Quarterly Meeting Classification Scheme
Bedfordshire Quarterly Meeting NQ1
Monthly Meeting Classification Scheme
Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meeting NQ2
Ampthill Monthly Meeting NQ3
Preparative Meeting Classification Scheme
Hitchin Preparative Meeting NQ2A
Baldock Preparative Meeting NQ2B
Hertford Preparative Meeting NQ2C
Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting NQ2D
Ware Preparative Meeting NQ2E
Datchworth Preparative Meeting NQ2F
Welwyn Garden City Preparative Meeting NQ2G
Hunsdon Preparative Meeting NQ2H
Ashwell Preparative Meeting NQ2I
Buntingford Preparative Meeting NQ2J
Royston Preparative Meeting NQ2K
Stotfold Preparative Meeting NQ3A
Concordance - list of old and new references
Appendix A - Other Quaker material held at Hertfordshire Record Office
There were seven main areas for which the Monthly Meeting was responsible and from which most of the records survive.
1. Removals and Settlements
Although it had been customary, from the 1670s, for Friends who moved around the country to take a certificate from their Monthly Meeting to the Monthly Meeting in the area they had moved to assuring the latter of their good-standing in the Society, it was not until the mid-18th century that it became general to record out-going certificates, and in many cases certificates were kept on file but not minuted. The Monthly Meeting was able to recommend the individual without him applying directly for the certificate. The certificates were usually sent from one clerk to another, on application.
The Monthly Meeting investigated the conduct of the Friend who was removing. If he was a minister or an elder that was to be noted (see ministry). A man's wife and his children under 16 were also to be noted on the certificate. Three Friends besides the clerk were to sign the certificate. On receipt of the certificate an acknowledgement was to be sent to the Monthly Meeting which had sent the certificate and the other Monthly Meeting was to visit them. Insolvents were not to be granted a certificate nor was anyone who had been in receipt of poor relief within the last three months nor anyone who had been disowned.
It is important to note that the certificate might not be sent for many months if there were complications. It is also important that the two places mentioned are the two monthly meetings not the places of residence.
2. Disownment and Reinstatement
Among disownable offences were:- habitually absenting oneself from meetings for worship; drinking to excess; commercial dishonesty including most cases of bankruptcy; having an illegitimate child or a child conceived out of wedlock; paying tithes; being concerned in war (ie having armed vessels, joining the army or hiring a substitute for the militia); marriage before a priest, or being present at such a marriage.
The matter was normally reported to the Monthly Meeting by the Preparative Meeting. Their procedure, which was often protracted, was to interview the offenders, seek repentance and if this was not forthcoming, disown the individual usually with a formula about readmission in case of amendment. The full details, usually following this pattern, were inserted in the minute book or in a special book:
a) Identification of the individual being disciplined and his/her Quaker credentials;
b) The offence and its antecedents;
c) Narrative of the attempts made to reclaim the offender;
d) Repudiation of the impenitent;
e) The possibility of repentance.
It is important to note that disownment did not involve expulsion from meetings for worship, and those who continued to attend were usually reinstated after a decent period.
Discipline provided that reinstatement should be done by the disowning Monthly Meeting. Sometimes, therefore, the disowning Monthly Meeting would make enquiries of the Monthly Meeting in which the person who had been disowned was then resident before proceeding to reinstatement. After reinstatement the Monthly Meeting might well have issued a certificate of removal whose date would bear no resemblance to the actual date of removal.
3. Sufferings and Tithes
The Quakers were anxious to record the hardships and persecutions they underwent, which generally took the form of fines, distraints and imprisonment, both before and after 1689, largely due to the fact that they refused to pay tithes. Hardships arising from the Friends' refusal to swear oaths were administered separately.
Friends also recorded detailed questions and answers containing legal advice on the avoidance of persecution where they could do so with a good conscience.
To help Friends in local meetings copies of "model" testimonies were sent down to them and hence some of the testimonies which have been recorded follow very similar patterns. Eventually the testimonies were read out in the Quarterly Meeting having been "perfected" or "digested" at the Monthly Meeting.
There are usually minute books containing details of sufferings and account books listing distraints and amounts taken or paid.
