Joseph Peaslee

Joseph PEASLEE (c. 1600 – 1660)  was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 4,096 in this generation of the Miller line.

Joseph Peaslee was born about 1600 in Bristol, England.  It is frequently claimed on the internet that his parents were William PEASLEY and Anne CALVERT.   This claim has been disproved. The  dates do not match up. Also, the New England Peaslees were Protestant and the Virginia Peaslees were Catholic.

Given the big gap in his children’s births, he probably had a first wife.  He married Mary JOHNSON. The tradition in the family is that he was born and lived in the western part of England, near the river Severn, adjoining Wales. With his wife and two or three children he emigrated, about 1635, and came to Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1642.   Joseph died 3 Dec 1660 in Salisbury, Essex, Mass.

Joseph Peaslee – Coat of Arms

Mary Johnson was born about 1604 in Wales.  By tradition Mary was the daughter of a Welch  farmer of comfortable worldly estate.   Her parents may have been  John JOHNSON and Hannah THROCKMORTEN. Mary was possibly a blood relative (presumably sister) of Edmund Johnson who sailed from Southampton on the James in 1635. There was certainly a close tie between this Edmund Johnson and the Peaslee settlers, for there is a record of Joseph’s daughter Mary going to stay with the widow of Edmund Johnson when he died (<1660).   Mary died 27 Sep 1694 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.

Alternatively, Mary was born 1622 in Trevor Issa, Denbighshire, North Wales and Jane and Mary Peaslee were from a different family.

Mary’s illustrious brother, John Ap John, was the associate of George Fox in establishing the Society of Friends in Wales. Swarthmore College Library, Swarthmore, PA, depository of Quaker records in America, furnished copies of writings alluding to John Ap John. An account by Dr. James J. Levick, probably around 1900, contains  seven paragraphs about John Ap John, and why he stayed in Wales instead of coming to America. ” John Ap John’s residence was at Trevor, in the parish of Llangollen, in Denbighshire, Wales, much nearer to Ruabon than to Wrexham. The house…. Persmission to examine the records of the registers of the parish of Llangollen, was obtained by Alfred N. Palmer, the most careful of local historians. The entries are brief, and the name is common. Recorded are:

The baptism of John Ap John de trevor Issa, and of MARIA, veh John Ap John (sic). Another reads: Anne, veh John Ap John de Trevor, baptizata est secundo die —, 1632. It may be assumed that these entries are related to our friend and to his two sisters; the abbreviated term veh implying verch, or daughter, the name of the father being the same as that of the son. It appears probable that John Ap John was born between 1625 and 1630 at Trevor Issa. … The absense of information which surrounds the particulars of his birth, also extends to the marriage of John Ap John.

From the foregoing, it would seem that the “Maria” mentioned in the parish records is the Mary Johnson who married Jospeh Peaslee.

All in all, not a lot of “proof” but some seemingly reasonable assumptions that the Johnson family that intermingled with the Joseph Peaslee family was probably related to the original Edmund Johnson.

Children of Joseph and Mary:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Jane PEASELY 1627
Ens. John DAVIS
10 Dec 1646 Haverhill, Mass
12 Jan 1684  Dover, Norfolk, Mass.
2. Mary Peaslee 1629 Henry Sayward
1654 in Salisbury, Essex, Mass
22 Dec 1689
Gloucester, Essex, Mass.
3. Elizabeth Peaslee 1632 in England John Collins?
Nathan Gould?
Peter Brewer?
Salisbury, Mass
4. Sarah Peasley 20 Sep 1642 Haverhill Thomas Barnard
12 Apr 1664 in Amesbury, Mass
14 Sep 1736
Amesbury, Mass
5. Dr. Joseph Peaslee 9 Sep 1646 Haverhill Ruth Barnard
2 Jan 1672 Salisbury, Mass
Mary Tucker (widow of Stephen Davis)
21 Mar 1735

The name Peaslee is claimed by some to have sprung from Peter, from which we have Peers, Pearse and Pears. Others assume it was an offshoot from peas, a legum. Peas were grown in the east from time immemorial and were introduced into Europe in the Middle Ages. Shakespeare spoke of peasblossom. Lee is from lea, a pasture. The man who was the son of Mr. Peas perhaps lived on the lea, and to distinguish him from the other Mr. Peas he was called Peas-at-lea, and finally Peaslee.

