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Society of Friends

The Religious Society of Friends
(The Quaker Movement)

The Quaker Movement was started in the 17th century by George Fox and other like-minded people.
Their core beliefs included that the light or presence of God was in everybody, that there should be spiritual equality between men and women and that although they had speakers (both men and women) in the meeting house, God spoke directly to individuals. Following the meaning of the scriptures, they adopted pacifism and refused to take legal oaths.

From 1840, George Fox, the son of a weaver from the Midlands travelled the country meeting others looking for a more spiritual existence. Seen as a threat to the establishment he was imprisoned in 1850. In 1852 he met and later married Margaret Fell of Swarthmoor Hall which became a meeting house for the Quakers.

The term Quaker was a used as a derisive term for a Friend as they professed that men, “should tremble at the word of the Lord”.

Despite persecution, the movement flourished. Fox spent time in prison in the 1660’s. Many Quakers decided to emigrate to the colonies. The first Quaker missionaries arrived in America in the mid-1650’s but many followed as settlers. However they were not free from persecution especially from the Puritans. Some, named the Boston Martyrs were executed in the 1650’s and 1660’s.

William Penn a wealthy English Quaker who had been imprisoned many times for his beliefs, founded Pennsylvania as a sanctuary of religious tolerance.

The Quakers took up several noble causes, the protection of the native Indians in America. They were also abolitionists and tried to stop sales of slaves. In the nineteenth century they supported universal suffrage.

In Britain, the Quakers adopted these causes. Many were vocal about slavery but not only for African slaves, they also worked to improve the lives of the working people in Britain. They promoted temperance, education and welfare. They continue with similar good works today.

Quakers in Bradford

The Quakers were present in Bradford as early as 1656. A Quaker burial ground was established near to Quaker Lane in Horton. At that time the Quakers who lived throughout the area met in each other’s homes. The land at Goodman’s End (Bridge Street, Bradford) was gifted to the Quakers by Matthew Wright until 1672. The purpose of the land was for a burial ground and was conveyed to John Green, John Winn and Joshua Dawson. Matthew Wright was the first to be buried there. Wynn offered his home for meetings but was subject to raids by the authorities as the movement was not recognised as a legitimate organisation. After Wynn died, Benjamin Bartlett, the apothecary opened his home in Westgate. Between 1710 and 1720, a meeting house was built in front of the land used as the burial ground. The building was renewed in 1811 on the site but facing onto Wakefield Road.

Bradford was growing fast and in 1847, The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company required a portion of the burial ground, in fact they admitted they would require all of it to expand the railway line (about where the Bradford Interchange is today). The money received in compensation, some £16,000 went a long way to building a new meeting house in Fountain Street. The last meeting in the old chapel was in 1877. The remains of those buried in the burial ground came to Undercliffe Cemetery and were reinterred on the 6th December 1855 in one grave within the Quaker quarter. The Quakers also purchased 197 plots in the dissenter’s quarter in 1855.

Why are all the Stones Laid Down?
They are laid down because:
“Just as no man shows another to God, so then no one is above another in the eyes of God”.

Notable Quakers within the Cemetery.

There were many notable Quakers buried in the cemetery however, many helped start Bradford’s journey to becoming a great industrial city. The first of note is John Hustler (1715-1790) Grave E378 unconsecrated born at Apple Tree Farm, Low Fold, Bolton, Bradford, to William and Jane Hustler, he attended the Quaker School at Godmansend (junction of Wakefield Road and Bridge Street) and then was apprenticed to a learn the textile trade, as a sorter and a woolstapler. He joined his father and uncle in their textile business and became one the leading merchants in Bradford. As a Quaker, honesty was a very important and proven trait and so in 1752, he gave evidence before a Parliamentary Committee concerning false practices by wool growers and in 1764 he was prominent in pressing for legislation to prevent closed shop practices in the textile trade. Due to his hard work he was elected as chairman of the Yorkshire Worsted Committee to police the textile industry against embezzlement and fraud. He proposed the erection of a Piece Hall in Bradford.

As well as these interests, in 1766 he was at the meeting at the Sun Inn (bottom of Sunbridge Road) to discuss the construction of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. He was elected the chairman and treasurer of the Bradford Committee and did much to get the necessary legislation passed to bring the scheme to fruition. He was one of the main fund raisers and then he went on to promote the construction of a canal from Bradford to join the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Shipley. He, like many of the businessmen involved had vested interests as the canal would make Bradford more accessible at a time when roads were poor, often impassable. Hustler had quarries in Bradford and Wigan and Coal mines in Lancashire; the transportation of stone and coal was easier by water as was the transportation of lime and ore to Bradford, primarily for Low Moor Ironworks and for Bowling Iron Works. The Bradford Canal was completed in 1784. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was completed in stages and was finished in 1816.

