The London Yearly Meeting and Quaker Administrative Innovation in an Atlantic Context

  • Jordan Landes
Part of the Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World, 1500–1800 book series (CTAW)


The question of whether Quakerism was changed in the context of the early modern Atlantic can be approached by focusing on such themes as theology, commerce, abolitionism, and, more recently, creolisation.1 The various ways of looking at the history of the Society of Friends has left an interesting historiography. Significantly, Rosemary Moore’s recent look at the ‘second period’ of Quakerism has discussed the emergence of studies on local Friends and monthly meetings in the wake of William Braithwaite’s works about institutional Quakerism, much to the benefit of the study of Quaker history.2 This chapter, however, returns to an institutional study of Quakerism more like Braithwaite’s, examining the structures that developed in the latter decades of the seventeenth century and the first decades of the eighteenth century. To answer part of a very large question, this chapter examines the construction of a Quaker system out of early movement activity and the development of that system in a trans-Atlantic milieu that led to the creation and adaptation of mechanisms to deal with internal and external conflict. These administrative foundations actively and indirectly led to a change in the perception of the Society of Friends among those outside the movement. The level of outward organisation among seventeenth-century Friends contrasts with the Quaker refutation of a trained ministry and subsequent reliance on itinerant ministers, but the result was a system that allowed Quakerism to not simply survive in a trans-Atlantic context but to exert control over perceptions of the faith.


Seventeenth Century Quaker History Minute Volume Quaker Minister Late Seventeenth 
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© Jordan Landes 2015

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  • Jordan Landes

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