Julius Friedrich Sachse.

Benjamin Furly, an English merchant at Rotterdam : who promoted the first German emigration to America online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryJulius Friedrich SachseBenjamin Furly, an English merchant at Rotterdam : who promoted the first German emigration to America → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook















Jjarluigton Alemorial LiLrar^

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2009 with funding from

University of Pittsburgh Library System













^ .No










'>^<^^^>t>^->-»-^ - ^^^jj^*-^^J^;>x the friend of
^ (/ ^!^ William Penn and

promoter of the first German emigration to America, was a
native of Colchester, England, where he was born April 13,
1636.^ He began life as a merchant there, and became
identified with the early Quakers. Subsequent to the year
1660 he immigrated to Amsterdam,^ but afterwards made
Rotterdam his permanent home, where he engaged in the
mercantile and shipping business, his first establishment
being in the Sclieepmakershaven.

Although an Englishman by birth, he soon became iden-
tified with the land of his adoption, and married " Dorothe
Graigne," a Dutch maiden.^ His eldest cliild by this mar-

* According to a Dutch account (Unger, in " Eotterdamsch Jaar-
boekje," 1890, p. 114), he was born at Rotterdam, of English parentage.
There is, however, nothing to substantiate the above claim, as the learned
writer evidently confuses Benjamin Furly with his son Benjohan.

^ Berhard Croesens, " Quaker Historic, von deren Ursprung bis auf
jungsthin entstandene Trennung." Berlin, bey Johann Michael Rudiger,
1696, p. 644. The title of the English edition reads, " The General
History of the Quakers &c. Being written originally in Latin by
Gerard Croese." London, 1696.

Two editions were printed tn Latin, — " Gerardi Croesi Historia Quaker-
iana," — viz., Theodore Boom, 1695, and Amstelodamie, anno M.DCIVC.

* " Archief der Gemeente," Rotterdam.


4 Benjamin Fwrly.

riage was a son Benjohan, born January 6, 1681. Furly,
by his honesty and industry, became known as one of the
leading merchants of Rotterdam, and removed his residence
and warehouse to the Haaringvliet^ then the chief com-
mercial centre of the city. He, however, did not confine
himself exclusively to his commercial life and to the accu-
mulation of wealth, but continued his interest in literary
pursuits, and, as Croese intimates,^ " to thoroughly perfect
himself in the various branches of learning," he cultivated
the society of the leading critics and scholars of the period,
and subsequently became a patron of letters.

His house became the rendezvous of such learned men as
Leclerc, Limborch, Algernon Sidney, Edward Clarke, and
Locke, and his library, with its wealth of manuscripts and
rare imprints, was one of more than local reputation, being
frequently quoted and consulted by litterateurs from difiereut
parts of Europe, two notable instances of which were the
visits of Ludolph Kuster and Zacharias von Ufienbach, ac-
counts of which have been preserved. Benjamin Furly also
took an active interest in the religious questions of the day,
taking the side of the Separatists, as opposed to the estab-
lished churches, and his home in Rotterdam upon frequent
occasions was the scene of devotional meetings at which
George Fox, Keith, William Penn, and others were promi-
nent participators.

At an early age he became convinced of the Quaker doc-
trine, and became one of the most active champions of that So-
ciety upon the Continent. He was a prolific author, writing
with equal facility in English, German, Dutch, and French.

His zeal in the doctrine he had embraced is attested by
the publication of his numerous controversial writings, to-
gether with those of Fox and Penn, which were translated
by him and printed at his expense.

Furly afterwards became the chief agent of William Penn
on the Continent for the sale of his newly acquired lands in

* The " Haaringvliet" is one of the numerous basins or canals that
form the harbor of Rotterdam.
» " Quaker Historia," p. 645.

