Local Quaker History

A Brief History of Quakers in Warwick

In 1655 it is recorded that George Fox and several other “Friends” held a meeting in a widow’s house in Warwick. They were apparently not well received then, but by 1656 meetings with George Fox present were held in Warwick and a group of “Friends” had been established.

In 1671 some freehold land was purchased
“in trust, for the use of the people of God, gathered in the light and spirit of truth out of the world to worship God in spirit and truth, who walk in fear of God, and are commonly called Quakers”*

The first recorded minute of a monthly meeting held in Warwick was on the 6th day of the 11th month, 1686.

The Great Fire of Warwick, in 1694, resulted in much distress to Friends and there are records of relief monies paid out. The original Meeting House was probably destroyed as the rumoured source of the fire was in the general locality of the Quaker land. The current Meeting House was built in 1695, the year afterwards.

There was a Burial Ground within the landholding which is marked on the map shown (circa 1885 which clearly shows a wall along the west side of the burial ground). It is recorded that many Warwick “worthies” were buried here, one of these being a well respected Quaker, William Dewsbury.

Early records show that many Warwick Quakers suffered as a result of their faith, being often imprisoned in the County Jail Which can still be seen through a grille in the courtyard beside the Old County Court. One of the early records tells of a couple who were brought before the Meeting to be admonished for “their disorderly doings in giving way both of them to joyn themselves in marriage with person yt are not friends”* The records show that a number of friends were disowned for marrying out and for “gross breaches of the moral law”*.

By the middle of the eighteenth century the number of Friends was falling away with quite a number emigrating to Pennsylvania.

*  taken from “Friends in Warwickshire (17th & 18th C)_William White_3rd Ed”

Quaker Graveyard and Burials

From 1660 to 1879 part of what is now our Quaker garden was a Quaker burial ground. If you look carefully a couple of the old gravestones can still be seen.

We have a list of burials in the graveyard from 1660 – 1879 available in pdf format.

There are two copies of this document known to still be in existence. Unfortunately a third was recently lost. Each differs in the annotations present. The main copy is held in the Library of Birmingham.

That Library also holds a large plan of the burial plots.