A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 24 March, 1910, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Henry Lefavour, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The President announced the death at Newport, Rhode Island, on 16 March, 1910, of Morris Hicky Morgan, a Resident Member; and tributes to his memory were paid by Mr. George Lyman Kittredge and Mr. Henry W. Cunningham.
The Treasurer announced that Mr. George V. Leverett had made the generous offer to pay for the publication of Volume II, to contain the Royal Commissions issued to the Governors and others of the Massachusetts Bay; and that the gifts of two other members had made it possible to issue Volume IV. Whereupon, on the motion of Mr. Charles K. Bolton, it was —
Voted, That the thanks of the Society be sent to Mr. George V. Leverett, Mr. Thomas Minns, and Mr. Henry W. Cunningham, for their generous gifts by means of which the Society will be able to complete its series of Publications to the present time.
Resolved, That a Bill be brought in for the incapacitating of all Persons who shall refuse to take the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the Sacrament, according to the Rites of the Church of England, of holding any publick Employments, military or civil: And that it be referred to the Committee, appointed to draw up the Address for suppressing of Popery, to prepare and bring in the same.289
On March 13 “An Act for preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants” was read in the House of Lords for the first time, and for the second time on March 14;290 and on March 21 there was received in the House of Commons —
A Message from the Lords, by the Lord Chief Justice Vaughan, and Mr. Baron Windham;291
Mr. Speaker, The Lords have commanded to acquaint you, that they have agreed to the Bill, sent from this House, intituled, An Act for preventing Dangers, which may happen from Popish Recusants; with some Amendments and Provisoes, to which they desire your Concurrence.292
The “Amendments and Provisoes” led to much discussion between the Lords and Commons,293 the controversy not being settled until March 29. Sir George Downing, our Harvard graduate of the Class of 1642, was then a member of the House of Commons and took part in some of the discussions of that session of Parliament, but he does not seem to have spoken on the Act in question. An amusing episode that occurred on the last day of the session (March 29) is recorded for the benefit of those Americans who think that our British cousins are lacking in a sense of humor. Sir Thomas Lee said, “If you will adjourn now, adjourn the Debate likewise to the next Session, and let it be upon your Books.” Whereupon “The House divided even upon the Question, 105 to 105: The Speaker294 had the casting voice, and gave it for adjourning, and jestingly said, ‘He would have his reason for his judgment recorded, viz. because he was very hungry.’”295
It may prove interesting to give the procedure in the House of Lords on March 29:
The King, sitting in His Royal Throne, adorned with His Crown and other Regal Ornaments, commanded Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod to signify to the House of Commons His Pleasure, “That they presently attend his Majesty.”
The Commons being come, their Speaker made a short Speech, and presented to His Majesty a Bill, …
Which Bill was received from the Speaker, at the Bar, by the Clerk of the Parliaments, and brought to the Table.
And the Clerk of the Crown read the Title; videlicet,
“An Act for raising the Sum of Twelve Hundred
“Thirty-eight Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty
“Pounds, for Supply of His Majesty’s extraordinary
To which the Clerk of the Parliaments pronounced the Royal Assent, in these Words,
“Le Roy, remerciant Ses bons Subjects, accepte leur “Benevolence, et ainsi le veult.”
Then His Majesty proceeded to give His Royal Assent in the like Manner, to these Bills following:
“An Act for the King’s Majesty’s most gracious,
“general and free Pardon.”
“from Popish Recusants.”