4. Births and Burials
See section 5 for marriages see also DSA 3/5 transcript's burials
The Quaker documentation concerning births (the Friends did not recognise the outward sacrament of baptism) and burials was not as detailed as that concerning marriages. Register books were kept from the late 1650s. The registers record births, marriages and burials (which usually but not always record the date of the death). In some of the birth registers adult members of the Meeting recorded their own dates of birth, so that some of the registers have retrospective entries as early as 1578. In general, responsibility for compiling the registers rested with the Monthly Meeting although for ease of reference many of the Preparative Meetings maintained their own separate registers. From 1776, Yearly Meeting formulated a more systematic method of registration, printed books being provided for the Quarterly and Monthly Meetings (see also Note 1 Register Digests).
In every Monthly Meeting and Preparative Meeting two people were appointed to give out birth notes (the official notification of the birth) and to keep a note of to whom they were given and then report this at the next Monthly meeting. Two copies of the notes were filled in (see figure 3) and signed for each birth and then sent to the Monthly Meeting. After they had been duly noted one was to be given to the parents and the other recorded in the register book. The note was then sent to the Quarterly Meeting within one year and it was registered and filed there as well.
From the very beginning the Quakers had burial grounds, usually pieces of land which had been purchased or donated. In many cases they preceded the building of the Meeting House as vicars refused to bury Quakers in their graveyards and the Quakers, in any case, did not believe in the necessity of burial in consecrated ground. The maintenance of the burial ground was the responsibility of the Preparative Meeting. As with births, two people were appointed in each Preparative and Monthly Meeting to give out the burial notes, to keep a note of to whom they had been delivered and to report this at the next Monthly Meeting. They were to be completed with the following information:
a) Condition of the deceased (ie his occupation or his usual addition);
b) Whether the deceased was a wife, widow, son or daughter etc. (see figure 4)
The notes were to be registered in the Monthly Meeting in the compass of which the burial ground was situated, and sent to the Monthly Meeting in which the deceased person had been resident, if the two were different. An order was then sent to the gravedigger. All burial notes were to be sent to the Quarterly Meeting within a year to be registered there. (see also Note 1 Register Digests)
For births and burials see section 4
Until 1837 there were only three places in which a couple could legally marry: the Anglican church, the Jewish Synagogue (for a marriage between two Jews) and the Friends Meeting House (for a marriage between two Friends). Thus Quaker marriages were documented in great detail.
During the Commonwealth Friends adopted declarations before witnesses in a way similar to that laid down for the civil marriage ceremony in the Directory of Publique Worship (1644) but denied the need for a priest or minister believing that a marriage was a contract made before God between the two parties and that there was no need for any intermediary. The continuation of this practice after the Restoration in 1660 meant that in the eyes of the established church there was no marriage and any children were illegitimate. However, civil law given in judgements from 1661 decreed otherwise and held that marriages between two Friends according to this practice were legal.
The Society, therefore, developed a complex system of preparations to replace the calling of banns. In 1753 the Yearly Meeting standardised the procedure (although the minute detail might vary from Meeting to Meeting).
Each party had to declare his or her intention to marry at their respective local meetings, parental consent to the marriage would then be checked, the rights of any children by any previous marriage protected, and any prior engagement and financial circumstances examined. All the necessary documents would be presented at the next Monthly Meeting, and if approved, a date was set when the parties could take one another before witnesses (usually at the mid-week meeting for worship). The form of their declaration was laid down and all the witnesses (of which there had to be at least twelve) signed the certificate.
Quaker marriage certificates, of whatever period, handwritten or printed, should contain all the following information:
a) The full identification of the contracting parties, usually with their residence;
b) Information that notice of the marriage had been given to the meeting concerned;
c) Freedom of the contracting parties from any other marriages or engagements;
d) Permission granted by the Meeting to proceed in the matter;
e) The wording of the vows, mutually exchanged, promising life-long love and fidelity;
f) The signatures of at least twelve witnesses to the marriage (although it was normal practice for everyone present to sign the certificate)
The Monthly Meeting recorder would then make a full copy of this certificate, usually by hand, to be kept in the Meeting records. Before 1753 the form of vows often varied, but was agreed beforehand so that it could be entered on the marriage certificate.
Two people were appointed in each Monthly Meeting to register marriages. The certificate was to be recorded in a book (although the Monthly Meeting copies were sometimes kept loose) and witnessed as a true copy. An index to the book was usually compiled for easy reference.
An abstract of this record was to sent to the woman's Quarterly Meeting within one year (see figure 5) and also to the man's Quarterly Meeting if the two were different.
