It should be remembered that our knowledge of this affair is ex parte and derived from Quaker writers solely. It is much to be regretted that the Governor has left no account of his proceedings in the premises; but that the authorities at Hempstead were in substantial accord with him in this matter appears from their action the next year, (April 18, 1658) , whereby they fined the wives of Joseph Schott and Francis Weeks (one or both were inn-keepers in Hempstead) twenty guilders each for absenting themselves from public worship and going to a Quaker meeting in the woods, contrary to the laws established. They also ordained that no person should entertain or hold converse with that seducing sect, or lodge them in their house, except for one night. Again, on the 15th of February, 1661, the people of Hempstead wrote to Gov. Stuyvesant that, "from the want of a minister, now so long continued, many of their children are yet unbaptized." The Governor sent to them March 12th, a Dutch minister, Samuel Drisius, (who could also preach in English), who preached and baptized forty-one children and an aged woman. The Governor improved the occasion to urge them ro procure an able and orthodox minister, which they soon after did, in the person of Rev. Jonah Fordham. These proceedings show that a sort of union of Church and State was acquiesced in by the settlers. The Governor favored the Presbyterians as being more in accord with the Synod of Dort; but looked with suspicion on the Independents.
We have already stated that Mr. Denton was the minister of Hempstead when Hodgson, the first Quaker preacher, arrived there. He either died or removed about 1659, and his successor was the Rev. Jonah Fordham. In 1674 there was no minister; and Thomas Champion, William Jecocks, James Pine, Simon Searing, Jeremy Wood, Richard Gildersleeve, Sr. and Jr., in behalf of some others petition Gov. Andros to instal such authority in the town as to uphold and maintain the ministry among them, that God's honor may be rpomoted and his Sabbaths observed. From this it would seem that a constant stream of Quaker preachers had followed in the wake of Hodgson, and that their denunciation of 'hireling priests' had had its effect on the people.
In 1679 Justice Gildersleeve, in obedience to an order from Gov. Andros, informed him that Capt. John Seaman, although forewarned, had entertained a very great Quaker meeting at his house, the last Lord's Day.
In 1682 several town meetings were held to settle a minister, but the Quaker influence made itself felt. By a major vote, however the town at last called Rev. Jeremiah Hobart, at a salary of 70£, in corn or cattle. He was allowed a home lot of 3 or 4 acres, 50 acres of woodland, the parsonage land and meadows, and use of the commons for grazing. A house was also to be built for him, and firewood brought to his door at free cost. Nathaniel Pearsall, blacksmith, who was town clerk, and a Quaker, disowned these acts. John Jackson, Robert Jackson, Joseph Baldwin and George Pearsall, also protested against carting the firewood.
In 1687 Henry Willis, a Quaker, complained that Richard Minthorn, constable, and Richard Gildersleeve, collector, had taken a cow from him for not paying toward building the priest's dwelling-house at Hempstead; and within the same year Sanuel Emery, constable, and francis Chapell, collector, had taken from him eight sheep for priest's wages. Edmond Titus also had five cattle distrained for the same purpose.
In 1692 Mr. Hobart, finding his salary in arrears for over eight years past, and his people either lukewarm or distracted by Quaker preachers, left Hempstead for Jamaica. The Presbyterian Chruch had probably very irregular preaching for some years, and the Quakers had the field mostly to themselves. In 1695 we find the Dissenting Vestry of Trinity Church, New York; but as no Presbyterian or Independent could accept such situation, he qualified himself for it by going over sea and receiving ordination at the hands of the Bishop of London. For years there was no settled minister. It was under such circumstances that one Roger Gill, a Quaker preacher from England, in traveling through this country with Thomas Story, brought up at Hempstead. We give the journal in his own homely language. It has never before been printed:-
"1699, June 24th.-We arrived at N.Y. from Elizabeth Town in a sloop. In the evening had a meeting. It was small , and things very hard. Lodged at John Rodman's. Next day we went down the Sound in a sloop of John Rodman's to Flushing, another Friend's boat with us being accompanied with divers good Friends who had come to the meeting at N.Y. and went with us. We lodged that night at Thomas Stevenson's. Next morning we crossed the Sound to Westchester. * * *
"From Horse Neck we crossed the Sound to L.I. in two canoes tied together, (Aug. 25, 1699), both we and, our horses, about the 9th hour at night. Some Friends, hearing of our coming, came to meet us. We lodged at Samuel Bound's. So Friends, received us very joyfully, and were glad that we were come; for on this day (Aug. 26) began their Quarterly Meeting at Westbury, and was to be held at the house of -------. So to this meeting we went, and a large meeting it was; for at it we were expected, but we knew not of it until we came to the Island. A good meeting it was. I lodged at Edmond Titus's.
