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Quakers of Sedburgh

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Quakers and Dissenters by David Cody, Associate Professor of English, Hartwick College: "The term Dissenter refers to a number of Protestant denominations -- Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, Congregationalists, and others -- which, because they refused to take the Anglican communion or to conform to the tenets of the restored Church of England in 1662, were subjected to persecution under various acts passed by the Cavalier Parliament between 1661 and 1665. Examples of the attempts which were made to discourage them were the Act of Uniformity, which required all churches in England to use the Book of Common Prayer, and punished those who would not comply, and the Five Mile Act, which prohibited ministers who were ejected because of the Act of Uniformity from coming within five miles of their former parishes or of any town or city.

After the Toleration Act was passed in 1689, Dissenters were permitted to hold services in licensed meeting houses and to maintain their own preachers (if they would subscribe to certain oaths) in England and Wales. But until 1828 such preachers remained subject to the Test Act, which required all civil and military officers to be communicants of the Church of England, and to take oaths of supremacy and allegiance. Though this act was aimed primarily at Roman Catholics, it nevertheless excluded Dissenters as well."

Brigflatts Meeting House, Sedburgh

Firbank Knott near Sedbergh is considered to be the birthplace of Quakerism as it was here, in 1652, that George Fox gave his great sermon to inspire over a thousand 'seekers' from the whole of the north of England. The Quaker Meeting House at nearby Brigflatts is the oldest in the north of England (see photo left).

After some years of meeting at Street Farm, the Quaker Meeting House in Fell End, Ravenstonedale was built in 1705 and later a burial ground was added which was in use between 1739 and about 1838. Previously meetings had been held in Friend's houses, although there was an earlier Meeting near Dovengill with an adjoining burial ground first used in 1659.

For some unknown reason, in about 1793 the Meeting moved to a smaller meeting house at Narthwaite, though the Fell End Meeting House remained standing until 1899, when it was demolished. It was described as "a place of pleasing and simple appearance externally, with fine woodwork inside, and turned oak balusters to the loft" (The Friend 1893, 249)

Before the Toleration Act was passed, many Quakers suffered for their beliefs: In 1664, on 26th April, a Margaret Adamthwait spinster of Rosendale (Ravenstonedale) Westmorland was the only woman in a group of 13 individuals taken at a meeting in Norton in the County of Durham and imprisoned for refusing to take the Oaths. In Ravenstonedale the meeting house at street from a painting by Edith Hewetson, c.1890, of the Old Quaker Meeting House at Fell End, Ravenstonedale

A fascinating collection of old Quaker Wills was published in 1929 in the Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society (volume XXIX, pp 1-38). The wills date from the period 1697 - 1777 and all were written by members of the Society of Friends who lived in the area of Westmorland/Yorkshire covered by the Ravenstonedale, Garsdale and Grisdale meetings. Individuals with the following surnames are mentioned in the 68 Wills:

ACKREG, ADAMTHWAIT(E), ADDISON, AIREY, AKRIDGE, AKRIGG, ALDERSON, ALLEXANDER, ARCHER, ARMISTEAD, ASHBURNER, ATKINSON, AYREY

BACKHOUSE, BAINES, BANES, BANKS, BANNISTER, BARROW, BATEMAN, BAXTER, BAYLEY, BAYLIFF, BAYNES, BECKET, BELCH, BELL, BENT, BIRBECK, BIRKBECK, BLAMER, BLAMERD, BLAMIRE, BLAMOR, BLAND, BLATHORN, BLAKLING, BLAYMIRE, BLAYTHORN, BLEAMIRE, BLEATHORN, BORRED, BORRET, BOUSFIELD, BRACKAN, BRADFORD, BRADLEY, BRANTHWAITE, BREAKS, BREWER, BURTON, BUCK, BURTON

