Material Life on the Long Island Frontier: The Inventory of Captain William Lawrence, Flushing, 1680

Lauren Brincat
New-York Historical Society

Abstract: In 1645, a group of New England religious dissenters were granted a patent for the town of Flushing. Located on the periphery of Dutch New Netherland, Flushing was one of five English communities that buffered eastern Long Island settlements controlled by the English. Cultures converged in this frontier region. Here, English settlers mixed with Quakers, Native Americans, nearby Dutch inhabitants, enslaved Africans, and eventually French Huguenots. Flushing's residents benefited from the town's strategic location on the Long Island Sound and the area's productive meadows which supported international trade. Historically, the story of seventeenth–century Flushing has been profoundly steeped in a romantic telling of brave and study Quaker John Bowne fighting for the community's religious liberties. Through the examination of the 1680 estate inventories of merchant Captain William Lawrence, this paper peels back the layers of mythology to shed light on a commercially-vibrant Quaker entrepôt and cultural meeting-ground situated at the edge of the Atlantic World.

Keywords: Atlantic World, agriculture, inventory, Flushing, William Lawrence, material culture, Matinecock, New Netherland, Quakers, salt meadow, slavery, trade.

Articles VOL 24-2

In the spring of 1939 all the world converged on Flushing, Queens to cast a hopeful eye on the future. With George and Ira Gershwin’s Dawn of a New Day as its anthem, the 1939 World’s Fair promised a peek at the “World of Tomorrow.”[1] Flushing Meadows-Corona Park played host to the international exposition. The brainchild of controversial Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, Flushing Meadows Park transformed a rich and ecologically complex environment into a landscaped paradise.[2]

Centuries ago, the natural geography of the Flushing Meadows was exactly what its name suggests: a low coastal salt marsh periodically flooded by the rising tide. Writing in 1938 about the future home of the “World of Tomorrow,” Robert Moses remarked upon its yesterday: “[it] was a typical unspoiled bit of Long Island landscape—a tidal marsh covered with salt hay through which a stream flowed into an unpolluted bay.”[3] The Flushing Meadows that Moses and his contemporaries knew was a different one—an industrial dumping ground immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald.[4]

The author’s metaphorical refuge for the defeated and downtrodden—the “valley of the ashes”— is a sharp contrast to the prosperous community Flushing’s earliest settlers planted and to the culturally vibrant neighborhood that thrives today. From the seventeenth to the twenty-first century, Flushing’s favorable geography has attracted diverse newcomers to its strategic setting on the Long Island Sound, just miles from Manhattan.

Early colonial Long Island was a political battleground, contested by the Dutch and English for its navigability, agricultural productivity, and abundance of purple clam shells used for the manufacture of wampum.[5] Lawyer and ethnographer Adriaen van der Donck proclaimed Long Island the “crown of the province” for its “excellent bays and harbors” and “clean and fertile lands…”[6] In 1639 the Council of New Netherland purchased the land west of Oyster Bay. In order to quickly solidify its authority, the Council offered “one hundred morgens of land” to anyone who would settle five colonists over the age of fifteen.[7] That same year, English dissidents and land hungry farmers started to drift from across the Long Island Sound.[8]

Figure 1: Map of western Long Island showing Dutch and English settlements, ca. 1658. James Lloyd after Robert Ryder and Phillip Wells. Ink on paper. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society: Manuscripts Collection, Lloyd Family Papers.
Figure 1: Map of western Long Island showing Dutch and English settlements, ca. 1658. James Lloyd after Robert Ryder and Phillip Wells. Ink on paper. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society: Manuscripts Collection, Lloyd Family Papers.

A group of eighteen New Englanders, drawn to Dutch Long Island for greater religious freedom and agricultural opportunity, were among the first to settle near present-day Flushing. After experiencing expulsion from Massachusetts for offensive ideas about baptism, Reverend Francis Doughty migrated to “Mespet” on Long Island and “…betook himself…under the protection of the Netherlanders, in order that he may…enjoy the freedom of conscience, which he unexpectedly missed in New England.[9] Fearing competition from the English colonies, the Dutch begrudgingly permitted groups of separatists to settle its Long Island frontier. In return, the newcomers swore allegiance to the States-General of the Dutch West India Company.[10]

In 1645 New Netherland director Willem Kieft granted Flushing’s original patentees “a certaine quanitity or parcel of Land, with all the Havens, Harbors, Rivers, Creekes, woodland, Marshes, there unto belonging and, being upon the Northside of Long Island…” There, they were offered “free Land of Inheritance” and the liberties to hawk, hunt, fish, and participate in all manners of trade and commerce.[11] Residents were also granted the ability to “Nominate, Elect & Choose, a certaine Officer over them” and the right to “…Enjoy the Liberty of Conscience, according to the Custome and manner of Holland…”[12] By the middle of the seventeenth century, western Long Island was a burgeoning refuge for religious sectarians and a patchwork of Dutch and English settlement.[13]

Straddling the boundary between the Dutch and English New World, Flushing was a meeting-ground, a place where peoples of diverse faiths and origins converged on a politically shifting landscape.[14] It is notable among the English towns for its swift development into a prominent and prosperous Quaker enclave.[15] In an August 5, 1657 report to the Classis of Amsterdam, Reverend John Megapolensis and Scott Drisus explained that the people of Flushing had become “endowed with divers opinions and it was with them quot homines tot sententia”(as many opinions as there are men).[16] That same month, the Quaker ship Woodhouse arrived in New Amsterdam. To the chagrin of Dutch director-general Petrus Stuyvesant, Flushing’s Friends were left to flourish on the near frontier.

Figure 2: Petrus Stuyvesant, n.d. Artist unknown. Oil on wood. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society, gift of Robert Van Rensselaer Stuyvesant, 1909.2.
Figure 2: Petrus Stuyvesant, n.d. Artist unknown. Oil on wood. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society, gift of Robert Van Rensselaer Stuyvesant, 1909.2.

Quakers, or the Society of Friends, pushed the limits of New Netherland’s religious tolerance, engendering disdain for their impassioned proselytizing and resistance to all authority not derived from God. In the New World, Friends were met with fierce and sometimes violent opposition.[17] Flushing’s John Bowne was famously arrested, imprisoned, and banished to the Netherlands for hosting Quaker meetings in his home and for refusing to pay a fine. Pleading his case before the States-General of the Dutch West India Company, Bowne cited the guarantee of religious liberty outlined in Flushing’s 1645 patent. Two years after his arrest, Bowne returned home triumphant.

