Thomas Story

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Thomas Story (1670?–1742) was an English Quaker convert and friend of William Penn, whose writings were very influential to Quakers. In 1698, he visited colonial America, lectured to Quakers there, and held positions in the Pennsylvania colony.

William Penn English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania

William Penn was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English nobleman, writer, early Quaker, and founder of the English North American colony the Province of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

Thirteen Colonies British American colonies which became the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.

Pennsylvania State of the United States of America

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.


Early life

Born around 1670, he was son by his first wife of Thomas Story of Justice Town in the parish of Kirklinton, near Carlisle, and younger brother of George Warter Story. After being educated at the Carlisle grammar school, and acquiring skill in fencing and music, Story read law under Dr. Richard Gilpin at Scaleby Castle, Cumberland. In 1687 he settled in chambers in Carlisle.

Kirklinton village in United Kingdom

Kirklinton is a village in the City of Carlisle District, in the English county of Cumbria. The population of the civil parish of Kirklinton Middle, taken at the 2011 census was 384. It is a few miles away from the large village of Longtown. It has a church called St Cuthbert's Church. The parish contains the village of Smithfield.

Richard Gilpin English minister and doctor

Richard Gilpin M.D. (1625–1700) was an English nonconformist minister and physician, prominent in the northern region.

Scaleby Castle In Cumbria, England

Scaleby Castle is in the village of Scaleby, Cumbria. The castle was originally built in the early 14th century, and extended in the 15th century to form a substantial fortification. Parliamentary troops attacked the castle twice during the English Civil War, burning it. It was later restored to form a country house.


Story began to have scruples about the christening of infants and other rites. Story experienced on 1 April 1689 a call or ‘conversion’ to Quaker tenets. He at once ‘put off his usual airs, his jovial address, and the sword which he had worn as a modish and manly ornament.’ He also burned his musical instruments, and divested himself of the superfluous parts of his apparel. In 1693 he began to preach. That year he first met William Penn, who, on his deciding to settle in London (1695), assisted him to find legal employment among the Quakers, in conveyancing and drawing up settlements. He was appointed registrar of the Society of Friends, and employed to abstract and index the deeds of London quarterly meeting. At this time he paid visits to, and discussed Quakerism with, the Countess of Carlisle, Sir John Rhodes of Balbur Hall, Derbyshire; Sir Thomas Liddell of Ravensworth Castle, Northumberland; and the Tsar Peter the Great, then on a visit to Greenwich, whom he presented the Latin version of Robert Barclay's ‘Apology.’ [1]

Peter the Great Tsar and 1st Emperor, founder of the Russian Empire

Peter the Great, Peter I or Peter Alexeyevich ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May [O.S. 27 April] 1682 until his death in 1725, jointly ruling before 1696 with his elder half-brother, Ivan V. Through a number of successful wars, he expanded the Tsardom into a much larger empire that became a major European power and also laid the groundwork for the Russian navy after capturing ports at Azov and the Baltic Sea. He led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political systems with ones that were modern, scientific, Westernised and based on the Enlightenment. Peter's reforms made a lasting impact on Russia, and many institutions of Russian government trace their origins to his reign. He is also known for founding and developing the city of Saint Petersburg, which remained the capital of Russia until 1917.

Greenwich town in south-east London, England

Greenwich is an area of southeast London, England, located 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. It is located within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, to which it lends its name.

Robert Barclay was a Scottish Quaker, one of the most eminent writers belonging to the Religious Society of Friends and a member of the Clan Barclay. He was also governor of the East Jersey colony in North America through most of the 1680s, although he himself never resided in the colony.

Story accompanied Penn to Ireland in 1698, stayed at Shangarry, and visited his brother, George Story, then Dean of Limerick.

In America

In November 1698 Story sailed for Pennsylvania, where, at the request of Penn, who shortly followed, he remained sixteen years. He was chosen the first recorder of Philadelphia by a charter of 25 Oct. 1701, was a member of the council of state, keeper of the great seal, master of the rolls, and in 1706 elected mayor of Philadelphia, but paid a fine of £20 for declining to serve.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Story was also treasurer of the Pennsylvania Land Company, to which, about the time he left, he sold his estates. James Hoskins, in the ‘Pennsylvania Bubble bubbled by the Treasurer,’ 1726, accused him of unfair dealings, but Story was adjudged honest by a court of arbitration appointed in London in 1723. During his residence in Pennsylvania, Story travelled about preaching, and visited Jamaica and Barbados. He married while in America, but lost his wife six years later.

Jamaica Country in the Caribbean

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.

Barbados country in the Caribbean

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America. It is 34 kilometres in length and up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 km (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, Barbados is east of the Windwards, part of the Lesser Antilles, roughly at 13°N of the equator. It is about 168 km (104 mi) east of both the countries of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 km (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.

Later life

On 6 December 1714 Story returned to London, and on Sunday, 12 December, he preached at Gracechurch Street meeting. He held meetings at Oxford, which were attended by ‘scholars and people of fashion;’ the former created an unruly disturbance.

On a visit to Holland in 1715 William Sewel acted as his interpreter. Next year he was preaching in Ireland. At Limerick crowds came to see the dean's brother; while his cousin, Charles Story, prebendary of Limerick, also attended his meetings. At Kilkenny Story was arrested, but after a few days the sheriff released him, in spite of the bishop of Ossory having committed him for three months' imprisonment.

Kilkenny City in Leinster, Ireland

Kilkenny is the county town of County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster in south-east Ireland. It is built on both banks of the River Nore. The city is administered by a borough council, which is a level below that of city council in the local government of the state, although the Local Government Act 2001 allows for "the continued use of the description city". The 2016 census gave the total population of Kilkenny as 26,512.

In 1717 Story was with the Barclays at Ury in Scotland. The next year he attended the deathbed and funeral of William Penn. From this time he paid during the season frequent visits to Bath, where his preaching was so admired that the afternoon meetings were crowded. When he was at Justice Town, which he purchased from his brother's widow about 1723, his favourite pursuit was forestry. He planted nurseries of many English and American trees, and at the time of his death, from paralysis, on 24 June 1742, was building a new house.

He was buried in the Friends' burial-ground at Fisher Street, Carlisle, on 26 June. By his wife Anne, daughter of Edward Shippen, first mayor of Philadelphia in 1701, Story had no issue. He devised by his will, dated 1741, all his lands in England and Pennsylvania to be sold, the former for the benefit of his sister, Ann Elliot, and her two daughters; the latter for members of the Shippen family. Money was left to poor Friends of Carlisle monthly meeting, and for the education of Quaker children in Clerkenwell.


Story's sermons were taken down in shorthand and some were collected as ‘Discourses delivered in the Public Assemblies of the People called Quakers,’ 1738, 1744, 1764. Beside several papers, he published:

His ‘Journal,’ Newcastle, 1747, contains the account of his missionary labours, and of interviews with persons of rank. It was abridged by John Kendall (1726–1815), 1786, 1832, and published in the ‘Friends' Library,’ Philadelphia, 1846. Story relates a discussion with the Earl of Lonsdale in 1739 on early Methodists.

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  1. citation needed

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Story, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.