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Quakers in Caddington

Episcopal visitations made by the Bishop of Lincoln to Bedfordshire in the early 18th century were always preceded by questionnaires to each parish and these always asked how many nonconformists there were in a parish. The returns for these years were published by former County Archivist Patricia Bell in 2002 as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society volume 81. Each of the returns mentions Quakers in the parish:

  • 1706: [the parish] contains 180 families within it. Among these there are some Quakers, who have a Meeting house at Market Street in this parish;
  • 1709: Near 100 families … The Quakers have a meeting on Friday once in 3 weeks, the preacher John Chester of Dunstable;
  • 1712: Families 100, of which 9 of Anabaptists [Baptists]; 4 of Quakers. Each of these have a Meeting. The Quakers meet Frydays and Sundays;
  • 1717: We have two Meeting-Houses, one Quaker and the other Anabaptist. Whether licensed or not, or how often they assemble, or in what Numbers, I know not;
  • 1720: There are 2 Meeting houses One Quakers the other Anabaptists. They Assemble Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. I am a stranger to their Teachers and to the number of their Congregations.

The meeting (known as a preparative meeting) at Markyate, now in Hertfordshire, began as early as 1688 when it is mentioned in a copy court roll for the manor of Markyate [Fac6/4]. The preparative meeting was part of a group of meetings forming a monthly meeting which was known as Markyate-Dunstable Monthly Meeting. Other preparative meetings were at Dunstable, Kensworth, Luton and Sewell. The meeting at Markyate closed in 1753 and the meeting house was sold in 1761.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a microfilm of records of the monthly meeting, the originals being either at Friends’ House in London or at Watford. The microfilm contains the following:

  • Men’s minutes 1699-1786;
  • Men’s rough minutes 1755-1787;
  • Women’s minutes 1762-1786;
  • Trust property book 1677-1812.