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Derbyshire Quakers 1650-1761

By Helen Forde

Abstract

This study of Friends in a fairly remote county covers the history of the economic and social development of the Society until the amalgamation of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Quarterly Meetings in 1761. Initially the location of Friends and their meeting houses coincided with the geological and parochial boundaries which in themselves influenced the occupational and settlement patterns of the county. Friends lived predominantly in the northern half of the country during this first century of existence. Numbers may have been reduced by emigration to America and migration to other parts of the country but were never high and declined in the early eighteenth century.\ud Predominantly a middle to lower class group economically, Derbyshire Friends numbered very few wealthy members. Many were yeoman farmers or wholesalers and it was these groups who dominated the business meetings having time to devote themselves to the Society. Only John Gratton of Monyash combined an outstanding ministry together with an organising ability which brought him recognition amongst London Friends as well as locally.\ud Derbyshire Friends enjoyed comparatively harmonious relations with civil and Anglican authorities, though prior to the Toleration Act of 1639 the priests were their worst persecutors. There were few prosecutions however, and an apparent co-operation existed intended to overcome civil disabilities suffered by Friends, in particular that of swearing oaths.\ud Friends were as generous as possible over poor relief, though with limited resources most of the burden fell on Chesterfield Meeting, the predominant Monthly Meeting, which also enjoyed a charity to apprentice boys. Little education apart from apprenticeship was offered, though Friends were as literate as their Anglican neighbours with whom they lived on good terms. Despite the contraction of four Monthly Meetings into two by the mid-eighteenth century, the vigour of this small body of Friends was still strong

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 1977
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8249

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Citations

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