John Bowne’s plight and the conflict between Long Island’s Quakers and Petrus Stuyvesant are significant elements of Flushing’s historical memory—real-life dramas preserved in the timbers of the ancient Bowne House and within the text of a 1657 remonstrance protesting Stuyvesant’s anti-Quaker laws.[18] Today, the Flushing Remonstrance is a celebrated precursor to the United States Bill of Rights, and the Bowne House a national shrine to religious freedom. In a modern community considered to be one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse in the world, these historical moments are important touchstones that link Flushing’s past with its present.[19]

Figure 3: John Bowne House, Flushing, NY, May, 2013. Courtesy of the author.
Figure 3: John Bowne House, Flushing, NY, May, 2013. Courtesy of the author.

The survival of powerful, tangible things and a civic desire to celebrate the integrity of America’s forebears—while connecting them to an ever-growing immigrant population— draw figures like John Bowne to the forefront. Consequently, it is often difficult to pervade the romantic layers of Flushing’s history, a task further complicated by the loss of its earliest records.[20] But early colonial Flushing was incredibly complex; it was not simply a community of rabble rousers. Flushing was a unique and dynamic enterprising experiment, a religious and mercantile hub connected to the greater Atlantic World. In America, its intimate associations, both religious and economic, stretched within and without the bounds of New Netherland as its residents cultivated kinship networks across colonies.

To shed light on the social and cultural character of Flushing requires the scrutiny of sources often overlooked. In the process, names once lost to history are drawn from the past. Although John Bowne remains a central figure in this study, the focus shifts to another prominent resident: Captain William Lawrence (1623-1680). The historical record reveals little about the merchant, but the two inventories he left behind—one for his estate in Flushing and the other for his warehouse in lower Manhattan—offer rare glimpses at material exchange and consumption in seventeenth-century Flushing. Considered in concert with the account book (1649-1703) of John Bowne and his son Samuel, the manuscripts illuminate a dynamic heterogeneous community situated on the colonial frontier.[21]

The Effects and Estate of Mr. William Lawrence

William Lawrence was born in St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire, just north of London. In 1635 an adolescent William immigrated to Plymouth Colony aboard the ship Planter with his older brother John (also a Flushing patentee), mother Joan and husband John Tuttle, and little sister Mary.[22] Bits of information are known about his early life in America. At Plymouth, Lawrence married the daughter of innkeeper Francis Sprague. In 1644 Sprague deeded fifty acres to his son-in-law on the South River in Duxbury which he sold three years later to John Phillips.[23] It is unknown what motivated the Lawrence brothers to relocate to Long Island; William was twenty-two, his brother twenty-seven. The year prior, John Lawrence was also a patentee for the town of Hempstead. It is possible John encouraged William to leave New England behind to forge a new life with him in New Netherland.

Although John and William Lawrence went on to lead separate lives, both easily navigated the Dutch and English worlds of colonial New York. Referred to as “Mr.” and “Capt.,” William was a ship’s captain, militia commander, and prominent public official, serving as schout (sheriff) and magistrate for both the Dutch and English governments.[24] Surviving correspondence between Lawrence and Stuyvesant indicate that he was a respected leader and key liaison (along with his brother) between New Netherland and Connecticut regarding the jurisdiction of western Long Island.[25] When the Dutch briefly recaptured New York in 1672, Lawrence was one of two Englishmen sent to administer the oath of allegiance on Long Island.[26]

In 1658 John Lawrence relocated to Manhattan and joined a group of influential Dutch merchants involved in city governance. Despite his new situation, he remained linked to Flushing. When the town’s charter was renewed by English governor Richard Nicholls in 1666, John—now an alderman of New York City—was once again among the patentees. Between 1672 and 1691, he also held the positions of mayor of New York City and supreme court justice for the Province of New York. There Lawrence functioned as a valuable connection for his younger brother to the city’s economy. Boundary-crossing men like the Lawrence brothers played vital roles in establishing commercial ties between people across social and political borders.[27]

Unlike his older brother, William Lawrence planted his permanent roots in Flushing. Closely involved in local community life, evidence suggests he was also a member of the Society of Friends. In 1664 Lawrence married for a second time to Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Quaker Richard Smith, a patentee of Smithtown. Since Friends defined themselves in terms of religion rather than ethnicity, members rarely married outside the faith.[28] William’s eldest son, Major William Lawrence, who was also an active Quaker, served as a record keeper for the monthly meeting.[29] When Lawrence’s estate was assessed after his death, John Bowne was one of three enlisted to oversee it.

According to the inventory, Lawrence died intestate on March 14, 1680. The Duke’s Laws of 1665 mandated that an inventory and appraisal of the deceased’s estate be taken within forty-eight hours after official inquiry of the death had begun.[30] Due to the extent of his holdings, the constable and overseers— Richard Cornell, John Bowne, John Lawrence, and Abraham Whearly—recorded and appraised his estate over a series of days. Lawrence’s wife Elizabeth and eldest son William were appointed administrators and given “full power and lawful authority to enter into or keep possession of the premises and make a division and dispose therof…”[31]

Altogether, the items listed portray a gentleman planter of considerable wealth. His personal wearing apparel consisting of a strong waterproof coat, a variety of wool suits and cloaks, and a beaver fur hat was sturdy, useful, and appropriate for the Quaker merchant. The value of Lawrence’s land, chattels, and effects at £4432:01:10 ½ was substantial for 1680. Regrettably, the absence of a list of debts and credits makes it difficult to truly understand his economic situation. Nevertheless, William likely was among the richest men in the colony and the largest proprietors in the area. His inventory lists well over 800 acres. Benefitting from Flushing’s natural abundance, quasi-independence, and proximity to lower Manhattan, the Captain flourished in the New World.

Figure : Page from the Flushing inventory of William Lawrence itemizing slaves and landholdings on Long Island and in Westchester, 1680. Courtesy of the Bowne House Historical Society, Flushing, NY.
Figure 4: Page from the Flushing inventory of William Lawrence itemizing slaves and landholdings on Long Island and in Westchester, 1680. Courtesy of the Bowne House Historical Society, Flushing, NY.

