Book of the Week

Vagabond Quakers: Northern Colonies has been selected by the NH State Library’s Center for the Book as Book of the Week for August 28, 2017. The posting is at  http://nhbookcenter.blogspot.com

I am grateful to Mary Russell, Director of the Center for the Book, for promoting this first book in the Vagabond Trilogy.

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The Book is published!

Vagabond Quakers: Northern Colonies is now available on Amazon in both trade paperback and kindle format at this link:

 

 

Copies available for purchase and signing by Olga at these future programs:

Thursday, October 19, 6:30pm at Ossipee Public Library, Ossipee, NH

Thursday, November 2, 7:00pm at Wolfeboro Public Library

Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 6:30pm at Berwick Public Library, Berwick, ME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publication Imminent

Vagabond Quakers: Northern Colonies will soon be published. More than 5 years have gone into the making of this book.

Ernest O. Brown is the artist who created the artwork for the cover shown above.

The proof will arrive any day now. There will be an opportunity for one more round of revisions, then it goes to press. Copies will be available on Amazon, hopefully by July 2017.

Vagabond Quakers Book I

The stocks and flogging were often used, if the accused could not pay the fine for their misdemeanors and crimes.

The stocks and flogging were often used, if the accused could not pay the fine for their misdemeanors and crimes.

Four Quaker missionaries were hanged by the Boston authorities, led by John Endicott and the minister John Norton. Mary Dyer was one of them. In Vagabond Quakers, she is the mentor and inspiration for Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose.

Four Quaker missionaries were hanged by the Boston authorities, led by John Endicott and the minister John Norton. Mary Dyer was one of them. In Vagabond Quakers, she is the mentor and inspiration for Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose.

This Governor of Boston did more to abuse missionaries and followers of the Society of Friends than any other New England official. However he died in 1665 from a strange affliction. His back broke out in suppurating sores. Karma caught up with him in the end.

This Governor of Boston did more to abuse missionaries and followers of the Society of Friends than any other New England official. However he died in 1665 from a strange affliction. His back broke out in suppurating sores. Karma ?

http://www.hallworthington.com

The above website is a fount of information, once you get past the the Bible quotations and ponderously religious format. Click on persecutions in the American Colonies.

Early Quaker Persecutions

The Vagabond Trilogy

The chronicles of Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose have proven more extensive and complex than I had ever imagined, when I first began writing this book. Their story does not end when the women leave the Piscataqua Region of what was the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1663 (now New Hampshire). In order to avoid writing a 600-page tome, I decided to write Mary and Allie’s story in two volumes.

Book 1 is Vagabond Quakers: Northern Colonies. It covers the incidents from June 1662, when Mary and Allie first arrive at Dover, to their departure for Rhode Island in April 1663 (remember this is the Julian Calendar, wherein the new year begins in March. We now use the Gregorian Calendar with the new year beginning in January). After three painful encounters with the Puritan authorities of Dover Point and Hampton, all of which are documented in historical records, Book 1 ends as the missionary women make for a safe haven in Rhode Island.

In Book I Richard Walderne’s (Waldron) story also runs parallel to that of Mary and Allie. His chapters reveal the history of early Dover, NH (Bristol/Northam), as he emigrated there from Warwickshire in 1635. He became a pillar of the community and a successful businessman in the fur trade, sawmills, ship building, and import/export. He was a strict Puritan, and the magistrate that dictated the ridiculously brutal sentence against Mary Tomkins, Alice Ambrose, and Anne Coleman of 10 stripes on their bare backs in 11 towns over a distance of 83 miles in December 1662; however, he was a product of his upbringing and the times. I hoped to present him fairly and suggest what shaped and motivated him.

Book 2 Vagabond Quakers: Southern Colonies will cover the missionary work of Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose in the south. In July of 1663 they traveled from Rhode Island to Shelter Island, down the north or inland coast of Long Island, on to New Amsterdam (then in its final months as a Dutch Colony) to Virginia, where the women dealt with renegade Quaker missionary, John Perrot, and barely survived a severe whipping at the hands of John Hill, a sadistic sheriff. Concerned Friends removed them to the relative safety of the newly-formed colony of Maryland, where they recovered under the care of physician Peter Sharp(e).

