Quaker family history in Glasgow

Family history in Glasgow

The Society of Friends has had a presence in Glasgow since the 17th century. An interesting consequence of this is that we occasionally receive enquiries from people conducting genealogical research on ancestors who may have been Quakers in Glasgow or in Scotland.

If you think that your ancestors were Quakers in the Glasgow area or in Scotland, Glasgow Quaker Meeting has the following resources to help you.  Our librarian and archivist will be happy to check these resources for you and send whatever information he can find: he may also be able to refer you to other resources.  You can email him at paulfburton AT btinternet.com

Digest of births, marriages and burial in Scotland.  A list of births, marriages and deaths in Scotland from the mid-17th century to approximately the end of the 19th century.  It includes a range of information such as names of parents, occupations, place of marriage or burial, etc.

Books of members and attenders of General Meeting for Scotland.  These are available from 1879 to 1914 inclusive and list names and addresses under the individual Meetings in Scotland.

Alphabetical list of members of Edinburgh Two Months Meeting.  This covers the late 18th century to, in some cases, the 1960s and includes date of admission to membership, date of death, etc.  Friends in the Meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Hawick are listed.

The National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh (NRS) holds a large collection of over 200 documents of all kinds relating to Quakers in Scotland, including birth, marriage and burial records up the 1960s.  There are also minute books from the earliest period of Quakerism in Scotland.  All of their records can be found by searching on their web page https://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/nrsonlinecatalogue/search.aspx  To see a list of all of their Quaker records, type “CH10” in the box marked Reference and tick the button Starts.

Papers relating to the Gray and Cruickshank families of Glasgow, Kirkintilloch, Kinmuck and Aberdeen are also in the NRS under reference GD1/1352.

(Check records on the NRS web site for availability: some may be closed, others may have to be brought from other buildings to the search room in Princes St., Edinburgh and so you may have to order them in advance.  Records can only be viewed in person).

Joseph Besse’s Sufferings of early Quakers covers the period of persecution of Quakers up to the 1690s.  It contains a section on Scotland and many individuals are named.  A facsimile reprint of the section on Scotland has been published by Sessions Book Trust in 2003 (ISBN 1-85072-285-4): this has a newly compiled index of people and places.  (See https://sessionsbooks.co.uk/index.php?route=product/search&filter_name=Besse%27s%20Sufferings for the complete set of reprints)

David Dobson’s book, Scottish Quakers and Early America 1650 – 1700 (Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1998), lists the Scottish origins of many of the Quakers who settled in East Jersey in the 1680s.  It can also be searched on Ancestry.co.uk at https://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?htx=BookList&dbid=48516&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0.  A subscription is required.

There are many biographies of various Quakers in books and journal articles.  The library of Glasgow Quaker Meeting has a large section of Quaker biographies: please contact me to see if I have any further information.

More general sources include:

  • Edward Milligan and M. Thomas.  My ancestors were Quakers: how can I find out more about them?  The Society of Genealogists.  ISBN 0901878596
  • Milligan, Edward  Biographical dictionary of British Quakers in commerce and industry, 1775 – 1920.  Sessions Book Trust, 2007
  • Quaker Family History Society (http://www.qfhs.co.uk/) has the expressed aim “to encourage and assist anyone interested in tracing the history of Quaker families in the British Isles”.
  • Ancestry.co.uk has a digitised collection of Quaker birth, marriage and death registers in England and Wales for the period up to 1837, when civil registration was introduced.  A subscription is required.

Glasgow Meeting House is essentially across the street from the Mitchell Library, which is Glasgow's central research library and the home of the city's family history records and research centre. They hold copies of some Quaker records. Your family history research journey may well weave between the two buildings.

Additionally, if you are in London, you can also visit the library at Friends House which contains the central archive of Quakers in Britain, including many records which may help your research. Please do contact them in advance with your search queries.

Good luck!