Charles Wetherill

Wetherill, Charles. History of The Religious Society of Friends Called by Some The Free Quakers, in the City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Printed for the Society, 1894, Number 3 of an edition limited to 800 copies, signed by Charles Wetherill.]

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Divers Freemen of the said Commonwealth beg leave to shew:--
That by the laws of the State, religious societies of people are entitled to hold lots of ground for the purposes of erecting thereon houses for worship and school houses, and for burying grounds:--That the people called Quakers, in divers parts of the State, have accordingly possessed themselves of such estates and others: That your petitioners are not only by birth, but some of us are, also, by subscription to the common stock, and by subscription for particular purchases, etc., justly entitled to the common use and possession of the estates so held by the said people:--
That very great numbers of persons have been disowned by the leading men of that society, on various pretences, especially during the present revolution; And omitting very many of those pretences, we beg leave to mention the following, to wit.:
Some have been disowned for affirming allegiance to the State in compliance with the laws;--and their elders and overseers have proposed and insisted on a renunciation of that allegiance, as a condition of re-union with them.
Some for holding offices under the State, and some for holding offices under the United States. Many for bearing arms in defence of our invaded country,  although the laws of the State enjoined and required it of them.
And some have been disowned for having paid the taxes required of them by law!
That many so disowned have been greatly distressed thereby. They felt and acknowledged the duty of public worship, and anxiously desired, for themselves and their families, the benefits which arise out of a performance of that duty. To join with other religious societies would have done violence to their religious principles, and to join with those who had disowned them, was evidently improper: therefore, they agreed to worship, apart from those who had disowned them, in the meeting houses to which they deem themselves justly entitled. For this end decent representations to the several monthly meetings of Philadelphia, and to the yearly meeting, have been made; these have been rejected without a reading. The key of one of the meeting houses not then in use, hath been requested and refused, and the names of the committees by whom these measures have been advised, have been concealed from us, whereby, we have not only been deprived of the use of those houses to which we are entitled, but are prevented even from conferring with those who withhold it from us.
That certain men among those people have assumed and exercised a pretended right to refuse, or to grant as of favour, at their discretion and pleasure, the interment of the dead in the burying ground granted in common to their and our ancestors, of which two contrasted instances are alleged--One man, who died in the service of the United States, was denied the right of burial, "because he had borne arms and been concerned in war." Another man, having no pretension of right, who had been convicted of an attempt to bribe the pilots of the State to conduct the British fleet into our harbour, condemned, hanged, and buried in other ground, was long after taken up, and interred, by their order, among our friends!
That those people thus assume and exercise, not only a power of condemning and publicly censuring men for their obedience to the laws of the land, but, in effect, decree and execute forfeitures against them for such obedience.
That, connected with many of the members of that society by the strongest ties, we have no desire to injure them; and mention those facts for the sole purpose of shewing to this honourable house our true situation.
That, however painful it is to be held up by those people to the world as "Heathen men," and as being "cut off, by the sword of the spirit, from the Church of Christ," confiding in the justice of that cause in which we are engaged, we solemnly appeal for a decision on this point to the Great Arbiter of heaven and earth. And, respecting the said property, considering the case of those so disowned as arising out of a great revolution which the laws have not provided for, and proper for the consideration of the legislature,
We pray this honorable house, in whose justice and wisdom we confide, will grant leave to bring in a bill for recognizing the right of persons disowned by the people called Quakers, to hold in common with others of that society, the meeting houses, school houses, burying grounds, lots of land, and other the estates held by that people as a religious society, and to recognize their right to search, examine, and take copies of the records, books and papers, of the said society, from time to time, for the purpose of ascertaining such estates, proving marriages, ascertaining descents and securing their rights, and other purposes as they may have occasion; and to enable those so disowned to purchase and hold such estates as other religious societies are by law entitled to hold and enjoy.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will pray, etc.

Thos. Crispin, Joseph Govett, Cadl. Dickinson,
Tho. Bryan, Jno. Richardson, Caleb Hewes,
Abr. Shoemaker, Thos. Coats, J. Fisher,
Robt. Jones, Thos. Hopkins, Wm. Fisher, Jr.,
Joseph Ogden, Evan Evans, Abr. Roberts,
Sam'l. Howell, Moses Bartram, John Knight,
Edwd. Heston, Jno. Morris, Nathl. Allen,
James Bartram, Jas. Pearson, John Bell,
John Bartram, Go. Chandler, Saml. Morris,
Jona. Paschall, James Delaplaine, Benj. Paschall,
Henry Hayes, Nathan Gibson, Joseph Stiles,
J. Pearson, Wm. Darragh, Pet. Thomson,
Jos. Pearson, J. Musgrave, Issac Howell,
Sam'l. Smith, Aron Musgrave, Benj. Say,
Matt. Ash, Sam'l. Wetherill, Nathl. Browne,
Jona. Bonsall, White Matlack, Jno. Parrish, Jr.,
Jna. Ash, Edw. Evans, Wm. Milnor,
Jos. Bonsall, Timo. Matlack, Saml. Robbins,
Joshual Bonsall, Ths. Renshaw, Clemt. Biddle,
Josh. Ogden, Jr., Rich'd Somers, David Evans,
Wm. Crispin

[The petition was presented to the legislature on December 21, A.D. 1781, and ordered to lie on the table.]

Next: Appendix 5, "To the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, An Address and Memorial on Behalf of the People Called Quakers."