Benjamin Furly. 6

America. His wife having died in 1691, he married, on De-
cember 10, 1693, Susanna Huis, the widow of one Jacobus
van der Lijt.^

Benjamin Furly died in March, 1714, in the seventy-eighth
year of his age, and was buried, as befitted a man of his
standing and wealth, in a tomb (No. 175) in the centre
aisle of the St. Laurentius or Groote Kerk, formerly the
cathedral church of Rotterdam.^ Four children are known
to have survived their father, — Benjohan, John, Arent, and
a daughter Dorothy; all, presumably, issues by the first

It has been questioned whether Benjamin Furly became
a Quaker before or after his settlement in Holland. We
know that he was a man of marked and peculiar religious
views, and that from his first arrival in Holland he was in
sympathy with the so-called Separatists ; and from the fact
that members of his immediate family in England were
among the early followers of George Fox, it is probable that
he was convinced prior to his immigration to Holland.

According to a Dutch account, it would appear, however,
that he did not join the Society of Friends until after his
residence in Rotterdam. If this be true, it must have been
prior to the years 1659-60, as in those years he, together
with John Stubs, assisted in the compilation of George

" A Battle-Door for Teachers & Professors to learn Singu-
lar & Plural : You to Many, and Thou to One : Singular
One, Thou; Plural Many, You."

It was a folio of fifty-seven sheets, printed in thirty lan-
guages, of which, among others, his grandson says that the
Chaldee, Syriac, Welsh, and French portions were written by
Furly.^ Croese, in his " Historia Quakeriana," distinctly
states that " Benjamin Furly had this clever and ingenious
work printed at great expense, and that Fox, although he
knew of these thirty tongues but a single one, yet poses as

^ " Archief der Gemeente," Rotterdam.

"^ " Rotterdamsch Jaarboekje," Vol. II. p. 114.

^ " Original Letters," etc. Preface, p. 79.

6 Benjamin Furly.

the author." George Fox, in his journal, mentions that
this work was finished in 1661, and that Benjamin Furly
took great pains in compiling it.

During the next fifteen years Benjamin Furly published a
number of controversial works in the interest of the Quakers,
prominent among which may be named the following :

"Die Sache Christi und seines Volks." (German.) (The
Cause of Christ and His People Justified.) By W. Ames.
The large preface is by B. Furly. 4to, 1662.

" The Light upon the Candlestick." By W. Ames. The
English translation is by Furly. 4to, 1663.

" The World's Honor detected &c. By a Friend to Truth
who is no respecter or regarder of persons, called a Quaker."
B. F[urly]. 4to, 1663.

" Eine Beschirmunge d'unschuldigen," etc. (Dutch.) By
Wm. Caton, with a postscript by Benjamin Furly. 4to, 1664.

" Coppe van een Brief." (Dutch.) 4to, 1666.

" A Recantation by Benjamin Furly. Given in Rott[er-
dam] in 1669." (This is in relation to the hat controversy.)

" Anthoniette Bourignon ontdeckt, ende haeren Geest
geopenbaert uyt haere Druckten," etc. (Dutch.) 4to, 1671.

" The Universal Free Grace of the Gospel asserted," etc.
By George Keith. (Part by B. Furly.) 4to, 1671.

" A Letter to George Whitehead, about the Hat Contro-
versy." 8vo, 1673.

"Missive aan de Nederlanse Natie." (Dutch.) (A Mes-
sage to the Dutch Nation), by William Penn, Translation,
with a large preface and conclusion, by Benjamin Furly.
4to, 1675.

In the Archives of Rotterdam there is preserved a docu-
ment written in Hollandese, in which Furly, together with
Symon Jansz Yettekeiicken, makes the following appeal
to the burgomasters and regents of Rotterdam for the
protection of the Quakers who were then holding meet-
ings in that city. This interesting document, in the hand-
writing of Benjamin Furly, is dated July 8, 1675, and
was photographed by the writer during the past summer, —

A Battle-Dooi



Singular & Plural ,

Ton to Many J and Thou to One . Singular One^ Thou

Plural Mdny, \oh

Wherein is fliewed forth by Grammar, or Scripture Examples, how
fcvcral Nations and People have made a diftm^ion between Singular and
rlitral. And firft, In the former part of this Book, Called The Engiijh
Battle Dfior,mzy be fcen how feveral People have fpoken Singular znd
Plnral i As the Aphdrfathkites^ the Tarptfites, the AphtrCitts, the Archt-
vjtcs, the BabylontAns, the Sufdnchite^y the Debavites^ the EUmttts, the
Temanites^ the f^aomites^ the Shuitet^ the BuTbttes, the Moabites, the ///-
t///^j, the Edomitesy the Philtfitnet, the Amalckites, the Sadomttes, (he
Hittttest the MidUniUsy &c.

