Benjamin West :Penn's Treaty with the Indians
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Thomas Story is supposedly one of the figures to the left of Penn.
This is a much abridged version of Stordy's biography from 'Early Cumberland and Westmorland Friends' by R.S. Ferguson, his main source is Story's own journal.
Story was born at Justice Town in the parish of Kirklinton, between 1660 and 1670 where his father owned property. His elder brother was vicar at Kirklinton and Chaplin to the Earl of Carlisle, later becoming Dean of Connor and then of Limerick. Story went to school in Carlisle, later attending 'Fencing School, as a fashionable and manly accomplishment.' He read law under COUNSELLOR GILPIN, son of Richard Gilpin of Scaleby Castle who was also 'a famous and learned physician' and a superintendent in the Presbyterian Church. The Counsellor lived near Whitehaven but, in 1687, set up chambers, along with Story, in Carlisle which, at the time, was garrisoned by James II with an army 'commanded by officers who were mostly Papists and Irishmen'. These soldiers 'celebrated, with great orgies, the news that a Prince of Wales (the old Pretender) had been born'.
Story almost landed in serious trouble by writing an account of how the revolution was progressing to his brother who was, by then, Chaplin to the Dowager Countess of Carlisle at Castle Howard in Yorkshire. The letter was intercepted by Lord Delamere, commander of the partisans of The Prince of Orange, to whom the contents caused grave offence. His brother warned Story to be more careful in future. Story was becoming interested in religious matters by this time and noted in his journal a discussion, at the Assize dinner in Carlisle, with 'two ministers of the Church of England and a Popish gentleman' on the subject of transubstantiation.' He thought much upon such matters and his state of mind led him to see visions and, occasionally, to be thrown into a sort of trance in which 'silence was commanded in him.'
He was still attending St Chuthbert's Church in Carlisle but, in 1690, was 'seized with an inclination to inquire into the way and principles of the Society of Friends.' The following year he attended a meeting at Broughton in West Cumberland and afterwards dined with RICHARD RIBTON, 'an ancient and honourable Friend in the village.' The Quakers welcomed their new convert and he continued to attend their meetings when he returned to Carlisle. As a lawyer, he was required to witness the signature on some deeds for a THOMAS TOD but refused the oath involved and, although threatened with imprisonment, 'avowed himself a Friend.'
Story's position, his abilities and learning, both as a lawyer and scholar, made his conversion remarkable and it appears to have made much stir in the city and county. It was proposed by some to have a general meeting of the clergy to try and re-convert him. Dr Gilpin tried argument but failed. His father and some friends tried getting him drunk but, eventually, the family became reconciled to Thomas' new beliefs, his father thinking the Quakers, being opulent people and involved in lawsuits about tithes, would make profitable clients for his son. Story cut this hope short by declining to practise any longer as a lawyer and starting to travel the circuit of Friends' Meetings. He first went to Northumberland and Yorkshire, returning home to visit Cockermouth, Broughton, Allonby and Longnewton. In 1692, he joined JOHN BOUSTEAD and THOMAS RUDD on a tour round Scotland, visting Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Elgin, Inverness and Hamilton and, the following year, he was appointed with JOHN BANKS of Brigham to represent the Cumberland Friends at the Yearly Meeting in London.
In 1695, after a dispute with his father, Story settled in London working as a conveyancer. Here, he became a friend of William Penn and they travelled together to visit Friends' Meetings in Ireland. He seems to have moved with ease in London Society and met the Czar and Prince Menzicov among others. In 1698, Stordy fulfilled a long-held ambition to visit Pennsylvania. Penn came to see him off at Gravesend and, after a stormy passage of about three months, he arrived in Chesapeake Bay. He settled in America and became William Penn's deputy in the province, and also a member of the Council of State, Keeper of the Great Seal, Master of the Rolls and one of the Commissioners of Property. He married ANN SHIPPEN, the daughter of EDWARD SHIPPEN, a Friend who had left England in 1675 and having made a large fortune in Philadelphia became speaker of the House of Assembly and town's first Mayor. Ann died in 1711 or 1712.
Story's journal contains accounts of society and manners in America and of the dangers the settlers incurred from the Indians. In 1708 he visited the West Indies and, in 1714, left Pennsylvania for England. On his return he found William Penn had suffered a stroke and his father was quite blind. He mentions visiting a Meeting in Wigton which was disrupted by Ranters. He went on, via Oxford to Yarmouth and embarked there for a visit to Holland, Friezland and Germany to visit the Menist communities. Returning to Yarmouth, he visited the GURNEYS in Norwich.
He continued to travel up until 1741 although, in these later years he spent much time at Justice Town where he build a new house and planted a nursery of forest trees which later became a vast area of woodland around his home. He suffered two paralytic strokes which disabled him greatly and died at Justice Town in 1742. He is buried in the Friends' Burial Ground at Carlisle.
Note: Spelling of Justus/Justice town varies. Ferguson says Story used the latter. The account makes no mention of children.