Until 1859 this form of marriage was considered to be legal only between two Friends. In 1859 the law was extended to allow a marriage in a Meeting House to take place between a Friend and a non-Friend, and in 1872 between anyone approved by the Society.
Friends could not accept the marriage of a Friend before a priest. This was equally true whether the marriage was to another Friend or to a non-Friend. Two Friends not infrequently chose to marry before the priest either because of an insuperable difficulty in Quaker discipline (ie lack of parental consent or a marriage between first cousins), or because the protracted nature of the Quaker preliminaries was irksome (and if a child had been conceived out of wedlock disownment might take place anyway). After 1860 those married before a priest were still liable to disownment, however, different Monthly Meetings ceased to disown at different dates towards the end of the nineteenth century. It should be noted that "marrying out" was not in itself a disownable offence but as legally marriage outside the Meeting House involved marrying before a priest it became a disownable offence on that score.
The Society of Friends has never supported a paid ministry which has enabled it to form many small, local congregations rather than having to have a congregation large enough to support a minister.
The Quaker meeting for worship contains large periods of silent waiting upon the Lord. Out of this silence vocal ministry might be given by anyone of the worshippers under the leading of the Holy Spirit. It was recognised from the beginning that the gift of vocal ministry had been given to some people and not to others. These men and women came to be known as "publick" Friends. In the early eighteenth century a more systematic recognition of these people by the Monthly Meetings was seen to be needed and the Friends considered to be ministers were known as "acknowledged" or "recorded" ministers. The practice of recording ministers was abolished by the Yearly Meeting in 1924.
To guard against Friends travelling up and down the country to minister unnecessarily, the practice grew whereby it was expected that a Friend travelling "in the ministry" either in this country, or abroad, should seek the agreement of his own Monthly Meeting who would then draw up a certificate of liberation for a Friend to carry as evidence of his credentials.
The title Elder appeared in Quaker documents from the 1650s onwards and this term meant "seasoned Friend". The specific appointment by the Monthly Meetings of these "seasoned Friends" or elders to advise the ministry began in the early eighteenth century.
From the late eighteenth century overseers had been appointed to have a care for friends who were in need and to watch over those who were not behaving in an acceptable manner. There was some confusion over the distinction between overseers and elders until as late as 1789 when the Yearly Meeting made a firm ruling.
From the 1750s onwards separate Monthly and Quarterly Meetings of ministers and elders were held. Later these separate meetings were also held by the larger Preparative Meetings. They were referred to as the Select Meeting. In 1876 the overseers and other Friends appointed by the Monthly Meeting were admitted to these meetings and they became known as Meetings of Ministry and Oversight.
The recorded ministers and the appointed elders and overseers attended these meetings and any other suitable Friends were also invited to attend. Each Monthly Meeting of Ministry and Oversight reported to the main Monthly Meeting in the Spring.
The Meeting of Ministry and Oversight had five main duties:
a) To oversee the religious condition of the particular congregations within their compass and to check whether the meetings for worship were held to the edification and honour of God;
b) To counsel, encourage and help those engaged in the work of the ministry, especially of the younger and more inexperienced;
c) To make arrangements to attend, occasionally, the Preparative Meetings within the compass of the Monthly Meeting, especially those in which little or no ministry was exercised;
d) To visit the infirm, the sick and the afflicted;
e) To care spiritually for the children and young people who attended the meetings, and the promotion of their religious and scriptural instruction and to propagate the Gospel in the area.
The Meeting for Ministry and Oversight was also responsible for considering various doctrinal Queries.
The Monthly Meeting was at the mid-point of the chain of Quaker financial and property management. Each Meeting, at every level, had a float of money which was known as its stock. This was raised largely by collections and legacies and was used for expenditure on the upkeep of premises, charity and relief payments, outgoings on apprenticeship and schools and legal payments. Preparative Meetings were the ultimate source for a flow of contributions which filtered upwards via the Monthly and Quarterly Meetings to the Yearly Meeting.
Monthly Meetings had also collected resources of their own in the form of bequests of land and investment funds, but very often in order to avoid having a deficit in their own running costs they had to appeal to the Preparative Meetings. Sometimes the Women's Meeting would make a grant to the Men's Meeting or in desperate cases appeal could be made to the Quarterly Meeting.
The Meeting Houses and burial grounds were usually the responsibility of the Preparative Meetings but the Monthly Meeting usually oversaw this responsibility. Very often the Monthly Meeting acted as one of the trustees of the Meeting House and burial ground and if a meeting for worship closed then the Monthly Meeting would be responsible for the disposal of the land and buildings.
