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The Life & Times of William Cloude (English immigrant to American Colonies)

by Tom Cloud, Austin, TX (2007)

pub. Feb 2009, The Cloud Family Association Journal, Vol. XXX Nos.1-4, pp 60-62

The man we call William Cloude the immigrant was born in county Wiltshire, England in 1621. He was christened there in 1623 and married there in 1647. A member of the Religious Society of Friends, he purchased land in what is now Pennsylvania from William Penn in 1682 and arrived in America the latter part of that year. He lived there until his death in 1702. I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the historical events which may have played a part in the way he thought or the decisions he made. I've tried to select events he would have been involved in or known about or which would have had a direct bearing on him through his social circle or his church or government.

One year before he was born, a group of Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower had sailed to the Americas, landing at Plymouth Rock and establishing a colony there. Two years later, in 1622, the Province of Maine was granted a royal charter. When he was about 4, the number of Englishmen in the Americas had grown to over 2,000 and Manhattan Island had been bought by the Dutch for the sum of 60 guilders. Charles the First became king that same year. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was established shortly after in 1629 and it began to experience rapid growth for over a decade. The colonies of Connecticut and Maryland were formed very soon after.

He was born during a period of religious and political upheaval and persecution. The Thirty Years War had barely begun when he was born and the French and Swedish fought the Catholic Spanish and Holy Roman Empire, finally defeating them in 1648. This conflict resulted in widespread famine and disease in the affected areas of Germany. The Papal and Spanish Inquisitions, having started centuries before, lasted throughout his lifetime. When he was 12, Galileo Galilei was brought before the court of the Inquisition in Rome and found guilty of, among other things, believing the sun was stationary and the earth revolved around it. Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England in 1653, when William was 32, and just 2 years later in France, during the especially severe winter of 1655, the Duke of Savoy ordered a group of Protestant Christians to either attend mass or leave their homes. The entire Waldensian community were given 20 days to sell everything they owned and undertake a bitterly cold move to the mountains. The French weren't satisfied and, during Easter Week of 1655, at 4 a.m. in the morning, French troops massacred almost 2,000 Christian Waldensians. The horrors of the massacre reverberated throughout Europe, and Cromwell called a general fast in England and threatened to send troops into France. John Milton wrote a poem about that awful day. Milton later wrote his famous poem Paradise Lost in 1667 when William was 46. In 1660 and again in 1680, auto-da-fés (Acts of Faith) were held in Spain. These "Acts of Faith" were typically huge public spectacles (the one in 1660 in Seville lasted for three days, and was attended by 100,000 people, and the 1680 auto-da-fé in Madrid had 50,000 attendees). The program consisted of a lengthy reading of convictions read to people who were unaware they had even been on trial, followed by sentencing. Those unfortunate enough to be sentenced to death were taken to "quemadero" (the place of burning). The condemned who recanted were permitted the mercy of strangulation with an iron collar before their bodies were burned. The unrepentant were burned alive. Edgar Allan Poe's chilling 1842 tale of The Pit and the Pendulum probably reflects the horror with which the English perceived the Inquisition, which had begun almost 150 years before and endured for 200 years after his birth.

When he was 21, Massachusetts legalized slavery, followed 8 years later by Connecticut. In England, the English Civil War flared up (1642) and pitted Parliamentarians against first King Charles I and then his son Charles II. This conflict ended almost 10 years later and resulted in the beheading of Charles I and the exile of Charles II. This ended the monopoly of the Church of England, instituted the policy that regents ruled England only with the consent of Parliament, and led to the establishment of the Commonwealth of England (1649-1653). The Commonwealth was replaced by the Protectorate (1653-1659), under the direction of Oliver Cromwell, a strict Puritan.

The first of the naval wars between the English and the Dutch began in 1652, sparked by England's decree that all trade with the American colonies be carried only on English vessels. This was followed by Cromwell's reversal of the 350 year old ban on Jews (all Jews had been expelled from England in 1290 by Edward I). The Anglo-Dutch Wars spanned 132 years. (The requirement that only English ships carry American commerce, the British Navigation Acts, was a contributing factor in the American colonists declaring their independence from England a century later.)

