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Chapter 1 - Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2014

Sarah Tarlow
Affiliation:
University of Leicester
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Summary

In the late seventeenth century, an elderly Quaker widow called Priscilla Moe was put in prison because she refused to pay a fine for attending a Quaker meeting on the Isle of Wight. Priscilla, weak and unwell, died in prison. The following day, her friends came to take her body for burial according to their principles – in unconsecrated ground and with minimal ceremony – but they were turned away without her corpse. She was instead buried “in a Christian manner”, at the order of the town governor, “with so many Ceremonies and Circumstances of [the Established Church's] own, prayers and other Acts of such like Devotion, into hallowed and consecrated Ground” (Croese 1696: 180). Priscilla's friends were terribly upset that her body was subjected to what they saw as the ostentatious and ritualistic burial rites of the established church. They had their own burial ground where Friends’ bodies could be interred in unmarked graves, eschewing the conventions of west–east burial which they would have preferred to use. Yet the treatment of Priscilla's dead body had become the focus of contestation for a group of religious dissenters and their enemies. Gerard Croese, the seventeenth-century historian of Quakerism from whom we hear this anecdote, was surprised at the strength of Quaker feeling on this matter, given that “according to their Confession the Dead have no sense or feeling, neither is it any matter where they rot” (1696: 181). It seemed instead to him that the Isle of Wight Quakers had “so abhorred the superstition of others, as to favour another Superstition”.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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  • Introduction
  • Sarah Tarlow, University of Leicester
  • Book: Ritual, Belief and the Dead in Early Modern Britain and Ireland
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511778629.002
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  • Introduction
  • Sarah Tarlow, University of Leicester
  • Book: Ritual, Belief and the Dead in Early Modern Britain and Ireland
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511778629.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Sarah Tarlow, University of Leicester
  • Book: Ritual, Belief and the Dead in Early Modern Britain and Ireland
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511778629.002
Available formats
×