February 27, 2008

My processing table today

When I arrived this morning, I felt confident that I would finish processing Benjamin Chew's legal papers. I had a few stacks, a few boxes with newly labeled folders, and some miscellaneous documents that still needed a place. I had one mysterious folder with only covers from letters and legal documents. I wondered "where are the documents that go with the covers?" I decided to look in another series that I had shifted. There were the letters and a bunch of new material related to an estate that Benjamin Chew administered. So much for the day's plan!

In the midst of these papers, there were some juicy bits of correspondence such as Samuel Chew's discussion of his upcoming conference with Quaker leaders about his daughter's marriage outside the faith:

"Breach of order & Discipline indeed always makes the by when one of Christ's Lambs gets out of the Fold, & they must act a Farce even when they are pleased at the Thing. It is upon this Ground that I am the Subject of Church Dealing for consenting to Betsey's Marriage to one of a different Persuation by the Hands of a Priest. I have had two Embassies from as many monthly meetings, to both which I behaved with great Civility & Decorum ..." Later in the letter, he refers to the fact that he was instructed to admit his error "from under my Hand or make my personal appearance at their Little vile Monthly Meeting." [Samuel Chew (1693-1744) to Edward Tilghman (1713-1785), July 29th 1741]

He was certainly not a man to keep his opinions to himself.


Phil Seitz said...

Their little vile monthly meeting indeed! This is very interesting to hear, as Sam was shortly afterward ejected from the meeting altogether, the cause this time being his instructions to a grand jury that individuals have a right to defend themselves. Although I don't have the citation at hand, Samuel Chew did publish a defense of his actions once the dust settled. No wonder his children were all Anglicans.

Cathleen Miller said...

Yes, his "Advertisement against the Quakers" was published in 1742, and is included in his papers.

My favorite quote from that publication was this invective:
"...once Established & Confirmed we too often find that those very People who have contended for Liberty of Conscience & Universal Toleration soon become more clear sighted & plainly discover the necessity of Uniformity in matters of Religion arrogate to themselves a Right to prescribe to others and even assume a power of Exclusion from God's Mercy those who differ from them in opinion...having grown Rich & powerful and forgetting that they were once a Poor despised Remnant the despised People of God..."
A little punctuation would have been nice, but it makes its point.