The William Lawrence inventories are especially revealing because they convey a fair amount of information regarding the type, color, quality, and material of objects that he acquired, used, and presumably considered appropriated for him and his family. To the delight of the researcher, the appraisers itemized the estate room by room, providing a sense of how objects functioned within space. But, like all historical sources, William Lawrence’s inventories are not perfect documents. His Flushing estate was not inventoried until a month after his death, and his Manhattan warehouse many months later. During that period, items probably moved in or out of rooms, and for a variety of reasons, the appraisers did not record everything. On the first page they admit that “some…small & frivolys things of little vallue left out by ye consent of partyes…” Other household items were likely left undocumented because they did not belong to William, but to his widow who received certain goods upon her marriage.[32] Consequently, speculation is inevitable as we begin to reimagine his material world.

It is of no surprise that Lawrence’s most valuable asset was his land. The main dwelling house, along with its orchards and meadows, were located at Tew’s Neck, an extensive swath of land jutting into the Long Island Sound (known today as College Point). Other Flushing property included land at Whitestone and parcels in the center of town where a retail shop probably stood. In addition to property in lower Manhattan, Lawrence owned acres in Newtown, meadows across the Sound in Westchester, and land at various places further east near Smithtown. Like most early Quaker settlers—for whom the land and its products were essential cornerstones of society—William Lawrence voraciously acquired property throughout the region.[33]

The Business of Agribusiness

Throughout colonial America, Friends laid claim to some of the best agricultural lands accessible to market.[34] William Lawrence was no exception. Numerous acres of Flushing’s fruitful meadows were among his extensive landholdings. Lawrence’s shares of “salt” or salt meadow—the grassy marsh prone to flooding Robert Moses recollected centuries later—were essential to his mercantile enterprise. In agricultural communities salt meadow was an important resource for sustaining animal herds.[35] The consumption of sweet hay, as noted by Adriaen van der Donck, had caused livestock to suffer from disease. With such a rich supply of local salt hay, it is not surprising that the ethnographer found Flushing to be “tolerably stocked with cattle.”[36]

Figure 5: A View Near Flushing on Long Island in the Province of New York North America. Taken on Spot by Tho\s Davies Cap\t L\t Roy\l Artillery, 1765. Thomas Davies. Watercolor Drawing. Courtesy of the Winterthur Museum, gift of Charles K. Davis, 1953.189.3.
Figure 5: A View Near Flushing on Long Island in the Province of New York North America. Taken on Spot by Tho\s Davies Cap\t L\t Roy\l Artillery, 1765. Thomas Davies. Watercolor Drawing. Courtesy of the Winterthur Museum, gift of Charles K. Davis, 1953.189.3.

The earliest known image of Flushing—a 1765 watercolor by Thomas Davies—perfectly captures its early economic life. In it, Flushing Creek runs through a flooded salt marsh, connecting the community to the Long Island Sound and the greater Atlantic World. Across the way, a sloop is docked at a cluster of buildings engaged in shipping. Another is visible on the horizon, entering the mouth of the creek, presumably laden with goods. Similar activities occurred on the Lawrence property. Barrels of pork and beef in his Manhattan warehouse indicate that the Captain shipped the products of animal husbandry—beef, pork, and hog’s fat— to provision sugar plantations in the West Indies or to sell at market in Manhattan where “the people from the country bring various wares…and other products of the farm to [the] City for sale.”[37] When William Lawrence’s inventory was taken he had £324 invested in 173 cattle and £46 in seventy-two swine.

Lawrence also raised a quantity of sheep. “Sheep in the whole,” as described by the appraisers, was prized at £4. Utilized not for their meat, spinners and weavers transformed their wool into yarn and cloth. Twenty pounds of sheep’s wool are listed in the William’s “seller,” and homespun was one of the many textiles found in his Flushing shop. It is unlikely that the coarse fabric was purposely woven for retail; rather, Lawrence likely acquired it as payment for a debt and then offered it for sale. Tax evaluations for the years 1675 and 1683 reveal that sheep were common on Flushing estates and that the processing and production of wool was widespread.[38] In his accounts, John Bowne records selling and delivering wool yarn and purchasing a spinning wheel from a turner.[39]

Animal husbandry was just one way the people of Flushing capitalized on their natural environment. “Very good soyle” as described by Daniel Denton in his A Brief Description of New-York: Formerly Called New-Netherlands (1670), afforded Flushing’s residents the ability to grow various English grains, corn, melons, turnips, peas, pumpkins, and tobacco for subsistence and export.[40] By far, Flushing’s most valuable crop was wheat. Due to York City’s heavy reliance upon Long Island grain for West Indian trade, English governor Francis Lovelace (in office 1668-73) fixed grain prices to benefit exporters and ordered all farmers to ship their surplus produce through Manhattan.[41] During the last quarter of the seventeenth century, New York exported about 60,000 bushels of wheat a year.[42] In the Mid-Atlantic, Quaker grain was essential for feeding a growing slave population.[43]

The documentation of numerous scythes and sickles in Lawrence’s inventories, as well as those for other seventeenth-century residents, underscores the prevalence of grain cultivation in Flushing. During the hot summer months, it was common to see farmers working alongside scores of indigenous and African slaves, farmers, and white indentured servants harvesting winter wheat. Reaping with a sickle was an arduous task, taxing on the wrist and back. With the sickle, a worker crouched low, grabbed a handful of grain in one hand, and sliced the stems with the other. Its use required little skill. The same was not true for mowing with a scythe. Standing upright while swinging the heavy apparatus demanded expertise and stamina.

Figure 6: Mowing hay in Flushing meadows, 1906. Courtesy of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, Clarence Purchase Collection.
Figure 6: Mowing hay in Flushing meadows, 1906. Courtesy of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, Clarence Purchase Collection.

John Bowne records in his account book mowing for others in exchange for goods and services. Mowing was a valuable skill, and the time to harvest was limited. Delay could result in an overripe crop prone to shattering, and a downpour could cause wet grains to sprout in storage. Flushing’s economy hinged upon grains for export, grazing, and sustenance. A major loss at harvest could mean serious economic repercussions.[44]

The close analysis of the contents of William Lawrence’s warehouses reveals that he was key to the success of the community’s commercial enterprise, importing many of the tools necessary for production and exportation. His inventory lists numerous sickles, hoes, pitchforks, hooks, and scythes in his city warehouse. Although a blacksmith named John Emorie is listed in Bowne’s accounts, the metal implements were European imports purchased by the profits of agricultural surplus. Lawrence also carried an impressive array of imported cooperage tools—adzes, broad axes, vises, heading knives, a drawing knife, crozes, and howels—used to create the hogsheads, kegs, and pipes required for storage and shipping.

