Churches and Religious Institutions
II. The Society of Friends - 1684
BY MARC P. DOWDELL
The initial formal religious activities in and about Trenton were undertaken by members of the Society of Friends as early as 1684.
Sundry members of the Society who had landed at Burlington in 1678 soon pushed on towards "Ye ffalles of Ye De-la-Warr" to take up land in the neighborhood. Scattered clumps of log houses sprang up quickly in the region which centered loosely around Crosswicks and soon extended to the mouth of the Assunpink Creek where Mahlon Stacy had settled and built a grist mill in 1679. 1
1 See Chap. I "The Colonial Period " above.
It should be explained at the outset that the Society of Friends in Trenton was from the beginning affiliated with the Monthly Meeting which had its headquarters at Crosswicks and was known as the "Chesterfield Meeting." This was the center from which for many years radiated the Quaker influence and activities operating in this section of New Jersey. The history of the Chesterfield Meeting includes therefore that of the Trenton Meeting which cannot property be isolated from it.
THE ORIGINAL CHESTERFIELD MEETING
By August 1684, temporal affairs were sufficiently advanced for the Friends to meet together for worship at the home of Francis Davenport, their spiritual leader, at Chesterfield, or Crosswicks as it is now known, and to establish the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting of Friends. The original minute book of this meeting, now preserved among the records at the Trenton Meeting House, Hanover and Montgomery Streets, contains a paean of praise to God for His blessings in leading His people to a place where they could worship Him in peace and after a fashion of their own. This declaration was probably written by Francis Davenport and is signed by him and by John Wileford and William Watson.
On the occasion of this first meeting of Friends Davenport's house was selected as a place of worship and for the transaction of the business of the monthly meeting until otherwise ordered, the day chosen being the first Thursday of each month. Births, burials, and marriage bans were to be recorded at the monthly meeting.
It is on record that Samuel Bunting and Mary Foulkes were the first pair to signify their intention of marriage. Their bans were published on September 9, 1684, and the marriage was solemnized according to good order and the custom of Friends on September 18, following. Witnesses at the Bunting wedding numbered most of the original settlers. They were:
Thomas Foulkes, Sr.†††††††††† Robert Murfin††††††††††† John Tomlinson
Thomas Foulkes, Jr.††††††††††† Peter Fettwell†††††††††††† Sarah Davenport
Job Bunting†††††††††††††††††††††††† Thomas Lambert†††††††† Esther Gilberthorpe
Francis Davenport††††††††††††† Samuel Sykes††††††††††††† Mary Wright
Thomas Gilberthorpe††††††††† John Curtis†††††††††††††††† Elizabeth Curtis
The first direct evidence that a considerable settlement of Friends existed at the Falls, or Trenton, appears in the action taken November 7, 1695, when the first death occurred among the colonists, that of John Brown. This brought a decision by the Society to establish burying grounds both at the Falls and at Chesterfield.
John Lambert granted a portion of his estate at the Falls for this purpose. The plot was used by Friends for a long period, finally becoming a part of the present Riverview Cemetery. The trustees named to accept Lambertís gift were: William Emley, Thomas Lambert, John Wileford, Joseph Wright, Mahlon Stacy, and Joseph Eby. All of these are presumably to be included among Trenton's earliest settlers.
At the same monthly meeting the settlers at the Falls were given permission to establish a branch meeting for week-day worship each Thursday. They† were to meet in rotation at the homes of Mahlon Stacy, Thomas Lambert, Samuel Sikes, and William Black.
That there were non-Quaker settlers in the community at least as early as 1686 is established by the fact that on April 4, 1686, Alice Fulwood asked the monthly meeting to grant her permission to wed a non-Quaker. This was reluctantly given and Mary Andrews and Sarah Davenport were appointed to see that the Friends ceremony was used. The wedding took place on May 1, 1686, but Alice was too staunch in her upbringing to be comfortable, and on June 5 following she confessed in Meeting to an uneasy conscience for her act.
