Quaker research in Pennsylvania


A very brief Quaker history

Protestant reformers of the 16th century sought to eliminate intermediaries between God and the people; in this regard, the Society of Friends (Quakers) can be said to be the fullest expression of the Reformation. Quakers did not (and still do not) believe in organized religion as was practiced in the Church of England and other churches. Quakers believed that individuals could worship God directly and that members had an “inner light” (an inner capacity to understand God); they rejected a formal clergy or creed, and rejected all priestly office and sacraments (e.g., baptism).

1687 Philadelphia map by Thomas Holme with the first three counties: Philadelphia (center), Chester (left), and Bucks (right) -- click on picture for a larger view (see footnotes too)
Founded in England in 1652 by George Fox, Quakerism gained a considerable following in England and Wales, rising to 60,000 followers in 1680, 1% of the population. However the Protestant church saw the Quakers as a blasphemous challenge to social and political order, leading to official persecution (1662 Quaker Act and 1664 Conventicle Act 1664), which only eased in the late 1680s (1687 Declaration of Indulgence and 1689 Act of Toleration). In April 1681, William Penn secured rights to 50,000 square miles (Pennsylvania) from King Charles II and drew up the Preface of the Frame of Government, his proposed philosophy of governmental ideals (sometimes referred to as "Pennsylvania's Anarchist Experiment"). He emigrated in October 1682 on the ship Welcome, created the three original counties (Philadelphia, Chester and Bucks), laid out Philadelphia as the capital city, and summoned a General Assembly to Chester on December 4, before retiring to his own property in Bucks.

Quakers were known for their plainness in dress, simplicity of speech, civility, pacifism, equality for women, equality for all races, equality in education, intolerance to slavery and alcohol, as well as a refusal to swear oaths or bear arms. In Pennsylvania, they aspired to a responsive government of virtuous men which would encourage peace, justice, charity, spiritual equality, and liberty for the benefit of everyone -- not just Quakers but also Native Americans and non-English refugees from Europe. Pennsylvania gained a reputation as the "best poor man's country", free of feudal elites, established churches, tithes, discriminatory oaths, high taxes, compulsory military service, and war. Philadelphia was known in colonial times as the "Athens of America" due to its rich cultural life, liberal principles and freedom of expression. Quakers comprised 10% of the population in the 13 colonies, obviously more in Pennsylvania.

Quaker symbol, circa late 19th century
A quick glimpse back in time....
• In the year 1700, Philadelphia was the third largest city in America with 4400 people! Boston had 6700 and New York 4900.
• By 1790, Philadelphia had surged into first place with 42,500, and was now the second-largest English-speaking city in the world (second to London, of course)! New York was still second with 33,100 and Boston had 18,000.
• In just 40 more years, New York took over as the most populous city, and never fell out of first place again. In 1830 New York had 197,100 people; Philadelphia 161,400, Baltimore 80,600 and Boston 61,400.
• By 1850 the population had more than doubled in the intervening 20 years (515,500, 340,000, 169,100 and 136,900 for the same four cities respectively).
• Philadelphia, a center of ferment for American Independence, was the seat of the federal government 1776-1800.

Genealogist William Wade Hinshaw (1867-1947) estimated that 50% of Americans whose families immigrated in the early days were of Quaker descent. I (DLH) initially thought this sounded grossly optimistic; however, as I have researched deeper into my grandfather's tree, I think at least 43% of his immigrant ancestors of the 17th century had Quaker backgrounds.

Quaker American migration

That Pennsylvania became a haven for all Quakers, even drawing those who lived elsewhere in the colonies, is underscored by the fact that only two colonies tolerated Quakers at this time -- Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Thus with any hint of a Quaker ancestor, genealogists should look at Pennsylvania, and specifically Philadelphia, the Quaker capital in 1681-1750. The Welsh (our ancestors Frost and Maiden are said to have been Welsh) settled in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties, and overflowed into Lancaster County circa 1729.

Before Pennsylvania in 1655-1681, the main Quaker settlements were in New England (i.e., Rhode Island), New Amsterdam (i.e., New York), Long Island, Maryland, Virginia, and the West Indies. In 1675-1682, records from southern NJ, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, should also be examined -- in 1674 a group of Quaker investors, including Penn, bought a stake in the New Jersey colony, and divided it into East Jersey and West Jersey. West Jersey became the first Quaker colony in America, but it eventually went bankrupt and was rejoined to East Jersey in 1702 to form a royal colony.

By 1700 Quakers occupied a 25-mile radius around Philadelphia; by 1740 it was 50-miles. After dominating the Pennsylvania legislature for many years, the pacifist Quakers became outnumbered by those favoring the French and Indian War (1754-1763), and Quakers withdrew from the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1756. The falling from power, many Quakers' sympathy to the military for safety and/or independence, and especially the hugely burgeoning population made many Pennsylvania Quakers look to migrate to new virgin territory in the Americas.

1751 map of the Great Trail (red line) from Philadelphia to Winchester then to NC; only Philadelphia to Winchester was navigable by wagon -- click on picture for larger view (or here for full size)
The frontier lay West: western Pennsylvania and the great beyond. The only route available was the Great Trail from Philadelphia to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and from there either NW into the Ohio Territory or SW to the Appalachians.

Although most resources I have consulted list the Great Trail, I did find a reference for the 1731 Hite expedition from PA to Frederick,VA listing this route:
1. Down Perkiomen Creek at Colebrookdate,PA to the Schuylkill River
2. Down the Conestoga Road (est. 1723) to the Susquehanna River vic. Middletown,PA
3. Down the Susquehanna River to Wright's Ferry in the vicinity of York Haven,PA
4. Up Conewago Creek to vicinity of Plainview,PA
5. 1 mile portage to Rock Creek
6. Down Rock Creek to in the vicinity of Mair's Mill,MD
7. Down the Monocacy River to Monocacy Settlement in the vicinity of Creagerstown,MD
8. West through South Mountain in the vicinity of Gapland,MD
9. Down Israel Creek to the Potomac at Harper's Ferry,VA (now WV)
10. Across the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, entering the Shenandoah River Valley/blockquote>

1725-1750: Quakers began moving down through western Maryland to Frederick and Loudon Counties in northern Virginia (see map at right). Frederick,VA encompassed a much larger area then, including Berkeley,WV. Frederick was both a destination and a stopover, but unfortunately, the early records (1734-1759) of the Hopewell Meeting were destroyed by a fire, so the early history of the Hopewell settlement is somewhat obscure.

