Code: 1

b. May 11, 1645 Berkswell Parish, Warwickshire, Eng.
d. July 2, l724 prob. Salem, Mass.

His Origins

In his own words, writing in the third person, Thomas Maule says this:

Thomas Maule, a Young Man about twelve years of Age, came from England to the Island of Barbadoes, and from thence (for his health sake) came to New-England, where hearing much preaching and loud praying; he began to think with himself, what manner of People are these? whole Streets ring with the noise of Preaching and Praying; and having lived amongst them about three years he did experience their words to be good, but by their works to have no good hearts; at the end of which time he removed himself to another of their Towns, called Salem, where he found the Church Members to be in all respects (as to Religion) one with them in the other Towns of their Jurisdiction; but in Salem he found a People of few words and good works, agreable thereunto, with which people he Joyned, by keeping to their Meetings, . . . .

This tidbit of an autobiography reveals relatively little. It describes a boy who leaves England, goes to Barbadoes, and then, suffering poor health, moves to a town in New England, and after three years settles in Salem. The passage is remarkable in its lack of dates, the anonymity of the first New England town, and the description of a boy's departure from England without the revelation of any reason. Perhaps this is a characteristic of Quaker humility and reserve, but considering Thomas Maule's other personality characteristics, it is more likely that the reason was tactical. He may have been deliberately vague in order to protect others and give the Puritan authorities no more information than they already knew. Most of those who have addressed the question assume that town to which Thomas Maule first arrived was Boston.

English Origins

Further details of Thomas Maule's geographical and family origins are found in Salem Vital Records, gleaned from records of Salem Monthly Meeting. According to the record, Thomas Maule was

ye son of Thomas and Susanna Maule, [and] was born ye 11th day of ye 3 mo, called May, 1645, --being taken from the redgester book in Barkville Church, so called, in Warwickshear neere ye city of Couentre in Old England.

This statement was repeated by Goodell in his account read at a meeting of the Essex Institute in Salem and it was thereafter published in the Institute's Collections. The statement is also found in the works of Matt Bushnell Jones and Joseph Randolph Maule. M. Halsey Thomas, in his The Diary of Samuel Sewall, merely states that Thomas Maule came from Warwickshire where he was born in 1645. Since it is unlikely that anyone bothered to go to England to copy the information and only slightly more probable that Thomas Maule had in his possession a copy of the birth record, the statement must refer to Maule's assertion that his birth was recorded in those Church records. A record of the early settlers of Essex County includes Thomas Maule, age 40 in 1686.

That this information is essentially true was confirmed by research undertaken in 1980 by John S. Griffiths, a genealogist retained by this author. The reference to "Barkville" is thought to be a reference to Berkeswell Parish, for two reasons. First, on old English maps Berkeswell is spelled Barkswell, on which Barkville is an evident variation. Whether the variation was the work of a scribe in Warwickshire, the work of the recorder of Salem Monthly Meeting, or the result of the vague memory of a young boy who left that place at the age of twelve or sooner is a matter of conjecture. Second, the burial record of a Susanna Maule appears in the Berkeswell parish register, simply as "19 Jul 1656 Susanna Maule wife of Thomas Maule." There is no burial record for Thomas Maule in the register. It is most likely that this burial record for Susanna Maule refers to the mother of Thomas Maule of Salem, particularly when it is noted that he would have been eleven years old at the time.

However, the official English parish register authorities categorically state that Berkeswell was not established as a parish until 1653, and there are no register books for Berkeswell before that date. Before 1653, the inhabitants of the Manor of Berkeswell attended Barston Church, a neighboring parish, which was converted to a chapelry of Berkeswell when the latter was established as a parish. The Berkeswell registers do not contain references to baptisms performed before 1653.

An letter written by "Florine" (probably Florence (Shapleigh) Maule, wife of Ethelbert Rounds Maule) in 1955 identifies the mother of Thomas Maule as "Susanna (Throgmorton?)". Though three branches of the Throgmorton family were seated in the close vicinity of Berkeswell Parish, the letter does not indicate the specific source of the speculation other than a vague statement that the author of the letter "studied this [the Registrum de Panmure] and other authorities."

Connection With the Panmure Maules

It has long been claimed that Thomas Maule was a nephew of the second Sir Patrick Maule, Earl of Panmure, Lord Maule of Brechin and Navar. This connection has been questioned by Jones, Gilbert Cope, John P. Maule of Balerno, Scotland, and many others. Yet the author of the "Florine" letter categorically states that "the direct line of succession from father to son was finally clear" after she "stud[ied the Registrum de Panmure] and other authorities." She concludes that Thomas Maule's father, Thomas Maule, was the Thomas Maule who served as Groom of the Bedchamber of King George of Denmark and as Lieutenant of the Yeomen of the Guard in England, even though the Registrum de Panmure explicitly states that this Thomas Maule died without issue, a point corroborated by the research of John P. Maule of Balerno, Scotland.

At the very least, the records of the Panmure Maules negate any possibility of Thomas being a nephew as that term is used in the twentieth century. To the extent the term "nephew" was used to describe a more distant relationship such as cousin in some degree, a relationship is possible but no specific record of consanguinity has been found.

The sparse nature of the available records makes it just as indefensible to foreclose any connection with the Panmure Maules. Like others of their day, this line of Norman-Scottish nobles demonstrated that baffling blend of religious devotion and warrior mentality. A brief summary of some of these individuals's deeds and temperaments is instructive when compared to those of Thomas Maule, though, as Goodell appropriately warns, "similarity of name and character . . . are not sufficient to establish identity of pedigree."

