1623 – 1698
Mary Fisher was one of the first Quaker missionaries – the Valiant Sixty. As well as preaching in England she made two journeys overseas, one to Boston, in North America, and the other to Turkey, where she visited the Ottoman Emperor, Sultan Mehmet IV.
1627 – 1712
William Edmondson (1627-1712) grew up in Westmorland. He was in the Parliamentary army during the Civil War, but became a Quaker in 1653. He spent most of the rest of his life, in Ireland, and was key to establishing Quakerism there. He undertook several fruitful missionary journeys to the American colonies, often alongside George Fox.
1644 – 1718
William Penn (1644 –1718) was born in London, and became a Quaker as a young man. He was imprisoned several times for his faith, but used that time to develop his Quaker thought and to write influential books. He spent most of his life in England and Ireland, but he also had a very significant four years in colonial North America, where he founded Pennsylvania, guaranteeing religious freedom for all.
1652 – 2020
The effect of crime and justice in society has always been important to Quakers. Quakers have been concerned with prisons and offenders from the beginning. Many early Quakers spent time in prison, so had first hand experience. The belief in 'that of God' in everyone led to work on rehabilitating prisoners and on prison reform.
1652 – 2020
Children were seen from the outset as having ‘something of God’ within them, which should be respected and nurtured. They are entitled to education and to be heard, and to freedom from exploitation and ill treatment in the workplace and the home.
1652 – 2020
Quaker mission work over the centuries has had three strands – spreading the Quaker message to non-Friends, visiting and strengthening existing Friends, and service (educational, health…). These strands have often been interwoven, with varying thicknesses at different times and places, but all three continue to the present day.
1654 – 1725
John Bellers was an economist and social reformer. He was greatly concerned about the welfare of the poor. In 1695 he published proposals for a mixed agricultural and manufacturing settlement where about three hundred people could live and work. He was also the first person in Europe to advocate the abolition of capital punishment.
1656 – 1783
(1656 – 1783) Quaker missionaries from Britain began visiting in 1656, and went on doing so throughout the colonial period, soon joined by American missionaries. Some travelled for years at a time. They visited all the thirteen colonies that founded the US, and Quakerism became strong in several places, notably Rhode Island, Nantucket, Long Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
1656 – 1783
(1656-1783) The first Quaker missionaries came to Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth and Rhode Island. They were persecuted in the first two, but welcomed in tolerant Rhode Island. Later missionaries took their message all over present day New England, and Quakers were to be found in many parts, with the largest concentrations in Rhode Island and Nantucket.
1656 – 1783
(1656-1783) The first Quaker missionaries came to Maryland and Virginia in 1656-7 and were followed by many others. In 1672 mission work began in Carolina. Maryland and Carolina were tolerant, open colonies, where Quakers could minister freely. Virginia was more restrictive. Quakerism took root in parts of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.
1657 – 1918
Quaker missionaries first came to Germany in 1657. Many German Quakers emigrated to Pennsylvania, over the next two centuries, and some were key players in the early antislavery campaign. In Germany itself several meetings grew up, the most significant of which was at Bad Pyrmont in Saxony. They suffered greatly during the nineteenth century wars with France, but there were still small groups of Quakers in Germany at the end of World War 1.
1657 – 1783
(1657 - 1783) The first Quaker missionaries came to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (later New York) in 1657, and were followed by many others. The colony tolerated religious differences, and many were willing to listen to Quaker ideas. Quakerism thrived on Long Island and in New York City, and spread upcountry as the colony grew.
1660 – 2020
Quakers have always been committed to education. They believed from the outset that it could nurture ‘that of God’ in everyone. There are Quaker schools on all continents, and some universities/colleges too. All aspire to a Quaker ethos, and all welcome Quakers and non-Quakers.
1660 – 2020
The belief in equality led Quakers to campaign against slavery, and to aspire to good treatment of anyone who worked in a Quaker enterprise. As well as workplace conditions, many were also concerned with general welfare. QUNO works at the UN towards international labour standards.
1660 – 1800
Trees played an important part in the Quaker interest in plants. Saplings were transported across the Atlantic in both directions, and arboreta were created both for study and the general public.
1662 – 1900
The Lloyd family from Dolobran, Montgomeryshire, Wales can trace their history back to the days of the early Quakers in the 17th Century and two brothers, Charles and Thomas. Both were imprisoned for their beliefs. Thomas later went to Pennsylvania where he became deputy governor. Many of their descendants prospered, first in iron making and later in banking.
