so we’ve seen that the earliest quakers were from the north of england, mostly from the geographical highland zone of england, but there were also quite a few from the intermediate zone. this distribution doesn’t seem to have changed all that much over time — from Albion’s Seed [AS – kindle locations 7308-7310]:
This was the region [the six counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, east Cheshire, west Yorkshire and southern Westmorland] where the Quakers first appeared. It long remained their strongest base. The founder, George Fox (1624-91), was a Leicestershire weaver’s son who developed his doctrine of the Inner Light by 1646 and made his early converts mostly in the North Midlands. By the year 1654, 85 percent of Quaker meetings were in the northern counties of England.7“
footnote 7 [kindle locations 24244-24247]:
“Pratt, ‘English Quakers and the First Industrial Revolution,’ 53-65; especially helpful is chap. 3, ‘The Geography of Nonconformity,’ which concludes that ‘the Quakers had always been a northern religion.’ By the end of the 17th century, there were Quakers in every English county and city. In the 18th century, many Quakers moved south to London and Birmingham. But the largest number remained north and west of the River Trent.”
andrew mentioned a couple of weeks ago (thanks, andrew!) that hackett-fischer and other researchers have pointed out that this region of england saw a lot of viking settlement. from AS [kindle locations 7285-7290]:
“This region shared a common cultural condition, and also a common history. The North Midlands, more than any other part of England, had been colonized by Viking invaders. Historian Hugh Barbour writes, ‘…in the central region of the North, the Pennine moorland, where Quakerism was strongest, the villages were mainly Norse in origin and name, and Norse had been spoken there in the Middle Ages. From the Norsemen came the custom of moots, or assemblies in the open at a standing-stone or hilltop grave, which may have influenced the Quakers’ love for such meeting places. The Norse custom was individual ownership of houses and fields: the Norman system of feudal manors imposed in the twelfth century was always resented.’3“
the locations of scandinavian place-names in england are certainly awfully suspicious (see also maps on this page):
taking a look again at the map of the distribution of early quakers in england, a viking-quaker connection could explain the absence of quakers in northumberland — doesn’t look like too many vikings settled in that region.
i’m going to go with topography (map adapted from this one):
quakerism seems to have developed, and been the most successful … yes … in areas of viking settlement in england, but more specifically in upland areas having had viking settlement. and uplanders (and other populations livining in remote, marginal environments) appear to have a tendency towards close matings.
here’s more from AS on how the quakers were uplanders [kindle locations 7311-7326]:
“The Quakers were most numerous in the poorest districts of this impoverished region. In Cheshire, for example, Quaker emigrants to Pennsylvania came not from the rich and fertile plains in the center and southwest of the county, but mostly from the high ridges and deep valleys on the eastern fringe of the county. This was rough country, with settlements that bore names such as Bosely Cloud and Wildboarclough. In the seventeenth century, much of this region was still densely wooded, the ‘last refuge in England of the wolf and the boar.’ The climate was more severe than in the lowlands — with bitter ‘close mists’ that settled in the valleys, and the dreaded ‘wireglass’ that glazed the ridges and killed many an unwary traveler. The sense of desolation was deepened by the forbidding appearance of small isolated farmhouses, constructed of a harsh gray-black millstone. On the steep slopes of eastern Cheshire, they may still be seen to this day.8
“In Nottinghamshire, the Quakers came not from the rich alluvial lands of the Trent Valley, but from the craggy uplands. The men of the Monyash monthly meeting once wrote, ‘…we are a poor, unworthy and despised people, scattered amongst the rocky mountains and dern valleys of the high peak country.’9 In Derbyshire, the pattern was also much the same. Here the Quakers lived mostly in the ‘coal measures’ on the east side of the county, and also in the Peak District. Comparatively few came from South Derbyshire.10
“In the West Riding of Yorkshire, Quakers tended to be poor dalesmen who lived in places such as Lotherdale, a secluded valley on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire. In the seventeenth century this area was described as ‘perfectly inaccessible by road.’ Remoteness was indeed one of its attractions. Some Quakers fled there to escape their persecutors.11”
what’s the history of the mating patterns in these regions? not sure.
the area would’ve been part of the anglo-saxon kingdoms of northumbria and mercia — and, later, the danelaw obviously. were there any discouragements against cousin marriage in those centuries? no idea.
had the vikings — who came from both norway (mostly to the west coast of england) and denmark (mostly to the east coast) — been marrying close cousins? don’t know. they were certainly at least somewhat clannish having feuding and wergeld systems and all that — but did they have strong clans like the irish and the scots? or did they have looser kindreds more like the other germanic populations? dunno, but i intend to find out!
fast-forward a bit to mid-1500s-1600s cumbria — which definitely had quakers in the 1650s — and folks in that part of the world did have a tendency to marry closely, although i don’t know if we’re talking first and/or second cousins here. from AS [kindle location 10809]:
“In many cases the husband and wife both came from the same clan. In the Cumbrian parish of Hawkshead, for example, both the bride and groom bore the same last names in 25 percent of all marriages from 1568 to 1704.”
hmmmm. was the rest of the region where quakers appeared like that? don’t know.
further to the south in myddle in shropshire — a town which supplied some later quakers to the new world and a county which appears to be mostly in the geographic intermediate zone — barry levy says that young people of the 1600s often defied their parents in deciding whom they would marry [Quakers and the American Family: British Settlement in the Delaware Valley – kindle locations 555-557]:
“When Richard Gough’s gossip about courtship in seventeenth-century Myddle is systematized, it suggests that love-matches were common; that the children of poorer tenant farmers were more likely than the children of gentry to both initiate their own marriages and to rebel if necessary against parents or kin; and that they were less likely to be placed into marriages by parents and relatives.”
that, to me, sounds as though perhaps cousin marriage was not common in this region of england, since cousin marriage and arranged marriages often go hand-in-hand. was this pattern typical of the areas that quakers came from? or was the cumbria pattern more typical? cumbria’s a much more upland region, so perhaps the answer is that it varied. again, dunno.
one thing’s for certain, though — in the new world, quakers banned first cousin marriage — and frowned upon second cousin marriage [AS – kindle locations 7904-7907]:
“Quakers also condemned dynastic marriages which were made for material gain. They forbade first-cousin marriages which were commonplace in Virginia. During the eighteenth century, many Quaker meetings even discouraged unions between second cousins — a major restriction in small rural communities, and an exceptionally difficult problem for the Delaware elite.6“
was this a continuation of how they had done things back in england? it’s likely, yes, but the important question is: for how long had these northern english populations been avoiding cousin marriage?
previously: geographical origin of the quakers and the myddle people and the radical reformation and random notes: 07/30/13 and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and consanguinity in england – north vs. south
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