Thomas de Maule, leading the defense of the only stronghold to resist Edward I's march through Scotland in 1303, earned notoriety by standing on the ramparts of Brechin Castle during the English siege and contemptuously wiping off with a towel the dust and rubbish thrown from the English battering engines; when he was mortally wounded by a projectile and lay dying, he cursed the men who asked if the castle should surrender. The family estates were confiscated when Thomas' nephew Henry de Maule refused to sign the allegiance to Edward I of England.

Henry's great-great-great grandson, Thomas Maule, obtained an Indulgence from Pope Innocent VIII permitting Mass to be celebrated at a chapel that Thomas had constructed on the family estates even though it had not yet been consecrated. Thomas' son Alexander and grandson William left England, possibly founding the German Maule family, out of deep enmity for Alexander's wife Elisabeth Guthrie, daughter of the High Treasurer of Scotland.

Thomas Maule, Alexander's other son, was "somewhat turbulent" in his youth, but later became very generous to the Church and made several pilgrimages in atonement for his behavior. He had a temper so furious that he had to obtain a remission under the Great Seal of the King of Scotland for burning down his son-in-law's house when he became angry at him. He died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

Thomas Maule's son, Robert Maule, was reported to have "some of the temper of Peter the Turbulent," Lord of Maule, France in the early eleventh century. Robert was described as very pugnacious, rash, passionate, impatient in self-control, and given to force, though not to arson and theft, yet he was elected sheriff by neighbors who "held him in highest esteem." He was pardoned after unsuccessfully trying to rescue James V from the Earls of Angus and Arran and received remissions for refusing to join the Scottish Army in its 1542 invasion of England and for demonstrating against the proposed marriage of infant Mary, Queen of Scots, to Prince Edward. Robert was shot and captured by the English and imprisoned in the Tower of London, and was released by the persuasion of the French Ambassador. Once, he was injured when he tried to stop some nobles who were traversing over ground on which he was playing golf. Later in life Robert repented, became very religious, and joined the Reformed Church.

Robert's son, Thomas Maule, was persuaded by King James V to buy his way out of the marriage contract, arranged for him as a child, with Cardinal Beaton's illegitimate daughter. Thomas was taken prisoner by the English in 1542 at the Battle of Hadden-rig, was released by Henry VIII, escaped the Battle of Pinkie, and was taken prisoner again. He was described as having a "cheerful disposition but somewhat irritable" temperament, becoming "evil disposed" when foul weather interfered with sporting plans.

Yet others of the Panmure Maules were more peaceable, some of them writing histories and other treatises, and others becoming priests and church officials. Among these, Henry Maule wrote a History of the Picts, Patrick Maule wrote a biography of the Scottish patriot Wallace, and Harry Maule compiled the Registrum de Panmure. Robert Maule, Commissary of St. Andrews, wrote both an account of the family and Antiquitate Gentis Scotorum. James Maule, the Fourth Earl of Panmure, and his nephew, James Maule, also wrote a history of the family. Though mindful of Goodell's warning, it is useful to note not so much the combination of contentiousness, authorship, and religious zeal found in the family, a rather common phenomenon, but the mixture of those traits within single individuals, precursors in their own way of Thomas Maule's life in Salem, Massachusetts.

It should also be noted that the Panmure Maules and their known relatives were staunch Royalists during Cromwell's rebellion. Patrick Maule was keeper of the royal privy purse during the Civil War and was in fact the last of King Charles I's retainers to depart before the king's execution, doing so only on the order of both Parliament and the King himself. Cromwell imposed a 12,500 pound fine on the Panmure Maules for their support of the monarchy, and its status as the second largest fine imposed on a Scottish family indicates the animosity between the Maules and the Puritans. Given the political position of the family, some have conjectured that Thomas Maule's father was a Royalist who was taken prisoner by Cromwell's forces after the Battle of Drogheda in 1649 or the Battle of Worcester in 1652, and shipped to Barbadoes, which is where Cromwell sent many of the Royalists captured in those battles. This would be one plausible explanation for why there is a burial record of Thomas Maule's mother, but not of his father, in the Berkswell Church registers. If Thomas Maule's father did indeed accompany the King and his army during the opening years of the Civil War, he would have been in the vicinity of Warwickshire during 1644 but would have died or moved on to other parts of the country shortly thereafter. The Royalist army was within several miles of Berkswell in 1642, perhaps creating an opportunity for Thomas' father to meet his mother, Susanna.

Nicholson suggests that Thomas left England because of the ruin of his family for its adherence to the Stuart cause, and that he either sought to retrieve his fortunes or was sent to some influential friend in the West Indies for that purpose. Others have suggested that Thomas went in search of his father. Oral tradition claims that Thomas departed England as a cabin boy, but though a believable tale, it remains without authentication.

The caustic manner in which Thomas Maule castigated the Puritans for rebelling against Charles I, and the accusation of treason which he made against them, supports the proposition that Thomas had, at the least, Royalist leanings. Only so much can be inferred from his denunciation of Cromwell's Commonwealth, because someone as aggravated as Thomas was by the actions of the New England Puritans would not hesitate to mention every basis for criticism that could be found. It may not be coincidence that Thomas specifically named Hugh Peter and Thomas Venner as the most deserving of harsh judgment, not only because they were prominent Puritans in Salem long before Thomas arrived but also because of their roles in the English Civil War. Peter was a most influential chaplain to the Puritan army, and was eventually convicted and executed for his role in the execution of Charles I. Venner, a disciple of Peter, ultimately was accused of encouraging the murder of the king and was eventually executed for attempting to overthrow the government.

Arrival in New England

Thomas Maule does not tell us when he arrived in New England. Murphy states that it was in about 1683 and that Maule left Barbadoes in order to better his fortune. The former statement is inconsistent with the records of Thomas Maule's activities in New England before 1683 and the latter statement conflicts with Maule's own assertion that he left Barbadoes for health reasons. Of course, it may have been for other reasons that Maule journeyed to New England, reasons that Maule had no intention of putting into print. Worrall states that Maule arrived in Salem as a young boy in 1657, a statement quite inconsistent with Maule's own writings.

