Archiver > PA-OLD-CHESTER > 2003-02 > 1045404890

Subject: [PaOldC] Early Quaker Caves in Philadelphia
Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003 09:14:50 EST

I had often heard about my Quaker ancestors living in caves when they arrived
in the early 1680's. The following excerpts from the Pennsylvania Archives
Colonial Records Series have helped me to understand the nature of those
caves and I thought I would share what I have found.

Fred Kelso
Oxford, PA

Minute Book of Property Commencing About the Year 1685, Book C. In the
Secretaries Office. Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, Volume 19.

p. 3

A Proclamation concerning the Caves of Philadelphia, By William Penn,
Proprietary and Govern’r, &c.


Whereas I did at first, in regard of the infancy of things and specially
out of tenderness to the poorer sort, permitt divers Caves to be made in the
Bank of Philadelphia, fronting Delaware River, for a present accomodation,
and perceiving that they are commonly disposed of from one to another as a
kind of Property, and taking farther notice of the great Detriment that is
like to issue to the Street by the continuation of them, as well as the
Disorders that their great Secrecy hath given occasion to loose People to
commit in them, I do hereby desire and strictly order and warne all the
Inhabitants of the said Caves to depart the same within two Months after the
Publication hereof, And require my trusty and loving friends and
Commissioners, William Markham, Thomas Ellis and John Goodson, or any two of
them, to see that the same be accordingly effected. And that no Damage may
redound to the Publick by my former Indulgence; the said Commis’rs are
thereby ordered to cause a Survey to be taken of the State of the Said Caves
that such who have lived in them may be obliged to secure the Bank and Street
from any Damage that may happen from them. It being but a reasonable thing
that those who have had the benefit thereof should Indemnifie the Publick, of
which all Persons concern’d are to take notice and yield their due obedience
as they will answer the contrary at their Perrill.

Given at Worminghurst Place in old England ye 24th of ye 11th Month, 1686.



p. 11

The Time being expired w’ch was granted in a Proclomation Published ye 7 of
ye 3d Month last Past, for the Inhabitants of ye Caves in Philadelphia to
provide themselves other habitations and having received fresh Instructions
from ye Proprietary and Governor about ye same ye Commiss’rs did, in order to
execute both ye former and ye latter Instructions, Publish this following

By ye Proprietary Deputies:

WHEREAS, a Proclomation was Publish’d by order of ye Proprietary and
Governor ye 7th of ye 3d Month last past, strictly ordering and warning all
ye Inhabitants of ye Caves in Philadelhpia to depart ye same within two
Months after ye Publication thereof;

These are therefore to give notice to all ye aforesaid Inhabitants y’t on
ye next second day by nine in ye forenoon the Commiss’rs will meet in ye
Council Room at Philadelphia to put in Execution ye said Proclomation where
any Inhabitant of ye said Caves may there show reason why their Caves might
not forthwith be Destroyed. Dated at Philadelphia ye 22d 5th Mo., 1687




I heartily salute you on contrary winds giving further time both of
Information and Consideration in Reference to the things I have already writ
to you about. I have thought fit to let you know that for as much as some of
ye Buildings in ye Bank, as Benj’n Chambers, &c., have been more costly than
ordinary, tho’ Irregular and his particularly without leave, and y’t some
may interprett Such Buildings in the Bank unconcern’d in ye word caves in ye
Proclomation, Know y’t even in such Cases you permit none to stand with out
at least one hundred pound security for good behaviour in them and
preservation of ye Bank, and Rent at half ye Value (real) yearly of ye same,
to be yearly paid to me or my order so ong as I shall permit them to reside
there and y’t this Indulgence extend to none ye Building of whose Caves is
not worth Thirty Pounds and that are not of Sober Conversation…

Given at Worminghurst Place in old England ye 8th of ye 12th Mo., 1686.
For my trusty and loving Friends and Companions, William Markham, Thomas
Ellis and John Goodson, In Philad’a.

p. 13

At a meeting of the Commissioners in the Council Room at Philad’a ye 25th of
ye 5 Mo., 1687. Present: William Markham, Thomas Ellis, John Goodson.
According to Notice given ye last sitting of ye Commissioners there
appeared of ye Inhabitants of ye Caves on the Bank:

John Otter. Thos. Prichard.

Benj’n Chambers. Edward Morgan.

Hen. Furnis. Alse Guest.

Anth. Weston. Morris Morgan.

Nath. Allen. Hen’y Hughes.

Hugh Marsh. Tho. Roberts.

