handl
Who was Humphrey Belt?
  home

handr


  Tracking down Humphrey's possible protestant inclinations in the USA is, as Elizabeth notes, very difficult if not impossible. This is equally true in England. When I came to look at this aspect originally against the wider political issues prevailing here from approx. the succession of James I to Humphrey’s departure in 1635, my conclusion was he was probably a non-conformist of some kind. Not necessarily a member of the 'Quaker' sect, although they were not generally known as Quakers in England until about the 1660's, a description which spread from the south (Devon) to the north.
 
One of the reasons I feel he may have been non-conformist is because he emigrated. The north, Yorkshire in particular, was ruled by an aristocracy which contained the greatest number of Roman Catholic Recusants in the entire country. They very definitely took care of their own. They also tended to be Royalists which became important when Charles I lost his head.
 
As we all know a major reason why people left England was to obtain the freedom to worship their God how they chose as well as the freedom to prosper regardless of their birth status.
 
The non-conformist sects did not keep records in their earliest days. Apart from the obvious security aspects it's highly likely most of the members of the various groups were illiterate.
 
The Quakers were the exception. One of the features which distinguish them is their belief from the onset in the necessity of literacy in both sexes. This wasn't the norm, rather the reverse – educating women particularly was considered to be quite shocking. In any event, it wasn't until Humphrey had emigrated the 'Quakers' became known anywhere other than in the south.
 
Oddly enough, the much maligned James I actually tried to change this, spread literacy, with the first English language Bible which was one of the most extraordinary and beautiful achievements, but apart from the churches and universities there were few people available to teach. There never was universal literacy until the 1880's.
 
I do remember a previous discussion about literacy and the conclusions were we couldn't know for certain whether H. was literate before arrival in Virginia or became so afterwards.  Literacy would indicate he was formally educated, which cost money and didn't really make sense because of the terms under which he emigrated. But literacy could mean that he was connected to a sect that actively promoted it.
----------<>o<>o<>o<>o<>o<>----------

            With the new information now available the last paragraph of this email can be amended to read:
 
……….Humphrey would have been literate on leaving England. Moving in the ambit of the Birkbecks and Whartons as a kinsman meant he didn’t require money to be educated. He would have been in the company of extremist nonconformist Protestant clerics, both religious and secular, and was probably educated alongside their sons and daughters. This explains how he was both educated, certainly sufficiently to read a Bible which was the major reason the nonconformists insisted on literacy, but wasn’t from a wealthy family.
 
© Dione M. Coumbe  9th June 2012
 ----------<>o<>o<>o<>o<>o<>----------

handl
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23 24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  
handr