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UNLIKELY CONTROVERSIALISTS: CALEB PUSEY AND GEORGE KEITH By J. William Frost* Before his migration to Pennsylvania there was little in the life of Caleb Pusey which would make it appear likely that he would be commemorated three hundred years later. Born in Berkshire, England, sometime before 1650, he became a Baptist in 1659 and in 1672 claimed to have known the congregation at Allhallows for twenty years. In the turmoil surrounding the Restoration, Pusey became dissatisfied with the Baptists. Experiencing disillusion over the course of events in England, the Baptists practiced fasts and other methods to implore the Lord to again manifest his presence but even one of the leaders commented on the lack of success.1 Pusey contrasted the timidity with which the Baptists faced persecution with the fervor of Friends who openly defied the Conventicle Acts. Shortly after 1660, Pusey became a Quaker. In 1672 Pusey became outraged when his former Baptist teacher endorsed a pamphlet written against William Penn. At first he sought a conference to educate his former brethren but was rebuffed . Frustrated, Pusey composed A Serious and Seasonable Warning unto all People, directed primarily at the Baptist church in Berkshire. The pamphlet shows no particular grace in style or originality in contents, but some of the issues Pusey debated in 1672 were still being discussed thirty years later. Pusey included a long confession of faith and insisted that Quakers endorsed all the "Fundamental Principles of the Christian Religion." We believe in one Almighty Omnipotent God, and that he is to be loved, worshipped, feared and obeyed: that he created and upholdeth all things by the word of his power . . . that man by sin became deprived of the knowledge, and enjoyment of God . . . that the restoration of this lost man *Associate Professor of Religion and Director of the Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa. 1. Josephine F. Albrecht, "Caleb Pusey 1: Penn's Mill and Its 'Keeper' at Landing Ford Plantation in Upland, Pennsylvania," Bulletin of Archeological Society of Delaware (Fall, 1969), pp. 1-15; Caleb Pusey, Serious and Seasonable Warning unto all People (London, 1675) p. 1; A Collection of Memorials Concerning the People called Quakers in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia , 1783) pp. 68-70. 16 UNLIKELY CONTROVERSIALISTS17 to happiness again ... is only through the Lord Jesus Christ who . . . was born of the Virgin.2 He denied that Friends worshipped the natural light of conscience, ignored the life of Jesus Christ, were either Roman Catholics or Socinians, and that they were growing rich and sensual. While no more libelous than other early Quaker writers or their opponents, Pusey proved that he could trade scurrility with ease, terming the Baptists "Houlers," "hypocrites," and "evil doers" who retained "your scum of Pride, Fleshly-ease and Sensuality, Formality in Religion , and Conformity to the World."3 Whether or not he was pleased with the fruits of his labor, Pusey abstained from additional religious pamphleteering for the next twenty-five years. About Pusey's life before emigrating we know only that he married Ann Stone Worley, a widow, in 1681 and that his trade was lastmaking. He gained enough prosperity to migrate to Pennsylvania as a freeman, to purchase 250 acres, and to buy or be given a 1/32 share in a gristmill which he would manage for a group of prominent English Friends including William Penn, John Bellers, Philip Ford, and Daniel Worley. Ann Worley Pusey was formerly a sister-in-law of Daniel Worley, which may explain why the associates picked Caleb to operate the mill.4 We do not know of any experience of Pusey which caused the associates to assume that he was capable of running what was a heavily capitalized venture for the seventeenth-century. Around 1682 Pusey sailed to America and settled in Upland, built, with the aid of Richard Townsend, the house which is still standing, and began assembling near Chester Creek the prefabricated gristmill sent over from England. Although by no means the most wealthy or prominent Friend in the community, Pusey became prominent because he was manager of a mill valued in 1692 at £550. He also prospered personally. The County Court laid out roads running to the creek over...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 16-36
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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