Alfo, In this Book is fet forth Examples o£ the Singular 2ind Phral
about TA*;r, and r*?*, in feveral Languages, divided into diftinft jB«//r/f
Do<jr/, or Formes, or Examples ^ Englifi, Lattftc, Itdhan^ Greek, Hebrew
Caldecy Syrtack^ Ambick^ Perfiack^, Ethiopici, Samantaa, Coptic^, or
Egyptuk, ArrmniAn^ Saxon, IVeUh^ Mtnct, Corntjh, French^ Sfojttfhj
Torttigal, High-Dutch, how-Dutch , Danjjh^ Bohemian^ Slavonian
And how Emperors and others have ufed the Singular word to One:, and
how the word Touf^Smi firft from the Pope.

Likcwifefome Examples, inthe F*Ww», Uthvaman^ Injh and Eafl- Indian,
together with the Singular and Plural words, thou and you^ in Sweedijhj
Turkijh, Mufcovian, and CurltHdian^ tongues.

in the latter part of this Book arc contained feverall bad unfavoury Word^,
gathered forth of certam School-Books, which have been taught Boyesm
England, which IS a Rod and a Whip to the School-Mafters in England and
elfewhcre who teach fuch Books^

George. Fox. John Stubs. Benjamin Furley

LONDON, Printed for RobirftVilfon, and are to be fold '»;,>"^/j'°f/;j^'
S\^ncoUhc Black-Spread'Eaglcind mnd mil iti Martins It Gr^nd.

Fac-simile of the title-page of George Fox's "Battle-Door."

8 Benjamin Furly.


" To the Burgomasters and Begents of the City of Boiterdam :

" The people of God, mockingly called Quakers, who
have taken up their residence in this City, cannot refrain
from making known, with christian respect, unto you, as
Magistrates of this Cit}'^, that now twice, to wit ; — yesterday,
within and without their regular meeting place, where they
come together to wait in silence upon the Lord,
they have been treated and handeled with vio-
lence and annoyance by divers sort of men, not only young
but also of greater age, which is so publicly known that
the thrown-in window-panes and the broken doors and
benches are clear witnesses thereof. All the which they
make known unto you not so much for anxiety for their
persons and goods, as they well know that the same God is
livina: yet, and shall live unto eternity, who
bath set limits to the sea and hath said hitherto
sbalt thou come but no further, and who can prevent the
raging of the people when it pleases him : but
" ' ' to avoid thereby the blame, such things having
befallen them, of not having made known the same to you,
for your discretion, and above all for the mani-

Matt:6. 2, 12. / c f^ A • ' V.' X.

festation of God in your consciences which

dictates to every one to do unto others as he would have

others to do unto him, because with what meas-

' ' ' " ure he metes, it shall be measured to him again.

In the name of all signed by us

"Benjamin FFurly
" Symon Jansz Yettekeucken
" At Eotterdam the 8th day
of the Month which one
calles July, 1675."

When, two years later, Penn, accompanied by Robert Bar-
clay, George Fox, Keith, and others,^ made his celebrated

^ The party, in addition to the three named, consisted of John Furly,
a brother of Benjamin Furly, of Rotterdam, G. Watts, William Tailcoat,
Isabella Yeomans, and Elizabeth Keith.— Journal of William Penn.

