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Law Buildings Richmond Nov 15th 47


Dear Sir,

I regret that I can find nothing satisfactory or interesting in answer to the inquiries contained in your last letter. The Journal of the Genl Assembly contain no mention whatever of the Quakers imprisoned at Winchester & the Journal of the proceedings of the Govr & Council have only two entries in relation to the members of that persuasion. One is of the 30th of Sept 1777 stating that as it appeared by a resolution of Congress that the Quakers of Pena. carried on a treasonable correspondence with the enemy the Govr should write to the first or other magistrates of the Counties of Henrico Nansemond, Hanover, Loudoun & other Counties to endeavour to find out whether the Quakers residing therein were engaged in a like treasonable practice & endeavour to prevent it. This the govr agreed to do, but with what result does not appear. It is fair however & indeed necessary to presume that nothing was discovered ag[ains]t the Quakers as nothing more appears in the Journal on this subject.

The other entry is of the 15th October 1777 when it appears the Govr communicated “to the Board” sunday letters & other papers relating to the Quakers & others who had been apprehended in Penn: “as enemies to the Independence of America”: & as it appeared it was necessary to send them out of that state, the Lieut of the county of Frederick asked the sanction of the Govr & to keep them prisoners. The Lieut of the County also informed the Govr that the excitement of the people of Winchester ag[ains]t the prisoners was very great. The Govr & Council commended the sheriff for the protection he had afforded the prisoners agt this popular excitement & requested him to persevere in it & allow the Quakers the privilege of walking about for the benefit of their health, & to remove them if they chose to some other place. This is the substance of all I can find in our state records on this subject, & I can have these entries copied if you desire it. It will always give me pleasure to aid your historical researches, & especially when they are directed to remove reproach from a body of people distinguished for so much intrinsic excellence as the society of Friends so I beg you not to apprehend giving me trouble. Yours most respy

C. C. Lee      


P.S. Mr Gustavus Myers, a Jew of this City & a brother lawyer of mine, & a most excellent man, & a good deal of an antiquarian assisted me in my researches to day, & said there were many instances of Quakers furnishing gunpowder & to our troops. But I suppose you are familiar with all this. You see the Quakers have friends among Jews as well as Gentiles. Even Voltaire who loved so much to laugh at all sects, could only say of them, “that sect so ridiculous in their manners, but so respectable in their morals” & that too in an age when they were so generally persecuted, an age, I trust, gone forever.



Source: Valentine Museum Archives, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 July 31