Joseph was a lay preacher and minister.

1642 – Joseph became a freeman in 1642 in Newberry, Mass

14 Mar 1645 – He received a grant of land in Haverhill, Massachusetts  and his name appears in the first list of landholders of Haverhill in 1645. He settled in the easterly part of the town near “Reaks Bridge,” over the Merrimac river, and received grants of land from 1645 to 1656, when divisions of land were made by vote of the town of Haverhill,

1649, 50-53 – He was of the commissioners for the settlements of claims, and selectman of Haverhill

17 Jul 1656 – He was made a “townsman” of Salisbury “Newtown” (now Amesbury, Massachusetts)

1656-57-58 –  Granted “twenty acres of upland, bought of Thomas Macy, and ten acres of meadow, for which the town agreed to pay six pounds to Thomas Macy.” In divisions of land in Salisbury “Newtown” Joseph Peaslee received liberal shares. It was the custom in the new settlement to give lands, to induce persons having a trade such as a mason, blacksmith, etc., to settle in the new towns. Joseph was a lay preacher as well as a farmer, and was reputed to have some skill in the practice of medicine. In the recognition of these natural gifts, he was, undoubtedly, made a citizen of Salisbury “Newtown.”

Later this gift of preaching made trouble in the new settlement and history for Joseph.  Soon after he removed to “Newtown,” the inhabitants neglected to attend the meetings for worship in the old town and did not contribute to the support of the minister. They held meetings for worship at private houses, and in the absence of a minister, Joseph Peaslee and Thomas Macy officiated. The general court, which had jurisdiction over territory from Salem, Massachusetts, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire (was called Norfolk county), soon fined the inhabitants of “Newtown” five shillings each for every neglect of attending meetings in the old town and an additional fine of five shillings each to Joseph and Macy if they exhorted the people in the absence of a minister. This decree was not heeded. Meetings were held and Joseph and his friend continued to preach. The general court made additional decrees and fines, which also were not heeded. Macy fled from persecution in Massachusetts and settled in Nantucket, Rhode Island in 1659.

George MARTIN was one of the fifteen “humble immortals” who, in 1653, stoutly and successfully maintained for the first time the right of petition for the subjects of the English crown.  Lt. Robert Pike (son-in-law of Joseph MOYCE), of Salisbury, an influential citizen, had denounced a law passed by the General Court, for which he was convicted, fined and disfranchised by the General Court.  Lt. Pike, a prominent town official and later a member of the General Court, denounced the law forbidding to preach if not Ordained. Which law was aimed at Joseph PEASLEE and Thomas Macy, believers in the Baptist Doctrine, with Quaker tendencies. The autocratic General Court resented this and Lieutenant Pike was fined over thirteen pounds and bound to good behavior.   This punishment caused many citizens of Salisbury and the surrounding towns to petition for a revocation of the sentence.  This offended the Court still more, and the signers were called upon to give “a reason for their unjust request”.  Out of the seventy-five who signed, the above mentioned fifteen alone refused to recede or apologize, and they were required to give bonds and to “answer for their offense before the County Court”.  Their cases were never called to trial, and they thus, by their firm stand, laid the foundation for these rights, which are now granted in all the civilized world.  Ironically, after George died, his wife Susanna was executed for witchcraft on 19 Jul 1692 in Salem, Essex, Mass.

Joseph Peaslee was a Puritan, a reformed Episcopalian. The creed was to abandon everything that could boast of no other authority than tradition, or the will of man, and to follow as far as possible the “pure word of God.” The Puritans came to the wilderness of America to escape persecution in England and to enjoy their own religious liberty, but not to allow religious freedom to any who’ differed from them. Nowhere did the spirit of Puritanism, in its evil as well as its good, more thoroughly express itself than in Massachusetts. The persecution of Joseph was of short duration, as he died at Salisbury “Newtown,” December 3, 1660. He made his will November 11, 1660, proved February 9, 1661; Mary Peaslee, executrix. In 1662 the widow, Mary Peaslee, was granted one hundred and eight acres of land in Salisbury. The administration of her estate was granted September 27, 1694, to her son Joseph.