Thomas Maule tells us that he settled in Salem three years after he arrived in New England. Murphy states that Maule arrived in Salem in 1688. This date not only is five years after the date Murphy gives as the date of Maule's arrival in New England, it also is long after Thomas Maule first appears in the records of Salem.

The better evidence is that Thomas Maule arrived in Salem in the winter of 1668-1669. If this is so, then taking into account Thomas Maule's own autobiographical sketch, he must have arrived in Boston in 1665 at the age of approximately 20 or 21, having spent the preceding eight years in Barbadoes.

His Business

In Salem, Thomas established a business as tailor, but shortly thereafter he opened a shop, probably during or after 1674. Eventually his business prospered and he became involved in much merchandising and trading. He reportedly dealt in hardware, drygoods, medicines, country produce, furs, staves, tobacco, grain, hay, rum and other liquors, and other items.

Thomas Maule's business has been described as "large even for that thriving seventeenth century community." In 1686, for example, he recorded receipts exceeding 1,454 pounds, not including the bartering which generally constituted the larger part of a merchant's business. Goodell concludes that this amount equals approximately $18,500 in 1861 dollars. In 1689 and 1699 tax returns, Maule was rated among the upper 3% and 2% of all Salem residents, respectively. By 1701 Maule had book accounts with more than 1200 persons in places as far away as Virginia, including many of the leading men of Boston and Salem. But this prosperity was attained in face of rather significant oppression at the hands of the Puritan authorities, as discussed below.

Jones and Halsey Thomas suggest that Maule's business grew so rapidly because, unlike the Puritans, he did not charge interest on obligations due to him. Maule himself explained that it was not "expedient" for him to charge interest.

In 1680 Maule constructed a warehouse on John Tawley's South River Wharf, located near the corner of Washington and Norman Streets. Maule agreed to build and maintain the warehouse at his own expense, with space for both himself and Tawley, and Tawley agreed that Maule could use the entire wharf when it did not disadvantage Tawley to do so. Subsequently Maule purchased a warehouse on the north side of Winter Island near Fish Street, but he sold this in 1699.

Maule also manufactured and sold bricks but apparently this was not a significant part of his business. His brickyard was just east of what is now Cambridge Street. He sold the brickyard property to John Woodwell in 1689.

His First Family

On July 22, 1670, Thomas married Naomi Lindsey, daughter of Christopher and Margrett Lindsey of Lynn, Massachusetts. The marriage took place in Lynn in a ceremony performed by Magistrate William Hathorne. They had eight children:

Susannab. Sept. 15, 1671 Salem, Mass.
Elizabethb. Sept. 11, 1673 Salem, Mass.
Deliveranceb. Oct. 21, 1675 Salem, Mass.d. Sept. 28, 1676 prob. in Salem, Mass.
Sarahb. Sept. 17, 1677 Salem, Mass.
Margaretb. Mar. 20, 1680 Salem, Mass.
Pelethb. May 10, 1682 Salem, Mass.d. young prob. in Salem, Mass.
Johnb. Oct. 9, 1684 Salem, Mass.
Josephb. Dec. 12, 1686 Salem, Mass.d. Mar. 14, l687

His Tribulations and Sufferings

Maule says that after he arrived in Salem the man who provided lodging to him and entertained him was fined 50 pounds. Jones explains that this latter statement needs to be qualified:

On April 19, 1669, the selectmen of Salem fined Samuel Shattuck and Samuel Robinson twenty shillings each for "entertainage of Thomas Maule," and the constable was directed to warn them "not to entertayne him upon the penalty of 20 s. p. weeke for evry week after this day and the Constable to give notice to Maule that he speedyly depart the town."

Goodell explains that the reference to 50 pounds is probably a typographical error, the amount much more likely being 50 shillings. Two weeks after the Shattuck incident, on May 3, 1669, Maule was sentenced by the Quarterly Court "to be whipped ten stripes well laid on" for saying that the Reverend John Higginson "preached lies and that his doctrine was of the devil." According to Maule, the "lie" preached by Higginson was that the Quaker Inner Light was a "Stinking Vapour from Hell." Despite these incidents, Maule was chosen to be church sexton on April 18, 1672, though he was not paid until 1673.

These events provide conflicting evidence on whether Thomas Maule was a Quaker when he arrived in Salem. Shattuck was a Quaker; whether Robinson was is unclear. Both were charged under the law prohibiting a townsperson from entertaining Quakers. This suggests that Maule was already a Quaker when he arrived in Salem; Nicholson reaches this conclusion. Similarly, Murphy and Joseph Randolph Maule, both probably relying on Perley's treatise, suggest that Thomas Maule joined the Quakers by convincement while in Barbadoes through the efforts of George Fox.

Yet it appears that Maule was not a Quaker when he arrived in Salem, for he reports that when he joined the "People of few words" the "Church Members, . . . with their Priests, . . . stirred up the Rulers against him . . . ." It is also certain that had Maule become a Quaker before 1670 he would not have been married in a ceremony performed in front of a magistrate, notwithstanding the fact that in Massachusetts marriage was a civil contract the ceremony for which was not to be performed in a church. Likewise, it is quite improbable that a Quaker would have been chosen sexton by the Puritan selectmen. Jones relies on this fact to conclude that it was "altogether probable" that Maule had not yet become a Quaker at the time.

Jones tries to reconcile the matter by suggesting that Maule was warned out because the warning out of newcomers was common at the time, and that he was in fact not required to leave. Jones also points out that in 1673 the selectmen hired another sexton, suggesting that Maule became a Quaker during the winter of 1672- 1673. He also suggests that both incidents reflected Maule's outburst against Higginson, itself "only an expression of dissent by a man whose tongue knew no curb." This suggestion raises a question at the core of Maule's eventual trial for publishing his treatise, namely, against what was Maule protesting and was it something to which he would object regardless of his religious affiliation? Jones' suggestion is questionable when one considers Maule's explanation of why he verbally attacked Higginson.

