Baldwin biographical sketches from The Friend

In volumes 27 through 36 of The Friend , a Quaker periodical published in Philadelphia, there were numerous biographical sketches of prominent Quakers of earlier times. Two of those sketches were for members of the Baldwin family, William Baldwin [volume 28 (1855), page 348], and his son John Baldwin [volume 31 (1857), page 244]. These two sketches are transcribed below in their entirety, as they appeared, including punctuation and spelling errors. An index to all of the sketches published in The Friend during this period appeared in Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania , volume 3 (1906-8), pages 109-34.


William Baldwin was born at Gisbourn in Yorkshire, England, of parents professing the truth, and was early in life, through submission to the Holy Spirit, led to receive it in love, and to give up his heart to serve the Lord. Having received a gift in the ministry of the gospel, in the twentieth year of his age, he was faithful thereto, and growing in grace, his gift was deepened until he became an able instrument in the Lord’s hand. In the exercise of his gift, be visited, as his Master led him, the churches throughout England, Scotland and Ireland.

At what time he married and settled in Lancashire we know not; but in the year 1708, when be was liberated to pay a religious visit to America, we find him a member of the Monthly Meeting at Marsden in that county.

Sailing for Virginia, he landed there in the Third month, 1709, and proceeding directly to Philadelphia, he attended the General Meeting of Ministers, held there the 4th of the Fourth month. Hugh Durborough, a Friend in the ministry, of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, had laid before that meeting in the Twelfth month 1708, a concern which pressed upon his mind of paying a religious visit to “Long Island, Rhode Island and New England,” “if a suitable companion presents.” A certificate was prepared for him, and he was quietly waiting for his companion when William Baldwin came, whose prospect was to proceed at once to the places he felt drawn to. The way opening in both their minds to travel together, the Meeting of Ministers encouraged them in it. William’s gospel labours in Philadelphia, were much to the satisfaction of Friends there. In respect to the opening of the Meeting of Ministers above referred to, we have an account preserved, of which the substance is this, “Friends being met together, the power of the Lord was felt among them in an eminent manner, and several living testimonies were delivered in the ancient divine spring of life, tending much to the edification and comfort of those concerned in the work of the ministry. Solemn prayer, thanksgiving, and supplication were put up to God for his mercies received, and for the continuation thereof.”

The visit to New England was performed in three months to the relief of the visitors, and to the satisfaction of the visited. William Baldwin gave an account of the service to the comfort of the Meeting of Ministers at the time of the Yearly Meeting, in the Seventh month, which was corroborated by certificates from the Friends, where they had travelled. William Baldwin after this had for companion William Wilkinson, and, in the First month, 1710, he gave satisfactory information to the Meeting of Ministers in Philadelphia, of their visit in Maryland, Virginia and Carolina. He said, they had had large and peaceable meetings, but there was great need of faithful labourers among Friends in the south. He then requested a returning certificate, having been but little over nine months in the country. Friends of America testified some years after, that his visit among them was “performed with great diligence, to the glory of God, and the sweet satisfaction of Friends.”
He did not reach home in time for the Yearly Meeting at London in 1710; but at that in 1711, be gave an account of his labours in America. He appears to have been as favourably impressed by his fellow-professors on the western continent, as they had been with him, reporting, “he found Friends a people of a generous spirit, and an openness in their hearts and houses.”

He soon felt a drawing in his mind, to remove with his family to Pennsylvania to settle, and in due time laid the subject before the members of his own Monthly Meeting for their unity and approbation. In the meantime he did not neglect to attend to the openings of duty at home, and in 1713 travelled again to Ireland. Some time before the close of the last mentioned year, the Friends of his Monthly Meeting brought to believe that William’s prospect of removal was right, granted him and family a certificate of unity, as well as of membership.

He settled in Bucks county, but soon found drawings to leave his home comforts and home duties, to travel in his Master’s service. He probably arrived there in the spring of 1714, and by the Seventh month of that year, he had been liberated to attend the-Yearly Meeting on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which visit he performed in company with Thomas Chalkley. In the beginning of 1715, he visited Long Island,. and was at the Yearly Meeting there in the Third month, which certified in its epistle to Philadelphia of that year, that he “had been of good service” among them.

In the beginning of 1716, he left home on a general visit to the Eastward, and attended the Yearly Meeting of Rhode Island in the Fourth month, which in its epistle acknowledges his company among that of other Friends from Pennsylvania. They state. the meeting to have been favoured with “the joyful power of God, in which several testimonies were borne, to the honour of the same, and the comfort of his church and people.”

William Baldwin had evidently grown to the stature of a father in the Truth, and the increasing estimation of his brethren may be traced in various ways. But although he seemed becoming more and more qualified for usefulness in the church, through his discernment, his dedication, his diligence yet his Master seeing that his day’s work was accomplished, removed him after an illness of two weeks’ duration, from his field of labour, to his eternal rest. He was taken sick on the 15th day of Sixth month, 1720, and died on the 29th of the same month.

Samuel Smith says of him, “He had an eminent, deep and reaching ministry. He was in great esteem in the Society of Friends, and well beloved by his neighbours.”


John Baldwin was the son of that eminent minister of the gospel, William Baldwin and Mary his wife, and, was born in England, Eighth mo. 28th, 1712. Before be was two years of age, his parents removed to America, and settled in Bucks county. William Baldwin, having been faithful in fulfilling his religious duties, was early removed by death, as we have already seen, leaving his widow and John, their only child, then not quite eight years of age.

John was soberly inclined from his youth, and his heart was prepared to receive the visitations of Divine grace with gladness, and to profit thereby, very early in life. About the close of 1723, his mother married a valuable Friend named Ellis Lewis, who resided in Kennet township, Chester county. Thither she removed, taking her son with her.

In the year 1734, John Baldwin married Elizabeth --------, of New Garden Monthly Meeting, and settled in Newcastle county, within the limits of Okesson or Hockessing Meeting. Having been long under the preparing hand of the Lord for usefulness in his church, he, in 1735, received a gift. in the ministry, which be exercised to the comfort and edification of his friends. His testimony is characterized as seasonable. and refreshing. He visited, in the love of the gospel, some meetings in Maryland and parts of Virginia, “which visits were generally acceptable, his conversation adorning the same.” He was also serviceable in the discipline, having a good gift therein, and his removal by death was not only a great loss to his particular meeting, but also to his Monthly and Quarterly Meeting.

His last illness was the small-pox, which was of a very malignant character, he dying the third or fourth day after he was taken sick. His memorial says, he retained “his understanding and integrity to the last.” He died Tenth mo. 1st. 1746, in the 35th year of his age.