A Brief History of the Society of Friends & the Rawdon Meeting

by Brian Clayton

George Fox (1624-1691) is credited with founding the Society of Friends c.1651/2. Born July 1624 at Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, the son of Christopher FOX & Mary, née LAGO, he was brought up in a Christian family. His father, a weaver, held the office of churchwarden. George as a youth, was apprenticed as a shoemaker.  At an early age he was moved towards a deeper concern about religion and, as a young man, he was involved with the separatists. Later, in Mansfield, he became leader of the Nottinghamshire “Children of Light” movement. After serving in prison in Derby 1650-1651 for his dissenting views, George went on a religious mission throughout the north. He preached in the Pendle area of Lancashire, throughout Wensleydale and the districts of Sedburgh and Dent. So rapidly did the views of this leader of men spread that within a short time he had gathered many Ministers (50-60) to go forth and spread his word.  It is possible that one of these brought the faith to the Rawdon area but there is no record of a personal visit by George Fox to  Rawdon. 

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Bentham’s Conscientious Objectors

by David Johnson and Trevor Blackwell

The subject of Conscientious Objectors, even a century later, can still rouse strong emotions.  My problem is that I can always see both sides of an argument and this sometimes makes it difficult for me to make decisions. The Conscientious Objectors of WW1 had no such qualms and stood against the state and overwhelming prejudices to defend their principles.  Most of Britain’s population at that time stood firmly behind the war effort and Conscientious Objectors had a very difficult time often resulting in abuse and even ostracism.

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Friendly Societies

by Stanley Merridew

Friendly Societies are mutual aid organisations designed to help people protect themselves against hardship.  Their emergence can, in some cases be traced back to the seventeenth century.  However, the onset of the French Revolution and industrialisation, meant that the government became very nervous of groupings of the working classes.  One could also argue they were brought about by the factory system.  Many families had moved away from their traditional occupations and the support of the estate village and craft industries and were suddenly working at the behest of the industrialists.  The Gilbert Act of 1782, introducing a more regimented system of workhouses must also have created some concerns among the less well-off.   Often it was a case of work or enter the poorhouse.  Living in towns and cities the accommodation frequently came without gardens in which to produce their own food.   All industries were liable to trade fluctuations which could cause seasonal unemployment.  The operatives were also using unfamiliar machinery with little or no protection and many accidents occurred.

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Geography & Family History

By Stanley Merridew

In tracing your ancestry obviously a grasp of history, historical dates and facts can be useful but it is worth taking into consideration that geography, economic geography in particular, plays just as an important part in our research.   Some researchers are fortunate in finding a family stayed in one parish for generations but they are in the minority.  For the majority our forebears flitted from place to place leaving no apparent trail.  

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Wills, Probate & Death Duty

By Stanley Merridew

Whilst on a visit to The National Archives I overheard a conversation regarding probate.  A researcher was saying that their ancestors had not left any wills as they had searched the index at TNA without success.  I didn’t get the chance to put my oar in before they had moved on.  When searching any index the researcher needs to be aware of the extent of the index and in particular what is doesn’t contain.  Wills and probate are possibly the most complex of the subject matter we tackle as family historians and without some understanding success will be limited.

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