In contrast, Halsey Thomas concludes that Maule became a Quaker by 1672, but this leaves his selection as sexton quite inexplicable. It is difficult to imagine that someone as strong-willed as Thomas Maule would have reacted to the 1669 events by abandoning the Society of Friends, only to rejoin it in 1672 or 1673, after having served as sexton of a Puritan church. There is nothing in the Quaker or other records to support such an explanation. It is equally inconceivable that the Puritan authorities did not know of Maule's religious affiliation when he was hired to be church sexton.

Perhaps there is a clue in Worrall's explanation that the Quaker message appealed to those who were alienated by the theological upheavals of the seventeenth century, particularly members of the merchant class, and especially in Salem. The notion that Thomas Maule became convinced not in Barbadoes but after arriving in Salem is consistent with Worrall's description of convincement patterns in New England. What can be stated with some degree of certitude is that until he joined the Society of Friends Maule was an Episcopalian. This would be consistent with his having been baptized in a Warwickshire church.

In March 1671/72, Maule and Edward Sewall were fined for breach of the peace. In 1675, Maule was sentenced to be whipped or fined for working openly in his shop on a public fast day. He declined to pay the fine, because constable Clifford was paid 30d. "for whipping Thomas Maule."

In November, 1681, Joane Sullivan, an indentured maid servant of Thomas Maule, accused him of being a cruel master and of having whipped her, and brought similar charges against his wife, Naomi Maule. She alleged he required her to do laundry and other work on the Sabbath and on a fast day. Even though there were corroborating witnesses against the Maules, the court dismissed her complaint. Perley states that it was because Sullivan had stolen, lied, and repeated what the Maules had said to each other. Jones states that it was because she was an Irish Catholic who had described the church service at Salem as "devilish" because the members did not attend Mass.

In June of 1682, Maule was again in court, as Jones recounts:

In April, 1682, he was involved in trouble with some of his neighbors' children. The court records are quite clear as to what happened, although the order of events is rather uncertain. It would appear that Maule was working in his barn one Sunday and a number of children gathered around. Thomas Deane and Charles Phillips threw stones at him or at the barn and young Deane prodded him with a stick through a hole in the wall. Maule evidently rushed out upon them, and as usual in such cases caught the smallest boy, in the person of George Deane, Jr., whom he shut up in the barn. The boy cried and his sister Elizabeth demanded his release, whereupon Maule struck her with a stick. Then Thomas Deane attempted a rescue of his brother and was hit with a sod spade. Finally Maule went to his house and the boys stoned his barn and sent word to him that if he would come out they would drub him. In the evening someone cut down some of his apple trees.

The magistrates of Quarterly Court admonished Maule and the boys, and ordered all parties to bear their own costs. Aside from the deplorable and surprising way in which Maule, a Quaker, reacted to the children's taunts, the case is puzzling, for if there were ever an opportunity for the authorities to justify banishing or otherwise severely punishing Maule, this were surely it. One must wonder if there were much more to the story that has been reported.

By 1696, Maule reported that he had been imprisoned five times, whipped three times, and subject to other abuses many other times. He states that his goods were taken three times. He also claims that on one occasion he was punished for an offense he denied doing, because the court chose to believe the testimony of "two evil minded persons" one of whom, it was later discovered, was a thief.

There is no indication Maule ever considered removing to Rhode Island, a colony that more than tolerated Quakers. One reason might be that he was unwilling to relinquish a very successful mercantile business in a bustling seaport. Another might be that he had another kind of business to conduct with the Puritans, on account of his father's treatment by their English counterparts, and thus needed to remain in the colony to which he had deliberately emigrated.

His Recourse to the Courts

In June of 1670, the Essex County Court allowed costs to Thomas Maule in an action for unpaid debt brought by John Hartshorne. In May of 1680, Zacheus Perkins and Nicholas Jennings stole goods from Thomas Maule's shop. They were caught and sentenced to pay Maule 250 pounds and the goods and were branded with a B on their foreheads.

In 1681 Maule entered a complaint against William King, a neighbor, after King declared himself "the eternall Son of God," attacked Maule, spit in his face, and dared him to go to a magistrate, offering to repeat his statement. This incident, which arose out of a religious discussion between the two men, resulted in King's being brought to trial for blasphemy before the Court of Assistants at Boston. King in fact repeated his statements in front of magistrate Gedney, who delayed acting for a few days but who was compelled to submit the matter to Boston when King persisted. Maule testified at King's trial even though his actions in the matter had been criticized in Salem. In fact, on the day before the trial Robert Kitchin gave Maule a caning on Tawley's wharf while the Maule was checking merchandise, but Maule insisted that his actions had been governed by a sense of duty to God. King's wife and many Salem citizens testified that King was "crazy" and asked for leniency even though blasphemy was a capital crime. Maule himself submitted an affidavit in which he suggested King was "soe far transported at some times beyond sence and reson that hee neither knoweth what he saith or doeth" and expressed sorrow that he had yielded to King's dare to take the matter to a magistrate. King was convicted but his petition to General Court for a pardon was granted.

His Salem Properties

Maule acquired his first parcel of land in Salem in September of 1669, purchasing a small plot from Job Hilliard on the "South River side near the Harbor". The parcel contained a barn, and was on the south side of Essex Street nearly opposite the house of Philip English. The barn was converted into a dwelling and shop. In 1671, Maule sold the southside Essex Street property, stipulating that he would retain possession for several months.

