The Quaker Movement emerged in the early seventeenth century from a plethora of non-Anglican sects, many of whom had some very odd beliefs and practices. The majority of these died out, leaving the Quakers, the Unitarians and one or two others to carry the flag for non-conformity.
The East Midlands was the early stronghold of the movement with George Fox, its founder, coming from Leicestershire and then moving to the Mansfield area where his work of conversion began and soon spread, particularly across the North of England.
The Quakers became a target for persecution because of their beliefs and opposition to the Anglican faith. They refused to attend normal church services and held their own, illegal meetings. This led to them being brought before local magistrates who imposed draconian financial penalties. The magistrates also employed informers to infiltrate meetings and denounce those who attended, if more than five in number. Fines and confiscation of property amounted to the equivalent of several thousands of pounds in today’s money.
One wealthy farmer in Farnsfield was brought before the justices several times and was eventually bankrupted and forced to emigrate to America. Another very poor young lad had the clothes he stood up in taken from him.
See Photographs of the 1st and 2nd Meeting House For the Society of Friends