Many non conformist groups emerged during the C16th and C17th, one of these was ‘The Religious Society of Friends’.
The movement was founded by a young man called George Fox 1624 – 1691, who was troubled by spiritual questions for which he struggled to find answers to from all the major religious groups.
- Fox believed that he had been spoken to by God and that he was called to preach a new way
- He became an itinerant preacher, promoting the idea that God is within us all
- He preached that all, men women, slave and free man, were equal
- There was no need for churches, doctrines, rituals or robes. No creed necessary nor priest
By any measure these were radical ideas in England at a time when the country had been ripped apart by civil war and then thrown back together again under the monarchy
- George Fox and his followers were persecuted and quite often jailed for refusing to pay, tithes, taxes or take up arms
- They aligned themselves with the disadvantaged, helping prisoners and those in asylums
- They called for the abolition of slavery
Once when George Fow was brought before a judge, Fox told him “to tremble before the word of the Lord”, the judge dismissed him as a’Quaker’ and the name stuck
Tracing non conformists has become easier as more records have been transcribed but to find your ancestors in these records you need to first know that they were non conformists. So, if records of your ancestors are ‘missing’ consider that the family might have been ‘Friends’ and see what turns up…..
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