DORKING AND HORSHAM MONTHLY MEETING OF THE RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (QUAKERS) AND PREDECESSORS: RECORDS
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- Ref No: 6189
- Repository: Surrey History Centre, Woking
- Date: 1650-1991
- Format: Archives
- Admin History: Organisational Structure of the Religious Society of Friends
The administration of the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers, established by George Fox in the mid 17th century, was highly organised, and consisted of a London Yearly Meeting (at national level), a Quarterly Meeting (usually on a county basis, although there were some amalgamations), a Monthly Meeting (at district level) and a Preparative Meeting (usually one congregation but sometimes more).
Each of these meetings kept their own minutes. Monthly Meetings dealt with membership, liability for relief, trusts and legacies, as well as the administration of the meeting houses. Preparative Meetings had a set agenda of 'queries' to be answered, which were laid down by the Yearly Meeting. In the nineteenth century, other committees were formed, such as property, ministries, elders' committees (dealing with certificates for travelling ministers) and overseers' committees (dealing with the physical and moral well-being of members). Most Meetings kept registers of 'sufferings' (persecutions and distraints) and Monthly Meeting registers were required to be kept from 1812.
Dorking, Horsham and Guildford Religious Society of Friends
In 1655, George Fox sent two followers, John Slee and Thomas Lawson, from Cumbria and Lancashire to spread the word of Quakerism in the south east of England. They were termed the 'First Publishers of The Truth' and were to prepare the way for a visit by Fox later that year. Some areas were more receptive than others and unofficial meetings seem to have been held at Dorking, Capel, Horsham and Reigate from this date. When Fox visited the area, he attended an unofficial meeting at Ifield, West Sussex, at the house of Thomas Patching (T W Marsh, Some Records of the Early Friends in Surrey and Sussex (London, 1886), p.25. He also attended a meeting at Reigate at the same time.
Slee and Lawson were succeeded in 1656, by two other followers, Thomas Lacock and Thomas Robinson. They visited local meetings held in farmhouses, barns or in the open air and from this, formal meetings in the area were established (Beryl Williams, Quakers in Reigate, 1655-1955, p.4 (Williams, 1980).
Between 1668 and 1814 Dorking Monthly Meeting included Capel and Reigate apart from between 1715 and 1725, when Reigate held separate Monthly Meetings. Indeed, Dorking Monthly Meeting seems to have been called Reigate occasionally before 1715. In 1814 Dorking Monthly Meeting and Horsham Monthly Meeting joined as Dorking and Horsham Monthly Meeting. Guildford Monthly Meeting joined them in 1841 to form Dorking, Horsham and Guildford Monthly Meeting. In 1962 this divided into Dorking and Horsham Monthly Meeting and Guildford and Godalming Monthly Meeting and remains as such to date.
Between 1668 and 1802, Dorking Monthly Meeting and Guildford Monthly Meeting were included in Surrey Quarterly Meeting. In 1802, the Surrey Quarterly Meeting was abolished due to diminishing numbers, and Dorking and Guildford Monthly Meetings joined Sussex Quarterly Meeting, which became known as the Sussex and Surrey Quarterly Meeting. Other Surrey Monthly Meetings were joined to London and Middlesex Quarterly Meeting at this time. Horsham Monthly Meeting formed part of Sussex Quarterly Meeting. In 1855, part of Hampshire and Dorset were joined to Sussex and Surrey Quarterly Meeting, which then became Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire Quarterly Meeting. From 1966, this became Sussex and Surrey Quarterly/General Meeting.
Meeting houses within current Monthly Meeting administration:
Dorking and Horsham Monthly Meeting: Dorking, Capel (Plaistow), Charlwood, Ifield, Bletchingley (disused 1921), Reigate, Thakeham (Coolham) and Oxted.
Guildford and Godalming Monthly Meeting: Guildford, Godalming, Woking and Farnham.
Quaker burial grounds were established at the following locations:
Binscombe, Capel (Plaistow), Charlwood, Chiltington, Dorking, Guildford, Godalming, Shere, Reigate, Thakeham and Worplesdon.
Pre-1752 dates and the Quaker Calendar
Before 1752, Quakers followed the Julian calendar. However, they objected to using those names of days and months which derived from heathen gods or goddesses, namely, Sunday to Saturday and January to August. The Quaker dating system thereby consisted of numbers only, taking Sunday as First Day. Months were simply First Month, Second Month and so on (often abbreviated to 1 mo, 2 mo etc). As was customary in Britain before 1752, the year was taken to begin on March 25. Therefore, until 1752, February was the twelfth month and March the first month. Thus dates are most commonly written in the form '4 11 mo 1742', which can be translated as 4 Jan 1743. Here, dates of documents have been converted to modern usage for ease of use. Pre-1752 dates in January and February and before March 25 have been assigned to the next year to that given. (Information courtesy of Friends House Library).
Chronology of Monthly Meetings:
1668-1715: Dorking (including Capel & Reigate)
1715-1725: Dorking and Reigate separated
1725-1814: Dorking (including Capel & Reigate)
1814-1841: Dorking & Horsham
1841-1961: Dorking, Horsham & Guildford
1962-current: Dorking & Horsham
Chronology of Quarterly Meetings
1668-1802: Surrey Quarterly Meeting
1802-1855: Sussex & Surrey Quarterly Meeting
1855-1965: Sussex, Surrey & Hampshire Quarterly Meeting
1965-current: Sussex & Surrey Quarterly General Meeting
- Level: Collection
- Access Status: Open. Unpublished records are closed for 30 years.
- Provenance: Deposited by Dorking Religious Society of Friends in September 1993, March 1995 and January 1996.
- Bibliography: David M Butler, The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain (Friends Historical Society, 1999);
Jeremy Greenwood, Nonconformity in South-East Surrey with special reference to Reigate, 1988;
T W Marsh, Some Records of the Early Friends in Surrey and Sussex (London, 1886);
J S L Pulford, An Index of Kingston Quakers in the Seventeenth Century (Walton & Weybridge Local History Society, 1971);
Herbert Rowntree, Early Quakerism in Guildford (Rowntree, 1952);
William C Stewart, Notes on the History of Dorking Meeting (paper read at the centenary of Dorking Meeting House, 1946);
Beryl Williams, Quakers in Reigate, 1655-1955 (Williams, 1980);
A Brief Account of the Trust Properties belonging to the Society of Friends within the area of Sussex, Surrey, Hants and part of Dorset Quarterly Meeting (1886);
Short Particulars of the Charities or Trust Properties of or connected with the Society of Friends, wholly or partly within the area of Dorking, Horsham and Guildford Monthly Meeting (1929);
Short particulars of the Charities and Trust Properties and Charities held by the Society of Friends under the Dorking, Horsham and Guildford Monthly Meeting (1954);
Short particulars of the Charities and Trust properties administered by the Dorking and Horsham Monthly Meetings of the Religious Society of Friends (1967)
- Arrangement: Wherever possible, these records have been arranged using the original order in the Dorking Religious Society of Friends, 'Catalogue of Records', 1954, that accompanied this deposit, (see -/12/73). Numbers in square brackets after some entries refer to the original numbering of the records by the Dorking Friends, where numbers were allocated. Where no original order could be gauged, records have been arranged in chronological order by Monthly Meeting or function.
Records of Monthly Meetings are followed by those of Preparative Meetings, then property records and a few records relating to yearly and quarterly meetings.
- For more information contact: Surrey History Centre Collections Catalogue
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