There have been several Monthly Meetings in Hertfordshire since the seventeenth century. The Monthly Meeting which now covers Hertfordshire is the Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meeting which has had a long and varied history
The Baldock Monthly Meeting was established in 1668 when George Fox visited Hertfordshire for the second time. In 1688 it split into two Monthly Meetings, Baldock Monthly Meeting and Hitchin Monthly Meeting. In 1671 the two combined once more and in 1798 the Meeting became known as the Hitchin Monthly Meeting (see below). The Meeting was known variously as the Baldock and Royston Monthly Meeting, the Baldock, Royston, Ashwell and Hitchin Monthly Meeting and the Baldock, Ampthill and Hitchin Monthly Meeting.
The Cottered Monthly Meeting was established in 1695 to serve the Buntingford, Sandon and Rushden area. It amalgamated with the Hertford Monthly Meeting in 1761.
The Hertford Monthly Meeting was established in 1668 to serve the area around Hertford, Ware and Cheshunt. In 1748 the Bishops Stortford Monthly Meeting became a part of the Hertford Monthly Meeting although in 1794 it moved out once more this time to become part of the Thaxted Monthly Meeting (Essex). In 1761 the Cottered Monthly Meeting joined with the Hertford Monthly Meeting. In 1865 the Hertford Monthly Meeting and the Hitchin Monthly Meeting (see below) combined to become the Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meeting
The Hitchin Monthly Meeting was established in 1688 when it split off from the Baldock Monthly Meeting. (see under Baldock Monthly Meeting) In 1865 the Hitchin Monthly Meeting joined with that of Hertford to become the Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meeting.
The Ampthill Monthly Meeting [Beds] began life as a Preparative Meeting in the Pulloxhill Monthly Meeting [Beds] (1727-1785). In 1786 it was accorded Monthly Meeting status. In 1798 it became a Preparative Meeting once more, this time as part of the Hitchin Monthly Meeting. In 1865 it became a part of the Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting.
The Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meeting was created in 1865 when the Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meetings were amalgamated.
There was another Monthly Meeting in Hertfordshire called the Albans Monthly Meeting. Its early history is somewhat vague. However, it remained quite a strong meeting into the nineteenth century as Friends living in London often used to retire to St Albans and thus would take an active part in the Society there.
The area covered now by the Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meeting was all that could easily be dealt with at first using Hertford as the centre. St Albans and its district came under the care of the Bedfordshire Quarterly Meeting whilst West Hertfordshire was looked after by Buckinghamshire Quarterly Meeting.
When Friends settled in St Albans in the seventeenth century they were not pleased that the Monthly Meeting was held in Kensworth and it moved to Markyate. In 1703 the Albans Monthly Meeting became part of the Hertfordshire Quarterly Meeting. The Albans Monthly Meeting merged with that of Luton. The Preparative Meeting in St Albans closed in 1830.
Each Monthly Meeting was responsible for several Particular or Preparative Meetings. The Meeting met, usually once a month, as an administrative body, to prepare for the Monthly Meeting, to which each Preparative Meeting appointed representatives.
The Preparative Meeting records usually start later than those of the Monthly Meetings and Quarterly Meetings, sometimes not until the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.
Naturally the amount of recorded business which came before the Preparative Meeting was considerably less that that which came before the Monthly Meetings and the Quarterly Meetings. Often the first item on the agenda was to appoint representatives to the Monthly Meeting.
The Preparative Meeting exercised responsibility in five main areas:
The Preparative Meeting was a court of first instance for the disciplinary cases listed under disownment above. If necessary a disciplinary case could be taken by the representatives of the Preparative Meeting to the next Monthly Meeting. If the case resulted in disownment then the certificate would be sent to the Preparative Meeting.
2. Property and Finance
The most important part of a Meeting's property was its meeting house, usually with land adjoining and a burial ground. The Society anticipated the 1689 Toleration Act by building meeting houses in the 1670s (in the case of Hertford and some others it was as early at the late 1660s). The penal laws probably encouraged this practice for heavy fines were imposed on the owners of private houses where conventicles were held under the Second Conventicle Act 1670.
Meeting houses were the most plain and functional of places of worship. They were mostly characteristic of the local area in style and material. Apart from running repairs and alterations the meeting houses were not very costly to maintain and usually the burial ground cost less. The Society was at an advantage too for it did not have to find the money to maintain a manse as there was no paid pastorate.
