend, but the surgeon pronounced the case hopeless—that the flesh would “rot from off his bones,” and he must die. The cry of [301] the people grew louder, and their indignation more fierce. They demanded that the barbarous jailer should be brought to justice. The magistrate posted up on the church door a promise that he should be brought to trial, but here the “Rev.” John Norton stepped forth, declaring: “Brend endeavored to beat our gospel ordinances black and blue; if he then be beaten black and blue, it is but just upon him and I will appear in his behalf that did so.” He rebuked the magistrates for their faintness of heart, and commanded them to take down the notice from the church door. They obeyed, and the cruel jailer was not only justified, but was commanded to whip the Quakers who were yet in prison “twice a week if they refused to work, and the first time to add five stripes to the former ten, and each time to add three to them.”

The other prisoners now presented a petition to the court praying to be released. Their petition was dated, “From the House of Bondage in Boston, wherein we are made captives by the wills of men, although made free by the Son (John 8:36), in which we quietly rest, this sixteenth of the fifth month, 1658.” They were brought into court for examination. They made so strong a defense that there appeared some prospect of their acquittal; but the preachers rallied in force. The “Rev.” Charles Chauncy, in “the Thursday lecture,” preached as follows:—

Suppose you should catch six wolves in trap [there were six Salem Quakers], … and ye cannot prove that they killed either sheep or lambs: and now ye have them, they will neither bark nor bite; yet they have the plain marks of wolves. Now I leave it to your consideration whether ye will let them go alive; yea or nay?

By their diligence the preachers not only prevented any acquittal, but succeeded in forcing through the law of 1658, inflicting capital punishment upon all the Quakers who remained, or returned after sentence of banishment. [304]

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