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 Quakers/Friends of Society
 

1656 - In this year, began, what is generally and properly termed, the persecution of the Quakers. A fine of ten pounds was inflicted on any person, who harbored a Quaker. In October of this year, eleven of the sect, received sentence of banishment; and the master of the ship, which brought them from England, was required to bind himself with sureties to the amount of 500 l. to carry them all out of the country. (See Hutch. Vol. .I p.97)

 Mr. Hutchinson observes, that "he could not find what law they had for this." In this month also, an act passed imposing a fine of 100 l. upon any master of a vessel, who should bring a Quaker into the colony, and that if a Quaker should arrive, he should be immediately sent to the house of correction, receive twenty stripes, and be confined to hard labor until he could be transported.

At the next session, an act passed, by which all persons were liable to a fine of forty shillings for harboring a Quaker one hour. After the first conviction under this act, the offender, if a man, was to lose one ear, and upon the third conviction, the other; if a woman, she was for each offense to be whipped, and upon the fourth conviction, the offender, whether man or woman was to have the tongue bored through with a hot iron.

In May, 1658, a penalty was inflicted upon every person, who should attend a Quaker meeting. Under this act, a child only eleven years old, by the name of Patience Scott, was tried and imprisoned. The imprisonment of such a child was as strange as any further severity would have been horrible.


1660 - Two Quakers, by the names of William Robertson and Marmaduke Stevenson, were executed on the 27th of October. Several persons were fined to the amount of 10 l. for entertaining Quakers at their houses, and one man, of the name of Wharton, for piloting them from one port to another, was ordered to receive twenty stripes.

Several others were executed, banished or whipped. Bishop says, "they cut off the ears of Holden, Capeland, and Rouse in prison, and that others were whipped and banished upon pain of death." In this inquisitorial persecution, the clergy were the most active.*

The sufferings of the victims excited the compassion of the people, many of whom resorted to the prisons by day and night, so that the keepers were forced to establish a constant guard to restrain them. Wendlock Christopherson among others was sentenced to die. This man implored the court to consider, whether they gained anything by the persecution.

For the last man, said he, that was put to death, five rose up in his stead; and although you have power to take my life, God can inspire the same principles into ten more of his servants and send them among you, that you may have torment upon torment. This man was executed June 13th, 1660. Some of his persecuted companions were tried at Hampton. May those unhappy days never return, when men suppose they are doing God service by sporting with the lives of his children.

*The pillory served George Fox for his pulpit. From this he harangued the populace. Inflamed by his eloquence, they raised a mob and released him, and set in the same pillory a certain clergyman, who had been instrumental in imprisonment of Fox.

 

Source: The Gazetteer of the State of New Hampshire  by Eliphalet Merrill & Phinehas Merrill, Esq.

     

 

 

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