The Beginnings of Quakerism

By William C. Braithwaite | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XV
SURVEY OF THE GROWTH OF QUAKERISM (1656-1660)

Quakerism is nothing unless it be a communion of life, a practical showing that the spiritual and material spheres are not divided but are as the concave and convex sides of one whole, and that the one is found in and through the other. It emphasizes the fact that the church is a body of common men and women, that worship is part of living, and that the whole of life is sacramental and incarnational. -- JOAN M. FRY, The Communion of Life, p. 11.

WE now pass from the activities of the First Publishers to the domestic history of the movement, and shall find it convenient in our survey to follow the growth of Quakerism in the order of its planting.

The materials for tracing the development in Yorkshire are scanty, but the fact that over five hundred Yorkshire Friends were imprisoned in the general imprisonment shortly after the Restoration shows the strength of the movement.1 While Richard Cromwell was Protector, a Petition was addressed to him from Leeds, Wakefield, and Bradford, setting out that these populous places had been miserably perplexed and much dissettled by the unruly sect of the Quakers, who made it their common practice to meet by hundreds near the places of worship, and confidently declared that in a short time they would be in a majority.2

We gain some idea of Yorkshire Quakerism, especially in its strength of local leadership, if we pass under review the names of the fifteen persons who represented the

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1
Besse, Sufferings, ii. 99-103, gives the names.
2
Ibid. ii. p. 98. Cf. document in Thurloe, State Papers, vii. 242, dated Leeds, 7th July 1658.

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