Figure 7: Coopers shaping staves and assembling casks. “Tonnelier,” Plate 1. Recueil de planches sur les sciences, les artes liberaux, et les arts mechaniques : avec leur explication. Paris: Chez Briasson : David : Le Breton : Durand, 1762- 1772. Courtesy of the Winterthur Library: Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterthur, DE.
Figure 7: Coopers shaping staves and assembling casks. “Tonnelier,” Plate 1. Recueil de planches sur les sciences, les artes liberaux, et les arts mechaniques : avec leur explication. Paris: Chez Briasson : David : Le Breton : Durand, 1762- 1772. Courtesy of the Winterthur Library: Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterthur, DE.

Barrels were indispensable containers that traveled the early modern world conveying commodities for consumption and trade. In Flushing, Lawrence utilized locally-made casks to store and export beef, pork, tobacco, and cider. In Mac Griswold’s investigation of seventeenth-century Sylvester Manor, she found that Nathaniel Sylvester relied on his enslaved Africans, Indians, and indentured servants to shape thousands of barrel staves for trade with the Caribbean. A similar cadre of bound workers toiled on the Lawrence property where they planted and mowed grain, butchered and salted meat, and hauled casks to and from ships and warehouses.[45] As Historian Ned Landsman points out, “Quaker farmers found a freedom and opportunity that was underwritten by the profits of slavery labor.”[46]

In total, Lawrence owned ten African slaves valued at £285: John, Tommy, Harry, Mingo, Peter, Jane, Sue, Ned, and a “mallato boye” named Harry—most probably arrived in Flushing via trade with the West Indies. Lawrence also kept one Indian boy named Phillip at his Manhattan warehouse. Eleven slaves was a fairly large number for early colonial New York. According to the 1698 Flushing census, there were 113 enslaved Africans in a town of 530 European inhabitants—an additional one-fifth of the population. The average number of slaves owned by farmers in Flushing was typically less than five.[47]

In addition to slaves, William Lawrence retained one indentured servant: an English boy named Bishop valued at £5. The Duke’s Laws restricted indentures to stipulated lengths, thus his length of service is specified as “a yeare & some months.” Unlike many New England planters, Lawrence did not (and probably could not) rely on indentured labor. Not only did New Netherland struggle to attract settlers, but also indentured servants.[48] Ultimately, it became difficult and expensive to retain white servants.[49] As a result, the demand for forced labor was especially high in early colonial New York.

The space shared by Flushing’s European settlers and its enslaved workforce was often intimate. It is likely that slaves dwelled within the Lawrence’s main house. “One straw bed wth some old cloth” in the “seller” suggests that Jane and Sue may have slept and worked in an area that functioned as a store room and kitchen. Although enslaved people occupied the same house as the family, they were relegated to its marginal spaces. Locks, like the spring ones “for doores” in Lawrence’s inventory, served to restrict and control their movements.

Outside the manor house, slaves experienced relatively free range on expansive fields and meadows. According to Sylvester Manor archaeologist Katherine Hayes, oppressive physical control was simply not possible on large properties where a proportionately small number of enslaved people worked. In Flushing, all available hands—European, African, and Native American—labored side by side, cooperating across racial boundaries.[50] John Bowne records in his account book an agreement in which his son Samuel was to “work equally” alongside “negroes James and Symon.” Such cooperation not only contributed extra labor, but also provided surveillance away from the close quarters of the main dwelling.

Although William Lawrence owned just one enslaved Indian boy, local Native Americans and Africans probably interacted and collaborated on the plantation. Possessing an in-depth knowledge of the natural environment, Indians may have helped livestock herders navigate around dangerous areas and avoid disrupting valuable natural resources. Despite possessing the ability to move freely about the landscape, the Matinecock likely remained close to settlement; they came to rely upon certain European trade goods, which merchants like William Lawrence were more than happy to supply them with.

Merchant of Flushing

Flushing’s rich natural geography, and the products William Lawrence derived from it, fueled his successful endeavors as an overseas trader. We know that the he owned a ship named James thanks to Dutch turner Frederick Arentszen Blom suing him in 1671 for not compensating him for work done on the vessel.[51] A payment made in 1676 for the “defrayinge of the Charges of the New docke…” in lower Manhattan indicates that Lawrence was personally tied to commercial life in the city.[52] The new “Great Dock” consisted of a stone and timber breakwater that arched out from the foot of Whitehall Street and City Hall, providing safe anchorage for Atlantic trading vessels including Lawrence’s James.[53]

Tax rates reveal that William Lawrence kept his Manhattan warehouse on Marketfield and Broadway.[54] The inventory for the building lists imported iron tools and cooking implements, animal products for export, and shipping containers: hogsheads and “dale cases”—simple pine chests for holding grain. At his death, Margaret Howling of Newport purchased the building and associated lands for £110. The transaction describes the property as a “dwelling-house and Lott of ground sytuate lying and being in the syttie in a street there called ye Broad Street lying in ye west end ye Lott belonging to ye late Gov. Stivensant on ye north….”[55]

Travel between Lawrence’s warehouse in Manhattan and his shop and home in Flushing necessitated navigating the “Hell Gate” or Hellegat, a narrow tidal strait where the Long Island Sound converged with the East River. In 1670 Daniel Denton described it as such:

For about 10 miles from New York is a place called Hell-Gate, which being a narrow passage, there runneth a violent stream both upon flood and ebb, and in the middle lieth some Islands of Rocks, which the Current sets so violently upon, that it threatens present ship wreak; and upon the flood is a large Whirlpool which continually sends forth a hideous roaring, enough to affright any stranger from passing further… yet to those that are well acquainted little or no danger…”[56]

For an experienced sailor, the treacherous confluence was easily and frequently traversed. For quick crossings, Lawrence used one of the canoes stored in his Manhattan warehouse. Flushing benefitted from its strategic location on the Long Island Sound. A 1666 map of western Long Island by William Hubbard indicates Flushing was not only well-connected by water, but also by road. Direct routes between Hempstead and Jamaica linked the town to all points west. Being home to one of only two taverns on western Long Island (the other located directly across from the East River), Flushing was a popular entrepôt that saw the significant movement of people and goods.[57]

For hauling bulk quantities of imports and exports between his Manhattan and Flushing properties, William Lawrence took advantage of a sloop which, as Davies’s eighteenth-century watercolor indicates, Flushing Creek was deep enough to accommodate. Lawrence’s enslaved workforce performed the backbreaking work of loading and unloading each shipment, carefully heaving 280-pound sacks of flour and half-ton hogsheads of tobacco and salt beef.[58] William parlayed the profits from these goods into considerable investments in European and West Indian venture cargo.

