OLDBANNERWIDE

Quakers and dissenters

From entries in Parish Records, Wills, and also from mentions in Rev. W. Nicholls' History and Traditions of Ravenstonedale, vol II, where we are told that "there was a small colony of Quakers at Adamthwaite .."  we know that quite a few of the early Adamthwaites were dissenters and Quakers (and quite possibly some belonged to more obscure religious groups). Here is an explanation of the situation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from the Victorian Web, written 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."

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.

Brigflatts%20Meeting%20House

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

Parish Register records that "on 10 Nov 1675 Richard Adamthwaite was presented to Quarter Sessions for not burying his father William according to the rites of the Church".

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.

To give you an idea of the flavour and amount of detail provided in these wills, I transcribe below a section from the Will of Michael Dawson, whose daughter Margaret Dawson was married to William Adamthwaite of Grisdale in 1713 (she died in 1719 and William later married Agnes Mason in 1730):

June 30, 1725
MICHAEL DAWSON of Moore rigg in Grysedale, Sedbergh, husbandman. to Jane his wife £40, and £50 for which she already hath a bond. To his sister Catherine Haygarth 10/-, to Wm. Harker of Swaledale 5/-; to John Lambert of Garsdale 5/- "To the poor (reputed Quakers)" of Grysdale and Garsdale 50/- and other poor 50/-. To Richard Wilkinson and George Bleathorn, both of Garsdale, Thomas Close of Studfold in Ravenstonedale and Thomas son of Edmond Winn of Grysdale £10 equally amongst them, they being executors. Estate at Grysdale to them in trust for granddaus., Elizabeth and Mary Adamthwaite, at 21 - the trustees to pay mean profits to Will. Adamthwaite for 'maintenance' of Eliz. and Mary £2. 10.0 each yearly till they are 21, and if any of the trustees hear "of any hard usage or ill-treatment of my said Granddaughters or either of them by the sd. W.A. their Father, or if that he do not find and afford unto them and each of them Meat, Drink, Apparrel, Washing, Lodging, Education and Learning sufficient" etc., the money not to be paid unless he deliver them up to the trustees...

Hopefully, William Adamthwaite did not give the trustees any cause for concern in his care of his daughters!

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). 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.

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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