Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 February 2009
It is surprising to find that Friends were included within the terms of the Toleration Act. The political situation they faced in 1689 was distinctly unpromising. They not only continued to experience the hostility and prejudice that they had suffered since their earliest days, but they were seriously compromised by the close identification of William Penn with the discredited Catholic policies of James II. An examination of the debates in parliament on the Toleration Bill reveals that Friends were by no means certain of being included in the act. Yet their acceptance of the terms they were offered is also surprising in view of their objection to any compromise with the state over matters of religious conscience, an objection which led to their refusal to seek licences under Charles II's Declaration of Indulgence in 1672. Moreover, a number of recent studies have identified the continued insistence of many provincial Friends, particularly in the rigorous heartland of Quakerism in the north–west, upon the strict maintenance of their testimonies, and indeed a redefining of those testimonies partly in response to the growing compromises with the state made by the Quaker leadership.
HMC = Historical Manuscripts Commission; JFHS = Journal of Friends Historical Society; LSF = Library of the Religious Society of Friends, London; MFS = Minutes of the Meeting for Sufferings; MM = Minutes of the Morning Meeting of Ministers and Elders; VCH = Victoria County History
An earlier version of this paper was delivered at the George Fox Commemorative Conference at the University of Lancaster in March 1991. I am grateful to Malcolm Thomas and his colleagues at the Library of the Society of Friends, London, for their kindness and help during my visits to work on the records and books in their keeping, and to the Library Committee of the London Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends for permission to quote from their records. I should also like to express my thanks to the Revd Dr Jeremy Goring, Dr G. M. Ditchfield and the many archivists who took the trouble to answer my questions concerning the earliest date of Quaker registration, and to the Revd Dr G. F. Nuttall, Dr A. G. Cumberland and Mr R. H. Evans for their advice and comments on this paper. I am most grateful to the former research board of the University of Leicester for a grant in aid of some of the research undertaken for this paper.
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11 Journals of the House of Lords, xiv. 148; for the House of Lords committee book of dates, see HMC, The manuscripts of the House of Lords, 1689–1690, London 1889, 34.
13 Braithwaite, Second Period, 532.
14 Journals of the House of Lords, xiv. 175, 178, 179; Manuscripts of the House of Lords, 1689–1690, 34–6.
15 Journals of the House of Commons from December the 26th, 1688, to October the 26th, /6513, in the fifth year of the reign of King William and Queen Mary, x. 84, 87, 93, 96.
16 Horwitz, Parliament, policy and politics, 29; Journals of the House of Commons, x. 133.
17 Debates of the House of Commons, from 1667 to 1694: collected by the Hon. Anchitell Grey, M.P., London 1763, ix. 252–3.
18 Ibid. ix. 253–4. The parish was probably Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire, where Clarges had his estate: VCH Buckinghamshire, iii. 309.
19 Ibid. 258. The Oxford antiquarian, Anthony Wood, expressed his anger that Friends were excused the oath of allegiance, since they were ‘Perfidious wretches who joyned in the attempt of enslaving and undoing the nation [and] are not called into question’, while the bishops who refused the new oaths, despite their sufferings for the Protestant cause the previous year, were to ‘be undone’: The life and times of Anthony Wood, antiquary, of Oxford,1632–1695, described by himself: iii, 1682–1695, ed. A. Clark (Oxford Historical Society xxvi, 1894), 308–9.
