The life of Leicestershire born George Fox founded 1647 preachings that soon led a
Society of Friends. Travelling around Britain promoting dissenting beliefs led to several imprisonments, firstly at Nottingham in 1649. Confined for a year at Derby jail in 1650 is when Justice Bennet heard his exhortation to "tremble at the word of the Lord". And through his mocking reply, he gave nickname for future followers as commonly known Quakers.
Persecuting dissenting protestants was encouraged at time by the Roman Catholic church, and enforced by local magistrates. Despite regular fines and even stripping members of all possessions, the movement spread. They listed and wrote letters of complaint described as their sufferings, but failed to gain recognition while the crown turned its back on Rome to create the Church of England. The Act of 1688 finally put an end to the lawfully enforced penalties, liberally allowing exemption for some other dissenting followers.
Their secret monthly meetings alternating between Mansfield and Farnsfield centralised locally established Friends, amongst whom resided at Huthwaite. Evidence survives of one meeting house at Skegby which achieved burial grounds, plus the first female Quaker preacher named Elizabeth Hooton. Similary jailed in Derby, York and Lincoln, she also suffered attacks during her aging travels, including being severely beaten by the Vicar of Selston while passing through his parish. They obviously had good reason for keeping a low profile. Yet its still surprising that our earliest nonconformists have barely been acknowledged. What does become apparent here, is more members than ever supposed had been attracted to the quiet rural setting of Hucknall-under-Huthwaite. And with an unequalled longevity, they must deserve a place in our history.
There apparently exists a Deed of feoffement dating from 1608, covering property and land siting a former farmstead straddling Little Lane. This ariel photo shared by last owner Mr Des Taylor can show remnants of the old farm buildings he sold off. He kept hold of some, as yet unseen records, made by the previous Quaker tenants. Location upon south side of Blackwell Road is covered by newer housing fronting entrance into Whitegates Way estate. Turning back centuries however, and under former ownership of Thomas Richardson from Sutton-in-Ashfield, it was his lasting legacy dating from 1665; to here provide future support for the Quakers in Hucknall-under-Huthwaite.
Journal entry by George Fox noted Thomas Richardson being
...above Sixty Years of Age, through want of firing and other Necessaries, and lodging upon straw in the Winter Season, was taken sick and died… It was when attending a Friends meeting in Cambridgeshire on 16th April 1663 Thomas was arrested and committed to Ely prison. Still refusing to take an Oath of Allegiance, he was sent to Wisbech jail where he died on 13th October 1665. During confinement he managed writing some visionary papers and letters, in which he directed his brother Richard into concerns over the Huthwaite estate. Richard dutifully appointed trustees including John Reckless, George Cockeram, Thomas Sampson & Thomas Hurst, who started following the written instructions quoted thus
As to ye cottage to be for a meeting house for the people of God called Quakers. And the Land for the reliefe of the poore or necessitous people called Quakers.
Having acquired a Huthwaite meeting house kept by subsequent trustees, the lands were let out to self finance Quaker farmers. Their strict convictions professing to the corruption of all established church and state authorities did not however escape the attentions of clergy and law abiding folk, nor the wrath of local Justices when refusing payment of due taxes. Extracts from their 1676 Minutes Book retell frightening intrusion of blade brandishing bailiffs given warrant by Justice Robert Thornton to recover heavy fines.
William Clay + wife
John Bullivant elder
John Bullivant younger
Anthony Tomlinson + wife
Detailed costs frequently stripped them of many basic possessions to achieve quickest resale prices. Some of those named by abode faced multiple fines where, over following weeks they attended meetings likewise raided at Sutton and Mansfield houses.
Sutton historian Bill Clay Dove uncovers in his 1989 publication the Langford surname connections inside Huthwaite, before John lastly gains ever more frequent mention from year 1678. Firstly reported and again in 1683 when heavily penalised for not paying due taxes.
Their faith was made exempt from penalty, but refusing to pay taxes remained illegal. Langford's annual troubles may thus well have continued beyond 1708, while jointly adding larger payments taken off William Clay in the form of Hay, Corn, Wool and Lambs. John Langfords death still finds however, he'd become a very wealthy man under given trade of blacksmith. Leaving house and
goods fully itemised and valued by John Chatwin and John Wright in 1717 at £41-4s-8d, plus Bonds and Bills owing to a staggering £350.
