Toni Wadman


This thesis explores the inclusion of encounters of communal and familial compassion and support within seventeenth century Quaker records of sufferings. Whilst previous academic works have used these accounts of communal support to highlight the social integration of Friends within their local communities, little focus has been placed upon the purpose or reasoning behind their presence within Quaker suffering records. This thesis, therefore, examines how Friends perceived and understood these encounters as well as the reasoning and motivation behind their inclusion in their accounts of sufferings. To help answer these questions, this project consults the Original Records of Sufferings, handwritten records and letters detailing accounts of sufferings and persecution, along with the spiritual autobiographies and journals of several early Friends. Through the study of these sources, this thesis argues that the recording of communal sympathy served firstly a rhetorical and persuasive purpose, both to validate their positions as martyrs, and as a way for Friends to repackage themselves as peaceful and supported members of their communities, therefore creating a narrative of injustice surrounding their persecution. Secondly, this thesis argues that the recording of these encounters also held an affective and emotive meaning to these Friends, as they navigated communal and familial relationships post conversion to Quakerism. Finally, whilst several academic works have reasoned that through the documenting and collating of accounts of persecution suffering became an integral part of early modern Quaker identity, little consideration has been paid to the recording of encounters of kindness and support. Therefore, this thesis places its focus upon this and concludes that through the memorialising, collating and disseminating of these encounters Friends were attempting to create another facet of Quaker identity that argued against the negative portrayal given by official and polemical tracts, and highlighted their ability to find support and integration within their local communities despite their difference in faith.

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