Joseph’s  son Joseph Jr. received “children’s land” in 1660 and a “Township” in 1660, being a tract of land, conferring the right to vote and take part in town meetings when of age. He resided in Salisbury “Newtown” until after his marriage and birth of his eldest child, Mary, when he removed to Haverhill, Massachusetts. He was a physician and farmer; owned saw and grist mills, a large landholder by grants, inheritance and purchases, and had large tracts of land beyond the Spicket river, now Salem, New Hampshire, inherited from his father. He took the oath of allegiance and fidelity at Haverhill in 1677; built a brick garrison house with bricks imported from England about 1673. This house is in East Haverhill on the highway now called the “River Road,” and is still [in 1909] standing in good repair, one of the landmarks of the Merrimac valley.

Joseph Peasley Jr. – House; abt 1675

Joseph held many town offices, was much in public life, and a member of the Society of Friends. For many years there was an established meeting of that denomination at his house. He died at Haverhill, Massachusetts, March 21, 1735, and his widow was living in 1741. From the records he evidently distributed his estate by deeds to his heirs, with this closing clause, “Saving always and hereby reserving unto myself the free use and Improvement of ye premises During my natural life.” Children by first wife: Mary, married an ancestor of John Greenleaf Whittier; Joseph, Robert, John, Nathaniel. Ruth, Ebenezer and Sarah.

The Last Will and Testament of Joseph Peasly – Essex Co MA Registry of Probate File #21069 9 Apr 1661

The last will and testament of Josef Pesly is that my deats shall bee paid out of estate and the remainner of my estat wich is left my deats being paid I doe give and dooe beequeaf the on have vnto Mery my wiff during her life and I doo give to my dafter Sera all my hous and lands that I have at Salsbery and I doo give vnto Josef my Sonne all my land that I have upon the plain at Haverell and doo all so vnto Josef my Sonn all medo lying in the East medo at Haverell and doo give vnto Josef my Sonn all my right in the oxespaster at Haverell and doo giue vnto Josef my Sonn five of of the common rites that doo be long to the plain doo give vnto my dafter Eleesebeth my forty fouer eakers of vpland lying west word of Haverell and doo giue vnto my dafter Elesebeth fouer Eakers and a have of medo liing in the west medo at Haverell and doo all so give to my dafter Elesebeth fouer of the common rits that doo belong to the plain and doo give vnto my daffter Jean tenn shillen and to my dafter mary ten Shellens I doo give vnto Sarea Saier my grandchild my vpland and medo liing at Speaket reuer and doo give vnto my sunn Josef all the re mainer of my land at Haverell wich is not heare disposed of this is my last will and testement being in my right mind and memere wittnes my hand the 11 of nouember 1660

Josef pesle

witness Phill Challis Thomas Barnard Richard Vurrier

I doo all so make mary my wiffe my Soull exseceter and doo allso leave Josef my Sunn and the esteat that I haue giueen him to my wiffes desposen tell Josef my Sonn be twenty yeares of aige

This was attested vpon oath by Phillip Challis & Tho Barnett to bee ye last will & testament of Joseph Peasly ? at Salisbury ? Tho Bradbury


Essex Co MA Registry of Probate #21069
A inventory of the goods and lands of Josef Peasly taken by Richard Currier and Thomas Barnard & William Barence

