Quaker Notes

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The Quaker Calendar

Prior to 1752, the Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as Quakers, subscribed to the Julian calendar like the rest of their British counterparts with one exception; they used numbers to denominate the names of the months and days of the week. Sunday became the first day, Monday, the second day, etc. After 1752, January became the first month, February, the second month, etc. This calendar numbering system was known as the “plain calendar;” sometimes called the “scriptural calendar.” The plain calendar was an alternative to the “world’s calendar,” which used traditional names derived from pagan deities. Though the plain calendar is associated with Quakers, it was actually not developed by them, but rather from the general nonconformist movement that swept through England during the 17th century.

Quakers typically wrote dates as, “12th da 5th mo 1722.” The month was occasionally written using Roman numerals. Since prior to 14 September 1752 the British New Year was 25 March, March was considered the first month of the year. April was the second month, May, the third month, and so forth. See the naming pattern in the table below. [1]

before 1753 after 1753
March 1st January
April 2nd February
May 3rd March
June 4th April
July 5th May
August 6th June
September 7th July
October 8th August
November 9th September
December 10th October
January 11th November
February 12th December

[2] For examples of Quaker dating practices, see the article by Gordon L. Remington, "Quaker Preparation for the 1752 Calendar Change," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (June 1999): 146-150.

Interpreting Quaker Records

Quaker records are sometimes difficult to interpret unless you are familiar with some frequently used abbreviations, such as:

altm = at liberty to marry
apd = attending places of diversion
apd = appointed, appealed
apt = appointed
att = attached to, attended
b = born
BG = burial grounds
btw = between
bur = buried
bef = before
c = circa, about
cem = cemetery
cert = certificate
cd = contrary to the Discipline
ch = child, children, church
chm = condemned his/her misconduct
chr = charter
co = chosen overseer (s), county
com = complained, complained of
comm = committee
comp = complained, complained of
con = condemned
ct = certificate, certificate to
d = died, day
dau = daughter
dec = deceased
dis = disowned, disowned for
div = divorced
dp = dropped plain dress and/or speech
dr = drinking spiritous liquor to excess
drpd = dropped
dt = daughter, daughters
dtd = dated
e = east
end = endorsed
FBG = Friends burial grounds
fam = family
form = formerly
fr = from
Frds = Friends
gc = granted certificate
gct = granted certificate to
gl = granted letter
glt = granted letter to
gr dau = grand daughter
gr s = grand son
Gr Yd = grave yard
h or hus = husband
j = joined
jas = joined another society
JP = justice of the peace
ltm = liberated to marry, left at liberty to marry
lvd = lived
lvg = living
m = marry, married, marrying, marriage, month
mbr = member
mbrp = membership
mcd = married contrary to Discipline
MG = minister of the Gospel
MH = meeting house, church
mi = miles
MM = monthly meeting
mos = married out of society
mou = married out of unity
mt = married to
mtg = meeting
mvd = moved
n = north
na = not attending meeting
neg att = neglecting attendance
nmn = no middle name
NW Terr = Northwest Territory
O = Orthodox, Ohio
ou = out of unity
PM = preparative meeting
PO = post office address
prc = produced a certificate
prcf = produced a certificate from
prob = probably
Qkr = Quaker
QM = quarterly meeting
rcd = recorded
rec/rcd = receive, received
recrq = received by request
relfc = released from care for
relrq = released by request
rem = remove, removed
ret = returned, retired (rarely used)
ret mbrp = retained membership
rev = reversed
rm = reported married
rmt = reported married to
roc = received on certificate
rocf = received on certificate from
rol = received on letter
rolf = received on letter from
rpd = reported
rrq = request, requests, requested
rqc = requested certificate
rqct = requested certificate to
rqcuc = requested to come under care (of mtg.)
rst = reinstate, reinstated
s = son, south
sep = separated
sis = sister
temp = temporarily
transfrd = transferred
twp = township
uc = under care (of mtg)
unm = unmarried
upl = using profane language
w = wife, west
w/c = with consent of
wid = widow
w/pwr = with power
wrkd = worked
y = year
YM = yearly meeting

When a member of the Society of Friends acted in a manner contrary to discipline, that member was visited by a committee appointed by the meeting. If the member failed to acknowledge fault after visitation by the committee, then the member was disowned by the Society and could not be reinstated until acknowledgement of fault was made.

Members of the Society of Friends could be disowned for a variety of reasons. If you are reading Hinshaw's Encyclopedia, you will often see the notation that someone was "dis mou" or "dis mcd." "Mou" meant that they had married out unity to someone who was not a member of the Society. Marriage contrary to discipline sometimes meant that the couple, both Quakers, chose to be married by the Justice of the Peace or a clergy from another religion thereby "by-passing meeting." To be married within the Society, the couple had to declare intentions before both the prospective bride's and groom's to insure that they both had no other obligations which would prevent their marrying. A committee would be appointed to look into the character of both and then report back to the meeting. If they were found free to marry, they were granted permission to marry at the next meeting. This often took two to three months and sometimes couples were not willing to wait this long to marry. When they were disowned, it was was a forever thing =unless= they admitted their wrongdoing usually through a written petition to the meeting and then the meeting would decide whether or not to readmit the disowned member(s). In this case, you will see notations in Hinshaw indicating that a person "con their mou" or "con their mcd" indicating that they had condemned their own misbehavior. Unless they were specifically denied readmission you can assume that they were accepted back.

Often a couple who had mou or mcd would seek readmission just prior to requesting a certificate of transfer in order to move to a new meeting. This could be some years after their marriage in which case any children born prior to their readmission will not have their births recorded in the monthly meeting records. If you are tracking a couple be sure to record when they requested certificates to leave a meeting and when they were received at the new meeting.

Members could also be disowned for any number of other reasons such as attending a wedding of a sibling who mcd, marrying too close of a relative, dancing, not dressing plain, striking another, playing cards or taking up arms. Be aware of the dates when a man was disowned which might suggest that he had participated in a war. [3]


  1. http://www.adamsonancestry.com/calendar/
  2. btysingr@med.unc.edu (Barbara R. Tysinger)
  3. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~quakers/quakdefs.htm
Notes on Interpreting Quaker Records

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Jaqueline, thank you very much for this wonderful WikiTree page on understanding Quaker records! It helped me with a difficult profile.


April Dauenhauer

Categories: Quakers Project