Quakers in Great Britain; 1650s-1750s

1654 map of Great Britain showing concentration of Quakers in the northern section by Scotland and Wales
James Naylor, a "Valiant Sixty" preacher -- in 1656 he was whipped, pilloried, his tongue bored, his forehead branded with a "B", and sentenced to an indefinite jail term
painting of George Fox
The start of the Quaker religious movement is generally dated 1652, when George Fox and Richard Farnsworth travelled together into the northwestern part of England (primarily the Preston Patrick District in the shaded box). This was after Fox had already been jailed twice (once for blasphemy and once for refusal to serve in the army).

George Fox (1624-1691) was born in the middle of England in Fenny-Dreyton, a hamlet west of Leicester (pink dot on map just below the yellow dots). He started preaching about repentance in about 1647 in the East Midlands, just north of his home (yellow dots -- Mansfield, Nottingham, Derby, and the Vale of Beavor). Then he branched further north (orange dots -- Balby, Tickhill and Wakefield) in backwater country, isolated and backwards, a 50-mile radius just north of where Fox was born. After 1654 the movement moved outward in all directions, with the "Valiant Sixty" preachers traveling to the southern part of England as well as Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.

The early years of the founding of the Quaker religion were marked by extreme persecution. This is an important facet in the growth of the religion as well as the great Quaker migration to America.

However, it is important to put this time period into perspective. Before 1534 England was Roman Catholic; Wales and Ireland were Roman Catholic as well, but Scotland was largely Pagan. 1534 marks the date when Henry VIII wished a divorce, so he split with the Roman Catholic Church (during the Reformation) to create the Church of England with himself head instead of the Pope. His three successors in 1547-1603 varied between Catholic and Protestant, with each successive monarch trying to purge the country of the opposite religion. Protestant James I's reign (1603-1625) culminated with the start of the cataclysmic Thirty Years War (1618-1648) which raged throughout central Europe primarily between Protestants and Catholics, with 1643-1647 being an English Civil War. Thus, religious intolerance was extreme for the entire century prior to the start of Quakerism, with much bloodshed and deep-seated hatred between those of different views. The end of the Thirty Years War (no victors; it ended by treaty) did not ring in a period of tolerance for all religions

The Quakers were specifically targeted for persecution in 1661 when King Charles II was restored to the throne: Quakers were required to swear oaths under the Act of Uniformity 1662 and Quaker meetings were prohibited under the Conventicle Act of 1664. This period, until the Toleration Act of 1689, has been called the "Heroic Age of Dissent," as both political and religious dissenters were met with harrassment, imprisonment, deportation, and even death. Fox asserted that there were seldom less than a thousand Quakers imprisoned during these years, with the total number imprisoned being 13,562 (plus 152 deported, 338 deaths). When considering that at its height of popularity in England and Wales there were only 60,000 Quakers in 1680, these are high numbers indeed.

Quakers were persecuted because they were considered radical both religiously and socially -- both men and women were deemed to be of "dangerous principles" and disloyal to the Crown with an aim to demolish the accepted social values and conventions. They didn't believe in taking the Oath of Allegiance and wouldn't attend church meetings or pay tithes. They didn't believe in rituals, either societal (e.g., doffing hats to people who were considered to be more important) or religious (e.g., christenings). They saw no need for the clergy, as they believed every person could experience God directly through the "inner light," and vehemently opposed war and the military. And perhaps most radical of all, they believed in equality between all men, regardless of social/economic station, including all races and sexes.

This was the climate upon the eve of the great Quaker migration to America, which started to NJ in the 1670s, with George Fox himself visiting Burlington,NJ in 1672. But the mass exodus burgeoned in 1682 after William Penn founded the Quaker state of PA, with its promise of religious tolerance for all. Economics were a large incentive as well -- for the modest sum of £20, a family of four together with a servant would receive passage plus 500 acres of land. The devastating effect of the exodus is discerned from the MM records, so riddled with emigration concerns that by the I690s there was a marked reluctance to grant removal certificates. At the Yearly Meeting held in Rhayader,Wales in 1698 it was recorded that "some Friends by their Irregular disorderly & unsavoury preedings and runneings into Pensilvania, haveing been a Cause of great weakening if not the totall decayeinge of some meetings in this Dominion."