On June 5, 1686, John Lambert asked permission to wed Rebecca Clower, daughter of John Clower of the Pennsylvania Falls Meeting, for which permission was granted July 2.
In July 1686 the Quakers organized their first local charity. A store of corn at Stacy's Mill was provided under the administration of John Wileford, for the assistance of Friends who had met with misfortune. This action was determined by a fire which destroyed Robert Shelby's home, and Thomas Lambert and Mahlon Stacy were sent to inquire of Shelby if he was in need of help.
Trenton's first representative to the yearly meeting, which then met alternately at Philadelphia and Burlington, was Mahlon Stacy, who with William Biddle of Crosswicks was deputized to attend that held in Burlington on July 8, 1686.
A readjustment of places of meeting was effected on May 5, 1690, when it was determined that the monthly meeting should gather in turn at the home of Francis Davenport, Chesterfield; then at Edward Rockhill's, Chesterfield; at Thomas Lambert's, Nottingham; at Robert Murfin's, Nottingham; at William Biddle's, Chesterfield; and finally at Mahlon Stacy's, at the Falls, and then in rotation down the list again. By this arrangement it would appear that the membership was about evenly divided geographically between Chesterfield and the settlement at the Falls, or Trenton, for Thomas Lambert's estate, on the bluff overlooking the river just below the Falls, is spoken of as being at Nottingham, but subsequently became a part of Trenton.
A MEETING HOUSE BUILT
On January 5, 1691, it was proposed that two meeting houses be built, one at Chesterfield and the other at the Falls. Discussion came up at each successive meeting until June 6 when it was decided that only one meeting house should be built for the present and this at Chesterfield. On November 11 of the same year definite action was taken and Davenport, Samuel Andrews, William Wood, Samuel Bunting, and Thomas Gilberthorpe were appointed to secure estimates on the cost of building the proposed structure. Nothing more appears on the record until October 4, 1692, when John Greene was awarded the contract to build the meeting house. On June 3, 1693, the first meeting was held in the new building.
Apparently Greene rendered a bill for services in excess of expectations, for on November 4 it was recorded that the meeting had reasoned with him and, according to agreement, had paid him 40 pounds for materials, 1 pound for his work, and 2 shillings overage. At the same time Davenport reported that he had paid 6s. 8d. for the lime used and had 4 pounds 11 shillings 1d. left in his hands.
LEGAL AND DISCIMINARY MEASURES
Light on the attitude of the Friends towards the sale of liquor is cast by a minute dated March 5, 1687, when the meeting was informed that one of its members, John Bainbridge, had been selling rum to Indians. John Bunting and Samuel Sykes were appointed to remonstrate with the offender. At the following monthly meeting, April 2, Friends Sykes and Bunting reported that the rum had been sold by John Bunting, Jr., who, at the time of their visit had been hard and defiant. At a quarterly meeting, which had been held in the interim, John had been present and at that time, so Sykes and Bunting reported, "the Power of the Lord broke his spirit" and he had confessed to Samuel Bunting his determination to abstain from the practice.
For many years subsequent to their original settlement the Quakers shunned all courts of law. They had had enough of these proceedings with their corresponding penalties in the mother country. Hence the Society insisted on settling all differences arising among its own membership and if any member failed to accede to the terms of settlement he suffered summary expulsion, and then only the offended member was permitted to appeal to the courts of the Colony for justice.
The first case for settlement before the Chesterfield Meeting was recorded on December 8, 1684, when Robert Murfin and William Black reported the need for an arbitrator. Robert Wilson was appointed to hear the testimony and make a decision. On January 5, 1685, Wilson reported that the difference had been settled to the satisfaction of both parties.
