S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Bowne House Page keywords = Bowne House John Flushing Remonstrance religion religious liberty freedom history Historical Society Declaration Independence Bill Rights Friends Quakers Queens County Peter Stuyvesant Dutch West India Company New Amsterdam Holland York

Opdated:  10 Aug 2018 : 16:10 ET
[Page created 1999; converted 10 Aug 2018
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]

URL:  http://sbiii.com/bownehse.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/bownehse.html"]

S. Berliner, III's

Bowne House Courtesy Page

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You might also like to visit my History page, my Long Island Motor Parkway page (lots of them!), my Long Island page, and other pages which are replete with historical information, such as Railroads pages, the Degnon Terminal RR (in Long Island City), and the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal RR (BEDT), the National Railway Historical Society and its Long Island - Sunrise Trail Chapter, Berliner families (not just mine), Automotive and L. I. Motor Parkway pages, and Ordnance, Aviation, and Naval and Maritime pages, and the interesting history of the Muttontown Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Thompson Layton) house in Nassau County, Long Island.

On the Long Island page, see the inscription honoring Native American sachem Cullulloo Telawanna, ca. 1818,


should enjoy these great sites:

NEWSDAY's Long Island A-Z TM.
NEWSDAY's Long Island - our Story.
Jim Fordyce's Long Island's Page-of-Pages.
The Oyster Bay Historical Society site.

This page was originally provided as a courtesy to the Bowne House Historical Society in Flushing, Queens County, New York City.

apologia - This page was supposed to have been converted and re-posted ca. 2011 but somehow got lost in the shuffle.

As of 08 Dec 2005 (at least), the Bowne House Historical Society has had its own Website:


The Society is located in the historic Bowne House at
37-01 Bowne Street*, Flushing, New York  11354
(tel. 718-359-0528):

Bowne House
{photo by Mike Kopec - from FLUSHING FREEDOM TRAIL site)

The Bowne House (1661)

A National Shrine to Religious Freedom

- - - * - - -

Bowne House Map

Map to locate Bowne House
and the adjacent Queens Historical Society#
at "Kingsland" (see below)

[My apologies to any one offended by an offensive site that came up mysteriously on this link - it has been corrected.
Link updated again 08 Dec 2005.]

* - the City street sign says "Bowne Avenue".

The Bowne House was started in 1661, is the oldest house in Queens County, and is believed to be the oldest remaining house in New York City.

John Bowne, a Quaker, built the house but is (or ought to be) better remembered as the person who succesfully opposed New Amsterdam Governor Peter Stuyvesant's religious oppression in 1662.  The full story follows below; briefly, Bowne's fight led to the upholding of the Flushing Remonstrance dated December 27th, 1657, the first document calling for complete freedom of religion in the New World.

Governor Kieft's patent for the founding of "Vlyssing(en)" (Flushing) was, oddly enough, granted to a group of Englishmen in October of 1645.  It was novel in allowing the right "to have and enjoy liberty of conscience, according to the custom and manner of Holland, without molestation or disturbance from any magistrates, or any other ecclesiastical minister, that may pretend jurisdiction over them."

Bowne was arrested for practicing his religion and shipped off to Holland for trial by the worthies of the Dutch West India Company but was exonerated and Stuyvesant was ordered to grant religious liberty to the inhabitants of New Netherlands (see below).


(The Origin of Religious Freedom in America)


Of the Inhabitants of the
Town of Flushing
To Governor Stuyvesant
December 27, 1657

Right Honorable,

    You have been pleased to send up unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be by some, seducers of the people.  For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, to punish, banish or persucute them, for out of Christ god is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    We desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand and fall to his own Master.  Wee are bounde by the Law to doe good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith.  And though for the present we seem to be unsensible of the law and the Law giver, yet when death and the Law assault us, if wee have our advocate to seeke, who shall plead for us in this case of conscience betwixt god and our own souls; the power of this world can neither attack us, neither excuse us, for if God justifye who can condemn and if God condemn there is none can justifye.

    And for those jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are destructive unto Magistracy and Ministerye, that can not bee, for the magistrate hath the sword in his hand and the minister hath the sword in his hand, as witnesse those two great examples which all magistrates and ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom god raised up maintained and defended against all the enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore that which is of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing.  And as the Lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an outward liberty in the state by the law written in his heart designed for the good of all, and can truly judge who is good, who is civil, who is true and who is false, and can pass definitive sentence of life or death against that man which rises up against the fundamental law of the States General; soe he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto life, and a savor of death unto death.

    The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks, and Egyptians, as they are considered the sonnes of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage.  And because our Saviour saith it is impossible but that offenses will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as wee desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour saith this is the law and the prophets.

    Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences.  And in this we are true subjects both of Church and State, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man.  And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble servants, the inhabitants of Vlishing.