To these Bills the Royal Assent was pronounced in these Words, “Le Roy le veult.”296
The Parliament is to-night adjourned till 20 Oct., and your friend the Speaker made a very handsome speech, which I hope to send you by the next. Upon the King’s giving the Royal assent to the bill against Popery there was the greatest hum amongst the Commoners that ever was heard.299
On the day following John Evelyn made this entry in his Diary:
March 30th. Easter Day: … At the sermon coram Rege, preached by Dr. Sparrow, Bp. of Exceter,300 to a most crowded auditorie; I staied to see whether according to costome the Duke of York receiv’d the communion with the King; but he did not, to the amazement of every body. This being the second yeare he had forborn and put it off, and within a day of the Parliament sitting, who had lately made so severe an Act against ye increase of Poperie, gave exceeding griefe and scandal to the whole nation, that the heyre of it, and ye sonn of a martyr for ye Protestant religion, should apostatize. What the consequence of this will be, God onely knows, and wise men dread.301
One consequence was that the Duke of York laid down his offices. The Act of 25 Charles II, Chapter II, which has gone into history as the Test Act of 1673, contains fifteen sections, of which several follow:
FOR preventing dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants and quieting the minds of his Majestyes good Subjects Bee it enacted … That all and every person or persons as well Peeres as Commoners that shall beare any Office or Offices Civill or Military or shall receive any Pay, Salary, Fee or Wages by reason of any Patent or Grant from his Majestie or shall have Command of Place of Trust from, or under his Majestic … within the Realme of England, Dominion of Wales or Towne of Berwicke upon Tweede, or in his Majestyes Navy or in the severall Islands of Jersey and Guernsey or shall be of the Household or in the Service or imployment of his Majestie, or of his Royall Highnesse the Duke of Yorke who shall inhabite, reside or be within the Citty of London or Westminster or within thirty miles distant from the same on the first day of Easter-Terme that shall be in the yeare of our Lord one thousand six hundred seaventy three or at any time dureing the said Terme all and every the said person and persons shall personally appeare before the end of the said Terme or of Trinity Terme next following in his Majestyes High Court of Chancery or in his Majestyes Court of Kings Bench and there in publique and open Court betweene the houres of nine of the Clocke and twelve in the Forenoone take the severall Oathes of Supremacy and Allegiance which Oath of Allegiance is contained in a Statute made in the third yeare of King James by Law established, and dureing the time of the takeing theirof by the said person and persons all Pleas and Proceedings in the said respective Courts shall cease; And that all and every of the said respective persons and Officers not haveing taken the said Oathes in the said respective Courts aforesaid shall on or before the first day of August one thousand six hundred seaventy three at the Quarter Sessions for that County or place where he or they shall be, inhabite or reside on the twentyeth day of May take the said Oathes in open Court betweene the said houres of nine and twelve of the Clocke in the Forenoone, And the said respective Officers aforesaid shall alsoe receive the Sacrament of the Lords Supper according to the Usage of the Church of England at or before the first day of August in the yeare of our Lord one thousand six hundred and seaventy three in some Parish Church upon some Lords day commonly called Sunday immediately after Divine Service and Sermon.
Persons that bear any Offices or Places of Trust under His Majesty, &c. to take the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance.
When and where to appear and take Oaths;
3 Jac. I. c. 4. § 15.
During taking the Oaths Pleas to cease.
and the said Officers to receive the Sacrament according to the Usage of the Church of England.
… And every of the said persons in the respective Court where he takes the said Oathes shall first deliver a Certificate of such his receiving the said Sacrament as aforesaid under the Hands of the respective Minister and Churchwarden and shall then make proofe of the truth thereof by two credible Witnesses at the least upon Oath, All which shall be inquired of and putt upon record in the respective Courts.…
A Certificate, with Proof thereof, upon Oath to be delivered into Court of his receiving the Sacrament.
AND bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That at the same time when the persons concerned in this Act shall take the aforesaid Oathes of Supremacy and Alleigiance, they shall likewise make and subscribe this Declaration following under the same Penalties and Forfeitures as by this Act is appointed.
Persons taking the Oaths to subscribe the Declaration following.
I A. B. doe declare That I doe beleive that there is not any Transubstantiation in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, or in the Elements of Bread and Wine, at, or after the Consecration thereof by any person whatsoever.…
Provided alsoe That this Act or any thing therein contained shall not extend to the Office of any High Constable, Petty Constable, Tithingman, headburrough, Overseer of the Poore, Churchwardens, Surveyour of the Highwayes or any like inferiour Civill Office, or to any Office of Forester or Keeper of any Parke, Chace, Warren or Game, or of Bayliff of any Mannour or Lands, or to any like private Offices, or to any person or persons haveing onely any the before mentioned, or any the like Offices.302
and for Constables, Tythingmen, &c.
