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Swaledale Quakers



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Key dates, Start:1653 and end date: 1861

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History of the place:
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A Meeting was settled in Swaledale through the efforts of James Nayler, Robert Widders and Thomas Taylor, around the year 1653. Their message took root amongst an existing community of Seekers, including Nicholas and James Raw of Low Row, and James Alderson and widow [Anne] Langstaff of Healaugh. The earliest meetings in the dale were held in the houses of these Friends. Swaledale is recorded as a constituent of Richmond Monthly Meeting in 1665 and 1669, when its leading members included Nicholas Raw, Ralph Peacock and John Key. The Conventicle Act of 1670 unleashed a wave of persecution in the Yorkshire Dales, due largely to the work of an informer, William Thornaby of Richmond. At this point, Meetings were being held at the home of Elizabeth Cherry in Kearton, as well as on Kearton Field. Meetings were broken up on a regular basis and Friends were fined a total of £81 15s over a 14-month period. Despite the fact that there were some 60 Friends in the parish of Grinton (Swaledale) in 1669, with meeting places registered in Healaugh, Smarber and Kearton in 1689, this early strength was not sustained. A newly built Meeting House in Low Row opened in 1728, but it was not well used and Friends reverted to using an earlier Meeting House in Smarber around 1750. After Richmond Meeting was discontinued in 1796, its remaining members joined Swaledale and until 1801, this was known as Richmond and Swaledale Meeting. During this period meetings were mainly held in Leyburn. After this date, the Quaker connection with Richmond was lost and thereafter, the Meeting was referred to as Swaledale and Leyburn. This was discontinued in 1818 and resumed again as Swaledale Meeting for a brief period from 1822 to 1825. Its remaining members were then officially transferred to Aysgarth, although local Friends continued to meet sporadically at Reeth Friends School until about 1861.
Source: http://www.eservices.hull.ac.uk/quaker/index.cfm?fuseaction=location.collection&collectionID=34&search_type=place&countyID=0&townID=197






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