Sample Data

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Firstname Lastname Othernames Dates Area / Note
Joan HOLDER 1677 Plantation, St. Peter's

The Quakers in Barbados

1647 – The Society of Friends (known as Quakers) is a religious body, founded in England by George Fox (1624-1691). Converts were forced into exile and moved to the New World

1655 – Two women missionaries, Ann Austin and Mary Fisher arrived from England

1659 – Several Meeting Houses had been formed. By century’s end there were at least six meeting houses and five burial grounds.

1664 – Quaker Marriage of Isabella Holmes and Daniell Browning, Merchant, witnessed by ten Friends in the House of John Houlder, St. Joseph’s

1665 – Charles II resettles six Quakers from Newgate Prison, England onto Barbados and an additional fifty convicted Quakers were transported on the John and Sarah to be sold or indentured.

1669 – Edward Oistine of Christ Church gave half an acre of his land "unto the People called Quakers in this Island ... for a burying place ... which shall be in part before my Garden which is encompassed with Plantaine trees where I desire that I may be buried".

1670 – Cliff Burial Ground established opposite St. Philip’s Parish Church - Quaker Richard Settle gave a legacy in his will for the purchase of the land and he also bequeathed "3000 pounds of sugar" for construction of a meeting house at Thickets.

1671 – George Fox visited Barbados - advised that slaves should be treated kindly and ultimately freed by their owners

1676 – "Act to Prevent the People called Quakers from bringing Negroes to their Meeting" passed into law

1679 – Richard Pin of St. Thomas requested that his body be laid to rest “at the Friends burial place at James Ayshford's "a neighboring planter and Friend".

1680 – The Census lists 58 Quakers. Governor Atkins ordered that the Bridgetown Meeting House be closed and all the seats removed – subsequently reopened and used for many years. There were over a thousand Quakers in a population of barely 20,000 white settlers.

1690s - Quaker population in Barbados reaches its greatest with at least four burial grounds and six meeting houses, upwards of 1200 members

1700 – Ralph Weekes buried at the Cliff Burial Ground

1703 – Ann Currer expected "to lye in John Wyn's burial ground" when she dictated her last requests to her friends

1700s - Quakers actively persecuted - aroused considerable antagonism among the Barbadian ruling classes as a result of their refusal to swear oaths or serve in the militia, and especially because of their efforts to Christianize the slave population - only a few remained in Barbados

1710 – Will of Henry Byrch, Quaker surgeon: "... my body to a grave as neare as may be to my son Caleb's after a solemn assembly of such friends and neighbours as will accept invitation."

1720s – Only a few hundred Quakers remained in Barbados

1761 – Will of Robert Pilgrim "It is my desire and I shall be thankfull to my executrix hereinafter mentioned to deposit my body with decent burial in the Family Vault in Quakers Yard near Saint Philip Church with my brothers and sisters"

1764 – Meetings in Bridgetown attended by only three or four persons

1780 – The meeting houses destroyed by hurricane and were not rebuilt – the burial grounds became overgrown and forgotten

1783 – Sept 21 Mrs. E. Weekes, wife of Lt.Col. Ralph Weekes Vault St. Philip Church

1792 – Quaker Benjamin Jones buried in lead coffin at the Cliff Burial Ground

1820s – No Quakers remain in Barbados

1846 – Burial Ground in Speightstown deeded by heirs of the Quakers to the Anglican Church.

Sites of Meeting Houses

  1. Bridgetown in Tudor Street
  2. Plantation Meeting House, just south of Speightstown – is this Heathcott’s Bay?
  3. Pumpkin Hill, also known as Champion Ground in St. Lucy Parish
  4. Windward Meeting House, location unknown.
  5. Porey’s Spring Meeting House in St. Thomas Parish.
  6. Thickets Meeting House in St. Philip
All the meetings houses were destroyed in the hurricane of 1780 and never rebuilt.

Sites of Burial Grounds

Like meeting places, burial grounds were often located on plantation land that was set aside for collective use. It was common enough for planters to have family burial plots on their own land. Quakers merely extended the practice to include members of the religious household to which they belonged. Members who donated their houses and lands for religious use were patrons of their particular meetings.

  1. Bridgetown:
    A Monument at the end of Belmont Road on the site of the old Quakers' Burial Ground commemorates them (plot of land with mahogany trees, west of the roundabout by Government House and marked with a marble plaque on a coral stone boulder). This was one of the main Quaker burial grounds, on land given by seventeenth-century Quaker Thomas Pilgrim, who, in spite of his persecution for his faith, acquired considerable property. It was his house, Pilgrim, which became Government House. Little Pilgrim, the manager's or over-seer's house, was later known as Norham, and home of the eminent late family practitioner and surgeon, Dr Lionel Stuart. Now demolished, two impressive gateposts on Tweedside Road mark it. Brett Brinegar mentions another burial ground near the Jewish Synagogue on James Street, now under buildings.
  2. Heathcott's Bay, Speightstown:
    St. Peter’s Public Cemetery was partly the old burial ground. Quaker Dr. Benjamin Collyns, M.D. has a tomb there.
  3. Cliff Burial Ground, opposite St. Philip Parish Church.
    Richard Settle’s stepson, Richard Taylor constructed a family vault in the coral stone cliff as did John Gittens, Dr. Ralph Weekes, Robert Pilgrim, Jones, Toppin, Taylor, Griffith and Weatherhead.
    The Thickets Meeting House was in this area.
  4. Pumpkin Hill, also known as Champion Ground in St. Lucy Parish.
  5. Windward, location unknown.
  6. Porey's Spring in St. Thomas Parish.