In November 1697 came the first of a long series of expulsions when Esther Gilberthorpe, wife of one who had been most prominent in meeting affairs, was read out for "scandalous gossiping." Thomas, her husband, thereafter absented himself from meeting. In 1699 a committee was sent to reason with him but without avail and he was the second to be dropped from the rolls. Gilberthorpe was carried as a member until 1703 when the Friends finally whipped themselves up to a public denunciation of him.
By this time a new wilderness-raised generation was coming on to plague the old zealots in their endeavors to maintain the traditional Quaker discipline. It is on record that several of the young bloods - Richard French, Thomas Curtis, and David Curtis - were forced to apologize publicly for "rowdy conduct." The Society thenceforth found its attempt to regulate the private lives of its members a most difficult task, and it is a tribute to the unbending fortitude of the leaders that they did not cease their attempts to disown those whom they considered to be unworthy until they thereby had reduced the Society's place among the religious bodies of the era from a dominant position to a quite minor one.
A NEW STRUCTURE PLANNED
The original meeting house, built in 1692 at Crosswicks, was found to be inadequate for its purpose and a new structure requiring forty thousand bricks was determined upon in 1706. Davenport and Wood entered into a contract with William Mott for the required number of bricks at a stipulated price of 40 pounds.
On November 11, following, the bricks were reported as having been made and Samuel Bunting, Davenport, Wood, William Tantum, Thomas Lambert, and Robert Wilson were named the building committee. Tantum was hired to do the carpenter work and John Farnsworth was sent to Burlington to buy two hundred bushels of lime. Tantunt and Lambert agreed to furnish the shingles.
Early in 1707 Francis Davenport died and the meeting lost its first leader. Samuel and John Bunting thenceforth were to hold joint possession of the records, and, by implication, to assume the leadership of the meeting.
OTHER MEETINGS ESTABLISHED
In 1709 the first of the distant meetings recognizing the authority of the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting was established at Little Egg Harbor and a small meeting house was built. Six years later, in 1715, this branch was strong enough to become a monthly meeting itself.
Stony Brook Meeting House was the next to be built by the Chesterfield Meeting, a stone structure 34 feet by 3cs feet being agreed upon on May 2, 1724, at a cost of 150 pounds. Some months later, on January 4, 1725, Tanturn and Lambert, the building committee, reported that the cost would reach 200 pounds and subscriptions to this amount were asked. This meeting house is still standing on the historic Princeton battlefield.
The growth of the Chesterfield Meeting was rapid from that time forward and in 1727 collections were being taken for the building of still another meeting house at Springfield, near Mount Holly.
THE EARLY STAND AGAINST SLAVERY
Friends took an early stand against slavery. In 1730 we find that the members of Chesterfield Monthly Mecting were holding prolonged and anxious discussions over a question submitted to them by the yearly meeting, and on July 3 Benjamin Clark, Thomas Lambert, and Isaac Horner were appointed to draw up a reply.
At the next meeting the paper was ready for approval and was duly recorded. It read:
"This Meeting having considered the proposal of some Friends to our last Quarterly Meeting to restrict Friends from purchasing Negroes imported into these parts. It is the sense of this Meeting that as Friends both here and elsewhere have been in the practice of it for some time past and many Friends differing in their opinions from others in that matter we think restricting Friends at this time and bringing such as fall into the same thing under dealing as offenders will not be convenient lest it create contention and uneasiness among them, which should be carefully avoided. We hope those Friends that are dissatisfied with such actings will not only be exemplary but in a Christian spirit persuade against a practice so contrary to that Noble Rule laid down in Holy Scriptures in doing to all as they would that they should do to us.
Signed by order and in behalf of
†††††††† said meeting by Thomas Lambert."
Conservative ideas prevailed in 1730 in the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting, but abhorrence for slavery had crept in and less than a score of years afterwards the Society had purged itself of participation it the slave traffic and was preparing for that long campaign against it which finally led up to the Civil War and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
In October 1731, Friends at Bethlehem, near Belvidere, set up a brand of the Chesterfield Meeting with Charles Wolverton and Daniel Robins as overseers appointed at Chesterfield and reporting there.