Lawrence’s inventory documents 215 pounds of white sugar in his shop and three barrels of sugar, 140 barrels of rum, and three hogsheads of molasses in the warehouse located in his Flushing dwelling. It is probable William sourced these commodities through connections in the Barbados where a significant Quaker community settled. The final destination of his imports and exports was not always New York or the Caribbean. Completing a triangle trade, Lawrence shipped West Indian sugar to England and the Netherlands for tools, textiles, and hardware to trade locally or sell at retail. Surviving records indicate that Lawrence also exported locally-grown tobacco to Holland.[59] In his Flushing shop, William offered a wide variety of European manufactures from ivory combs and English wool, to cooper’s tools, silk stockings, and Dutch linen.

It is important to note that William Lawrence was not the only Quaker merchant who supplied Flushing with imported commodities. John Bowne records in his account book extensive dealings with Hyannis (Plymouth Colony) merchant Nicholas Davis who also owned land nearby. In 1669 Bowne purchased from the New Englander textiles, tools, and other domestic goods. Bowne also served as Davis’s agent, selling sugar for the merchant to a long list of Flushing residents.[60] Bowne engaged in the exportation of goods as well; he shipped cider out of the port of New York to Quakers in New Jersey and Philadelphia. The cultivation of kinship networks across continents and colonies was critical to Flushing’s commercial success, providing its traders with access to valuable goods and ready markets across the globe.

The listing of thousands of yards of fabric in William Lawrence’s shop and within a chamber room suggests that the merchant fostered particularly strong relationships with factors in European textile manufacturing centers. During the seventeenth century, wool was Britain’s greatest export. William Penn’s Free Society of Traders maintained extensive contacts in London, Bristol, and Cork, among other areas throughout the Atlantic World. Due to distinct rules for exchange, Quaker merchants were well-respected and trusted as long-distance traders.[61] Although Lawrence’s agents are unknown, he probably dealt with Quakers in these cities. Historian Michael J. Jarvis argues that an emphasis on honesty and fair dealings led Friends to extensively trade with each other.[62]

Twenty different varieties of woolens and worsteds (wool consisting of fine smooth yarn spun from combed long-staple wool) comprise the majority of textiles in William Lawrence’s shop (at over sixty percent).[63] Prized for its warmth and durability, wool was indispensable. The price-per-yard of each of the fabrics reflects a range in quality. The most abundant types he stocked were twill-woven serge, lesser quality kersey, and Norwich stuff, a worsted wool manufactured in Norwich, England. Four pieces of “Irish sarge” valued at £13:14:04 ½ are among the most expensive. The items Lawrence sold at retail suggests that Flushing’s residents favored practical and high-quality fabrics—textiles well-suited for their agrarian lives.

Aside from those contained within the shop, a significant number of textiles are also listed within a room of the main house. After Lawrence’s death, one of his chambers presumably functioned as additional storage. There, an excess of 4570 yards of textiles sat, some seemingly still bundled in marked canvas bales. Consisting of significant quantities of coarser woolens and linens, the assemblage alludes to a different clientele. Reading between the lines of this list of fabrics with unfamiliar names like “kersey” and “dowlas” reveals that Lawrence not only supplied discerning European inhabitants, but Native American ones as well.

Native American Trade

During the first half of the seventeenth century, displacement and war rocked Long Island’s Native American communities. Estimates figure that by English conquest in 1664, the total indigenous population was below 1,000.[64] Nevertheless, the local Algonquian-speaking Matinecock remained an integral part of Flushing’s cultural mélange. In 1670 Daniel Denton noted that the Indians upon Long Island were “…no ways hurtful, but rather serviceable to the English.”[65] Through his role as magistrate, William Lawrence closely interacted with local Native American leaders.[66] The prevalence of numerous “Indian” goods in his inventory suggests that Lawrence also participated in a complex system of Native-European cultural and material exchange.

For a good part of the seventeenth century, European colonists continued to rely upon Native Americans to supply them with food for their own stores. Algonquians’ long history of harvesting corn and hunting local wildlife made them essential for survival in the New World.[67] From the Matinecock, Lawrence may have acquired the 200 bushels of “Indian corn” stored in his Flushing warehouse. The six “Indyan hoes” listed in the inventory may have been meant for either Indian or European consumption. Colonists often adopted the Native American multicrop method of planting corn with peas, beans, and pumpkins, which was both labor saving and simple to execute.[68]

The Captain depended upon the Matinecock too for their skills in hunting and trapping animal furs. Peltries were a fundamental component of the North American economic system, and from indigenous hunters Lawrence obtained twenty deer skins, six beaver furs, one wildcat, and fourteen raccoons.[69] Many of these furs probably found their way to Europe where craftsman transformed them into trimmings for fancy coats or felt for large-brimmed hats similar to the one itemized among Lawrence’s wearing apparel.

Exchange also went in the other direction. European traders provided Long Island’s indigenous communities with the clothing, household utensils, arms, and tools they came to rely upon. Textiles were especially prized commodities.[70] Almost half of the over 4,500 yards of fabric inventoried in Lawrence’s chamber were probably meant for the Native American market. The most abundant and expensive were duffels (a coarse woolen with a thick nap) and osnaburgs (a coarse unbleached linen). In 1677 English naturalist Robert Plot described the Native American duffel trade: “Red or blue, which are the colours that best please the Indians of Virginia and New England, with whom Merchants truck them for Bever, and other Furrs…”[71] As increasingly discerning consumers, Native Americans paid close attention to the weave, color, and pattern; William Lawrence would have known that and stocked accordingly.