Samuel Hersent appeared in the behalf of John Swift and Jere Elfrith.

John Otter, Benj. Chambers, Nathaniel Allen and Alse Guest, their Caves
were esteemed to be worth the Building, thirty pounds, and the Commissioners
treated with them accordingly; the rest desired they might have more time
allowed them that they might provide habitations for themselves. It was
granted till ye 19th of ye 7th Month next provided, they sign to a Writing
(should be drawn) ye next sitting of ye Commissioners, w’ch will be ye 29th

John Otter and the rest were appointed to come the same time and sign a
writing which shall be prepared about their ----…




p. 17

At A Meeting of the Commissioners in The Council Room the 29th of ye 5th
Mo., 1687, at Philadelphia.

Present, William Markham, John Goodson.

Several of the Inhabitants of the Caves which were not to stand upon Rent
Appeared, but all Refused to sign to the obligation the Tenor whereof was:
1st. to depart out of the Caves at or before the 19th day of 7ber next. 2dly.
To keep good orders in the meantime. 3dly. To repair the Damage that hath
been done the said bank by building them.
John Otter, Nath. Allen and Alse Guest, Signed their obligation as
Renters, but Benj. Chambers Came not. The Tenor of their obligation was:
1st. to pay the half Value of Yearly rent as it shall be valued by 4
indifferent men to be mutually chosen, it to Commence the 19th 7ber next.
2dly. Keep good order. 3dly. Upon order to depart out and leave the same.
4thly. To repair the Bank. Upon the refusal of the foregoing signing the
obligation the Messenger was sent to the Attorney Genral to acquaint him that
the Commissioners desired to speak with him about Six in the afternoon at the
Secretary’s office…



Post Meridian [the 29th of ye 5th Mo., 1687 ].

Present, William Markham, Jno. Goodson.

David Lloyd, ye Attorney General, according to Request, in the forenoon
met the Commissoners, they consulted about a Method to prosecute those who
would not go quietly out of their Caves, it was the attorney’s opinion to
prosecute them for a Nusance.

It was ordered y’t ye Messenger should go to Every respective Cave and
warn ye Inhabitants to depart the same within one Week, and those that did
not should be prosecuted accordingly.

At a Meeting of the Commissioners in the Secretary’s office at
Philadelphia the 5th of the 6th Mo., 1687.

Present, Wm. Markham, Tho. Ellis, John Goodson.

The Petition of Benj. Chambers was read.

The Commissioners answer, was that they had formerly considered his Case
but they were obliged to follow the Proprietary’s Instructions. That they
had formerly offred him am Instrument to Sign as others had done, whose Caves
were admitted to stand during the Proprietary’s Pleasure, but he evaded it.
They do now again offer him the same and will also give him under their
hands, that if there be such a writing under the Proprietary’s hand as he
alledges (by w’ch he granted part of the Bank to ye Purchasers), that he
shall have the benefit thereof so far forth as it Concerns him, but if he did
not forthwith comply he should be returned to the Attorney General and

Post Meridian [the 5th of the 6th Mo., 1687] at John Goodson’s house.

Present, all ye Commiss’rs.

The Commiss’rs advising with the Attorney General about proceedings
against the Persons y’t yet remain Contemptuously in Caves, it was concluded
y’t Since the quarter sessions is to be ye 7th Day of ye next Month they
would forbear till then, and then present them to the grand Jury y’t shall be
found still to continue ye Contempt.

At a Meeting of the Commissioners in ye Council Room in Philadelhia ye
8th 7th Mo., 1687.

Present, all the Commiss’rs.

The Persons yet remaining in Caves having had notice given them,
Appeared; they all Ingaged to depart forthwith Except Henry Furnis, who, by
arguments the Commiss’rs Could use, Could not prevail with him, whereupon a
Note was drawn and sent to the Attorney General Signed by all ye Commiss’rs
to present the said Henry Furnis to the Grand Jury….

At a meeting of the Commiss’rs ye 19th of the 2d Month, 1690. Present,
Rob’t Turner, Will’m Markham, Jo’n Goodson, Sam’l Carpenter.

It’s Ordered (and agreed unto by Benjamin Chambers) that there shall be
40 foot left between James Hunt’s Lott and Benj. Chambers’ lott at the North
end of the bank of Dellaware for a passage out of the Street below the bank,
into the street above the bank, the said Benj. Chambers proposes to make a
Cartway for publick use up the bank as well as underneath, the Commiss’rs
allowing as an addition ten foot more to his Ninety formerly granted him,
which he was granted.



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