ANOTHER MEETING HOUSE BUILT
Mansfield meeting house was the next to be built, Joseph Pancoast and Isaac Horner being appointed to receive subscriptions for it in April of 1732.
The claims of Trenton as a center were again put forward in 1734 and, in April of that year, a group headed by Isaac Harrow was given permission to hold meetings there on First Days (Sundays), for a trial period of six months. Bordentown friends received the same recognition in November following.
In 1736 a general subscription for some unreported purpose was ordered taken and the listing of those appointed to take funds shows the number of branches of the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting then existing, These were located at Chesterfield, Springfield, Mansfield, Stony Brook, Bethlehem, and Trenton. For some unknown reason the Bordentown group was omitted from this list, although at the monthly meeting of September 1736 Isaac Horner, Richard French, William Morris, Joshua Wright and Marmaduke Watson were appointed to treat with Joseph Borden for land for a meeting house at Bordentown.
In October 1736, Samuel Satterthwaite, Benjamin Shreve, Thomas Newbold, Benjamin Clark, Jr., Ananiah Gaunt, and Joseph Gardiner were appointed to receive two parcels of land from Borden, one for a meeting house and the other for a burying ground. On May 7, 1737, the deeds were executed.
PROJECT FOR A MEETING HOUSE AT TRENTON REVIVED
About the year 1730 the group of Friends living at Trenton or Trent Town, as it was then called, acquired a new leader in the person of William Morris who came thither from Barbadoes and apparently established himself as an importer of West Indian products, probably sugar and rum, and, perhaps, slaves. Morris soon was a recognized leader in the monthly meeting and was chosen to attend quarterly and yearly meetings and appointed on various special committees. It was he, doubtless, who revived the project for a meeting house at Trenton, for on December 2, 1737, he, with Isaac Horner, headed a delegation asking permission to build the structure.
The following month Joseph Reckless, clerk of the monthly meeting, was ordered to draw a deed for a meeting house plot in Trenton. It was to be conveyed by William Morris to Benjamin Smith, Stacy Beakes, William Plasket, Joseph De Cow, Nathan Beakes and Isaac Watson. John Tantum and Benjamin Smith were named overseers to supervise the transaction. On August 5 Reckless reported that the deeds had been completed for the meeting house and burial plot in Trenton.
The committee in charge at once proceeded to erect the building, the work being completed in November 1739, when William Morris made application for subscriptions, saying that he had expended 25 or 30 pounds in excess of the money in hand.
Meanwhile the building of another meeting house had been authorized "near the home of Robert Lawrence." For some reason Friends were not satisfied with the location they had acquired for the Bordentown meeting house, and Thomas Potts, Jr., and Preserve Brown, Jr., were authorized to see Borden in an effort to exchange the plot for one across the street from it. This was done and the transfer effected. The building of the Bordmtown meeting house was begun in 1742.
SHRINKAGE IN MEMBERSHIP
In 1743 the meeting at Bethlehem broke away from the parent monthly meeting and became an independent monthly meeting. Prior to this dissolution, the Chesterfield Meeting embraced nine meeting houses which were scattered from Mount Holly (Upper Springfield) to Bethlehem, near Belvidere. It is estimated that the total membership of the Chesterfield Meeting just before the Revolutionary War numbered about eight thousand. The present membership of Friends within the same area is probably fewer than one thousand, despite the vast increase in population.
Doubtless the chief reason for this shrinkage lies in the fact that the Society set itself firmly against the tendency to exalt worldly advantage as opposed to the old Quaker simplicity. Friends were not given to compromise. When they believed a thing was wrong they opposed it at whatever cost. The Quaker equivalent of excommunication, "disownment," received its first use, as noted before, against a family which had been one of its honored founders in the wilderness. After the original leaders died off, "disownment" began to be used much more frequently and ruthlessly.
