Monday, July 11, 2011



Chester County today
Contrary to what I’ve so far written, not all Quakers were necessarily holier than thou.

In the early 1680’s when Quaker William Penn established his first settlement on the Delaware he set it up with all the accoutrements of an Olde English Town ...a governing body, resident sheriff, meeting house, jail, a pair of stocks and a whipping post.

Obviously he thought there might be a few bad eggs amongst his flock deserving at some time or other of a jolly good flogging.

And he was right, human nature being as similar back then as it is today there was bound to be those whose path bordered on the criminal.



The Whipping Post may have been initially designed as a deterrent, but it seemed while some offenders received the full wrath of the Court, others got away with blue murder...

One poor unfortunate, Abraham Effingall was lawfully convicted for abusing  and menacing the ‘Majestracy of this County’ and was ordered twenty one lashes at the ‘Publicke Whipping Post on his bear backe, well laid on, and 14 dayes imprisonment at hard labour in ye House of Correction.’

Another soul viewing this punishment with horror was ‘Lawrence Carolus (who) by ye ingagemt of Ja. Saundilands was to appeare at this Cort, but was called three tymes and appeared not.’

I don’t blame him, nor would I.


However when indentured servant Margaret Person complained that her Master, John Colbert ‘ill used and beat her Contrary to Law’, the Court merely ordered that someone else should take her off his hands by paying the seven pounds the servant girl had already cost him.  Colbert himself got off scot free.

It was left to two judiciaries of the Court to find a (new) master for the servant, one willing to cough up the seven pounds. It took a while, but another settler, Walter Faucett stepped forward with the cash and Margaret and her cruel boss were finally whipping for him.




While the sanctity of marriage was sacred to Quakers as depicted in this silhouette image of distant kin Hannah Thornbrough and Abraham Woodward, a devoted couple who lived in the 1700’s, there were a few others incurring marital hiccups along the way.

On one such occasion the law came uncomfortably close to family when William the Immigrant’s brother, James Brown stirred the interest of the Court in the days of Penn’s early settlement.

 It happened in a Case regarding one Benjamin Ingram and Jane Hendrix who were charged with being ‘unlawfully married in the house of James Brown of Chichester’ in January of 1698.

The charge was brought before the Jury with my many times great-great Uncle James and his wife Honour, together with eight others including their servant maid being called before the Chester Court as witnesses to the unlawful marriage.

That must have been a bit embarrassing for James Brown, not only was his wife’s father William Clayton, a respected Justice of the Peace,  James himself was an appointed Sheriff.


Earlier, in December of 1697, when Edward Bezer and Jeane Collett set up house together they neglected to make it official and were duly presented to Court for being unlawfully married.  In his petition Bezer declared it (happened) through his ignorance.  The Court pondered on this  plea and then ordered that he pay the charges of the court and make his address to the Governor.

I can only imagine address should have read redress, as in ‘very sorry my lord, won’t let it happen again my lord.’


Another intending groom must have had second thoughts about the costly process of a legal marriage. In 1684 Joseph Cookson was presented at Court for taking a wife ‘contrary to the good and wholesome laws of this Province’.

Accordingly he was ordered to ‘find security (as a commitment) for ten pounds.’  But he must have weighed the attributes of his wife to be against the excessive injury to his pocket and as the Court was later advised...’he appears not to have been further troubled about the matter.’



In small communities it’s only a matter of time before close relationships are formed. Henry Reynolds, the tavern keeper, for instance became James Brown’s brother-in-law when Henry married Prudence Clayton, and James married Honour Clayton.

Honour’s father William Clayton was the most prominent member of the Chester Meeting, having receiving due commission before his departure from England, and together with the famous Daniel Francis Pastorius, was one of Pennsylvania’s first two Judges.

Following his arrival in Marcus Hooke,  Henry Reynolds became a publican and proprietor of a tavern  where he sold liquor with, and sometimes without license. (The problems with the ready availability of strong liquors was growing and eventually the Governor of the Colony will impose restraints on the sale of strong drink such as rum to ‘ye Indians.’)

