York, Pa., clergyman in Revolution: ‘What Mr. Batwell had done, those wicked People could not say’
The Rev. Daniel Batwell’s silhouette, the work of York, Pa., artist Jim Rudisill, demands explanation. This Anglican’s Loyalist position in the American Revolution ended his tenure in York, then known as York Town. Local patriots tossed him in the Codorus Creek on trumped-up charges of stealing a horse. Also of interest: York Springs, where Daniel Batwell also ministered, a town in change. But what’s new? and Famed Anglican William White ministered to Continental Congress in York and Declaration signer’s marker mounted in obscurity in York, Pa..
The dunking of York, Pa.,’s Anglican clergyman Daniel Batwell for his Loyalist position during the American Revolution is an oft-told tale.
This act by York County patriots was captured in silhouette by York County artist Jim Rudisill and will highlight the cover of a scholarly journal to be published by the York County Heritage Trust.
But what is the rest of the Rev. Batwell’s story?
Batwell languished in the York County Jail – and later in a private residence – as Continental Congress, meeting in York, took up his case… .
Batwell – as did all Anglican clergyman who had taken an oath to the King – was faced with a decision. Break that oath and become a patriot or uphold the oath and be branded a Tory.
Well, Batwell wasn’t budging from his position.
Dr. Robert Henry, prison physician, argued that an emaciated Batwell needed air and exercise to recover from serious health disorders, including rheumatic knees. His wife, Bithia, was reportedly going insane.
The rest, from my “Nine Months in York Town:”
“Congress denied a motion to give Batwell leave to return to his farm, a parole that would have prohibited him from corresponding with America’s enemies.
“But the delegates gave Batwell an option: Take an oath to the state of Pennsylvania and gain freedom or go with his family behind British lines in Philadelphia.
“Upon his release, Batwell chose to head east – to Philadelphia.”
Batwell had some supporters in York.
Influential York County attorney Samuel Johnston had this to say on his behalf:
‘What Mr. Batwell had done, those wicked People could not say themselves, but it was because he was a Tory as they thought proper to call him, as almost all of the Church People (Anglicans) in this County (York) are, and every other person who is against the most violent Measures is sure of the same Epithet.’