S. Weir (Silas Weir) Mitchell.

Hugh Wynne : free Quaker, sometime brevet Lieutenant-Colonel on the staff of His Excellency General Washington online

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AUNT GAINOR . . . . , 40




IN THE PRISON . . . . . . 322

HERE, ANDRE! A SPY! . . . 376

THE VISIT TO ANDRE" . . . . 454


THE DUEL . . . . . 504

Is IT YES OR No, DARTHEA ? . . . 552


Hugh Wynne

Hugh Wynne


JT is now many years since I began these
memoirs. I wrote fully a third of them,
and then put them aside, having found
increasing difficulties as I went on with
my task. These arose out of the con
stant need to use the first person in a narrative of
adventure and incidents which chiefly concern the
writer, even though it involve also the fortunes of
many in all ranks of life. Having no gift in the
way of composition, I knew not how to supply or
set forth what was outside of my own knowledge,
nor how to pretend to that marvellous insight, as to
motives and thoughts, which they affect who write
books of fiction. This has always seemed to me
absurd, and so artificial that, with my fashion of
mind, I have never been able to enjoy such works nor
agreeably to accept their claim to such privilege of


2 Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker

insight. In a memoir meant for my descendants, it
was fitting and desirable that I should at times speak
of my own appearance, and, if possible, of how I seemed
as child or man to others. This, I found, I did not
incline to do, even when I myself knew what had
been thought of me by friend or foe. And so, as I
said, I set the task aside, with no desire to take it
up again.

Some years later my friend, John Warder, died,
leaving to my son, his namesake, an ample estate,
and to me all his books, papers, plate, and wines.
Locked in a desk, I found a diary, begun when a lad,
and kept, with more or less care, during several years
of the great war. It contained also recollections of
our youthful days, and was very full here and there
of thoughts, comments, and descriptions concerning
events of the tune, and of people whom we both
had known. It told of me much that I could not
otherwise have willingly set down, even if the mat
ter had appeared to me as it did to him, which was
not always the case ; also my friend chanced to have
been present at scenes which deeply concerned me,
but which, without his careful setting forth, would
never have come to my knowledge.

A kindly notice, writ nine years before, bade me
use his journal as seemed best to me. When I read
this, and came to see how full and clear were his
statements of much that I knew, and of some things
which I did not, I felt ripely inclined to take np
again the story I had left unfinished ; and now I
have done so, and have used my friend as the third

Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker 3

person, whom I could permit to say what he thought
of me from time to time, and to tell of incidents I
did not see, or record impressions and emotions of
his own. This latter privilege pleases me because I
shall, besides my own story, be able to let those dear
to me gather from the confessions of his journal, and
from my own statements, what manner of person
was the true gentleman and gallant soldier to whom
I owed so much.

I trust this tale of an arduous struggle by a new
land against a great empire will make those of my
own blood the more desirous to serve their coun
try with honour and earnestness, and with an abiding
belief in the great Ruler of events.

In my title of this volume I have called myself a
" Free Quaker." The term has no meaning for most
of the younger generation, and yet it should tell a
story of many sad spiritual struggles, of much heart-
searching distress, of brave decisions, and of battle
and of camp.

At Fifth and Arch streets, on an old gable, is this
record :



ERECTED A. D. 1783,


In the burying-ground across the street, and in
and about the sacred walls of Christ Church, not far
away, lie Benjamin Franklin, Francis Hopkinson,
Peyton Randolph, Benjamin Rush, and many a gal
lant soldier and sailor of the war for freedom.

4 Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker . .

Among them, at peace forever, rest the gentle-folks
who stood for the king the gay men and women who
were neutral, or who cared little under which George
they danced or gambled or drank their old Madeira.
It is a neighbourhood which should be forever full of
interest to those -who love the country of our birth.

CHILD S early life is such as those who
rule over him make it ; but they can only
modify what he is. Yet, as all know,
after their influence has ceased, the man
himself has to deal with the effects of
blood and breed, and, too, with the consequences of
the mistakes of his elders in the way of education.
For these reasons I am pleased to say something of
myself in the season of my green youth.