20 Debates of the House of Commons, ix. 260.
24 LSF, MFS vii. 6 (29 i 1689). The minute is summarised in the margin as ‘To draw up A paper to clear Friends from the Clegyes Forgerys’; MM, 1673–92 (4 iii 1689); A looking–glass for the Quakers: in two columns; wherein they may in part see themselves, and may also be seen by others. The first column is, what they formerly published against the papists; and the other column is, what they Published on their behalf, when Uppermost (licensed, 2nd edn, 14 May 1689) (Bodleian Library, Oxford, Pamph. C. 193 ). See Joseph, Smith, Bibliotheca anti–Quakeriana; or, a catalogue of books adverse to the Society of Friends, alphabetically arranged, London 1873. The Short–title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641–1700, ed. D. G. Wing, New York 1988, includes the work under two authors: Francis Bugg, s.v; Joseph [sic. John?] Pennyman, s.v.Google Scholar
25 Short journal and itinerary journals, 192; LSF, MM, 1673–92 (1, 8 ii 1689); The Christianity of the people commonly called Quakers asserted against the unjust charge of their being no Christians, upon several questions relating to those matters wherein their Christian belief is questioned, 2nd edn, London, 1689 (printed for Thomas Northcott). I am grateful to Dr Nuttall for his help with the different editions of this work. For the later publications connected with this controversy, see Nuttall, G. F., ‘A bibliographical note’, JFHS xlii (1950), 75–9.Google Scholar
26 Penn's views were Sabellian rather than Socinian, but the term Socinian was widely used as a term of abuse by the high Calvinist wing of the Presbyterians and Independents: McLachlan, H. J., Socinianism in seventeenth century England, Oxford 1951, 224–6, 305–8Google Scholar; V., Buranelli, ‘William Penn and the Socinians’, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography lxxxiii (1959), 370–1, 376–7.Google Scholar
27 Endy, M. B., William Penn and early Quakerism, Princeton, NJ 1973, 269, 263–4, 275–81; Reay, Quakers and the English Revolution, 111–13.Google Scholar
29 Braithwaite, Second Period, 156.
30 See Debates of the House of Commons, ix. 258.
31 LSF, M M, 1673–92, 1 0 0 – 1; Braithwaite, Second Period, 161–8, 173–4; V. Buranelli, The king and the Quaker: a study of William Penn and James II, Philadelphia 1962, 171–3.
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36 Debates of the House of Commons, ix. 259.
38 Clark, ‘Gangreen’, 405; Sewel, History of the rise, 627
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41 Agreed that ‘two Friends of every perticular meeting do goe to the next Justice of the Peace and acquaint him of theire meeting places as required by the king in his declaration for liberty’: Hampshire Record Office, Hampshire Quarterly Meeting, 24 M 54/34, minutes of Alton Monthly Meeting, 1676–1744, 56 (13 iv 1687). Very few examples survive of meeting places being registered under James II'S indulgence.
42 Minute book of the Buckingham Quarterly Meeting. I owe this reference to Cumberland, A. G., ‘The Toleration Act of 1689 and freedom for Protestant Nonconformists, 1660–1830’, unpubl. PhD diss. London 1957, 136–7; ‘Society of Friends: Kingston men's meeting book, 1667–91’, unpublished typescript in LSF, transcribed by Joan Wilkins (1975), 146.Google Scholar
43 LSF, MFS vii. 34–5 (12 v 1689); Book of cases, 1661–95, i. 206.
44 LSF, MFS vii. 37, 39, 56.
45 Wykes, ‘Tercentenary’, 71–2; Warwick county records: viii, quarter sessions records, Trinity, 1682, to Epiphany, 1690, ed. H. C.Johnson, with a supplement to the introduction, ‘Warwickshire Nonconformist and Quaker meetings and meeting houses, 1660–1750’, by J. H. Hodson, Warwick 1953, pp. cxxi, cxxii–cxxix. The evidence on Quaker registration confutes Steel's suggestion that Friends did not usually registerGoogle Scholar:Steel, D. J., National index of parish registers: volume 2, sources for Nonconformist genealogy and family history, London–Chichester 1973, 581.Google Scholar
48 Derbyshire Record Office, QSM1, Derbyshire quarter sessions order book, Easter 1682 to Epiphany 1702, fos 146v–71r; Lancashire Record Office, QDV/4, record book of dissenting meetings, fos 1–6; ‘Quarter sessions records [1677–1716]’, ed. J. C. Atkinson, North Riding Record Society vii (1889) 102–3, 109 III; PRO, RG31/7, Returns to the registrar general of the number of certified places of religious worship of Protestant Dissenters; The Somersetshire quarterly meeting of the Society of Friends, 1668–1699, ed. S. C. Morland (Somerset Record Society lxxv, 1978), 69–70, app. ix.
47 Leicestershire Record Office, 12 D 39/1, minutes of the Leicestershire Quarterly Meeting of the Society of Friends, 1671–1724, fo. 36r (27 vii 1689).
48 Dorset Record Office, QSM1/3, Dorset quarter sessions order book, 3 Apr. 1686–11 Jul. 1699 (14 Jul. 3 Wm ); NQI/A20/12–13, Society of Friends, certificates of enrolment of meeting houses at quarter sessions, 1691–1728; NQ1/A1, minutes of the Dorset Quarterly Meeting, 1668–1786 (31 x 1690).
