Additions to Hertfordshire Names Online

Jennifer Ayto

Quaker sufferings

Recent additions to Hertfordshire Names Online come from the Minute Books of the Monthly Meetings of the Friends in Hertford and Hitchin.[1]

The famous Hertford Meeting House; the oldest of its kind in the world

The famous Hertford Meeting House; the oldest of its kind in the world

These books record the names of the Quakers who refused to recognise certain taxes, notably tithes and Church rent (raised to repair churches and maintain services) and conscription to the militia.

(The latter was not unique to the Quakers.  John Carrington, for example, noted in his diary for Tuesday 5 July:

To St Albans to swear in Militia at the Angell.  Swore in John Walker for my son Will & gave him £20“).[2]

Besides the names of the Quakers, the minute books also record the names of the Claimant (sometimes with additional information on whether this be the vicar, rector or churchwarden), the constable who seized the goods and those who signed the warrant.

The goods seized sometimes give an indication of the occupation of the “sufferer”.  John Thompson, described in the Trade Directory as a “Woollendraper and Clothier” had 24 pairs of cotton trousers, value £3. 12s. 0d., seized; John Whiting and son, the Fellmongers had a sheepskin confiscated and the grocer, Thomas Latchmore, cheese and candles.  The record also gives an indication of the prices at the time as the value of the goods seized was meticulously recorded and where the goods seized were of a higher value than the “tax”, money was returned.  In 1848, Margaret Lucas’s penalty was 20 hundredweight of coals at a value of £1. 8s. 4d., but 4 shillings and 4d were returned.

British Schools, Hitchin

All this sounds very antagonistic.  However, all Christians had a common purpose and worked together on a good cause.  Taking the year 1818 as an example, the minutes of the  Baldock and Hitchin Monthly meeting noted that the Hitchin “sufferers” included Oswald Foster, Elizabeth Wheeler, Benjamin Tatham, John and Joshua Ransom and William Lucas.  Joseph M Pierson, a Churchwarden, was one of the Claimants.  These names are repeated in another context.  In September that year a meeting took place in Hitchin with the Reverend J W Niblock in the Chair.[3]

It was agreed that:

It appearing that there was a great want of education among the female children of the poor of the town it is resolved that a school be established on the British system for the education of the female children of the poor of the town and its vicinity…

A committee shall be annually appointed for the management of the school to consist of 24 ladies, half of whom, it is desirable, should be members of the Church of England and the other half members of other denominations of Christians“.

Mrs Niblock was one of the members of the Committee as were Mrs Pierson and Ann Bradley.  The latter was celebrated as a founder and stalwart of the Baptist Sabbath School in Tilehouse Street, Hitchin.[4]  Also on the management committee were the Quakers, Mrs Ann Lucas, Miss Martha Tatham, Miss Elizabeth Wheeler, Mrs and Miss Ransom.

Their reasons for working together were recorded in the Committee’s second report:

The school continues harmoniously to combine the children of Churchmen and Dissenters, and in the reasonable hope that those, who, in youth, have been brought up in unity and fellowship, will in future life walk in peace and love one with another; the want of which is a great reproach to all who call themselves Christians.  Of the former denomination there are 55 of the latter 25.”[5]


British Schools, Hitchin


Hertfordshire Names Online can be found on the Hertfordshire Archives Local Studies web-site.  The names from the Quaker minute books can be found under the Miscellaneous category.  Link here

[1] HALS NQ2/4C/3, Hertford 1793 – 1854;  HALS NQ2 4A/1, Baldock and Hitchin 1708 -1792; HALS NQ2 4A2/2, Baldock and Hitchin, 1793 – 1855.
[2] Sue Flood, Ed., John Carrington, Farmer of Bramfield, His Diary, 1798 – 1810, Hertfordshire Record Society, 2016.
[3] HALS 67555 – Minutes of the British Schools Hitchin.
[4] R L Hine, Hitchin Worthies, pp. 190 – 193.
[5] HALS 67519 – 67554,  Reports of the British Schools (Girls), Dead Street, Hitchin.


This page was added on 17/12/2016.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!