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MARYLAND QUAKERS AND SLAVERY Kenneth L. Carroll* Slavery was already a part of life in Maryland when Quakerism first appeared there about 1656. A number of slaveholders were among the early converts to Quakerism. Quakers coming into the colony from elsewhere often tended to adopt the practice of slave-holding when they settled in Maryland—even such "spiritual leaders" as Wenlock Christison (one of the well-known sufferers for the Truth in New England) and Thomas Evernden, a Canterbury Friend who traveled in the ministry on both sides of the Atlantic before settling in Maryland in the early 1680s. An examination of the wills of fifty representative Eastern Shore of Maryland Quakers between 1669 and 1750 shows that at least twenty-one of them (42 percent) owned slaves. A thorough search of inventories of estates and distribution accounts might well show even more of them to have held their fellowman in bondage. Slavery appears, on the whole, to have been acceptable to most early Maryland Quakers. Not only are the Maryland records of the Society silent on the practice for the first one hundred years, but on occasion the Quaker meeting itself benefitted from the institution of slavery—as in the case of Alice Kennerly who died at the beginning of 1703, bequeathing her "negro woman Betty and her child" to Daniel Cox with the provision that he "pay twenty shillings annually for thirty years to the Meeting, for the paying of travelling Friends ferriage in Dorchester County, or whatever other occasions Friends may see meet."1 It should be noted, however, that not all Maryland Friends who could have afforded slaves actually entered into the practice. Perhaps some of them were influenced to some degree by the message of Fox, whose thoughts on slavery were awakened during his 1671 visit to Barbados. It seems inconceivable that Fox's concern and compassion did not express themselves in his preaching and conversations in the many months he spent in Maryland in 1672-1673. Possible evidence of this influence is seen in the will of James Soney of Kent County, dated 22nd of 4th month, 1674, soon after Fox's visit, which provided for the manumission of his two slaves, Sherry * Kenneth Carroll is Professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University. 27 28Quaker History and Freegift Wansey, and bequeathing them 200 acres of land together with his cattle. The will also directed that four Friends, William Berry, William Winsmore, John Copeland and William Carter serve as overseers to assure that the terms of the will were fulfilled. It was probated on the 20th of 1st month, 1685. Also William Edmundson must have had a real effect on some Maryland Quakers, for one of his two letters attacking slavery was written in Maryland on January 5, 1677, and was directed to "Friends in Maryland and Virginia and other parts in America."2 One of Edmundson's Maryland hosts, William Southeby, after his removal to Pennsylvania was perhaps the first native-born American to write against slavery.3 There may also have been a growing sensitiveness at work in the consciences of some Maryland Quaker slaveholders before the end of the seventeenth century, even before the Germantown statement of 1688 and the other Pennsylvania protests in the 1690s. In 1684 William Dixon, who had married the widow of two former slaveowners [Robert Harwood, d. 1675, and Wenlock Christison, d. 1679] asked the "meeting's advice" concerning his desire "to sell a negro his freedom."4 In his 1685 will William Berry freed two slaves, and in a 1708 will William Dixon freed two slaves and provided for their support by giving them fifty acres of land, a house, and the beginnings of a flock, saying, "It has often been with me if the Lord would let you live with me to the end of my days to set you free, which I have accordingly done."5 John Jadwin, also of Talbot County, manumitted his slave Philip in 1703, having promised him his freedom after a certain period of service.6 This 1.Minutes of Third Haven Monthly Meeting of Friends, I, p. 190 (originals now at the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland). Cf. Annapolis...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 27-42
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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