Although European textiles replaced traditional articles, they were used by many Indians in distinctly non-European ways; the same metaphorical and symbolic associations attached to the traditional objects ultimately transferred to the new ones.[72] Native Americans appropriated duffels, broadcloth, and other English woolens to construct uniquely Native garments such as the “matchcoat” and “breechclout.” Explaining Indian dress in 1670, Daniel Denton described both garments: “Their Cloathing is a yard and a half of broad Cloth…which they hang upon their shoulders; and a half a yard of the same cloth, which being put betwixt their legs…”[73]

Significantly outnumbering William’s wool supply were linens of various types and qualities. Stored in his chamber room were 1786 yards of osnaburg, 272.5 yards of shirting holland, 219.5 yards of dowlas, and 156.75 yards of Flemish linen. Native Americans often utilized coarse linens to fabricate wide-sleeved shirts with band collars, deep necklines, and long tails. William Penn’s provincial secretary James Logan traded extensively with Pennsylvania’s local Indians. His accounts include forty-two references to this type of linen “Indian shirt” as seen in John Vereslt’s ca. 1710 portrait of Etow Oh Koam.[74]

Figure 8: Etow Oh Koam King of the River Nation, 1710. John Simon after John Verelst. Mezzotint. Courtesy of the Winterthur Museum, museum purchase with funds provided by Charles K. Davis, 1956.82.2.
Figure 8: Etow Oh Koam King of the River Nation, 1710. John Simon after John Verelst. Mezzotint. Courtesy of the Winterthur Museum, museum purchase with funds provided by Charles K. Davis, 1956.82.2.

Two “white Indian Shirts” appear in Lawrence’s shop along with twenty-four other items of ready-made “Indian” clothing including coats, stockings, breeches, and shirts. These garments may refer to a number of articles from “matchcoats” and “breechclouts,” to leather stockings similar to today’s riding chaps.[75] Shaped by the cultures of two very different people, the appearance of these items in Lawrence’s shop suggests that Flushing residents and local Natives lived side-by-side, constantly negotiating space and each other’s unfamiliar material culture.


Every day, I ride the train across the northern coast of western Long Island, watching the landscape unfold before me. As we speed through Flushing, multilingual signs race by; newcomers continue to flock to this corner of Long Island. We pass on through Bayside, and then the streetscape suddenly breaks. For a few moments, I am transported back in time. This leg of the journey brings us across a salt meadow along Little Neck Bay—a landscape familiar to Flushing’s seventeenth-century residents. I imagine cattle grazing, enslaved Africans loading a sloop, and a canoe on the horizon. The vista is a silent but potent reminder of the region’s forgotten history.

Of the towns that sprung up on western Long Island during the seventeenth century, Flushing was among the largest and most dynamic. Situated on the margins of New Netherland, Flushing occupied a liminal space where the hinterlands of two colonies converged. Here, its residents carried out their lives in close contact with people of different cultures, origins, and ideologies; from Dutch and English farmers to Native Americans and enslaved Africans. As the seventeenth century progressed, Flushing’s heterogeneity further intensified as Dutch Long Islanders moved east, and the 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes brought a flood of French Huguenot refugees to New York’s shores; many ending up in Flushing.

Although Flushing was charted under the jurisdiction of New Netherland, its cultural and social connections—guided mostly by Quaker networks—ran across colony borders. After English conquest, these connections strengthened and expanded as the religion flourished and settlers migrated in search of arable land. Beginning in the 1670s, branches of prominent Flushing Quaker families resettled in New Jersey; a decade later, William Penn founded Pennsylvania. The erection of Flushing’s first meeting house in 1694 and the institution of an annual meeting a year later ensured that Friends from throughout the northeast continued to move through Flushing.

Flushing’s perfect confluence of strategic coastal geography, fertile land, and distance from Manhattan made it the ideal setting for a community of Friends who valued agriculture, expansion, and privacy. Tapping into the town’s tight-knit Quaker network, William Lawrence converted the locale’s natural resources into considerable wealth through the exchange of international trade goods. While most Long Island farmers felt oppressed by the mercantile interests of the city, the country merchant likely benefited from connections to affluent Dutch Manhattan merchants who, even after English conquest, continued to exercise political, social, and financial control over the city. In both a physical and theoretical sense, William Lawrence effortlessly navigated the commercial city and the productive Quaker countryside, allowing him to rise to a position of wealth and socio-political influence.

For decades, Flushing’s history has been the story of John Bowne and the Flushing Remonstrance. Despite archival loss and Flushing’s ever-changing urban setting, William Lawrence’s incredibly detailed inventories provide the rare opportunity to wrestle from the past a different story. The merchant’s personal property and material goods open the door to a commercially vibrant Quaker entrepôt and cultural meeting-ground situated at the edge of the seventeenth-century Atlantic World.


[1]“World Fair March is Gershwin Tune,” New York Times (1923-Current File), April 24, 1938.

[2]With the layout of the 1939 World’s Fair, Theodore Steinberg argues that the Flushing Meadows transformed from a landscape into “landscaping”—a man-made creation “gussied up with exotic plants and trees” far removed from its salt marsh roots. See Theodore Steinberg, Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014), 223.

[3]Quoted in ibid, 224.

[4]In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald describes the marshland as a place where “ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.” Quoted in ibid, 212.

[5]Consisting of belts of strung seashell beads, wampum often functioned as a form of currency during Indian-European trade. The most highly-prized beads came from the purple clamshell found on the eastern shores of Long Island. See Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America (New York: Doubleday, 2004) 118.

[6]Adriaen van der Donck, Remonstrance of New Netherland, and the occurrences there address to the High and Mighty States Generals of the United Netherlands, on the 28th July, 1649. With Secretary Van Tienhoven’s answer, ed. E.B. O’Callaghan (Albany: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1856), 17.

[7]See “Proposed Freedoms and Exemptions for New Netherland 1640.” in E. B. O’Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York, Vol. I (Albany: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1856), 119-23.

[8]In the spring of 1640, a group of settlers from Lynn, Massachusetts arrived on Long Island in present-day Manhasset. Dutch troops promptly expelled them from the colony. The previous year, an agent of the Earl of Stirling, who claimed possession of the whole of Long Island, began enticing New Englanders to relocate there. See Bernard Bailyn, The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), 243.

[9]Van der Donck, Remonstrance of New Netherland, 37.

[10]Relatively good living conditions in the Netherlands during the mid-seventeenth century resulted in a lack of prospective immigrants to New Netherland. As a result, The Dutch West India Company reluctantly accepted colonists from other European countries in order to populate the territory. See Joyce D Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992).

[11]Flushing’s original patentees included Thomas Farrington, John Townsend, Thomas Stiles, Thomas Saull, John Marston, Robert Field, Thomas Applegate, Thomas Beddard, Laurence Dutch, John Lawrence, William Lawrence, William Thorne, Henry Sautell, William Pigeon, Michael Milliard, Robert Firman, John Hicks, and Edward Hart. For a transcription of the Kieft Patent for Flushing see Jerrold Seyman, Colonial Charters, Patents, and Grants to the Communities Comprising the City of New York (New York: The Board of Statutory Consolidation of the City of New York, 1939), 517-20.