Prior to the mass exodus of Quakers from England to America in the 1680s and 1690s, it is estimated that the Quaker population hit a high of over 60,000 members, or 1% of the total population of Great Britain. This fell off dramatically in the next decades, and by 1806 the total number of Quakers in England was halved to 32,000, while by 1883 this had dwindled further to 15,219, (with just 193 in Scotland). Conversely in America in 1883 the Quaker population was estimated at six times as large as that in England: 90,000-100,000.

Surprisingly the decline of Quakerism in Great Britain continued after the passing of the Toleration Act in May 1689. The spontaneity and enthusiasm of the early radicals had been replaced by silent worship in meeting-houses, isolated and insulated from the rest of the world. This insularity was reinforced at the monthly and quarterly business meetings which were largely devoted to ensuring that clannish marriage customs were observed. And the movement lost its former dynamism and appeal following the death of its principal crusaders, particularly George Fox in 1691. Not until the evangelical revival in the latter half of the 19th century did Quakerism start to grow again.

Today only Ireland is predominantly Catholic; Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland (as well as America) are predominantly Protestant.

Quaker research

Note that Quaker records are NOT included in the Parish registers of Great Britain -- the OPRs are only Anglican church records, and do not include any records from any church not affiliated with the state church (e.g., any Protestant secession including Quaker). State church registers date to 1563 when the Roman Catholic Church ordered the keeping of baptisms and marriage registers, but they were poorly kept particularly during time of war, and many early registers that were kept did not survive the ravages of time. There are no church records prior to the mid-16th century.

Non-conformists: In the 16th century when the Church of England (Anglican Church) was established as a reformed version of Catholicism, people were either loyal to the new state church or were non-conformists. Non-conformists included those who remained loyal to the church in Rome (Roman Catholics), those who broke off from Catholicism all together to become part of the Protestant movement (Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists), those of other religions (Jews, Quakers, Unitarians, the Salvation Army), as well as the non-religious.

There are four kinds of Quaker records. The first and primary source of Quaker information are the minutes of the quarterly business meetings to which the monthly meetings all sent their minutes. Although there were meetings in the early 1650s, minutes records exist only from the late 1650s; records for the earliest meetings do not exist. The second kind is registers; most meetings kept a running list (register) in simple chronological order of marriage, birth, and death information. This information was later summarized by chronological date within alphabetized surname into the third kind of record, a digest. There are entries in many registers/digests as early as 1605, but these were self-reported after-the-fact by the respondent. Finally, there are abstracts that are made from the digests, primarily by genealogist Gilbert Cope.

The 1836 Registration Act and 1836 Marriage Act required all historical and current Quaker chronological registers to be surrendered to the courts in England; 1445 registers were surrendered, but alphabetized digests were made before their surrender. Another 121 registers were surrendered in 1857 after digests made. These original registers are at the Public Records Office in London, and the digests at both the Friends House Library in London and the Society of Genealogists in London. Wales and Scotland were also subject to these acts, with their records also at the archives and libraries in London; however, Ireland was not (see below). Quaker registers were not maintained after civil registration was initiated in 1837.

The monthly meeting records are simply voluminous minutes of each meeting, so without knowing which meeting and on what date, research is next to impossible; genealogical research begins with surname-alphabetized abstracts or digests (secondary source) to determine which meeting minutes (primary source) to examine. Not all valuable genealogical information was extracted from the minutes in the registers or digests; for example, the registers/digests do not include witnesses to a marriage. American genealogist Gilbert Cope extracted data and wrote abstracts for many of the Quaker records of Great Britain, but not all records, not all localities, and not all time periods; he especially concentrated on the earliest records prior to 1730.