☆ Our Britton, Frost, Gibson and Howsmon ancestors were in Frederick,VA 1734-~1805, when they moved to Ohio. All four families fought in the Revolution and/or Lord Dunmore's expedition in the 1770s.

1750-1775: there was a large migration of Quakers from PA and VA to the Piedmont area of north-central NC. The Colonial VA government had never been very hospitable to Quakers and NC seemed more welcoming. The earliest Quaker Meeting in the Piedmont was at Cane Creek (1750), near the present town of Snow Camp, in what is now Alamance County, but which was in Orange County in Colonial times. The early Quaker settlers in the Piedmont soon discovered that the NC government, centered in the Tidewater area on the Eastern Shore, had designs for heavy taxation of the new settlers, leading to the Regulator Movement of the early 1770s.

☆ Andrew Maiden moved through Virginia to Orange,NC ~1750

1770s: To escape the violence of the Regulator Movement, a Quaker migration to the back country of SC began about 1765, including both VA and NC settlers. The central Quaker settlement in northwestern SC was at Bush River near Newberry, with other settlements throughout the area, extending to Wrightsborough,GA about forty miles to the west.

☆ Our Maiden and Passwater ancestors fought in the Revolution, and maybe were Regulators too.

1800s: To escape the slavery-culture, there was a mass migration of Quakers from NC, SC, GA and VA in the early 1800s into the great Ohio territory -- first into the Miami River area of southwestern OH, and then into IN by 1810, and in IL by 1825.

☆ Our Frost-Howsmon and Gibson-Britton ancestors moved from VA to Ohio ~1805
☆ Our Passwater-Maiden ancestors moved from NC to Indiana ~1805

From the Ohio Yearly Quarterly records - Smithfield-Plymouth Transfers.
History of the Friends migration from North Carolina.
In the year 1796 the Friends of North Carolina believed the principle of human slavery to be wrong and liberated their slaves. They were placed under arrest and were forced to place their negroes under bondage. The Friends appealed to the courts, they upheld them and they again liberated the slaves. The following winter the legislature passed an act making it a penal offense to liberate the slaves.

Goal: While there are records that prove that relatives of our Britton and Frost ancestors were Quaker, we have no Quaker records for our ancestors. All our ancestors fought in the Revolution and/or previous wars leading up to the Revolution. If they had been Quakers, they would have been disavowed for taking up arms, or even just taking an Oath of Allegiance. I (DLH) am guessing that several of these ancestors were in fact Quaker, but left the church over the military disagreement -- Britton, Frost, Gibson for sure, and maybe also Howsmon and Maiden. They migrated with Quakers. They settled in Quaker communities. Their relatives were Quakers. The Quaker research in Pennsylvania is undertaken with the attempt to discover if in fact these ancestors were themselves Quaker (and if Jesse Britton descended from known Quaker Cananuiel Britton), and to see if that would lead back to when and from where they emigrated.

Quaker Encyclopedia

William Wade Hinshaw's Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy consists of six volumes, each dealing with a different region. These encyclopedias are considered one of the premier sources of information for early American Quaker genealogy.

The volumes are arranged by meeting (church), beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. Each meeting is introduced with a brief history that includes the names of the earliest members. Next is a section listing information from the meeting's birth and death records, arranged alphabetically by family name. Following that is an abstract of the minutes of the meeting, including marriages, new memberships, transfers of membership, disownments, and restorations to membership. Again the entries are arranged alphabetically by family, and then chronologically.

Volume 1 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
Volume 2 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of New Jersey and (eastern) Pennsylvania.
Volume 3 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of New York.
Volumes 4 and 5 of the Encyclopedia are the abstract of the early records of Ohio and (western) Pennsylvania.
Volume 6 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of Virginia.

The encyclopedia includes approximately 500,000 entries, and each volume has a separate surname index, and there is also an index to cover all six indexes.

"Almost no class of records, religious or secular, has been kept as meticulously as the monthly meeting records of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). The oldest such records span three centuries of American history and testify to a general movement of population that extended from New England and the Middle Atlantic states southward to Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia; then west to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The importance of these records cannot be overstated. Not until recently have the vital statistics of Quakers been recorded in civil record offices.

Thus, for more than two centuries, the only vital records identifying these people are to be met with in the Quaker records themselves. Fortunately, the monthly meeting records contain extensive lists of births, marriages, and deaths, as well as details of the removal of members from one meeting to another. (The monthly meeting, during which vital statistics are recorded, is in fact, a business meeting.)"

Painstakingly developed from these monthly meeting records, Hinshaw's Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy is the magnum opus of Quaker genealogy. In its production, thousands of records were located and abstracted into a uniform and intelligible system of notation. The data gathered in these volumes of the Encyclopedia are arranged by meeting, then alphabetically by family name, and chronologically thereunder. Volume 1: NORTH CAROLINA Volume II: NEW JERSEY AND PENNSYLVANIA Volume III: NEW YORK Volume IV: OHIO Volume V: OHIO Volume VI: VIRGINIA"

Note: Quaker registers record birth, marriages and burials. The responsibility for registers rested with the monthly meeting, but in practice local registers were sometimes maintained. In 1694 there were 151 monthly meetings in England and Whales. Men and women met separately for business until 1896, so there are separate minutes for each.

