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date: 22 January 2020

Lay, Benjaminlocked

(1681?–03 February 1759)
  • Paul Rosier


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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