The story of the childhood of the great is often of
value, no matter from whom they are "ascended,"
as my friend Warder used to say ; but even in the
lives of such lesser men as I, who have played the
part of simple pawns in a mighty game, the change
from childhood to manhood is not without interest.
I have often wished we could have the recorded
truth of a child s life as it seemed to him day by day,
but this can never be. The man it is who writes the
life of the boy, and his recollection of it is perplexed
by the siftings of memory, which let so much of
thought and feeling escape, keeping little more than
barren facts, or the remembrance of periods of trou
ble or of emotion, sometimes quite valueless, while
more important moral events are altogether lost.


6 Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker

As these pages will show, I have found it agree
able, and at times useful, to try to understand, as
far as in me lay, not only the men who were my cap
tains or mates in war or in peace, but also myself. I
have often been puzzled by that well-worn phrase
as to the wisdom of knowing thyself, for with what
manner of knowledge you know yourself is a grave
question, and it is sometimes more valuable to know
what is truly thought of you by your nearest friends
than to be forever teasing yourself to determine
whether what you have done in the course of your
life was just what it should have been.

I may be wrong in the belief that my friend War
der saw others more clearly than he saw himself.
He was of that opinion, and he says in one place that
he is like a mirror, seeing all things sharply except
that he saw not himself. Whether he judged me
justly or not, I must leave to others to decide. I
should be glad to think that, in the great account, I
shall be as kindly dealt with as in the worn and
faded pages which tell brokenly of the days of our
youth. I am not ashamed to say that my eyes have
filled many times as I have lingered over these
records of my friend, surely as sweet and true a
gentleman as I have ever known. Perhaps some
times they have even overflowed at what they
read. Why are we reluctant to confess a not ignoble
weakness, such as is, after all, only the heart s con
fession of what is best in life ? What becomes of
the tears of age?

This is but a wearisome introduction, and yet

Hugh Wynne: Free Quaker 7

necessary, for I desire to use freely my friend s jour
nal, and this without perpetual mention of his name,
save as one of the actors who played, as I did, a
modest part in the tumult of the war, in which my
own fortunes and his were so deeply concerned. To
tell of my own life without speaking freely of the
course of a mighty story would be quite impossible.
I look back, indeed, with honest comfort on a strug
gle which changed the history of three nations, but
I am sure that the war did more for me than I for
it. This I saw in others. Some who went into it
unformed lads came out strong men. In others its
temptations seemed to find and foster weaknesses of
character, and to cultivate the hidden germs of evil.
Of all the examples of this influence, none has seemed
to me so tragical as that of General Arnold, because,
being of reputable stock and sufficient means, gen
erous, in every-day life kindly, and a free-handed
friend, he was also, as men are now loath to believe,
a most gallant and daring soldier, a tender father,
and an attached husband. The thought of the fall
of this man fetches back to me, as I write, the re
membrance of my own lesser temptations, and with
a thankful heart I turn aside to the uneventful story
of my boyhood and its surroundings.

I was born in the great city Governor William
Penn founded, in Pennsylvania, on the banks of the
Delaware, and my earliest memories are of the broad
river, the ships, the creek before our door, and of
grave gentlemen in straight-collared coats and broad-
brimmed beaver hats.

8 Hugh Wynne: Free Quaker

I began life in a day of stern rule, and among a
people who did not concern themselves greatly as to
a child s having that inheritance of happiness with
which we like to credit childhood. Who my people
were had much to do with my own character, and
what those people were and had been it is needful to
say before I let my story run its natural and, I hope,
not uninteresting course.

In my father s bedroom, over the fireplace, hung a
pretty picture done in oils, by whom I know not. It
is now in my library. It represents a pleasant park,
and on a rise of land a gray Jacobean house, with,
at either side, low wings curved forward, so as to
embrace a courtyard shut in by railings and gilded
gates. There is also a terrace with urns and flowers.
I used to think it was the king s palace, until, one
morning, when I was still a child, Friend Pember-
ton came to visit my father with William Logan and
a very gay gentleman, Mr. John Penn, he who was
sometime lieutenant-governor of the province, and of
whom and of his brother Richard great hopes were
conceived among Friends. I was encouraged by
Mr. Penn to speak more than was thought fitting
for children in those days, and because of his rank
I escaped the reproof I should else have met with.