There are Quaker libraries in America that only keep American records (e.g., Haverford), and those that maintain an international collection as well (Swarthmore Friends Historical Library) (generally digests only) for use only in-house. The LDS church Family History Center has microfilmed most digests and all (Cope's early) abstracts, available through inter-library loan. Online records are available from Ancestry.com (subscription service)(some digests) for all countries as compared to just English and Welsh records from the UK Archives BMD registers and The Genealogist UK. All UK records, abstracts, digests, registers, and minutes, are available in the UK at either libraries or archives, as detailed below.

The Quaker libraries in America and in Great Britain have no online searching capabilities -- not for records, record indexes, or even a card catalogue of holdings -- and apparently do not plan to have any in the future. There is no comprehensive family name index across all the records, and no complete documentation for where all the records are, and not even easily-accessible documentation for the holdings of each library, impeding comprehensive research. Even "comprehensive" data bases, such as the BMD registers, have only the RG6 (Quaker) records for England and Wales combined; researchers need to also check the other non-conformist registers as well as conformist registers in that country as well as perhaps all registers in neighboring countries.

England and Wales

There were over 1300 meeting houses in Britain. The English and Welsh records (since Wales was under the London YM umbrella) are available online through two services:
The Genealogist UK is the official site for Non-Conformist & Non-Parochial Records with the largest collection available online. These 8 million records are listed under non-conformist records -- RG6 - The Society of Friends' (Quakers) Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials ranging from 1578-1841. This is a subscription service and is only English and Welsh Quaker records (at least currently no Scottish or Irish Quaker records).
BMD registers (in association with the National Archives) allows a free search by name (no refinements), with a price just to obtain a copy of the record online. These are English and Welsh records only; the RG6 records are specifically Quaker register records of births, deaths, burials and marriages from the Quarterly meetings.
Friends House Library in London only has records for meetings in England (under the London amd Middlesex YM umbrellas) and no records are online or available for inter-library loan. Researchers can email to inquire about specific holdings (library@quaker.org.uk)


As far as I can determine, there were 25 quarterly meetings in England in the 17th century; however, assuming that the online services above cover all the records, they can be used as a global index across all the English and Welsh meetings, otherwise, the digest/abstract for each of the 25 quarterly meetings would have to be examined. It should be noted that Quakers were welcome at any meeting, so records may easily be found in several different locales, including those in different countries. The 25/39 meetings were: Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire; Berkshire & Oxfordshire; Bristol & Somerset; Buckinghamshire; Cambridgeshire & Huntingdonshire; Cornwall; Cheshire & Staffordshire; Cumberland & Northumberland; Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire; Devonshire; Dorsetshire & Hampshire Durham; Essex; Gloucestershire & Wiltshire; Herefordshire, Worcestershire (& Wales); Kent; Lancashire; Lincolnshire; London & Middlesex; Norfolk & Norwich; Northamptonshire; Suffolk; Sussex & Surrey; Warwickshire; Westmoreland; and Yorkshire (dates).
--- Since I have not accessed these tapes, I am not sure if the double/triple name designation are one or 2/3 meetings -- e.g., does the Herefordshire meeting records include Worcestershire records comingled? And how much of the Welsh records are included?
--- Minutes: Complete holding at Friends House Library in London; unknown but incomplete holding at Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library; researchers can email the respective libraries to inquire about specific holdings (Pennsylvania at friends@swarthmore.edu and London at library@quaker.org.uk)
--- Registers: Complete holding at FHL in London; supposedly complete holding at FHL at Swarthmore; only Liverpool and some London records at Ancestry.com (these London records are 120,699 records from the London Archives -- baptism, marriage, and burial registers from 1694-1921 for many Non-Conformist churches in the greater London area).
--- Digests and/or abstracts: Complete holding at FHL at Swarthmore; supposedly complete holding at Ancestry.com; supposedly complete holding at LDS FHC -- see reference for more details on what is available.