John took on an apprentice, Edmund Peckover* (1757-1810), (Grave D331 unconsecrated) from Norfolk, also a Quaker. After serving an apprenticeship with in the textile trade, Edmund entered into partnership with John’s son John Hustler, junior.

Edmund started a bank with his nephew, Charles Harris* (1787-1842). The bank they started, The Bradford Old Bank was opened in 1792 despite being warned that it would not succeed as there was already a bank in the town. Charles Harris and his brothers, Henry Harris* (1789-1872), Grave (D332 unconsecrated) and Joseph Peckover (1754-1836). In 1823, another brother joined the bank, Alfred Harris* (1801-1880).

Daniel Peckover* (1798-1867), (Grave D331 unconsecrated) another of Edmund’s nephews joined the bank.

The Priestman Family * originated in Thornton Le Dale where they were tanners and millers. John, born in 1805 (grave D202 unconsecrated) left his home when he was 19 to come to Bradford to enter partnership with his cousin James Ellis to run the corn mill. Both staunch Quakers they refused to pay the Church Rate which was like a tax that went to the coffers of the Church of England. In 1835 they were summonsed before the magistrate and won their case. Slowly they moved into worsted manufacture as it was more lucrative. John was renowned for his excellent treatment of their mainly female staff. They began a ragged school and paid the teacher themselves. It began in one room of the mill and then expanded. Other members of the family came to West Yorkshire to either enter the textile trade or continue being millers at Kirkstall. They contributed to the welfare of the people.

Although Quaker’s are by their beliefs, pacifists, there are those who served in WW1 and their families are represented in the Quaker section of the cemetery.

Grave D142 unconsecrated contains Daisy Pumphrey who died in 1912. Her husband Hubert, also a Quaker joined up to serve in WWI. Sadly he was killed in action on the 26 April 1918 and is remembered on the Tyne Cot memorial. The De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1918 records the following about him:
Pumphrey, Hubert, 2nd Lieut.10th (Service) Battn. The Cheshire Regt. S of Thomas Edwin Pumphrey of Mayfield, Sunderland, MP., by his wife Mary Anna, dau. of the late Joshua and brother of Captain Arnold Pumphrey D.S.O (q.r), b.Sunderland 9 January 1881; educ. Quaker School Bootham York and at Durham College of Science; became a chartered patent agent and was manager of the Bradford branch of W.P.Thompson & Co Patent Agents, Liverpool; joined the Inns of Court O.T.C 6 December 1815; gazetted 2nd Lieut. The Cheshire Regt 22 Nov 1916; served with the Expeditionary Force in France from 25 Jan 1917; was wounded at Ypres the following July; on recovery he returned to France 13 April 1918 and was killed in action at Kemmel Hill 26 April following. An Officer wrote: “He was gallantly leading his men. While running ahead of them to charge a machine gun position he was shot and killed instantly. He was a keen soldier and a fearless leader.”

John Thomas Burton (Grave: D144 unconsecrated) entered the army during WWI, however in 1915 he was discharged with tuberculosis. His record shows it was at 30% which incapacitated his ability to serve. He was awarded a pension but died in 1917.
The Burrows Brothers (Grave D147 unconsecrated).Although these two brothers are not buried in the grave, Ernest and Fred did join up only to be discharged on medical grounds. The youngest two brothers, Arthur and Harry born in 1893, were drafted, however as abolitionists they refused to fight so were imprisoned and sentenced to hard labour.

Ralf Midgley, the son of Fred and Amelia Ann Midgley (Grave D150 unconsecrated) became a plumber. He joined up in 1915 to serve in the WWI and was a petrol engine driver. In May 1918 he was recorded as being missing whilst in England. He was found in the Keighleys Victoria Hospital suffering from gas poisoning. After the war, like many men who had served, he was restless and travelled widely. He and his friend Herbert Checkley went to the United States. In May 1928 he set off for Canada with £8 in his pocket. This was not his first trip to Canada as in 1923 he left Vancouver for Seattle. From here he may have travelled to Panama as his home journey started in Cristobal.

In 1930, Ralf married Eleanor Buckley. Sadly their time together was short as Ralf died on 30 March 1936. His mother’s maiden name was Wroe and she was a descendant of Bishop Wroe.

And a Brush with Revolution…….

