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A Census of Early Ulster Quakers: 1650 to 1690

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 27, 2011


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by Steven W. Morrison

"Jonathan Bardon sets the Quaker experience, in a period when religious persecution was rampant throughout Europe, and particularly in Britain and Ireland, in a realistic context when he reminds us that ‘Because they offered no threat to the Established Church’ persecution of the Quakers was not quite so extreme. He does cite the instance of ‘one Quaker [who] did have his house burned down because he failed to light a bonfire to welcome the arrival of William of Orange in 1690’; however, he asserts that ‘generally their pacifist views were respected’.

Nonetheless, persecution did take place throughout the last half of the century. It is the unique Quaker response to the persecution, that created a gold mine of records which are now being disseminated beyond the faith to a wider community of family historians and other interested researchers, which is the subject of this article."

This article examines how, through the use of little-used texts, the life of early Ulster Quakers is revealed, and shows how new knowledge can be gleaned from ancient records.