OPPOSITION TO "WORLDLINESS"
In 1724 the Society's concern for the spiritual purity of its membership resulted in the following minute being published:
This Meeting, having considered the great love of God in gathering His Church to the true knowledge of Himself, are careful that all members of it be under their immediate care and therefore think it necessary to recommend to such Faithful Friends as this meeting approves of for that service to have the oversight and regard to the actions and practices of such as pretend to be of us and use their seasonable endeavors by way of advice, reproof, etc., as occasion may require and advise this meeting as they find cause.
John Tantum, Isaac Horner and Benjamin Clark were named as the first elders and were commissioned to attend meetings of ministering Friends then being organized by the yearly and quarterly meetings.
The opposition to "worldliness," of which the above was a symptom, brought an ever-growing stream of charges and disownments of those who chose to lead their lives rather in keeping with the general spirit of the community than in conformity to the notions of conduct as laid down by their elders.
In 1745 England was engaged in one of her numerous wars with France and Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, first burgess of Trenton, the friend of Benjamin Franklin and the founder of Trenton's first public library, was moved by his patriotism to join with others in fitting out a privateer warship. His membership in the Socicty ceased from the moment his shocked fellow members could act. Here is the indictment they drew up against him:
Whereas it appears to this meeting that Thomas Cadwalader is concerned in privateering vessels contrary to our ancient testimony and the discipline established among Friends and it appears he hath been tenderly cautioned and dealt with from time to time in order to bring him to a sense of his undue liberty, but he refusing to give such satisfaction as the offense requires, therefore this meeting appoints Isaac Horner and Marmaduke Watson to draw a paper of testification against the said Thomas Cadwalader and his practice and to declare him out of unity with us as a Society until he shall give satisfaction to this meeting suitable to the offense.
The period of the 1740's marked the rise of a system of voluntary travelling ministers who ranged up arid down the countryside, living at the homes of the more well-to-do members of the Society and preaching on Sundays. These travelling ministers bore as credentials letters from their home meetings, testifying that their messages were in "unity" with Friends' principles. Nearly every meeting had, at some time or other, one or more of these travelling ministers and it was through them that the Society, as a whole, was led to take the vigorous stand on such moral questions as slavery and rum selling. Among the earlier travelling Friends bearing the credentials of the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting were Jacob Andrews, Joshua Shreve, and John Sykes.
THE "WOMEN'S MEETING"
BY 1753 the Chesterfield Meeting House at Crosswicks needed enlargement to care for the "Women's Meeting." A 16-foot addition was thereupon authorized. Among Friends it had been customary for the men and women to sit in separate sections of the meeting houses on Sundays and to meet entirely separately for the transaction of business, committees from each sex arranging the details of questions involving the meeting as a whole.
This, perhaps, was the first recognition of woman suffrage in America and of her status as an individual apart from her husband.
The first woman to be recognized as a minister and elder of the Chesterfield Meeting was Margaret Porter, who was so named in 1760.
A resumption of military activities by the Colony in 1756 brought a recurrence of disownments for participation by Friends. Joseph Thorne, Aaron Quickes, Francis Key, Marmaduke Bunting, John Schooley, John Shrieve, and Daniel Shrieve were youths who suffered this fate. Samuel Farnsworth was disowned for challenging a squad of soldiers near Bordentown to fight, by which it would appear that Farnsworth must have been a mighty man of valor, akin to one of Dumas' fire-eaters.
Two members of the Stockton family of Princeton suffered disownment in 1758. Amy Stockton had married her cousin contrary to rule and was disowned in April. The following month Daniel Stockton was found guilty of military service and of marrying outside of the meeting. Benjamin Thorn and Clement Rockhill were "dealt with" for military service. In July Abigail Schooley was disowned for the heinous offense of visiting her husband in a military camp. November brought the disownment of John Thorne for teaching the elements of military drill to William Black and Benjamin Field. December brought disownment to Joseph Bunting for training Francis Borden and Samuel Allen in military principles.