"Aug. 27.- This day we had a far more larger meetin. to it cam abundance of people, and some of those called Ranters; but the Lord's power chained them down, so that they made no disturbance, and a glorious meeting it was; and so ended this meeting, held for two days. We lodged this night also at Edmond Titus's. We met in a field.
"This day *Aug. 28) a meeting was appointed at Tinecock for a marriage that was there solemnized. A large meeting it was and to it also came several of the Ranters; but in the meeting time they were all pretty civil, except one that stood without and gave a great hallo, being possessed with an evil spirit, roaring like a bear, which caused some lightness. I being standing up a speaking, the zeal of the Lord sprang in me, and the power of the Lord fell upon me, and judgment from the Spirit of God went out against them. It was with me to compare these Ranters to the mad folk in Bedlam. I also showed the people what Bedlam was, and what frenzies the mad folks raised there.
As to these people's practices, they are lewd and lascivious, who would fain be called by the name of 'New Quakers,' and in their pretences cry out: 'Liberty to the seed of God, as in the beginning,' whilst in reality their desires are neither to come under the censure of the Spirit of truth, that would reprove them for their frenzies, nor the punishment of any just laws that would lay hold on them for their offences; but liberty to commit sin without control is what they only want. So too, their manner of worship is this: when they meet, some fall a singing, some a dancing, some shouting and howling, some jumping straight upward, some smoking tobacco, others talking, some preaching others praying, and all this is performed together, by which it doth plainly appear that the seed of the devil hath as much liberty in them as in the beginning, and more than it ought to have. However, the Lord's power that day kept them under in the meeting, and it ended in a divine sense of the Lord's presence. But after the meeting was ended, some Friends spoke a few words to them that set them a madding, for which I was grieved, and said to the friends: 'Words do but provoke them because their life is in them; nothing but God's blessed power can put them to silence.' So then we withdrew into a little room, the meeting being ended; and when these Ranters had sung, danced, hallowed a little, away they departed. So then after meeting we went to Jericho and lodged at the Widow Willis's.
"This day from Jericho we went to Jerusalem, and had a meeting there, peaceable and pretty large. So away to Hempstead we went, and lodged at Nathaniel Pearsall's. This day (Aug. 30th) we had a meeting at Hempstead, and at it were several of the town's people, together with their priest, unknown to us. So the meeting being settled, up I stood, and out come the priest's pen and pocket-book. Not thinking it was the priest, I began with the 1st of the Hebrews and the 1st verse: 'God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the Fathers by the prophets, hath in these days spoken unto us by his Son,' and so went on, admonishing all to hear the Son and to know God to be their teacher, and not to heap to themselves teachers who at best I compared to a journeyman shoemaker, who, when he had served his time, went about to seek a course of work; if he can hear of a seat that is open, he asketh the master if he hath any any occasion for a man. So upon trial he gives him a pair of two to do, and if his work passes-that is to say, is good work-his master is apt to tell him he may have a winter seat; but if not, off he turns him, and away he goes to seek another master. 'But,' said I, 'the priests of New England swarm rather like catterpillars than journeymen shoemakers. See,' said I, 'how it utns parallel. When a priest has served his time in the college, he listeneth with both ears to hear of a vacancy in a parish. Away he goes and tells the people he will preach them so many sermons upon liking, and if his craft passes, they hire him not by the pair but by so much by the year; but if not, they give him something for what he hath done, and away he goes to another township.' But before I had spoken all this, though much more opened upon me, up puts his pen, ink and paper, being more wiser than to write his condemnation, it being more than he could bear to have it read to him. So up he gets, and away he goes; but before he wnet, whilst I was speaking, one of my hearers said: 'We are now about to hire a preacher; I would we could light of a good one.' So the meeting ended, and was a peaceable, good meeting. Then came some Friends to me and said: 'That was the priest that was writing.' I answered; 'I knew it not.' 'But,' said he,' thou hast preached him the unhappiest sermon imaginable, for he is newly come into the parish, and is to preach them five sermons upon liking, three of them being past. Some of the people were at a stand whether they should hire him or no.' Thus the Lord is throwing down their bulwarks and laying their inheritance waste, and redering to them the fruit of their own doings.
"From thence to Flushing, (5th Day), to Samuel Bown's. This day we had a meeting at Flushing. A good, and large and lively meeting it was.
"This day (6th Day) to a town called Jamaica, (Sept. 1). We came and had a meeting there, in an orchard. The Lord's power was there. After this meeting I parted with my friends Samuel Jennings and Thomas Story; and John Rodman and I to New York."
Shortly after this our friend Roger, in travelling toward Philadelphia, caught disease there prevalent, and soon died thereof.
TO CONINTUE..Part III
BACK-NASSAU COUNTY HISTORY