Evesham Friends in the Olden Times a compilation from origin al records by Alfred W.Brown,was published in 1885. He mentions things of interest quite close to our area.
After visiting Lady Conway in 1677, George Fox proceeded to the house of a Friend named John Strangley, who lived about two miles from Ragley Hall. Here he held two meetings and enjoyed the company of William Dewsbury, who stayed with him about half a day. John Stanleys house (or Strangley) was situated at Cladswell, not far from the road between Evesham and Redditch. From this Ridgeway a fine view is obtained of the surrounding country. George Foxs visit to Cladswell appears to have resulted in the establishment of the Ridgeway Meeting. The following minutes contain the sum-total of information respecting this little company of worshippers:
1727 This Meeting hath thought it fit to appoint Henry Mutton, John Stanley,jnr. and Thomas Beesley to meet Richard Lucas of Ipsley at the next Rudgeway meeting in order to advise him to reclaim his disorderly conversation. Report was made that such an answer had been received from him as implied his regret for his past conversation and desire to be of better behaviour for the time to come. (Ed: Beesley was a tallowchandler of Alces ter).
1737 Whereas a meeting for worship was usd to be held once a month at ye Rudgeway, it is now agreed by Friends which constitute ye same to drop meeting there and for ye future to hold ye said meeting at Aulcester.
The town of Alcester is situated within the limts of Warwickshire and for this reason we should expect to find that Alcester meeting of Friends was originally associated with the other meetings in that county. But this was not the case, for it was included in the boundary of Worcestershire Quarterly Meeting from the earliest settlement of the Quaker discipline. Its junction with Evesham has already been referred to. In 1706 the Warwick Quarterly Meeting ordered its subordinate meetings to bring in as ample an account as may be, by whom their meetings were first settled and the Friends that first declared truth to them. As a result of this inquiry it was recorded that Richard Hubberthorne did largely declare the blessed truth of Christ in Warwick, Coventry, Kenilworth, Alcester and Stratford and other places by the space of one month in 1660 and did gather many to the truth (From White's Friends in Warwickshire, page 61) From this it appears that the famous Richard Hubberthorne was the founder of the Alcester meeting. The newly-gathered comp-. qny of Friends were not allowed to worship unmolested, for on the 9th December 1660 Humfrey Becland, Richard Woodward and John Tombs were forcibly dragged out of the meeting and carried before Justice Lee, who abused them both by words and blows and not admitting them to speak in their just defence, committed them to prison, where the cruel gaoler put them in irons and shut them up in the dungeon among felons. There they were kept close prisoners from one assizes to another and never brought to any legal trial. We have no means of knowing to what extent the Friends at Alcester suffered under the oppressive laws against Nonconformity, which wrought such fearful havoc during the reign of Charles II; but they probably came in for their full share of persecution, shame and loss.
Autumn 1985 Index
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