Quaker Women

The 18th century was the most difficult to find primary sources. As the Religious Society of Friends became more conservative the women seem to have become quieter.

The entries which I have gathered include one publication printed in London, and two which focus on women who are probably identifiable as American Quaker women even though both were born in Britain. I have included entries about only 4 women and two of these I have broken down into sections attributing topic headings to them so that you don't have to read through the whole entry.

Elizabeth Ashbridge's diary is interesting because as a young adult she was vehemently anti-Quaker and even after her conversion she was afraid to reveal her Quaker identity. Although she grew up in England she was convinced while living with relatives in Trenton, New Jersey. I was surprised to discover that there were people who earned a living in the late 17th and early 18th century as Town Whippers who could be hired to administer corporal punishment to family members.

Susanna Morris grew up in Pennsylvania of Quaker parents, but after bearing 13 children she was called to a travelling ministry. So when she was 46 years old she left her children with her husband to travel in the ministry making several trips to Britain and Ireland and continued to travel in the ministry until into her 70's.

Elizabeth Webb is a British Friend who when called to travel in the ministry to America was obstructed as her husband was reluctant to have her go. She took ill and Friends feared being embarrased that if she publicly declared her calling and then died it would bring ridicule on the Society of Friends. Her husband does finally acquiesce. She was probably one of the earliest Friends to believe in racial equality as revealed to her in a dream in 1679 as this was a period when many Friends owned slaves.

Mary Brook's publication on Reasons for Silent Waiting on the Lord could probably as well have been published in the late 20th century as it's premise is still central to many Quaker meetings today.

I am keen to find other sources of diaries and writings of British Quaker women of the 18th century and welcome correspondence from anyone knowing of any.

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