49 In addition to ministers and preachers who were required to take the oaths and subscribe, many lay dissenters also made the declarations and subscriptions during the early period in order to free themselves from existing penalties under the penal laws, or the threat of future prosecution (articles 3, 4, 13). The justices also had the power to require anyone attending a Nonconformist meeting to subscribe and take the oaths, to imprison him if he refused, and if he proved obdurate to treat him as a popish recusant convict (article 12). I am very grateful to Dr Cumberland for his advice on the question of lay declarations and subscriptions.
50 The church books of Ford or Cuddington and Amersham in the county of Bucks, ed. W. T. Whitley (Baptist Historical Society Publications iv, 1912), 4, 7–8.
51 Book of cases, 1661–95, i. 206v.
52 LSF, MFS vii. 60 (4 viii 1689); Derbyshire Record Office, QSMi, ‘Derbyshire quarter sessions order book’, Easter 1682 to Epiphany 1702, fo. 154r–5r; Nottinghamshire Record Office, QSM 1/15, rough volume of quarter sessions minutes, July 1689 to 21 April 1699, fo. 10.
53 LSF, MFS vii. 113 (28 xii 1689/90).
54 HMC, The manuscripts ofS. H, Le Fleming, Esq., of Rydal Hall, London 1890, 267.
55 LSF, MFS viii. 64 (25 i 1692); viii. 68; Glamorgan Record Office, D/DSF/302, minutes of the North Wales Quarterly Meeting, 1668–1752, 65 (microfilm copy LSF, MF 320).
56 Glamorgan Record Office, D/DSF/302, North Wales Quarterly Meeting, 65.
58 Wykes, ‘Tercentenary’, 70.
59 Wiltshire dissenters' meeting house certificates and registrations, 1689–1852, ed. J. H. Chandler (Wiltshire Record Society xl, 1985), pp. xxv–xxvi, provides a number of examples for congregations in late eighteenth– and early nineteenth–century Wiltshire.
60 Wykes, D. L., ‘Bardon Park meeting house: the registration of Nonconformist places of worship under the Act of Toleration (1689)’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society lxiv (1990), 33–4.Google Scholar
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62 Dr Williams's Library, minutes of the Presbyterian Fund Board, ii, 5 Feb. 1694/5 to 4 June 1722, 136 (5 Mar. 1704/5); Oxfordshire County Record Office, QSR, quarter sessions rolls, Michaelmas 1708, Epiphany 1709, s.v. Jeremiah Lepper, Jr, of Bicester and William Giles of Winslow, Buckinghamshire; R., Owen, ‘Some details about the Independents in Caernarvonshire’, Transactions of Caernarvonshire Historical Society vi (1945), 44.Google Scholar
63 LSF, ‘Great book of sufferings’, vii, pt. i, Bedfordshire–Leicestershire, 1690–5, 282, 293–4, 295, cited by Morgan, ‘Quakers and the establishment’, 102–3, 521; Shaw, R. C., Kirkham in Amounderness: the story of a Lancashire community, 2nd edn, Preston 1950, 152–5, 650–1Google Scholar; B., Nightingale, Early stages of the Quaker movement in Lancashire, London , 193; ‘Notes and queries’, JFHSi (1963), 87Google Scholar; Whitehead, Christian progress, 634–43. There was a similar case involving clerical hostility in Flintshire in 1697: Cheshire Record Office, records of the Cheshire Society of Friends, EFC1/6/1, Cheshire Quarterly Meeting, minutes of the Meeting for Sufferings, Apr. 1684 to Mar. 1724/5 (13 vii, 13 x 1697, 7 i 1697/8).Google Scholar
64 LSF, M F S xvi, 15 iii 1702 to 3 i 1703, 61, 66, 76 (11 Sept. 1702); xix, 26 x 1707 to 13 xi 1709, 35, 38, 44, 46, 48, 59, 72, 78, 91, 108.
65 Ibid, xviii, 21 x 1705 to 19 x 1707, 263–4, 267, 271, 274, 277, 279, 287, 293, 337, 359–60. The justices had no authority to refuse the application. It was not necessary for a preacher to swear in order to obtain registration.
