52 Documents in 52 Weeks #42: Quaker Meeting Minutes

Have you ever wished that you had ancestors who hailed from a particular place or belonged to a certain religion because of the records kept? I have, a couple of times. In both cases, I’ve been lucky, as I actually found some family ties to those places.

First, I always wanted to have Scandinavian family because I had heard about the fabulous records, which included all the usual suspects like B, M, D and censuses, but also had military rolls and moving in/moving out records and household examinations. Well, I discovered a branch of my family in Denmark and Sweden and had the fun of tracking the family in those records.

Secondly, I’ve wished that I had some Quaker ancestors, due to the great information to be found in the minutes of their meetings. This desire also came true when I found my husband’s Beeson and Grubb families had Quaker ties.

If you haven’t ever delved into Quaker meeting minutes before, here are several examples of pages from the 1800s:

Also that Abigail Downing (formerly White) has been guilty of fornication & accomplishing her Marriage contrary to discipline. Jonathan Wright, Levi Smith, Nathaniel White was appointed to unite with women friends in a visit to her & report to next Meeting.

Abigail’s difficulty came from marrying a non-Quaker. This is a clip from Frederick County, Virginia. Often, the Virginia Quaker records provide proof of marriage in places where the county records have burned.

Also from the Frederick minutes:

Jonathan Wright & David Lupton was appointed to write to Concord Monthly Meeting informing them that we have no objections to their receiving Margaret Baldwin into Membership when they think it is right——

Notice that both of these entries are related to women – some of whom would otherwise be lost to history!

The Raysville, Henry County, Indiana monthly meeting from December 1891 includes the disavowal of Omer Hunt:


Omer L. Hunt, Disavowal, 12th month, 26, 1891

Abraham Carlisle Jr. of Bucks County, Pennsylvania married out of meeting, which might be more fully described (with the name of his wife) in earlier or later minutes and had his membership stripped:

An essay of a testimony in the case of Abraham Carlisle Jr. was read and approved as follows and the Committee who prepared it were continued to furnish him with a copy of it and inform him of his right to appeal.

Abraham Carlisle Jun. who had a right of membership amongst us the religious Society of Friends has declined the attendance of our religious meetings, and has accomplished his marriage contrary to our established order; on these accounts we were concerned to treat with him, but our endeavours proved unavailing; We therefore consider him as no longer retaining a right of membership amongst us. Nevertheless we desire he may experience a qualification for right, visitation.

Quaker minutes also logged births, deaths and marriages. Again, these records were often kept in places where town or county vital records don’t exist.

If you have Quaker ancestors, be sure to review their records. Ancestry has the Hinshaw index and digitized images of many Quaker meeting minutes. Also check the Digital Quaker Collection housed at Earlham School of Religion and the Quaker Information Center.

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