    Written this 27th day of December, in the year 1657, by mee


Tobias Peake
Nathaniel Tue

The Mark of William Noble
Nicholas Blackford

The Mark of Micah Tue
William Thorne, seignor

The Mark of William Thorne, junior
The Mark of Philipp Ud
Edward Tarne
Robert Field, senior
John Store
Robert Field, junior
Nathaniel Hefferd
Nick Colas Parsell
Benjamin Hubbard
Michael Milner

The Mark of Henry Townsend
William Pigion
George Wright

The Mark of John Foard
George Clere
Henry Semtell
Elias Doughtie
Edward Hart
Antonie Feild
John Mastine
Richard Stockton
John Townesend
Edward Griffine
Edward Farrington

- - - * - - -

The foregoing signature list is from the Bowne House booklet, "The Flushing Remonstrance", by Haynes Trébor, member of the Research Committee of the Bowne House Historical Society.  Looking at the charred copy of the signature page of the Remonstrance, it would appear that "John Store" is actually "John Stover" and that "Edward Farrington" might possibly have been "Edward Harrington".  The original manuscript is kept in the Manuscripts and History Section of the New York State Library in Albany, where it had been damaged in a 1911 fire at the Capitol archives.

However, on 09 Dec 1999, your Webmaster heard from a descendant of Edward Farrington and Dorothy Bowne, the descendant's 7x great grandparents.  He states that he believes "Farrington" to be correct in that he was married to Dorothy Bowne, sister to John Bowne.  "They, too, were Quakers and Edward was also arrested in the same situation that John Bowne had been".  That seems more than conclusive enough for this page.

(Please note that the order of the signatures may be incorrect.)

Familiar names; S. Berliner, III, grew up near Doughty Boulevard in Inwood/Lawrence (his grandfather had a summer house a few blocks west of it ca. 1910), once lived in a house owned by a Parsell, later lived in the Glen Cove area, which was settled by Townsends and which had a firm called Titus, Bowne, and Downing, and attended a church (which was surveyed by Sidney B. Bowne & Sons, Civil Engineers, of Mineola) in Muttontown where, until moving to Canada ca. 2005, a Farrington (since deceased) was a stalwart.

Lewis Townsend wrote on 17 Dec 2000 that he is a descendant of two of the signers and reminded me that The Townsend Society of America has its headquarters in Oyster Bay.

[The link that was here had been coopted by an offensive site; my apologies if anyone was offended;
not that it was in any way my doing.  Link corrected 08 Dec 2005.]

The signers were mostly freeholders of Flushing (Englishmen, subjects of Holland), together with a few neighbors from Jamaica.  They met in the kitchen of Michael Milner's home (now the site of the Flushing Town Hall); Edward Hart was the "frail, aging" Town Clerk of Flushing and Tobias Feake was the Sheriff.  John Bowne had not yet built his house and settled there; shortly after moving in in 1662, he invited the Quakers to worship in his house and was shortly after arrested.  His wife and two children were critically ill but he was hauled off to New Amsterdam, where he was tried by the Council, found guilty of lodging "heretical Quakers" and of allowing them to meet in his house "in contempt of our order and placards".  Before the trial, he asked to see the Governor but was refused because he would not doff his hat in Stuyvesant's presence, a deferential gesture abhorrent to egalitarian Quakers; hauled off to court the next day, he wore his hat.  "The Governor bade me put off my hat; but before I could make answer, he bade the schout {Sheriff} take it off."  That Sheriff, one Resolve Waldron, tossed it on the floor.  Bowne continues, "Then he asked me about meetings, and after some words said I had broken their law.  So he called for it and read it to me, wherein he termed the servants of the Lord to be heretics, deceivers, and seducers, and such like, and then asked me if I would deny that I had kept meetings - - - I answered I shall neither deny nor affirm.  Will you put us to prove it, said he.  I said: Nay, I shall not put you to proving, but if you have anything against me, you may act.  Here I am in your hands ready to suffer what you shall be suffered to inflict upon me." - from Bowne's own journal.

