Records From Britain

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“An Abundance of Riches”


This part of the database features parish records from pilgrim churches and testimony of persecution and religious intolerance.

Chief amongst these is the hitherto neglected Collection of Sufferings, an outstanding genealogical and historical goldmine featuring non-Conformist acts of rebellion against the church, fines, punishment and transportation to the Americas. There are 30,126 unique Quaker and establishment records, never previously released.

Our exquisitely detailed database tracks the Quakers and their adversaries from the early 1650s to 1689 when laws were relaxed. They can be traced around the country, to see what lives they led and the persecution they endured. Many of them reveal their occupations, relationships and wealth as well as the hamlets, villages and towns they lived in and frequented.

Britain Highlights

17th Century British Births and Baptisms16,553 records
   → British Births including thousands for early Americans.
Quakers & Adversaries27,684 records
   → A complete and unique collection of 17th century persecuted Quakers.
Crime & Punishment11,863 records
   → The offences and punishments of 17th century Quakers.
Distraint3,096 records
   → 17th century Quakers who had their goods forfeited below market price.
The 17th Century British Establishment2,836 records
   → Royalty, knights, military, Judiciary, peers versus the Quakers.
Persecutors 2,080 records
   → Enforcers, informers, clergy & prosecutors in Britain and America.
Home38,752 records
   → Where 17th C British residents lived in Britain, down to the smallest village.
English Origins114,015 records
   → List of individuals with English origins.
Scottish, Irish & Welsh Origins2,898 records
   → List of Scottish, Irish & Welsh.
Note that the above are record sets derived from one database of unique records and will consequently overlap.
Eg. An English Quaker will appear in a Quaker record set and English Origins.

Pilgrims and Persecution

For the very first time, to our knowledge, this whole book has been transcribed by ourselves and digitised into genealogically precious data to do justice to the original endeavours. The database shows non-conformists, where they lived and how they were treated: The Establishment, Judiciary and Law and Order. Even spies and spiteful clergy…

Many left Britain for America after being badly treated by Church authorities. Such mistreatment of these dissenters, rebels and non-conformists was painstakingly recorded in each county and formed a treatise of exquisitely detailed testimony called, snappily, “A COLLECTION OF THE SUFFERINGS of the PEOPLE called QUAKERS, FOR THE Testimony of a Good Conscience, FROM The TIME of their being first distinguished by that NAME in the Year 1650, to the TIME of the Act, commonly called the Act of Toleration, granted to Protestant Dissenters in the first Year of the Reign of King WILLIAM the Third and Queen MARY, in the Year 1689. Taken from ORIGINAL RECORDS and other AUTHENTICK Accounts.”

Discover Why

The database shows non-conformists, where they lived and how they were treated: The Establishment, Judiciary and Law and Order. Even spies.

Our index features Quakers, their prosecutors, informers, farmers, the Judiciary, clergy and so much more.

The accounts are organised by county and year with over 30,000 events indexed by date, name and location with full details appended to each person. We hope it stands as a permanent resource for family historians and scholars alike.

1684 Account of Quaker Sufferings, Lancashire

Imprisoned for not swearing

Why was it a crime not to swear the oath; to meet people; or to refuse to take off a hat?

‘Hat honour’ or the removing of hats by men in the presence of a social superior was expected in the seventeenth century, but, following their testimony to the equality of all people before God, Quakers did not observe this practice. They suffered for their obduracy by incurring fines, escalating to imprisonment for such a mundane misdemeanour.

Trials and Imprisonments of Quakers

Many Quakers were imprisoned in Lancaster Castle for trivial offences or for refusing to pay tithes (a poll tax on their assets). At an Assizes trial, George Fox refused to remove his hat, telling the judge that all were equal before God. He persuaded the justices to examine the Castle prison conditions for themselves: ‘and when they came up they were durst scarcely to go. It was bad… rain and windy, and the badness of the floor… and others that came up said that it was a jakes house’ (toilet).

By the 1680s, hundreds of Quakers were imprisoned in the castle and 13 died there.

The pious Disposition, and sweet Frame of Mind wherein these Christian Sufferers endured their Confinement, is excellently expressed by one of them, viz. Mary Southworth, a religious Maiden, afterward married to Henry Mollineux, in the following Poem, which we recommend to our Readers Perusal, viz.

Vol. 1, page 328 (Lancashire. 1684)

Meditations concerning our Imprisonment,

only for Consciencesake, 1684, in Lancaster Castle,

Tho the Eternal Wisdom, Sion’s King,

Be pleas’d to try his Babes by Suffering;

Tho some departing from the Sinners Way,

And walking Sion-ward become a Prey;

Rich and Poor

All classes in these volumes are listed, from the King to Samuel Glent, a poor boy who had his clothes taken from him.

What were their misdemeanours that could have led to them being imprisoned, left to die or transported to another continent? Where exactly did they live and meet each other?