Early Boston circa 1638

Early Boston circa 1638

Mary returned to Boston in the spring of 1664 , where she again connected with Edward Wharton of Salem. Missionary Friend Wenlock Christison was with them. Mary was gravely ill but was forced to appear in court regardless of her condition. Their confrontation with Governor John Endicott was indicative of the bitter prejudice the Puritans exercised against the Quakers.

Book 3 will be a prequel focusing on David Thomson (b. 1593), who was the driving force behind the first tenuous settlement – a fishing venutre – in the Piscataqua Region with the Hilton brothers, Edward and William. David trained with Richard Vine as an apothecary (what passed for a doctor in the 17th century). When George Weymouth, a ship’s captain in Gorges’ employ, brought 3 natives back to Plymouth Fort in 1605, it is likely that young David was instrumental in teaching one of them called Tisquantum (Squanto), English. David was 12 years old at the time and a ward of Ferdinando Gorges, captain of the fort and  holder of the charter for the Province of Mayne.  Wild horses could not have kept the youth from the Indian “guests” during their two-year stay. No doubt he would have talked with them and probably learned their language as well as teaching them English, for he was known to speak the natives’ tongue.

Gorges was a primary backer of the early attempts to settle northern New England. David crossed the Atlantic nine times between 1607 and 1623, participating in early colonization attempts from the age of 14. Thomson’s Island in Boston Harbor still bears his name. He died there at the relatively young age of 36 in 1628, just 5 years after permanently immigrating to the New World with his wife, Amais, and their 4 year-old son, John.

 

a reasonable facsimile of Edward Wharton's craft

a reasonable facsimile of Edward Wharton’s craft

 

Although firmly based on historical facts, Vagabond Quakers is a work of fiction. In general the historical references tell us who was involved in the events but not their personalities or how they related to each other. They relate what happened but not how people were affected. The challenge was to make a believable narrative from the isolated incidents that were chronicled in the references As Sue Monk Kidd said of her book The Invention of Wings, “My aim was not to write a thinly fictionalized account of Sarah Grimke’s history, but a thickly imagined story inspired by her life.” I have tried to do the same. The bibliography for The Vagabond Trilogy is extensive and keeps growing. Love that research!

the Book

whip & cart women

Vagabond Quakers is an historical fiction based on a true incident that happened in Dover, NH in December of 1662. More broadly it is about the persecutions inflicted on the Society of Friends by the Puritan authorities that dominated New England.
At the time this novel starts Boston had recently hung four Quakers, three men and one woman, Mary Dyer, whose statue stands before the State House in that city with the inscription “My life availeth me nothing without the Liberty of the Truth.”
Her life in itself is an amazing story. But it has been written by others. She is a motivating force in Vagabond Quakers. She is the inspiration for my protagonists, Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose.
Mary and Alice were real people, documented in history as the women who were condemned to the Whip and Cart Act by Richard Walderne, Magistrate of Dover in December of 1662. Many historians have chronicled the incident, most probably because of the extreme cruelty of the sentence – a virtual death by whipping through eleven towns from Dover to Dedham (it was all Massachusetts then) at the back of an ox cart, 10 stripes in each town and, remember, it was December with snow “half the leg deep.” But no one has written a novel about the women who endured the incident, how they became Quakers, where and how they grew up, how they trained in order to qualify to be sent to New England, what they did when they first got there (documented June 1662) and how the incident fell out (December 1662).
What they were doing all that summer and fall after their arrival, who they met, where they went is all up to supposition. The facts are the skeleton and the fictionalized account adds muscle, blood and skin creating a story to which the reader can relate.
Ralph Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem about the incident called “How the Women Went from Dover.” It is in a following post, and although highly romanticized, it is an interesting and entertaining piece. It is the closest attempt to tell the story of these remarkable women.
I appreciate any feedback concerning this project, should it interest you.