Like the Monthly Meeting, the Preparative Meetings acquired a steady stream of bequests from deceased Friends sometimes with a specific purpose such as the provision of a school. Collections were often made for charitable and other purposes, for Monthly Meeting expenses and less frequently for Quarterly Meeting or "National" stock. There was an annual audit, and deficits arising from the Meeting's treasurer's authorised expenditure could be made good by collections.
3. Registration and Marriage
Preparative Meetings were permitted to keep their own transcripts of local births, marriages and deaths. These were usually copies of the entries sent to the next Monthly Meeting after a verbal announcement of the event at the Preparative Meeting.
The Preparative Meeting played a vital role in the marriage preparations as the man would announce his intention at both the Men's and the Women's Preparative Meetings. As that Meeting would know the parties better it was often left to them to make the necessary investigations prior to the marriage.
Although the Monthly Meeting dealt with the actual administration of charity, the Preparative Meeting was usually in a much better position to know the details of a particular case and to discern those most in need.
Charity transactions included responses to charitable appeals such as disasters and refugee crises. Collections were often taken for individual Friends who had met with trouble such as fire, flood or other accidents.
5. Suffering and Tithes
The Preparative Meeting was the obvious place for the collection of information about the local Friends' position concerning tithes and other church charges. The records fall into two categories:
a) Financial and factual digests of hardships and of goods lost by distraint as a result of Friends' refusal to pay such charges;
b) Statements of refusal to pay and the grounds for such refusal.
Annual assemblies of heads of households were held within the Preparative Meetings to record both categories ready to take to the next Monthly Meeting.
It is important to note the difference between a preparative meeting/particular meeting and a meeting for worship/allowed meeting. Only the larger meetings for worship became preparative meetings. The meeting for worship or allowed meeting had no place in the administrative structure of the Society and therefore few records survive unless the meeting became a preparative meeting.
As the Society of Friends was able to open and close meetings quite easily there have been a large number of preparative meetings in Hertfordshire. Some of these have had a long history and others a shorter one. Some of the preparative meetings have a large survival of records and for others there is little.
The list has been compiled from a list held by the Friends House Library and the records held at this Office. These are the Preparative Meetings that have been noted:
Ashwell Preparative Meeting
A meeting was settled at Ashwell in about 1668. The meeting house was registered in 1691. The meeting closed in 1836.
From 1668-1798 it was a part of the Baldock and Royston Monthly Meeting and from 1798 a part of the Hitchin Monthly Meeting.
Baldock Preparative Meeting
According to Urwick's History of Non-Conformity in Hertfordshire (1835), the first Quakers in Baldock were a Baptist woman and her husband who were "convinced" when George Fox first visited the town in 1665. However, there are no extant minute books to prove this. There was probably a meeting house in Baldock from about 1669. In 1904 the Hitchin and Baldock Preparative Meetings amalgamated and in 1932 the "Baldock" part of the name was dropped. The meeting house was sold in 1925 and demolished in 1945.
From 1668-1798, this meeting came under the Baldock and Royston Monthly Meeting, between 1798 and 1865 under the Hitchin Monthly Meeting and from 1865 under the Hertford and Hitchin Monthly Meeting.
Berkhampstead Preparative Meeting
The records of this meeting are held at Buckinghamshire Record Office, County Hall, Aylesbury, HP20 1UA
In 1760 the meeting which had previously been held at Weston Turville in Buckinghamshire moved to Tring where it remained until 1818 when a meeting house was built in Berkhampstead. It closed in 1892 and re-opened as an allowed meeting in 1899, regaining Preparative Meeting status in 1939 and re-emerging as an allowed meeting in 1950.
1760-1843: Buckinghamshire Quarterly Meeting: Upperside Monthly Meeting
1843-1857: Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire Quarterly Meeting: Upperside Monthly Meeting
1857-1865: Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire Quarterly Meeting: Upperside and Leighton Monthly Meeting
1865- : Bedfordshire Quarterly Meeting: Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting
Bishops Stortford Preparative Meeting
A Monthly meeting was established in Bishops Stortford in 1668 but in 1748 it was dissolved and joined to the Hertford Monthly Meeting as a Preparative Meeting. In 1791 the Preparative Meeting was handed over to Thaxted Monthly Meeting [Essex]. It was discontinued in 1800 and re-opened in 1828. It closed again in 1850 not to open again until 1963. The meeting was finally discontinued in 1967.
