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  • Title
    Meeting for Sufferings
  • Reference
    YM/MFS
  • Date
    1661-
  • Scope and Content
    The sub-fonds consists of the records of Meeting for Sufferings: Minutes (1675-2010); Committee Documents (1917-2005); William Phillips' Books of Accounts (1801-1829); Attendance Registers (1791-1994); Books of Bills (1799-1862); Books of Cases (1661-1695); Books of Deeds (c.1795-1916); Casual Correspondence (1785-1881); Books of Correspondents (1808-1832); Great Books of Sufferings (1650-1856); Members' Handbooks (2003, 2006); Original Records of Sufferings (1682-1766); Books of Trust Property (c.1790-1912); Accounts (c.1692-1927); Ledger of Sufferings of Friends (1736-1796); Transcripts of Minutes (1680-1864); and Letters to and from Philadelphia (1757-1855). It also includes the records of Meeting for Sufferings committees.
  • Level of description
    sub-fonds
  • Creator
    • Society of Friends. Britain Yearly Meeting. Meeting for Sufferings
      In the 1670s the central organisation of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain was developed. This included Yearly Meeting (qv) itself (1668), London Six Weeks Meeting (1671) (qv), the Morning Meeting (1673) (qv) and Meeting for Sufferings (1675). All were meetings almost entirely attended by London Friends but with various national responsibilities. In October 1675 the Morning Meeting organised a conference to consider what steps were needed to secure redress for Friends imprisoned, under fine or distraint, or suffering other penalties. It was agreed that certain Friends would be nominated to arrange a "Meeting for Sufferings" 4 times a year. A constitution for Meeting for Sufferings was agreed by the Yearly Meeting in 1702. The full "Meeting for Sufferings" met at the beginning of each law term; one quarter of the membership was to meet Friday weekly. The earliest recorded minutes begin on 22 June 1676. At the beginning 8 to 10 Friends attended the weekly meeting, and were able to put Friends' cases before members of both Houses of Parliament as quickly as possible. In addition Yearly Meeting authorised Meeting for Sufferings to try and obtain relief from the burden of tithes and oaths. The refusal of Friends to take oaths based on Jesus' words "Swear not at all" (Matthew 5.33-37), caused great difficulties in dealings with the government and the legal system. In the 18th century, the Meeting supported attempts to put forward a "Quakers Tithes Bill" but was mainly unsuccessful. Affirmation Acts were passed, permitting Friends to avoid oath-taking. At the end of the century the Meeting encouraged national campaigning against the slave trade. A Slave Trade Committee (qv) between 1783 and 1792 helped prepare the way for the Slave Trade Act 1807. The beginning of the 19th century saw a continued interest in contact with Quaker groups around the world, especially in continental Europe, and a number of locations in the British Empire, Calcutta, and Southern Africa. Even so, Meeting for Sufferings remained a London-based body until the expansion of the railways allowed Quakers from more remote parts of the country to participate. The larger membership meant that even more subcommittees could form, covering administration, libraries, and printing; and lobbying against gambling, opium and war. In 1898 women Friends were eligible to join the Meeting. During the 20th century, Meeting for Sufferings absorbed a number of significant Quaker bodies, including the Morning Meeting in 1901. Meeting for Sufferings was under the direct authority of Yearly Meeting as part of a process of rationalisation of Quaker institutions. Committees of both Yearly Meeting and of Meeting for Sufferings were merged. In 1965 Meeting for Sufferings was given the role of appointing nearly all committee members. In the Society of Friends in Britain, Meeting for Sufferings is subordinate to the Yearly Meeting, which has overall constitutional authority.
  • Name