Dr. Lamplugh303 preached at St. Martine’s, the holy sacrament following, which I partook of, upon obligation of the late Act of Parliament, enjoyning every body in office, civil or militarie, under penaltie of £500, to receive it within one moneth before two authentiq witnesses; being engrossed on parchment, to be afterwards produced in the Court of Chancery, or some other Court of Record; which I did at the Chancery barr, as being one of the Council of Plantations and Trade; taking then also the oath of allegiance and supremacy, signing the clause in the said Act against Transubstantiation.304
It is reasonable to suppose that the certificates made necessary by the Test Act must at one time have existed in large numbers; but however that may be, few appear to have been preserved. Owing to the kindness of a friend — Mr. E. P. Merritt of Boston — I am able to exhibit to-day one of these certificates, recently bought by Mr. Merritt in England.305 In the sale catalogue it is called a “sacrament certificate” and is said to be “a very curious and rare item.” The term “sacrament certificate,” not recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, is perhaps due to the cataloguer; and statements found in sale catalogues as to rarity should be received with caution. Nevertheless the document is, I think, one of considerable interest. It is written on a piece of parchment which measures 8⅞ inches in height by 8½ inches in breadth, and reads as follows:
Wee Robert Jones Minister of the parish and parish Church of Welles-borne in the County of Warwick and Thomas Jackson Churchwarden of the same parish and parish Church Do here by certify that John Eeds of Wellesborne in the County of Warwick Gent vpon the Lords Day commonly called Sunday the nine & twentieth day of this instant June immediately after divine Service and Sermon did in the parish Church aforesaid receive the Sacrament of the Lords Supper according to the vsage of the Church of England. In witnes whereof we have hereunto subscribed our hands the nine & twentieth Day of June in the year of our lord One thousand six hundred seventy and three.
Robert Jones minister of the parish and parish Church of Wellesborne in the County of Warwick.
Thomas Jackson Churchwarden of the said parish and parish Church.
Thomas Aylworth of Wellesborne in the County of Warwick Gent & John Hopper of Wellesborne in the same County Gent Do severally make oath that they do know John Eeds Gent in the abovewritten certificate named and who now prsent hath Deliuered the same into this Court, And Do further make oath that they did see the said John Eeds receive the Sacrament of the Lords Supper in the parish Church of Wellesborne in the County of Warwick in the said certificate menc͞oned and vpon the day and at the time in the said certificate in that behalf certified and Expressed And that they did see the Certificate abovewritten subscribed by the said Robert Jones minister and Thomas Jackson Churchwarden And further the said Thomas Aylworth and John Hopper Do say upon their respective oathes that all other matters and things in the said certificate recited menc͞oned or expressed are true, As they verily believe.
Jurat̄ in Cur̄ 2° die Julij
Anno 25to Car s͞cd͞i regis
There are in Warwickshire two Wellesbournes — the parish of Wellesbourne Hastings, and the hamlet of Wellesbourne Mountford, which is comprised within the parish. Wellesbourne Hastings lies about six miles south of Warwick and four miles east of Stratford-on-Avon, the road to the latter passing by Charlecote, the famous seat of Sir Thomas Lucy. At the time of the Norman conquest, the two Wellesbournes were included together and were given by William I to Henry de Newburgh, by whom was built the parish church, dedicated to St. Peter.306
Of the persons mentioned in the document, I have been able to obtain no information except the Rev. Robert Jones, who was minister of the parish from 1667 to 1691.307
In January, 1896, Mr. Andrew McF. Davis communicated a memorandum showing that on April 1, 1746, “His Excellency William Shirley Esqr Collonel of a Regiment, to be forthwith raised for the Defence of Cape Breton, came into Court … and produced a certificate of his having receiv’d the Sacrament of the Lords Supper according to the Usage of the Church of England, immediately after Divine Service & Sermon, on the thirtieth Day of March last.”308 Shirley had been rewarded after the Louisburg campaign with an appointment as colonel in the British Army.
