Brief history

Quakers in Yorkshire can trace its history continuously back to 1665 when the first recorded minutes exist of Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting.  Quakerism started in Yorkshire and North West England in 1651-52 when George Fox and other founders discovered a faith that they had been seeking.  The early years were ones of rapid expansion, religious fervour and considerable persecution of Friends.  In the 1660s George Fox established a hierarchy of meetings to provide networks and support.  The Preparative (now Local) Meetings fed into the Monthly (now Area) Meetings which fed into the Quarterly Meetings which reported to London Yearly Meeting.

Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting has met quarterly since 1665 and played an active part in the life of Quakerism both regionally and nationally.  Outreach work was important in the 20th century.  A special committee to do outreach was formed called the 1905 Committee which became the Yorkshire Friends Service Council in 1928 and Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire in the 1980s.  As needs changed, this was recently laid down and replaced by an Outreach Projects Committee.  Activities for young people have also been important.  In the 1930s the Yorkshire Friends Holiday School was established and has met annually since then.  The 1905 Committee also began annual family weekends at Easter-time and ‘Easter Settlement’ continues to this day, now held at Cober Hill Guesthouse at Cloughton, near Scarborough.

In 1966 Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting became Yorkshire General Meeting as part of a simplification of the administrative structure of the yearly meeting.  In 2005 the name was changed to Quakers in Yorkshire.  In 2007 the regional gatherings ceased to be part of the administrative structure of Britain Yearly Meeting.  In 2010 Quakers in Yorkshire became a separately registered charity.

Further reading

The definitive history up to 1966 is authored by Pearson Thistlethwaite “Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting 1665-1966“.  Published by the author in 1979.  Copies can be found in Libraries.

More recently, David Rubinstein has surveyed the history in “Yorkshire Friends in Historical Perspective: an introduction”, published in 2005.  It is contained in his “Essays in Quaker History”, 2016, Quaks Books, York.


The archives associated with Quakers in Yorkshire (and its predecessors Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting and Yorkshire General Meeting) are housed in the Yorkshire Quaker Archive in the Special Collections at the Leeds University Library.  This also houses archives of many local meetings in Yorkshire.  Further archives are held at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, University of York and  the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library.