We are excited to share this guest post by Daphne Davey. In the Winter 2016 Meetinghouse, Daphne wrote about the New London settlement of English Quakers in Prince Edward Island. Her original article can be read here (pg 12–13).



The Winter 2016 issue of the Meetinghouse carried an article I had submitted, “The Lost Dream Revived,” briefly outlining the story of the first settlement of Quakers on Île-Saint-Jean/St. John’s Island (now Prince Edward Island). My summary was based on the then just-published history of this settlement, New London: The Lost Dream, the Quaker Settlement on PEI’s North Shore 1773–1795, by Island historian John Cousins. The publication of this book in 2016, dedicated wholly to a little-known and -explored chapter of PEI and Quaker history, was truly exciting. But fast-forward to 2023 for a delightful coda.

Wendell Feener with the John Adams clock.
Photo courtesy of Doug Sobey

I recently visited the Bedeque Area Historical Museum having learned that our Lieutenant Governor had just opened two new exhibits, one of which was the “Wendell Feener Clock Collection: Clocks of the Island 1770–1960.” Mr. Feener donated 173 clocks from his enormous collection to the Museum, all restored by him and in working order.

As the Museum website notes, “[The collection includes] especially significant clocks such as the Adams [longcase or grandfather] clock, brought out from England in 1774 to New London by John Adams …” The clock has been made a focal point for the whole exhibit. It is also reputed to be the oldest known clock extant on PEI. There is a definite thrill (if not a tingling at the back of the neck) when coming face-to-face with an artifact of such historic significance – not to mention craftsmanship and beauty – especially meaningful to PEI Quakers.

The John Adams longcase clock
Photo courtesy of Doug Sobey

John Cousins records in his book that Robert Clark, the London Quaker merchant who sponsored and led the settlement expedition, sent a recruiter to Derbyshire who was successful in persuading John Adams and his family (wife and five children, according to a list of settlers dated 1775) to make the transatlantic crossing in 1774. The Adams family were not Quakers, but arrived on the Island in the mixed group of Quaker and other settlers aboard Robert Clark’s ship, the Elizabeth, and were a part of the company which established the Quaker settlement of New London on the north shore, a short distance west of the present-day town. John Adams was one of those who put down roots in the area after many had left, as he is mentioned as being a “farmer” in nearby Springbrook in 1795.

It is very moving to stand at the grave in Charlottetown of Robert Clark, who faced many heartbreaking setbacks to his vision. It would be equally moving to stand at the grave of John Adams (local Friends are hoping it might be located) and contemplate how he would have been pleased to know that his clock has survived right down to the twenty-first century and is giving such pleasure to Museum visitors.

This coda to the story will be especially meaningful to historians and local Quakers who are more deeply familiar with the New London story. My thanks to historian Doug Sobey who recognized the significance of this historical gem and for his permission to use his photos.

Daphne Davey
PEI Quaker Meeting

1 Comment

Evelyn Schmitz-Hertzberg · September 11, 2023 at 12:16 pm

I love the excitement that you conveyed in your post about your discovery of a Quaker artifact from 1774.

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