He said to my father, " The boy favours thy people."
Then he added, patting my head, "When thou art
a man, my lad, thou shouldst go and see where thy
people came from in Wales. I have been at Wyn-
cote. It is a great house, with wings in the Italian
manner, and a fine fountain in the court, and gates

Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker 9

which were gilded when Charles II. came to see the
squire, and which are not to be set open again until
another king comes thither."

Then I knew this was the picture upstairs, and
much pleased I said eagerly:

" My father has it in his bedroom, and our arms
below it, all painted most beautiful."

" Thou art a clever lad," said the young lieutenant-
governor, " and I must have described it well. Let
us have a look at it, Friend Wynne."

But my mother, seeing that William Logan and
Friend Pemberton were silent and grave, and that my
father looked ill pleased, made haste to make ex
cuse, because it was springtime and the annual house-
cleaning was going on.

Mr. Penn cried out merrily, " I see that the elders
are shocked at thee, Friend Wynne, because of these
vanities of arms and pictures; but there is good
heraldry on the tankard out of which I drank James
Pemberton s beer yesterday. Fie, fie, Friend James ! "
Then he bowed to my mother very courteously, and
said to my father, " I hope I have not got thy boy
into difficulties because I reminded him that he is
come of gentles."

" No, no," said my mother.

"I know the arms, madam, and well too: quar
terly, three eagles displayed in fesse, and"

"Thou wilt pardon me, Friend Penn," said my
father, curtly. " These are the follies of a world which
concerns not those of our society. The lad s aunt has
put enough of such nonsense into his head already."

io Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker

"Let it pass, then/ 7 returned the young lieutenant-
governor, with good humour ; " but I hope, as I said,
that I have made no trouble for this stout boy of

My father replied deliberately, " There is no harm
done." He was too proud to defend himself, but I
heard long after that he was taken to task by Thomas
Scattergood and another for these vanities of arms
and pictures. He told them that he put the picture
where none saw it but ourselves, and, when they per
sisted, reminded them sharply, as Mr. Penn had done,
of the crests on their own silver, by which these
Friends of Welsh descent set much store.

I remember that, when the gay young lieutenant-
governor had taken his leave, my father said to my
mother, " Was it thou who didst tell the boy this fool
ishness of these being our arms and the like, or was
it my sister Gainor ? "

Upon this my mother drew up her brows, and
spread her palms out, a French way she had, and
cried, "Are they not thy arms? Wherefore should
we be ashamed to confess it?"

I suppose this puzzled him, for he merely added,
" Too much may be made of such vanities."

All of this I but dimly recall. It is one of the
earliest recollections of my childhood, and, being out
of the common, was, I suppose, for that reason better

I do not know how old I was when, at this time,
Mr. Penn, in a neat wig with side rolls, and dressed
very gaudy, aroused my curiosity as to these folks in

Hugh Wynne: Free Quaker 1 1

Wales. It was long after, and only by degrees, that
I learned the following facts, which were in time to
have a great influence on my own life and its varied

In or about the year 1671, and of course before
Mr. Penn, the proprietary, came over, my grandfather
had crossed the sea, and settled near Chester on
lands belonging to the Swedes. The reason of his
coming was this : about 1669 the Welsh of the Eng
lish church and the magistrates were greatly stirred
to wrath against the people called Quakers, because
of their refusal to pay tithes. Among these offen
ders was no small number of the lesser gentry, espe
cially they of Merionethshire.