Some of the scientific advancements made during William's lifetime include the inventions of the barometer (1643), the air pump (1652), the pendulum clock (Galileo, 1657), stockings (1657) and the manometer (1661). In 1654, the theory of probability was introduced and one year later, Isaac Newton introduced differential calculus. In 1660 Newton published his explanation of the composition of light, followed in 1678 by the discovery of the polarization of light by Huygens. In 1684 the streets of London got their first street lights and in 1687 Newton used his theory of gravity to explain the tides.

Oliver Cromwell died in 1658. In 1660, a period in England known as The Restoration began. The monarchy was restored under King Charles II who, understandably hated the Puritans. The Indemnity and Oblivion Act (August, 1660), pardoned all past treason against the crown and set the stage for retribution against all those who had deposed and executed King Charles I. Many of those still living were hanged, drawn and quartered. The body of Cromwell was exhumed, hanged in chains and beheaded.

Also in the year 1660, Charles' sister, Princess Mary, died and left her son, William III in the care of Charles. William's father, William II, died one week before he was born. His father was Prince of Orange, stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, basically the ruler of the Netherlands. William III became statholder in 1679 and succeeded Charles as king of England in 1689.

In the Americas, a region called New Netherland had first been settled by the Dutch in 1614. Another Dutch contingent settled in what is now Delaware in 1631. The area they claimed included what is now Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and part of Delaware. The Delaware colonists were killed by Indians and another settlement was started there in 1638 by a group of Dutch, Swedish and Finnish settlers. Pieter Stuyvesant was the leader of New Netherland when, in 1664, the English forcibly took New Netherland away from the Dutch and installed Edmund Andros as governor. In 1672, the Dutch retook New Netherland, only to have to cede it permanently to the British the next year at the end of the third Anglo-Dutch War. The Canadian French and the Dutch hated the British and the Puritans had angered many of the Indians. In 1675, a very bloody conflict broke out which came to be known as King Philip's War, named for an Indian chieftan known by that name. This bitter conflict lasted until 1676, when the Indians were defeated.

King Charles II had experienced many problems on the home front. In 1665 in London, the Great Plague killed between 75,000 and 100,000 people -- approximately 20% of the population. The very next year the Great Fire of London raged for three days in September and gutted the older parts of the city.

The English Parliament guaranteed a person's right to have their day in court and to prevent unjust imprisonment with the Habeus Corpus Act of 1679. However, religious persecution had followed the return of Charles II as regent and, in December of 1680, while in a Friends meeting in Calne, William Cloud and other church members were routed by a party of soldiers with swords drawn. Shortly thereafter, in September of 1681, William received a grant of 500 acres from William Penn in the new Pennsylvania province (in what is now New Castle county, Delaware).

William Penn had left the Anglican church in 1666 and had become a devout Quaker, to the chagrin of his father, Admiral Sir William Penn, who died in 1670. Charles II respected Admiral Penn, but hated the Puritans and was not happy with the Quakers. The crown owed Penn's father £16,000, to which William Penn was the only heir. In 1681 King Charles II settled his debt to Admiral Penn and at the same time arranged a solution to his Puritan and Quaker problems by giving one of the largest land grants in history to Admiral Penn's son, William. Charles named it Pennsylvania in honor of Admiral Penn. This provided Penn with an opportunity to carry out his religious and political dreams and he recruited many Quakers and like-minded people to join him in his new territory, giving them a place of refuge and satisfying Charles, who wanted them gone.

That same year (1682), the English expelled the Dutch settlers from the Delaware settlement. Ownership of this area known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware" was given to Penn, who then gained the access he had wanted to the sea.

King Charles II died in 1685 and was succeeded in 1689 by King William III and his wife Queen Mary II. That same year, the first French and Indian War, named King William's War (1689-1697) began. The French launched attacks against English settlements in Canada and America. Just before William Cloud's death, the War of Spanish Succession began (1701) and spread to the Americas under the name of Queen Anne's War (1702).

In 1692, when William was 71 years old and living in Concord township, Chester county, Pennsylvania, the Puritan trials of accused witches began in Massachusetts in both the town and the village named Salem. Fourteen women and six men were executed as a result of those trials and perhaps 200 more were imprisoned.

William lived to the ripe old age of 81 and died in 1702.


  
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