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by Espero
Rated: E · Documentary · Biographical · #2292841
My relatives, Plainfield, New Jersey, Quakers
My seven times Great Grandfather, William Webster, came to America from England or Scotland with other Quakers who were looking to practice their religion without persecution. Thanks to the detailed records kept by the Quakers, my family was able to piece together his history.

This is a portion of William and his family's story. The picture above is a replica of the first meeting house in Plainfield, New Jersey.

In 1695, William arrived in Perth, Amboy, New Jersey. William first shows up in the records when the Town of Woodbridge, New Jersey voted to pay Rev. Samuel Shepard, the town minister, L50 per year or its equivalent in agricultural products. This was at a meeting held October 1, 1695. William stood up and said that he objected to the payment, and he would not pay anything toward the maintenance of said minister. Captain John Bishop stood up and stated he would pay Webster's share as long as he lived. Other Quakers objected to the payment but continued to pay it as long as 1702; perhaps longer.

William married Mary and they had nine children, also well documented. He died in New Jersey in 1715. Some of these nine children and their spouses had conflicts with the British soldiers as I will describe below.

Quakers were against slavery. Sometime after 1750, my four times, first cousin, Erastus D. Webster, had a homestead in Orchard Park, Erie County, New York; right across from Webster Corners. This was used as an underground railroad. The home is presently the site of the American Legion.

In 1756 a draft was made to fill the quota of soldiers needed in the war against France. This was dismissed by The Quakers as quarrels and warfare were against their principals. One of the Webster children was married to a Vail. Stephen Vail's son was drafted. On Feb. 19, Stephen appointed a person in place of his son to go to the frontier and build block houses. The Quakers looked upon this as abetting the war. Several Mendham Quakers were admonished for redeeming their goods from the authorities which had been taken from them for refusing to 'train' with the militia. One of the parties that were sent to admonish them was my cousin, John Webster, along with Abner Hampton, William Morris, and Jacob and Joseph Shotwell.

In 1758, during the French and Indian War, Hugh Webster, 1st cousin, seven times removed, was taken three miles from his home and put before Captain Benjamin Stiles. Captain Stiles demanded that he go into service himself or furnish a substitute. Hugh refused and they took him to a nearby camp, nine miles further. The camp was deserted, and he was abandoned to find his own way home.

On May 24, 1760, Abner Hampton, friend of the Websters, had his team and wagon seized when he was driving home. He was approximately nine miles away. The soldiers were under the command of Colonel Samuel Hunt. They wanted the team for transportation of their baggage, 12 miles away. Abner refused to drive them due to his religion, so they seized the wagon with all its goods and Abner was made to make his way home on foot. On the 27th, a friend, Azariah Durham returned the team to Abner.

Rachel Webster, a third cousin of mine, five times removed, was married to Jonah Vail. George Washington approached a member of the Joseph Vail farm and asked them to take him to a hill, (now known as Washington Rock), where he could observe the enemy camp below.

My seven times, first cousin, Grace Webster Shotwell, and her husband John, were fined a good portion of their household goods for refusing to bear arms.

My five times great aunt, Susanna Webster, was married to Samuel Kester. Samuel refused to take an oath of allegiance and therefore was fined some of his animals.

In 1776 at a Quaker meeting it was asked why the soldiers were camped near their meeting house and who had invited them there. Abner Hampton and John Webster were appointed to go and find out. At the next meeting they reported that the soldiers were indeed camped there but were not causing any trouble or disrupting the meetings.

The Quakers in this vicinity during the first six months of 1977 were taxed the sum of L252 for refusing to bear arms or to pay the war tax.

Marmaduke Hunt was captured when coming home and taken to Morris Town Goal where he was confined in an unappealing room and deprived of necessities; only given one meal in seven days. Liberty was then offered to him on the condition of him taking the affirmation of fidelity to the States which he submitted to. Same thing happened to John Laing, being liberated only on making the affirmation of allegiance.

The Officers took all kinds of things. Chairs, Bibles, shovel-and-tongs, andirons, spoons, kettles, bedding, cows, horses, oxen, hogs, basins, watches, corn, guns, pails, bellows, hay, sheep, tubs, overcoats, etc.

I would never have guessed that my relatives were Quakers but because of the research done by my first cousin, Joanne, I am proud to say I came from such honorable people who were not afraid to stand up for their beliefs. They put themselves in danger for the benefit of others.

If interested in more of the Quaker records, I have put links below in the Author's note.

903 Words
Author's Note
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