The research files are growing for Book 2 in the Vagabond Trilogy.
Vagabond Quakers: Southern Colonies opens as the Sea Witch docks at Newport, Rhode Island in mid-May of 1663. Mary Tomkins, Alice Ambrose, and Anne Coleman have escaped from the Puritan-dominated Massachusetts Bay Colony thanks to Salem Friends Edward Wharton and George Preston, who introduce the three English missionaries to Newport’s Quaker community. Reapes, Eastons, Coddingtons, and Brinleys are among their new acquaintances in this colonial cradle of the Religious Society of Friends.
In June Catharine and Richard Scott come to Newport for the 3rd Yearly Meeting (Newport had the first Yearly Meeting ever in 1661). Mary and Catharine have been corresponding since the autumn of 1660, following Mary Dyer’s execution at Boston in the Colonies. They meet at last.
Anne Coleman is reunited with her original companions – Joseph Nicholson, Jane Millard, and John Liddal. They return north and suffer the wrath of the Bay Colony Puritans in Salem, Dover, and Hampton. Mary and Aliie go south.
Edward Wharton’s merchant business calls him to Dover in early July, and he takes the opportunity to confront Puritan magistrate Richard Walderne; however, Walderne is absent. Edward is sentenced to a severe whipping in three towns by the sitting officials, Captain Thomas Wiggin and William Hathorne. He is returned to Salem badly beaten.
After recovering under the care of Dr. Walter Barefoote (apothecary of Dover and Edward’s friend) as well as loving Friends and neighbors at Salem, Edward and George rejoin Mary and Alice.
Edward, George, Mary, and Alice take the Sea Witch to Shelter Island, visiting Nathaniel Sylvester and his wife Grisselle Brinley Sylvester at their plantation for several days. They continue to the towns along Long Island’s northern coast, ending at the Quaker stronghold of Flushing, where they meet up with Anne Coleman and her companions in company with William Reape, who ferried them south on his sloop Reape’s Gain. Their reunion is joyous, and they all head for New Amsterdam in high spirits (and two vessels) to spread their message to the Dutch. Mary and John Tilton, Quakers from Flushing, join the group, making their number eleven.
1663 is the last year that New Amsterdam is held by the Dutch. Although their attempt to spread the word lands them in gaol for ten days, the Quakers are not physically punished. Governor Stuyvestant releases them on their promise to quit his town, and all take ship except the Tiltons, who return to Flushing.
Mary and Alice part ways with the other missionaries and sail to the Eastern Shore of Virginia/Maryland with William Reape. There they confront renegade Quaker John Perrot. Charismatic and well-spoken, he is dangerously cavalier about the Society’s form of removing hats during worship or even having regularly scheduled meetings. Mary and Alice are hard put to compete with his charm, which affects both men and women.
Further challenges include “Quaker Hater” Edward Scarborough, a prominent Virginia landholder as well as a sadistic sheriff named John Hill, who enjoys hunting down Friends and “beating the Devil out of them.”
To reveal more would spoil the story, but there is a good deal more to Book 2. At this time I plan to head Part I with this quotation from Reverend John Eliot, 17th century minister to indigenous people and author of the first Bible translated into a native American language.
Of late I have to my trouble heard the government of the Massachusetts sharply censured for their great severity to some dissenters. This sever(e) proceeding seems to be the more strange, and less defensible, in those who, having left their native country, and crossed the vast ocean to settle in a wilderness, that they may there enjoy the liberty of worshiping God according to their own conscience, seem to be engaged more than other men, not to allow their brethren a share in what they thought was so much all good men’s due.”
John Eliot as quoted from The English Colonization of America during the Seventeenth Century by Edward Duffield Neill
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