[12]The settlers of New Netherland were obligated to uphold religious toleration as a legal right by the Dutch Republic’s 1579 Union of Utrecht, which stated that “everyone shall remain free in religion and that no one may be persecuted or investigated because of religion.” See Evan Haefeli, New Netherland and the Dutch Origins of American Religious Liberty (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).

[13]In A Brief Description of New-York: Formerly Called the Netherlands (1670), Daniel Denton notes that “On the West end [of Long Island] is four or five Dutch Towns, the rest being all English.…” See Daniel Denton, A Brief Description of New-York: Formerly Called New Netherlands. Edited by Felix Neumann (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers Company, 1902). The five Dutch towns were Flatbush (1653), Brooklyn (1646), Flatlands (1657), Bushwick (1661), and New Utrecht (1661). The five English towns were Hempstead (1644), Flushing (1645), Gravesend (1645), Newtown (1652), and Jamaica (1656).

[14]The 1650 Treaty of Hartford, negotiated by Petrus Stuyvesant and Connecticut governor Edward Hopkins, delineated the border between Dutch and English settlement on Long Island along the westernmost part of Oyster Bay. This boundary remained intact until just before English conquest in 1664.

[15]Quakerism is a radical religious movement that arose during the English Civil War (1642-1651). The religion coalesced around George Fox, first taking root in northern England by 1650.

[16]See “Report from John Megapolensis and Samuel Drisus to the Classis of Amsterdam, 1657” in E.B. O’Callaghan, ed., The Documentary History of the State of New York Volume III, (Albany: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1850), 106-8.

[17]For preaching in an orchard, Stuyvesant arrested and sentenced Quaker Robert Hodsgon to two years of hard labor. When Hodsgon refused to work, he was beaten and chained to a wheelbarrow. After continuing to preach, Hodsgon was hung from his hands and whipped repeatedly. See Bailyn, The Barbarous Years, 255-6.

[18]The Bowne House, built sometime in the 1650s by John Bowne, is one of two colonial structures still standing in Queens; the other an early eighteenth-century Old Quaker Meeting House. The Flushing Remonstrance, which survives in the collection of the New York State Archives, was signed in 1657 by a group of Flushing residents affronted by Stuyvesant’s policies against Quakers. In accordance to Stuyvesant’s anti-Quaker ordinance, anyone found harboring a Quaker in their home would be fined “fifty pounds sterling for every transgression,” and those acting as informants would be rewarded monetarily and with anonymity. In effect, the law encouraged neighbors to turn against each other. See Haefeli, Dutch Origins of American Religious Liberty, 167-8.

[19]See Richard Scott Hanson, “City of Gods: Religious Freedom, Immigration, and Pluralism in Flushing, Queens-New York City, 1945-2000” (PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 2002).

[20]The destruction of Flushing’s archives purportedly occurred in 1789. According to legend, the home of town clerk Jeremiah Vanderbilt was set ablaze by an enslaved girl named Nellie. Angered by Vanderbilt’s refusal to allow her to marry a man of Native American descent, Nellie supposedly poured hot coals inside the walls of the home. Consequently, the town records were destroyed and Nellie was hanged the following year. Haynes Trébor, Colonial Flushing: A Brief History of the Town of Flushing, Called by the Dutch Vlissingen, Founded in 1645, on Long Island in the Province of New Netherland, Afterward the Province and State of New York (Flushing: Flushing Federal Savings and Loan Association, 1945), 43.

[21]The inventory of William Lawrence’s Manhattan warehouse resides in the manuscripts collection of the New-York Historical Society Library. See “Inventories, New York State, 1680-1844,” MS 450.2. A copy of the inventory of Lawrence’s Flushing estate is in the collection of the Bowne House Historical Society, Flushing, NY. John and Samuel Bowne’s Account book is preserved in the collection of the New York Public Library, Division of Manuscripts and Archives, MssCol 457.

[22]John and William also had another brother, Thomas Lawrence, who emigrated years later and settled in Newtown. Charles H. Browning, Americans of Royal Descent (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1883), 283.

[23]David Pulsifer, ed, Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England Deed, &c. Volume I, 1620-1651 (Boston: William White Press, 1861), 138.

[24]A Supplement to the General Register of the Society of Colonial Wars A.D. 1906 (Boston: General Society of Colonial Wars, 1906), 330.

[25]In October of 1662, John Young, on behalf of the General Assembly of Hartford, sent letters directly to the magistrates of Long Island, including William Lawrence, informing them that the King intended to “involve Long Island within Connecticut Pattern.” Surviving correspondence includes William Lawrence’s notification to Petrus Stuyvesant and his response in which the Director-General addresses the Quaker merchant: “Loving friende Mr. William Lawrence.” See Berthold Fernow trans., ed., Documents Relating to the History of the Early Colonial Settlements Principally on Long Island (Albany: Weed, Parsons, and Company, 1883), 516-7. A year later, Stuyvesant commissioned John Lawrence, Oloff Stevensz van Cortland, and Cornelis van Ruyven to travel to Hartford to seek redress from Connecticut Colony for its violation of the 1650 Treaty of Hartford. Details of their journey are preserved in a journal kept by the three commissioners. See “The Journal of van Ruyen, van Cortlant, and Lawrence” in J. Franklin Jameson ed., Narratives of New Netherland 1609-1664 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909), 432-45.

[26]Mrs. Schuyler Van Renssselaer, History of the City of New York in the Seventeenth Century, Vol. II (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909), 109.

[27]Cynthia Van Zandt, “Did Boundaries Really Matter in Seventeenth-Century North America?” in A Beautiful and Fruitful Place, ed. Funk and Shattuck, 178.

[28]Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot, 97.

[29]See Natalie Naylor ed., “The People Called Quakers”: Records of Long Island Friends, 1671-1703 (Interlaken, NY: Empire State Books, published for the Long Island Studies Institute, Hofstra University), 85, 91.

[30]Ruth Piwonka, “New York Colonial Inventories: Dutch Interiors as a Measure of Cultural Change,” in New World Dutch Studies: Dutch Arts and Culture in Colonial America, 1609-1776 (Albany: Albany Institute of Art, 1987), 63-8.

