Quakers in Market Lavington

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the established church was protestant and everyone was expected to conform to this, to attend church services and to take communion in this church. There were punishments for non-conformists including fines for non attendance at church services. In Market Lavington. there were members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who refused to pay tithes to the church and to take an oath of allegiance.

In the 1660s, various members of Market Lavington Quaker families were imprisoned for several years for attending meetings and refusing to pay tithes. (See pages 55 and 56 of Brian McGill’s book, ‘Village under the Plain, the story of Market Lavington’ for more detail. It mentions Gyes, Selfes and Axfords as key families in the Quaker movement.)

The museum has been given a copy of a book about the Few family, who emigrated to America to avoid religious persecution.

This book opens with a section on Richard Few, a shoemaker, who was a member of the Lavington meeting. He was born in about 1625, had six children with his wife, Jane, but she died and so he emigrated to America with a second wife and a son, Isaac. They arrived there in, or before, 1682.

The Quakers fared better after the 1689 Toleration Act and, by 1716, they had built a meeting house at the end of the High Street in Market Lavington. However, their numbers dwindled and they sold the building in 1799.

It was extended and used by the congregationalists until they built their own church opposite, on the corner of Stobbarts Road, when their old chapel was used by them as a Sunday School.

image00226.jpg (602×451)

For more information, see A former chapel and Sunday School in the old Quaker Meeting House.

Later, the building was used as an annexe for the village school and then as an artist’s studio.

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