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    Society of Friends Manuscript Book of Minutes An important piece of Quaker history, a leather-bound manuscript book of minutes of the women's monthly meeting of Sandwich, 73 leaves (with most leaves filled in recto and verso), 8 x 12.5 inches, Sandwich (and occasionally Falmouth and Rochester), Massachusetts, February 1, 1722 to May 1, 1772. The log chronicles fifty years of the first and oldest monthly meeting of the Society of Friends in North America, first established in 1656 despite the threat of execution imposed by their strict Calvinist neighbors. One of the more salient characteristics of the Society of Friends, much to the consternation of the Puritans, was their belief in women's equality, which enabled women to preach. The first monthly women's meetings began in 1677. In this book, the minutes for each meeting vary in length from a simple sentence to several paragraphs. The meetings included monthly meetings (often referred to simply as "Women's meetings" as well as quarterly meetings. Overall the entries become more detail later in time as the community grows in size and complexity. The book opens noting that "Att our women's meeting held att Sandwich this first Day of ye 12th month 1722 there was an Epistle Read Amongst us Written from London and we were in Unity with it--" The meetings adjudicated social infractions, approved marriages, and occasionally (but only rarely) punished offenders. At a meeting held in Falmouth in 1722 "...Experience Claghorn Desired to be in Unity with Friends and she Sayeth y[e]t she is sorry she hath [illeg.] friends in marrying out of ye order of Truth and this meeting Excepts of it..." Often certain members of the meeting would be chosen to perform various tasks including representing the meeting at the yearly meeting at Newport, Rhode Island, writing letters to outlying meetings and visiting with families in the community. The latter activity was often for the purpose of convincing those who had strayed away from attending meetings to return. In late 1724, "...Mary Wing and Sary Lander were Chosen To Speake to Anna Holoway concerning her keeping company with Jno. Annable one yt Doth not come to Friends Meeting..." At the next meeting the two women reported "...They had Spoken with Anna Holoway and are Not Satisfyed..." and two others were appointed " Go and Speake with her once more..." Every so often the meeting was asked to take notice of a marriage which were either approved or disapproved of by the meeting. Sometimes couples would have their unions approved the same day, other times they would have to wait for the following monthly meeting. The meeting frowned upon those marrying outside of the faith: at a 1725 meeting in which "...Seth Alton and Elizabeth Bulter appeared and Declaired yr Intentions of marriage..." two members were appointed " talk with Rebeckah Wing concerning her Intending marriage with one of another way..." In the opposite vein, in 1731, two members were appointed to "...talke with Benjamin Swift and his wife Conferring yr Daughter's proceeding in Marriage with her Cousin..." If a person deviated from social norms, the meeting would always attempt to talk reasonably with the individual first and attempt to reform their ways. The last resort was expulsion. The case of Eunice Done provides an excellent example: In 1770 the meeting noted that although Eunice had "...her Education among us the people Called Quakers in a Sober manner & hath been Looked upon as one under the Care of our Soceity -- that for want of takeing heed to her Education & that manifestation of Devine light and grace in her own heart... fallen in to the Sin of fornication & we the afores'd people for the Clearing the testimony of truth & the Discharge of our Duties have Laboured with her... to make her Sensible if possible of sd Crime that she might publicly condemn the same and be found in a sincere & hearty Repentance but after Long waiting not being Satisfyed of her Repentance nor hath she offered in a Suitable and acceptable manner to us the aforesaid people Clearing the testimony of truth and the Discharge of our duties Disown her... until she be found in a Sincere & hearty Repentance..." We do not know whether she did return to the fold. The book is a superb piece of social history documenting the day to day lives of the earliest and longest continual Quaker meeting in North America. Boards warped with some ink doodling on cover, pages fairly clean and binding mostly intact. Very good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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