The Quaker Council of Philadelphia Proclaims James King

Dateline: 11 May 1685: Maybe the Quakers thought it prudent to honor the new king. But there was a problem–his religion. Both sides were part of European and American church history, in the colonial era. At his accession to the throne, he became James II.

James was born 14 Oct 1633 at St. James Palace, London. His father was Charles I, who was beheaded on 30 Jan 1649, and his mother was Henrietta Maria. He was a Stuart. He succeeded on 6 Feb 1685 when his brother Charles II died on that day at Whitehall, London. James was crowned 23 Apr 1685.

He and his first wife Anne Hyde (daughter of an earl) were Catholic, but his brother, King Charles II, a Protestant,  insisted their two surviving daughters Mary (future Queen Mary of William and Mary) and Anne (future Queen Anne) were to be brought up Protestant (kings could micromanage things like that). Then James married Maria of Modena a very, very strong Catholic. More and more their religion became a political issue. When they had a son named James, who would be raised Catholic, Parliament could take no more and asked James to leave. They deposed him on 11 Dec 1688. This change has been called the “Glorious Revolution.”

He and his little family left for France. He died 6 Sep 1701 at St. Germain, France.

With that background in mind, let’s listen in on the Proclamation.

Normally Quakers late in the seventeenth century did not get involved in politics back in England, but maybe they thought it prudent to honor the new Catholic king, who was so far away.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

11th of the 3rd month, 1685 (11 May 1685)

The President [Thomas Lloyd], having acquainted the Council from York of the death of our late Sovereign, King CHARLES the Second, and of the proclaiming of James, Duke of York & Albany, JAMES the Second of England, Scotland, France & Ireland, King; and having read a copy to this board of the printed account of King Charles the Second’s death, with the declaration of the Lord’s spiritual and temporal realm of England, with those of the Privy Council, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and citizens of London, with the present King’s Speech, thought it their duty, and unanimously agreed that the said papers be solemnly read in the presence of the Representatives of the freemen of this province & territories, before the Governor’s Gate, in the town of Philadelphia, and that the paper be drawn in the Council for the publication of King JAMES the Second, with the approbation of the Assembly-men, be read accordingly, by such a person as the Council shall appoint.

The Council thought fit not to proceed upon any affair in a legislative capacity, until such as the publication of King James the Second be over.

12th of the 3rd month, 1685 (12 May 1685)

The problem was the legal documents and laws. The more legal-minded Quakers wanted to stay above board, in case some legal challenges arose.

The next day the Council and magistrates and Assemblymen made the proclamation official. Remember, America was nowhere near becoming the United States, so the colonists referred to their jurisdictions as provinces.


We the President [Thomas Lloyd] and the Provincial Council accompanied with the Representatives of the Freemen in Assembly & divers [various] magistrates, officers and other persons of note, do in duty and in concurrence with our neighboring Provinces, solemnly publish and declare that James, Duke of York and Albany, by the decease of our late sovereign Charles the Second, is now become our lawful liege Lord and King, James the Second of England, Scotland, France, & Ireland; and (amongst others of his Dominion in America) of this province of Pennsylvania and its territories KING; to whom we acknowledge faithful and constant obedience, heartily wishing him a happy reign, in health, peace and prosperity


Application for Today

Our very original forefathers, a hundred years before the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, kept up with the politics of the day.


Philadelphia Council Proclaims William and Mary King and Queen

Philadelphia Council Proclaims Anne Queen of England


Minutes of the Provincial Council, vol. 1, 1683-1700, Jo. Severns and Co. 1852, pp. 132-33

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