Buntingford Preparative Meeting
A meeting was established at Buntingford in 1674 and the meeting house was built in about 1715. The meeting was closed in 1836. The meeting came under the Hertford Monthly Meeting.
Cheshunt Preparative Meeting
A meeting had been established at Flamstead End by 1672. The meeting was a part of the Enfield Monthly Meeting and help towards the running costs was given by the Hertford Monthly Meeting, although the Enfield Monthly Meeting complained that the Hertford Monthly Meeting did not pay its share regularly. In 1707 the meeting house was registered as a place of worship and the meeting probably became a part of the Hertford Monthly Meeting at this time. A new meeting house was built in 1727. The meeting was closed in 1820.
Chorleywood Preparative Meeting
The records of the Albans Monthly Meeting are held at Bedfordshire Record Office, County Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP: see DDE 177 for details
The meeting held at Rickmansworth and Chorleywood was included in the Buckinghamshire Quarterly Meeting in 1668. In 1703, however, when the Albans Monthly Meeting was established this meeting was transferred to it and before 1724 it joined with the Flaunden and Watford Preparative Meeting. It was known as the Chorleywood Preparative Meeting from 1764. This meeting closed in 1827.
The meeting opened again as an allowed meeting in 1956 but soon became a Preparative Meeting under the Jordans Monthly Meeting and met in the Chorleywood Memorial Hall.
Cottered Preparative Meeting
Cottered Monthly Meeting was established in 1668. The meeting house opened in 1691. In 1761 the meeting was joined to Hertford Monthly Meeting and became a Preparative Meeting. The meeting was closed in 1821.
Datchworth Green Preparative Meeting
In 1928 an allowed meeting was opened at Knebworth and in 1935 it moved to the village hall at Woolmer Green. In 1936 the meeting was recognised as Preparative Meeting and about 1940 it again moved this time to the Baptist Chapel at Datchworth Green. The meeting closed in December 1958.
Harpenden Preparative Meeting
The records of the Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting are held at Bedfordshire Record Office, County Hall, Bedford, MK42 9AP: see DDE 177 for details.
An allowed meeting was opened at Harpenden in 1920 and it was given Preparative Meeting status in 1928. A meeting house was built in 1933.
Hemel Hempstead Preparative Meeting
The records of this meeting are held at the Bedfordshire Record Office, County Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP: see DDE 177 for details
A meeting for worship was established in 1667 and the meeting house was built in 1718. The meeting was discontinued in 1905. An allowed meeting opened in 1949 and was accorded Preparative Meeting status in 1956. It is now a part of the Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting.
Hertford Preparative Meeting
A meeting for worship was established in about 1655 when George Fox visited Hertford, and the meeting house, one of the oldest in the country, was erected in 1670. The meeting was known as the Hertford Preparative Meeting until about 1854 when it became known as the Hertford and Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting. In 1915 Hoddesdon acquired its own Preparative Meeting once more.
Hitchin Preparative Meeting
The Hitchin Preparative Meeting was established in the early eighteenth century although the first extant minute book begins in November 1761. From April 1904 until November 1932 the meeting was known as the Hitchin and Baldock Preparative Meeting (adjoined). After November 1932 it went back to being known as the Hitchin Preparative Meeting.
Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting
It is generally believed that George Fox himself instituted a meeting at Hoddesdon either in the 1650s or in the 1660s. In the 1830s it became known as the Ware and Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting. In 1854 the meeting became part of the Hertford and Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting. In 1915 the Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting became independent once more.
Hunsdon Preparative Meeting
A meeting for worship was established in Hunsdon possibly in the late seventeenth century. The meeting was discontinued in 1815. It was a part of the Hertford Monthly Meeting.
Letchworth Preparative Meeting
An allowed meeting was opened in Letchworth in 1906 and was accorded Preparative Meeting status in 1907. The meeting house was built at about the same time.
Markyate Preparative Meeting
The records of the Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting are held at Bedfordshire Record office, County Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP: see DDE 177 for details
In 1654 it is thought that a meeting was established in Markyate Street, Dunstable (Beds) and Sewell (Beds). It was accorded Monthly Meeting status but was amalgamated with Dunstable Preparative Meeting in about 1753. The meeting house was sold in 1761.
