Neighboring Indians Ask Colonial English for Protection

Dateline: 10 May 1693, Philadelphia. A small clan of Indians of the upper part of the Schuylkill River came into Philadelphia to pay their respects to Benjamin Fletcher, who was appointed by King William and Queen Mary to be Governor over Pennsylvania. 

At least I assume that the river was Schuylkill, and not the Delaware or even the Potomac. The assumption is based on other records, which mention Indians up the Schuylkill.

Don’t miss the Highlights at the end.

William Markham, Esq. Lieutenant Governor

Councilmen: Andrew Robeson, William Clark, Lawrence Cock, Robert Turner, all Esquires.

Swede Lawrence (Lacy or Lassy) Cock is the translator between Gov. Fletcher and the Indians.

Modernized transcription begins:

Their [Indian] Speaker laid a belt of wampum at this Excellency’s feet, saying: This belt of wampum came to us from the Indians of Virginia and Maryland, for a token of peace between them and us, and now we lay it before your Excellency, in token that we desire peace with all the Indians that belong to any English plantations in America, and desire your Excellency to persuade the Senecas from doing them any harm in their hunting (as was done to some of them last summer); that they may hunt in safety.

His Excellency did answer: That he was shortly to return to New York, that their majesties have made him Governor of Pennsylvania and New Castle [Co.] and put all force of East and West Jersey under his command, and he was come here to publish it. But so soon as he shall return to New York, will go to Albany and there meet the five nations, and have conference with them;

And that he would enjoin the Senecas and all the other Indians, to peace and friendship with them and all other Indians belonging to the English provinces in America. Therefore, they should not doubt his protection whilst they are of good behavior.

The Indians Speaker laid some dressed deerskin at his Excellency’s feet and wished his Excellency joy of this government.

His Excellency told them that he was to return to New York himself and had appointed Lieutenant Governor William Markham in his stead; and if any of them be aggrieved in his absence, they must make application unto him for redress, which they shall always have.

The Speaker says: We are very thankful to your Excellency for appointing one over us in your absence who has done good to us formerly and whom we have known a long time; and in token thereof, laid down some beaver at his Excellency’s feet.

The Speaker again says: We are now glad to know our Governor; when the Quakers governed sometimes one man and sometimes pretended to be Governor, and when we were in fear of the French and their Indians and inclined to make war with them, they would not encourage us, nor make any preparations themselves, nor give us assistance; although we are a small number of Indians, yet we are men and know fighting. We hope your Excellency will encourage us in it; and [they] gave some racoons.

His Excellency told them: That in February last the French and Indians did invade the Mohoggs [Mohawks] country; and in three days he was got to Schenectady with force sufficient to have destroyed them all; that they stole away in a stormy night, but were sufficiently beat the day before, and most of their officers were killed. Also, that he was a man of arms and not of the Quaker principle; that he had served their Majesties in their army before he came hither [to here] and would now go as far as any man to protect them; and all that do own their Majesties’ authority as well Indians as Christians

His Excellency told them he hoped they will give him proof of their manhood and valor by sending some of their best men up to Albany to assist our people against their enemy; that here they were in safety for the French and their Indians cannot come near to hurt them, unless they come over [overcome] him, which they should never do.

The Speaker said that some of them had been drunk; his Excellency must pardon it and not put them in the stocks, for they knew no better; and the Christians did sell them liquor; and [he] gave two deerskins.

His Excellency replied that their brothers at Albany were not of their mind; in February last some of them being drunk one killed another; and that come to me and prayed [asked humbly] that I should discharge the selling of rum to the Indians during the war or that I would punish such as were drunk.

The Speaker: We profess we will be one heart and true to the English and to one another. We submit ourselves to your Excellency; and if ever you find us false, you shall cut us all to pieces, making signs all over his body; and [he] gave some deerskins.

His Excellency replied he was glad to see them so dutiful and would give them protection accordingly; that he would order something for them in testimony of his satisfaction with their friendship and submission.

Transcription ends.


The Quakers counseled peace to these Indians and told them not to prepare for war when they feared the French and their Indians allies would attack them. The Indians in the Council chamber simply thought the Quakers were foolish and unwise to raise their hands in surrender.

The Indians equated manhood and courage with knowing how to fight.

Gov. Fletcher replied that he did not follow the Quaker principle of peace to the point of rolling over and dying.

Some of the Indians were drunk recently, but the Governor must pardon them, for the Christians sold them the liquor, after all. The Indians did not know what they were doing.


Minutes of the Provincial Council, vol. 1, 1683-1700, (Jo. Severns and Co. 1852), pp. 372-73.

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