“Good order established …in America”

“Kind Reader, I have given a true Description of… New-Jersey, with the Rivers and Springs, Fish and Fowle, Beasts, Fruits, Plants, Corn and Commodities that it doth or may produce, with several other things needful for thee to know, as vvell Inconveniences as Conveniences, by vvhich I keep clear of that just Reflection of such as are more apt to see faults in others, than to amend them in themselves.” T. Budd

A life story of Thomas Budd, spanning from an arrival following violent death and detention by his father, Oxford educated Reverend Thomas Budd; to his involvement in religious controversies, reflects a transitory nature of early religious tides and shifts in culture and power among Quakers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Budd’s journey began with his immigration to Burlington, New Jersey, sometime prior to 1678. His family’s relocation to colonial America marked a beginning of his significant role in emerging Quaker community. Despite a fatherless childhood, Budd quickly rose to prominence, holding various official positions such as receiver-general and land commissioner. His written words; and, involvement in regulation of land and governance underscored a commitment to establishing order and stability in a burgeoning colony.

However, Budd’s trajectory was not without challenges and controversies. In 1684, he was tasked, alongside Samuel Jenings, with securing confirmation of the settlers’ self-government from Edward Byllinge, proprietor of West Jersey. The endeavor showed Budd a dedicated life gifted towards advancing the interests of the Quaker community in the face of external pressures. His ‘measure’ in Quaker parlance was mediated risk.

Budd’s transition to Philadelphia marked a significant phase in his life here as well. He became involved in commercial endeavors, evidenced by his designation as a “merchant” in the Philadelphia office of deeds. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish Budd’s Long Row, a row of timber and brick buildings on Front Street, which included Blue Anchor tavern. His success burgeoned. The venture reflects adaptability and willingness – to engage in various enterprises and support for commerce and family.

The religious landscape of the time was marked by division and controversy, exemplified by the secession from the Philadelphia Friends led by George Keith in 1691. Budd aligned himself with Keith, becoming one of his prominent supporters. Their joint authorship of controversial publications, including one that led to their indictment and trial for defamation of a magistrate, illustrates the fervent debates and conflicts within the Quaker community during this period.

Budd’s involvement in defending Keith in England against charges brought by the Friends’ yearly meeting showcases his loyalty and commitment to his beliefs. However, unlike Keith, who ultimately left Quakerism to become a clergyman in the established church, Budd took a different path. He embraced Baptist beliefs, diverging from the Quaker faith he once staunchly defended.

In examining Budd’s life, one sees the fluidity of religious affiliations and the shifting dynamics of power and influence among Quakers in the region. His journey reflects the complexities of religious identity and the pursuit of individual conscience amidst the broader religious and social currents of colonial America.


Budd’s transition from a prominent figure within the Quaker community to aligning with George Keith and eventually embracing Baptist beliefs underscores the fluidity and diversity of religious thought and practice among early American settlers.

The controversies surrounding Budd, including his indictment and trial for defamation, shed light on the internal divisions and struggles for authority within the Quaker community. The charges brought against him and Keith, coupled with accusations of persecution and biased trials, reveal the intense ideological battles and personal animosities that characterized religious life in colonial America.

Budd’s decision to accompany Keith to England to defend their beliefs before the London Society of Friends’ Yearly Meeting highlights an unwavering commitment to conviction. Despite the eventual outcome, Budd lived out his Testimony and tested his experiential knowledge brought about through inward journey in concert with Spirit; and outward practices of living into his faith.. While Keith ultimately pursued a religious path of returning to the rituals of the Kings’, Budd’s choice to join Baptist faith demonstrated a separate piece: the ongoing search for spiritual truth and fulfillment. This willfulness or understanding causes the reader to want to discern and investigate: How were Baptists and Quakers related in the colonies of Nueva Caesarea (New Jersey) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) in the late 17th Century?

Our story of Thomas Budd affords us a microcosm of the broader religious landscape in pre-revolutionary America, where individuals navigated complex networks of faith, identity, and community. His journey reflects the interplay between personal conviction and communal loyalty, plus ever-changing natures of religious allegiance or affiliation.

Ultimately, Budd’s life story divulges valuable insights into a dynamic nature of religious life and controversy in colonial America. Like Budd, diverse paths individuals traversed were fraught  with implications and intrigue socially and familialy of meaning, belonging, and religious expression. Budd’s experiences serve as a reminder of the mixing beliefs and practices that shaped early American colonies. In this formation these beliefs and practices continue to influence religious identity and expression in the present day.

