George Fox (1624-1691) was the founder of Quakerism and was born within the geographical area of Central England: in a small village called Fenny Drayton. Hartshill is the nearest local Quaker meeting.
The 1624 Country website has information on George Fox and relevant places in the local area:
George Fox was the son of a Puritan weaver of comfortable means and was apprenticed to a local shoemaker. From an early age he showed a passionate zeal for the Gospel. Seeking direction from local clergy, he was counseled by one (in Mancetter) to take tobacco and sing psalms; another advised physic and bleeding.
He turned away from the Established Church and devoted his energies to preaching a form of Christianity free from priesthood, liturgy, open sacraments and calendar. His followers, known first as “The Friends of Truth”, are now universally called by a term used originally by their detractors,”Quakers”.
George Fox’s memory is recorded in two roads in Fenny Drayton George Fox Lane (where the memorial is) and Fox’s Covert which is just opposite, (although I suspect that some of the locals think it is related to the animal!).
The house where he was born no longer exists but was by tradition along the lane opposite the monument.
The Church is pretty much as it was where Nathaniel Stephens was the minister and receives regular mention in the early pages of George Fox’s Journal. He was a ‘revolutionary priest’ under the living of the Purefoy family who held the living. This local family has a history of questioning dissent for normal religious thinking of the time. One of the points that may have made George Fox start questioning. The father of George Fox, Christopher, was a church Warden, he had gained the nickname ‘Righteous Christer’ for his dedication to church matters. Mary Lago, his mother was of the ‘Stock of Martyrs’, what this meant is not known but the last burning of the stake was at Lichfield six years before George was born. See the martyrs’ memorial at Coventry.
Visit the 1624 Country website for more information on Quaker history in the Central England area.
Hertiage Survey & Booklet
Central England Quakers have published an 80 page booklet based on the national Quaker meeting house heritage survey undertaken by Britain Yearly Meeting and Historic England. The national heritage survey made a detailed assessment of the heritage value of each meeting house, identifying its heritage significance and why it should be treasured and appreciated.
The booklet provides an overview of the heritage significance of each of the fifteen Central England meeting houses.
Quaker Archives at the Library of Birmingham
The archives of Central England Quakers are held by Birmingham Archives and Collections at the Library of Birmingham, and project archivist Eleanor Woodward has catalogued the many items, to allow them to be searched: online and in hard copy at the Wolfston Centre.
The Birmingham and Warwickshire Quakers cataloguing project was funded by a grant from the National Archives and a bequest from a member of Bull Street Quaker Meeting.
The Central England Area Meeting archive is one of the most important collections to have come into the archives in recent years, particularly when combined with the personal, business and family papers of local Quakers already held by Birmingham Archives and Collections, such as those of the Cadbury, Sturge, Southall, Albright, Galton, Pumphrey, Gibbins and Lloyd families. It is of interest to those wanting to research religious history, trace the progression of Quakerism in Birmingham and the West Midlands, or uncover their Quaker ancestry.”
For more information about the archives, please contact:
Archives & Collections, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 2ND
For the overall history of Quakers, see the Quakers in Britain website.