map of Wales
There was one YM starting in 1668 and three Quarterly Meetings in Wales: North Wales (Merionethshire, Montgomeryshire/Dolobran, Shropshire); Mid-Wales (Monmouthshire, Radnorshire); and South Wales QM (Carmarthenshire, Glamorganshire/Swansea, Pembrokeshire).
--- Welsh records are included with English records, as the meetings in Wales were under the umbrella of the London YM until 1797. The Welsh Quaker records are in the English archives, and some Welsh records will be found comingled with British ones (especially on the Cheshire and Lancashire films).
--- The only microfilm readily available (LDS FHC #441397,items 4-5) is for abstracts made by American genealogist Gilbert Cope, and they are through 1729 only.
--- Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library has microfilms of the digests (not available on inter-library loan).
--- A substantive number of early records are known to be missing; the rest are only available at the Record Office of each County (Cheshire, Glamorgan, Hereford, Liverpool, Powys, West Glamorgan, Worchester) and at the Glamorgan Record Office in Cardiff -- more info from Quaker Family History Society.
--- see reference for more details on what is available.

[Our Frost Quaker ancestral relation (see John Frost, ~1700-1760s SC) was supposedly Welsh, but there is no family story or documents which confirm from which town. Our Maiden ancestor (Andrew Maiden, ~1720s-1772 NC) was supposedly Welsh, but there is no family story from which town, nor is there any confirmation or even indication his ancestors were Quaker.]


map of Scotland
The primary online resource for Scottish records is ScotlandsPeople. They have no non-conformist records on their website, but do hope to add them in some time in the future.

There was never a huge population of Quakers in Scotland. There were two YMs: north in Aberdeen and south in Edinburgh, which encompassed eight early monthly meetings: Aberdeen (in Aberdeen) MM; Edinburgh (in Midlothian) MM; Hamilton (in Lanark) MM; Glasgow (in Lanark) MM ; Kelso (in Roxburgh) MM; Kinnuck MM; Ury MM; and West Scotland MM.
--- "English Friends records, Scotland: marriages, births, burials, 1647-1728" which includes the Monthly Meeting Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Hamilton, Glasgow, Kelso, Kinnuck, Ury, West Scotland. (Microfilm of ms. at Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.) -- LDS FHC #441406,item 3 -- note through 1728 only
--- Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library (Pennsylvania) has microfilms of a complete set of digests (not available on inter-library loan). The library can refer researchers to local genealogists for paid research.
--- Ancestry.com has no Scottish Quaker records. ScotlandsPeople has no Quaker records. (as of 2013)
--- The Scottish General Record Office (GRO) in Edinburgh has all Scottish Quaker Registers; the General Register House (NAS -- National Archives of Scotland) has a small proportion of the Quaker records -- these two organizations merged in 2011 to be the National Records of Scotland (NRS) which will eventually have a website replacing the other two. Note that there is a book titled "Records of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Digest of births, marriages and burials, Scotland 1669-1867" (NAS reference CH10/1/64) which is apparently the Scottish digest since it is in alphabetical order. A local genealogist is willing to search it for foreign researchers for free.
--- TheGenealogist.co.uk has some Scottish records, but not Quaker Scottish records -- their Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial collections include only Scottish Presbyterian Churches in England; they also have non-church records: Directories from 1773 to 1930, Landowner Records, Parish Registers, School/College/University Registers, Military, Roll of Honour, Occupational, Peerage/Heritage records, Almanacs and Wills.
--- see reference and Quaker Family History Society for more details on what is available.

Ury House in Aberdeenshire (historic Kincardineshire)
Ury House - Quaker headquarters in Scotland;
Originally this property belonged to the Frasers, then the Hays starting in 1413, and finally the Earl Marischal, until in the 17th century Ury was established as the North East Scotland headquarters of the Quaker organization by David Barclay (1610-1686). Barclay was 1st Laird of Urie, a military man, who purchased the lands and barony of Urie from William Keith, 7th Earl of Marischal. As a known associate of the Earl Marischal, Barclay was subsequently confined in Edinburgh Castle where he was converted to Quakerism in 1665 by the Laird of Swinton who was confined in the same prison. His oldest son Robert Barclay was celebrated as the apologist for the Quakers; his middle son John Barclay emigrated to East Jersey, America. [Our Hay branch lived south of Ury, south of Edinburgh, near Kelso (and its MM) in the late 18th century; it is unknown if the Hays were Quakers but William Hay's 1763 birth was not in the OPRs or secession church record books.]