Bowne was fined 150 florins (or 25 Flemish pounds) and warned; he refused to pay or abstain and was put in solitary, although courtesously treated.  He was even given leave to go home for three days on parole and he conscienciously returned early and requested to be locked up!  Finally, he was deported "as an example to others".  For the lofty reason that Stuyvesant's actions might drive settlers and potential colonists from New Amsterdam, the Dutch West India Company's Council directed him that "people's conscience should not be forced by anyone but remain free in itself", with the instantly-following caveat "as long as he is modest and behaves in a lawful manner and therefore does not disturb others or oppose the government".  Eventually, the Amsterdam Chamber of the DWIC heard John Bowne's case, even allowing him to wear his hat, and suggested that, in the interests of amity and to assure his liberty, he bring his family to Holland.  Bowne objected, stating that "liberty was promised to us in a patent given by virtue of the prince, the States General and the West India Company".  Bowne had a copy of the Flushing patent with him and asked the committee to read it.  They found it "very good and like it well" but insisted he sign a restrictive bill of particlars prior to their freeing him.  Characteristically, Bowne refused and made a stirring appeal:

    "The paper drawn for me to sign I have perused and weighed, and do find the same not according to that engagement to me through one of your members, that he or you would do therein by me as would be done unto, and not otherwise.  For which of you being taken from your wife and family without just cause, would be found from returning to them unless upon terms contrary to your conscience, and deny your faith and religion. and yet in this effect do you require of me but not less.

    But truly, I cannot think that you did in sober earnest ever think I would subscribe to any such thing, it being the very thing for which I chose freely to sufer want of the company of my dear wife and children, imprisonment of my person, the ruin of my estate in my absence, and the loss of my goods here than to yield or consent to such an unreasonable thing as you would enjoy unto me.

    For which I am persuaded you will not only be judged in the sight of God, but by good and godly men, rather to have mocked at the oppression of the oppressed and added affliction to the afflicted than therein to have done unto me as you in the like case would be done unto you, which the royal cause of our God requires.

    I have with patience and moderation waited several weeks expecting justice from you, but behold, an addition to my oppression is the measure I receive.

    Wherefor I have this now to request for you, that the Lord will not lay this to your charge, but to give eyes to see, and hearts to do justice, that you may find mercy with the lord in the day of judgement."

Bowne was released the next day and, on arriving in New Amsterdam after two years incarceration in Holland, ran into Governor Stuyvesant in the street and was greeted cordially, the Governor hoping "our friends would be troubled no more".

John Bowne defended himself in consonance with the Flushing Remonstrance, successfully challenging the restriction of freedom of religion.  The religious freedom he won extended to all persons in the colony and, when the English took New Netherlands from the Dutch in 1664, they confirmed the Flushing patent and later wrote religious freedom into the laws of the New York colony.  In 1683, the Charter of Liberties was enacted by the first meeting of a representative assembly (at Hempstead) and this was the basic law of the colony until adoption of the Constitution of the United States of America in 1788, which, together with the Bill of Rights, has guaranteed freedom of religion to all Americans (or has so far, at any rate). (04 Nov 2005)

(The foregoing history was excerpted in large part from the Trébor text)

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance"
(after John Philpot Curran - 1790,
not Thomas Jefferson)

Flushing is also the home of many other major historic sites, marked as the "Flushing Freedom Trail (or Mile); the spot where George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in England, preached freely under the 1645 Flushing Charter ("unmolested by any magistrate") is, marked by a memorial stone erected by the Flushing Historical Society in 1907, across Bowne Street from the Bowne House (the spot was then in Bowne's garden), "Kingsland", ca. 1785, the home of the The Queens Historical Society#, is a landmark in the fight against slavery and John Aspinwall's 1762 house was a station on the Underground Railroad# (unfortunately it was torn down, but the site remains), Flushing Town Hall (1862) is a bastion of the right to peaceable assembly and was built on the site of the home of Michael Milner, a signer of the Remonstrance and host there to that September 27, 1657, signing, and Lewis H. Latimer, son of ex-slaves from Virginia and famous inventor and colleague of Edison and Bell, lived nearby.

[My apologies to anyone offended by an offensive site that came up mysteriously on the QHS link - it has been corrected.
Link updated again 08 Dec 2005.]

{photo from FLUSHING FREEDOM TRAIL site)

"Kingsland" (1785)

It may be of interest that Robert Bowne (b. 1744, the son of a Flushing farmer) founded (in 1775) the printing and stationery firm, Bowne & Co., that survives today, still in Manhattan, specializing in printing and "empowering information", and which is the basis for the South Street Seaport's working exhibit of a 19th Century job printer's shop, Bowne & Co., Stationers.

# - The Queens Historical Society was awarded a N. Y. State grant to research, document, and provide public information on the importance of the Underground Railroad as it relates to Flushing, the State, and the nation.  The Society is seeking information about anyone whose family came from Flushing or came through Flushing via the Underground Railroad from the late 18th Century through the Civil War.  The search would include those whose ancestors gave their lives to help slaves escape north.

Anyone who can help in this effort should contact the Queens Historical Society's Vice President for History, James Driscoll, at 718-939-0647 or write to the:

Underground Railroad Committee
Queens Historical Society
143-35 37th Avenue
Flushing, New York  11354

or e-mail:  QHS@JUNO.COM

or FAX to 718-539-9885

This page was originally provided as a courtesy to the Bowne House Historical Society by

S. Berliner, III

Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"
Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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