1 grinding stone and crink & bittell rings 00 12 00
1 smothing iron 5 wedges and on Iron bar 01 05 00
one pare of and Irons and 2 spits 4 axes & 2 saws 02 06 00
one crane 2 tramels gred Iron & brand Iron and fire slice on par of cob Irons & tongs 01 14 00
on tow Combe parsel 00 10 00
on Iron pot and skelet pot hokes and flesh hoke and friing pan 01 04 00
5 howes 1 Chaine & other Iron work 01 00 00
puter and bras 05 00 00
2 guns and on sword 02 00 00
all his waring apperell woling and lining 08 00 00
Cloth & sarge and tamie 07 13 00
beds and beding 10 18 00
yarn woll flax and hempe 05 10 00
Chests barells spining wheles and other lumber 03 00 00
sixty bushels of Indian Corn 09 00 00
three Cows two heffers & on calfe 19 00 00
swine 03 00 00
hous and land and meddow 50 00 00
2 bibels and other bukes 01 15 00
This is a ? ? to our ? total £143 05 00

Whareas we James Senr Davice and Theophiles Sachell war asked by the widdow peasly and ? ?

first 12 acors more or les within the plaune fenced as it is bounded in the records and so for the rest in record for this 12 acors 50 00 00
# for 18 acors without the fence 40 00 00
# 44 acors of the 2 deuision over the litel rever westward is bounded 35 00 00
# 4 scor and 4 of the 3 devision on spicet hill as it is bound 35 00 00
# a 4th devision of upland yet not perfeted all though granted by the towne 5 00 00
# 6 acars of meddow at the east meddow as bound 20 00 00
# 4 acars & a halfe of meddow at the west meddow bounded 08 00 00
# 6 acars of 2 devision of meddow at Spicket 09 00 00
# 4 acors of 3 devision of medow bounded in the new found medow 05 00 00
# 4 ox commonds & others cow commonds 16 00 00

£223 00 00

by Mary Peasly Executor to be a true inventory
Theophiles Sachell? James Davis Senr
?? Tho Bradbury

Capt Rob Pike Lt Philip Challis Mr Tho Bradbury impowered to divide the estate of Joseph Peasly & make return next Hampton court 1:12

John ap John

A view of Cefn Mawr, by David Hart17th century religious pioneer, originally from Cefn Mawr, who was jailed several times for his beliefs.

Born: 1625 Died: 1697
Place of Birth: Cefn Mawr
Famous For: First person to become a Quaker in Wales. Biography:  Local historian Howard Paddock writes about the religious pioneer from Cefn. It is generally accepted that John ap John was born about 1625 at a freehold property called Pen y Cefn in the county of Denbighshire. The son of a yeoman farmer, he became one of the country’s leading dissenters. It was John ap John who first brought Quakerism into Wales and because of this he is commonly called ‘The First Apostle of Welsh Quakerism.’
The very first Quaker Meeting in Wales was held at his home in Cefn Mawr, an area which was then known as Cristionydd Kenrick, a township within the Parish of Ruabon. John ap John was educated at Wrexham where he possibly came under the influence of Walter Craddock, a leading Puritan preacher. During the Civil War it is thought that John ap John served as a Chaplain with the Parliamentarian Army at Beaumaris, Anglesey.
After the war, he joined Morgan Llwyd’s Church at Wrexham, where he soon became a leading member and travelling preacher. It was through Morgan Llwyd that he met George Fox, the founder Of the Society of Friends. In 1653, John ap John stayed at Fox’s headquarters in Swarthmore, Lancashire where he learned about the philosophy of ‘The Inner Light’ and the teachings of George Fox. When John ap John was convinced of the truth he became the very first Welsh Quaker.
To say simply that he spent the greater part of his life tramping through Wales preaching the Quaker message would be to ignore the bravery of this man. For these were the days of religious intolerance, when heretics were condemned to death and the Law Courts threatened to burn Quakers. He spent a life-time being persecuted and was incarcerated because of his beliefs in the jails of Cardiff, Usk, Tenby, Swansea, Welshpool and possibly Carmarthen. He was gaoled for such offences as refusing to remove his hat in the presence of a social superior and fined for holding religious services inside his own home.
In 1681, John ap John met William Penn in London and was instrumental in persuading Penn to allocate 30,000 acres of his American land to Welsh Quakers.
John ap John died in 1697 at the home of son in law, John Mellor of Ipstones, Staffordshire, and was buried in nearby Basford. He lies in an unmarked grave in what today simply looks like a field.

