This year the Bowne House Historical Society in New York marks the 350th anniversary of a significant event for religious freedom. From the society’s news release:
On December 27, 1657, thirty townspeople of Flushing, Queens signed a “remonstrance” addressed to Peter Stuyvesant, the director general of the Dutch colony, New Netherland. The two-page letter, set down by a local cleric, protested Stuyvesant’s ban on the rights of Quakers to assemble and worship in the colony. Significantly, it further demanded that all people–regardless of religion or ethnic background–be given “free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences.”
Stuyvesant ignored the Flushing Remonstrance, as it came to be known, but its principles were later tested by John Bowne, an English immigrant and prosperous landowner in Flushing. Although not a Quaker himself, Bowne was married to Quaker minister Hannah Feake Bowne. In defiance of Stuyvesant’s ban, Bowne allowed people of her faith to meet and worship in their Flushing farmhouse. For this “crime,” Stuyvesant imprisoned Bowne in 1662 and banished him to Holland. Refusing to capitulate, Bowne argued his case before the Dutch West India Company. In 1663, the company revoked Stuyvesant’s ban, and ordered him “to allow everyone to have his own belief, as long as he behaves quietly.”
The historical society is seeking descendants of the men who signed the Flushing Remonstrance, as well as Peter Stuyvestant and his sheriff Resolved Waldron. One of Resolved Waldron’s descendants–William Waldron– married Judah Brodt (Bradt) in l804 and produced 14 Waldrons, four of whom married Roblees. The complete text of the news release is available at http://www.robleesonline.org/Flushing_Remonstrance.pdf.