Index to Britton, Frost, Gibson and Howsmon entries

For our Britton ancestors:

The Britton entries in Volumes II (PA):
Benjamin Brittain, VI p.370; Jacob Britten, II p.472; Jacob Britton, II p.340, 472; James Brittain, II p.340; James Britton, II p.340; John Brittain, II p.340; John Britten, II p.472; John Britton, II p.340, 472; Jonathan Britton, II p.370; Lyonell Brittanie, II p.952; Sarah Brittain, II p.981 and p.1000; Sarah Britton, II p.340; Susannah Britten, II p.472; Susannah Britton, II p.472; and Thomas Britton, II p.46.

These refer to nine entries for Brittons in the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, but none of them pertain to our Britton branch:
1750, 6, 5. Jacob d
1750, 6, 31. John [Britten] I w & ch Jacob, John & Susanna, rocf Cooledine MM, Ire., dated 1750, 2, 8.
1750, 8, 23. John d
1762, 9, 24. John con his mcd
1763, 8, 6. John [Brittain] s John d ae 15m
1764, 9, 2. James [Brittain] s John d
1770, 7, 27. John dis
1770, 11, 15. Sarah d ae 60
1771, 3, 29. Susanna gct Evesham MM

The obvious question is what happened to known Britton Quakers in Chester -- Cananuiel in the 1680s and his son Peter? The answer is that as wonderful as these works are, they are VERY incomplete. Volume II covers only FOUR monthly meetings:
1. Salem (NJ) organized in 1676
2. Burlington (NJ) organized in 1678
3. Philadelphia (PA) organized in 1682
4. Falls (PA in Bucks county) organized in 1683
There are no Chester records at all, and only one meeting in Philadelphia and one in Bucks. And for our Welsh ancestors, the books do not include Merion MM (Radnor) a key Welsh Monthly Meeting in the Philadelphia area, along with many other Philadelphia county meetings (see below).

For our Frost ancestors:

The Frost entries in Volumes II (PA): ??? II p.864, 879; Sarah E. Frost, II 794; Sarah L. Frost, II 741, 761; Sidney/Sydney B. Frost, II 794, 864, 879.

The records do not match up with our Frost branch which is thought to be in PA prior to 1730: 1832 Sarah; 1889 Sarah; 1879-1894 Sidney Frost married Anna A. Hull

For our Gibson ancestors, the Gibson entries in Volumes II (PA):

There were two pages of Gibsons on the index, so I concentrated on just PA entries for Jacob and Robert; I found none.

For our Howsmon ancestors, the Howsmon entries in Volumes II (PA):

Mary Housman, II p.79, 80. -- (note to self -- look up record, to make sure it did not match -- add in date)

For our Maiden ancestors:

I (DLH) am only guessing they might be Quaker. I have no idea what PA meetings (if any) would have record for them, but in 1750 they appear to be traveling though VA and by 1754 are in NC. Both the Orange,NC and Rowan/Iredell,NC meetings should be checked:
• The New Garden Monthly Meeting in Rowan County started in 1754.
Note that some Maiden descendants did marry into the Beck line who were Quakers from Kent,MD. (Note to self -- look up records; I have never tried to look for Maiden Quaker records in MD/PA) . Note that our ancestor John Maiden (~1750-1820s) is said to have been born in PA.

It is clear that research on all of these lines requires examination of the other Quaker monthly meeting record books in Pennsylvania (and for Maiden, NC as well). There are summary books, and some old records available on microfilm; to my (DLH) knowledge, there is no comprehensive index for all early records and no online capabilities at this time. Not all early records have been indexed in books or microfilmed; while some is available at public libraries (books) or a FHC (books and microfilms), all the records are housed I think at Swarthmore College (see research guide).

Without question, William Penn's arrival in 1682 catapulted the influence and importance of Quakers in the early development of Pennsylvania. The first of the post-Penn meetinghouses was erected in Haverford (preceded by Shackamaxon), Merion, constructed by Welsh Quakers, and Radnor. All three remain active today. "About the year 1682," wrote Janney, "a large number of colonists arrived from Wales, and having purchased 40,000 acres of land on the west side of Schuylkill, settled the townships of Haverford, Merion, and Radnor. There appears to be no record extant of the first meetings, but they were most likely established in 1683." Meetings for worship were established in Delaware County at Darby in 1682, at Chichester in 1683, and at Concord in 1684.

List of PA Monthly Meetings

1827 map of selected MMs affiliated with the Philadelphia YM -- click on picture for a larger view
With only 4400 people living in Philadelphia in 1700, it is safer to attribute a record to an ancestor, especially when so many of the Quaker records detail several family members (witnesses to a marriage, the family's membership transfer). The lists below detail the MM location, start date if available, and where the records can be found (largely taken from the Swarthmore Library website). Note that from the 1827 map on the right there are also MMs in NJ, DE and MD that were associated with the Philadelphia YM.

