Quaker War Tax Resistance, in Jamaica, in the 1600s

One of the earliest records I have of something like Quaker war tax resistance in the Americas comes out of Jamaica, which isn’t the first place I would have looked for such a thing.

The following record comes from Joseph Besse’s A Collection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers, for the Testimony of a Good Conscience (), though I found it not there but as it was quoted in Peter Brock’s Liberty and Conscience: A Documentary History of the Experiences of Conscientious Objectors in America through the Civil War ().

. William Davis, of Port-Royal, because he refused to appear in arms, and also to provide his servants with arms and ammunition had taken from him by George Carter, sergeant to Henry Moleworth’s Company, by virtue of a warrant granted by Robert Phillips, ensign, several quantities of pewter and other goods worth £4 for only £1 demanded. The said William Davis had a few weeks before been robbed by pirates, and at the time of taking away these goods the sergeant said, He would not leave him a dish to eat on; and accordingly never returned any of the goods, but told him, If he would pay the sum demanded, he might have them again. But as he could not in conscience do that, he suffered the loss of the whole.

. On , a sergeant with a party of musketeers, authorized by warrant from Captain Joseph Jennings, came and demanded 10s of the said William Davis for not appearing in arms, which he refusing to pay, they took away an iron boom for a mast, weighting 38 lb. which they offered to sale, but finding nobody that would buy it, they brought it again, and the said William was free to receive it, the property of it not being altered. The same day they took away a jack with a line and weight, which he had before sold for 25s but they sold it for 15s of which, when they would have returned him 3s he refused to receive it, because the goods sold were not his property.

. On Robert Newman, a sergeant, with a corporal and some soldiers, came and demanded of the said William Davis 10s for not buying arms, and not sending his servant to exercise military discipline, which he refusing to pay, they took away an hammock, the property of another person who had left it with him, which they sold in the market-place for 15s, and offered to return him 5s, which he would not receive, the goods sold being none of his property. This was done by force of a warrant granted by Thomas Barratt, ensign to the company.

. On William Neate, corporal, and others, with a warrant from Joseph Jennings, a captain of the militia, came and demanded of the said William Davis 10s for not appearing personally in arms, and 10s more for not accoutring and sending his servant to the muster, which he refusing to pay, they took from him six silk handkerchiefs and other shop goods worth £2.10s.6d.

Again on , the said William Davis had taken from him, for not appearing in arms, by Cornelius Campion and William Neale, sergeants, with a warrant under the hand of Capt. Joseph Jennings, twelve yards of speckled linen, at 1s.10d per yard, and seven handkerchiefs at 1s.3½d each, the whole amounting to £1.11sd. But this, though their demand was but 20s, did not satisfy them, but they came again, and took three more handkerchiefs worth 3s.9d

… John Pike, of Port-Royal, joiner, for not bearing arms, and for refusing to contribute towards the charge of their feasts used on their field-days, for a demand of 10s had taken from him by Daniel Burton and one Ellison, sergeants to Capt. Henry Ward, four frying pans worth 18s.9d of which they returned him only 1s.3d.