Ireland was not subject to the 1836 Registration Act, but they also prepared registers and these include an invaluable multi-generational "family list." The “Jones Index” includes ~2,250 surnames but is only a list of which surname is found at each monthly meeting (LDS FHC fiche #1559454 item 10).

Note that Ireland was united pre-1920, but since the establishment of Northern Ireland as an independent country the original records are now held in different repositories -- generally speaking, the Dublin archives and libraries have original records for Ireland and copies of the records for Northern Ireland while the Ulster archives and libraries have the original records for Northern Ireland and no copies of the records of Ireland. Although records are not available online, there is online searching on the Irish Ancestors record source databases.

map of Ireland; four provinces noted in red -- Ulster, Connacht, Leinster and Munster
While there are four provinces of Ireland (Ulster-North; Connacht-West; Leinster-East; Munster-South), Connacht province is by far the smallest in population and had no Quaker meetings. By 1750, there were 150 Quaker meetings across Ireland within the provinces of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster. There were nineteen major early meetings in Ireland in the three provinces, under the umbrella of one annual semi-annual meeting that started in 1671: Antrim** (Ulster)(no records); Ballyhagan* (in Kildare)(Leinster); Carlow MM* (in Carlow)(Leinster); Cootehill** (in Cavan)(Ulster)(no records); Cork MM* (in Cork; Bandon records included?)(Munster); Dublin MM* (in Dublin)(Leinster); Edenderry MM* (in Offaly/Kings)(Leinster); Grange MM** (in Tyrone)(Ulster); Lisburn MM** (in Antrim & Down)(Ulster); Limerick MM* (in Limerick)(Munster); Lurgan MM** (in Armagh)(Ulster); Moate MM* (in Westmeath)(Leinster); Mountmellick MM* (in Leix/Queens; includes Mountrath?)(Leinster); Rich Hill MM** (in Armagh)(Ulster); Tipperary MM* (in Tipperary)(Munster); Waterford MM* (in Waterford)(Munster); Wexford MM* (in Wexford)(Leinster); Wicklow MM* (in Wicklow)(Leinster); and Youghal MM* (in Cork)(Munster).
--- Record books from Antrim and Cootehill have not survived. The MM records contain information not found at the state: births, marriages, deaths, wills. Many MMs kept a separate register for certificates of removal.
--- The province books (Leinster (1670), Munster (1694), and Ulster (1674) are not available through LDS FHC, and can contain more genealogical information; marriages were sometimes recorded within the province or quarterly minute books.
• *Republic of Ireland
--- Dublin Friends Historical Library (DFHL)(records for all of Ireland) has all original MM QM AM records of Leinster and Munster, plus microfilm copies of MM QM records of Ulster.
--- The LDS Library in Salt Lake City has microfilm copies of the records of the Dublin Friends' library, but does not have copies of the province books or national or half-yearly meetings.
--- The Dublin National Library and National Archives of Ireland has microfilm copies of the National/Half-Yearly Meetings, all the monthly meeting registers, the province or quarterly meeting minutes, and Quaker vital records from 1859 to 1949.
• **Northern Ireland
--- The Religious Society of Friends, Ulster ("RASCAL") has records for Northern Ireland: minutes of meetings, with information on birth, marriage, and death records; diaries; pedigrees; wills; and other records.
--- The Quaker School in Lisburn (Antrim, Northern Ireland) has the archived records for the Ulster Province and its Quarterly Meeting and all of the monthly meetings under its umbrella.
--- The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland ("PRONI")(Northern Ireland only) has microfilm copies of these records.
• More on information Irish Quaker records:
--- Ancestry.com has no Irish Quaker records (except for some Quaker wills).
--- Quaker record information from Family Search and Irish Times. See reference for more details on what is available.

