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Ashbridge, Elizabeth (1713–16 May 1755), Quaker minister and autobiographer, was born Elizabeth Sampson in Middlewich, Cheshire, England, the daughter of Thomas Sampson, a ship’s surgeon, and Mary (maiden name unknown). What little is known about Ashbridge’s life is elicited almost entirely from her brief but compelling autobiography, ...

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Barnard, Hannah Jenkins (1754–27 November 1825), disowned Quaker minister, was born in Dutchess County, New York, the daughter of Valentine Jenkins and his wife (name unknown), farmers. Reared a Baptist in the Hudson River valley, Hannah Jenkins became a convinced Friend at the age of eighteen and in 1779 married a widower with three children, Peter Barnard, originally from the Nantucket Quaker community but then a struggling wagoner in Hudson; the couple was active in the local monthly meeting. They had no children together....

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Bates, Elisha (10 July 1781–05 October 1861), Quaker controversialist and publisher, was born near Scimino, York County, Virginia, the son of Benjamin Bates and Hannah (maiden name unknown), farmers. Largely self-educated, Bates studied medicine for a time, learned printing, worked as a surveyor, and operated a Quaker school. Marrying Sarah Jordan Harrison in 1803, Bates fathered six children. From 1813 to 1816 he served as clerk of the Virginia Yearly Meeting. Circumstances, even for a farmer, surveyor, and schoolmaster, proved trying for an antislavery Quaker in eastern Virginia, particularly after Bates attracted public attention with his pamphlet ...

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Bean, Joel (16 December 1825–11 January 1914), Quaker minister and author, was born in Alton, New Hampshire, the son of John Bean and Elizabeth Ham, farmers. Joel received his education in local public schools and in the Friends Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island, now Moses Brown School. Although the Beans were staunch Quakers, they lived at a distance from a Friends meeting, and so Joel had considerable contact with other denominations. After finishing at Providence, he taught in Quaker schools in New England and North Carolina....

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Bowers, Bathsheba (1672–1718), spiritual autobiographer and Quaker preacher, was born in Massachusetts, the daughter of Benanuel Bowers and Elizabeth Dunster, English Quakers who had resettled in Boston at the end of the seventeenth century to escape the Anglican faith of her father’s father. Because Bowers’s adolescent years were disrupted by the ruling Puritans’ persecution of Quakers, she and at least two of her eleven siblings were removed to Quaker Philadelphia, were Bowers spent most of her adult life....

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See Brinton, Howard Haines

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Brinton, Howard Haines (24 July 1884–09 April 1973), and Anna Shipley Cox Brinton (19 October 1887–28 October 1969), Quaker educators, were born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, respectively. Howard was the son of Edward Brinton and Ruthanna Brown, farmers. Anna was the daughter of Charles E. Cox, a businessman and educator, and Lydia Shipley Bean. Howard Brinton attended high school in West Chester and received a B.A. from Haverford College in 1904 with a specialization in science. After spending an extra year studying mysticism with Haverford professor of philosophy ...

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Sydney V. James and Gail Fowler Mohanty

Brown, Moses (12 September 1738–06 September 1836), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of James Brown, merchant, and Hope Power. The father died the next year, leaving a variety of properties and businesses, which indicates that his family was far from poor. Moses Brown had a few years of formal schooling before being apprenticed to his merchant uncle, Obadiah, to learn the intricacies of eighteenth-century commerce and to be adopted as a son and partner. After Obadiah died in 1762, Moses managed the business, and in 1774 married Obadiah’s daughter Anna, who bore three children, two of whom lived to maturity. Moses joined his three surviving brothers in the firm of Nicholas Brown & Co. to operate the family businesses. The profits of trade were diversified by manufacturing and money-lending. The Brown brothers inherited profitable candle and chocolate works and started a plant to smelt and work iron. They also tried at least one ill-fated slaving voyage....

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Brown, Obadiah (15 July 1771–15 October 1822), merchant and manufacturer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Moses Brown, a merchant, and Anna Brown. He sometimes used the name Obadiah M. Brown to distinguish himself from other Browns with the same first name. Sickly as a child, he initially was educated at home and then attended the Friends New England Yearly Meeting School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, between 1784 and 1788. This was followed by an informal apprenticeship with Almy and Brown, a Providence cotton textile manufactory established by his father, one of four brothers who were successful Providence merchants and manufacturers. The manufactory was initially managed by Obadiah’s brother-in-law, William Almy, and a cousin, Smith Brown, although under the watchful eye of Moses Brown....

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Coffin, Charles Fisher (03 April 1823–09 September 1916), banker, Quaker minister, and philanthropist, was born at New Garden, Guilford County, North Carolina, the son of Elijah Coffin, a teacher and banker, and Naomi Hiatt, a Quaker minister. In 1824 his family moved to Milton, Indiana, and in 1833 they went to Cincinnati for a year before moving to Richmond, Indiana, where Charles would live for the next half-century....