David Larsson from Philadelphia

Dear Howard, Thanks for your response. There is a 1919 article from _Cymru_ by Rev. Thomas Shankland, written in Welsh, that bears review. I am, alas, very limited to my command of that ancient and formidable language, but Rev. Shankland seems to (a) criticize some of Mr. Palmer’s conclusions, and (b) suggest 3 separate places in which John ap John lived: namely, Trevor; Rhyddallt; and the house in Cefn Mawr on the Newbridge Road that’s next to the old (but not quite so old) baptist chapel – when I visited a few years ago, this last building was being used as a stable. I have the article and am happy to share it with you; I’m not hard to track down, there aren’t very many “ss” Larssons practicing law in Philadelphia. My particular interest is that I’m trying to find out from whence John ap John sprang.

There are 19th century sources in the USA (see, e.g., History of Ware, NH) that speculate that John ap John was originally from Monmouthshire, and that his father (unsurprisingly named “John”) was the sole surviving son of an Edmund/Edmond (and his other sons) who drowned “in the river at Ponty Pool” in 1600. [As an aside, I imagine that, if such an accident actually occurred, it could have been in January 1606-07, when the Severn’s springtime tidal bore, combined with what some people think was a major storm and other think might have been a tsunami, touched off a flood that killed thousands of people and destroyed paper records throughout Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, Monmouthshire, Glamorganshire, and the Gower Peninsula].

As the story goes, this surviving “John” had two (and, in other versions of the story, three) children: John, who stayed in Wales and adopted the Welsh patronymic; Edmund/Edmond, who emigrated to America (from London) in 1635 on the ship “James” and became a founding settler of Hampton, New Hampshire (and, in other versions of this story, a daughter, Mary, who wedded Joseph Peaslee of Gloucestershire, and became founding settlers of Newbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts, and, ultimately, Newton, New Hampshire).

Mary and Joseph were direct ancestors of the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier. The Johnson family of Danvers, Massachusetts, with whom Whittier spent most of his time during his years of declining health, are one of the main sources (perhaps the only source) of this family story. So, I’ve been trying to prove — or disprove — this theory since 1996, to no avail. I thought for a while that story might have confused the pioneering Welsh Quaker “John ap John” with the pioneering “John ap John” of Aberystruth parish, who is mentioned by “The Prophet” Edmond Jones, in his history of that parish, as “a very holy man” who was a founder of the independent congregation at Gelli’r Grug, but there are details in that book that lead me to believe that this is not the same person. In all events, it has been great fun to chase after this little puzzle, and it has afforded me two wonderful opportunities to visit the Vale of Llangollen and enjoy your beautiful land. Cheers, Dave Larsson
Wed Apr 25 08:56:44 2007

Howard Paddock

Dear David. I thank you for your response to my article and would wish to say that I am mindful that there is a strong indication that John ap John and his wife Kathryn may have lived at the property you describe and which A N Palmer called ‘Plas Ifa’ or ‘Plas Evan’. However, there is other evidence which suggests that after their marriage in 1663 and until the marriage of Richard Davies to Ann Barnes, of Warrington, in 1681 that John ap John and his wife, Kathryn Edwards, and her son, Richard Davies, probably lived together at a property known as Tyddyn y Rhyddallt (also called Rhyddallt Issa).

This is partly substantiated by A N Palmer for on page 30 of his book ‘ A History of the Parish of Ruabon’ he writes: ‘ In 1663, Kathryn Edwards of Trevor was presented as a Quaker by the grand jury of County Denbigh, and her son maintained ‘a meeting’ at his house in Rhyddallt.’ On page 100 of his autobiography, Richard Davies of Welshpool (not to be confused with Richard Davies of Rhyddallt) writes in 1675: ‘From thence we went to John ap John’s near Wrexham, in Denbighshire, and visited friends there ‘ This description fits ‘Tyddyn y Rhyddallt’ better than ‘Plas Ifa’ as the latter would probably have been described as ‘near Llangollen’. The opening statement of a document held at the Denbighshire Records Office (reference DD/DM/1096) reads: ‘Article of Agreement hath made and sustained upon this 29th day of December 1679, between John ap John of Rhyddallt in the Parish of Ruabon and county of Denbigh, yeoman, Kathryn, his wife, and Richard Davies, son and heir apparent of the said Kathryn, of the one part……………………’ This document is signed: John ap John Ka. Edds Richard Davies Kindest regards Howard Paddock
Thu Nov 9 16:54:01 2006

