History of Quakers in Staffordshire

The following articles about local Quaker history have been written by various present-day authors, mainly members  of Staffordshire Area Meeting. They not only cover the historical facts of the ups and downs of the Quaker movement in Staffordshire but also some fascinating stories of the lives of individuals.

Quakers in Staffordshire

A talk given by Bill Walley to Staffordshire’s SACRE (Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education) at its meeting on 7th July2005. In cover the history of Quakerism in Staffordshire from its origins in the Staffordshire Moorlands through to the present-day.

Quakers in Leek

A series of three articles written by Linda Skellam, a member of Leek Meeting, for publication in the local new papers prior to the Meeting’s Open Day in July 2005. The articles the ups and downs of Leek Meeting and many fascination stories of Quaker life in and around Leek through the centuries. The Quaker Testimonies are also outlined and illustrated through local stories.

A Quaker without knowing it

Samual Johnson’s biographer, Boswell, visited him in Lichfield in 1776, and in his book ‘Life of Johnson’ he observed that “I have always loved the simplicity of manners of Quakers; and I observed that many a man was a Quaker without knowing it”. This article commences with some history of Lichfield and explores the reasons why so many people who find Quakerism discover that for many years they have, to quote Boswell, been “a Quaker without really knowing it”.

Quakers in Lichfield – Building Bridges

In March 1996, Lichfield Friends were invited to participated in a Lenten study organised by Churches together on the theme ‘Building Bridges’. As part of this study Lichfield Friend, Anthony Wilson, gave a talk from the pulpit of Lichfield Cathedral based around Gorge Fox’s notorious visit to Lichfield when he stood barefoot in the Market Place and denounced the “bloody City of Lichfield”. Anthony outlines the circumstances surrounding Fox’s action and explains much of present day Quaker faith and practice through selected passages of Fox’s ministry around that time.

George Fox in Lichfield in 1651

This article by by Anthony Wilson is based on a talk he gave to the Lichfield Rotary Club in October 2010. It starts with an account of the events that preceded Fox’s visit to Lichfield , including his incarceration in Derby Gaol. Anthony draws on tracts from Fox’s own journal to highlight the challenges and conditions he had to endure. Fox’s journey to Lichfield following his release from Derby Gaol in the winter of 1651 is outlined before describing his behaviour in the streets of Lichfield, with his cries of “Woe unto the bloody City of Lichfield.” Anthony then offers a possible explanation for this event, which is usually overlooked in accounts of Quakerism’s early days.

Quakers and Finance

This article by Linda Skellam of Leek Quaker Meeting explains how the Quaker principles of honesty and integrity in all aspects of daily life led to the development of highly successful and socially responsible businesses like Cadbury’s, Fry’s, Rowntrees, Barclays, Lloyd’s and Friends Provident. However, these are no longer under Quaker control and it is disappointing to Friends that some have been associated with the kinds of banking practice that have contributed to the current financial crisis.

Quakers and Punishment

In this article Linda Skellam traces the history of Quaker involvement in issues of punishment. She shows how Quakers gained a clear insight into such issues as a result of the the severe punishments that they suffered in the 17th century merely for being Quakers. She follows this with an outline of the work of Elizabeth Fry and concludes with a section on the present day work of Quaker prison ministers and the developing area of “Circles of Support and Accountability” for ex-offenders.

Martha & Mary

A True Narrative By Mary Howitt

This true story of “Martha and Mary” was written 1834 by Quaker authoress Mary Howitt of Uttoxeter. It tells the touching story of a 17th century Quaker family, the Pixleys, from Uttoxeter who, following a naïve action of their daughter Martha, reluctantly adopted an abandoned baby, whom they called Mary. Mary was a beautiful but wayward child who never adopted the Quaker faith. Some eighteen years later, in 1685, Walter Pixley, his wife and daughter Martha, together with seventeen other Quakers were imprisoned in Stafford, simply for attending a Quaker meeting. They suffered severe hardship but a courageous act by their wayward daughter Mary, involving the king of England, eventually secured their released.

A True Story of 17th Century Quakers in Staffordshire

This abridged version of the booklet “Martha and Mary: A True Narrative” was written by Tracy Adshead in September 1981 and subsequently published in the Evening Sentinel. It has been very slightly edited and updated here by William Walley (2005).

Quakers in World History

George Fox and Slavery

This article written by Anthony Wilson of Lichfield Friends Meeting is based on George Fox ‘s visit to Barbados in 1671. It sheds light of Friends’ struggle to come to terms with the inherent evil of slavery.

Quakers and Slavery – Keeping It Under Their Hats

This article by Stephen Tomkins (author of William Wilberforce, a Biography) was published on the BBC News website on 22 March 2007. It tells of the key role that Quakers played in initiating and promoting the anti-slavery movement.