Benjamin Furly. 9

tour through Germany and Holland, it was this same Ben-
jamin Furly who met them upon their landing,

George Fox records that the party was becalmed when a
league from the shore, and that William Penn and Robert
Barclay, understanding that Benjamin Furly was to come
from Rotterdam to the Briel to meet them, got two of the
sailors to lower a small boat and row them ashore ; but be-
fore they could reach it, the gates were closed, and there
being no house without the gates, they were forced to lie in
a fisher's boat all night. As soon as the gates were opened
in the morning they entered and found Benjamin Furly,
who brought them to Briel, where the Friends received
them with " great gladness."

The party arrived at Rotterdam on the same day, Satur-
day, July 28, 1677. The next day — First day (Sunday) — two
religious meetings were held at the house of Furly, who
then lived in the Wynstraat, the latter and John Glaus
acting as interpreters. The next fortnight was spent in
visits to various towns in Holland. On the 7th of August
the company divided up into two parties, when Keith,
Barclay, and Penn left the others at Amsterdam and set
out towards Germany, where, as Fox states in his journal,
" they travelled many hundred miles, and had good service
for the Lord," Benjamin Furly going with them and acting
as interpreter for the party, and upon that occasion was
largely instrumental in influencing the Germans in favor
of Penn. It is further a matter of record, that Furly re-
mained with Penn and Keith during their entire stay on the

Towards the close of this memorable pilgrimage, four
tracts of an exhortative character were written by Penn,^
designed for distribution among the Separatists in Germany
and Holland. These tracts were revised and translated by
Benjamin Furly, and printed at his expense after Penn's
departure. The German titles are as follows :

" Forderung der Christenheit fiir Gericht." (A Call to
Christendom, etc.)

^ Penna. Mag., Vol. II. p. 276.

10 Benjamin Furly,

"Eine Freundliche heimsuchung in der Liebe Gottes."
(A Tender Visitation in the Love of God.)

" An alle diejenigen so unter den Bekennern der Chris-
tenheit," etc. (To all Professors of Christianity, etc.)

"An Alle diejenigen welche empfinden," etc. (Tender
Counsel, etc.)

The above vi^ere also published collectively in Dutch
under the general title, " Het Christenrijk Ten Oordeel
Gedagvaart," etc. Two of the above tracts — " A Call to
Christendom" and " Tender Counsel" — were printed sep-
arately at the time in English.^

It was about this time that the friendship between John

Locke, who had been introduced to Furly by Edward

/j ^ . Clarke, of Chipley,^ ripened into in-

JJ 0^^ ^OC^ timacy, and the correspondence which
^y ^^-^ ensued lasted until the death of Locke.

Algernon Sidney and the Earl of Shaftesbury were also
frequent visitors at the Furly homestead, and the former, at
his death, bequeathed to Furly a large silver goblet, which
is still in possession of his descendants.^

When the grant to William Penn was consummated, and
there became a likelihood of a large German and Dutch
immigration to Pennsylvania, Penn submitted to Benjamin
Furly the drafts of several instruments which he proposed
to make the basis for the laws and government of his
Province. Furly's comments on these papers, in his hand-
writing, are among the " Penn Manuscripts" in the collec-
tion of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In them he
suggests the protection of the interests of the German and
foreign settlers who it was expected would immigrate to

' Whiting's " Catalogue of Friends' Books," London, 1708, pp. 119,

^ Edward Clarke, Esq., of Chipley, near Taunton, was one of the
burgesses for that borough in seven Parliaments, from the first of King
William, which met in 1690, to the third held by Queen Anne, which
was dissolved in 1710.

^ A drawing of this cup forms the frontispiece to the second edition of
" Original Letters of John Locke, Algernon Sidney, and Lord Shaftes-
bury," London, 1847.




Eentederebefoekinge. indc LtefJeGods. aanallediegenS

die een begcerrc hcbbenom.Godte kennen enhcni^m

Waarheyd en Opregtigheyd aan te bidden, van wat

■Se^fe, of foort van Codsdtenft de felve zouden

mogen wcfen

EenMinfiyeaanalle die gene. dre. onderdebciyders der Chn-

ftelijkbeyd, afirefonderizijrivandcricUibdrc Setlcn.

Qnuyierli)ks. Gemeenten.

Een Mifiive aan al die gene, die gevoeilg z\]n van
den dag harer befoekingc.

