How to Research Your Quaker Ancestry

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How do you know if your ancestors were Quakers? Here’s how to research your Quaker ancestry.

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Comments 8

  1. Roger Davies

    City & State
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    I have one Quaker forebear who was fined a cow and four barrels of corn for not joining the revolution army. Another forebear was in the king’s army and had slaves — he was kicked out of his Meeting. I followed the Leading of forebear number one and refused to join the U.S. army and moved on north to Canada, 1968, with Quaker counselling to help me on the journey.

  2. Richard Clark

    City & State
    Pekin, IN 47165
    I have an ancestor who died in an Irish prison in the 17th century for refusing to pay the parish tax to the local Roman Catholic Church. His name was Francis Hobson, and the Hobson family converted to the Quaker faith for a while. Hobson is my maternal family line.

  3. Susan Nash

    City & State
    Virginia
    I love researching my Quaker ancestors, most of whom came to southwest Virginia and Guilford County, North Carolina via New Jersey and Nantucket. My Knox and Davies/Davis families were at Rich Square MM in eastern North Carolina before migrating to Guilford.

    The meeting records are rich with information. I research at home at familysearch, but also use Ancestry at a public library for my Quaker anestors. I love reading the old records and when a search brings up a page I read everything on the page, not just the targeted information. Sometimes you will see discussions on social issues of the time, particularly slavery.

    A simple Google search will often bring up a lot of information. Google North Carolina GedWeb-Quakers and you’ll see what I mean. Also Hathi Trust, which has Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy. Searching for individuals is easier with Ancestry, though.

  4. Frank Comstock

    City & State
    Lawrenceville NJ
    Interesting comments and suggestions. I am well aware of my Quaker heritage from the earliest days of Friends in Rhode Island through the early 1900s when the last of the family turned to the Baptists or Episcopalians. There are plenty of records from government or histories written for the areas from the Blackstone Valley in Massachusetts down into Providence and on to Newport. Most of my family were in the Providence area north to Smithfield and Woonsocket in Rhode Island and in the Mendon area just north of there in Massachusetts. Many were members of the Smithfield Friends Meeting which unfortunately suffered a fire in the 1870s. I’m told all their records were destroyed at that point, so I have to rely on the public records and the historical books that have been written. My ancestors were also heavily involved in the East Blackstone Meeting, but I believe that group operated under the Smithfield Meeting. I suppose those records were lost in the fire, too. One of my favorite Quaker ancestors was Arnold Pain (some family members spelled it Paine) who was the town treasurer of Smithfield RI at the start of the Revolution. He was removed from that post in November of 1776 for refusing to sign the Test Act. He was returned to the town council in 1779 because as one history reported “freemen of the town could not long afford to dispense with the services of so honest and able a man”. There is also anecdotal evidence that Arnold Pain was also a town clerk and was brought back to that role a year after being removed because the council could not decipher the entries in town records of the man who replaced him.

  5. J Glogau

    City & State
    Ringoes ,NJ
    The Spanglers of Western Pa. and Ohio on my maternal side were Quaker according to my mother.

  6. Hallie

    City & State
    Ventura, CA
    My Quaker line is Terrell ‘s mostly in Caroline County, Virginia. They left VA because of slavery. They did not believe in it. They went to N. KY. Henry Terrell was my last Quaker. So proud of them.

  7. Ron Hyer

    City & State
    Michigan City
    I have Quaker ancestry dating back to the late 1600’s. My line converted to the United Brethren and
    Church of the Brethren towards the 1880’s. A few of the surnames were : Macy;Morris;Thomas;Pugh.

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