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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our 9th Great Grandparent Francis Fincher, a Quaker. His Story of Persecution and Immigration (Williamson / Willis Line)

This is a photograph of Shell Cottage in Himbleton, Worcestershire, England, a home of members of the Fincher family from mid 1500's through 1800. The photograph was taken in November 1988 by Buel Rodgers -- his wife Bonnie Fincher Rodgers, a direct descendant of Francis the Quaker, is pictured in front of the thatched cottage.

Hello Williamsons!
Today we learn about our 9th Great Grandparents, Francis and Alice Fincher of Worcester England. Once again we discover that we descend from good Quaker families that suffered for their religious beliefs and came to America for religious freedom.

Relationship Chart

9th Great Grandparents Francis the Elder b. 1599 Himbleton, Worcester England. and Alice Hart b. 1600
Francis Fincher the Immigrant b. 1626 England. and Mary Achelley
John Fincher b. 1679 in Worcestershire England and Martha Taylor b. 1680 England.
Joseph Bennett and Rebecca Fincher b. 1708 PA. and Joseph Bennett of PA.
Phebe Bennett b. 1738 married John Willis
Bennett Willis 1780-1814 and Catherine Nossaman 1782-1842
Jonathan Willis 1807-1889 and Arabella Phelgar 1809-1865
Margaret Ann Willis 1835-1921 and George Matthew Williamson 1834-1928
William Jonathan Williamson and Effie Helen Victor
Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles, Maurice.

Francis Fincher, a Quaker from Worcester, England, arrived at Philadelphia, Pa., 7 mo., 28th day,1683 aboard the ship Bristol Comfort accompanied by his second wife, Mary (Achelley) Fincher, his small children and servants. He was called a glover. He came from Worcester, England, where along with his Quaker friends, he was severely persecuted for his religious beliefs.

In The Collection of the Suffering of the People Called Quakers, by Besse, are several accounts of Francis Fincher's hardships. Under caption 1662, Besse says:

"On the 12th of the month called January, Friends being peaceably met at the House of Robert Smith in Worcester, a marshal with a File of musquetiers (being of those called the Clergy-Band) came, and in an hostile manner forced all the men there met, being eighteen, to go with them. They shewed no Order or Warrant, but guarded them through several streets to their Captain's House, who ordered the Soldiers to carry them to the Marshal's. They were kept about three Days and three Nights, it being the time of a General Sessions there, at which, though they were never called to appear or answer for themselves, an Indictment was found against them, upon the Evidence of but one man, and he an infamous Person, who had been formerly arraigned for Murder, and was afterwards distracted (insane). From the Marshal's they were removed to the Town Gaol and there remained. Their names were ..... Francis Fincher (listed among others)."

After a long account of the trial, this follows:

"In like manner, at the same assizes, John Pike . . . . Francis Fincher (and others) were convicted of being at a meeting and sentenced to pay 5 pounds each, or to be sent to the House of Correction for three months."

Besse tells of another attack on the Quakers in 1670 at Grafton-Flyford coming with a warrant and

"from Francis Fincher was taken all His Goods for a fine of 20 pounds. They said Francis Fincher was taken on his knees in prayer and having heard that he was fined 20 pounds went to Justice Packington at Bowling Green to expostulate the case with him, whether he thought Prayer to God a Breach of the Law. Packington told him he might pray at home, and that he stood convicted on Oath of the informers. Francis, with Christian Boldness, exhorted him to Justice and Equity, which when Sands, the other Justice, who was also at Bowls, heard he threatened Francis, that if he did not hold his tongue, he would send him where he would be loth to go. A short time after, the officers brought three carts to his House and carried away the best of his goods, took possession of the rest, and sold all, and within a few weeks after he was taken from his family (he having a wife and several small children) and committed him to Worcester Gaol where he lay several months."

Again in 1681 Francis Fincher was sent to Worcester Gaol having been taken praying in the street, being kept out of the meeting place by Constables.

