Olga Morrill is a retired librarian, storyteller, and the author of The Vagabond Trilogy. Book 1 Vagabond Quakers: Northern Colonies was published in July of 2017.
Book 2 Vagabond Quakers: Southern Colonies is currently in the works.
The concept for the trilogy originated from a prompt for the White Mountain Writers group, which I initiated in January 2012, while still working as Program Coordinator at the Conway Public Library. The prompt was to write a piece of historical fiction, and I was curious about the earliest European involvement in what is now the State of New Hampshire, where I have lived full time since 1971.
The story of the first Europeans to live on New Hampshire soil involves David Thompson and the Hilton Brothers. It is fascinating and will be the subject of Book 3 (a prequel); however, while perusing the fount of information on the Dover Public Library website, I stumbled upon a particularly brutal incident that took place in Dover (now NH, then Mass Bay Colony) in 1662. I was shocked and intrigued.
What was the Whip and Cart Act? Who were the three women sentenced to endure this torture? How did they become convinced to join the Religious Society of Friends? Who trained them to be missionaries? Why were they compelled to go to New England at a time when Quaker persecution was at its peak? Why had I never heard that four people were hanged in Boston in 1659/60 just for being Quakers?
The historical references were stepping stones that formed a foundation for the fictionalized bridge that became the story of Vagabond Quakers. The title itself is a direct quote from Richard Walderne, the Puritan magistrate that sentenced the three female missionaries to be bared to the waist, tied to an oxcart, and whipped ten stripes in eleven towns over a distance of more than 80 miles from Dover to Dedham. It was signed by Walderne and dated December 22, 1662 and is reproduced verbatim below:
To the Constables of Dover, Hampton, Salisbury, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Wenham, Lynn, Boston, Roxbury, Dedham, and until these vagabond Quakers are carried out of this jurisdiction. You and every one of you are required, in the king’s name, to take these vagabond Quakers, Anne Coleman, Mary Tomkins, and Alice Ambrose, and make them fast to the cart’s tail, and driving the cart through your several towns, to whip them on their bare backs, not exceeding ten stripes each on each of them, in each town, and so convey them from constable to constable, until they come out of this jurisdiction, as you will answer it at your peril; and this shall be your warrant.
At Dover, dated Dec. 22nd, 1662
Per me, RICHARD WALDERNE
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