Thomas Budd’s book, published 340 years ago, holds significant relevance for Society of Friends today; particularly Quakers in South Jersey. Titled “Good Order established in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in America,” this text may not have been a masterpiece, lacking in literary merit as was acknowledged by contemporaries. However, its importance lies beyond mere literary critique. It is a 17th Century Quakerly tome.

In a context of the American Colonies, especially East and West Jersey, Budd’s work served a pivotal purpose. Its aim was to attract emigrants. Setting the stage for ongoing population selection, recruitment, and migrations; his written word’s offering promise and freedom gave a glimpse into societal structures and norms prevalent in a Quaker New World thought to be rich in experimental equality. Despite its simplicity, Budd’s book held a mirror also to early Quaker community principles/values/testimonies, emphasizing importance in human ordering of communal harmony. The gift abroad was an invitation; a description of New ideals to fit into a great experimental uprising.


In the annals of colonial America, the life of Thomas Budd unfolds as a narrative woven with threads of faith, resilience, and dynamic engagement with the evolving landscape of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Born on May 19, 1645, and passing away on February 5, 1687/8 in Philadelphia, Budd’s journey mirrors the aspirations and complexities of early Quaker settlers in the New World.

Arriving around 1668, Budd found in Burlington, New Jersey a sanctuary from religious turmoil, where he soon emerged as a pivotal figure in the burgeoning Quaker community. Elected in 1681 as one of West Jersey’s commissioners for land settlement and regulation, Budd’s administrative acumen and commitment to communal order marked him as a leader in shaping the nascent colony’s governance.

His diplomatic mettle shone brightly in 1684 when he, alongside Samuel Jennings, ventured to England to negotiate on behalf of New Jersey’s self-governance—an endeavor that underscored his dedication to Quaker principles amidst external pressures. Budd’s association with Quaker luminaries George Fox and William Penn deepened his influence, despite occasional disagreements such as Fox’s reservations about his pamphlet “Good Order Established in New Jersey.”

In 1690, Budd’s trajectory pivoted as he acquired the Blue Anchor tavern in Philadelphia, transforming it into Budd’s Long Row—a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and pivotal role in the city’s burgeoning commercial life.

Thomas Budd’s legacy transcends his administrative and entrepreneurial pursuits. His marriage to Suzanna Robinson, who passed in 1707, bore fruit in their children, notably John Budd, or “John of Whippany,” whose settlement in Whippany, New Jersey, echoed his father’s commitment to community and progress. The Budd lineage, including Dr. Bernardes Budd and Dr. John Budd, continued to make significant contributions to medicine and society, exemplifying the family’s enduring legacy of service and innovation.

Beyond governance and commerce, Thomas Budd’s engagement with local Indigenous communities exemplified Quaker principles in action. His pamphlet documented conferences with Indigenous leaders, striving for mutual understanding and peace, showcasing his commitment to bridging cultural divides amidst the challenges of early colonial life.

In the tapestry of early American history, the Budds’ story offers a profound connection to the Quaker ethos of social justice, religious tolerance, and community building—a narrative that resonates across generations. Their journey reflects the dynamic interplay of personal conviction and communal responsibility, illuminating the enduring impact of Quaker principles on the fabric of American society.

As Thomas Merton once reflected, “In the quiet moments of reflection, we discover the true measure of our convictions.” Budd’s life embodies this sentiment, where his commitment to Quaker ideals and his interactions with diverse communities underscored a journey marked by integrity and resilience.

Quoting Budd’s reflections, “The bonds of brotherhood extend beyond creed and culture, embracing all who seek peace and understanding.” His writings on Quaker-Indigenous relations further affirm this ethos: “In dialogue with our Indigenous brothers and sisters These insights resonate as guiding principles for contemporary Quakers, particularly in South Jersey, where Budd’s legacy serves as a beacon of inclusivity and social responsibility.

In revisiting Thomas Budd’s life and legacy, we are reminded that amidst the ebb and flow of history, the pursuit of justice and the embrace of diversity remain enduring values. Budd’s journey offers a timeless lesson in resilience, community, and the transformative power of faith in shaping a newly just, compassionate new worlds.


William A. Whitehead, in his chapter on “The English in East and West Jersey” within the “Narrative and Critical History of America,” offers a contrasting perspective. Highlighting Budd’s intelligence and public spirit, underscoring a significance of this work. Whitehead recognizes how it goes beyond literary quality. Budd’s ability to articulate the essence of Quaker principles and practices in a pragmatic manner demonstrates his understanding of the societal dynamics of his time. Largely overlooked; he can be reexamined today.

