The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were periods of great religious conflict, which resulted in many people entering, and leaving, the Netherlands and the Low Counties. Antwerp witnessed an exodus of fifty percent while the city of Hondschoote saw a decline of 18,000 to 385 inhabitants. My 11 x great grandparents Jacob Quick (1547 – 1604) and Wilhelm Steenberg (1582–1613) joined this migration.
At the turn of the sixteenth century, Jacob and Wilhelm arrived in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England. Apart from the quest for religious freedom, what drew them there? The answer could well be lead. For centuries the people of Wirksworth had relied on lead mining to make a living and by the 1600s lead had become as important to the national economy as wool.
Lead was vital for roofs, windows, water storage and piping. And, as the seventeenth century progressed, it became increasingly important for ammunition. In the mines, flooding was a problem. Therefore, in search of a solution, the locals turned to people who were experts at drainage and flood defences – the Dutch.
Jacob Quick and Wilhelm Steenburg settled into their new lives in Derbyshire. Jacob produced a son, Philip, born on 29 June 1597 in Bonsall, Derbyshire while Wilhelm produced a daughter, Rachel, born on 15 August 1602, also in Derbyshire. c1625, Philip married Rachel and in 1635 they produced my 9 x great grandmother Hannah Quick.
Although lead mining was hard and dangerous work at least the Quicks had the freedom to express themselves through their religion. Or so they thought. Then, in 1642 turmoil in the shape of the English Civil War, which raged until 1651.
Led by land and mine owner Sir John Gell, the people of Derbyshire sided with Parliament against the Royalists. A key Derbyshire battle was the Battle of Hopton Heath, which took place on Sunday 19 March 1643 between Parliamentarian forces led by Sir John Gell and Sir William Brereton (also an ancestor) and a Royalist force led by Spencer Compton, 2nd Earl of Northampton.
After the battle, which involved 2,600 men, evenly divided on each side, both camps claimed victory. The Parliamentarians believed that they had won because they held the field at the end of the day and had killed the Royalist’s commander, the Earl of Northampton. The Royalists claimed victory because they had captured eight artillery pieces and reoccupied the field the next morning. In truth, the battle was typical of war – a bloody draw.
Did Philip Quick participate in the battle? History does not record his involvement. However, he did die c1643, possibly in a battle or skirmish associated with the Civil War.
A widow, Rachel remained in Derbyshire with her daughters Hannah and Sarah. She died in 1676. Meanwhile, Hannah met and married a local man, George Wood, born 1625. Their marriage was recorded at a Quaker Meeting in Matlock, Derbyshire in 1658.
The Quicks, religious migrants, had discovered Quakerism, the new religion that was sweeping through England. However, George and Hannah’s beliefs would lead to more migration and a new home in America.
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George Wood, my 9 x great grandfather, was born on 12 March 1625 in Bonsall, Derbyshire and baptised on 10 January 1632 while Hannah Quick, my 9 x great grandmother, was born in 1635 in Derbyshire. The couple married in 1658 in Matlock, a fact recorded in the Monyash Ashford Meeting of Quakers.
Quakers, a Protestant group also known as the Religious Society of Friends, established themselves in mid-seventeenth century England. Undoubtedly, the English Civil War had a strong bearing on their creation and beliefs.
The Quakers based their message on the belief that ‘Christ has come to teach his people himself.’ They stressed the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers.
Quakers used thee as an ordinary pronoun. They wore plain dress, were teetotal, refused to swear oaths, refused to participate in wars and opposed slavery. Later, they founded banks and financial institutions, including Friends Provident, Lloyds and Barclays. They also founded three major confectionery makers, Cadbury’s, Fry’s and Roundtree’s.
A notable difference between Quakerism and Orthodox Protestantism was that many of the early Quaker ministers were women. Quakers were noted for their philanthropic efforts, which included the abolition of slavery, prison reform and social justice.
George’s union with Hannah was his second marriage. Previously, he married Anne who produced three children before her death in 1656. George and Hannah’s marriage also produced three children, including their last born, my 8 x great grandmother Elinor Wood.
The upheaval of the English Civil War left a deep scar on society, which took generations to heal. In some communities Quakers were accepted while in others they were ostracised and persecuted. At the age of 57 and 47 respectively, George and Hannah made the momentous decision to create a new lives for themselves and their children by emigrating to Pennsylvania. They began this hazardous journey on 27 May 1682.
George and Hannah were not a young couple looking to make their mark on the world. Indeed, they were approaching the stage where they could contemplate a quiet life. Yet, they embarked on their Pennsylvanian adventure. This suggests that their commitment to the Quaker cause ran deep and was central to their lives.
Along with his son-in-law Richard Bonsall, and seven other families – six from Derbyshire – George was a founder member of Darby Township, alongside Darby Creek. The records described George as a yeoman or landowner with 1,000 acres of land to his name. George bought the land from William Penn on 23 March 1682. He also subscribed £50 (approximately £5,725 in today’s money) to the Free Society of Traders. A dam, saw mill and grist mill existed on his portion of the creek, which was obviously a hive of activity.
George was also active within the community, serving on the local Assembly. His fellow settlers elected him to this post in 1683, shortly after his arrival in Pennsylvania.
Quakers introduced many ideas that later became mainstream in American society, such as democracy in the Pennsylvania legislature, the Bill of Rights, trial by jury, equal rights for men and women, and public education. Furthermore, the Liberty Bell was cast by Quakers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Quaker meetings in Delaware recorded the births, marriages and deaths of the Wood family, including Hannah’s death on 9 March 1687, five years after her arrival, and George’s death on 27 April 1705. George bequeathed his land, buildings, purse, apparel and ‘some books’ to his son, John, while his three daughters, Mary, Elizabeth and Elinor received a shilling each.
George and Hannah’s daughter, Elinor, married Evan Bevan, son of John Bevan and Barbara Aubrey, founder members of the Welsh Tract in Pennsylvania. More about the Bevan family and their lives in Pennsylvania in future posts.