Papers of Fred Fletcher

Scope and Content

This small collection of papers relates specifically to Fred Fletcher's studies in the late 1970s and 1980s of the history of Quaker Meetings, their Meeting Houses and burial grounds in East Yorkshire, as well as individual Quakers and well-known local families. However, very little evidence of the wider role which he played within the Society of Friends is available.

U DFF is catalogued as follows: correspondence (1974-1991) including letters from various staff members of the University of Hull and a letter from N H Kitchen about the Quaker roots of the Oliver family; subject files (c.1950s-1988) including notes on local baptist churches, the Beverley Preparatory Meeting and other East Riding Meetings, Quaker burial grounds and slavery; family history files (1977-1992) including well-known families such as Priestman, Rowntree and Reckitt; historical notes (c.1970s-c.1980s) including notes about the South Cave, Owstwick, Hull, Beverley and Hornsea Meeting Houses as well as a copy of The rise of Quakerism in Yorkshire by John William Rowntree; historical writings (1975-1989) including copies of his dissertations on quakerism in Hull and Yorkshire and two drafts of his unfinished thesis on Quaker education; lectures (c.1970s-1990) including the address which he gave to the Yearly Meeting of Elders in May 1976 and notebooks and files documenting his research into the travels of George Fox in Yorkshire in 1651-52; lists and indexes of Quaker records (c.1980s) especially for Cave, Owstwick and Hull Monthly Meetings; photocopies of Quaker records (1660-1796) being 1970s and 1980s copies of 17th and 18th century local records such as removal certificates and indexes to marriages, some wills and inventories; miscellaneous (1835-1990) including an illustrative map of Fox's 1651-2 journey into Yorkshire, some photographs and printed material and the 1840 Act enabling courts to accept non-parochial certificates of baptism, death, burial and marriage. The collection also includes a photocopy of the diary of William Stickney of Ridgmont, East Yorkshire, covering 1785-89, and a draft of 'Church government in the Society of Friends' written in 1951 by S H Priestman.

U DFF2 comprises: correspondence (1970s-1991) including with Peter Robson, Pearson Thistlethwaite (about Yorkshire Meeting Houses) and Frank Rimington (about Quakers in Staintondale); subject files (1980s) including about Quaker Meetings in Scarborough, Staintondale, Sutton and Whitby; family history and biographical files (1970s-1980s) including the Dickinson family, John Good (1801-1876), the Reckitt family, the Rowntree family, the Stickney family and the Storr family; historical notes (1980s) including about Meeting Houses within the Pickering and Hull Monthly Meeting area and the history of Hull Meeting; historical writings (circa 1989) comprising drafts and notes towards his uncompleted MPhil thesis on the economic and social influence of the Society of Friends in East and North Yorkshire; lectures (1970s-1980s) including talks on Quakers probably designed for a non-Quaker audience; lists and indexes of Quaker records (1972 - 1980s) mainly for Meetings within Pickering and Hull Monthly Meeting area, and including lists of occupations, distraints and sufferings, burials, births, marriages, members and disownments; photocopies and transcriptions of Quaker records (1652-1748) including a transcription of U DQR/18/1, a manuscript entitled 'Yorkshire sufferings for the Truth'; maps (1970s) including sketch maps of Yorkshire tracing George Fox's journeys through Yorkshire 1650s-1677 and James Backhouse's journeys around the world 1831-1841; miscellaneous (1970s) including a chart of biographical details of Quaker botanists and naturalists.

Administrative / Biographical History

Fred Fletcher was born on 5 January 1915 into a Presbyterian family, the eldest of four boys. He trained as a teacher in Sheffield, where he joined the Student Christian Movement and first came into contact with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). At the beginning of the Second World War he registered as a conscientious objector and, following his tribunal, was directed into landwork on the Cadbury estate near Birmingham. In 1941 he married his wife Dorothy and, at the end of the war, returned to Sheffield to work in a market garden. He also took the opportunity to study towards a Diploma in Horticulture. The family moved to Hull in 1961, where he took up the post of Gardens Manager at the University of Hull, remaining there until his retirement in 1980. The major planting schemes on the University campus and at the Lawns complex in Cottingham were his work and are testament to his knowledge and experience of horticulture. He shared his love of gardening widely, particularly through his regular programme on BBC Radio Humberside.

Within the Society of Friends, he gave service in a variety of capacities at local, regional and national level. He was involved in ecumenical work at the University of Hull and acted as Quaker chaplain for 18 years. His longstanding enthusiasm for Quaker history and the knowledge which he accumulated through research into Quaker archives led to his appointment as Archivist to the Pickering and Hull Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends. In this role he encouraged improvements in the creation, conservation and deposit of records. Following his retirement, he was able to devote his time to the study of local Quaker history. In the course of this work Fletcher produced short histories of the Meetings at Beverley and Hull, as well as biographies such as that of John Good (1801-1876), and histories of the Rowntree, Reckitt and Priestman families. He had already attained a Diploma in Local Historical Studies from the University of Hull in 1980, the subject of his dissertation being early Quakerism in Hull during the years 1652 to 1709, and he subsequently began work on a degree in Regional and Local History, also at Hull. His dissertation broadened the focus of his research to Quakerism in East Yorkshire during the three centuries from 1652 to 1952 and he received a BA (Hons.) in 1985. Further research towards a Masters degree focusing on Quaker education, was left unfinished when he died in December 1993.

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Religious archives subject guide

Custodial History

Donated by Dorothy Fletcher in July 1994 and November 1995. DFF2 donated via Stan Bowser, Pickering and Hull Monthly Meeting Archivist, in 1999 and on 25 January 2000.

Related Material

Archives of Pickering and Hull Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) [U DQR]

Papers of Hugh McGregor Ross regarding George Fox [U DRO]


Rigby, Brenda, 'Quakers and their records', Paragon Review, 4 (1995)