^llei in d' Engelfe Tule gefch<^en . door


En daar uyt oveigefer.

Tot R O T T E R D A M .

Gedrukt voor jAN PIETERSZ G R O E N ^0(/ O UT».
Boekvcrkooper , wonendeophetSp«uy 167^

Fao-simile of th» Dutch title-page of Penn's Tracts. Original in the " Archief der
Gemeente," Rotterdam.

12 Benjamin Furly.

Pennsylvania, and makes a number of criticisms on the
laws which Penn proposed, suggesting in some instances
the usages followed in Holland.

This interesting document, never before published, is
reproduced in its entirety at the end of this paper, and it
deserves the careful consideration of every student of Penn-
sylvania-German history, for it will be noted that Benjamin
Furly was not alone concerned about the religious and civil
liberty of the prospective immigrants, but of their personal
rights as well. This is instanced in the clause granting
immunity from arrest and fine to such persons as choose to
labor upon the First day of the week,^ — a suggestion that
was made in the interest of the Sabbatarian movement
which was then attracting considerable attention in both
England and Holland.

Then, again, his suggestions and advice to Penn as to the
course to pursue in regard to a possible attempt to introduce
negro slavery into the Province ^ is of great interest, as the
first public protest against negro slavery in America was
made at Germantown in 1688 by some of the German
pioneers who came to Pennsylvania under his auspices and

Subsequent to the grant Benjamin Furly became Penn's
most active and useful agent on the Continent for the sale
of his lands. How great a factor he was in bringing about
the extended German immigration is a matter of history.^
It was he who negotiated the first land purchase of the
Crefelders,* and the deeds were dated and delivered by him.
It was also through his efforts that passage to America on
the " Concord," Captain William Jefiries, was procured for
the thirteen pioneer families, consisting of thirty-three Ger-
man emigrants, who were met and welcomed upon their
arrival by both Penn and Pastorius.

To encourage further immigration of Germans and Hol-

"■ Section XIX.

» Section XXIII.

» Penna. Mag., Vol. II. pp. 237-282.

* Ibid.,Vol. II. p. 280.

Benjamin Furly. 13

landers to Pennsylvania, Furly had printed in English, soon
after it appeared, a German and Dutch translation of " Some
Account of the Province of Pennsylvania in America," pub-
lished in London, 1681.

Three years later this was followed by " Beschreibung der
in America neu-erfunden Provinz Pensylvauia." 4to, 32 pp.
Hamburg, 1694.

A translation into French was published at the Hague in
the same year.^

From letters and documents in the Lawrence collection
of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania it appears that in
later years there was a well-grounded cause for dissatis-
faction on the part of Furly as to Penn's agents in Penn-
sylvania, notwithstanding Penn's personal efforts in his
favor. For this reason Furly gave to Reynier Jants (Jan-
sen), to whom he had previously sold some land,^ a power
of attorney to act for him in Pennsylvania upon his ar-

This document was subsequently revoked in favor of a
similar one granted to the brothers Daniel and Justus
Falkner, prior to their departure for America in 1700.^

William Penn's personal interest in the protection of
Benjamin Furly 's claims is shown by his letter of instruc-
tion to James Logan prior to his departure from Pennsyl-
vania in 1701, wherein he commands him to prepare a
warrant for four thousand acres of land for Benjamin Furly.*
A number of letters from Furly, addressed to Justus and
Daniel Falkner, have also been found among the Lawrence

^ Att English version of this rare work was printed in the Penna.
Mag., Vol. VI. p. 321.

' Deed July 17, 1685. Acknowledged before a notary in Holland.
Minute-Book " H," " Pennsylvania Archives," Second Series, Vol. XIX.
p. 598.

' For an extended account of the controversy and litigation which
subsequently ensued, vide " The German Pietists of Provincial Pennsyl-
vania," Vol. I. pp. 145, 167-171, 307, et seq.

* Letter dated "25th 8"", 1701," "Pennsylvania Archives," Second
Series, Vol. XIX. p. 219 ; see also " The German Pietists of Provincial
Pennsylvania," Vol. I. p. 171.