[31]In total, William Lawrence had seven children: William, Mary, Thomas, Joseph, Richard, Samuel, Sarah, and James. See “Letter of Administration Granted Elizabeth the Widow of William Lawrence the Son of Captain William Lawrence deceased,” in Thomas Lawrence, ed., Historical Genealogy of the Lawrence Family From their First Landing in this Country, A.D. 1635 to the Present Day, July 4th 1858 (New York: Edward O. Jenkins, 1858), 135-6.

[32]For a discussion about omission in probate inventories see Anna L. Hawley, “The Meaning of Absence,” Peter Benes, ed., Early American Probate Inventories, 23-31.

[33]Ned C. Landsman, Crossroads of Empire: The Middle Colonies in British North America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 88. The Bowne House Historical Society, Flushing, NY retains a significant collection of deeds documenting John Bowne’s extensive land acquisitions including the purchase of five acres from William Lawrence.

[34]See Landsman, Crossroads of Empire, 90.

[35]Adriaen van der Donck, A Description of New Netherland, eds. Charles T. Gehring, William A. Starma, Diederik, trans. Willem Goodhueys (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008), 45.

[36]Van der Donck, Remonstrance of New Netherland, 17.

[37]Berthold Fernow, trans., ed., Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Ann Domini (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1897), 23.

[38]See O’Callaghan, ed., List of Inhabitants of Colonial New York, Excerpted from the Documentary History of the State of New-York (Baltimore: Reprinted for Clearfield Company by Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007), 124-6.

[39]See Bowne Account Book, 28, 30, 91.

[40]Denton, A Brief Description of New-York, 41-2.

[41]Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 79.

[42]“Questions Submitted to Sir Edmund Andros by the Committee for Trade and Plantations, and His Responses” in Peter Christoph and Florence Chirstoph, eds., Charles Gehring, trans., The Andros Papers, 1677-1678 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1990), 493. For an in-depth discussion about trade in New York see Cathy Matson, Merchants & Empire: Trading in Colonial New York (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).

[43]Landsman, Crossroads of Empire, 90.

[44]For a discussion about reaping tools and grain harvest in the pre-industrial era see Peter D. McClelland, Sowing Modernity: America’s First Agricultural Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 132-34.

[45]Mac Griswold, The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), 22.

[46]Landsman, Crossroads of Empire, 92.

[47]See O’Callaghan ed., List of Inhabitants of Colonial New York, 39-42.

[48]Katherine Howlett Hayes, Slavery Before Race: Europeans, Africans, and Indians at Long Island’s Sylvester Manor Plantation, 1651-1884 (New York: New York University Press, 2013), 50-1.

[49]Edgar J. McManus, A History of Negro Slavery in New York (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2001), 21.

[50]Hayes, Slavery Before Race, 77, 89.

[51]Berthold Fernow ed., The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653-1674, Vol. VI, Minutes of the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens (Baltimore: Genealogical Co. Inc., 1976), 339.

[52]Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1674-1690 (New York: The New York Printing Company, 1871), 84.

[53]Burrows and Wallace, Gotham, 85.

[54]Lawrence paid eight shillings in taxes for his warehouse in 1677. See Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York 1675-1776, Volume I (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1905), 54.

[55]The description and sale of Lawrence’s warehouse is quoted in Thomas Lawrence, ed., Historical Genealogy of the Lawrence Family, 138-9.

[56]Denton, A Brief Description of New-York, 40.

[57]See van der Donck, Remonstrance of New Netherland, 58.

[58]Griswold, The Manor, 168.

[59]Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda ed., E. B. O’Callaghan trans., New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch The Register of Saloman Lachaire, Notary Public, 1661-1662 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978), 87.

[60]See Bowne Account Book, 4, 34, 39, 44. For a discussion about Nicholas Davis see Carl Bridenbaugh, Fat Mutton and Liberty of Conscience: Society in Rhode Island, 1636-1690 (Providence: Brown University Press, 1974), 66-7.

[61]See Landsman, Crossroads of Empire, 91.

[62]Michael J. Jarvis, In the Eye of all Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 320.

[63]Among the varieties of wool stored in Lawrence’s shop were kersey, stroudwater, swan skin, serge, frieze, flannel, camlet, broadcloth, Kendall cotton, perpetuana, saye, Norwich stuff, tammy, baize, tauton, drugget, shalloon, dozens, and rash. For a dictionary of period textile terms see Florence Montgomery, Textiles in America, 1650-1870 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984).

[64]Allen W. Trelease, Indian Affairs in Colonial New York: The Seventeenth Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1960), 179.

[65]Denton, A Brief Description of New-York, 44-5.

[66]In January of 1664, William Lawrence summoned sachems Tapausagh and Rompsicka and a “squaw” to Flushing to pressure them into selling land in dispute between settlers and the local Indians. Lawrence was not present for the meeting, but was mentioned in the sachems’ complaint to Stuyvesant about the land-hungry people of Flushing. See Berthold Fernow trans., ed., Documents Relating to the History of the Early Colonial Settlements Principally on Long Island, 540.

[67]Susannah Shaw Romney, New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, published for Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, VA), 151.

[68]See Bridenbaugh, Fat Mutton and Liberty of Conscience, 28-9. In describing the farming, planting, and gardening methods of the Indians, Adriaen van der Donck notes that “The labor they devote to farming is all manual, using small adzes that are sold to them for the purpose.” See van der Donck, A Description of New Netherland, 71.

[69]Under the Duke’s Laws, one was not permitted to “Directly or Indirectly Trade with the Indians for any sort of furrs without Licence first from the Governoure which Licence is to be renewed every year….” See The Colonial Laws of New York: Year 1664 to the Revolution (Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1894), 41.

[70]Throughout the colonial period, textiles and clothing were the most valued trade commodities, more so than guns and alcohol. However, a collection of thirteen guns in Lawrence’s inventory—valued at a little over nine shillings each—suggests that the merchant also traded in firearms.

[71]Quoted in Montgomery, Textiles in America, 228.

[72]For a discussion about Indian self-fashioning see Laura Elaine Johnson, “‘Goods to Clothe Themselves’: Native Consumers, Native Images on the Pennsylvania Trading Frontier, 1712-1730,” Winterthur Portfolio, 43, 1 (Spring 2009): 115-140. See also Christopher L. Miller and George R. Hamell, “A New Perspective on Indian-White Contact: Cultural Symbols and Colonial Trade,” The Journal of American History, 73, 2 (Sept, 1986): 311-28.

[73]Denton, A Brief Description of New-York, 52.

[74]Johnson, “‘Goods to Clothe Themselves’,” 10-15.

[75]Johnson, “‘Goods to Clothe Themsevles’,” 123.

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