Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Beeks line: Nathaniel Fitzrandolph 1642-1713 From Puritan to Quaker

Nathaniel Fitzrandolph is not an immigrant, as he was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1642 to his parents, Edward Fitzrandolph and Elizabeth Blossom. However, from the records I've found, he is such an interesting man that he deserves his own blog post.  He was one of the early Quakers at Barnstable, and that marks him as a man of courage.  He married for the second time at age 64, and had a child by his second wife, which marks him as a man of interest.  And he was well respected in his time and place, which marks him as a man of honor.

It is hard to pinpoint just when Nathaniel became a Quaker.  He appears to have lived somewhat happily in Barnstable (on Cape Cod) for his early years.  His mother was born in Leyden, Holland and was of a thoroughly Pilgrim family.  The Blossoms had been on the "Speedwell", which was forced to turn back early in the planned voyage with the Mayflower.  Edward Fitzrandolph and his wife came to America in the Winthrop Fleet of 1630, so they were Puritans if not Separatists.  The household Nathaniel grew up in would have been quite religious and he would have listened to or read the Word of God every day.

So was it love that changed Nathaniel's heart?  He married Mary Holley or Holloway in 1662, and her family was Quaker.  Her parents were Joseph Holley and Rose Allen.  One would like to think this was the case, but we also know that several of Nathaniel's siblings became Baptists.  Both groups were persecuted by the government, who required infant baptism, payment of tithes to the church, and other actions objectionable to the Fitzrandolphs.

At any rate, Nathaniel and Mary had seven children, apparently all in Barnstable, before the poor treatment of Quakers caused them to join sibling Fitzrandolph's in Woodbridge, N.J. in 1677-78.  Here they were permitted to practice their religion with more freedom than in Barnstable, although it was still not an easy life.  Nathaniel, however, had respect in the community.  He was an associate justice of Middlesex County for several years, and represented Woodbridge in the Provisional Assembly for three years.  He also served as sheriff and as highway viewer at Woodbridge.

I've seen Nathaniel referred to as a "planter" and as a "gentleman planter".  Usually the term "gentleman planter" infers that slaves were used, but since Quakers abhorred slavery perhaps he employed indentured servants, who would receive their freedom in a stated number of years. 

Starting in about 1704, Nathaniel's home became the meeting place for area Quakers.  This was a year after Mary had died.  One wonders if she objected to opening their home earlier, or was she ill and the home therefore not available, or was it just coincidence that Nathaniel's home was needed at this time.  After Mary died, Nathaniel married Jane Curtis, and had one son by her. 

It is believed that Nathaniel, who died in 1713, and Mary are buried in the Friends Meeting House at Shrewsbury, with no gravestone as that was the Quaker way at the time.

This is the snapshot we have of Nathaniel as husband, father, planter and Quaker. There are of course numerous questions still to be answered, but we see enough to see a strong and gentle figure, and that is reason to honor and respect him.

The line of descent is:

Nathaniel Fitrandolph-Mary Holley
Samuel Fitzrandolph-Mary Jones
Prudence Fitzrandolph-Shubael Smith
Mary Smith-Jonathan Dunham
Samuel Dunham-Hannah possibly Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel G Dunham-Eliza Matilda Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants