Petition by Quaker Women

Today’s Quakers are a peaceful lot, so it is hard to see in them the founders of their group, the angry, disrespectful women who made the Leveller women took almost tame. They submitted a petition to parliament in 1659, 3 columns with 7,000 names, objecting to the  forced payment of tithes to maintain what they called ‘steeple houses’ of the Anglicans. This is more from Stevie Davies Unbridled Spirits

“They do not ask, beg or plead but categorically demand that Parliament ‘throw down the power of the Papists in these nations, that set up tithes’, and rid themselves of those ‘filthy beasts’, the paid ministers. ” These are no underclass, but strong and proud women ‘we who are of the Seed of the Woman… to which the Promise was, Christ Jesus in the Male and in the Female, bear our testimony..

They claim that Christ did not send his disciples out ‘with a bag’ to plunder the storehouse of the poor, but sent them ‘without a bag, and said, Freely ye have received, freely give’.

‘Not ‘Sirs’, but ‘friends’, Parliament is called to account and told to get on with the business for which it is emplyoed as a public servant. God will smash them if they fail to take notice. ‘

‘How do you who are the heads of the nation expect we should pay your taxes, when you suffer the priests to take away our goods, that do no work for us?’

They demand the closure of training colleges for priests, to sell off all church land to feed the poor, predicting God will ‘remove you as unfit for his use’. They wanted church bells melted down except to warn for fires.

They demanded religious toleration, and end to the whipping of travelling quaker prophets as vagrants and ‘money-grubbing ministers extracting 10 or 20 shillings for a sermon over the dead, sprinkling babies, churching women are superstitious fakes. ‘just like the Heathen as they make their Pow-wows.’


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