Already Reynolds has been found guilty of illegal dealings in regard to liquor and has established a reputation  for a quick temper as no doubt subsequent courts were well aware of...

In 1685 for instance, Reynolds sued one Justa Anderson for scandalous and defamatory words when he reported that Reynolds had beaten his servant girl and the next day she died.

Appearing for Reynolds, the plaintiff, were among others his brother in law James Brown.

Evidence was given that Justa Anderson had seen Reynolds ‘kick and beate his maide’, an indentured servant,  and that he saw her alive no more.  Several more witnesses came forward alleging Reynolds lifted ‘up the tongs’ and threatened to strike the girl ‘for not eating such things as was provided for her.’

Another came forward to say he had seen Reynolds ‘beat his maide with a broome staff and afterwards kick her as she was by ye fire.’

But the last witness provided the most inventive story of all when he said he ‘see the maide sleeping by ye fireside and sometimes afterward she went to bed after which a revelation came to (him) that the maide would dye that night.’

The final person called to give evidence was Prudence Clayton, Henry’s mother in law, who had been called to lay out the dead girls body.  Prudence told the court she could remember ‘no manner of hurt about her’.

Despite his mother-in-law’s evidence the Jury found however, for the defendant, Justa Anderson.  The order of the court held on the seventh month of 1685 showed ‘execution’ be granted against Henry Reynolds for ye Crown’s fees, charges of Inquest and taking up ye said Reynolds maide, with all other charges whatsoever thereunto belonging.

The sheriff in this execution levied on an ox, and Reynolds at the next Court had to pay 4 pounds 10 shillings. when the ‘court ordered him his Oxe againe.’

When the defamation charge was dismissed no charge of murder or manslaughter was laid, but it’s no wonder Henry Reynolds didn’t remain a Quaker for long.



By the time William Penn and Thomas Calvert had begun disputing the border rights of the Nottingham Lots children of these major players in our Quaker lines were coming of marriageable age.  The Reynolds and the Browns, both James and William.

Three of William ‘the Immigrant’ Brown’s children will marry Reynolds siblings:  Richard Brown, who will be known as ‘The Entrepreneur’ will marry Hannah Reynolds, while William’s two youngest daughters, Mary will wed William Reynolds, and Hannah Brown will marry Henry Reynolds Jnr.

The Reynolds Patriarch, Henry of the quick temper, had prospered with his taverns and land purchase and when he died in 1724 he left all his sons large tracts of land, including two separate blocks on the Nottingham Lots.  These were the blocks left to William and young Henry and their brides to be.  (To his four daughters the miserable old man left only one shilling each.)

On the Nottingham Lot number 17, Henry, and I’m presuming this was the son and not the father, erected a stone building, a tavern designed as a stage stop. Over the front entrance he erected a swinging sign depicting the rays of the sun at dawn with the lettering reading ‘The Rising Sun.’

Old Rising Sun Tavern by David J. Kennedy
From this central position evolved the village of Summer Hill  eventually to become known as the town of Rising Sun. It became a veritable crossroads and centre of a busy agricultural community, and would in the years to come see the railroad come to town.

And because of the ongoing dispute between William Penn and the Calvert family over their border rights, the Town of Rising Sun would have the rare claim to have been located in two different States of the Union. For decades the townsfolk considered themselves part of Chester County, Pennsylvania until the Mason Dixon line pushed them into the Cecil County of Maryland. 

The ‘Cecil’ tag, by the way, being in memory of the Calvert’s noble patriarch back in England who never set foot in Maryland but provided the wherewithal for his sons to prosper in this new country.

Today the old memories of Rising Sun and the Nottingham Lot disputes are long gone but I wonder if anyone today ever gives thought to the Quakers and the Tavern Keeper whose intermarried families first gave breath to their community.


The Browns, Reynolds, Thornburgh’s and Claytons of this chapter are all inter-related in one way or another and I do hope I haven’t offended any of their descendents with some of the more irreverent stories I have related.  If it’s any consolation, they’re all kinfolk to me as well.

Robyn Mortimer ©2011