Radlett Allowed Meeting
During the latter half of the Second World War some members of the Albans Meeting living in the Radlett area found it difficult to travel to St Albans, so an allowed meeting opened at Radlett in 1943. The meeting was discontinued in 1945.
Royston Preparative Meeting
A meeting was settled at Royston by 1660. The meeting house was registered in 1691. The meeting was discontinued in 1841.
Originally part of the Baldock Monthly Meeting, it then became a part of the Hitchin Monthly Meeting.
Albans Preparative Meeting
The records of this meeting are held at Bedfordshire Record Office, County Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP: see DDE 177 for details
A meeting was established in St Albans by about 1669. The meeting house was built in what is now Spencer Street. The meeting was discontinued in 1830 and the meeting house was closed. In 1899 an allowed meeting opened but closed in 1900. The meeting re-opened once more as an allowed meeting in 1905 and was accorded Preparative Meeting status in 1906. Originally part of the Albans. Monthly Meeting it became part of the Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting.
Sawbridgeworth Preparative Meeting
It is thought that a meeting was established in Sawbridgeworth in about 1659 but had been discontinued by 1748.
Stevenage Preparative Meeting
It is believed that a meeting was established in Stevenage in the late seventeenth century. The meeting house was registered in 1691 in Shephall. The meeting was discontinued before 1761.
Ware Preparative Meeting
A meeting for worship had been established in Ware by 1660. A meeting place was secured in about 1670 and the meeting house in Kibes Lane was built about 1729. In the 1830s the Meeting became known as the Ware and Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting. In 1854, however, this Meeting joined with that of Hertford to become the Hertford and Hoddesdon Preparative Meeting. The Ware Preparative Meeting was discontinued in 1864.
It was a part of the Hertford Monthly Meeting.
Watford Preparative Meeting
The records of this Meeting are held at Bedfordshire Record Office, The County Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP, see DDE 177 for details
The Watford Meeting was included in the Buckinghamshire Quarterly Meeting in 1668. In 1703 it transferred to the Albans Monthly Meeting. In 1724 it amalgamated with the Rickmansworth and Chorleywood Meeting. The Meeting was discontinued in 1827. An allowed Meeting opened in 1902 and was accorded Preparative Meeting status in 1904. It is part of the Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting.
Welwyn Garden City Preparative Meeting
A Meeting was established in about 1923, the meeting house in Handside Lane was opened in January 1926.
Ampthill Preparative Meeting (Beds)
The records of this Meeting can be seen in NQ3 and at Bedfordshire Record Office, County Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP: see DDE 177 for details
The Meeting in Ampthill was established in 1727. The meeting house was built in 1754. In 1798 the Meeting became part of the Hitchin Monthly Meeting and in 1865 moved over to the Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting. The Meeting was discontinued in 1880.
Note 1: Register Digests
Extracted from My Ancestors were Quakers, E H Milligan and M J Thomas pp3-4, pp18-23
The digests made by the Society in 1840-1842 (see NQ1/5B/1-2, NQ1/5C/1 and NQ1/5D/1) at the time of their surrender to Somerset House, were not transcripts. The registers relating to meetings within each of the then Quarterly Meetings in England and Wales had their contents systematically arranged so that, under each letter of the alphabet, entries in each series (ie births, marriages and burials) appear in approximately chronological order from the seventeenth century to 1837. Witnesses to marriages whose names appear in the original registers were not transcribed in the digests. The digests were made in duplicate, one copy being held centrally (now in the Friends House Library) and the other returned to the Quarterly Meeting.
Columns 1-2: The reference is to the original registers as listed in the 1841 report of the Registrar General's Office. The registers now at the Public Record Office, have a revised numerical series. If entries are in an identical form in more than one register there will be two or more bracketed figures in the digest. If entries are different in spelling or information given, there will be two (or more) entries in the digest.
Column 3: Name
Column 4: Date of birth (usually year, month and day)
Column 5: Place of birth
Column 6: Name of parents
Column 7: Parents' abode
Column 8: Occupation
Column 9: Monthly Meeting: It is important to be clear that this means the Monthly Meeting responsible for surrendering the register. It may be the style of the Monthly Meeting at the time of the birth, especially in nineteenth century entries; but because of the changes in style following amalgamations of Monthly Meetings, the likelihood is that it was not the name of the Monthly Meeting at the time that the birth entry was made.