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Comstock, Elizabeth Leslie Rous Wright (30 October 1815–03 August 1891), Quaker minister and reformer, was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, the daughter of William Rous, a shopkeeper, and Mary Kekwick. Her parents were Quakers with family ties to the Society of Friends going back to the seventeenth century. They reared her in a strict Quaker atmosphere, an upbringing reinforced by education in Quaker schools at Islington and Croyden. In 1839 Elizabeth Rous returned to Croyden as a teacher; in 1842 she joined the staff of the Friends school at Ackworth. She remained there until her marriage in 1848 to Leslie Wright, a Quaker market gardener of Walthamstow in Essex. They had one child. After her husband’s death in 1851, Elizabeth Wright kept a shop for a time at Bakewell in Devonshire. In 1854 she immigrated with her daughter and an unmarried sister to Belleville, Ontario. Four years later she married John T. Comstock, a prosperous Quaker farmer of Rollin, Michigan, where Elizabeth Comstock and her daughter moved....

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Dyer, Mary (?–01 June 1660), religious martyr, was born Mary Barrett. Nothing is known of her birthplace, parentage, or life before 1635 other than that she married William Dyer, a prosperous merchant, on 27 October 1633 in the parish church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, and that the first of their six children, born 24 October 1634, was buried three days later. In 1635 Dyer became part of the great migration to New England begun in 1630 and led by ...

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Eddy, Thomas (05 September 1758–16 September 1827), Quaker reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of James Eddy and Mary Darragh, immigrants from Ireland. Raised in a Quaker family with Tory sympathies, Eddy received an elementary education and in 1771 was apprenticed to a tanner in Burlington, New Jersey. From 1779 until the end of the American Revolution, he lived in New York where, with a brother and a friend, he formed Eddy, Sykes and Company to import scarce goods from England and Ireland. He also acted as a banker, moving funds to captured British troops in Pennsylvania and building his fortune on the 6 percent commission he garnered from the large sums transferred. He married Hannah Hartshorne in 1782; they had three children. For a brief period in the mid-1780s he operated a store in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which finally went bankrupt....

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Evans, Jonathan (25 January 1759–08 February 1839), house builder and Quaker leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Evans, an importer, and Hannah Walton. Born into a well-to-do family of Welsh descent that stretched back to 1697 in William Penn...

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Evans, William (05 October 1787–12 May 1867), merchant and Quaker leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Evans, a house builder and Quaker elder, and Hannah Bacon, a Quaker minister. Nurtured in an influential family in the Religious Society of Friends, Evans was educated in Quaker primary schools and in 1799 enrolled in the new Westtown school, just outside Philadelphia. At age fourteen, he went to a countinghouse to learn bookkeeping but, finding himself unchallenged, was apprenticed to another Friend to master the drug business. In 1808 he opened his own small drug and paint store, which he owned if not operated the rest of his life. Though serious of mien and adust in personality, Evans found a wife in Deborah Musgrave on 11 December 1811; the union produced two children before her early death in 1815. Summoned to militia duty during the War of 1812, he refused to appear but escaped further proceedings. The cautious Evans waited nine years before getting married again, this time to Elizabeth Barton on 23 December 1824, when he was thirty-seven and she thirty. In the Quaker fashion their local meeting recognized them both as ministers, he in 1822. When he rose to speak in a meeting, he could be pointed in his criticism of those who disagreed with him on some practice or point of doctrine. His tart-tongued contemporary ...

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Ferris, Benjamin (07 August 1780–09 November 1867), surveyor and Quaker leader, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Ziba Ferris, a cabinetmaker, and Edith Sharpless. Part of an active and influential Quaker family, Ferris was mostly self-taught. After being apprenticed to a clock maker in Philadelphia, he opened a business there in 1801 and prospered enough to wed Wilmingtonian Fanny Canby three years later and to invest $7,500 in a large lot in 1806. Of the couple’s ten children, three died in childhood. In the City of Brotherly Love, Ferris learned French, read widely—at one time his library housed more than eighty religious books by non-Quaker authors—cultivated cosmopolitan tastes, and made numerous contacts among fellow believers before returning in 1813 to Wilmington, his home for the rest of his life....

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Fisher, Mary (1623–1698), pioneer Quaker preacher and missionary, was born in Pontefract, Yorkshire, England. Nothing is known of her parents and education. She was a servant girl in a home in Selby when she was converted to Quakerism by George Fox in 1651. She wrote an excellent if crabbed handwriting and expressed herself clearly....

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Gibbons, William (10 August 1781–25 July 1845), physician and Quaker reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of James Gibbons, a teacher, farmer, and conveyancer, and Eleanor Peters. Descended from some of Pennsylvania’s first settlers, Gibbons was privately educated and then attended the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received an M.D. in 1805, having studied with ...

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Gurney, Eliza Paul Kirkbride (06 April 1801–08 November 1881), Quaker minister, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Joseph Kirkbride and Mary Paul. Both parents came from Quaker families, and from childhood Kirkbride was acquainted with leading English and North American Friends. Three years in the Friends Boarding School at Westtown, Pennsylvania, reinforced such influences. Kirkbride’s mother died in 1807 and her father in 1816. Thereafter she made her home with relatives who were equally active and prominent Friends. In 1827 she became engaged to John Howell, a Quaker from Woodbury, New Jersey, but he died the following year....

Image

Elias Hicks. 1830 engraving of a drawing by Henry Inman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98115 ).