George Richardson Lecture 2011


William Charles Braithwaite’s The Beginnings of Quakerism has become something of an honoured historical relic. It still has great value as a repository of detailed facts not to be found elsewhere, but historical studies have moved on. So much has been published in recent years on the period of the Interregnum that the interpretation given in Beginnings has been superseded, in political history first by the Marxist historians and then by their various successors, in social history by the development of women’s studies, and, in relation to Quaker history, by a plethora of works on the origins and early development of the Quaker movement.

But if one considers The Second Period of Quakerism the situation is different. The period it covers, 1661 to the early eighteenth century, has been much less thoroughly trawled over by general historians, though this situation is changing. Short histories of Quakerism, such as John Punshon’s Portrait in Quaker Grey, deal briefly with it, and several books have been written about particular aspects of the period, but no-one since Braithwaite has written the full Quaker story of the latter part of the seventeenth century. The Second Period of Quakerism, first published 1919 with a second edition 1961, remains the standard work, and it is overdue for replacement. This lecture will attempt to consider the form that a new history of the Second Period might take. It will look at developments in general historical studies as well as recent work on Quakerism, in order to consider how far Braithwaite’s understanding of the Second Period is in need of revision.


Rosemary Moore – Born 1932, I read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, where I encountered Quakers. I became a member in 1954 and have been an active Quaker ever since. I then took a London University theology degree, and taught Religious Education in girls’ grammar schools before moving into primary education. I obtained early retirement in 1985, and returned to academic studies, which led in 1993 to my Birmingham Ph.D., ‘The Faith of the First Quakers’. This, with additional material and a good deal of re-writing, became a book, The Light in Their Consciences: Early Quakers in Britain 1646-1666, published by Pennsylvania State University Press in 2000. I have published a number of articles on early Quakers, and been involved with the editing of various early Quaker texts. I have assisted as tutor with a number of Woodbrooke short courses, and am part of the staff team at the Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies at Woodbrooke and the University of Birmingham.

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