The following year brought more disownments to the Stockton family when Samuel was read out of meeting for fighting, militarism and marrying contrary to discipline.
With clouds of the Revolutionary War darkening the horizon the Friends were whirled irresistibly into dissension. Many of the younger men were sympathetic towards the cause of the Colonies. Their elders, in common with a large proportion of the more substantial citizens, abhorred the idea of a revolution which involved a bloody war fought at their doorsteps with a traditionally invincible mother country. Moreover, the conscientious members of the Society were convinced beyond any chance of conversion that war on any pretext was an inexcusable offense against the Almighty.
It thus came about that the Society took a firm stand against participation. Disownments for military activities were redoubled, the penalty being invoked against active Tories or patriots. Only a public confession of error before the meeting could excuse members embroiled on either side.
Not all of the "disowned" Quakers were patriots, Many of them, perhaps the larger number, were loyalists. They came of prosperous families who were satisfied with the established order and who looked upon the Revolution as "Rabbleism," as did many members of the propertied classes in other Colonies. And thus as loyalists, they hastened to join the British Army in Canada.
But the Revolution was the beginning of a steady decline in the membership of the Society of Friends. Meetings ceased to grow and many of the old places of worship had to be "laid down."
Many Quakers salved their consciences and the demands of the meeting by submitting more or less cheerfully to levies on their properties imposed by the new government for failure to take the oath of allegiance. Stacy Potts, who led in the searching out of military offenders, was himself fined 100 pounds and submitted to seizure of goods to that value by the sheriff.
Following the Revolution the Society resumed its campaign for the abolition of slavery, a campaign which helped to foment another and equally terrible war. But before that campaign had borne fruit another crisis within the body had to be faced. This was the famous doctrinal controversy precipitated by the preaching of Elias Hicks of New York, one of the itinerant preachers who travelled from meeting to meeting.
In 1827 this controversy reached the breaking point. Separation took place in a number of meetings, among them the Chesterfield Meeting. In Trenton the meeting house was retained by the "Hicksites." In Stony Brook, on the contrary, the Orthodox succeeded in the legal maneuvering which retained ownership for them. A famous lawsuit resulted,' one which has set precedents cited to this very day in the courts of New Jersey and other States.
I See under "Famous Cases Tried in Trenton," Hendrickson vs. DeCow, in Chap. XII, below.
In 1873 the Hicksite Friends of Trenton enlarged the original meeting house at Hanover and Montgomery Streets and changed its aspect considerably. Some of the original walls built in 1738-39 are incorporated in the present structure.
It is noteworthy that three Signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of families associated with the Chesterfield Meeting. These were George Clymer of Morrisville, whose body is buried in the Hanover Street Meeting House yard, Richard Stockton of Princeton and Joseph Hewes of North Carolina.
QUAKERS AS OFFICE‑HOLDERS
Owing to the original Quaker settlement in these parts, members of the Society of Friends naturally had a share in local civic affairs in the early days. Mahlon Stacy served as justice of the peace and member of the Colonial Assembly from 1684 to 1699; Thomas Lambert served as a justice for several terms as did also Peter Fretwell. The latter was also Provincial treasurer in 1699. William Biddle served as commissioner, justice, assemblyman and member of the Council. William Emley was a justice, registrar of the Ninth Tenth, member of the Assembly and of the Council. Joshua Wright served several terms as an assemblyman. Robert Murfin and John Lambert were constables.