Mr. Matthews also spoke as follows:
In February, 1909, it was shown that in 1794 Washington’s birthday was celebrated in Boston on February 11th and again on the 22nd,309 the former occasion having been under the auspices of the Shakespearean Society. In looking over some papers a few days ago, I found two other references to this society which had escaped my attention a year ago. The following extract is taken from a Boston newspaper:
During the Revolution, the Irish nation were uniformly friends to American liberty and independence — and when occasion offers, Americans are not found wanting in gratitude. Monday last, being the anniversary of the Patron of that nation; and the anniversary too of the evacuation of this town by the forces of Britain, a number of the sons of Hibernia and America celebrated the day in becoming festivity and social glee. After dinner the following, among other toasts and sentiments were given: — 1st. St. Patrick — The Patron of Hibernia. May his fellow islanders speedily experience the liberty and felicity, the citizens of the United States now enjoy. 2d. The Patron of all Freemen — the President of the United States. In every Revolution in favour of Liberty, may Providence give a Washington to each oppressed nation. 3d. The Vice-President310 and Congress of the United States — May they have Wisdom to pursue the best interests of their constituents — and Spirit to resent every insult on their Rights, or outrage on their property. 4th. The memory of the late Governor of Massachusetts.311 — May his successors imitate his virtues, and, like him, enjoy the love, gratitude and respect of their fellow-citizens. 5th. The Patriot of 1775 — Samuel Adams — May the citizens of Massachusetts, at the ensuing election, convince the World that gratitude ever inhabits the bosoms of Freemen. 6th. The French Republic — May the Altar of Gallic Liberty, be founded on the immutable basis of Social Order — and be cemented with genuine Freedom, and Equal Rights. 7th. La Fayette — May Americans exhibit to the World an example, that Freedom never can desert their friends in adversity. 8th. In our festivity let us remember our Brethren in slavery and in chains — and may the public spirit of Americans speedily wipe off the stain of permitting their fellow countrymen so long to continue captives in Algiers. 9th. May the circle of social Happiness know no boundaries but that of the Ecliptic. 10th. May Americans recognize the just value of their present happy Constitution — and should occasion require spend the last drop of their blood in its defence. 11th. May the Genii of Reason and Social Fellowship condemn to the guillotine the Daemons of Envy and Superstition. 12th. The Irish Nation — May the Hibernian Harp speedily vibrate in union with the sweetest chords of Liberty. 13th. The Society of Mankind. If in this narrow World their pleasures must oe circumscribed; in the world to come, may they convene in full meeting, and enjoy the favour of the Supreme President of all Worlds. Volunteers by gentlemen visitors. 14th. The American Republic one and indivisible. 15th. May the harmony and felicity of the Shakespearean Society continue until the exeunt omnes of Time, shall prepare Mankind for the first scene of ETERNITY.312
It is possible that the final toast, which seems to have a theatrical tinge, gives us a clue to the society. After much opposition, the law against theatrical performances had been repealed, and on February 3, 1794, the Boston Theatre was opened with a company under the management of Charles Stuart Powell. Can it be that the Shakespearean Society owed its origin to this company?
The other reference occurs in a notice printed in a Boston paper in 1795:
TAKE NOTICE —All persons who have regularly been balloted for, as Members of the above Society, who have not signed the Articles, since their being new revised, must attend this Evening, and execute the same, or they will not be admitted as Members thereof. Members of the above society are requested to attend early on particular business.
J. ROBINSON, Sec’y.313
Mr. Frederick L. Gay communicated a copy of a letter written in 1633 by the Rev. Thomas Welde, who had recently been ejected by Laud from his living at Terling, Essex, England, and had come to New England in the William and Francis in that year. The letter follows.