In March 1672, Maule purchased a home on North Street, also known as Weld's Lane. Perhaps because the property was not suitable for his growing business, Maule sold it in 1674 to Daniel Weld, the Surgeon-General of the Narragansett Expedition of 1675.

In 1674, Maule purchased from George Deane a small house and lot on the north side of Essex Street. But again Maule's business and family outgrew the property and in December of 1678 Maule retained Joshua Buffum to build a new dwelling on the lot. The adjoining owner, Richard Croade, alleged that the new dwelling encroached on his property, and the Town of Salem alleged that part of it encroached on Essex street. The dispute was settled but Maule sold the property in 1681.

In 1681, Maule purchased from Joseph Neale a 1.5-acre lot on the south side of Essex Street near Cambridge Street. On this property he built a "comfortable home," measuring 35 feet by 20 feet, in which he lived for the rest of his life, although it is possible that while it was being built he lived in a house that had been built on the lot before Maule's purchase. He also purchased pasture land on Essex Street, to the west of the 1.5-acre lot.

Jones reports that Maule also owned other parcels of land. For example, in 1687 Maule purchased a lot on the north side of Main Street and three months thereafter purchased adjoining property, but he subsequently sold the entire property. He also owned property on the South River from 1691 through 1698.

His Quaker Activities

Maule quickly became a leader of the Salem Quakers. He was the chief financial pillar of both Lynn Monthly Meeting and Salem Monthly Meeting. The earliest record of his official responsibilities dates from July 14, 1677, when he was selected to keep the record book for Salem Monthly Meeting. In July, 1680, Maule was chosen to obtain a place for use as a burying ground and was given the responsibility of having it fenced. In August 1681, the meeting voted to hold first-day and fifth-day meetings at Maule's house every other week. In Feb. 1688/89, Maule proposed that a meeting be held in Lynn once a month as a convenience to the Quakers of that town. Later in 1689 he proposed that free lodging and free pasturage be provided to traveling Quaker preachers. At various times Maule served as a delegate to Quarterly Meeting.

By 1688, Maule started construction, at his own expense, of a meeting house for use by the Monthly Meeting. The meeting house was built on property owned by Maule, on the south side of Essex Street opposite Monroe Street. In 1691 Maule conveyed the meeting house to the Meeting. When Salem Monthly Meeting acquired a larger meeting house in 1714 it sold this property back to Maule. In 1864 the building was moved to the grounds of the Essex Institute, where it remains to this day.

His Public Offices

Despite his almost constant conflict with the authorities, Maule was asked to serve as constable in 1681. He refused to do so, and was fined ten pounds. Jones suggests that Maule's refusal was connected with the dispute over the boundary lines of his northside Essex Street property. This may be so, as in 1688 Thomas Maule served as constable.

Maule also refused to participate when the Salem Committee of the Militia asked him to assist the town in acquiring ammunition and provisions during a time of invasion. He wrote a letter in which he pointed out that he never refrained from helping with a public project so long as it was consistent with his religious beliefs. He based his decision on his conviction that there is no benefit in spiritual or temporal war.

Maule served at times as surveyor of fences, surveyor of highways, sealer of weights and measures, clerk of the market, and in similar offices. The fact that the Puritans entrusted Maule with these offices, some of which were essential to the smooth economic operation of a seventeenth century New England town, indicates the degree to which the townspeople of Salem respected him, and the degree to which they considered him a man of integrity.

The Other Thomas Maule

Certainly some questions arise from the following two records. On April 10, 1679, a Thomas Maule was given a ticket for passage in the ketch, William John, from Barbadoes to New England. Another source states that Mary, the daughter of George Keyser, was married to a Thomas Maule as of 1679.

It is apparent that this is not the Thomas Maule of Salem who was tried in 1696. That Thomas could not have been married to Naomi Lindsey and to Mary Keyser at the same time in the year 1679. That this other Thomas Maule arrived in New England is clear from the subsequent recording of his marital status. Is it possible that this was the father of Thomas Maule of Salem? He would have been in his late 50's or early 60's, and perhaps had been released from the supposed banishment imposed by Cromwell. On the other hand, Thomas Maule of Salem makes no mention of his father's arrival in New England in his books. Considering, however, the meager autobiography that he provided, suggesting an intent to minimize publicity about his family, and considering the troubles with the authorities that he was experiencing, it would not be surprising that he would say little, if anything, publicly even if his father in fact did emigrate to New England.

Although Murphy puts the death of Thomas Maule in 1702, every other authority states that he died on July 2, 1724. Although Murphy does not disclose the source of his selected death date, one can safely assume that it was taken from a record that perhaps is no longer available. If so, then 1702 could very well be the year in which the Thomas Maule married to Mary Keyser died, a conclusion consistent with the speculation that he was the father of Thomas Maule of Salem. Though the longevity of these fellows might seem extraordinary in light of average seventeenth century life spans, it is consistent with their energetic personalities and with the longevity studies done by John P. Maule of Balerno, Scotland, on the Northamptonshire branch of the Maule family.

The Publication of Truth Held Forth and Maintained

Shortly after the Salem witchcraft frenzy abated, Thomas Maule finished writing his first treatise and caused it to be circulated in Salem, and probably in neighboring towns. He adorned it with a title so typical of its time, Truth Held Forth and Maintained According to the Testimony of the Holy Prophets Christ and His Apostles Recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Because no printer in New England would work with such a book, Maule had William Bradford of New York publish the treatise.

This much is certain about Truth Held Forth. When Thomas Maule caused it to be published, there was immediate disapproval on the part of the authorities and a most severe reaction, namely, his arrest on the charge of seditious libel. What is not so certain is what motivated Maule to write and publish the book. His stated reasons are not so much motive as justification, and in the difference lies a clue to the manner in which he conducted himself at his trial. When the circumstances of the publication are examined in detail, the issue becomes at the same time both more complex and yet easier to understand.