3undf!cn^ untcr Urn ©rcifen ®f e^d


William Penn, &c.

^ucen SKegiernng terfcl^en nit jg/
MhtxQthtn tvoiteu/

3uw Un(eTrt(()t Imv / To cf roan Ser^H^ Uvoc^tn I tttx Mtif)

an f>Ukn Dn !|u f<n>en/^«wift
?Iit«i Dcm \rt London i{iltucUm unt>afbaT Brr) Benjamin Clare k

•^UibhdnMcrti in George- Yard Lombard-ftrect 6tftttfi(f)<m
Eoglifchen Wfratff ^er.

(Sftrt'I'^ii ^i^ obertTfJjnten Will. Penns^
3u 2Im Rfirtam / qihruiH 6(9 .Chriiloff Cunradeu . -

Fac-simile of the German title-page,

Een kort Bcricht
Van de TroVtntie ofte Landfchap


genacmt , Icggcndc in


Ku onlangs onder het groote Zegel van Engeland
gegeven aan


Van de Privilcgien, ende Macht om
hct fclve wcl tc Rcgeeren.

Uyt het Engeh overgcfct na de Copye tot Londcn gedrukc by 5'»;<*
rmn Chrk^, Boekverkoopcr in George Yard Lombardftreet, 1 68 r.

I^act bp tiu gsbac0t i^ De ^otificotte ban fi* ftontng^^Intcaf t/

in Dace ban Den i ttp^H 1 6S j.uiaor innedr reg(nu)06^(»ac

giniDoonbccjB: ban Pennsylvania, liclafli»o^tr

\c^iLLEM P£NN fnzijn Erfgcnainet, nl^ bolkomene

^{tftenoatjsien ^oubernrucjsi, te0el)oo^ramcn.

De Copye van een Brief by den fcl vcn W.P. gcfchreven aaoi

zckere Regeeringe Anno 1675. tegens de Vervolginge

en voor de Vryheyt van Confcientie , aan alle occ.

Toi 7{^0TTE7^VWM.

Gedruktby PiETER VAN WynbrugGE, Bock-Df uklccr in dr
LceuwcAraai, in dc Wcreld Vol - Druk. ^nnt i.6,8i.

Fac-fiimile of the Dutch title-page.
[From tbe original ip Carter Prowp Librarjjr, tbroqgh courtesy of John Nicholas Brown.]

16 Benjamin Furly.

papers before mentioned ; ^ the latter was for a time the
mercantile correspondent of Furly in America, and of the
sons Benjohan and John after their father's death.

In some of these letters Furly expresses his unbounded
confidence in the integrity of the two Falkner brothers, in
others he characterizes a prominent person in Pennsylvania
as a forger and embezzler, and charges him with defrauding
him out of his lands in Pennsylvania.

But little has thus far been written or published of the
private life and character of Benjamin Furly, who was so
important a factor in organizing the German immigration
to Pennsylvania, and in procuring for the immigrants the
necessary transportation,^ except that he was an eccentric
person of peculiar religious views. His correspondence,
however, with Locke, Sidney, Lord Shaftesbury, and others,
whose letters to him were privately printed some fifty years
ago,^ shows that Benjamin Furly was a man whose literary
attainments were of no mean order, and that he was upon
intimate terms with many of the leading scholars and states-
men of the period who labored incessantly to establish civil
and religious liberty in Europe.

It further appears that Locke spent much of his time at
Furly's house, and as he was particularly fond of children,
one of his chief amusements while there was playing with
the young folks.*

Although usually classed among the leading Quakers of
that period on the Continent, and notwithstanding his purse
and pen were at their disposal and used in their interests, it
appears that his connection with them was not one of uninter-

^ Thomas Lawrence was elected mayor of the city of Philadelphia
by the Common Council, October 1, 1728.

1 3

Online LibraryJulius Friedrich SachseBenjamin Furly, an English merchant at Rotterdam : who promoted the first German emigration to America → online text (page 1 of 3)