England Quaker Marriage Records, Burials, Monumental Inscriptions (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Non-Anglican Church Records  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Quaker Records (continued)[edit | edit source]

Quaker Marriages[edit | edit source]

Quaker marriage registers are of especial interest for many details and all the witnesses, often more than 50, are given in the originals (but not in the Digests), with relatives and friends usually listed separately (see chart below). Not all the witnesses are necessarily Quakers, since non-members were allowed to attend.

The form of the ceremony was of an open declaration by both parties, which followed an exhaustive check of their eligibility to marry. In the certificates the names of both parents of each party were given, and variations included the use of printed forms from the end of the 18th century; whether the couple’s parents were still alive and where they resided; or the additions of children’s and grandchildren’s names and birth dates to the marriage certificate copy in the register.

One copy of the certificate was copied or pasted into the each party’s monthly meeting register along with a summary, and another was sent to the quarterly meeting which generally entered a summary into its register.


Chart: Quaker Marriages

Lewes, Sussex 1786 RG6/145                  FHL Film 0811737
Preprinted form with spaces for insertion of details.

Samuel BAKER of the City of Bristol, hat maker son of William BAKER of Cromhall in ye County of Glocester shopkeeper (deceased and Sarah his Wife Surviving) and Jane MITCHEL daughter of Henry MITCHEL of Brighthelmstone in the County of Sussex yeoman deceased and Jane his Wife Surviving

Having declared their Intentions of taking each other in Marriage before several meetings of the People called Quakers in Brighthelmstone and Bristol the Proceedings of the said Samuel Baker and Jane Mitchel after due Enquiry and deliberate Consideration thereof were allowed by the said Meetings, they appear clear of all others and having consent of Parents and those concerned.

Now these are to certify all whom it may concern that for the accomplishment of their said Marriage this Twenty third Day of the First Month called January in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Six they the said Samuel Baker and Jane Mitchel appeared at a public Assembly of the aforesaid People and others in their Meeting House in Brighthelmstone (aforesaid) and he the said Samuel Baker taking the said Jane Mitchel by the Hand did openly and solemnly declare as followeth, Friends, in the fear of the Lord and before this Assembly I take this my friend Jane Mitchel to be my Wife and promise through Divine Assistance to be unto her a loving and faithful Husband until it shall please the Lord by Death to separate us.

And the said Jane Mitchel did then and there in the said Assembly declare as followeth, Friends, in the fear of the Lord and before this Assembly I take this my friend Samuel Baker to be my Husband promising through Divine Assistance to be unto him a loving and faithful Wife until it shall please the Lord by Death to separate us.
And the said Samuel Baker and Jane Mitchel as a further Confirmation thereof and in Testimony thereunto did then and there to these Presents set their hands.
                                          Samuel Baker
                                          Jane Mitchel

We who were present, among others, at the abovesaid Marriage have also subscribed our Names as Witnesses thereunto the Day and Year above written.
(Here follows two lists of names)
Relations - 15 names headed by Jane Mitchel senior
(Others) - 51 names


Lewes and Chichester Meeting, Sussex 1780 FHL Film 0811737 In an almost identically worded handwritten document to the above John MICHELL of Southover near Lewes, Sussex marries Mary GRINFIELD spinster daughter of William GREENFIELD of Hurstperpoynt, Sussex. The differences are that the announcements were made in Hurstperpoynt and Lewes Meetings, and the marriage took place at Cuckfield; and she promises to be not only ‘Faithfull and Loveing’ but also ‘Obedient’. The lists of witnesses are not labelled but the small one consists of John Michell, Mary Michell and, underneath a dividing line, Will: Greenfield, Mary Greenfield, Will Linfield, Will: Greenfield, Sarah Greenfield, who would seem to be the relations. There is a separate list of 22 other witnesses.


                                                        Colchester, Essex
                                                   RG6/999 on FHL film 0812204
These marriages are recorded in the Digest format.
1659 6 mo 21 day
Edmond CROSS of Colchester and Mary BACON of Halsted declared their Marriage publickly in the meeting in ye presence of many faithfull witnesses.
1660 6 mo 15 day
John LOVE of Colchester and Susan RUST of ye same declared their Marriage publickly in the meeting in ye presence of many faithfull witnesses.


Quakers were the only Nonconformists whose marriages were deemed legal between 1754 and 1837. In contrast to the Anglican Church list of Prohibited Degrees of Consanguinity, marriage between first cousins was not allowed, and the records can reveal such relationships of the intending parties. This may have resulted in the couple choosing not to marry or leaving the Quakers, but occasionally the impediment was ignored. Prospective marriage partners were subjected to exhaustive checks for their suitability, which allows glimpses into the respectability or otherwise of their families.