Truth Held Forth is for the most part a treatise on Quaker theological principles, including explanations and justifications of selected practices of the Society of Friends. It has been described as "an exegesis of Maule's views of religion in general and a defence of Quaker tenets in particular". It does, however, also contain rather caustic denunciations of Puritanism as practiced in Massachusetts, although this aspect of the book has been described by more sympathetic authorities as "a cordial lambasting of the Puritan Theocracy for its hatred and persecution of [the Quakers]." In this respect it merely sustained the insulting tone found in all the Quaker and Puritan pamphlets published earlier. It also proposes Maule's core thesis, that Puritan mistreatment of Quakers and persons wrongly accused of practicing witchcraft had brought God's judgment down on the colony. The last 41 pages of the book consist of separately numbered chapters following the title, Some Deep and Mysterious Matters for all to Consider. Briefly Relating How Man came to fall, his share in the Fall, and Way of Restoration to God again. At the end of one of the chapters in the second part appear two sets of initials, J.E., and T.M.; although T.M. is most certainly Thomas Maule, it is uncertain who J.E. might be.

Maule's Acquittal and Its Consequences

Official reaction to Maule's publication was swift and severe. By order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Council and by warrant issued by the Lietenant Governor of Massachusetts, Maule was arrested, his properties searched, and 31 seized copies of Truth Held Forth were burned. He was charged with seditious libel, and imprisoned for at least a year. Brought before the Council and the Governor in Boston, he refused to answer any questions, and demanded to be tried in his own county by a jury of his peers. Finally, he was released on bail, and the grand jury brought a charge of slanderous publication and blasphemy. The trial took place at Salem, in 1696, before his Majesty's Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery, the justices present being Thomas Danforth, Elisha Cooke, and Samuel Sewall. Maule argued cleverly and causticly, Maule addressed the court and argued that with respect to religious matters the court had no power. He then addressed the jury, pointing out to it that it was bound by the King's law, no part of which Thomas had broken. He also told the jury that the presence of his name on the pamphlet as author meant nothing since it was the printer who put it there; this point had no basis in the law. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, explaining to the court that the pamphlet was insuffcient evidence of the charges against Thomas Maule because his name had been placed on it by the printer. Though the court pressed the jury for a guilty verdict it rendered an acquittal whose impact was visible not only in the words and faces of the enraged judges but also in the events that unfolded thereafter.

The impact of Thomas Maule's acquittal cannot be understated. For the first time in a reported trial, the jury ignored the directions of the court to find a defendant guilty. The growing public impatience with secular interference with religious matters undoubtedly affected the jury, which made clear that it disclaimed any authority by the court over religious matters. The break between governmental control of secular matters and religious matters that surfaced in Thomas Maule's trial set a precedent that contributed at least in part to the First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression.

Knowledge of the acquittal in Maule's trial went immediately to the three printing houses in Boston, and by mail to New York and Philadelphia. Local Boston printers stopped seeking approval for many items, and authors stopped sending controversial works out of the colony for printing. The volume of pamphlet publishing increased significantly. To printers, the Maule case meant the right to print controversial pamphlets without being subjected to penalties.

An Acquitted Defendant Writes Again

Following the trial, Maule could not resist writing and publishing another book, this one a much shorter tome of only sixty-two pages, but just as outrageous in its rebuke of those who disagreed with his position. The not so surprisingly lengthy title describes its dual scope:

New England Pesecutors [sic] Mauled With their own Weapons, Giving Some Account of the bloody Laws made at Boston against the King's Subjects, that dissented from their way of Worship. Together with a brief Account of the Imprisonment and Tryal of Thomas Maule of Salem, for publishing a Book entituled Truth held forth and Maintained, &c.

Although the author is named "Tho. Philathes" there is no question that Maule wrote the book, particularly considering that Philalethes, as the name was used on Maule's fourth work, or Philadelephes, as Worrall spells it, translates from the Greek as Lover of Truth, another of Maule's fairly transparent attempts at camouflage. There exists a copy of the book which has a title page with the word "Mauled" spelled "Mauld", with Theo. rather than Tho., and with several other minor differences, but which in all other respects is identical to the other copies, and which suggests either a second or a corrective printing. The latter is more likely, notwithstanding the survival of a copy with a glaring typographical error on its cover page. Felt, in his Annals of Salem, described the book's title as The Mauler Mauled.

In the preface, Maule states that his purpose was to publish a "true Account of some of the New-England Church Members cruel and bloody Laws" against both Quakers and all other religious persons in New England, and to describe some of the people who were persecuted. Almost as an afterthought, Maule then states:

Unto which is added, an Acconnt of the Priests, Rulers and Church Members great Hurly-burley or Confusion made about a late Book, entituled, Truth held forth and maintained, &c.

Jones is quite unmistaken when he says that the book "was well calculated to irritate the puritan leaders, both in state and church." The caustic nature of Truth Held Forth continues unabated in New England Persecutors Mauled, starting in the preface and continuing through much of the work.

Cutting through the more than 60 pages of words, Maule was arguing that freedom to practice one's own religion according to the dictates of one's own conscience was a hollow freedom when restricted by taxation to support another sect and restraints against the published defence and expression of one's religious convictions. The impact of this position on the development of the First Amendment right of religious expression cannot be overstated.

The Puritan Clergy Respond

As would be expected, the New England Puritan clergy were annoyed by Maule's continued attacks, which in Jones' opinion were the boldest since George Keith had left the Society of Friends for the Church of England. This time the Puritan authorities did not charge Maule with any offense and, foregoing the courtroom, were content to let Cotton Mather include attacks on Thomas Maule and his books in Decennium Luctuosum, his 1699 history of the Indian Wars. Mather was offended that Maule had both defended "the Indians in their Bloody Villainies" and reviled the colony for defending itself. Demonstrating that Maule had no monopoly on caustic sarcasm, Mather complains:

[T]hat the Venom of this Pamphlet [Truth Held Forth] might be improved unto the Height of Slanderous Wickedness, there hath been since added unto it another pamphlet [New England Persecutors Mauled] a parcel of ingredients Compounded for Mischief as if by the Art of the Apothecary . . . .