My grandfather, Hugh Wynne, was the son and
successor of Godfrey Wynne, of Wyncote. How
he chanced to be born among these hot-blooded
Wynnes I do not comprehend. He is said to have
been gay in his early days, but in young manhood to
have become averse to the wild ways of his breed,
and to have taken a serious and contemplative turn.
Falling in with preachers of the people called Qua
kers, he left the church of the establishment, gave up
hunting, ate his game-cocks, and took to straight col
lars, plain clothes, and plain talk. When he refused
to pay the tithes he was fined, and at last cast into
prison in Shrewsbury Gate House, where he lay for
a year, with no more mind to be taxed for a hire
ling ministry at the end of that time than at the

His next brother, William, a churchman as men

i 2 Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker

go, seems to have loved him, although he was him
self a rollicking fox-hunter j and, seeing that Hugh
would die if left in this duress, engaged him to go to
America. Upon his agreeing to make over his estate
to William, those in authority readily consented to
his liberation, since William had no scruples as to
the matter of tithes, and with him there would be no
further trouble. Thus it came about that my grand
father Hugh left Wales. He had with him, I pre
sume, enough of means to enable him to make a
start in Pennsylvania. It could not have been much.
He carried also, what no doubt he valued, a certifi
cate of removal from the Quarterly Meeting held at
Tyddyn y Garreg. I have this singular document.
In it is said of him and of his wife, Ellin ("for
whom it may concern "), that " they are faithfull and
beloved Friends, well known to be serviceable unto
Friends and brethren, since they have become con
vinced; of a blameless and savory conversation.
Also are P sons Dearly beloved of all Souls. His
testimony sweet and tender, reaching to the quicking
seed of life ; we cannot alsoe but bemoan the want
of his company, for that in difficult occasion he was
sted-f ast nor was one to be turned aside. He is now
seasonable in intention for the Plantations, in order
into finding his way clear, and freedom in the truth
according to the measure manifested unto him," etc.
And so the strong-minded man is commended to
Friends across the seas. In the records of the meet
ings for sufferings in England are certain of his let
ters from the jail. How his character descended to

Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker i 3

my sterner parent, and, through another generation,
to me, and how the coming in of my mother s gen
tler blood helped in after-days, and amid stir of
war, to modify in me, this present writer, the ruder
qualities of my race, I may hope to set forth.

William died suddenly in 1679 without children,
and was succeeded by the third brother, Owen. This
gentleman lived the life of his time, and, dying in
1700 of much beer and many strong waters, left one
son, Owen, a minor. What with executors and other
evils, the estate now went from ill to worse. Owen
Wynne 2d was in no haste, and thus married as late as
somewhere about 1740, and had issue, William, and
later, in 1744, a second son, Arthur, and perhaps
others; but of all this I heard naught until many
years after, as I have already said.

It may seem a weak and careless thing for a man
thus to cast away his father s lands as my ancestor
did ; but what he gave up was a poor estate, embar
rassed with mortgages and lessened by fines, until
the income was, I suspect, but small. Certain it is
that the freedom to worship God as he pleased was
more to him than wealth, and assuredly not to be
set against a so meagre estate, where he must have
lived among enmities, or must have diced, drunk, and
hunted with the rest of his kinsmen and neighbours.

I have a faint memory of my aunt, Gainor Wynne,
as being fond of discussing the matter, and of how
angry this used to make my father. She had a
notion that my father knew more than he was will
ing to say, and that there had been something further

1 4 Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker

agreed between the brothers, although what this was
she knew not, nor ever did for many a day. She was
given, however, to filling my young fancy with tales
about the greatness of these Wynnes, and of how the
old homestead, rebuilded in James I. s reign, had
been the nest of Wynnes past the memory of man.
Be all this as it may, we had lost Wyncote for the
love of a freer air, although all this did not much
concern me in the days of which I now write.

Under the mild and just rule of the proprietary,
my grandfather Hugh prospered, and in turn his son
John, my father, to a far greater extent. Their old
home in Wales became to them, as time went on, less
and less important. Their acres here in Merion and
Bucks were more numerous and more fertile. I may
add that the possession of many slaves in Maryland,
and a few in Pennsylvania, gave them the feeling of
authority and position, which the colonial was apt to
lose in the presence of his English rulers, who, being
in those days principally gentlemen of the army,
were given to assuming airs of superiority.

