Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our 12th Great Uncles and the Quaker Missionaries

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
A sad tale tonight about the persecution of Quaker missionaries by our Roberts Great Uncles. It begins with our 11th Great Grandparents, Gov. Thomas Roberts and our grandmother Rebecca Hilton.

Thomas Roberts was born in England about 1600. The Rev. Dr. Everett S. Stackpole wrote that Thomas Roberts was apprenticed to a fishmonger of London, as "son of John Roberts, of Woolaston, Co. Worcester 29 April 1622, and probably came to America as an apprentice to Edward Hilton, and lived within a stone's throw of Hilton's house, on Hilton Point. He was not married at the time of coming over, but probably was married in 1627 to Rebecca Hilton.

We begin our story with the Relationship Chart.

Relationship Chart

11th Great Grandparents Gov. Thomas Roberts married Rebecca Hilton
William Roberts married Elizabeth Daniels
John Harmon Sr. married Sarah Roberts
Samual Harmon married Mercy Simpson
John Harmon b. 1716 and Mary Hasty b. 1721
Martha Harmon b. 1740 and William Williams B. 1740 Prince George Maryland.
Nancy Ann Williams and William Cantwell
Martha Cantwell and Jacob George
Frances George and Henry Fiddler
Eldora Elizabeth Fiddler Edwin Sherman Pierce
Walter Edwin Pierce and Vesta Althea Dennis
Violet Mae Pierce and Walter Albert Mattson
Luella Mae Mattson and Charles Ray Williamson

In 1640 Thomas Roberts succeeded Capt John Underhill as the fourth Governor of the Dover colony. Roberts served until the Massachusetts Bay colony achieved its ambition of annexing, in 1642, the Piscataqua River settlements, Dover, Strawberry Bank and Exeter, also Hampton, and making them a part of Norfolk County.

Thomas had a leading part in the formation and establishment, in 1640, of “The Dover Combination,” an improved scheme of local self-government. He was one of 21 of the 42 signers of the Combination agreement in 1641, a protest against annexation to Massachusetts.

Thomas was not an orthodox Puritan. He thinking was more liberal, which led him 20 years later to embrace the teachings of the Quaker missionaries, who had come here early in the 1660s, and obtained a following from among the orthodox Church people. The Quaker missionaries were driven out of Dover in mid-Winter under harrowing conditions in accordance with Massachusetts laws against Quakers.

While Thomas sympathized with the missionaries and was fined by being deprived of his cow for attending their meetings and staying away from public worship, his two sons, our 12 Great Uncles John and Thomas, both constables, zealously executed their appointed part of Massachusetts’ order expelling the missionaries from its jurisdiction and participated in their whipping.

The Fate of The Quakers

The three female Quaker missionaries, Anne Coleman, Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose, were led out of Dover Dec 22, 1662, with ropes to the tail of an ox cart. According to the warrant issued by Maj Richard Walderne, the women were stripped to their waists and whipped on their naked backs “not exceeding 10 stripes apiece” as they passed from one town’s jurisdiction to another.

This process of expulsion was repeated until the Merrimack River was reached at Salisbury, where Maj Pike in pity forbade further whipping and arranged with Dr Walter Barefoot of Dover, a sympathizer , who had accompanied them all the way, to take charge of them and get them out of Massachusetts’ jurisdiction. The doctor took them in a boat to Kittery, Me, and to the home of another sympathizer, Maj. Nicholas Shapleigh.

Recuperating there from their ordeal, these missionary women returned to Dover and resumed their preaching. They were not again driven from town, but constable Roberts, who, a contemporary Quaker writer declared had administered to the women 11 strips for good measure instead of 10, undertook a project of some of the more illiberal members of the community, that of taking the missionaries down river and out of Dover bound in an Indian dugout.

According to the Quaker narrative, the women were taken from a house and were dragged through the deep snow to the river, Alice Ambrose was plunged into the icy water and made to swim beside the boat to escape drowning. A sudden storm rising prevented this attempt to rid the community of the women from succeeding.

Quakers eventually became numerous in Dover and established a church and the Roberts family down through the generations have been divided between the Quaker and Orthodox faiths.

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