Small wonder that Francis Fincher was glad to come to a land where Quakers were welcome. Records show that he was a First Purchaser from William Penn. In May 1682 he had purchased 1,250 acres in the province of Pennsylvania (Samuel Hazard's Annals of Penna. - 1609-1682 - Philadelphia 1850, appendix p. 639; Pennsylvania Archives, Vol. 1, p. 42.)

"First purchasers" were entitled to both land in the country and "liberty" land in the city of Philadelphia. The location of his city land is given in Welsh Settlements of Pennsylvania, by Charles Browning, 1912, p. 438. In describing the early roads of Pennsylvania, it mentions Fincher's land on the Schuylkell River.

"Fincher's land was bounded on the west by a street or road, the one to the ferry, and he also bought land bounded on the south by this road. That is, Fincher had 35 acres on the upper side of Market Street and across the street was the Haverford Friends' Burying Ground."

Francis Fincher only lived one year after coming to America, but during that time he was active in the affairs of Pennsylvania. He was elected a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly from Philadelphia in 1684. At the session of the Assembly held at New Castle, 3rd month, 10, 1684, he was elected Speaker, but declined to serve. The record states

"Francis Fincher, a member of the House, being chosen Speaker by major Votes of the House; he in modest manner was pleased to refuse that Choice, with the humble acknowledgement of his own insufficiency for so great an undertaking." (Pennsylvania Archives, Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives of Province of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1, p. 46). He died three months later, 6 mo., 1684.

In 1953 Evelyn Fincher [co-author of Fincher in the USA, 1683-1900] had a short time in England and visited Chaucer House London, where she saw Dr. Howard Collier's manuscript on the Finchers, and made brief notes. Dr. Collier, a prominent Quaker physician of Worcester, England, has worked on the Finchers there. He said that Francis Fincher was a Worcester skinner and glover who lived in Kingston (Worcester) and belonged to a well-known Puritan family that resided at Shell and Himbleton. At the time that Francis was a widower with small children he was an important man in that part of the County that lies between Pershore and Droctwich and Worcester. He was born 1626 on property called "Tomes" in Himbleton. His mother's name was Alice Hart; father known as Francis the Elder, died in 1649 when Francis, the Quaker, was 23 years old. His first wife was Elizabeth, and that marriage probably took place prior to 1660.

Photos and a Dennis family history from Cousin Diane. Grandma Violet's neice.

Hello All,
Cousin Diane from California sent the following pictures to be included in the blog. She also included corrections to other photographs throughout the blog that she was familiar with. Thank you Diane. The purpose of this blog is to give an accurate history of the family. All corrections are wanted and encouraged.

This is a hand colored picture of Grandma Vesta (Violet's mother) taken when she was 10 or 11 years old. The unsigned writing on the back said: "This was taken when you were about 10 or 12, Myra sent me these two, which were about an inch squareand very dim, had copies made, and then enlarged of course you know who it is Dear."

This photo was taken in the early 1950's. The lady sitting in the occasional chair is Martha Sarah Dennis Turner "Mattie". She was the first child of John Dennis (Violet's grandfather) and Julia Spirlock, born on January 3, 1863. She was therefore Great Grandmother Vesta's half sister. She was visiting her two daughters; Madge and Nancy.

Our Great Great Aunt Martha (Mattie) was Hot Springs, South Dakota's First Bride. Cousin Diane sent the following clipping from he Hot Spring's newspaper celebrating her 96th birthday.
(Click to enlarge and read). This clipping tells the story of our Great Great Grandfather Dennis and the family as they moved throughout the west, finally settling in Cascade, South Dakota. It is a fascinating read.

In this photo (taken in the late 1940's) you have Walter Pierce (Violet's brother), Grandmother Violet and the Josslyn family. Diane remembers running to Vesta (her grandmother) yelling that a strange lady with a suitcase was walking up the drive (a taxi was pulling away) - Vesta dropped what she was doing and ran out to meet her daughter. This was taken in Pomona, CA.

This is a photo of Great Grandmother Vesta with her husband 2nd husband Henry Deaver, taken on their wedding day.

Thanks Diane!