Skip to main content
Archives & Manuscripts

Samuel Wetherill Correspondence

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-257

Scope and Contents

The Wetherill papers include the correspondence of Samuel Wetherill as well as a small number of miscellaneous letters to other individuals which were probably in his possession at the time of his death. The collection includes business and personal letters in addition to those which deal directly with the cause of the Free Quakers. Of particular interest are a letter from Hannah Barnard in which she laments the way she was treated by Hudson Monthly Meeting and the correspondence from Benjamin Bumpus, Nicholas Davis, Timothy Davis and others, reporting on the state of their meeting.

Organized by author, then chronologically

Dates

  • 1780-1816

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Wetherill (1736-1816), son of Christopher Wetherill of Burlington, NJ, removed to Philadelphia Monthly Meeting in 1759. Three years later, he married Sarah Yarnall, daughter of Mordecai Yarnall (with whom he had apprenticed). Samuel began his career as a carpenter, but later became a textile manufacturer and apothecary.

In 1779, Samuel Wetherill was disowned by Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for disunity, because he had "...deviated from our ancient Testimony and peaceable principles by manifesting himself a party in the public commotions prevailing." Wetherill became the clerk of a small group of Quakers in Philadelphia who were likewise disowned because they had supported the Revolutionary cause. They initially sought to continue to worship and meet as Friends in established Quaker meeting houses, but without success. In 1783, the Society of Free Quakers built a meeting house at Fifth and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. Other "Free Quaker" meetings were organized in New England and Maryland.

The "Davisites" in the Sandwich-New Bedford Massachusetts area corresponded regularly with Wetherill, apprising him of their meeting's condition. They were members of Longplain, New Bedford, Acushnet, and Rochester worship groups, disowned by Sandwich Monthly Meeting. Timothy Davis (1730-1798), a respected Friend and minister, published a pamphlet in 1776 "A letter from a Friend to some of his intimate Friends," on the subject of paying taxes to the new government. The meeting debated long and hard in how to deal with this matter. The committee assigned to meet with him recommended at the meeting of 6 month 1777 that the publication was unfortunate but not a disownable offense. However, others in the monthly meeting disagreed, and he was disowned from Sandwich Monthly Meeting in 1778. By 1780, he was joined by other members who disagreed with the decision-making process. These included Timothy's brother, Nicholas, and Benjamin Bumpus, Silas Swift, David Smith, and Bartholomew Taber. Timothy Davis acknowledged his wrongdoing in 1795 and was reinstated as a member of the Monthly Meeting, much to the dismay of Wetherill and the local friends. The other members continued to worship, depleted by old age and death until the meetings gradually were laid down by about 1815. The "Davisites" in Massachusetts were less extreme in their politics than the Free Quakers, and thus the schism did not run as deeply as in Philadelphia.

Extent

0.41 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language

English

Overview

Samuel Wetherill (1736-1816), a Philadelphia manufacturer of cloth, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, was a birthright Quaker born in Burlington, N.J. During the Revolutionary War, he actively supported the military effort and was disowned from Philadelphia Monthly Meeting in 1779. In 1781, he, along with other disowned Quakers, founded an independent Quaker meeting, called the Society of Free Quakers. This collection contains correspondence primarily from another group of disowned Quakers from Sandwich Monthly Meeting in Massachusetts. This New England group was centered on Timothy Davis (1730-1798), a respected Friend and minister, who published a pamphlet in 1776 concerning the payment of taxes to the new government. He was disowned in 1778. The collection includes business and personal letters as well as those which deal directly with the cause of the Free Quakers. Of particular interest are a letter from Hannah Barnard in which she laments the way she was treated by Hudson Monthly Meeting and correspondence from Benjamin Bumpus, Nicholas Davis, Timothy Davis and others, reporting on the state of their meeting.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Processing Information

Arranged chronologically when received. Sorted and filed by correspondent and assigned MSS 043. Transferred to RG 5 in 2006, with annotated finding aid.
Title
Finding aid for Samuel Wetherill Correspondence, 1780-1816
Author
FHL staff
Date
2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

Contact:
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA