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Thomas Crowley's Proposal to Seat Americans in Parliament, 1765-1775

From: Quaker History
Volume 91, Number 1, Spring 2002
pp. 1-19 | 10.1353/qkh.2002.0006

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Thomas Crowley's Proposal to Seat Americans in Parliament, 1765-1775
Neil L. York

Neil L. York is Professor of History and Karl G. Maeser Professor of General Education at Brigham Young University.


1. To this point Crowley has been a footnote character in British imperial history. Alfred Leroy Burt, Imperial Architects (Oxford: B. H. Blackwell, 1913) saw the "Amor Patriae" proposals in the Earl of Chatham's papers. "Perhaps the details are not" Chatham's, "but of the idea there is no doubt at all," he concluded—incorrectly (28). Charles Mullett, "English Imperial Thinking, 1764-1783" Political Science Quarterly 45 (1930):548-579, noted Burt's mistake and correctly identified Crowley as the author, though "who Crowley was I have been unable to discover." (550, n. 6). See too Mullett's Fundamental Law and The American Revolution, 1760-1776 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1933), 138. Brief allusions to Crowley as Amor Patriae can also be found in Fred Junkin Hinkhouse, The Preliminaries of the American Revolution as seen in the English Press, 1763-1775 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1926), 28, 122; Richard Koebner, Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), 160; and Arthur J. Mekeel, The Relation of the Quakers to the American Revolution (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979), passim, but Crowley had dropped out of the historiographical picture by the time of Jack Greene's Peripheries and Center (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986). I wrote the sketch of Crowley that will appear in The New Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Crowley was not included in the original DNB.

2. Benjamin Franklin to William Franklin, 1 September 1773, in Leonard Labaree, et al., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 34 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959—), 20:387.

3. As cited from Crowley's compilation of his letters and essays in Dissertations on Liberty of Conscience, Respecting the Payment of Tythes, and other Pecuniary and Legal Assessments. In Four Parts (London: Dilly, Richardson and Urquhart, and Elizabeth Brooke, [1774]), 210. Crowley pieces first published in Reasons for Liberty of Conscience Respecting the Payment ofTythes, Or complying with other Pecuinary Laws Enacted by the Legislature (London: n.p., 1771) and Copies of Thomas Crowley's Letters and Dissertations on Society Concerns (n.p., n.d.) were incorporated here.

4. Ibid., 127-128, from a letter Crowley wrote to an unnamed "Esteemed Friend" on 1 January 1774.

5. Letter of 22 March 1771 in the London Quarterly Meeting Book, vol. 7, 1764-1772, 419, Friends House Library, London.

6. The Minutes of the [London] Six Weeks Meeting, 1772-1778, vol. 14, 99, Friends House Library.

7. See the London Quarterly Meeting Book, vol. 8, 1772-1777, which noted Crowley's appeal on 28 March 1774 (163) and the adverse report submitted on April by the group appointed to hear the appeal (166-167). Crowley brought together many of the documents connected to his disownment, including his protests that he was treated unfairly, in his Dissertations on Liberty of Conscience, 161-217.

8. Crowley alludes to this event, which took place in January 1776, in Copies of Thomas Crowley's Letters to the Quakers, Not Printed before May 1, 1776; (Except a Few of the Latter) Together with some Essays in his Youth (n.p., n.d.), 36-38. His request for reinstatement denied, Crowley became harsher in his criticism, as evidenced in many of the pieces included here. He questioned George Fox's knowledge of the scriptures (10, in a letter of 10 June 1774; two other examples on 15-17) and went so far as to draft a bill for Parliament's consideration that would have prevented the Society of Friends from punishing members for paying tithes (written by January 1776, on 38-40).

9. See, for example, the essays in Dissertations on Liberty of Conscience, 186-200. He was even more emphatic on the title page of his Poetical Essays on Various Subjects (London: n.p, 1784), stating "These by a Rational Christian, But no Quaker."

10. [Thomas and Mary Crowley] Some Expressions of Ann Crowley (London: Mary Hinde, 1774). This pamphlet carried Psalms...