“Mocked, scoffed, persecuted, and made a gazeing stock”: The resistance of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) to the religious and civil authorities in post-toleration south-east Wales c.1689–1836

Richard Allen

    Allbwn ymchwil: Cyfraniad at gyfnodolynErthygladolygiad gan gymheiriaid

    Crynodeb

    During the 1640s and 1650s, a redefining of religious worship occurred which was supported by the growth of publishing and itinerant preaching. Welsh converts to Quakerism in the 1650s, who came from a variety of social backgrounds,2 sought solace from the uncertainties of a world that had been turned upside down.3 The Friends rejected many of the accoutrements of the parish church by creating a faith based upon simplicity and plainness, and upon their own spiritual experiences.4 Their beliefs fundamentally challenged the accepted religious and social traditions of the communities in which they lived. For example, they did not believe in a consecrated building and a professional ministry; they refused to swear oaths; pay tithes or maintenance to the parish church; declined to remove their hats to social superiors, and adopted the use of ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ as the means of address. Thus, the radical religious doctrines proposed by this new breed of religious zealots in a variety of tracts, pamphlets and more directly their holding impromptu of religious services and discussions in markets, waste grounds and village churchyards enflamed an already tense situation. These actions proved to be provocative and led to persecution, yet like the early Christians whom they professed to emulate Friends were prepared to undergo physical suffering at the hands of the clergy and local magistrates.

    2As a community of believers, Quakers have consistently stood firm against the constraints imposed by the ecclesiastical and civil authorities. Many noteworthy studies examine the nature of persecution of this religious congregation and their dogged resistance to their oppressors in the period before the introduction of the Act of Toleration in 16895 Indeed, for many historians of Quakerism the full fury of persecution was witnessed in the pre-Toleration period, but it is important to stress that Friends were still distrained of their goods for many years after 1689. They were also excommunicated for non-attendance at church services, subjected to harassment by clergymen and the courts, and imprisoned for their refusal to pay tithes or supply the militia with substitutes. This paper will take account of the continued suffering of Friends in south-east Wales, and their dogged determination to uphold their religious convictions from the late-seventeenth century to the early decades of the nineteenth century.
    Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
    Tudalennau (o-i)23–47
    Nifer y tudalennau25
    CyfnodolynCycnos
    Cyfrol19
    Rhif cyhoeddi1
    StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 2003

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