Bucks County:
• Bristol -- 1788 -- split off from Falls.
• Buckingham -- 1700 -- record extracts in book: "Bucks County church records", vol. 3 (FHC 974.821 K2w (in LA) or F157.B8 W2 or BX7611.B83 B4/M2); original records on microfilm: Buckingham MM marriage records, 1730-1810, #823996 Item 2 or #908829 Item 1 or #253247 (none in LA); original MM records on microfilm (FHC#387851, Items 1-2)(in LA) -- *but the meeting was suppedsly establish in 1720
• Bucks Quarterly Meeting -- available at PYM (BX7611.B87 B4)
• Falls -- 1683 -- extracts in Hinshaw Vol. II (PA); extracts in "Bucks County church records"; Falls MM marriage records, 1700-1800, #823996 Item 2 or #908829 Item 1 or #253247 (none in LA)
• Makefield -- 1797 -- extracts in "Bucks County church records"; Makefield MM records, 1797-?, #20707, items 3-7 (not available in LA)
• Middletown (first called Neshamina) -- 1683 -- extracts in book: "Bucks County church records", v.2 and Grundy, Martha Paxson (Women's minutes)(BX7611 .M4 1985); Middletown MM Church records, 1683-1904 -- on 3 microfilms: (1) #20403 - Minutes 1683-1800 Marriages 1684-1799 Births 1684-1805 Deaths 1699-1805 Removals 1683-1715 (2) #20402 - Minutes 1801-1904 (3) #20464, items 5-6 - Marriages 1828-1861 Removals 1776-1834 (these records may include Orthodox records)(#20464 available in LA).
• Newtown -- 1815 -- split off from Middletown; in 1817 joined with Wrightstown
• Richland -- 1742 -- extracts in "Bucks County church records", v.3 and Index, Minutes, 1742-1764 (Shelf 19 BX7611.R33 M3)
• Solebury -- ?? -- extracts in "Bucks County church records", v.3
• Wrightstown -- 1686 -- extracts in "Bucks County church records:, v.3) and Temple University, 1994 (BX7611.W75 B4 1994); and Wrightstown Women's minutes, 1792-1816 (BX7611.W75 W6 1816a) -- Also, births, deaths, and burials transcribed from the records of Wrightstown MM: Certificates of removal 1682-1777; births 1680-1711 and 1782, burials at Bristol 1760- 1792 (FHC #172927 Item 7)(not in LA); Wrightstown MM records, #20710 Items 2-8 (in Orange,CA but not in LA)

Bucks Quaker records:
All (early) Bucks County MM records have been extracted and summarized in: "Bucks County Pennsylvania, church records of the 17th and 18th centuries", by F. Edward Wright (v2 = Quaker records for Falls MM and Middletown MM; v3 = Wrightstown MM, Richland MM; Buckingham MM; Makefield MM; Solebury MM).
--- Britton: no -- the only Britton records belonged Lionel and his family (double check this is true)
--- Gibson: maybe -- 1764, 5, 6: Wrightstown MM, "Spoke to John Gibson concerning his proceeding in marriage contrary to the discipline of Friends and his driving a wagon with military stores to the Army." Have no idea if this is a relative to Robert Gibson (~1720-1788), perhaps a brother? no other records for John Gibson are found in Bucks.
--- Frost: no -- records found for the John Frost of New England who died without issue
• "Pennsylvania births, Bucks County, 1682-1800" by John T. Humphrey - Contains the church records of Falls MM; Middletown MM; Wrightstown MM; Richland MM; Buckingham MM (missing Makefield MM and Solebury MM)(includes other churches); and John Dyer's diary (974.821 V2h)(in LA)

Chester County:
• Birmingham (West Chester, Birmingham Township) -- ?? -- FHC microfilm #389402
• Bradford (Chester at Coatesville) -- ?? -- record extracts available in the book "Early church records of Chester County, vol. 1" (F157.C4 R32); FHC microfilm #389402
• Caln (Chester) -- ??
• Center (Chester at Bellefonte in Centre County) -- ?? -- FHC microfilm #389402
• Chester (Chichester/Upland)(Delaware,PA) -- 1675 -- Hinshaw card catalogue; Early church records of Delaware County, vol. 1 (F157.D3 L38)
• Concord (Chester) -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue; Early church records of Delaware County, vol. 1 (F157.D3 L38); Temple University and Quaker marriage certificates (BX7611.C65 B4 and B5)
• Downington (Chester) -- ??
• Fallowfield (East Fallowfield twp) -- ?? -- FHC microfilm #389402
• Goshen (Willistown in Chester) -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue; Early church records (ChesCo., v.2) - F157.C4 R32; FHC microfilm #389402
• Kennett (Kennett Square)(also Newark/New Castle) -- 1710 -- Hinshaw card catalogue; Early church records. (ChesCo., v.3); and ?Old Kennett? cemetery - F157.C4 R32 and BX7649.K36 S6 1995; FHC microfilm #389402
• London Grove (West Marborough twp in Chester) -- ?? -- Abstracts of marriage certificates of London Grove Meeting, 1829-1909, of Orthodox Friends, abstracted by Mrs. E.W. Lapp and Dorothy B. Lapp (FHC #20417 Item 5); FHC microfilm #389402
• New Garden (West Grove in Chester) -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue; Early church records (ChesCo., v.2); index to the minutes; and Heritage Books, 1990 - F157.C4 R32; BX7611.N38 B45 1994; and BX7611.N38 B5 1990; FHC microfilm #389402
• Nottingham (Chester and Cecil county,MD) -- 1730 -- FHC microfilm #389402
• Pennsgrove (Penn twp and Upper Oxbord twp) -- ?? -- FHC microfilm #389402
• Uwchlan (East Caln twp in Chester) -- ?? -- Early church records (ChesCo,, v. 2) - F157.C4 R32; FHC microfilm #389402
• West Grove (Chester)(also known as New Garden) -- ??
• Westchester (Chester) -- ??

Kennett Quaker Meeting
founded 1710
Chester Quaker records:
• Comprehensive index at front to everything on the microfilm #389402 - abstract of Monthly Meeting records containing all dates of marriages, births & deaths by Gilbert Cope: Birmingham MM, Bradford MM, Centre MM, Fallowfield MM, Goshen MM, Kennett MM, London Grove MM, New Garden MM, Nottingham MM, Pennsgrove MM, Sadsbury MM (Lancaster County); Uwchlan MM -- Missing: Caln, Chester, Concord, and West Grove -- from the beginning of each to ~1863+. (in LA -- examined -- see MD records as Monocacy early records were supposed to be included with those of Fallowfield)
--- Britton: the only Britton record was p.235: ★ 1710, 11, 22. Peter Britton died (Kennett MM) (no records for his children, his wife's remarriage, Cananuiel's 1682 death...)
--- Frost: no records. Special note: no Frost records at Fallowfield; it didn't look (to me-DLH) like it included Monocacy.
--- Gibson: no records that belong to us (p,87, 207, 247, 411 -- Thomas, Ann, Elizabeth, John, Susannah, etc -- nothing for Jacob or Robert)
--- Howsmon/Houseman: no records.
--- Maiden/Maden/Madden: no records