67 Ibid, xvii, 10 i 1703 to 14 x 1705, 243, 248, 251, 256, 268, 270; xviii, 21 x 1705 to 19 x 1707, 62, 87; Book of cases, ii, 1695–1738, 137–9; Warwickshire Monthly Meeting, Bull St Birmingham, Warwickshire Quarterly Meeting minute book, i, 1695–1743, I05, 106, 107 (18 iv, 24 vii, 17 x 1707) (Birmingham Central Library, Archives division, microfilm 3552).
68 Hine, R. L., History of Hitchin, Hitchin 1929, ii. 150. Although there is no record of the meeting house which was built in 1694 being registered, their earlier building had been certified at quarter sessions by the Quarterly Meeting in 1691, along with the other meeting places belonging to Friends within the business meeting. Other Friends in Hertfordshire were registering their meeting places during the 1690s: Hertfordshire Record Office, Q83, minutes of Hertford Monthly Meeting (includes minutes of Quarterly Meeting, 1683–1702), 79; QS misc 1471, ‘A register of certificates of meeting houses, delivered into general quarter sessions, 1689–1706’, fos 3r, 4V, 5V, 6r. I am grateful to Dr K. M. Thompson, the county archivist, for her help with the records in her keeping.Google Scholar
69 LSF, minutes of the Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends, 1672–1693, i. 277; Epistles from the yearly meeting of the people called Quakers, held in London, to the quarterly and monthly meetings in Great Britain, Ireland and elsewhere; from the year 1675, to 1759, inclusive, London 1760, 53–4, epistle xiv; LSF, MM iii, 28 viii 1700 to 29 viii 1711, 205 (2, 9 v 1705); Hampshire Record Office, 24 M 54/2, minutes of Hampshire Quarterly Meeting, 30 iv 1697 to 17 iv 1734, fos 49V, 50V (26 i, 5 iv 1706); Oxfordshire Record Office, Berkshire and Oxfordshire Quarterly Meeting, BOQM I / i / 1, minutes of Vale of White Horse Monthly Meeting, 1673–1722, fo. 150r (30 iii 1706).
70 Lloyd, A., Quaker social history, 1669–1738, London 1950, 8 2; A collection of acts of parliament, and clauses of acts of parliament, relative to those Protestant dissenters who are usually called by the name of Quakers, from the year 1688, London 1757. For example, Friends who had subscribed to the Declaration of Fidelity set out in the Toleration Act avoided the double taxation levied on those who had not taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacy in a series of poll taxes between 1689 and 1694. The penalty was of course directed against Catholics and non–jurors. For the protection from disturbance given under the act to registered meeting places see LSF, Book of cases, i, 1661–95, 184–5; MFS xiv, 8 vii 1699 to 17 xi 1700, 71 (10 ix 1699). Registered meeting places were also exempt from certain taxes: MFS xv, 24 xi 1700 to 8 iii 1701/2, 171, 179 (24 viii 1701).Google Scholar
71 Morgan, ‘Quakers and the establishment’, 122, 447–55; Berkshire Record Office, D/F 2 B 3/2, minutes of Reading Monthly Meeting, 1675–1730 (24 vii 1728); ‘To the archbishop of Canterbury. We, the people called Quakers, desire it may be registered in the Ecclesiastical Court in Canterbury’ a house in Faversham (1 Jul. 1696)Google Scholar: A., Hussey, ‘Quakers in Kent’, Notes and Queries, 9th ser. x (1902), 246. Other houses were registered in the court by Friends in 1700 and 1708.Google Scholar
72 M., Mullett, ‘The social integration of Lancashire Quakers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’, in E. Royle (ed.), Regional studies in the history of religion in Britain since the later Middle Ages, York 1984, 111Google Scholar; H., Forde, ‘Friends and authority: a consideration of attitudes and expedients with particular reference to Derbyshire’, JFHS liv (1978), 115–17, 121–3.Google Scholar See also the comments concerning Friends' attitudes to legal proceedings in A. W. Braithwaite, “‘Errors in the indictment” and pardons: the case of Theophilus Green’, ibid, xlix (1959), 24, 26.
73 The autobiography of William Stout of Lancaster; 1665–1752, ed. J.D.Marshall (Chetham Society, 3rd ser. xiv, 1967), 171, cf. 188. For the metropolitan view of the act see the addresses by the Yearly Meeting to the crown, 1702, 1710, 1714: Sewel, History of the rise, 686, 707, 710–11.