Immigration to America

Passenger lists were not routinely kept before 1800-1820 in America (incoming) or 1890 in Great Britain (outgoing). The 17th and 18th century lists that do remain are often more about cargo than passengers, as the cargo was subject to taxation, and the records were kept by the exchecker's office.

That said, Quaker records provide a unique source of immigration information -- the removal certificate. Especially when leaving one meeting to permanently worship at another, there will be a record in both the old and new meeting minutes, as the certificate was like a recommendation for membership, attesting to the moral character and financial integrity of the emigrant. The removal certificates varied by meeting, but often were kept in a separate register just for that purpose, and were not included in the abstracts. That the books are incomplete can be seen in the book "Pennsylvania Arrivals 1681-1750" where there were only four Welsh towns listed; Redstone MM (Pembrokeshire), Llainhangel MM (Radnorshire), Tyddyn QM (Merioneth), Nantmell (Radnorshire); there were obviously many more Welsh immigrants moving to the 30,000-acre Welsh Tract in Haverford, Merion, and Radnor counties in Philadelphia. This serves as a warning for researchers for these records; not finding a record does not guarantee that the person was not a Quaker, especially when examing such old records where many have been lost.

• Albert Cook Myers' "Quaker Arrivals at Philadelphia, 1682-1750; Being a List of Certificates of Removal Received at Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of Friends" Swarthmore, PA. 1902. --- Reprint, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, MD. 2007.
• Albert Cook Myers' "Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania 1682-1750; With Their Early History in Ireland" Swarthmore, PA. 1902 --- Reprint, Heritage Books, Westminster, MD. 2006 & 2009.
• "Immigrants to Pennsylvania 1600s-1800s" CD that includes;
--- William Penn and the Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania, by William I. Hull
--- Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania, 1682-1750, with Their Early History in Ireland, by Albert C. Myers
--- Quaker Arrivals at Philadelphia, 1682-1750. Being a List of Certificates of Removal Received at Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of Friends, by Albert C. Myers
--- Emigrants to Pennsylvania, 1641-1819. A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, ed. Michael Tepper
--- Pennsylvania German Pioneers. A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, by Ralph B. Strassburger and William J. Hinke
--- Names of Foreigners Who Took the Oath of Allegiance to the Province and State of Pennsylvania, 1727-1775, with the Foreign Arrivals, 1786-1808, by William Henry Egle
--- A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French, and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776, by Israel D. Rupp
--- Record of Indentures of Individuals Bound Out as Apprentices, Servants, Etc. and of German and Other Redemptioners in the Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia . . . 1771 to . . . 1773
--- Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819, ed. Michael Tepper and Elizabeth P. Bentley
• "Welsh Settlers of Pennsylvania" by Rowland Ellis - genealogical notes for agout 300 families (2,000 individuals) including; Andrews, Arthur, Bevan, Cadwalader, Cook, Cooper, Corbet, Corne, David, Davis, Davies, Edward(s), Ellis, Evan(s), Foulke, Gibbons, Griffith, Hardyman, Harry, Haverd, Hayes, Hent, Howell, Hugh, Hughes, Humphreys, Iddings, James, Jarmon, Jenkins, John, Jones, Kinsey, Lewis (sub Ellis Lewis & Wm Lewis), Lloyd, Martin, Matthews, Meridith, Miles, Moore, Morgan, Morris, Mortimer, Oliver, Orme, Owen, Painter, Pardo, Parry, Peter, Philips, Powell, Price, Pritchard, Pugh, Rees, Rhydderch, Rhytherrach, Rice, Richard(s), Rider, Roberts, Rothers, Rowland, Thomas, Tudor, Samuel, Scourfield, Smith, Walker, Walter, Watkins, Whelan, Williams, Wisdom, Wynn, and others.


