Irish Quaker Origins

Irish Quaker Origins:  Not Scots-Irish!
The early Settlement of Irish Quakers in Pennsylvania and across the river in New Jersey and Delaware was under the scrutiny of historians (not genealogists) some years ago.  And my notes on those studies have been tucked inside seminar presentations ever since.

Let me share some of these notes directly with you:
Quaker Database by Dr. C. Vann Woodward:

  1. “Study of Irish Quakers, 1665-1840.”  Matching Irish on both sides of the ocean–in Pennsylvania and Delaware with origins in London congregations–They didn’t match.  These English Quakers, who were invited first to Ireland then fled to America to escape the enforcement of the penal laws aimed at non-conformists, originated in Northern England not London.
  2. These families were self-supporting “middle class:” Less than 5% were found on the poor rolls; and, skilled occupations were listed for some 85%.  No dukes or squires.   Those found on the poor rolls were mostly widows.
  3. They married early and had more children than Church of England members–600/1000 or more than 1 child every 2 years.

David H. Fischer substantiated Woodward’s  stats in Albions Seed and in the article on his findings that appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd S. Vol 68 (Apr 1991).  The Irish Quakers came from the Far North of England–Westmoreland, Cumberland, Durham, and Northumberland; the North Midlands–Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire; and the South Midlands–Rutland, Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Leicestershire, and Worcestershire.

Almost none of them came from the London area.  Fischer used “standard genealogical sources,” as he called them to document these Quakers.  And they were Protestant, not Roman Catholic.

How do these facts affect your genealogy?
If you have Irish ancestors who come from Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New Jersey–whether they are Quakers when you discover them or not–have English origins!  They are not native Irish.  And they are not Scots Irish.  Many of them became Quakers in Yorkshire.  From there they took their Quaker beliefs to Ireland and subsequently to America.

You can document these Quakers in the works of Gilbert Cope–who transcribed and indexed the Quaker churchbooks on both sides of the ocean—Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Yorkshire.  His original notes are available at the Pennsylvania Historical Society and on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City UT.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  I took most of the summer off–to save my trees from the drought and to clear the dead canes and branches of my very old lilac bushes away.  August was cool and relatively wet–unusual for Utah.  And a God-send.  My trees were ready for all the water I could deliver.


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