There are other Britton records found in other Quaker books not on this microfilm, not all in Chester, not all in PA:
★ Peter Britton and Mary Coppock declared intention of marriage at the Chester (PA) MM in 1697-1698
★ Peter Britton and wife received a certificate to Newark (DE) Monthly Meeting 5-31-1710
★ Mary Britton married Richard Woodward on 1/5/1717 at the Springfield MM; and after his death married David Davis of Whitemarsh
★ Deborah Britton, Peter's daughter, and John Philips declared intentions to marry at Gwynedd MM in 1729.
★ Hannah Britton produced an acknowldgment 7/24/1733 which was ordered to be read at Springfield.
★ 12-28-1737/8: Samuel Britton sent back from Oppeckon (Hopewell in Frederick,PA) with recommendation from friends of that meeting, and a certficate is granted. (Unfortunately, the Hopewell records for 1734-1759 were lost in a fire)
--- These records underscore the difficulty of Quaker research; the MMs were held in homes and when there were two many to fit in a home, the meeting was split into two -- and this happened often during those growing days in the late-17th/early-18th century -- it seems like no two records were in the same meeting for Peter's family.
--- it must be noted that it is not appropriate to assume all PA Quaker records belong to Cananuiel's children -- wish it were that easy! There was a Quaker John Britten who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1750, but he was from Ireland. However, given the small size of Philadelphia prior to 1700 (under 4000 people), it is more reasonable to assume a familial relationship; Gilbert Cope thought it likely that Peter Britton was the son of Cananuiel. The earliest records for the Britton family have not been discovered, including their transfer information from Britain. Since Cananuiel's children were definitely born in England, this might be the better place to find the documentation on them.

Quaker Peace Garden (photo courtesy of Jon Davey www.jondavey.com)
(click on picture for a larger view)
Philadelphia (including Delaware and Montgomery Counties):
• Abington, Montgomery,PA -- ?
• Arch Street -- ??
• Birmingham (PA) -- record extracts available in the book "Three hundred years of Quakerism" (BX7649 .B62 1990)
• Byberry (Philadelphia/Montgomery) -- 1805
• Darby/Darby Creek (Philadelphia,PA) -- 1682 -- Hinshaw card catalogue, Early church records of Delaware County, vol. 3 (F157.D3 L38)
Green Street -- ??
• Gwynedd (Montgomery,PA) -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue - F157.C4 R32
• Horsham (Montgomery,PA) -- ??
• Merion, PA -- see Radnor (aka Old Haverford)
• North District (Philadelphia,PA) -- 1685 -- see Philadelphia Northern District
• Philadelphia, PA -- Hinshaw Vol. II (PA); Temple University (BX7611.P55 B4 1994_; and Family Line (BX7611.P55 W37 1997)
• Philadelphia Northern District -- 1685 -- Hinshaw card catalogue
• Philadelphia Southern District -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue
• Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting -- ?? -- Temple University, 1994 - BX7611.P53 B4 1994
• Philadelphia Western District -- ??
• Philadelphia Yearly Meeting -- ?? -- Temple University, 1994 - BX7611.P49 B4 1994
• Pine Street -- ??
• Plymouth -- ??
• Providence (Montgomery,PA) -- ??
• Radnor (Delaware,PA)(aka, Merion, Old Haverford) -- 1682-1865 -- Early church records of Delaware County (F157.D3 L38); FHC #20480 Items 2-3 (in LA) Radnor is the "Welsh" MM
• Springfield (Delaware,PA) -- ??
• Upland (Delaware,PA)(Also called Chester) -- ??

Philadelphia records:
J. Michael Frost had researchers at Swarthmore College examine their old records for a "John Frost"; they came up empty-handed. It is not confirmed exactly what they researched; the research time was less than one day.

Berks county:
• Exeter (Berks,PA) -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue; Berks County church records, v.2 (F157.B3 W73); McNeill, Ruby Simonson (3 vols.)(BX7611.E93 M2b)
• Maiden Creek (Berks,PA) -- ??
--- Note: Jesse Britton supposedly born in Berks in 1759

Other counties (mostly central and western PA):
• Center (Center,PA) -- ??
• Chester (Franklin,PA) -- ??
• Duck Creek (Lancaster,PA) -- ??
• Dunnings Creek (Bedford,PA) -- ?? -- Heiss, Baltimore YM
• Fishing Creek (Columbia,Pa)(also called Muncy) -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue
• Frankford (Pa.) - Hinshaw card catalogue
• Little Britain (Lancaster,PA) -- ?? -- Heiss: Baltimore YM
• Little Creek (Lancaster,PA) -- ??
• Menallen (Adams,PA) -- ?? -- Adams County church records and Heritage Books, c1992 - F157.A2 A3 and BX7611.M35 W2 1992
• Monongahela (Washington) -- ??
• Muncy (Columbia)(also called Fishing Creek) -- ?? -- Hinshaw card catalogue
• Providence (Fayette) -- 1789 -- Hinshaw Vol. IV (OH)
• Radnor (separate from the one in Delaware) -- ??
• Redstone (Fayette) -- 1793 -- Hinshaw Vol. IV (OH)
• Sadsbury (Christiana in Lancaster) -- ?? -- Lancaster Co, Pa, church records, Vol. 3 and Temple University, 1994 - F157.L2 W73 and BX7611.S23 B4 1994; FHC microfilm #389402
• Sewickley (Westmoreland) -- 1799 -- Hinshaw Vol. IV (OH)
• Stroudsberg -- Hinshaw card catalogue
• Warrington (York) -- 1747 -- York Co, Pa. church records, Vol 3; Temple University, 1999; and 100 years at Warrington - F157.Y6 B27; BX7611.W29 W25 1999f; and BX7649.W335 W2 1989
• West Branch (OH/PA) -- 1807 -- Heiss, Baltimore YM
• Western Quarterly (PA) -- ?? -- Temple University, 1994 - BX7611.W37 B4 1994
• Westland (Washington,Pa) -- 1785 -- Hinshaw Vol. IV (OH)
• York (York,PA) -- ?? -- York Co, Pa. church records, Vol 2 and marriage certificates, 1786-1826 - F157.Y6 B27a and + BX7611.Y67 M2