Eldest residents advocated that Royal Oak Yard, rear side the past Shoulder of Mutton public house, was also once owned by Quakers. Comprised of several small old dwellings plus outhouses, they hold other historic interests before recognising Hopkins estate. Their earliest described use is for housing a hand frame stockinger cottager industry, claiming Workhouse Yard. There's simply not enough evidence found yet on which to truly assert past Quaker usage here. But the Society of Friends made good use of lands elsewhere in Hucknall Huthwaite. And we can establish some facts to assert a few interesting plots.
Under a 1795 Act for Enclosure of the Commons, the allocation of said lands received by Richard Leaver stated
in trust for the Society called Quakers. Employing Surveyor J Guantley, he drew plans dated 1802 covering their Huthwaite estate, holding house, barn, stable, garden and stackyard. Unfortunately unseen is the actual mapping that descriptively incorporated Little Pingle, Croft, plus a detached Timpsons Close.
Pinpointing any of those archaic addresses is rather difficult. Consideration has to be given to an area off Chesterfield Road that presents modern day housing taking name The Croft. But because the Quakers are known to have exchanged a plot of land on Commonside, there is more evidence to strongly suggest this particular property lay in the southern meadows somewhere off Common Road.
I can only propose old reference revolved around this dwelling, which quite recently opened up site for new bungalows named on The Paddocks. Reasons are based on two other finds.
The renovated property is found on very earliest 1835 mapping of Hucknall Huthwaite. So it existed some years before 1876 sinking of the New Hucknall Colliery sited behind. Founder of that coal company was William Muschamp, who purchased mineral rights from the following:- Nathan Mellors for £1,450, a so far unknown Mrs Miller for £1,500, and from the Society of Friends for £120. In such close proximity, that old farm could account for a past Quaker Croft and Little Pingle, especially if finally asserting a detached Timpson Close lay opposite.
Full local longevity for the existing British Quakers may well be questioned. As a religious following without church, the Society of Friends never gained specific mention in any of our related gazetteers. Despite their long existence, they barely attracted attention of our historians. Acknowledging shy background behind one of our more prominent Sutton authors, even Dr Spencer Timothy Hall himself offered no family insight.
Tale passed down through the Holland family concerning a very attractive Miss Mabel Winifred Wright gave a clue which interestingly proves another Huthwaite Quaker surname. Young Mabel had turned down one earlier proposal for an outsider marriage made by a respected Quaker. Despite their strictest idealist principles against drinking alcohol, he was in fact at time, landlord of the Peacock ale house. It had been run by the Burrows family, where the 1834 Will of Jeremiah Burrows had set out a private burial plot within its Orchard grounds, for himself and subsequent family members. Exactly why he requested this had never really been questioned. As nonconformist Quakers however, the answer becomes very apparent.
Fair consideration was given in 1856 to demolishing their neglected Huthwaite meeting house, described then having fallen into decay. Decision was finally reached surprisingly later at a trustees meeting on 18th April 1882. It led Mr George Adlington of Kings Mill to send them his accounts for
..pulling down of the meeting house or cottages… Although listing actually reads more like supplies for a new building, it was proof of receipts totalling four Guineas that were submitted to the Society of Friends Notts headquarters.
Pulling down a disused meeting house initially suggested an ending for the Huthwaite Quakers. But then again, locating the afore mentioned Timpson Close can now be related to my last dated find upon former common meadow land on the opposite side of Common Road. The only way to quash this belief is by later discovering even more land or properties potentially associated with these Friends.
Evidence comes from a 1953 NCB letter allegedly sent to Quakers regarding the possibility of subsidence damage to an Everest Crisp Factory. It seems not only exposing their previously unrecognised business interests, but also extends their place amongst the community. But this must now conclude their Huthwaite links.
This plot was well remembered for earlier siting a WW2 Prisoner of War Camp. Cleared of all those wooden huts, the crisp factory buildings shown in 2003 had been taken over by JRS Roofing. They in turn, expanded the company premises in 2013, having since noted there are some replacement buildings.
Written 23 Aug 09 Revised 31 Aug 14 © by Gary Elliott