George Hutchinson was an assemblyman, member of Council, and Colonial treasurer. John Hooton, elected to the Assembly, failed to take his seat and was fined twenty shillings. Thomas Folke, Jr., was appointed a ranger. Anthony Woodward, John Abbott, William Wood, Richard Stockton, I, John Wilkinson, Richard Ridgway, Joseph Kirkbride, Roger Park, William Watson and Thomas Folke, Jr., were named to various offices during the first fifty years of the Colony's history. Francis Davenport, however, was the original of the famous "Pooh Bah" of Gilbert and Sullivan's opera, holding at one and the same time the offices of high sheriff of Burlington County, justice of the peace of Somerset, Essex, Bergen, Gloucester, Burlington, Salem, Cape May, Monmouth and Middlesex Counties. He was also an assemblyman at various times, and a judge of the higher courts, thus serving continuously in several important offices until his death.
As time went on members of the Society held public office less frequently, partly as a result of the influx of new immigration, and partly, no doubt, owing to the Society's policy of avoiding "worldly things" as much as possible.
Since the Civil War, however, members of the Society have had a share in public office. Former City Commissioner J. Ridgway Fell is an instance in this locality, as also is State Senator A. Crozer Reeves.
MEMBERSHIP A DWINDLING ONE
Though the membership has been a gradually dwindling one, the Quaker leaven of religious tolerance, avoidance of war, personal liberty, popular education and the spirit of benevolence towards all mankind irrespective of color or race has been a patent example and influence in the community. During the Civil War and the reconstruction period, the Trenton Society of Friends united with their associates throughout the country in corporate works of relief, nursing and education. Also in the World War and subsequently in the efforts to provide for the needs of the suffering peoples in war-stricken Europe, the Friends of Trenton have played a conspicuous part.
The present officers of the Hanover Street (Trenton) Meeting (Chesterfield Monthly Meeting) are A. C. Reeves, chairman, and a council associated with him of fifteen others. Overseers of the Trenton Meeting besides Mr. Reeves are Sarah C. Reeves, Arthur E. Moon, Elizabeth B. Satterthwaite, Sarah C. Atkinson, Caroline S. Bamford, Jane H. Armstrong, Mary T. Finley, Norman B. Zimmerman, Cassel R. Ruhlinan and Dr. Joseph H. Satterthwaite. Clerks of the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting are Jane H. Armstrong, Clara M. Newbold and Helen T. Hollister. The treasurer is Arthur E. Moon, the recorder Elizabeth B. Satterthwaite and the treasurer of the trustees Harvey T. Satterthwaite. The organizations include the Lucretia Mott Parent-Teacher Association, a First Day School, and a study group. The present membership is 282.
The Trenton Meeting is now the most prominent in the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting.
QUAKER SCHOOLS THE FIRST
Friends have been credited with organizing the first schools in Trenton. Occasional instruction was given in members' homes from 1684 to 1786, when the Chesterfield Meeting reported to the Yearly Meeting that schools had been established at convenient places. Thenceforward there were always schools for the children of the members until the establishment of the public school system had made such institutions no longer necessary.
THE ORTHODOX FRIENDS
After the great schism of 1827, those who adhered to the old doctrine formed a separate Meeting. Complying with the suggestion of the Courts, the Hanover Street meeting house was surrendered to the Hicksite branch and the Orthodox met until 1856 in what had formerly been a Methodist church located at Academy and Broad Streets. Since that time the meetings have been held in the building on Mercer Street. Weekly meetings are held on Sundays and Thursdays. Monthly meetings are held alternately here and in Crosswicks. The Quarterly Meeting, known as the "Burlington and Bucks County," is held in Burlington, and the Yearly Meeting in Philadelphia, designated as the Yearly Meeting "For Friends of Philadelphia and Vicinity."
The present head of the Mercer Street Meeting and the preacher is William Bishop, the clerk is James W. Edgerton, the elders are Ellen P. Reeve, Martha H. Bishop, Sarah E. Wright and Caroline Allison, and the overseers are John R. Hendrickson, Eliza F. Ivens, Mary Anna Hendrickson and James W. Edgerton. There are seventy enrolled members.
© 1929, TRENTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY