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Some of the eighteenth-century Quakers in northeast Norfolk were well-known among Quakers nationally in their time. Others were known regionally, and locally, leaving few printed records of their experiences. This book argues that it is important to restore at least some of these men and women to their places in history. In order to provide a wider base from which to make reassessments about the nature of eighteenth-century Quakerism, and its religious influences, one must learn about the lesser known members.

The book uses a local study to investigate the ways in which, within their local and national circumstances, these men and women negotiated the balance between sustaining and witnessing on their beliefs.

The study spans a period of English Quaker history that is still under-researched, and examines a wide range of sources, some previously unavailable.


“This book forms an ambitious and highly successful survey, deeply grounded in the primary and secondary literature, intellectually sophisticated and all beautifully written.”
-Prof. Michael Mullett,
University of Lancaster

“It enhances the current debate concerning religious communities and popular culture.”
-Prof. Richard Allen,
University of Wales, Newport

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

The Early Years of Quakerism
Studies of Quaker history: works of synthesis
Thematic studies
Norfolk studies
Quakers and the state
Latitudinarianism and enthusiasm
Sources and methodology

Chapter 2
The Pattern of Settlement and Social Context of Quakers in north-east Norfolk

The population of the area
The religious context
Mapping the pattern
The social and economic context: status and occupation
Tithe payment
Wealth, banking and bankruptcy

Chapter 3
Travelling in the Service of Truth

Quaker travel
Meetings for church affairs
Yearly Meeting
Travelling ministers
Ministers travelling from Lammas Monthly Meeting
Quaker ministers visiting Norfolk

Records of Quaker lives and ministerial travels The circulation of manuscript diaries
‘Dying sayings’
Editing Quaker Journals
A Believing People Debating ‘Truth’
Norfolk Friends and the debate at West Dereham
The ‘Dangerous Imposture’ of Quakerism
The debates with Henry Stebbing of Rickinghall
concerning baptism
A pamphlet debate with Philip Bedingfield
‘Quakers not Calvinists’: a Norwich debate in print
The availability of Quaker texts
Proclaiming Truth
The work and message of Friends from Lammas and Wells Monthly Meetings
Doctrinal ministry
‘Enthusiastic’ ministry and enthusiasm in north-east Norfolk
Pastoral ministry

Neighbourhood and Witness: Tensions and Resolutions
The testimony against taking oaths
The impact of Quaker testimony against paying tithes and church dues
‘Our Christian testimony against wars and fighting’
Civil government
Involvement in parish affairs
Transmission of Values and the Interests of a Polite Society
The families
Marriage, childhood and entry into adulthood: Marriage
Married in meeting, married in church
Childrearing and education
Literacy: adding writing to reading
Women’s meetings for church affairs
Favourite pursuits: a case study: John Secker’s early life; the travel narrative
The construction of the narrative
Encounters with the culturally ‘other’
Daniel Boulter’s autobiography
Eighteenth century Yarmouth
The Museum Boulterianum
Donors to the museum

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