|Record of sufferings of the Society of Friends from the year 1655 to 1755
©Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service
The Quaker movement had become firmly established in Staffordshire in the mid 17th century, particularly in the Moorlands. George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends had visited and preached in the county in 1651. 140 Quaker families were recorded in the county in 1672.
The Quakers were subjected to persecution because they refused to pay tithes to the established church, were disruptive at church services and refused to swear oaths of allegiance. They were superb record keepers and recorded their ‘sufferings’ as they termed them at their Monthly Meetings. This example records the imprisonment of Quakers at Stafford for pursuing their beliefs.
27th 8th Month
John Scott of Creton was imprisoned for refuseing to pay his small tythes and Easter Reconings.
Tomas Hinks John Dibble and Thomas Nall were sent to prison by the writt de excomunicat. Capiendo obtained by some of the sprituall Court men (so called) because they could not for conscience sake come to what they called their church where by their own confession they daily do those things they ought not to doe, and these wicked men who pretended religion for putting the Above named persons in prison did fully declare the contrary for when some of the relations of the said Thomas Hinks and Tomas Nall without their consent went to the Court with money they sent them an Absolution so that it was Aparent the want of money shut the door of their church, and paying the money opened it, so that it was truly said by the Apostle the love of money is the root of all evill, the said Thomas Hinks was detained in prison before his release the space of ten weeks and John Dible seaven Months, Thomas Nall about nine weeks.
21st 8 Month
Peter Littleton was committed to prison by a warrant under the hands of John Martin Major and Francis Moss Justice signed by Henry Archbole Chancellor of the spirituall court (so called) grownded upon the said Peter’s non payment of his tythes unto Thomas Fletcher priest of Haughton (which for conscience sake he refused) At which tyme there was a very mortall distemper in the Goale whereof dyed in the space of Five dayes five persons, and the said Peter being seized ther of the said Goaler suffered him to goe forth for a short time into the Town of Stafford to take something in order to the recovery of his health; which small breathing space of tyme was almost no sooner granted to the said Peter from so infectious a prison, but comes Thomas Rudgly and Sampson Byrch two agents of the aforesaid Priests & so threatened the Goaler as made him to remand his prisoner back with great expedition, notwithstanding it was the coldest season of the winter, whereby his sickness was increased for a time, but thorough the mercie of the Almighty God his life was preferred.