For the Society of Friends today, Budd’s book serves as a historical testament to how foundations and structures of cultural belonging and concerns were laid out by early Quakers in America. It offers us insight into challenges our ancestors faced, solutions they devised, and how they established orderly, cohesive communities. In times marked by rapid change, uncertainty, paralysis of divisions; or the  revisiting of ideals or their “Seed” of Truth and the experiences and living tension of early enraptured  community; integrity/simplicity advocated for can provide valuable guidance to how truth favors us.

Specifically for South Jersey Quakers, Budd’s work holds added importance. It offers a glimpse into their regional history and the contributions of early Quaker settlers to the development of the area. By understanding the principles espoused by their predecessors, South Jersey Quakers can reaffirm their commitment to fostering inclusive communities and upholding Quaker values in the face of modern challenges.

Budd on Indigenous land acquisition and land law:

“Something in Relation to a Conference had with the Indians at Burlington, shortly after we came into the Country.

THe Indians told us, they were advised to make War on us, and cut us off whilst we were but few, and said, They were told, that we sold them the Small-Pox, with the Mach Coat they had bought of us, which caused our People to be in Fears and Jealousies concerning them; therefore we sent for the Indian Kings, to speak with them, who with many more Indians, came to Burlington, where we had Con∣ference with them about the matter, therefore told them, That we came amongst them by their own consent, and had bought the Land of them, for which we had honestly paid them for, and for vvhat Commodities vve had bought at any time of them, vve had paid them for, and had been just to them, and had been from the time of our first coming very kind and respectful to them, therefore vve knevv no Reason that they had to make War on us; to vvhich one of them, in the behalf of the rest, made this follovving Speech in ansvver, saying,

Our Young Men may speak such Words as vve do not like, nor approve of, and vve cannot help that: And some of your Young Men may speak such Words as you do not like, and you cannot help that. We are your Bro∣thers, and intend to live like Brothers with you: We have no mind to have War, for when vve have War, vve are on∣ly Skin and Bones; the Meat that vve eat doth not do us good, vve alvvayes are in fear, vve have not the benefit of the Sun to shine on us, vve hide us in Holes and Corners; vve are minded to live at Peace: If vve intend at any time to make War upon you, vve vvill let you knovv of it, and the Reasons vvhy vve make War vvith you; and if you make us satisfaction for the Injury done us, for vvhich the War is in∣tended, then vve vvill not make War on you. And if you intend at any time to make War on us, vve vvould have you let us knovv of it, and the Reasons for vvhich you make VVar on us, and then if vve do not make satisfaction for the Injury done unto you, then you may make VVar on us, othervvise you ought not to do it. You are our Bro∣thers, and vve are vvilling to live like Brothers vvith you: We are willing to have a broad Path for you and us to walk in, and if an Indian is asleep in this Path, the English-man is asleep in this path, the Indian shall pass him by, and say, He is an English-man, he is asleep, let him alone, he loves to Sleep. It shall be a plain Path, there must not be in this path a stump to hurt our feet. And as to the Small-Pox, it was once in my Grandfathers time, and it could not be the English that could send it us then, there being no Engliish in the Country, and it was once in my Fathers time, they could not send it us then neither; and now it is in my time, I do not believe that they have sent it us now: I do believe it is the Man above that hath sent it us.”

While in retrospect we know that one Lenape Sachem speaking to one Friends’ merchant would not constitute the full interrelation on colonial indigenous understanding; what we can view through the pen of Budd is a full recording of the events as he felt or sought to share relating to his experience.

Thomas Budd’s book complexity may have been modest in its literary achievements, but its significance transcends mere aesthetics. It stands as a testament to both resilience and foresight of early Quakers in America. It is mundane in so far as there appears no seemliness or self satisfaction, or even curiosity about how Friends ended up here…. And the sad and tragic death of his father the Very Right Reverend Thomas Budd Senior; holding on to his integrity after ten long years of torture and suffering; before dying; ‘falling from the ladder’ to the vermin; and cold hard filth of a packed earth in which he could no longer mount his escape; these heights of human sufferability which pertained to his long political imprisonment; in which he sustained his refusal to take oaths. 

This unique early New Jersey text is useful in, providing for our modern living faith; a valuable resource for reflection and inspiration among Society of Friends today, particularly for Quakers in South Jersey. A story of migration and civilization: At cost.

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