Mather then criticizes the Society of Friends for failing to reprimand Maule, calling him a liar of the first magnitude and suggesting that the best answer would be to send him to Boston Woods, the location of the gallows. Mather's attribution of the title "Alcoran" to Truth Held Forth and his misstatement of the particular passage which he criticized suggests that for all the formal humane learning to which he but not Maule had been exposed, Mather understood as little about Islam as he did about the principles of the Society of Friends.

A Personal Response

Not one to remain quiet, Maule nonetheless took his time, in Jones' words, "to make his pen sharp and to fill his ink-horn with gall." In 1701 he published An Abstract of a Letter to Cotton Mather of Boston in New-England. More than half of it is an introductory preface directed toward the reader, which in an exalted tribute to Maule's verbosity opens with a four-and-one-half-page sentence of more than 1500 words. Much of the preface and the abstract is exactly what someone who had read the two books would expect, though Maule does not hesitate to personalize the debate, calling Mather a liar, accusing him of writing lies in order to make money by peddling his pamphlets, criticizing his witchcraft position and his private treatment of several bewitched persons, and telling him that he evidently will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jones suggests that in making the peddling charge Maule was attempting not only to declare again the clergy's avarice but to contrast his own refusal to charge interest on debts and to take more than his due. Jones also describes Maule as "beyond his depth" on the witchcraft accusation, because Mather was ahead of his time in proposing a method vindicated by more modern discoveries, but that in "this war of epithets he [Mather] came off second best."

The Final Surviving Publication

In 1703 Maule, using the name Philalethes, published a short pamphlet, For the Service of Truth, against George Keith, in which he explained why he refused Keith's request to meet with him at his home in Salem. Essentially, Maule disagreed with the former Quaker who had become an itinerant preacher in the Church of England and expressed concern that Keith sought to encourage him to join him in what Maule sees as apostasy. Apparently there had been a previous visit on which Keith misled people with respect to his intentions.

The Last Decades

At least one other work was composed by Thomas Maule, though it is unclear whether it was a manuscript or a typeset pamphlet. Called either Philip the Cheat or New Years Gift, it was a collection of verses which Maule "disposed of" on New Years 1706/7. Apparently it circulated widely in Salem, and perhaps elsewhere, because it prompted Philip Nichols to sue Maule because people called him "Philip the Cheat" as he walked the streets. The parties settled in April 1707, shook hands, and Nichols stated that he forgave Maule and acquitted him in the matter. It was at about this time, in 1707, that Thomas Maule's wife Naomi died.

As the opening decades of the eighteenth century progressed, Maule's name appeared less frequently in Quaker materials and, with one exception, vanished from court records. In 1705, Maule, in his capacity as clerk of the market, was involved in litigation with Elizabeth Haskett. The case came to trial in March 1706. According to the complaint, Salem's poor had complained to Maule that the white bread sold at the shops and by the bakers was short weight, and asked him to resolve the problem. In the summer of 1705 he visited the shops and found it to be "a quarter part, or thereabout, too light." Maule confiscated the bread for the poor as the law dictated. He also went to the bakers, particularly Elizabeth Haskett, read them the law, and explained his duties as clerk of the market. When he asked Haskett to permit him to weigh her bread, she stated she had none, but John West, the constable and a corroborating witness, testified that there was a commotion in the large room and that, going there, they found a large basket of penny biscuit. When Maule and West attempted to seize the bread, Haskett, her two daughters, and her servant resisted, and the servant escaped with the bread. The poor continued to complain, and on Nov. 30, 1705, with the help of John Cooke, Maule confiscated a bag of bread from Haskett's servant. Maule took the bread to his own shop to weigh it, but the servant and one of Haskett's daughters retook some of the bread. The portion that was weighed was determined to be considerably under weight. Haskett filed a suit against Maule for theft of her bread and for assaulting her servant. Maule filed an official complaint as clerk of the market against Haskett. Details of the trial, other than the additional fact that numerous witnesses corroborated Maule's account, cannot be found. However, costs were allowed to Maule, suggesting that he prevailed in both cases.

It appears Maule stopped writing, though the reason is unclear. Perhaps, as Jones suggests, the William and Mary charter for Massachusetts made the colony a substantially better place for Quakers to inhabit and significantly lessened the need for powerful writing in Maule's style, but this supposition weakens in face of the continuing Quaker resistance to being taxed for the support of Puritan churches. Several pamphlets were published by Quakers seeking to resist Cotton Mather's continued attempts to impose church taxes on nonmembers, and Mather was not hesitant to respond.

Perhaps, as Worrall suggests, Maule's style was too much for New England Yearly Meeting, which disassociated itself from Maule in 1699 on account of a proposed pamphlet, and for English Friends, who were embarrassed and "rather lamely attempted to disassociate themselves from him." This proposition may be justified because Maule's ideas, including titles and topics, were reflected in Quaker responses to Cotton Mather's continued, though ever softening, attacks on the Society of Friends, but it overlooks the continued use of scathing and derogatory language by both sides.

Yet Maule was most likely very active behind the scenes, and was probably involved in securing the approval of Quarterly Meeting at its Sept. 5, 1709 session in Salem for a committee to ascertain from Cotton Mather "if his Book falsely called the Man of Godfurnished &c be the Proof he formerly promised yt ffriends were Idolaters &c". Matters did eventually abate, as the threat of Anglican missionary activity, the rise of Unitarianism, the growing respectability of English Friends, and British publications about Puritan mistreatment of Quakers and persons accused of witchcraft softened Mather to the point that he not only admitted to the Puritan misdeeds of which Maule had complained but also accepted the significance of the inner light in concluding that "the only way people could come to God was by Christ living in them."

