Is it safe to assume a child is a Quaker and categorize them as such if the parents are Quaker?

+7 votes
Ambrose Dixon Jr is the child of a famous Quaker of the Eastern Shore of Virginia also named Ambrose Dixon.  He died in 1663 shortly after his family fled Virginia for Maryland to escape religious persecution.  There are no documents to prove he was a Quaker but I want to categorize him as a Quaker and put him in at least the Nassawaddox Meeting House category that his parents were leaders of.  Is this leap of faith allowed?
WikiTree profile: Ambrose Dixon
in Policy and Style by Gurney Thompson G2G6 Pilot (201k points)

It is probably OK to categorize him as you wish. The Quakers project leaders themselves decided to categorize as Quakers several children of William Penn who died in infancy. (the profiles needed a project and Quakers as the most appropriate).

Some Quaker sects consider children “birthright members,” others do not and the child applies for membership as an adult. So it is important to know the beliefs of the specific Quaker group.
Please elaborate more on this.  It would helpful to know more about this.  In the case of Nassawaddox, the meeting was only in existence from the 1650's to the mid 1660's.  Most of the Quakers abandoned the area due to the persecution of the sect by the ruling Puritans.  So given this short time frame, can you comment on whether Birthright membership was how it started with George Fox and a later modification or if it was the other way around.  No Quaker records exist for this area and it and the meeting houses were all destroyed.  Our documents come mostly from legal proceedings brought against members.
I can’t answer this question. You would need to do some research on the various Quaker meetings to understand their specific beliefs.
Regarding the Quakers, you can never assume. My husband's 6th GGF was a Quaker, but removed for cussing.
I was wondering about birthright Quakers, too.  I have some ancestors that I know were born into devout Quaker families, but never seemed to be active participants.  As adults they often became Methodists, which I understand is the most common denomination to which lapsed Quakers navigated.

Was there an age by when such children were supposed to make a decision to join or remain in the Quaker community?  Some of those I refer to above lived with their parents until adulthood, so it would seem they were in the community as young people, but I do not see their names in Quaker records.....????
I wish I could tell you, but I have only read a few of the Quaker records. Have you checked out the Library of Congress Archives, you may find books there to help you.

I find this to be the case in my Hankins Family of Millvale, N. J.....  I know that they were Quakers on arrival in the colonies .....  later generations became Methodists and remain so till this day.

Evelyn McKelvey (Murray-2307)

1 Answer

+4 votes
Best answer
Since records for him would probably be found in the Nassawaddox Monthly Meeting (if they were still extant), I would say adding the category would be fine. Applying the Sticker to say he was Quaker is optional.
by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (321k points)
selected by Gurney Thompson
Speaking as a Quaker (with Quaker roots going back to the late 1600's), we still sometimes use the term 'birthright Quaker' for someone born of Quaker parents, though it's not official. We have some discomfort with the term, since we don't want to convey that any special virtue (or vice) gets passed in a family, and we definitely don't want anyone to think we believe someone is better merely because of their family background. (We tend not to believe in 'original sin' and don't sprinkle babies or adults. It's a big difference from the Puritans, who not only believed in original sin, but also tried to beat it out of their children, criminals, and wives.

Although Quaker parents traditionally stand up in meeting with the new baby (as mine did) and publicly announce their intentions to raise the child in the Society of Friends, this is merely a custom and conveys no mystical significance or 'hocus-pocus.' There is no defining Quaker moment until the request for membership. "Birthright' may or may not imply that a person never took the next step to request membership as an adult. (I did this around 16.) The other writers are quite correct in mentioning that things vary over geography and time.

I think you are perfectly justified to speak of someone born to Quaker parents as a birthright Quaker, understanding that this is essentially a folkway, but conveys no official sanction.
I really wish we could vote on comments as best and not just answers.  Eric's comments above are really spot on.  (Speaking as someone who has also been described as a birthright Quaker, and who attended Quaker schools, but is not a member of a meeting).

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