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Bates, Elisha (10 July 1781–05 October 1861), Quaker controversialist and publisher, was born near Scimino, York County, Virginia, the son of Benjamin Bates and Hannah (maiden name unknown), farmers. Largely self-educated, Bates studied medicine for a time, learned printing, worked as a surveyor, and operated a Quaker school. Marrying Sarah Jordan Harrison in 1803, Bates fathered six children. From 1813 to 1816 he served as clerk of the Virginia Yearly Meeting. Circumstances, even for a farmer, surveyor, and schoolmaster, proved trying for an antislavery Quaker in eastern Virginia, particularly after Bates attracted public attention with his pamphlet ...

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Brinton, Howard Haines (24 July 1884–09 April 1973), and Anna Shipley Cox Brinton (19 October 1887–28 October 1969), Quaker educators, were born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, respectively. Howard was the son of Edward Brinton and Ruthanna Brown, farmers. Anna was the daughter of Charles E. Cox, a businessman and educator, and Lydia Shipley Bean. Howard Brinton attended high school in West Chester and received a B.A. from Haverford College in 1904 with a specialization in science. After spending an extra year studying mysticism with Haverford professor of philosophy ...

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Sydney V. James and Gail Fowler Mohanty

Brown, Moses (12 September 1738–06 September 1836), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of James Brown, merchant, and Hope Power. The father died the next year, leaving a variety of properties and businesses, which indicates that his family was far from poor. Moses Brown had a few years of formal schooling before being apprenticed to his merchant uncle, Obadiah, to learn the intricacies of eighteenth-century commerce and to be adopted as a son and partner. After Obadiah died in 1762, Moses managed the business, and in 1774 married Obadiah’s daughter Anna, who bore three children, two of whom lived to maturity. Moses joined his three surviving brothers in the firm of Nicholas Brown & Co. to operate the family businesses. The profits of trade were diversified by manufacturing and money-lending. The Brown brothers inherited profitable candle and chocolate works and started a plant to smelt and work iron. They also tried at least one ill-fated slaving voyage....

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Brown, Obadiah (15 July 1771–15 October 1822), merchant and manufacturer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Moses Brown, a merchant, and Anna Brown. He sometimes used the name Obadiah M. Brown to distinguish himself from other Browns with the same first name. Sickly as a child, he initially was educated at home and then attended the Friends New England Yearly Meeting School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, between 1784 and 1788. This was followed by an informal apprenticeship with Almy and Brown, a Providence cotton textile manufactory established by his father, one of four brothers who were successful Providence merchants and manufacturers. The manufactory was initially managed by Obadiah’s brother-in-law, William Almy, and a cousin, Smith Brown, although under the watchful eye of Moses Brown....

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Eddy, Thomas (05 September 1758–16 September 1827), Quaker reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of James Eddy and Mary Darragh, immigrants from Ireland. Raised in a Quaker family with Tory sympathies, Eddy received an elementary education and in 1771 was apprenticed to a tanner in Burlington, New Jersey. From 1779 until the end of the American Revolution, he lived in New York where, with a brother and a friend, he formed Eddy, Sykes and Company to import scarce goods from England and Ireland. He also acted as a banker, moving funds to captured British troops in Pennsylvania and building his fortune on the 6 percent commission he garnered from the large sums transferred. He married Hannah Hartshorne in 1782; they had three children. For a brief period in the mid-1780s he operated a store in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which finally went bankrupt....

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Evans, Jonathan (25 January 1759–08 February 1839), house builder and Quaker leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Evans, an importer, and Hannah Walton. Born into a well-to-do family of Welsh descent that stretched back to 1697 in William Penn...

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Evans, William (05 October 1787–12 May 1867), merchant and Quaker leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Evans, a house builder and Quaker elder, and Hannah Bacon, a Quaker minister. Nurtured in an influential family in the Religious Society of Friends, Evans was educated in Quaker primary schools and in 1799 enrolled in the new Westtown school, just outside Philadelphia. At age fourteen, he went to a countinghouse to learn bookkeeping but, finding himself unchallenged, was apprenticed to another Friend to master the drug business. In 1808 he opened his own small drug and paint store, which he owned if not operated the rest of his life. Though serious of mien and adust in personality, Evans found a wife in Deborah Musgrave on 11 December 1811; the union produced two children before her early death in 1815. Summoned to militia duty during the War of 1812, he refused to appear but escaped further proceedings. The cautious Evans waited nine years before getting married again, this time to Elizabeth Barton on 23 December 1824, when he was thirty-seven and she thirty. In the Quaker fashion their local meeting recognized them both as ministers, he in 1822. When he rose to speak in a meeting, he could be pointed in his criticism of those who disagreed with him on some practice or point of doctrine. His tart-tongued contemporary ...

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Ferris, Benjamin (07 August 1780–09 November 1867), surveyor and Quaker leader, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Ziba Ferris, a cabinetmaker, and Edith Sharpless. Part of an active and influential Quaker family, Ferris was mostly self-taught. After being apprenticed to a clock maker in Philadelphia, he opened a business there in 1801 and prospered enough to wed Wilmingtonian Fanny Canby three years later and to invest $7,500 in a large lot in 1806. Of the couple’s ten children, three died in childhood. In the City of Brotherly Love, Ferris learned French, read widely—at one time his library housed more than eighty religious books by non-Quaker authors—cultivated cosmopolitan tastes, and made numerous contacts among fellow believers before returning in 1813 to Wilmington, his home for the rest of his life....

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Gibbons, William (10 August 1781–25 July 1845), physician and Quaker reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of James Gibbons, a teacher, farmer, and conveyancer, and Eleanor Peters. Descended from some of Pennsylvania’s first settlers, Gibbons was privately educated and then attended the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received an M.D. in 1805, having studied with ...