Column 10: NM for non-member: Children, both of whose parents were in membership at the time of the birth, had until 1959 a right to membership. The entry "NM" indicates that a child, while not having that right, had some claim to be under the care of Friends. In general, this tended to be where one parent only was in membership. In some cases, however, "NM" was entered where neither parent appears to have been in membership - perhaps because one parent had been disowned for marriage before the priest to a non-Friend.
See NQ1/5C/1 and NQ1/5B/1
Columns 1-2: The reference to the original details are given under "Birth Digest"
Column 3: Name
Column 4: Residence
Column 5: Description of occupation
Column 6: Names of parents, in some cases names of step-parents are given
Column 7: Parents abode
Column 8: To whom married - name - residence: it should be remembered that the digests of marriages give entries under each party and that fuller particulars are likely to be found by looking up the other entry
Column 9: Where married
Column 10: Date of marriage (usually year, month, day)
Column 11: Monthly Meeting - for explanation see notes under "Births Digest"
See NQ1/5D/1 and NQ1/5B/1
Columns 1-2: The reference to the original details is given under "Birth Digest"
Column 3: Name
Column 4: Date of death (usually year, month, day)
Column 5: Age - this is prefixed with about. This could mean that the age is only correct on the actual date of birth
Column 6: Residence - care should be taken not to assume that this is the place of death
Column 7: Description or profession or trade
Column 8: Monthly Meeting - explanation given under "Birth Digest"
Column 10: Place of burial
Column 11: NM for non-member - The question of the interment of non members in Friends' burial grounds arose particularly in relation to disowned persons, more especially when their spouses were still in membership. Regulations adopted by Yearly Meeting 1744 provided that "when any person, not a member of the Society, is permitted to be buried in a Friends' burying ground, it is to be noted in the margin of the register." The book of discipline adopted in 1833 much more explicit provision for "one or more proper persons" to be appointed by the Monthly Meeting, to authorise the burial. Friends were to exercise discretion in complying with any application for the burial of a non-member.
See pp29-31 for a list of digests abstracted from E.H. Milligan and M.J. Thomas, My Ancestors were Quakers pp20-23
Note 2: Quaker dating
The Quakers refused to use the pagan names of days and months. Therefore they named each month from one to twelve and each day was just given its figure in the month. Before 1752 the first month was March and the twelfth month, February. After 1752 the first month was January and the twelfth month, December.
Thus as an example Monday 5th May 1883 would read the 5th day of the fifth month 1883.
Note 3: Quaker Tombstones
Whilst tombstones were sometimes erected in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, they were far from widespread. Yearly Meeting noted in 1717 that the "vain custom" was recognised in some places and that the stones should be removed and that no others be set up. The advice was given again in 1766. In 1850 Yearly Meeting agreed that graves might be marked by "a plain stone, the inscription on which is confined to a simple record of the name, age, and date of the decease, of the individual interred." In the years following a number of such stones were erected in relation to those who had died previous to 1850.
Note 4: Sufferings
Following a conference in the autumn of 1675 a "constant meeting about sufferings" was established, the series of minutes (now held at Friends House Library) beginning in June 1676. It dealt with cases of suffering anywhere in the country, and for this reason had a network of county correspondents who were in a position to bring to light cases where the prosecution might have been illegal. It met weekly until the late-eighteenth century and was entrusted with more and more work of a general nature being defined by the Yearly Meeting of 1833 as "a standing committee of this meeting ... entrusted with a general care of whatever may arise during the intervals of this meeting affecting our religious society and requiring immediate attention". The Meeting for Suffering meets on the first Friday of each month in London and is the general executive body of the Society of Friends.
Friends could be and were prosecuted for the following offences:
1) For not going to church;
2) Holding a meeting of five or more people under the pretence of worship;
3) Refusal to swear an oath;
4) Refusal to pay tithes, church rates and other customary dues;
5) Opening their shops on First Days (Sunday) and holidays (the Society believed that every day was holy and therefore there was nothing special about a Sunday);
6) Travelling on a First Day;
7) Being vagabonds or common nuisances;
8) Contempt of courts and magistrates (refusal to swear an oath or to remove their hats);
9) Teaching without a Bishop's Licence.
The main acts under which the Society was prosecuted were as follows:
a) The Quaker Act 1662 (13 and 14 Charles II c.1)
b) The Conventicle Acts 1664 and 1670
(16 Charles II c.4; 22 Charles II c.1)
c) The Recusancy Act 1580 (23 Elizabeth I c.1)