I'm a twit too

Tuesday, December 3, 2013



The living environment of kith and kin.

Within this den of iniquities were a community of shopkeeper/traders who were converted to the Religious Society of Friends, (founded by Lancashire non-conformist, George Fox). 

It was a risky business becoming a Quaker. 

Quakers believe everyone has what they call 'that of God' within them and that each of us has direct access to God. There is, therefore, no need of clergy or only receiving Divine Truth from the Bible alone!
The Parish of Stepney was a haven of Dissenters in the 17th century, and my ancestors are recorded at the Redcliffe Meeting house and the Bunhill Cemetry on Broad Street/Schoolhouse Lane.

Home of the Akers, Best and Clark families.

My maternal 6th Great Grandfather HENRY CLARK, a Mariner from Limehouse married MARY AKERS at St. Botolph without Bishopsgate by License 6th Aug 1788, an ordinary Anglican marriage, but she was born to Quaker parents.
george fox quotes | George Fox quote ~ Forest Hill meeting house | Good Quotes/Rules to L ...Being a Dissenter means arbitary persecution so to keep the Faith is a revolutionary act.
George Fox Quote

7th Great Grandfather Abraham Aker's birth was recorded at the Meeting House at Ratcliff in 1740.  
He and wife Ann(Fern) were Grocers of Broad St, Ratcliff Cross.
The rate records show they went from renting their premises to owning it.

The faith of George Fox and beliefs of the early Quakers were very attractive to London's abundance of small business people - 'the middling sort'. They didn't have to doff their hats to anyone...except God!

8th Grt. ABRAHAM AKERS 1715-1743 was a Tallow Chandler at Ratcliffe Cross (Candle maker. He would have been a member of the Guild who set the standards and measurements of the business).

                                           Warehouses at Limehouse - one used by the Akers?

Imports/Exports of London Port 17th century.

The Religious Society of Friends were excellent record keepers! Thankyou brave spirited ancestors!
They were very concientious in recording marriages as many Parishioners from St Dunstans Cof E
considered Quaker couples to be living in Sin because they didn't have a Priest to officiate.

9th Grt Grandparents

Transcribed as: And Anne Best daughter of John Best of Limehouse aforesaid Cordwainer having publickly declared their intention of taking each other in Marriage before several Meetings of the People of God called Quakers in London, according to the Good Order used among them, whose proceeding therein after enquiry and deliberate consideration thereof  with regard 
to the Righteous Law of God was allowed by the said Meetings; they appearing before? all Akers and having also the consent of parents and relations ?

NOW, those are to certify all whom it may ?   That for the accomplishing of their said marriage, this ninth day of the sixth month called August in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, they the said Abraham Akers and Anne Best by this hand ?
openly ?
In the fear of the Lord and in the presence of this assembly(whom I desire to being witnesses) I take this my dear Friend Anne Best to be my Wife(promising through the Lord's assistance) to be to her a true and faithfull husband, until it shall please the Lord by death to Separate us. And then and thou in said Assembly, the said Ann Best did in like manner ? like Friends.In the Fear of the Lord and in presence of this Assembly(whom I desire to be my witnesses) I take this my friend Abraham Akers to be my Husband: Promising(through the Lord's assistance) to be to Him a loving and faithfull wife, till it shall please the Lord by death to separate us.
And the said Abraham Akers and Ann Best as a further Confirmation thereof and in testimony thereunto ?       set their hands. ?                  among Officers
at the solemising of 
We  whose names hereunto are subscribed being present among Officers, at the solemising of this  aforesaid Marriage and Subscription, in manner aforesaid, as Witnesses thereunto, have also to those presents Subscribers our names, the day and year above written.

George and his Friends didn't believe in monuments or gravestones but enough later Quakers thought it was important to mark the place where the founder of their Religious creed was buried.
Quakers were similar to the Levellers in an active pursuit of the principle of egalitarian respect.

 George Fox was confident that Baptism wasn't necessary, nor a woman being Churched when a baby was born, where the emphasis is cleansing of Original Sin. All makes sense to me in Australia of the 21st century! BUT there are still those who believe in the God of Abraham adhering to the Bible and the rules of the Patriarchs.
Unlike most of Westminster Parliament, Calvinist doctrine of Pre-destination was far away from the minds of Quakers. God did not discriminate in His Love for us - we are born as a being of Love not full of sin, not born destined to go to Hell..as the Puritans believed, only the Elect go to Heaven.

BEST - Quakers and Shoemakers of Limehouse 

This little baby ancestor  ANN BEST may not be pre-destined to find her marriage mate - but growing up in the same Stepney Parish there's a high probability they will meet and find a lot in common!

The Quakers made much improvement on recording births, marriages and deaths in their registers. While Geneologists are grateful to Henry Tudor for requiring registers(for purposes of taxation), this birth record of my 9th Great Grandmother shows a recognition for the Midwife and female supporters.

Transcribed as: Ann, daughter of John & Thomzin BEST - Shoemaker was born ? fourth day of eighth month 1689 in Limehouse in ye Parish of Stepney witnessed by Sarah Robinson - Midwife (and 5 other women). Like the Levellers before them, there was an instinct and rationale for equality in any Christian community. This opened the way for abuse and satire but it enabled the voice and participation of females from the earliest days of the movement.

There is an informative web site about this period:ExLibris.org
"Quakerism before the Restoration(1660) was a political, social and religious movement with some different social and religious views from the modern Society of Friends. In some ways they employed some of the same aspects of the contemporary sects of the Levellers and the Surrey Diggers, rejected the privileged structure of English society. They envisioned a new Society based on their own religious views of all godly men possessing the same internal Light or Spirit of Christ."

Non-conformity in speech 'Thee and Thou', dress style and etiquette like not doffing their hats to 'superiors' would be like the 1960's rebellion of men growing their hair long and being civilly disobedient. I was a young punk in 1980 - I would have been enticed to this progressive and distinctive sect as a teenager, but I wouldn't fear possible imprisonment or execution.

My early modern East London ancestors, the Akers and Best small business families show an Independent spirit in choosing to follow a Quaker life, and a courageous one.


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