A Letter of Master Wells from
New England to Old England
to his people at Tarling
in Essex. It is a letter
Setting forth the great
Mercis of God with
praise and thanks
Most deare and welbeloued in Tarling euen all that Loue the Lord Jesus Christs Gospell and my selfe, rich and poore, weeke and strong, young and old, Male & Female I vnto you all in one Letter wanting time to mention you all in particular, you being all deare vnto mee yea most deare to my heart in Jesus Christ for whom I bow the knee to the Father of Lights longing to here of your grat welfaire and spirituall growth in his deere Sonne: from your presence though I be placed and must see your faces no more yet I shall after a few weary daies ended and all teares wiped away, and though happily neuer on earth yet in the New Jerusalem And heare though we cannot be suffered to liue togeter yet there we shall enjoy together sweet society in all fulnes of perfection to all eternity. O blessed for euer blessed be his holy name And let the heauen and earth, and Sea & men, wittnes of his fauour to vs and ours and sound out his glorious praises, yea lett all within vs, without vs, yea all that we can ring out the riches of his grace from Sea to Sea, from New England to Old and from Old to New, for all his abundant mercys temporall, Sperituall and eternall past present and to Come, bestowed continued & renewed and multiplied on vs all, in particular, on mee and mine, for he hath laden me and Crowned mee with marcyes euer since our last imbracing drowned in teares for our Sad departure, as paul told his deare friend, weeping because that they should se each others no more. To Holland in Holland from Holland Mercyes, Mercyes, To New England in New England abundance of marcys, I haue cause to stand and wonder had I but a heart so effected, that I and all mine are passed the deepes and are aliue and well yea mercy mercy in the Lord inwardly outwardly, in spite of Diuells and stormes as Cherefull as ever, my wife314 all the voyage on ye Sea better then at land, and sea sicke but one day in a xi weekes, att sea my Children neuer better in their hues. They went ill into ye ship but well there and came forth well as euer My selfe had not one ounce of sea sicknes, nor one motion or inclination thervnto not all the way, Stand still and behold the Saluation of ye Lord and not only I and all mine well & safe but all in the Shipe being neere eaighty passengers yea some very aged xii persons being all able to make well nigh one thousand years, some very yonge and hanging on the brest, some women big with Childe and one deliuered of a lusty Childe within forty houres after she landed She and the Child well, and so continue to this day. Another woman in our ship of sixty yeers old who had laboured of a Consumption and strong cough of the Lunges vii yeares is not only aliue but came forth of the ship fully cured of the Cough as fresh as Eglle that hath cast her bill and renewed her strength I am the ey witnes of this and we hope God may add to her xv yeers to her life.
And not only all saffe in our ship but all saff in the ships that came this Spring out of England laden with passengers, Cattell and goods. Wherein not a man woman or Childe died by the way nor since that came to shore, nor any of them yt Came weakly to land but abide strong through Gods mercy to this day our shipps being all in this admirable manner ariued there was holden and yt by athority a publique solemne day of thanksgiuing315 to God for his mercy, within seuen days after landing, from which I am perswaded God smelt a sauour of rest As in Noahs sacrifyce when he came forth of the Aarke Heare we are come into as goodly a land as euer mine eyes beheld such groues, such trees such a aire as I am fullv contented withall and desire no better while I liue, yea I see assuredly with industry and selfe denyall men may subsist as well here as in any place. The plantation is now sett vpon fishing for a stable comodity, Store of Salt I see already for the fish and a shipe to goe to the Salt Islands for more where are mountains of salt for the feching, and shallops made & tackling prouided to catch it withall & to send it into other countries to fetch in all other comoditys here is also rape oyle which is like to be a sta come. Heare I find three great blessinges peace, plenty and health in a Comfortable measure the place well agreeth with our English bodies that they were neuer so healthy in their natiue Contrey generally all heare, as neuer could be rid of the head ach, tooth ach. Cough and the like are now better and fred heare and those that