Bucks,PA Falls MM History by William Wade Hinshaw in his Encyclopedia

                     The few Quaker families already located on the west side of the Falls of the Delaware were rapidly augmented by others after Penn opened his grant for settlement in 1681. Friends from Falls, as this southeastern region of Bucks County came to be called [note: our Brittons lived further north in Plumstead], met at first in their various homes for worship and went to Burlington for business meetings. On third month (May) 2, 1683, they organized a monthly meeting of their own, by the following minute: "At a meeting at William Giles's house, the second day of the third month, 1683, then held to wait upon the Lord for his wisdom, to hear what should be offered, in order to inspect into the affairs of the Church, that all things may be kept therein sweet and savory to the Lord, and, by our care over the Church, helpful in the work of God; and we, whose names are as follows, being then present, thought it fit and necessary that a Monthly Meeting should be set up, both men and women, for that purpose; and that this meeting to be the first of the men's meetings after our arrival into these parts. The Friends present, -- William Yardley, James Harrison, Phineas Pemberton, William Siles, William Dark, Lyonell Brittanie, William Beaks."
                     The following year a quarterly meeting was established by dividing the Bucks county Friends into two monthly meetings, Falls and Neshaminy (later Middletown). Falls Monthly Meeting built a meetinghouse in the village of Fallsington in 1692. A second meetinghouse was built in 1728 and in 1789 the present Orthodox meetinghouse was erected. The Hicksite meetinghouse, in the same yard, bears the date 1841.
                     ... The manuscript records of Falls Monthly Meeting which are deposited at 302 Arch Street, Philadelphia ... The Hicksite records are in the care of the Meeting at Newtown, Pa. ... The Primitive meeting records are in custody of Charles Henry Moon, Fallsington, Pa.

History of Bucks County, by J. H. Battle, 1887

THE colony which was planted on the west bank of the Delaware under the auspices of Penn came well provided for the discharge of its social duties, and little time was allowed to elapse before the fundamental institutions of society were established. The first adventurers sought here an asylum from the religious persecutions of the old world, and naturally early established the form of worship which had been bitterly proscribed in their former homes. There is frequent mention of the sufferings of James Harrison, John Chapman, William Smith, Jonathan Scaife, Thomas Croasdale, and others of the colonists in the famous "Besse’s collection." These men were trusted leaders of the Society of Friends whose frequent "testimonies" had given them a widespread influence, and as the great proportion of the settlers were of similar faith, the meetings of the Friends early took root and prospered.

The first monthly meeting in the province was held on the 2d day of the third month (May 13), 1683, at the house of William Biles, in Falls township. Seven families were represented. Prior to this date, and probably as early as 1680, the Friends settled at the falls met for worship at the houses of the different members, and attended the meeting at Burlington for the transaction of church business. The latter place continued to be the business center of the society for the township until 1690, when the first meeting-house in Bucks county was erected at Fallsington. In 1683 a monthly meeting was established at Middletown, and held at the house of Nicholas Walne. The Friends at Wrightstown were members of this meeting. In 1686 they began to hold meetings at John Chapman’s and John Penquite’s, and in 1720, with the permission of the Falls quarterly, a meeting-house was built. Meetings for worship were held at Bristol in private houses until 1710, when a meeting-house was built upon land given for that purpose by Samuel Carpenter. Buckingham monthly meeting was established in 1720. Meetings for worship were granted by Falls monthly in 1701, and again in 1703, and in 1706 a meeting-house was built. In Plumstead Friends began to hold their meetings at private houses in 1727. A constant meeting for worship was established in 1730, but the meeting-house was not built until twenty years later. Friends were settled at Richland as early as 1710, and were granted a meeting for worship by Gwynedd monthly soon afterward, and with this they were connected until 1742, when they became a separate monthly meeting. The first meeting-house was built in 1730.

These seven -- Falls, Middletown, Wrightstown, Buckingham, Bristol, Plumstead, and Richland -- were the centers of early Quakerism in the county. Six other principal meetings have been established, all, with one exception, within the present century. Makefield meeting was established in 1750, and the meeting-house built two years later. The meeting at Solebury was settled in 1805, and a place of worship built in the following year. Friends in that section had previously been connected with Buckingham. Middletown monthly meeting gave Friends of Newtown the indulgence of a meeting for worship on first and third days in 1815. The preparative meeting was established two years later. A second separation from Buckingham occurred in 1834, when Friends in the vicinity of Doylestown were granted the indulgence of a first day meeting, and a place for worship was built. At Makefield monthly meeting, tenth month, 1857, the Friends of Yardley were granted a similar indulgence. Horsham particular meeting was divided in 1840, when an indulged meeting in Warminster township was granted. The meeting-house was built in 1841, and a preparative meeting established in the same year.

The representation of the established church among the early population was not of large proportions. It so happened, however, that the Friends were early divided through the promulgation of a schism in the society by George Keith. He began his career by preaching that the "inner light" was not a sufficient guide, but that the written word of God was the only rule of life; circumstances widened the breach between him and his former co-religionists, and the separation became final when Keith, on his return to England, took orders in the Anglican church. His wide acquaintance with colonial life, and a favorable introduction from the bishop of London, secured for him a commission as the first missionary of "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts." There was at this time a single Episcopal clergyman in the province, Mr. Evans, of Philadelphia, and the church had a membership of two or three hundred, with but little prospects of growth. The return of Keith gave a fresh impetus to the cause. Many of his former adherents followed him from the middle ground between Quakerism and the English church, and returned to the latter, among whom were some who lived at Bristol. Reverend John Talbot, a co-laborer with Keith, was the rector at Burlington, and included Bristol in his parish; and thus the Protestant Episcopal church at that place, the oldest in the county of that denomination, came into existence. During the ministry of Reverend George W. Ridgeley (1830), several new parishes in the southern part of the county were formed: St. Luke’s, Newtown, 1835; St. Andrew’s, Yardley, 1835; Grace, Hulmeville, 1837; Trinity, Centerville, 1840; St. Paul’s, Doylestown, 1847; Christ, Eddington, 1884.

