Society of Friends Digests

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“Quakerism arose in the east midlands in the late 1640s, gathering momentum in the north in the early 1650s, and spreading over the south of England from 1654 onwards.”

Quaker records were very well kept, recording more information than in the Church of England registers. In 1836, when the government called for all non-conformist records to be turned in, the Quakers complied. However, digests were made before they were sent in.

“The digests made by the Society 1840-2, at the time of surrender, were not transcripts. The registers relating to meetings within each of the then quarterly meetings in England and Wales had their contents systematically arranged so that, under each letter of the alphabet, entries in each series (i.e., births, marriages, burials) appear in approximately chronological order from the 17th century to 1837. Witnesses to marriages were not transcribed in the digest. The digests were made in duplicate, one copy being retained centrally (now the Friends House Library) and the other returned to the quarterly meeting.” Information requested in the digest are as follows:


Book, Page, Name, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Name of Parents, Parents Abode, Description (usually occupation), Monthly Meeting, NM for Not Members.


Book, Page, Name, Residence, Description (usually occupation), Names Of Parents, To Whom Married, Where Married, Date of Marriage, Monthly Meeting.


Book, Page, Name, Date of Death, Age, Residence, Description (spouse of, child of, marital status, occupation), Monthly Meeting, Date of Burial, Place of Burial, NM for Not Member.

Essentially, the digests give almost all of the information found on the actual record.However, it is always wise to check the original to verify what is in the digests.

The digests, from the beginning to the end of 1837, are in the Family History Library.They were catalogued in the middle of this year (1994).They will be found in the FamilySearch Catalog Place Search under [County] – Church Records.

Further reading

Donald Steel, Sources for Nonconformist Genealogy and Family History (National Index of Parish Registers) Volume 2, 942 V26ste Volume 2, pages 601‑95.

Edward H. Milligan and Malcolm J. Thomas, My Ancestors Were Quakers: How Can I Find Out More About Them? (942 D27m).