were weake are now well long since and I cane heare of bvt two weak in all the plantation Gods name be praised and although there was wanting at ye first, that prouision at the first glutt of people that came ouer two yeere since, but blessed be God here is plenty of Come that the poorest haue enough, Corne is heare at 5s-6 a Bushel, in truth you cannot Imagine what comfortable diet the Indian Corne doe make and what pleasand and wholsome food it makes. Our Cattell of all do thriue and feed exceedingly, I suppose that such as are to come need bring no more or littele or no prouision except mault, (but no more of these things) I would haue none aime at outward matters in such an attempt as this, least the Lord meet him in the way as he meatt Balaam with a drawn sword but at things of an higher nature and more Spirituall nature. O how hath my heart been mad glad with the comforts of his house and the spirituall days in ye same wherein all things are done in the forme & patterne shewed in the mount members providd church officers elected & ordained Sacrament administred, Scandalls preuented censured. Fast days & holy dayes & holy fest days and all such things by Athority Commanded & performed according to the precise rule. Mine eyes blessed be God do see such administration of Justice in ciuile gouernment All things so righteously so religiously and impartially carried, I am already fully paid for my voyage Who neuer had so mvch in the Stormes at Sea as one repenting thoght rested in my heart praised & thanked be God who moued my heart to Come and made open the way to mee And I profes if I mite haue my wish in what part of the world to dwell, I know no other place on the whole globe of the earth where I would be rather then here: We say to our freends that doubt this Come and see and tast Here the greater part are the better part, here Mordicai speaketh kindly to the hearts of his people Here are none of the men of Gibea the sonnes of Belial knocking at our doors disturbing our sweet peace or threatening violence, Here blessed be the Lord God for euer Our eares are not beaten nor the aire filled with Oaths. Swearers nor Railers, Nor our eyes and eares vexed with the vnclea Conversation of the wicked, Here it is counted an honour by the worst to lay hold on the shirt of a Jew, Here if any be our Sanballets316 would thrust in them selus yet could not, Here the rudest haue a Charg and dare not breake it. I say the Lord Continue & inlarge it still these sweet incouragments, and make us walke worthy and it is enough. I desier no more till I come in heauen, Conceiue vs not as if we went about to justifie our selues or dreame of perfection no God knowes wee thinke our selues ye poorest and vnworthiest of all his saruants justly elce he mite spue vs out of his mouth, only we desier to breath after perfection and to know what is the rule & to walke in it. Nor as if we went about to Condeme other places besides our owne, or other men besids our selues no. no, I assure you we looke att our dere natiu country as the place where the Lord shewed vs mercy and to his holy ordinances there is the holy meanes of our God (if euer we had itt) we had itt there, we pray for your Congregations publique & pri—ed we fast and pray for you, we loue you derely you ly next our hearts Sorrow we are when we here any evill betide you: glad when any good, we desier to do this for euer And let our tongue cleaue to the roofe of our mouth if we forget you my beloued haue the like affection towards us as we haue towards you in the Lord, yet we cannot but mourne for ye spotss and blemishs yt are among your meetings which the Lord of his infinit marcy dense away, to returne to my own perticuler at my first landing I was so far from wanting a place of receist that I was so importuned in fore seuerall places that it was a trouble to know what freend to gratify, At last I rested with Mr Masell317 at Charles Towne where now I am with my family most kindly entertained till I knowe where God shall dispose of mee. I am most earnestly entreated to be in fore seuerall Congregations and all haue sought by publique and Solemne Fasting and prayer that God would moue my heart thither if it be his will.
The blessing of God be with you all my dere hearts I desier now to hear from you hoping that by this time the Lord hath prouided some faithfull pastor to teach and watch ouer you in the Lord. Once more farewell. The Lord Comfort your hearts, bottle you teares, pardon your Sinnes, Supply your wants, Worke all your workes for you. Know your Souls
in aduersity and presarue
you to his euerlasting kingdom