1674 – 1783
(1674 - 1783) In the 1650s there was a vast tract of sparsely populated Indian land between the northern and southern colonies. William Penn and others seized the opportunity to acquire the land as a place where Quakers could live freely. West Jersey was the first, in 1674, followed by East Jersey, and then Pennsylvania.
1675 – 2030
Meeting for Sufferings (MfS) is British Friends’ key strategic body. It was established in response to the sufferings Quakers experienced in the early days, hence its name. Its role was soon broadened and it has played an important part in British Quakers’ responses to the needs of their time ever since. The name has never been changed.
1678 – 1789
Three generations of Darbys (1678 - 1789) played an important part in the early stages of the industrial revolution in Britain. At their ironworks in Coalbrookdale on the Welsh border, they developed new methods for the mass production of iron, and manufactured new things with it - cast iron pots and pans, railway lines, engine parts, and much else.
1681 – 1759
Benjamin Lay (1681-1759) was an important campaigner for abolition amongst the Quaker community in 18th century Philadelphia. His methods were often dramatic 'action statements' such as standing barefoot in the snow to illustrate the conditions under which slaves lived.
1681 – 1783
(1681 - 1783) William Penn established Pennsylvania as a Holy Experiment enshrining Quaker principles of religious and political liberty. Quakers and many others flocked to the colony, and it prospered. Quakers were soon in a minority, but they played a prominent part in colonial public life.
1694 – 19121780
Many Quaker botanists were talented illustrators. Their work was particularly valuable because of their attention to detail and the care that they took to accurately represent the plants that they drew.
1698 – 1919
(1698 - 1919) Several Quakers met Russian Tsars and their diplomats, and discussed many topics. There were significant impacts on Russian education, agriculture and health. Towards the end of the period Friends’ focus was on relief - for victims of wars, for communities suffering famine, and for minorities suffering because of their beliefs.
1702 – 1813
The so-called ‘Six Quaker Clockmakers’ comprised four generations of a family of skilled clock and instrument makers, working in North America between 1702 and 1813. The first of the six, Abel Cottey, emigrated from Devon and probably built the first clock to be made in America . The second was Benjamin Chandlee, his apprentice and son-in-law, the third was Abel’s grandson, also Benjamin Chandlee, and the fourth, fifth and sixth, his great-grandsons, Goldsmith, Ellis and Isaac. Goldsmith is known in particular for his technically advanced compasses, designed for use by surveyors.
1712 – 1780
John Fothergill (1712-1780) was a Quaker scientist who made significant advances, both as a medical doctor and as an amateur botanist. He made accurate observations and advanced the treatment of diseases include scarlet fever, epilepsy, tuberculosis, influenza and migraine. In his extensive hothouses he cultivated over three thousand rare plants and has species of lily and geranium named after him.
1713 – 1784
Anthony Benezet (1713 – 1784) was an educational reformer and influential abolitionist who did much for the beginning of free education for African Americans.
1720 – 1774
In the early days of Quakerism, there were Quaker slave owners and Quaker slave traders. As the unacceptability of slavery became clearer, the first step for Quakers was to root it out within their own communities.
1720 – 1772
John Woolman is thought by many to be the central figure of 18th Century Quaker faith and social reform. He was an abolitionist, reformer, writer and minister and was very influential in the abolitionist movement in America.
1728 – 2020
Quakers in South Africa have always been a small group, but with an influence that far outstrips their size. Today they are still actively concerned with justice, peacemaking, development, education and political activism.
1729 – 1809
David (1729 - 1809) and his brother John Barclay opposed slavery. David belonged to the Meeting for Sufferings Committee on the Slave Trade which met from 1783 to 1792. They received land in Jamaica in payment of a debt. There were 32 slaves who lived on the land that were included in the payment. They set about freeing them.
1732 – 1822
William Tuke was born in York on 24 March 1732, into a leading Quaker family. He entered the family tea and coffee merchant business at an early age. He was able to devote much time to the pursuit of philanthropy. He is best remembered for founding The Retreat, in York, where he introduced humane and enlightened modes of treatment for the mentally ill.
1746 – 1799
William Curtis was born in London in 1748. He developed an interest in natural history and particularly botany. He was the publisher of the Botanical Magazine.
1750 – 1950
Five Quakers are singled out here, though many others played their part. William Tuke (provision for mentally ill prisoners), Stephen Grellet (preacher and advocate of improvements), Elizabeth Fry (prison conditions for women), William Tallach (prevention and rehabilitation, and the first secretary of what became the Howard League for Penal Reform), and Margery Fry (also secretary of the Howard League, and advocate of compensation for victims of crime.
