Records of York Preparative Meeting of the Society of Friends

Scope and Content

Minutes of Preparative Meeting, 1669-1957 (16 vols.) [H 1.1-1.16]; Minutes of Women's Preparative Meeting, 1707-1904 (6 vols.) [G 2.1-2.6]; Minutes of Meetings of Overseers/Oversight Committee, 1882-1975 (13 vols.) [J 4.1-4.7, 3.1-3.4; G 13.1-13.2]; Minutes of Ministry Committee, 1908-1939 (3 vols.) [J 5.1-5.3]; Minutes of Meetings of Elders, 1942-1956 (1 vol.) [J 6]; Minutes of Committee on Attenders/Non Members, 1863-1920 (2 vols.) [J 7.1-7.2]; Property and Finance Committee minutes, 1908-1960 (2 vols.) [G 11.1-11.2]; Meeting House, later Premises, Committee minutes, 1886-1959 (1 vol.) [G 21]; Meeting House Alterations Committee minutes and papers, 1883-1906 (1 vol.) [G 7]; Albert Library Committee minutes, 1901-1924 (1 vol.) [G 14.1]; Extension Committee minutes, 1905-1915 (1 vol.) [G 16]; Birth notes, 1825-1829, 1838-1959 (12 vols.) [K 6.1; M 2.1-2.10]; Burial notes, 1837-1939 (30 vols.) [M 1.1-1.30]; Account books, 1794-1965 (9 vols.) [G 5.1-5.9]; Collections, 1692-1846 (1 vol.) [G 3.1]; Ledger, 1903-1915 (1 vol.) [G 19]; Legacy Fund account books, 1707-1948 (2 vols.) [G 4.1-4.2; G 4.1 also on microfilm reel 22]; Cash book for Albert Library, 1880-1925 (1 vol.) [G 14.4]; Accounts and papers for Heslington Road burial ground, 1911-1972 (1 bundle) [G 10.10]; Subscriptions and papers of Subscriptions Committee, 1929-1976 (2 bundles) [G 3.2, 10.2]; List of subscriptions to Ackworth and Rawdon Schools, Hope Street schoolhouse etc., 1836-1851 [G 6]; Schedules of trust property, 1921-1953 (1 bundle) [III 6.37]; Papers re. legacies and gifts, 1924-1975 (1 bundle) [G 10.3]; Correspondence on registration of charities, 1960-1965 (1 bundle) [G 10.4]; Papers of Premises Committee, 1920-1976 (1 bundle) [G 10.5]; Correspondence on listed buildings, 1954-1975 (1 bundle) [G 10.6]; Papers on tenancies, 1940-1977 (1 bundle) [G 10.7]; Papers on properties in Castlegate, 1661-1924 (1 bundle) [G 23]; Plans of Meeting House, with related papers, 1662-1980 (1 bundle) [G 22]; Printed reports and papers, and library book, re. Albert Library, 1862-1895 (3 vols. & 1 bundle) [G 14.2-14.3, 14.7, 14.6]

Administrative / Biographical History

George Fox visited York as early as 1651 and attempted to preach at York Minster. He was followed soon afterwards by William Dewsbury, who held a meeting in Richard Smith's orchard. Amongst the first to be convinced in York were Richard Smith and his wife, his sister Mary, and her future husband Thomas Wayte. The Meeting remained small during the 1650s, despite the public testimony of local Friends and visits by Quaker leaders such as Stephen Crisp and John Whitehead. There were also of course large numbers of Friends from all over Yorkshire imprisoned in York Castle for various offences. Until 1659 they met in private homes, such as that of Thomas and Mary Wayte, then rented a property in High Ousegate from Edward Nightingale. The Meeting grew in the 1660s, during a period of intense persecution, and was recorded as part of Pontefract Monthly Meeting in 1665. In 1669, it became the principal Meeting within York Monthly Meeting. A Meeting House was opened in Far Water Lane in 1674, leased originally from Edward Nightingale, extended to accommodate Quarterly Meetings and then purchased by Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting in 1696. During the 1680s the Meeting suffered the loss of around a quarter of its members during a Separatist controversy over the issue of second marriages. The Separatists were led by two York Friends, John Cox and Edward Nightingale, and held separate meetings for worship in York until around 1693, as well as forming their own Monthly Meeting. In 1718 a new large Meeting House was built on the Far Water Lane site for Quarterly Meetings, and this was in use for almost 100 years before being completely rebuilt in 1817. The small Meeting House was also rebuilt and extended in 1885, following the creation of Clifford Street. There was a revival of Quakerism in York in the late 18th century, as local Friends came under the influence of Evangelicalism. This movement was led particularly by Esther Tuke and her husband William. The Tukes and the Rowntrees dominated the history of the Meeting from around this time, and were responsible for initiating Quaker schools, Adult Schools and the Retreat in York, as well as running local businesses. Over the period 1820 to 1860, when the Society of Friends nationally was declining in numbers, York Meeting acquired 15 new ministers and increased its membership from 137 in 1807 to 194 in 1826 and 236 in 1860. In 1980, the large Meeting House was demolished and the site redesigned, incorporating sheltered housing by the Tuke Housing Association. The main burial ground in York was at Bishophill, bought in 1667 and superseded in 1855 by land at the Retreat, on Heslington Road.


The records are numbered and arranged according to the system used when they were in Clifford Street Meeting House

Access Information

The conditions of deposit include a clause requiring written prior permission from a Friend Custodian for access to consult current legal documents and any material less than fifty years old

Acquisition Information

The collection of archives of the Society of Friends formerly held at the Friends Meeting House in Clifford Street, York


In English

Other Finding Aids

Contents listed in Handlist 75, Inventory of the records of Yorkshire General Meeting and York and Thirsk Monthly Meetings of the Society of Friends formerly preserved at the Friends' Meeting House, Clifford Street, York (1986)

Alternative Form Available

There are additional microfilm copies of G 2.1-2.2, G 4.1, G 5.1, and H 1.1-1.5

Conditions Governing Use

As with access, the photocopying of current legal documents and any material less than fifty years old requires the permission of a Friend Custodian

Related Material

Related material in Leeds University Library: Records of York Monthly Meeting, Amethyst Band of Hope, York British Girls' School, York Friends Biblical Library Association, York Friends Book Society, York Friends Sewing Meeting, York Friends Temperance Association, York Young Friends, York: Acomb Preparative Meeting, York: Leeman Road Preparative Meeting and York: Lawrence Street Adult School. Related material in other repositories: Records of York Friends Adult Schools and related bodies, York City Archives


See F. Thorp, "Friends in York and neighbourhood", in Friends Quarterly Examiner, 1892, pp.167-182; S. Allott, Friends in York: the Quaker story in the life of a Meeting (Sessions, 1978); D. Scott, Quakerism in York 1650-1720 (University of York, 1991); S. Wright, Friends in York: the dynamics of the Quaker revival 1780-1860 (Keele University Press, 1995); D. Rubinstein, York Friends and the Great War (University of York, 1999); D. Rubinstein & O. O'Toole, Faithful to ourselves and the outside world: York Quakers during the 20th century (Sessions, 2001)

Additional Information

The records are deposited and remain the property of the Society of Friends