Story, Thomas (DNB00)
|←Story, Robert (1795-1860)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 54
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STORY, THOMAS (1670?–1742), quaker, son by his first wife of Thomas Story of Justice Town in the parish of Kirklinton, near Carlisle, and younger brother of George Warter Story [q. v.], was born there about 1670. After being educated at the Carlisle grammar school, and acquiring skill in fencing and music, Story read law under Dr. Richard Gilpin at Scaleby Castle, Cumberland. In 1687 he settled in chambers in Carlisle, and, although till then a good churchman, began to have scruples about the christening of infants and other rites. Many of the influential families around were quakers, and Story experienced on 1 April 1689 a call or ‘conversion’ to their tenets. He at once ‘put off his usual airs, his jovial address, and the sword which he had worn as a modish and manly ornament.’ He also burned his musical instruments, and divested himself of the superfluous parts of his apparel. In 1693 he began to preach. That year he first met William Penn (1644–1718) [q. v.], who, on his deciding to settle in London (1695), assisted him to find legal employment among the quakers, in conveyancing and drawing up settlements. He was appointed registrar of the society, and employed to abstract and index the deeds of London quarterly meeting. At this time he paid visits to, and discussed quakerism with, the Countess of Carlisle, Sir John Rhodes of Balbur Hall, Derbyshire; Sir Thomas Liddell of Ravensworth Castle, Northumberland; and the Czar Peter, then on a visit to Greenwich. To the latter he presented the Latin version of Robert Barclay's ‘Apology,’ which, however, the czar could not read, and other books in Dutch.
Story accompanied Penn to Ireland in 1698, stayed at Shangarry, and visited his brother, George Story, then dean of Limerick. In November of that year he sailed for Pennsylvania, where, at the request of Penn, who shortly followed, he remained sixteen years. He was chosen the first recorder of Philadelphia by a charter of 25 Oct. 1701, was a member of the council of state, keeper of the great seal, master of the rolls, and in 1706 elected mayor of Philadelphia, but paid the fine of 20l. for declining to serve (Proud, Hist. of Pennsylvania, i. 421, 450, 484, ii. 60, App. p. 45). Story was also treasurer of the Pennsylvania Land Company, to which, about the time he left, he sold his estates. James Hoskins, in the ‘Pennsylvania Bubble bubbled by the Treasurer,’ 1726, accused him of unfair dealings, but Story was adjudged honest by a court of arbitration appointed in London in 1723 (Determination of the Case of Mr. T. S.’, &c., London, 1724, 4to). During his residence in Pennsylvania, Story travelled about preaching, and visited Jamaica and Barbados. He married while in America, but lost his wife six years later. On 6 Dec. 1714 he returned to London, and on Sunday, 12 Dec., he preached at Gracechurch Street meeting. He held meetings at Oxford, which were attended by ‘scholars and people of fashion;’ the former created an unruly disturbance.
On a visit to Holland in 1715 William Sewel [q. v.] acted as his interpreter. Next year he was preaching in Ireland. At Limerick crowds came to see the dean's brother; while his cousin, Charles Story, prebendary of Limerick, also attended his meetings. At Kilkenny Story was arrested, but after a few days the sheriff released him, in spite of the bishop of Ossory having committed him for three months' imprisonment. In 1717 Story was with the Barclays at Ury in Scotland. The next year he attended the deathbed and funeral of William Penn. From this time he paid during the season frequent visits to Bath, where his preaching was so much admired that the afternoon meetings were crowded with people of both sexes, and of ‘all ranks and notions.’ When he was at Justice Town, which he purchased of his brother's widow about 1723, his favourite pursuit was forestry. He planted nurseries of many English and American trees, and at the time of his death, from paralysis, on 24 June 1742, was building a new house. He was buried in the Friends' burial-ground at Fisher Street, Carlisle, on 26 June. By his wife Anne, daughter of Edward Shippen, first mayor of Philadelphia in 1701, Story had no issue. He devised by his will (337 Tremley, P. C. C.), dated 1741, all his lands in England and Pennsylvania to be sold, the former for the benefit of his sister, Ann Elliot, and her two daughters; the latter for members of the Shippen family. Money was left to poor Friends of Carlisle monthly meeting, and for the education of quaker children in Clerkenwell.
Story's sermons were taken down in shorthand and some were collected as ‘Discourses delivered in the Public Assemblies of the People called Quakers,’ 1738, 1744, 1764, 8vo. Beside several papers, he published: 1. ‘Reasons why those of the … Quakers challenged by George Keith [1639?–1716] [q. v.] to meet him … refuse,’ 1696, fol. 2. ‘A Word to the Wise,’ also in answer to Keith, 1697, 4to; republished as ‘A Word to the Well Inclin'd,’ 1698, 4to. His ‘Journal,’ Newcastle, 1747, fol., contains the account of his missionary labours, and of some remarkable interviews with persons of rank. It was abridged by John Kendall (1726–1815) [q. v.], 1786, 1832, and published in the ‘Friends' Library,’ Philadelphia, 1846. Among many passages which throw light upon contemporary religious opinions is one of special interest in which Story relates a discussion with the Earl of Lonsdale in 1739 upon ‘a people of late appearing in this kingdom to which the name of Methodists is given’ (Journal, p. 741).[Story's Journal; Conversations, Discussions, and Anecdotes of Thomas Story, compiled by Nat. Richardson, Phil., 1860; Watson's Annals of Pennsylvania, i. 25, 85, 369, 522; Hutchinson's Hist. of Cumberland, ii. 567; Jollie's Cumberland Guide, 1811, p. 55; London Daily Advertiser for 28 June 1742; Smith's Catalogue, ii. 636–9; Buchanan's Shippen Genealogy (Washington, 1877).]