David Larsson from Philadelphia

I have seen the deed from William Penn to John ap John and Thomas Wynne that granted to them thousands of acres in what is now suburban Philadelphia (e.g., Merion, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Bala Cynwyd, Tredyffrin Township). I visited Cefn Mawr a few years ago, and saw the stable building — that A. Palmer believed to be John ap John’s home — still standing, along with the house of his wife, Catherine, on the hillside near the Trevor Sun Tavern. Thanks for this entry.
Thu Nov 9 09:20:16 2006


1. Jane PEASELY (See Ensign John DAVIS‘s page)

2. Mary Peaslee

Mary’s first husband Henry Sayward was born 1627 in Farnham, Essex, England. His parents were John Sayward and Anne [__?__]. Henry died 1679 in York, York, Maine.

Mary’s second husband Joseph Whittier was born 1637 in Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts.

5. Elizabeth Peaslee

Estimates of Elizabeth’s birth are wide ranging from 1627 to 1648. Elizabeth’s husband John Collins was a Quaker.

Elizabeth’s husband Nathan Gould was born about 1614 in England and died between 12 Dec 1692 and 27 Sep 1693 in Amesbury, Essex Co., Mass.

4 Sarah Peasley

Sarah’s husband Thomas Barnard was born 10 May 1641 in Salisbury, Essex, Mass. His parents were Thomas Barnard and Helen Eleanor Morse. Thomas died 5 Dec 1715 in Amesbury, Essex, Mass.

After Joseph Peasley’s death, his widow evidently continued to cling to the property, the will being rather obscure as to her rights vs. her daughter Sarah’s, although it is evident that he meant to divide the property between them.  After Sarah married, her husband sued the widow.

Thomas Barnard Jr. vs. Mary Peaslee For refusing and neglecting to make good to him a certain legacy of house and lands given to Sarah Peasley who is now said Bernard’s wife by said Joseph in his will. The widow won this suit which was evidently for the entire property and it was

“Ordered that Captain Pike, Mr. Thomas Bradbury, and Lt. Phillip Challis make a division of lands between widow Peasley and Sarah Peasley, now wife of Thomas Bernard and of the housing according to the will of Joseph Peasly  as soon as they can conveniently, April 1664

5. Dr. Joseph Peaslee

Joseph’s first wife Ruth Barnard was born 16 Oct 1651 in Salisbury, Mass.

Joseph’s second wife Mary Tucker was born 31 May 1666 in Salisbury, Essex, Mass. Her parents were Morris Tucker and Elizabeth Gill. She first married 23 Dec 1685 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass to Stephen Davis (b. 15 Jul 1663 in Haverhill, Mass – d. 5 May 1719 in Haverhill) Mary died 1724 in Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, .

See Joseph’s bio below.

Joseph’s daughter Mary married Joseph Whittier on  24 Jul 1694 Haverhill.  The poet John  Greenleaf Whittier was her great grandson.

Mary’s son Joseph Whittier (1717 Haverhill – 1796 Haverhill) married Sarah Greenleaf (1721 Newbury – 1807 Haverhill)

Mary’s grandson John Whittier (1760 Haverhill – 1830 Haverhiull) married Abigail Hussey (1779 Somersworth, New Hampshire – 1857 Haverhill)

John Greenleaf Whittier was born to John Whittier and Abigail Hussey  at their rural homestead near Haverhill, Massachusetts, on December 17, 1807. He grew up on the farm in a household with his parents, a brother and two sisters, a maternal aunt and paternal uncle, and a constant flow of visitors and hired hands for the farm. Their farm was not very profitable. There was only enough money to get by. Whittier himself was not cut out for hard farm labor and suffered from bad health and physical frailty his whole life. Although he received little formal education, he was an avid reader who studied his father’s six books on Quakerism until their teachings became the foundation of his ideology. Whittier was heavily influenced by the doctrines of his religion, particularly its stress on humanitarianism, compassion, and social responsibility

