Quakers and the Law

Bell, Erin (2018) Quakers and the Law. In: The Quakers, 1656-1723: The evolution of an alternative community. Penn State University Press. ISBN 0271081201

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Quakers and the Law

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At local, regional and national level, the first generations of Quakers faced a range of persecution, known collectively to Friends as ‘Sufferings’. This chapter considers the development of persecution over time from the Interregnum, when it varied from relatively unusual trials for blasphemy, notably that of James Nayler in 1656, to common prosecutions for preaching, holding meetings for worship, and non-payment of tithes. It will examine the Acts that were passed targeting Friends after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 when it became necessary, according to the authorities, to resist the radical potential of the Quakers. The Toleration Act of 1689 will also be considered regarding its implications for Friends’ worship, alongside legislation which continued to be used against them into the eighteenth century. Consideration will be paid to the role of the Meeting for Sufferings from 1675, particularly appeals to the government, with papers proclaiming the virtues of Friends, their peacefulness and economic importance, which served to repeat and emphasize earlier publications. Whilst scholars, such as Raymond Ayoub, have undertaken research into Quaker practices and English legislation (c.1650–1700) this chapter additionally focusses on preconceptions about Friends held by those in authority that informed which existing laws were applied, and what additional legislation was passed, in England and further afield. It begins by discussing the range of laws originating from the early fifteenth to early eighteenth centuries applied to second-generation Friends, before outlining their responses to persecution via the Meeting for Sufferings, and the implications of the accession of different monarchs in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and concluding with an analysis of popular cultural representations of Friends offered in published court records.

Additional Information:This publication is available online at http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08120-5.html
Keywords:Toleration, Quaker, Law, Persecution, Religion, eighteenth-century Quakerism, seventeenth-century Quakerism
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V210 British History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V330 History of Religions
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V143 Modern History 1700-1799
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V214 English History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V142 Modern History 1600-1699
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (Heritage)
ID Code:33319
Deposited On:17 Oct 2018 10:45

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