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Quakers in Elstow

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 or about 1675: "Thomas Ballard of Elston, was arrested and committed to Prison for Tithes at the Suit of Thomas Hillersden of the same Place". Ballard would have refused to pay tithes as they went to support the Anglican clergyman.

In 1706, in response to a questionnaire sent out before an episcopal visitation, the perpetual curate of Elstow stated that there were eighty families in the parish: "Of these about 8 resort to the Meeting house at Bedford, being of a mixed kind, between Anabaptists and Independents. There is besides 1 family of Quakers. But there is no Meeting house for any dissenters, except it be Occasionally, and that especially of the Quakers, who have a Buryall place here, and upon those Occasions do sometimes speak". The Quaker burial ground may have been an area just south-east of Village Farm which is marked “Gravestones” on early Ordnance Survey maps.

In 1709 it was noted that there were three or four Quakers in the parish. Returns for 1712 and 1717 simply note numbers of dissenters but do not give any denominations.