John Greenleaf Whittier (December 17, 1807 – September 7, 1892) was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. He is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets. Whittier was strongly influenced by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Highly regarded in his lifetime and for a period thereafter, he is now remembered for his poem Snow-Bound, and the words of the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, from his poem The Brewing of Soma, sung to music by Hubert Parry.

During the 1830s, Whittier became interested in politics, but after losing a Congressional election in 1832, he suffered a nervous breakdown and returned home at age twenty-five. The year 1833 was a turning point for Whittier; he resurrected his correspondence with Garrison, and the passionate abolitionist began to encourage the young Quaker to join his cause.

Broadside publication of Whittier’s Our Countrymen in Chains

In 1833, Whittier published the antislavery pamphlet Justice and Expediency, and from there dedicated the next twenty years of his life to the abolitionist cause. The controversial pamphlet destroyed all of his political hopes—as his demand for immediate emancipation alienated both northern businessmen and southern slaveholders—but it also sealed his commitment to a cause that he deemed morally correct and socially necessary. He was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and signed the Anti-Slavery Declaration of 1833, which he often considered the most significant action of his life.

Whittier’s political skill made him useful as a lobbyist, and his willingness to badger anti-slavery congressional leaders into joining the abolitionist cause was invaluable. From 1835 to 1838, he traveled widely in the North, attending conventions, securing votes, speaking to the public, and lobbying politicians. As he did so, Whittier received his fair share of violent responses, being several times mobbed, stoned, and run out of town. From 1838 to 1840, he was editor of The Pennsylvania Freeman in Philadelphia,  one of the leading antislavery papers in the North.  In May 1838, the publication moved its offices to the newly-opened Pennsylvania Hall on North Sixth Street, which was shortly after burned by a pro-slavery mob.  Whittier also continued to write poetry and nearly all of his poems in this period dealt with the problem of slavery.

The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 ended both slavery and his public cause, so Whittier turned to other forms of poetry for the remainder of his life.


Joseph Peasley 1 — Source: Ancestry of Charles Stinson Pillsbury and John Sargent Pillsbury (1938)

Joseph Peasley 2

Joseph Peasley 3

Joseph Peasley 4

Genealogical and family history of the state of Maine, Volume 3 By Henry Sweetser Burrage, Albert Roscoe Stubbs

Ancestry of Charles Stinson Pillsbury and John Sargent Pillsbury (1938) By Holman, Mary Lovering, 1868-1947; Pillsbury, Helen Pendleton Winston, 1878-1957

This entry was posted in 13th Generation, Dissenter, Immigrant - England, Immigrant - Scot-Irish, Line - Miller and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Joseph Peaslee

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  9. Herb L says:

    I enjoy your site very much. Nice Work!! Thank You!! We have several ancestors in-common.

    I would like to call your attention to the following notations re: Joseph Peaslee parents. Joseph’s parents were not William Peaslee and Anne Calvert. This frequent Internet claim has been disproved. The Children, dates for these people do not match up. Also, the NE Peaslees were Protestant. The VA Peaslees were Catholic.

    Please see this Peaslee Family research for this correction here:

    Thank You!


    Joseph Peaslee
    Posted on September 13, 2010 by markeminer
    Joseph PEASLEE (c. 1600 – 1660) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 4,096 in this generation of the Miller line.
    Joseph Peaslee was born about 1600 in Bristol, England. His parents were William PEASLEY and Anne CALVERT. Given the big gap in his children’s births, he probably had a first wife. He married Mary JOHNSON. The tradition in the family is that he was born and lived in the western part of England, near the river Severn, adjoining Wales. With his wife and two or three children he emigrated, about 1635, and came to Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1642. Joseph died 3 Dec 1660 in Salisbury, Essex, Mass.

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