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APPENDIX A NOTE ON THE WILLIAMSES
Whitman himself has described his grandmother, Naomi Williams, as belonging to the Quaker Society, but upon inquiry it does not appear that she was ever a member. She was one of seven sisters; her father, Captain John Williams, and his only son, died at sea. He had been part-owner of his vessel, a schooner in the East Indian trade, plying between New York and Florida, and in 1767 he was married at Cold Spring, where his father, Thomas Williams, also a seaman, was living at the same time.

The name of Thomas Williams occurs elsewhere in the old records of this district. In 1759 one of this name, who had a son John, was at Cove Neck, having removed there from Cold Spring. This Thomas one inclines to identify with the sea-going grandfather of Naomi, and he was the son of John Williams and Tamosin Carpenter, of Musketa Cove, whose name occurs in a document of 1727. I understand that this John and his son Thomas were Quakers.

Another Captain Thomas Williams, described as “of Oyster Bay,” was in 1758 first captain of the Queen’s County recruits. Twenty-one years later, a John Williams and a Daniel van Velsor were serving as privates in a Long Island troop of horse, but they do not concern us.

In the absence of any definite information, and in view of the frequency of the name of Williams throughout this district—owing to the fact that Robert and Richard Williams (Welshmen) settled hereabouts in the middle of the seventeenth century—one can only surmise the cause which severed the[Pg 348] family of Naomi Williams from the Society. It is possible that her father married out, thus forfeiting his membership, according to the old laws of the Society concerning marriage with a non-member. Or the War of Independence may have claimed his active participation and thus snapped the bond. Or, again, circumstances connected with his profession, or difficulties in attending the meetings for worship, may have caused his name to be dropped from the lists of membership. There would seem to be no doubt, however, that his daughter’s sympathies remained with the Friends.


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