Quakers in Wootton
A Collection of the Sufferings of the People Called Quakers Volume I was published in 1753 and covers acts against Quakers from 1650 to 1689 throughout the country. Each county has a chapter and that for Bedfordshire notes that in 1657: "In this year John Stevens of Wootton, for refusing to take the Oath required of him, when chosen Constable, suffered six Months Imprisonment in the County Gaol".
In 1668: “Thomas Williamson of Wooton was imprisoned in Bedford Gaol, on an Exchequer Process for Tithes". In other words, he refused to pay tithes in order to sustain the parish’s Anglican clergyman who, at this date, was probably William Bunne.
Quakers were active in Wootton into the 18th century. Visitations by the Bishop of Lincoln to Bedfordshire in the early 18th century were compiled by former County Archivist Patricia Bell for Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 81, published in 2002). Information for Wootton includes the following:
- 1706: “It [the parish] contains 80 families, of which some are Dissenters, cheifly [sic] Quakers. No Papists nor reputed Papists;
- 1709: “Families 58, Souls about 307. No Papists. 3 families of Quakers. No other Dissenters. No Meeting”;
- 1712: “Families 115. About 8 of these Dissenters, of which 4 Quakers. The rest part dissenters, part otherwise”.
- 1717: “Families about a hundred and twenty three. There are about ten families of all which some are Dissenters. There are three of those families Quakers. Meeting houses None”.
- 1720: “Ninety Eight Families, Four whereof are Quakers and Six Independents or Anabaptists. No meeting House”.