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Quakers in Southill

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 1675: "By an Order of Sessions held at Shefford on the 8th of the Month called April in this Year, Prosecutions were carried on afresh, especially in the Parish where Justice Keeling dwelt [Sir John Kelyng of Gastlings], whose Authority influenced inferior Officers to act beyond their Inclinations. From William Rogers, a Wheelwright, they took his workingh Tools, not for want of other Goods, but on purpose to disable him from working for his Livelihood. From a poor lame Maid, a Baptist, wjo earned her Bread by spinning and teaching Children they took, by the Justice's order, her spinning Wheel: He also forbad the Neighbours to send her their Children, saying, in his ignorant Zeal, She should not teach Children to be damn'd; and when she had no Goods left to distrain, he threatened to send her to Bridewell. He not only caused the Goods of several poor People to be taken away, but theatened to punish their Neighbours for relieving them. The Priest of the Parish [Thomas More] was of a like Disposition, for hearing of a Meeting in a distant Place, he by Threats constrained the Constable to go thither, and give Information to the Justice. And so intent was this Priest on a Part of the Prey, that he went into the Yard of the aforesaid William Rogers, and cheapned some Wood, of which when the Owner told him the Price, he replied, I'll let it alone till it be distrain'd, and then I shall have it for half the Value".

The Society of Friends does not seem to have been particularly well subscribed in Southill, perhaps, in part, due to Kelyng and More's efforts. Returns made on episcopal visitations in 1706 and 1709 mention only Independents, probably Baptists. The return for 1712 records one Quaker family, as does that of 1717 but the 1720 return does not mention any.