Discover where they lived

Distraint records can pinpoint precise names and locations. In 1683 and 1684, the following lived around Berkshire:-

John Hoskins, Midgham; Joseph Stevens, Baulkin; George White, Bucklebury; Richard Vokins, West Chalow; Daniel Bunce, Cherney; John Knowles, Chalow; Samuel Burgis, Brimpton; Paul Newman, Eton; Samuel Burgis, Brimpton; William Bryan, Bucklebury.

The entries also show fines levied on 1,000s of individuals and as these were based on the failure to pay tithes, a poll tax charged at a tenth of an estate.  Using this as a benchmark, it is therefore possible to estimate the comparative wealth of those fined.

Par 2 Distresses.

£. s. d.

Paul Newman 0  5  0

Richard Allen 0  10  0 

William Orpwood 0  16  0

John Hoskins of Midgham 1  8  0

Samuel Burgis of Brimpton 0  6  0

Andrew Pearson 0  5  0

Ferdinando Tull 2  3  0

John Giddin 2  12  0

£8  5 shillings 0 pence

Par 3

And for the same Cause Paul Newman, and Edmund Orpwood his Servant, were sent to Goal.

Taken also this Year for Tithe of Corn, From

£.s. d

John Knowles of Chalow, to the Value of 3  16  6 Tithes.

Richard Vokins of West Chalow 16  17  4

Daniel Bunce of Cherney 5  5  4

George White of Bucklebury 6  4  0

Joseph Stevens of Baulkin 3  12  0

£35  15 shillings 2 pence

Ridgeway Berkshire courtesy of Global Grasshopper


The following are offences and punishment found in the Britain part of the database:-



  • Absence from church
  • Conflict with Priest
  • Marrying
  • Meeting
  • Preaching
  • Public worship
  • Rebellion
  • Refusal to comply
  • Riot
  • Sabbath-breaking
  • School
  • Third offence
  • Unpaid tithes
  • Wearing the hat
  • Abjuration of the Realm
  • Distraint
  • Excommunication
  • Imprisoned & death
  • Imprisoned & distraint
  • Imprisonment
  • Imprisonment & Excommunication
  • Imprisonment & Premunire
  • Imprisonment & Banishment
  • Prison & Distraint of goods
  • Prison & Distraint; died
  • Prison & Excommunication
  • Sequestrated
  • Transportation

Some brave souls were charged with and convicted of refusal to carry banished passengers.

Others for various increasingly peculiar offences such as teaching school; visiting Anne Blakely and wearing the hat:-

Absence from church; Absent from worship; Conventicle; Exchequer Process; Hat; Hats; Refusal to swear; Marrying; Meeting; Meeting & Sabbath; Meeting & Sabbath-breaking; Meeting for funeral; Opening shop on Xmas Day; Preaching; Preaching & refusal to swear; Pretended debt; Prosecutor; Public worship; Rebellion; Recommitted; Refusal to Bear Arms; Refusal to carry banished passengers; Refusal to contribute to church; Refusal to find Sureties; Refusal to give security; Refusal to give sureties; Refusal to give sureties for bail; Refusal to give sureties to appear in Court; Refusal to pay Church-Rates; Refusal to Pay toward Sextons Wage; Refusal to pay for church repairs; Refusal to pay for Easter-Offerings; Refusal to pay for church repairs; Refusal to pay for parish clerk wages; Refusal to pay baptismal fees; Refusal to pay church rates; Refusal to pay demand; Refusal to pay fine; Refusal to pay Fine for absence from church; Refusal to pay fine for rescuing prisoner; Refusal to pay fine for speaking to priest; Refusal to pay fines; Refusal to Pay Several Sums Demanded; Refusal to pay tithes; Refusal to pay Tithes and church rates; Refusal to pay towards church repairs; Refusal to pay towards parish wages; Refusal to pay towards the Militia; Refusal to plead; Refusal to provide Bond; Refusal to provide Bond after Meeting; Refusal to swear; Refusal to swear & conventicle; Refusal to swear & meeting; Refusal to swear & tithes; Refusal to take oath; Refusal to take off hat; Refusal to Take The Oath; Refusal to take the Oath of Allegiance; Refusal to take the Sacrament; Refusing to bear arms; Refusing to find Sureties; Refusing to pay Tithes and church rates; Refusing to take the Sacrament; Reprehending a priest; Reproving a Priest; Rioting for holding meeting; Sabbath-breaking; Sentence extended; Speaking to priest & preaching; Teaching School; Testimony of Truth; Third offence; Unpaid tithes; Unpaid tithes & meeting; Unpaid tithes & refusal swear; Unpaid tithes & refusal to bear arms; Visiting Anne Blakely; Wearing the hat; and Wife at Meeting.

Goals, Gaol, Castle and Prison

A list of prisons mentioned in the Sufferings and part of our database. Make connections with those imprisoned in the same place or time.

Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Devon, courtesy English Heritage

  • Aldburgh
  • Appleby
  • Arged
  • Armagh
  • Aylesbury
  • Banbury
  • Basingstoke
  • Bedford
  • Bedford Bridewell
  • Beverly
  • Bishopsgate
  • Blyborough
  • Bodmin
  • Boston
  • Bristol Bridewell
  • Bristol Castle Newgate
  • Bristol City
  • Bristol
  • Buckingham
  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Cambridge
  • Cambridge Castle
  • Canterbury
  • Cardiff
  • Carlisle
  • Carmarthen Castle
  • Carrickfergus
  • Cavan
  • Chelmsford County Gaol
  • Chester Common Goal
  • Colchester Castle
  • Cork
  • Derby County Gaol
  • Dolgellau
  • Dorchester County Gaol
  • Durham County Gaol
  • Edmundsbury
  • Exeter County Gaol
  • Exon (Exeter)
  • Fisherton
  • Fisherton Anger
  • Fleet London
  • Gloucester Castle Co. Gaol
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Hereford Common Gaol
  • Hereford County Gaol
  • Hertford Common Goal
  • Hertford County Goal
  • Horsham County
  • Huntingdon Common Gaol
  • Huntingdon County Gaol
  • Huntington
  • Ilchester
  • Ipswich
  • Kilkenny or Wexford
  • Lancaster Castle
  • Launceston Castle
  • Launceston County Gaol
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Lincoln Castle
  • Maidstone
  • Marshalsea
  • Maryborough
  • Melton
  • Monmouth
  • Montgomery
  • Morpeth
  • Newbury
  • Northampton
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham Town & County Gaol
  • Oakham
  • Oxford
  • Pendennis Castle
  • Phillip’s Town
  • Pontefract
  • Prestatyn
  • Newington Bridewell
  • Reading
  • Reading & Fleet London
  • Reading County Gaol
  • Richmond
  • Shrewsbury
  • Southampton
  • St Germain’s Castle Peel
  • Stafford
  • Tolzey Court Bristol
  • Tregaron
  • Truro
  • Usk
  • Wakefield
  • Warwick
  • Waterford
  • Wexford
  • Wicklow
  • Winchester County Gaol
  • Winton
  • Wisbech
  • Worcester
  • Writhen
  • York Castle

Historic Counties of Britain

English County Flags


  • Bedfordshire
  • Berkshire
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Cheshire (County of Chester)
  • Cornwall
  • Cumberland
  • Derbyshire
  • Devon
  • Dorset
  • County Durham
  • Essex
  • Gloucestershire
  • Hampshire
  • Herefordshire
  • Hertfordshire
  • Huntingdonshire
  • Kent
  • Lancashire (County of Lancaster)
  • Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire
  • Middlesex
  • Norfolk
  • Northamptonshire
  • Northumberland
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Oxfordshire
  • Rutland
  • Shropshire (County of Salop)
  • Somerset
  • Staffordshire
  • Suffolk
  • Surrey
  • Sussex
  • Warwickshire
  • Westmorland
  • Wiltshire
  • Worcestershire
  • Yorkshire


  • Anglesey
  • Brecknockshire
  • Caernarfonshire
  • Cardiganshire
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Denbighshire
  • Flintshire
  • Glamorganshire
  • Merionethshire
  • Monmouthshire
  • Montgomeryshire
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Radnorshire


  • Aberdeenshire
  • Argyll
  • Ayrshire
  • Banffshire
  • Berwickshire
  • Bute
  • Caithness
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Cromartyshire
  • Dumbartonshire
  • Dumfriesshire
  • Edinburghshire
  • Elginshire
  • Fife
  • Forfarshire
  • Haddingtonshire
  • Inverness-shire
  • Kincardineshire
  • Kinross-shire
  • Kirkcudbrightshire
  • Lanarkshire
  • Linlithgowshire
  • Nairnshire
  • Orkney
  • Peeblesshire
  • Perthshire
  • Renfrewshire
  • Ross-shire
  • Roxburghshire
  • Selkirkshire
  • Shetland (Zetland)
  • Stirlingshire
  • Sutherland
  • Wigtownshire

More about Quakers and the Law

Refusal to Swear the Oath

The Act of Uniformity led to about 2,000 Presbyterians and Independents vicars and rectors being driven from their parishes as nonconformists to face persecution at the hands of the authorities. 

‘THE Quaker refusal to swear was one of the outward testimonies which frequently brought Friends into conflict with the established authorities of church and state, leading to personal and financial “sufferings”. The laws which required oaths to be used were of two distinct varieties. First, there were those directed against the post-Restoration dissenters, the majority of which laws were suspended by the Toleration Act of 1689.2 For Friends the most important of these, in theory, was the Quaker Act of 1662, the purpose of which was to prevent any person from refusing to take an oath, and the Conventicle Act of 1664 which laid down that the refusal to take an oath in court was punishable by fines and transportation. Secondly, Friends were open to sufferings through the operation of a variety of laws concerning matters of trade and property which demanded the sanction of an oath. Foremost in this category was the requirement of oaths in order to import and export goods, prove wills, enter copyholds and gain freedoms. Furthermore, Friends might be called upon to swear in order to serve a number of offices from alderman to constable.

From the beginning, the Quakers were persecuted for holding and attending meetings or interrupting the priests as they preached in church. Later, laws were passed against refusing to pay tithes to the Church of England and, after the restoration of the monarchy, refusing to swear an oath of loyalty to the Crown.

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