Monday, April 5, 2010

At Odds: My Puritan and Quaker Heritage

I've been moved my many stories of my ancestors but none more so than that of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick and two of their children, son Daniel and daughter Provided who lived in Salem, Massachusetts.

Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of  England were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in a very puritanical Salem. They were persecuted, fined, whipped, thrown in prison and eventually banished for not following the Puritan ways. They were my 9th Great Grandparents (and 8th great grandparents of Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon, my second cousins, 8 generations removed) and their daughter, Provided, my 8th Great Grandmother. To find out the horrors your family members went through is gut-wrenching. What I find utterly unbelievable is that the Puritans, who left England because of religious persecution became persecutors themselves and many Quakers suffered terribly as a result. Even more shocking to me was to find out that the person who passed judgement on them was my own 9th Great Grandfather, Puritan and first Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Endicott:

"According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, "Under his authority the colony of Massachusetts Bay made rapid progress, and except in the matter of religious intolerance in which he showed great bigotry and harshness, particularly towards the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)" (including religious executions), "his rule was just and praiseworthy. Of him Edward Eggleston says: A strange mixture of rashness, pious zeal, genial manners, hot temper, and harsh bigotry, his extravagances supply the condiment of humour to a very serious history; it is perhaps the principal debt posterity owes him."
Quaker Trial, 17th Century

Because of the unfair treatment of their parents, having bear witness to the repeated lashings and imprisonments, Daniel and Provided decided not to participate in a church that was so persecuting and for this they were fined ten pounds each even though it was known they would not be able to pay. The Governor then issued an order in the General Court of Boston that Daniel and Provided would be sold as slaves to any English nation at Virgina or Barbados.  
This image shows my 9th great grandfather, Governor John Endicott attempting to sell my 8th great grandmother, Provided Southwick into slavery.  The writing below the image reads:
"The attempted sale into slavery of Daniel and Provided Southwick, son of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick by Gov. Endicott and his minions, for being Quakers."

I wanted to know more and after several days of research I came upon the book:
"Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem Mass.
The Original Emigrants, and the Ancestors of the Families Who Have Since Borne His Name (1881)

I've discovered that books on family Genealogy such as this one don't come cheap! In fact, some can be selling for hundreds of dollars!  But, this book was totally worth the purchase as I uncovered so much more than what I had found previously.  It included Historical Extracts such as this one:
"Lawrence, Cassandra and their son Josiah were imprisoned at Boston for being Quakers and were kept there twenty weeks on a charge of violating a law enacted while they were in prison."

Quaker Meeting House, 17th Century

Eventually all Quakers were banned from setting foot in Massachusetts under "pain of death" although several risked imprisonment and even death by hanging in order to continue their ministry.  Lawrence and Cassandra were banished and fled to Shelter Island, Long Island Sound, New York where Nathaniel Sylvester, the island's first white settler gave shelter to them and many other Quakers.  Another except from the Southwick Genealogy book reads:
"Lawrence and wife Cassandra went to Shelter Island, Long Island Sound, being banished under pain of death in 1659, and died there in the spring of 1660 from privation and exposure; his wife died three days after him."

It was really sad to discover that they died of starvation and exposure.  Even though they weren't family members that I knew in the physical sense, they were still my grandparents, whose blood flows through my veins. I still had an ache in my heart for the way they died which seems completely unfair and unnecessary.

Yesterday, as I was sitting on my patio in the morning sun, sipping my favorite brand of coffee and enjoying the views over the lake, I thought about Lawrence, Cassandra and Provided and how this day, this moment of enjoyment is a result of all my ancestors, on both sides of my tree. Those who suffered humiliation and persecution, those that fought and died in war, those who endured hardships in the new lands and on the open prairies.Those that gave me life, protected me and loved me. I honor all of them by continuing my research, telling their stories and keeping memories alive.


  1. I am also a descendant of John Endicott, Provided Southwick and the Gaskills - fun to find your blog!

  2. I too am a decendant of Provided Southwick and John Endicott.

    I think good old grandpa Endicott would roll in his grave if he knew his decendants married into Quaker and Indian blood.

    Yep fate stuck it to him by making my family line of the decendants of Southwick and Endicott run with Cherokee Indian blood thanks to one of the decendants marrying a Cherokee woman (my great-grandmother).

    It was neat to come across this blog. I guess we are cousins! Cool :)

  3. This is amazing! I am a des. of Provided and Samuel through their son Edward. I just learned about this story yesterday. Amazing that John Endicott, Edward’s Grandfather of his wife, Hannah Endicott, was the person to (almost) sell Provided Southwick, Edward’s Mother, into slavery. The plot thickens.

  4. From what I've been told, I'm also a descendant of Provided Southwick and John Endicott. I followed an old family tradition and married a Quaker, too.

  5. I am yet another who just discovered their descent though Lawrence and Cassandra's daughter Provided Southwick Gaskill and her husband Samuel, in my case through their son Edward and Hannah Endecott or Endicott, the granddaughter of the infamous Gov. John Winthrop. (She was also a niece of Gov. Endicott.) My Gaskill family remained Friends until leaving Pennsylvania in the late 1890's, eventually turning full circle to the Church of England.

  6. I'm also related to these people, Provided is my 10th great grandmother. I come from Provided's son Samuel and Bethiah Woodin. Cherokee isn't the only Indian blood, I have Wamponoag in mine. Also a TON of Canadian and Irish... I wonder what old man Endicott would think about that one, eh? I find it really cool how a family spreads out over 400 years :)

    1. Provided and Samuel Gaskill were my 9th ggrandparents and I also come from the Samuel Jr. and Bethiah line. I remember my maternal grandmother, who was born a Gaskill, telling me her family were Quakers. How interesting that she would end up marrying a Jewish man (my grandfather) and then teaching us all the importance of respecting all religions.

    2. I am a descendent of the Southwicks as well. I can trace that line back to French and British Royalty.

  7. As I am another descendent of Southwick, this is fascinating reading. Being a grandson of George W. Southwick, I have wondered how our family came here to The Colonies. Thanks!

  8. Just to join in the fun, I TOO am a descendant of these Southwicks (from Daniel). Where did you get that drawing of them? Is it in that same Southwick genealogy book?

  9. I have found a lost painting of Gov. John Endicott all original and Salem MA labels painted by Horace Robbins Burdick who was hired by William Endicott. e-mail me for a picture @

  10. I have discovered one of the lost paintings of Gov. John Endicott. William Endicott hired Horace Robbins Burdick to paint it. Its large and in original frame. Going on ebay soon. E-mail me for a picture.


  12. Yet another cousin through Provided and Samuel (my 9th g-grandparents) and Edward and Hannah Gaskill. Just came across your blog entry today after finding out the story of Gov. Endecott (dear old 10th g-grandfather… ;-) and the Southwicks several weeks ago. Thanks for the extra info here; that and all of the comments are fascinating!

  13. Provided Southwick is my 9 time great-grandmother,very interesting,ID love to hear more thanks:)

  14. Provided Southwick is my 9 time great-grandmother,very interesting,ID love to hear more thanks:)

  15. Thanks for writing this. According to, Lawrence is my 9th great grandfather.

    dave shields

    By the way, Winston Churchill (his mother was American) and Richard Nixon were descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra.

  16. Thank you for writing this. I am also a descendant of both Lawrence/Cassandra and Gov. Endicott! Conflicted, indeed.