Monday, April 19, 2010

Reading between the lines in old records

Context is everything.

I'm indexing the men's meeting minutes of Moate Meeting (Quaker) in Ireland. I was working on 1753 tonight when I ran across the entry, that I'd found before, in which my ancestor Joshua English requested a certificate from the meeting to take with him to America. You can imagine how excited I was when I first saw this 1753 record!

4th mon: the 22
Joshua English haveing signified to some of this meeting his Intention of removeing with his family to some part of America and requesting a Certificate from friends of this meeting to friends (there) which, Upon Consideration how he and his family Stand as to Unity with friends it was Concluded that Such a Certificate as friends Could Safely give shoulde be (written) Up for him and brought to this meeting for aprobation which being done Now read approved and Signed John Robinson is appointed to record them in the proper booke and return acct thereof to next meeting.

Tonight, I read it again, knowing now that he and his family had been disowned around 1751, because of his daughter's running out and getting married by a priest. I had assumed that he had written a letter of apology and been taken back into the membership, because he had protested the whole time that he didn't allow the marriage. But the phrases "Upon Consideration how he and his family Stand as to Unity with friends" and "Such a Certificate as friends Could Safely give," added to the fact that he had asked through a friend and not attended the meeting himself, makes me think that he had not been accepted back into the meeting. 'Makes me a little sad for Joshua.

I've been unable to find the certificate they wrote, so far. I have a serious hope that it's in another record book, which is full of letters that are out of order. Unfortunately, they've never been indexed, and I don't have access to the book right now. I doubt I will find the letter before my book about the English family is finished. I do know that the letter was a good one, because it earned Joshua the "bounty" given to immigrants of good character when he arrived in South Carolina.

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