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Religions 2019, 10(2), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020083

Faith in Numbers—Re-quantifying the English Quaker Population during the Long Eighteenth Century

Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, 1046 Bristol Road, Birmingham B30 6LJ, UK
Received: 21 November 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 30 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Quaker Studies)
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Abstract

The Religious Society of Friends was traditionally disinclined to define “membership” in pursuit of the Quaker mission to create a worldwide church. As a result, for almost two centuries before the first census of 1847, there are no records of the numbers within the Society. By the time of the census, Victorian Friends were seeking an explanation of what they generally perceived as a decline. The first, and still most widely accepted attempt to address this question, was John Stephenson Rowntree’s Quakerism, Past and Present, who grounded his 1857 essay on estimates extrapolated from summaries of Quaker records of marriages, births and deaths. This paper re-examines for the first time the assumptions made by Rowntree, and deploys both more recent demographic estimates and findings from the detailed Births, Marriages and Deaths records for over 33,000 Quakers in London from 1650 to 1809 to create an alternative population model charting stock and flows in the Quaker population of England by decade from 1650 to 1809. The paper seeks to reconcile such population estimates with accepted trends in English Quakerism across the period of the long eighteenth century. View Full-Text
Keywords: Quaker; Religious Society of Friends; long eighteenth century; membership; statistics; population; demographics; fertility; life expectancy; birth; marriage; death Quaker; Religious Society of Friends; long eighteenth century; membership; statistics; population; demographics; fertility; life expectancy; birth; marriage; death
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Fincham, A. Faith in Numbers—Re-quantifying the English Quaker Population during the Long Eighteenth Century. Religions 2019, 10, 83.

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