Interesting Quiz

Which state in the United States has the highest percentage of Friends (2000 population)? Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, Alaska, or other?
--- Answer; Alaska! And in terms of absolute population it is Indiana which has the World Headquarters of Friends United Meeting! Pennsylvania ranks only 10th in percentage of Friends and 4th in absolute population, despite so many Quaker organizations headquartered there! (source)

Similarly, guess which country has the most Quakers. It's Kenya with 133,000! U.S.A. is second with 86,000, Guatemala third with 20,000, and Great Britain fourth with 15,000. (source)


The Friends had no ordained ministers and thus needed no seminaries for theological training. As a result they did not open any colleges in the colonial period, and did not join in founding the University of Pennsylvania. The major Quaker colleges were Haverford College (1833), Earlham College (1844), Swarthmore College (1864), and Bryn Mawr College (1885), all founded much later.

Sources for Great Britain Quaker information and/or records:

Quaker genealogist William Wade Hinshaw (1867-1947) estimated that 50% of Americans whose families immigrated in the early days were of Quaker descent.
Quaker - General
• 1902 encyclopedia
• Quaker Family History Society (mainpage at Rootsweb)
Quakers in Britain
• More information on Quakers
Quaker Corner on Ancestry.com
Cyndi's List page for Quakers
Street Corner Society for maps too
Rare Book Collection at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.
• Ellen T. Berry and David A. Berry's "Our Quaker Ancestors - Finding Them in Quaker Records" Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, MD, 1987
• The Utah Valley Regional FHC Research Guide to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) with a complete copy of the 37-page "My Ancestors were Quakers, How can I find out more about them?" by Milligan & Thomas, with a lot of good information on the records from Great Britain.
Guide to BMD records (RG6 and more) - Society of Friends (Quakers) 1578-1841
• Researchers can email the respective libraries to inquire about specific holdings (Pennsylvania at friends@swarthmore.edu and London at library@quaker.org.uk)

Quaker resources - country-specific
• Quaker Family History Society (mainpage at Rootsweb) -- England, Wales, Scotland, no Ireland
• "Welsh Settlers" by Rowland Ellis -- Quakers of Wales (source)
• The Quakers of Dolgellau in NorthWest Wales source
• Quakers in Mid Wales source
• Religious Society of Friends in Scotland
• "The Story of Quakerism in Scotland" by G. B. Burnet, 2007 (available for purchase)

Other genealogy links
• Genuki -- England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland


Several books have been written about the persecutions the Quakers suffered in 1650-1689. These can be valuable to genealogists as they detail the persons involved and where they are -- so helpful to determine where to look for more records.

• Joseph Besse's "A Collection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers", London, 1753 - includes Cananuiel Britton (online)
• Fuller, Samuel. A Compendious View of Some Extraordinary Sufferings of the People Call'd Quakers. Dublin. 1731.
• Thomas Holme and Abraham Fuller's "A Brief Relation of Some Part of the Sufferings of the True Christians, the People of God, in scorn called Quakers, in Ireland, for these last Eleven Years, viz, from 1660 until 1671" Dublin. 1672.
• William Stockdale's "The Great Cry of Oppression; or a brief relation of some part of the sufferings of the people of God in scorn called Quakers, in Ireland, for these eleven years, viz from the beginning of 1671 until the end of 1681" Dublin, 1683. • Thomas Wight and John Rutty's "A History of the Rise and Progress of the People called the Quakers in Ireland 1653-1750" Dublin, 1751 (at Google books).

Common Quaker terms:

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


Prior to 1753 the new year started on March 25 ("Lady Day") instead of January 1. Today we call the old method the Julian calendar (OS-Old Style) and the new one still in use the Gregorian calendar (NS-New Style). This is why so many records for January 1- March 24 have a double year designation (e.g., 1720/21) specifying the OS and NS date. In the British Empire, which included the colonies in America, the change was implemented in September 1752, when there were also eleven days dropped from the calendar (Septemter 3-13); September 2 was followed by September 14. (More details and even more details)

Donna Hay
Los Angeles
website, 2013