1759 – 1919
During the 18th and 19th century the three great Quaker chocolate firms emerged, all family enterprises – Fry’s, Cadbury’s and Rowntrees. They developed many new methods and products, and took great care of employee welfare. In the 20th century the firms became public companies and Quaker involvement soon declined.
1760 – 1846
Thomas Clarkson, although not a Quaker, was greatly influenced by them in his work for the abolition of the slave trade. He was a member of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
1769 – 1831
Elizabeth Heyrick was influential both in Britain and in the United States in the campaign for the Abolition of Slavery. She was also a feminist and philanthopist.
1770 – 1843
(1770 – 1843) was an eminent scientist, and pharmacist, and built his Allen and Hanbury business into a large concern. He was a generous philanthropist and activist, supporting many causes such as anti-slavery, poverty, emergency relief, and education. He travelled extensively throughout Europe and Russia, in connection with these.
1771 – 1840
Daniel Wheeler (1771-1840) was the first Quaker missionary to spend significant time in Russia. For 15 years he devoted himself to draining the unhealthy and unproductive St Petersburg marshes and transforming them into good agricultural land. He spent his final years on missionary travels in the South Seas and in North America.
1773 – 1855
(1773 – 1855) Stephen was born in France, but had to flee during the French Revolution in 1789, and reached New York in 1795. He became a Quaker after reading the writings of William Penn. His home was in Pennsylvania, but his missionary work took him to many parts of the US and Europe. He had a particular concern for prison reform.
1780 – 1845
Elizabeth Fry was a Quaker philanthopist and prison reformer. She was particularly interested in women in prison and worked to improve conditions for women and children in Newgate Prison, London.
1786 – 1862
Anne Knight (1786 - 1862) was an abolitionist and a feminist. She was impatient with the slow progress being made with abolishing slavery, and was vehemently against any compensation for slave owners. She campaigned for universal suffrage in Britain, so that women could vote.
1787 – 1807
Quakers in Britain quickly developed a strong network that linked meetings together. This network was a great source of strength in anti-slavery campaigning.
1787 – 1865
The historic anti-slavery campaigners pioneered some of the key features of modern campaigning - logos, produce boycotts, direct action, and much else.
1789 – 1877
Robert Were Fox the Younger (1789 – 1877) was a Quaker geologist and mine owner from Cornwall in the UK. He was the first person to demonstrate that the Earth’s temperature increased with depth. He also developed a special form of compass accurate at all latitudes, used by Sir James Clark Ross in his expedition to discover the South Pole. With his daughters, Fox founded the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society.
1793 – 1859
Joseph Sturge was a British activist and philanthropist in Birmingham. He worked for peace, abolition of slavery, education and temperance. He helped revive the Adult School Movement.
1798 – 1877
Levi Coffin (October 28, 1798 – September 16, 1877) was an American Quaker, abolitionist, and businessman. Coffin was deeply involved in the Underground Railroad in Indiana and Ohio and his home is often called "Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad". He was nicknamed "President of the Underground Railroad" because of the thousands of slaves that are reported to have passed through his care while escaping their masters.
1820 – 1964
Quakers have argued against capital punishment from very early on, and became effective campaigners in the 19th century.
16700 – 17420
(c1670-1742) Thomas Story was an early Quaker missionary. He travelled in Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and colonial North America, and worked for William Penn in Pennsylvania for several years. He had an abiding love of trees and brought many specimens back from his travels.
16900 – 1896
The international bank Barclays can trace its origins back to Quaker goldsmiths Gould and Freame who established themselves in London in the 1690’s. The name Barclay became associated with the business in 1736 when James Barclay became a partner. The bank prospered and financed canals, railways and bridges. In 1896, following several changes of name and the amalgamation of twenty banks, some with Quaker origins, it became Barclay and Company Limited.
17180 – 1955
Many Quakers ran businesses supplying plants to the nobility. There were famous nurseries in Lancashire, York and London. They were responsible for making many varieties of plants commercially available. Many were also dedicated gardeners and had a reputation for diligence and hard work. They were sought after by the gentry to care for their gardens and estates.
17720 – 18640
Luke Howard (1772 – 1864) was a pharmacist and meteorologist who created a classification of the clouds.
Quakers were prominent in the abolition of the slave trade and in the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. Today many Quakers work actively against modern forms of slavery.