In a word, my grandfather, a man of excellent wits
and of much importance, was of the council of Wil
liam Penn, and, as one of his chosen advisers, much
engaged in his difficulties with the Lord Baltimore
as to the boundaries of the lands held of the crown.
Finally, when, as Penn says, "I could not prevail
with my wife to stay, and still less with Tishe,"
which was short for La3titia, his daughter, an ob
stinate wench, it was to men like Logan and
my grandfather that he gave his full confidence

Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker 1 5

and delegated his authority ; so that Hugh Wynne
had become, long before his death, a person of so
much greater condition than the small squires to
whom he had given up his estate, that he was
like Joseph in this new land. What with the indif
ference come of large means, and disgust for a
country where he had been ill treated, he probably
ceased to think of his forefathers life in Wales as
of a thing either desirable or in any way suited to
his own creed.

Soon the letters, which at first were frequent, that
is, coming twice a year, when the London packet
arrived or departed, became rare; and if, on the
death of my great-uncle William, they ceased, or if
any passed later between us and the next holder
of Wyncote, I never knew. The Welsh squires had
our homestead, and we our better portion of wealth
and freedom in this new land. And so ended my
knowledge of this matter for many a year.

You will readily understand that the rude life
of a fox-hunting squire or the position of a strict
Quaker on a but moderate estate in Merionethshire
would have had little to tempt my father. Yet one
thing remained with him awhile as an unchanged
inheritance, to which, so far as I remember, he only
once alluded. Indeed, I should never have guessed
that he gave the matter a thought but for that visit
of Mr. John Penn, and the way it recurred to me in
later days in connection with an incident concerning
the picture and the blazoned arms.

I think he cared less and less as years went by. In

1 6 Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker

earlier days he may still have liked to remember
that he might have been Wynne of Wyncote ; but
this is a mere guess on my part. Pride spiritual is
a master passion, and certain it is that the creed and
ways of Fox and Penn became to him, as years cre
ated habits, of an importance far beyond the pride
which values ancient blood or a stainless shield.

The old house, which was built much in the same
fashion as the great mansion of my Lord Dysart on
the Thames near to Richmond, but smaller, was, after
all, his family home. The picture and the arms were
hid away in deference to opinions by which in gen
eral he more and more sternly abided. Once, when
I was older, I went into his bedroom, and was sur
prised to find him standing before the hearth, his
hands crossed behind his back, looking earnestly at
the brightly coloured shield beneath the picture of
Wyncote. I knew too well to disturb him in these
silent moods, but hearing my steps, he suddenly
called me to him. I obeyed with the dread his stern
ness always caused me. To my astonishment, his
face was flushed and his eyes were moist. He laid
his hand on my shoulder, and clutched it hard as he
spoke. He did not turn, but, still looking up at the
arms, said, in a voice which paused between the words
and sounded strange :

" I have been insulted to-day, Hugh, by the man
Thomas Bradford. I thank God that the Spirit pre
vailed with me to answer him in Christian meekness.
He came near to worse things than harsh words.
Be warned, my son. It is a terrible set-back from

Hugh Wynne : Free Quaker 1 7

right living to come of a hot-blooded breed like
these Wynnes."

I looked up at him as he spoke. He was smiling.
"But not all bad, Hugh, not all bad. Remember
that it is something, in this nest of disloyal traders,
to have come of gentle blood."

Then he left gazing on the arms and the old home
of our people, and said severely, " Hast thou gotten
thy tasks to-day ? "

" Yes."

" It has not been so of late. I hope thou hast con
sidered before speaking. If I hear no better of thee
soon thou wilt repent it. It is time thou should st
take thy life more seriously. What I have said is
for no ear but thine."

I went away with a vague feeling that I had suf
fered for Mr. Bradford, and on account of my father s
refusal to join in resistance to the Stamp Act; for
this was in November, 1765, and I was then fully
twelve years of age.

My father s confession, and all he had said follow
ing it, made upon me one of those lasting impres
sions which are rare in youth, but which may have a
great influence on the life of a man. Now all the
boys were against the Stamp Act, and I had at the

Online LibraryS. Weir (Silas Weir) MitchellHugh Wynne : free Quaker, sometime brevet Lieutenant-Colonel on the staff of His Excellency General Washington → online text (page 1 of 34)