The Provincial Council of Pennsylvania Hears of Prince William of Orange’s Invasion

Prince William of Orange invaded England, at the request of the English Parliament.

To call a nighttime meeting to depose a witness about the events in England shows how deeply connected the colonists were to the Old World.

Quakers did not like to get involved in high politics and certainly not war, but they were eager to hear the news, nonetheless.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

25th of 12th month, 1688/9 (February 25, 1688/9)

Transcription Begins:

The governor [John Blackwell, Esq.] having notice of several rumors spread abroad in this town [Philadelphia], etc., touching an invasion made in England by the Prince of Orange and battle fought there, which were occasioned by the report of Zach Whitpain, who came lately from England and arrived here in this town about middle night last, directed that all the members of the Council, present in town should be forthwith assembled, in order to the examination of the said Zach. Whitpain; who having given a general narrative thereof, the governor caused the same to be committed to writing & him, the said Zach, to be deposed to the truth thereof, which is as follows, vizt.:

That he came out of London, the 10th or 12th of Xbre last in a ship called the Mary, John Harris Master, but before he came thence the Prince of Orange appeared with a fleet of ships on the northern part of England and coasted there about 3 or 4 days during which time the King [James II] issued out his order for the army to draw that way.

That on the 5th of 9bre the Prince of Orange landed with an army of about thirty thousand foot and about six thousand horse, in Turbay, transported by a fleet of 75 ships of war, ten fire ships, 500 flyboats, 60 pinks [sic];

That the army remained about Exeter about three weeks, in which time the King remanded his army from the north towards Salsbury and the King went to them there and stayed about a week; then the King returned to London and ordered his army to march thither;

That they had an engagement with the Prince of Orange’s forces; divers of the King’s party deserted him and went over to the Prince of Orange. The fight was about Redding, where the King lost about 2500 men and the Prince about 1500, about the 13th Xbre; about the 17th the King endeavoring to go for France with Sir Edward Hales, was taken at Feversham in the fishing Shallope, who had put there to take in ballast, the King disguised as Sir Edward Hale’s man.

After the King was taken he was carried to my Lord Huntington’s house and the next day to Canterbury, whither the Examinant went from deal to have seen him [sic], but the King was gone thence that morning early, before the Examinant got thither, the King being conducted in his own coaches, and with his own and the Prince of Orange’s guard to London (they being sent on purpose for that service); but whether the King was at London or no the Examinant could not say; but that when the Examinant sailed out of the Downs, which was the 23rd Xbre, the King was at Rochester, under guard.

That the King before his going away from London went to the Tower and sent for his Secretaries and the Lord Mayor, and there delivered up the Tower into the hands of the City; the City upon that appointed the Lord Dumbarton to be Leift [sic] till further order, and the Hamlets to guard it.

That the public affairs at the Examinant coming from England were managed by seven spiritual and seven temporal Lords, and they had set forth a Proclamation for the disbanding of the King’s forces and disarming them, paying them for their arms. The examinant further says that he heard that the castle and city of Dublin in Ireland was delivered to the Protestant Party, under the command of Lord Enchiqueen, who seized the King’s Leift [sic], while he sat at Council;

And further that he saw in a letter from Ireland that there has been a massacre made by the Papists upon Protestants and that two thousand or two hundred were murdered; the figures being blotted, he could not justly tell which number it were.

Transcription ends.

Application Today

This piece show that our forefathers kept in touch with the world around them. We should not adopt a retreatist attitude in our times. That’s one reason why I started this website.

Minutes of the Provincial Council, vol. 1, 1683-1700, Jo. Severns and Co. 1852, pp. 246-47

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