Saturday, January 30, 2010

love, peace and liberty condemn hatred, war and bondage

Volume 34 of the Lineage book - National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (1912) gives a lineage for Minnie Roelker showing that she was eligible to be inducted into the society. The report in DAR yearbook is succinct:

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Wife of Hugo B. Roelker.
Descendant of Ensign Thomas Lenington, of New York.
Daughter of Henry Lefman and Sarah Lenington Thorne, his wife.
Granddaughter of John Edmund Thorne (b. 1815) and Abby Lenington, his wife.
Gr.-granddaughter of Thomas Lenington and Sarah Van Sickles, his wife.
Gr.-gr.-granddaughter of Thomas Lenington and Sarah Sickerton, his wife, m. 1777.

Thomas Lenington, (1755-1829), served as sergeant under Capt. John Nicholson in the Canadian campaign; was promoted ensign 1776; was taken prisoner and confined fourteen months at Quebec and Halifax. After his exchange he was employed in the quartermaster's department and had command of a vessel on the North River. The widow was one hundred and four years old in 1848 and a pension was allowed her for over two years actual service as sergeant and ensign in the New York line. She was married in New Providence, New Jersey and received her pension in Brooklyn, N. Y.
Minnie was sister of my great-grandmother Annie Windmuller and as I recall, the family found it slightly embarrassing that anyone related to us wanted to be a part of that tainted organization. Still, Minnie's genealogical research gives some interesting stories, which my aunt Florence collected and saved. I've summarized aunt Florence's work here.

A bit of further research turns up a considerably more distant and somewhat more interesting relative. Both Minnie and her sister, my great-grandmother, were descended from a man named William Thorne. There have be many men of that name. This one is distinguished for having agitated for freedom of religion in Dutch New Amsterdam back when the American colonies were still young.

The story is succinctly told here and at greater length here (pdf).

In 1638 this William Thorne left England so he could practice his religion without interference and then left Massachusetts when he found he disagreed with the practices of the Puritans there. In New Amsterdam he thought he'd found the tolerance he sought, but a change in government brought new restrictions, not on his own freedoms but on those of a near-universally persecuted sect, the Society of Friends, or Quakers. Standing on principle and seeking for others what he valued so much for himself, Thorne joined with others, none of them Quakers, to request that Quakers be able to practice their religion in Flushing, Long Island, the town in which they'd settled. The government of the time refused but was, in time, overridden by the home office in Amsterdam.

William Thorne and his son, also William, both signed this request and both are direct ancestors.*

The document is untitled and has since come to be called the Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing to Governor Stuyvesant, December 27, 1657.

This is what it looks like:

{source: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times}

It's the first formal request for freedom of religion in the American colonies and is a precursor of the freedom of religion clause in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.

It asks Peter Stuyvesant, the governor, to "let every man stand or fall to his own Master." And it reminds him, "wee are bounde by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith." It also says, "love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage... if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing [i.e., Flushing]."


See also:

A Colony With a Conscience an Op-Ed article in the New York Times by By Kenneth T. Jackson

The Flushing Remonstrance by Michael Peabody in Liberty Magazine, whose purpose is to honor freedom of religion ("The God-given right of religious liberty is best exercised when church and state are separate")

Flushing Remonstrance article in wikipedia

Precursor of the Constitution Goes on Display in Queens, an article in the New York Times on an exhibition to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the remonstrance

350th Anniversary of the Flushing Remonstrance: 1657-2007 a set of web pages honoring the anniversary

Roots of a Westchester Wedding Planted Deeply in Religious Freedom (pdf)



* You can see the descendency here: Windmuller Family Genealogy.


Serge Le Coz L'Eternel said...

Hello, I did read all"The Spirit of laws" and " The Persan letters" by Montesquieu and I found it great ; also about the freedom of religion the history of Quakers is interesting. Otherwise in order to help some bad things to be part of history and not present, you can find something about a petition which could interest you in the top right-hand corner at the following address: . Sincerely for a better world

Tom Loggia said...

Getting this historical story out has been very frustrating to say the least…I still can’t figure out why the NYC Parks & Rec. Dept. & Politicians have not yet embraced the opportunity to honor William Thorne Sr. for his courageous sacrifices that he endured in the 1640’s during our countries earliest developments towards religious freedom and tolerance for all. During our own recent troubling times it would only seems appropriate to allow the locating and memorializing of this signer of the Flushing Remonstrance and his burial grounds for his (Thorn-Cornell- Wilkins) descendant’s which is located somewhere on Fort Totten Park in Flushing, New York.
Tom Loggia