Perhaps Maule's discontinuation of writing was furthered by the demands of a new family, for on October 6, 1713, Maule married Sarah Kendall, daughter of James Kendall of Staffordshire, England. They had three children:

Josephb. ?
Contentb. Sept. 28, 1714 Salem, Mass.
Thomasb. July 4, l720 prob. in Salem, Mass.

Jones has remarked that Maule's eighth decade paternity may have set the example followed by Coke of Norfolk in the nineteenth century, but it was probably just a matter of his obviously energetic nature. Nicholson, almost certainly without access to the Salem Monthly Meeting records, incorrectly assumes that these three children were born to John Maule, Thomas Maule's son by his first marriage. The Stratton-Maule Papers at Swarthmore Friends Library contain a writing by Jacob Maule of Radnor Township, then Chester County (now Delaware County), Pennsylvania. It is unclear whether the writing is part of a finished or unfinished letter or a memoir of some sort. Jacob states, "My Granfather Thomas Maule lived at Salem in New England in the time of great persecution. See account of him in Friends Library by W. Evans, Library Vol. fourth No. 3." Jacob was the fourth son of Thomas Maule of Radnor, the son of Thomas Maule of Salem and his wife Sarah Kendall.

In 1724, when the three children were still young, Thomas Maule died in Salem. Thomas Maule's will was admitted to probate on July 2, 1724. In his will, Maule chose to omit gifts to provide the gloves and mourning rings traditionally part of Salem funerals, many of which were ostentatious and expensive, and instead gave money to the town rulers for distribution to the poor and for the advancement of a writing school in Salem.

Sometime after Thomas died, Sarah and the three children removed to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. In 1732, she and the children were received by Philadelphia Monthly Meeting on certificate from Gwyned Monthly Meeting of Friends, which was north of Philadelphia, and on September 15, 1733, she married Henry Clifton at Gwyned Monthly Meeting. Sarah died on Oct. 19, 1747.

Maule's death closed an era, for Worrall remarks that "by the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century . . . Friends were not regarded as a threat to civil and religious life . . . ." Ironically, Maule did not live long enough to read what Mather wrote in 1725:

[Quakers had been] raised up . . . to chastise us for the vile Contempt and Affront which People generally cast of the Light of God within them . . . . [I had become] one who unspeakably abhors and laments the abominable Persecution which you have suffered in former Days from an unadvised and unrighteous World."

His Obituary

If Thomas Maule's obituary were to have been written, and it is doubtful one was, the conclusion to Jones' article would do quite well:

Thomas Maule had a hasty temper, an unruly tongue, and an irritating pen. He was quick to resent an injustice, real or fancied. He was disliked by those in authority, both civil and religious, whom he especially loved to criticize. He hated the Puritan Theocracy for its refusal to permit dissent, but he was equally narrow in his own views of religious freedom. Given to exaggeration in his religious controversies, there was nevertheless a sufficient basis of fact in his criticisms to account for the irritability of the objects of his attacks, and for years he was a thorn in the sides of the mighty in the New England Israel.

Liberal in his views concerning witchcraft and its punishment, and one of the few who put such views on paper before witchcraft prosecutions had forever ceased in New England, he nevertheless failed, like Willard and Brattle, to make his beliefs public at the time; and his mind, like that of Calef, was quite muddy on the subject, and far less practical than were the ministers who were chiefly responsible for the end of the delusion.

On the other hand, Maule was in the ordinary affairs of life a kindly man. In business he was able and honorable. With his money he was liberal, both in his religious affiliations and in civic affairs. His duties as a citizen were taken seriously and efficiently performed, although his status as a Quaker excluded him from any but minor offices. His management of his trial for libel for publishing Truth held Forth and Maintained shows acumen and a shrewd appreciation of human nature, and his acquittal, in spite of a court determined to convict him, attests not only his ability, but the love of fair play inherent in the ordinary New England citizen of that day.

Unquestionably, Thomas Maule made a lasting impact. In his novel "The House of the Seven Gables", Nathaniel Hawthorne makes use of the name Maule, surely inspired by the events in Salem many years earlier, and gives the name a permanent spot in literary history.

Source: Maule, Gen. of the Maule Fam., p. 6-13; Chandler, Amer. Criminal Trials, v. 1, p. 141-149; Thomas Maule, New England presecutors mauled with their own weapons...; Chabot, Developmetn of the First Amendment Freedoms, p. 28; Channing, A Hist. of the U.S., v. 2, p. 481; Adams, Provincial Society 1690-1763, p. 129; Maule, Sketch of Maule Fam. Hist.; Essex Inst. Coll.; Salem, Mass., Vital Rec.; Rec. of Salem, Mass., MM; EAQG; Oxx Fam. Gen.; Leeds Gen.; Bolton, Immigrants to New England, 1700-1775; Hotten, Original Lists; NEHG, v. 7, p. 345; Letter from Jacob Maule (1E8) to his son Joshua (c. 1845), in Stratton-Maule Papers; Lehman, Guilty or Not Guilty, Liberty (Nov.-Dec. 1985), p.; 25-26.; Murphy, Thomas Maule: The Neglected Quaker, Journalism Quarterly, p. 171; Swett Bible, in collections of Haverford Friends Library. See also the items listed in the bibliography to Better That 100 Witches Should Live.

Return to Maule Ancestry Table

© Copyright 1997 James Edward Maule
All rights reserved.

The preceding summary of the life of Thomas Maule is condensed from the book Better That 100 Witches Should Live, and the copyright in the book, owned by JEMBook Publishing is incorporated herein.