Justice, Peace and Equality

Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

Among the best known Quaker values is Peace.  Quakers are long-standing conscientious objectors to war.  They believe in equality too as evidenced in their support for the campaign against slavery, records of which date back as early as 1688.  Many early women suffragists were Quakers.

Letter calling for a petition to end slavery, 1830. In accordance with their belief in equality, the Quakers joined others in the campaign for the early abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Here we see one of the many letters to the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, requesting that he call a meeting to petition Parliament. Among the signatories (the document continues for two pages) are members of a prominent Quakers family from Hitchin, the Lucases.
HALS (ref 52860)
Drawing of evocation of death leading a donkey off a cliff, 1916. In January 1916, following a slowdown in voluntary enlistment, the government introduced conscription. There were a number of reasons that people applied for exemption from military service. For the Quakers, opposition to war and promotion of peace were fundamental to their faith. This drawing is from a series of papers relating to conscription and conscientious objection from the Hertford and Hitchin Monthly meeting papers.
HALS (ref NQ2/11A/3/1)
Letter of support for Basil Burton, 1916. Basil Burton joined the Quakers in 1913 and following his call up in 1916, he made an appeal to the local tribunal on grounds of conscientious objection. He was granted exemption from combatant service only. Here we see a letter of support from a Mr Welsford, sympathising with Burton’s position and stating that “if ever we regain liberty of thought and action in this country, it will be to those who are taking your stand we shall owe it.”
HALS (ref NQ2/11A/21)
HALS (ref NQ2/11A/21)
Pamphlet produced by the Society of Friends concerning conscription and conscientious objection, 1916
HALS (ref NQ2/11A/3)
Annual report of the Association for Promoting Training of Female Teachers in the Society of Friends, 1889. Alongside their support for the end to slavery, the Quakers were fervent campaigners for women’s rights, both within the Quaker faith (where women preached) and the wider society. Above is the Quakers’ 19th annual report for their association which worked to promote women in teaching.
HALS (ref NQ2/5I/4)
This page was added on 17/08/2020.

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