Quaker Burials[edit | edit source]

Quakers would not have their bodies buried in consecrated ground and hence provided their own burial grounds, or utilized their own orchards or gardens. The occasional record in a parish register usually refers to burial elsewhere, not in the Anglican churchyard. Quaker burial records were also duplicated, one being given to the quarterly meeting and the other staying with the monthly meeting where the burial took place; another was sent to the home meeting of the deceased if this was different. Names, ages, and at least the town or village of residence were generally given, and sometimes occupations. Records may take the form of instructions to prepare a grave, signed by the meeting’s registrar; the third one in the chart below of this type.


Chart: Quaker Burials

                                                         Colchester, Essex
                                                   RG6/999 on FHL film 0812204
There were perhaps 15-20 burials a year in the early 1660s, then this heading: appears:
From the fifth month 1665 to the 7th of ye 10th month 1666 which was a time of great plague in this towne
Then a list of 98 persons


                                 Lewes Meeting, Sussex        FHL Film 0811737
                                                Dates are those of death
1659 18th day 10th month Elizabeth COTTINGHAM wife of
Thomas Cottingham departed this life and was buryed at Rottingdean
1661 20th day 7th month Richard BEARD departed this life and
was buryed at Rottingdean
1662 15th day 3rd month Ann BEARD the widow of the aforesaid Richard Beard departed this life and was buryed at Rottingdean
1662 21st day 11th month Elizabeth BOYCE departed this life
and was buryed at Rottingdean
1663 4th day 12th month Joan BOYCE sister of the abovesaid
Elizabeth Boyce departed this life and was buryed at Rottingdean


                     Gainsborough, Lincolnshire               RG6/585 on FHL film 0817375
To Robert Offerton  Grave-Maker
The First Day of the Third Month 1784
Make a Grave on or before next Third Day, in Friends Burying-Ground, at Gainsborough and therein lay the Body of Jonathan Hopkins Grocer of Gainsborough in the County of Lincoln aged Thirty nine Years who died the Twenty Ninth Day of the Second Month, called February One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty four. Thos Morley
The Body above mentioned was buried the Second Day of the Third Month, called March 1784.
Witness Robert Offerton Grave-Maker
A true Copy, David Nainby
Register to Gainsborough Monthly Meeting


Society of Friends Burial Ground, Drapers, St. John the Baptist, Margate, Kent FHL Film 1835483
This is a printed format with columns for Name, Abode, When buried and Age. There is only one burial in 1867.

Martha Greenwood HUNTLY of Margate in the Parish of St. John, 16th day of 11th month 1867, age 44
Signed, Henry Headley, Keeper of the register Book
Witness Jas I. Cudwonl (?)

In the columnar Gainsborough Burial registers in RG6/1538 it was noted that several entries were noted as Not a Member of our Society, so non-Quakers were also buried there—a point worth noting when burials can’t be found in parish registers. Among the microfilmed Quaker burial records is a letter from the Staines Urban District Council with a list of tombstone inscriptions of those disinterred from the Friends Burial Ground in Staines, Middlesex and re-interred in Jordans Burial Ground, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire in 1973. The originals are in RG37/149 at the PRO and on FHL film 1818112, and dates range from 1865 to 1933 and most are rendered in Quaker fashion as in Chart 64.

Quaker Monumental Inscriptions[edit | edit source]

Quakers disapproved of mourning, tombstones and ‘other vain funeral customs’ and until the 19th century Quaker M.I.s are non-existent. Examples are shown below in which the earlier ones still use numbers for the months.

Chart: Examples of Memorial Inscriptions from Friends Burial Ground, Staines, Middlesex

Alexander Lucas ASHBY eldest son of Alexander and Susanna
            Lucas ASHBY. Died 30th of 1st month 1872. Aged 14 years.
Elizabeth Sheldon Dudley ASHBY eldest daughter of Thomas
            and Caroline ASHBY. Died 13th of 3rd month 1877. Aged 24 years.
Muriel Cicely, eldest daughter of Algernon Charles and Sophia ASHBY. Born May 3rd 1878. Died Feb 21st 1880.
Caroline ASHBY widow of Thomas ASHBY. Died 7th of a 12th
         month 1889. Aged 67 years.
Caroline FELTCHER (sic) widow of William FLETCHER. Died
          Feb 7th 1922. Aged 82 years.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Non-Anglican Church Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.