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Isaac T. Hopper. From the frontispiece to Lydia Maria Child, Isaac T. Hopper: A True Life, 1853. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-75190).

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Hopper, Isaac Tatem (03 December 1771–07 May 1852), Quaker abolitionist and reformer, was born in Deptford township, near Woodbury, New Jersey, the son of Levi Hopper and Rachel Tatem, farmers. Educated in local schools, Isaac Hopper went to Philadelphia at sixteen to learn tailoring from an uncle, with whom he lived. He made his living there as a tailor and soon came to own his own shop....

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Jansen, Reinier ( April 1648?– February 1706), Quaker and printer, was born probably in Harlingen, Friesland, the Netherlands, the son of Jan Reiners Jansen and Jancke Keimpes. Little is known about Jansen’s early life and even less can be documented. J. G. Riewald, a Dutch scholar who did research on both sides of the Atlantic, published a biography in 1970 in which he corrected many errors made by earlier writers and pieced together as much as he could verify along with surmises and tentative conclusions. While Riewald found that Jansen was married with two children by 1670, he did not discover the wife’s name nor the dates of their marriage or her death. Court records indicate he married Sjoucken Jans in 1676, but she must have died not long after, for a Harlingen deed dated 17 November 1678 lists his wife at that time as Trijntje Hedserts. Jansen had at least seven children in his three marriages....

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Keith, George (1638–27 March 1716), Quaker theologian, founder of the "Christian Quakers" and Anglican priest, Quaker theologian, founder of the “Christian Quakers,” and Anglican priest, was born in Peterhead Aberdeenshire, Scotland, to a family he later described as loyal to the Solemn League and Covenant and who disowned him after he became a Quaker. Nothing else is known of his parentage or early years. Keith attended Marischall College, Aberdeen (1654–1658), received an M.A., and prepared to be a Presbyterian minister. Later he referred to universities as “the stews of Anti-Christ,” but he had nonetheless gained an extensive knowledge in mathematics, philosophy, and languages. Keith, who read Descartes, testified that he became a Quaker through reading the Cambridge Platonist Henry More. In 1662 he was imprisoned for six months for his beliefs and wrote ...

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Kinsey, John (1693–11 May 1750), Quaker politician and lawyer, was born in Philadelphia, the son of John Kinsey, a carpenter, politician, and Quaker minister, and Sarah Stevens. The younger John Kinsey likely attended the Friends Public School until the family moved to Woodbridge, New Jersey, sometime between 1702 and 1704. The older Kinsey placed him with a joiner in New York as an apprentice, but as a friend wrote after Kinsey’s death, “having an Inquisitive disposition, and a Genius for something above his then employ, he left his master before his time was out, & applied himself to the Study of the Law.” He probably studied in Philadelphia with ...

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Lay, Benjamin (1681?–03 February 1759), Quaker reformer and abolitionist, was born in Colchester, England, the son of William Lay, a yeoman, and Mary (maiden name unknown), members of the Society of Friends. Some sources cite his year of birth as 1677. Lay, self-taught, spent his adolescence and early adult years working as a glove maker’s apprentice, a farmer, and a sailor, careers that were short-lived because of his hunched back and 4′ 7″ frame. In 1710 he abandoned maritime employment and returned to Colchester, where he married Sarah Smith of Deptford, also hunchbacked and of diminutive stature. The couple had no children. After being expelled from a Quaker meeting for speaking out against “hireling ministers,” Lay and his wife left England in 1718 to settle in Barbados, where Lay worked as a merchant....

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Lloyd, David ( ?1656–06 April 1731), leading Quaker legislator and jurist of early Pennsylvania, was born in Manafon, Montgomeryshire, Wales, the son of Thomas Lloyd. (His mother’s name is unknown.) After grammar school, Lloyd studied law with George Jeffries, the Welshman who later became lord chief justice of the King’s Bench and lord chancellor of England. On the basis of this legal training, ...

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See M’Clintock, Mary Ann Wilson

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Maule, Thomas (1645–1724), Quaker polemicist and merchant, was born near Coventry, England. Little is known of his family background. At age twelve, he emigrated to Barbados, where he apparently learned tailoring. One of the many poor settlers uprooted by the sugar revolution that was transforming the island’s economy, in 1666 he moved to New England. After a brief stay in Boston he settled in Salem among the town’s Quaker minority, in his words, “a people of few words and good works.”...

Article

Samuel Willard Crompton

Murray, John (1737–11 October 1808), Quaker merchant, was born on Swatara Creek, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of John Murray, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1732. His mother’s name is unknown. Murray worked with his older brother Robert Murray in the operation of a flour mill on Swatara Creek. In 1753 the two brothers moved together to New York City, where they formed a mercantile partnership. Within fifteen years, the Murray brothers had become the largest shipowners in the thirteen colonies, and their enterprise had become the largest import-export business in New York City, bolstered by the contract demands of provisioning soldiers and sailors during the Seven Years’ War in North America. In 1766 Murray married Hannah Lindley....

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Murray, Lindley (22 April 1745–16 January 1826), grammarian and Quaker moralist, was born in Swetara, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Mary Lindley and Robert Murray. His father’s success as a merchant took the family from North Carolina to New York City. Lindley and his brother, John Murray, Jr., were sent to the Friends School in Philadelphia but were then summoned as apprentices in their father’s firm, Murray, Sansom & Co., which became the largest New York shipowners. To assert his independence, Lindley ran away to school, to the Quaker Academy in Burlington, New Jersey. Discovered by his uncle ...