Need help in understanding Quaker records

+4 votes
For years I have been told that my ancestor was disowned for marrying outside her faith. In Hinshaw, William Wade, et al., compilers. "Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy." Volume 1, pg  1061, she is listed as 1790, 1, 23 Dinah Ducket, formerly Smith  RPD MOU, which I took to mean Reported Married out of unity.

I found the entry he is referencing in U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, South Carolina Union Cane Creek Monthly Meeting  Women´s Minutes, 1787-1805, pg 5.  The exact text is "Dinah Ducket, formerly Smith, produced a paper of condemnation for going out in marriage, which was read in this Meeting and received"

I searched but could find no record that she had in fact been disowned.  In the process of that search in later years I located several marriage records for some of her siblings in which either Dinah or her husband are listed among the subscribing witnesses. On the last record located today Dinah Ducket is a witness to the marriage of her youngest brother in 1804. Included among the other witnesses at this wedding were her father and most of her siblings.

My questions

What are the chances that a subscribing witness on a Quaker marriage certification was not a member of the faith?

If Dinah was in fact disowned wouldn't it be unacceptable for any of her family to associate with her?

What is the difference between marrying out of unity and going out in marriage?

Any answers or opinions would be welcome.  Thanks
WikiTree profile: Dinah Duckett
in Genealogy Help by Karen Raichle G2G6 Mach 7 (74.2k points)

1 Answer

+6 votes
Best answer

Hi Karen.  You may want to read the Quaker Marriage article on RootsWeb.  It explains "marrying out" and what was required to "make amends" if the person wanted to remain a Quaker.  There is no mention of this causing family to disown the person, just that it prevented them from participating in Quaker meetings.  I hope this helps.

by Star Kline G2G6 Pilot (541k points)
selected by Susan Laursen
Thanks Star. I took a look at the page you cited.  I got the sense that Dinah's paper of condemnation was her making amends.  I couldn't find any records prior to the date her paper was submitted, nor any reports from the women who should have met with her about the situation as were found for the other women mentioned in subsequent records.

One more question please.  If she couldn't attend meetings could she attend marriages? Either she or her husband were present and signed several certificates as witnesses to various marriages. Did witnesses have to be Quaker in order to sign?
I'm not familiar with Quaker research, but the article states "If approval was given, a special Meeting for Worship was appointed," so it sounds like if a person could not attend a meeting, they could not attend a wedding.

If Dinah's paper of condemnation was her making amends, then she was not dismissed from the meetings - at least that's how I understand that Quaker marriage article.  Also, is it possible that her husband adopted the Quaker faith and was received by request (rcrq)?
Thanks for the information Star.  Unfortunately this particular MM ceased at that location in 1809. Apparently those who continued on to Ohio took some of the records with them. Still having trouble determining where the other records are now stored. Just have to keep searching I guess.

As a lifelong Quaker, I can help with some of this. If Dinah Ducket was truly disowned and stayed disowned, she could still attend meetings and participate. There are no rituals to be shut out of, and we don't shun. However, she would not have a voice in the business meetings (which are separate from meetings for worship). Quaker woman take an equal role in leadership. This doesn't seem so shocking now, but it was extraordinary in 1650, and was one of the many reasons Quakers were viewed with suspicion.

A traditional Quaker wedding doesn't need a minister - the couple says their promises to each other, and the entire body present signs the certificate afterwards as witnesses. I don't think she'd be kept from signing -- she's an important part of the wedding as one of the attenders. 

However, I'm quite sure her paper of condemnation was her admission that she had done wrong. Once it was read in Meeting and received, she was off the hook. This actually happened fairly frequently, and I remember my grandparents chuckling about it. The offenders only had to apologize and promise not to do it again. A good idea once you're legally married!

I hope this helps!  Eric Street


Eric, thanks for the comments.  I also took Dinah's paper as her admission of wrong doing.  Now if only I could  find more records for her or her family.

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