The Quaker background of Bucks, John Britton's migration there by 1727 (land contract from Richard Hill of Philadelphia), makes me (DLH) think that John Britton (~1695-1784) may have been a Quaker and descendant of Cananuiel Britton.

The First Quaker Church, summary on Rootsweb.com

FALLS FRIENDS MEETING
      The first religious organization in Bucks County was the Falls Friends Meeting, which was established in the 3rd month of 1683. The early settlers, who had gotten their land before Penn arrived, were for the most part Quakers. Many had been member\s of the Friends Meeting in Burlington, New Jersey, and when they settled in Falls they had to attend Quarterly Meeting by crossing the river to Burlington. On March 4, 1683, the Pennsylvania Quakers asked the Burlington Friends Meeting for permission to form a Monthly Meeting on the west side of the Delaware River, which permission was granted. On May 2, 1683, at the home of William Biles, a meeting was held to set up the Falls Friends Meeting. Present atthat meeting were: William Yardley, James Harrison, Phineas Pemberton, William Beaks,William Biles, William Dark, and Lional Brittania. At the next meeting, Phineas Pemberton was appointed to keep records of births, burials,and marriages.
      A building to house the Meeting was proposed in 1686, but the building was not completed until 1691 although meetings were held there beginning inSeptember, 1690. This first building was made of brick. During the years Penn was at Pennsbury Manor 1699-1691 he worshiped at the Falls Meeting. There are three graveyards associated with the Falls Friends Meeting. The oldest part of the oldest cemetery (across the road from the 1789 Meetinghouse) has no grave markers; the Quakers at that time did not believe in grave markers. The records of who was buried in that plot were destroyed in a fire in 1910. It is a certainty that most of the first settlers of Falls are buried in that unmarked section of the Falls Friends Meeting cemetery in the community that they had started even before William Penn was granted the Province of Pennsylvania.

MIDDLETOWN FRIENDS' MEETING
      Middletown Friends meetings were first established at Middletown in 1683, and held at the houses of Nicholas Walne, John Otter, and Robert Hall. The first meeting-house was built in 1690, near Neshaminy creek, a mile west of Langhorne, whither it was removed in 1734, the present house in the town being the third.
      It was first called the Neshamina Meeting because of its location near the Neshaminy Creek. In 1692 that area was designated as Middletown Township, and what is now Langhorne was part of Middletown Township. By 1702 the Neshamina Meeting had changed its name to Middletown Meeting to adapt its name to its locality. Names of other Quaker families mentioned in the Meeting's records during the remaining years of the 17th century included those of Allen, Atkinson, Austin, Bayns, Bennett, Boyden, Bridgmen, Buckman, Bunting, Chapman, Coats, Comeley, Constable, Cowgill, Cowin, Croasdale, Cutler, Davis, Dilworth, Doan, Eastburn, English, Fuller, Gregg, Hall, Harding, Hillborn, Jenks, Langhorne, Maller, Morris, Otter, Paulin, Paxson, Peacock, Penquite, Plumly, Potts, Poynter, Radcliff, Rodgers, Rowland, Sands, Scaife, Sharpe, Smith, Stradling, Swift, Taylor, Thompson, Twining, Wetherill, Walmsley, Wharley, White, Wildman and Woolston.
      Buckingham, members in that area sent up a paper to Middletown in 1699 alleging their unwillingnexx to attend either Neshamina or Falls, saying they belonged to neither. "Which this meeting is much dissatisfied with." But the next year they were made a Preparative Meeting under Middletown and soon after became a monthly and soon after became a Monthly Meeting.
      For several years, Newtown and Wrightstown were allowed to hold their own Meetings for Worship at Newtown. As early as 1686 they were holding Meeting for worship one First Day a month, then twice a month, till eventually Wrightstown was granted leave to hold their own Meeting for Worship and to be a Preparative Meeting, first of Middletown, and then later at their request, of Buckingham (1724)
      Prior to 1788 Bristol Friends belonged to Falls Meeting, in that year they became a Preparative Meeting under Middletown. From 1857 on Middletown Monthly Meeting was held alternately at Bristol and Langhorne until 1873 when Bristol became a Monthly Meeting.
      Newtown Friends were a part of Middletown Meeting till 1815 when they became an Indulged Meeting (i.e.-held their own Meeting for Worship) and then in 1817 joined with Wrightstown as a Preparative Meeting.
      Other Worship Groups referred to as belonging to Middletown were Friends over the Brook and Friends beyond Neshaminy (Southampton). Friends at the Lower Meeting and Friends at the Ferry, probably Yardley.

Footnotes

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

Calendar information -- Julian (OS-Old Style) vs. Gregorian (NS-New Style) implementation in 1752 and specifics on the Quaker calendar... why there is a multi-year designation on so many records (e.g., 1720/21) and why there are no records for Sep 3-13 1752 in the British empire (which included the British colonies in America).

