for those of you out there who are interested in the origins of the quakers (i know you’re out there! (^_^) ), i can’t recommend highly enough barry levy’s Quakers and the American Family: British Settlement in the Delaware Valley. i haven’t quite finished it yet, but the overall impression that i’ve got so far is that the quakers of nw england (cheshire) and northern wales of the 1600s were juuust on a cusp of a transition from clannishness to non-clannishness (or less clannishness anyway). the population of the region was, and presumably had been for a very long time, based on extended families, feuds, and kin connections. the quakers made a conscious choice to break with that and focus on the nuclear family, but they were still clannish in many ways. imo, the seventeenth century quakers of nw england/ne wales were some of my “in-betweeners” — not extremely clannish anymore, but not fully individualistic/universalistic by that point, either — somewhere in the middle. (see also jayman’s A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers.”)

i’ll work up a post on the quakers outlining more completely the history of their mating patterns and family structures (as far as i know them) hopefully within the next week. until then, below is an excerpt from levy related to the clannish behaviors of the non-quaker, base population in this nw region of england — specifically in myddle which is in shropshire (which lies beyond the tees-exe line). levy’s source on these obviously clannish folks from myddle is one richard gough who, in 1700, wrote Human Nature Displayed in the History of Myddle. i’m almost certainly going to have to read that!

but for now, from Quakers and the American Family, some bits about the tyler “clan” [kindle locations 586-600]:

“Though being routinely and often happily subverted by middling love, Myddle’s regime of honor and shame was occasionally and less attractively tarnished by clan bullying, as the story of the Tyler clan shows. Richard Gough rightly believed William Tyler ‘of the most debauched morals of any in this parish.’ Tyler had fornicated with the estranged wife of Richard Hussey. He had a child by her. Tyler took this child, Nell Hussey, as his house-maid and he committed incest with her, producing a second ‘bastard’. Tyler also stole sheep and assaulted people. Some of his daughters were ‘lewd’ women. However, the Tyler clan sat relatively undisturbed in their pews in Myddle Church and kept their honor unblemished.

“Tyler and his clan simply stopped people from humiliating them publicly. When Tyler’s nephew, Richard Challoner, ‘was bound over to appear at the Assizes for stealing a cow,’ William Tyler prevented the shameful hanging by telling the prosecutor ‘that this Challoner was his kinsman, and it would be a disgrace to me as well as to the rest of his friends to have him hanged, and that his friends would raise £5 among them to pay for the cow in case he would forbear the prosecution.’ Sympathizing with Tyler’s interest, the prosecutor accepted the bribe and Challoner was freed. The Tyler clan defended their honor violently, if necessary. Hoping to jail Tyler for debt, Mr. Thomas Braddock ’employed Rees Wenlock to serve William Tyler with a writ.’ Tyler persuaded Wenlock to stop on the way to court at Tyler’s sister’s house where Tyler’s kin assaulted Wenlock and freed Tyler. Mr. Braddock then got a more muscular group of tenants to serve Tyler in church. Again, ‘many of Tyler’s companions, and some women of his relations came to rescue Tyler.” After a fight, “Tyler was set on horseback, and … went toward the gaol.’ The Tyler clan was inconsolable, although they faced, particularly in relation to their greater sins, a relatively minor public humiliation, a temporary jailing for debt. ‘The consternation and lamentation of Tyler’s friends,’ noted Gough, ‘especially the women, was such as I cannot easily demonstrate.’

“Because of their ethical priorities, even unrelated local people helped unwittingly to keep the sinister Tyler clan’s banner riding high. Tyler in old age finally faced the gallows for stealing some sheep. Tyler’s virtuous grandson, Thomas Tyler, was the chief witness against him. The jury refused to believe the youth, however. As Gough noted, ‘the jury conceived it malicious and blamed him for offering to hang his grandfather, and soe old Tyler was acquitted.’ The northwestern jury raised kinship loyalty above property rights and above the choice to witness justly against a brutish life.”

and here’s a little bit about notions of honor in seventeenth century myddle [kindle location 521]:

“Though placed toward the back of the church, tenant farmers, particularly those who boasted generations of ancestors in the parish, held much honor. They lost this honor, however, if they suffered rituals of public humiliation. So while often ignoring private vices, tenant farmers always made an effort to prevent overt mortifications. Worried middling parents sent their juvenile delinquents far from the surrounding countryside, not to rehabilitate them spiritually or even to save their skins, but to remove their likely and shameful jailings and hangings from the sight and recording of neighbors. A Myddle tavern-keeper, Thomas Jukes, exiled a larcenous son by placing him into apprenticeship with a roving juggler who happened to pass through the village.” Michael Brame, of a long-standing Myddle family, came to Myddle following the death of his brother and brother’s wife in order to preserve the family’s leasehold and also to raise his brother’s son William. William robbed meat from several neighbors’ houses. The Braine clan took the only possible action: ‘at last he was sent away,’ noted Gough, ‘I know not whither.'”

edit: i meant to say and i forgot — getting rid of dishonorable children in this clannish society is (was), of course, a parallel to the killing of dishonorable children in much more clannish/tribal societies, just with less homicide. /edit

and, then, on notions of honor amongst the quaker settlers in pennsylvania [kindle locations 649-651]:

“The Quaker settlers were also as fascinated by honor, though they replaced clan honor with the Deity’s honor as revealed in their lives — ‘the honor of Truth.’ Their meetings would try to erase considerations of honor within households by insisting that such households uphold the honor of God’s revelations. The settlers were as pugnacious, though they replaced violent clan feuds and lawsuits with a spiritual feud against the ‘world’ — the ‘Lamb’s War.'”

(note: comments do not require an email. myddle!)

Advertisements