CAPSTICK, CARLILE, CAWTHORN, CHESTER, CLOSE, COLLINSON, CORNEY, COTTON, CRAGG, CREWDSON, CROFT, CROWTHER, CROXON

DAVIES, DAVIS, DAWSON, DENISON, DENNISON, DENNY, DENT, DICKINSON, DIXON, DOBSON, DOCKERY, DODGSON, DODSON

EDEN, EGLIN, EUBANK

FACET, FARRER, FAWCETT, FELL, FISHER, FLEMING, FOTHERGILL

GARRER, GAWTHROP, GIBSON, GOSLING, GREENBANK, GREENWOOD, GUY

HADWEN, HANDLEY, HARDCASTLE, HARKER, HARPER, HARRISON, HASTWELL, HAYGARTH, HEBBLETHWAITE, HINDE, HODGSON, HOLM, HOLME, HOLMES, HOWGILL, HUDSON, HUERTSON, HUNTER, HUTCHINSON

INMAN, ION

JACKSON, JENKINSON

KENDALL, KIRKBRIDE, KNEWSTUBB, KNOWLES, KNOWLS

LAMB, LAMBERT, LANCASTER, LAW, LEECE, LEIGHTON, LICKBURROW, LINDLEY, LINSAY, LONGHORN, LUND, LUPTON

MACKRETH, MASON, MASSON, MEDCALFE, METCALFE, MILNER, MOOR, MOORE, MORELAND, MORGAN, MORLAND

NELSON, NEWTON, NICHOLSON

OVEREND

PARRATT, PARRETS, PARROTT, PEARS, PEARSON, PERKIN, PIPER, PIXLEY, POTTER, PRATT, PRESTON

RATCLIFE, RAW, RAWLINSON, RICHARDSON, RIDDING, ROBINSON, RODGERSON, ROUTH, ROWLANDSON, RUMNEY

SANDS, SANDWICK, SAYER, SEDGWICK, SHARP, SHAW, SHEARMAN, SHEPHERD, SHIPPERD, SIDDAL, SIDGWICK, SIDSWICK, SILL, SIMM, SINGLETON, SKYRIN, SLACK, SLATER, SMITH, SPEDY, SPEIGHT, SPICER, STANSFIELD, STOCKDALE, STRATFORD, SWINBANK

TAYLOR, TEBAY, THERNBECK, THIRNBECK, THISTLETHWAIT(E), THOMPSON, THORNBERRY, THORNBOROUGH, THORNBORROW, TOMLINSON, TOWNSON, TROTTER, TYSON

UPTON

WADESON, WADSON, WAKEFIELD, WALKER, WALTON, WARD, WARDELL, WATSON, WEAVER, WHITEHEAD, WIDDER, WILKINSON, WILLAN, WILLIAMSON, WILLSON, WILSON, WINN, WINSTER

YATS, YEATS

Full index to the 68 Quaker Wills - detailing names, occupations, place of abode and relationship to testator - this is a pdf file of an Excel spreadsheet and is 25 pages long. If you can provide any further details of any of the individuals named, please email me!

These details were extracted by Sue Mastel from an article in the 1929 edition of the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society originally submitted by W.G. Collingwood. Their permission to reproduce these details is gratefully acknowledged. The Index must NOT be reproduced under any circumstances.

There is a wealth of material written about Quakers from this part of England - I thoroughly recommend John Breay's 'Light in the Dales' - and if you have the opportunity to visit the Friends' Library in Euston you will find a warm welcome and lots of information (but they do not hold Records of Meetings - these are usually kept in local Records Offices, with Registers held in Category RG 6 at the National Archives). See here for details of the Library's holdings and opening hours.

A useful website (still in development) is the Yorkshire Quaker Heritage Project Website which has a database you can search for People and Places. [Note: the database doesn't seem to be available any longer, but you can read a paper produced about Quakers as part of the project]

During the 2009 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Exhibition at London Olympia, I attended an excellent talk by Michael Gandy on Non Conformists. You can read the notes that I took during his talk here. Michael Gandy's book 'Family History: Cultures and Faiths' provides information on searching for records for a range of Non-Conformists and is available from the National Archives on-line bookshop publications section





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