Overton, Constantine (DNB00)

OVERTON, CONSTANTINE (d. 1687), quaker, was a freeman of Shrewsbury, and was one of the first to join the quaker society in Shropshire. As early as April 1657 he wrote from Shrewsbury gaol an expostulation called ‘The Priest's Wickednesse and Cruelty, laid open, and made manifest. By Priest Smith of Cressedge, persecuting the Servants of the Lord, whose outward Dwellings is in and about Shrewsbury. As also the Proceedings of Judge Nicholas, and the Court of Justice, so called, against them so persecuted by the Priest, at the last generall Assizes holden at Bridgenorth for the County of Salop. Together with some Queries to the Priests,’ London, 1657. In 1662 Constantine and his brother Humphrey were in prison for not paying tithes. On 26 Feb. 1663 the former was seized at a meeting at Shrewsbury, and sent to prison; and in 1665 he was disfranchised, as freeman of Shrewsbury, because he refused to take oaths, and held meetings in his house. At the close of the same year he and his brother Humphrey, with their two men-servants, were committed to gaol for keeping their shops open on Christmas day. Constantine Overton issued a token with the shoemakers' arms in 1663. In May 1670 the mayor and officers came to his house in Shrewsbury, and took down the names of all present at a meeting, sent four to prison, and fined the rest, Constantine, Humphrey, and Thomas Overton being the heaviest sufferers. The meeting being resumed the following week, they were again heavily fined, and later also for the offence of keeping open shop on Christmas day. At the general proclamation, March 1672, Thomas Overton was released from Shropshire county gaol, having spent seven years in prison, and part of the time in London. Constantine married, on 5 March 1668, Mary Turner (d. 23 Oct. 1687), and died on 7 Oct. 1687.

[Besse's Sufferings, i. 750, 751, 753, 754, 755; The Humble Appeale and Petition of Mary Overton, prisoner in Bridewell [1646]; Janney's Hist. of Friends, iii. 222; MacClintock and Strong's Dict. of Biogr. vii. 492; Gough's Hist. of Quakers, iv. 311–14; Owen and Blakeway's Hist. of Shrewsbury, i. 490; Registers at Devonshire House.]

C. F. S.