Gilbert Cope

Gilbert Cope

Gilbert Cope (1840-1928) has been called the "father of genealogical research in Pennsylvania". In 1868 the Historical Society of Pennsylvania commissioned Gilbert Cope and William Buck to locate and transcribe the Quaker records of southeastern Pennsylvania; Cope worked in Chester County while Buck covered Bucks and Montgomery counties. (source: The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine Now Online.) Their three decades of work, along with that of countless volunteers, provided an invaluable genealogical resource for generations. Historian, genealogist, photographer and author Gilbert Cope was born and raised in West Chester and was a member of the Quaker community and a founder of the Chester County Historical Society; he remained engaged in genealogical work for over 60 years.
--- History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches by J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope, 1881 (with an every-name index available)
--- Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Chester and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania, by Gilbert Cope, edited by Henry Ashmead, 1904
--- Cope also published book on historic homes and specific family genealogies (Baily, Brinton, Frown, Coope, Cooper, Cope, Darlington, Dunwoody, Dutton, Gilbert, Grubb, Hood, Jefferis, Kirk, Plumly, Sharpless, Smedley, Taylor) -- he published 74 titles!
--- 75 microfilm reels: #517003-517078
--- 162 microfilm reels: #562977-566499 for misc church and genealogical records in Chester,PA, alphabetized by family
--- extensive English MM and QM meeting records (Abstracts: #441394; individual records #441395-441406, 441396, 441490, 982195 for Aberdeen, Asurrey, Berkshire, Bristol, Buckingham, Chesire, Cornwall, Dorset, Durhamshire, Gloucester, Hampshire, Lancaster, Leicester, Lincoln, Norfolk, Northhampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rutland, Somerset, Stafford, Suffolk, Sussex, Warwick, Wiltshire, Yorkshire)

William Wade Hinshaw

William Hinshaw (1867 IA-1947 DC) devoted the last 16 years of his life to writing the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, culling genealogical information out of a myriad of original documents, the Quaker monthly meeting records; his encyclopedia includes over a half-million entries. The former baritone of the Metropolitan Opera and opera producer began research into his personal ancestry upon his retirement in 1923. He found that not only did he have to search thousands of minute books and registers, but that they were in serious jeopardy of being lost due to deterioration. He estimated that 50% of Americans whose famlies immigrated in the early days were of Quaker descent. His unpublished genealogical data is at Swarthmore College.
--- 131 microfiche (#6051277) with multiple copies; 10 microfilms (#432597-432606); and available digitally at the FHC
--- the research guide included the listing of names in each volume: (Britton/Britain on #517008, no Frost, Gibson #517025, no Howsmon/Houseman, no Maiden/Madden, no Passwater)
--- Also specific Quaker records: for Springfield,IN; Whitewather,IN, Bush River,SC; Rhode Island, Milton,OH.

Other important Quaker researchers

There are a myriad of other important researchers. Most of them and their works are detailed in the Utah Valley Regional FHC Research Guide research guide to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). This guide also provides details on the records in America and Britain, and examples of the types of records, and 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. It is hoped that all of the Quaker records will soon be digitized so that research is (relatively) easy both in America and Great Britain!

"A Quaker Saga: The Watsons of Strawberryhowe, the Wildmans, and other allied families from England's north counties and Lower Bucks in PA" by Jane W. T. Brey.

The online index found hits for Frost (1), Britton (3), Gibson (4), Dawson (4), Maiden (4) and Taylor (58) but no Howsmon. I (DLH) found this book at CSULA library, but none of these were a match to our families of interest. The Frost reference was to weather. The Britton entries were Falls Quaker records for Lyonel Britton. The Gibson and Dawson were not about Bucks,PA or Frederick,VA persons. The Maiden ones were about maiden names or young women. The Taylor entries were not all examined; it is not even clear what given names to check for to find the entries for the supposed parents of Hannah (Taylor?) Frost or Mary (Taylor?) Frost.

Notes on the 1687 Philadelphia city plat map above

The City of Philadelphia two Miles in Length and one in Breadth. Inset to: A Mapp of Ye Improved Part of Pennsylvania in America, Divided into Countyes, Townships and Lotts. Surveyed by Thomas Holme. Sold by George Willdey at the Great Toy, Spectacle, and Print Shop, at the corner of Ludgate Street, near St. Paul's, London. 1687. Note the section "Edward Jones and Company 17 families." This group is known as "Company Number 1," the first Welsh settlers in Pennsylvania, which purchased land from William Penn. The purchase was made on September 16, 1681, and the members of the group were named in the personal papers of John ap Thomas.

1,250 acres to John Thomas of Llaithgwm, yeoman
625 acres to Hugh Roberts of Kiltalgarth, yeoman
312 1/2 acres to Edward Jones of Bala, chyrurgeon
312 1/2 acres to Robert ap Davis of Gwern Evel Ismynydd, yeoman
312 1/2 acres to Evan Rees of Penmaen, grocer
312 1/2 acres to John ap Edwards of Nant Lleidiog, yeoman
312 1/2 acres to Edward ap Owen, 'late of Doleyserre', gentleman
156 1/2 acres to William ap Edward of Ucheldre or Ueneldri, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to Edward ap Rees of Kiltalgarth, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to William ap John (also known as Jones) of Bettws, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to Thomas ap Richard (also known as Prichard) of Nant Lleidiog, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to Rees ap John ap William (also known as Rees Jones) of Llanglynin, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to Thomas Lloyd of Llangower, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to Caddwalader Morgan of Gwernevel, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to John Watkins of Gwernevel, bathilor
156 1/4 acres to Hugh ap John (also known as Jones) of Nant Lleidiog, yeoman
156 1/4 acres to Gainor Roberts of Kiltalgarth, spinster

Records in Great Britain: 1651+. If one can determine the town from which the ancestor emigrated, Quaker research overseas could be undertaken. For instance, it is known that Cananuiel Britton's wife's death was recorded at the Bristol Meeting. As records become digitized it is possible to perform the research back to late 1650s (when the first registers were kept) even without knowing the town or country! The 1836 Registration Act and 1836 Marriage Act required the Quaker registers to be surrendered to the courts in England; 1445 registers were surrendered, but digests were made before their surrender. Another 121 registers were surrendered in 1857 after digests made. Original registers are at the Public Records Office in London, and the digests at the Friends House Library in London. Scotland registers are also available at the Friends House Library. Ireland was not subject to the Act; their registers include an invaluable multi-generational "family list".

More information on Quakers