My work is concerned with Quaker occupations in the eighteenth century. The data has been developed from the Quaker marriage records and I have a database of just over 10,000 records covering England and Wales. The objectives are to assess if there are occupational areas of particular interest to Quakers and how Quaker and general employment patterns compare. I intend to make a particular study of the Quaker impact on the iron industry. This is a sector that has been identified as one where Quakers were important, but it is not clear if this significance is general or related to specific individuals or families.
Quakers; Quaker occupations; Eighteenth century; Quaker geography; Iron industry.
About Ian Cook
(Isle of Man)
This work brings together several strands of my life. Professionally I have been involved in engineering and finance, originally training as a metallurgist and working with cast metal. Later in life I found Quakers and was surprised to discover that Abraham Darby, the architect of the iron industry’s eighteenth century transformation, was a Quaker. Not only that but that there was a view that Quaker shad been extraordinarily influential on the industry at that time. I’d also had a nagging feeling, stemming from a Masters degree viva, of unfinished business with research. Consequently my subject rapidly solidified (a pun on my previous career there……) into a doctoral programme. Almost equally quickly I found that iron industry occupational data was rarer than I’d hoped, so the study broadened into a wider study of eighteenth Quaker economic activity through their occupations. I’m beginning to find that the iron connection relied on a few very able families, there is little obvious evidence of iron being significant for the wider body of Quakers. Most Quakers worked in occupations that reflected the normality of their surroundings, although it is necessary to take account of factors particularly pertinent them, such as early years persecution of the pressure for endogamy.