Cornelius Jefferson, his wife Mary Ann and Three children are buried in (Grave E235 Unconsecrated. Cornelius Jefferson was the son of Isaac Jefferson, a Quaker and blacksmith, originally from Clayton West, Isaac settled in the poor area, Broomfields, situated at the bottom of Manchester Road. He and Ann had 7 children: Samuel Whalley (Grave E235 unconsecrated),Hannah, Joseph, Cornelius, Lazarus, Mordicai and James.
Isaac was a large burly man who living amongst the poor of Broomfields. His imposing figure and a steady income, he was probably looked up to by his neighbours. By the time of the riots, many of his neighours were unemployed woolcombers, bolstered by an increasing number of poor, disenfranchised Irish. The general unrest starting many years before, became the Chartist Movement.

In 1832 the passing of the Reform Act did make inroads into righting the wrongs of the voting system by getting rid of most of the Rotten Boroughs and giving the vote to a certain section of the male population. However, if a man did not own property worth £10, he was unable to vote. Further, for the first time the word “male” was used to identify those who qualified to vote, hence preventing any female voting, although very few had previously had that right. The changes resulted in most men and no women being unable to vote. The result gave birth to the Chartist Movement which was particularly prevalent in the towns and cities. Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Bradford were the particular hotspots. In Scotland, Glasgow was also a centre of unrest. The agitation lasted for over thirty years.
There was tentative allegiance with the Irish in their struggle for land rights a struggle they brought with them, when thousands migrated to Britain, due to the Famine. Many came to Bradford and at one point made up 10% of the population.

The passing of the Act (Sir John Hayter)

By 1848, revolution was in the air. There had been a general turndown in trade causing particular problems for the poor. Further, the revolution sweeping Europe with the downfall of the French monarchy, gave hope of great change.
In Bradford, there was unrest with the gathering of large crowds, listening to the likes of Isaac. He became known as the new Wat Tyler for his leadership and oratory skills. Although Quakers believe in civil rights, they are also supposed to be pacifists, however, Isaac used his smithing skills to turn factory tools into pikes. Isaac along with other leaders such as David Lightowler. started drilling men, willing to fight. In Bradford, this activity tended to take place at Bradford Moor. Others drilled in Bingley and Ecclehill.

There had been more than one meeting of the Chartists in Bradford during May. One reported in the Bradford Courier of the 18 May 1848, was not only addressed by the likes of Isaac but also by paupers. On the same of page of the report of the meeting is a piece about a woolcomber called Michael Mortimer of North Wing who died from want of food. The poor, the unemployed and the destitute had endured enough.

As the month of May progressed, the Magistrates decided to root out the Chartist leaders and signed up about 1500 “specials” that were put under the leadership the Police Superintendent, William Briggs. Bradford’s police force was in its infancy and had little experience. On the 28 May 1848, the band of specials and police pressed forward to the Broomfields area, to Adelaide Street only to be driven back by a mob throwing stones and brickbats. The army was called in and supported by the specials, they made a further attack and scoured the Broomfields area for the ringleaders. They found Isaac in a pub and arrested him although he was rescued by a mob. It was said the women were more intimidating than the men. They were prepared to throw punches as well as stones and brickbats. One woman arrested way Mary Mortimer who had to be taken by force. She was said to have thrown stones with the greatest intrepidity and fierceness and swore like a trooper. Another woman, Mary Patchett was considered very violent and led the charge to rescue Isaac. One man arrested, James Downs used a hot soldering iron to try to escape arrest.
The specials were sent away defeated and injured. Daniel Illingworth, the founder of the Illingworth dynasty who was injured, Thomas Dewhirst (Grave F294 Unconsecrated), a mill owner who was also injured; as were Edward Hailstone and Joshua Pollard. Isaac and David Lightowler went into hiding in the countryside. After being on the run for two months, they were both caught, Isaac in an Inn at Swilling.

Following a trial in the September, before the Special Assizes what found guilty of “drilling and training to military exercises”. He served four months. He later lived a peaceful life even volunteering to be a police officer, much to the amusements to the Magistrates. He continued smithing until he died in a house in Isaac Street, off Thornton Road aged 61 on 25 December 1874. His sons, Joseph, Cornelius, Lazarus, Mordicai and James all became Mechanics.

  • See biographies on Undercliffe Cemetery’s web page.
    Grace’s Guide of Britain’s Industrial History,
    Fighting Talk – Mark Metcalf, Chartism and the Chartists,
    Hunt for Wat Tyler – S Roberts
    Aspect of Chartism: 1848 the Year of Revolution – Richard Brown
    The Bradford Observer.

Research by Deborah Stirling

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