This database contains records from various Quaker meetings in Canada. Most come from Ontario, but you will also find records from other provinces, as well as a few from areas in the United States that fell under jurisdiction of a Canadian yearly meeting.
What Is a Meeting?
The Quaker religion was organized into geographical regions that fell under the jurisdiction of various meetings. At the top of the organization chart was the yearly meeting. Belonging to these yearly meetings were half-yearly and quarterly meetings located within the jurisdiction of the yearly meeting, like several dioceses belonging to an archdiocese. Below the quarterly meetings were an assortment of local meetings, most of which met each Sunday for worship and every month for business. It’s in the monthly meeting minutes that researchers will find the records of most genealogical value.
What You Can Find in the Records
This collection includes a wide assortment of records, including membership registers, marriage records, meeting minutes, certificates of removal, death registers, disciplinary records, and others. Details vary by record type, but they may include
- place and date of birth
- parents’ names
- spouse’s name
- place and date of marriage
- place and date of death and/or burial
- event date
- meeting name and location
This collection is not comprehensive, and you will find random gaps in the records.
Who Are the Quakers?
Founded by George Fox in the mid-17th century in England, the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, is a religious society whose members believe in a direct, personal experience with God. Their strict moral code that placed faith above country, refusal to participate in the state church or pay tithes, and an ethic of nonviolence that forbade military service left them subject to persecution. Despite this, Quakers, often called “Friends,” have made their mark in progressive social movements such as abolition, workers’ rights, women’s equality, and antiwar efforts.
Dates in many of the entries are recorded according to the Quakers’ system. Quakers found the use of traditional names for months and days in conflict with their Christian values since most were derived from “pagan” deities. So they devised a numerical system: Sunday was First Day, Monday was Second Day, Tuesday Third Day, and so on. First month, Second Month, Third Month, and so forth substituted for the names of months.
Keep in mind that before England changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the year officially began in March. Thus First Month 1751 is March, not January. Since the English and English colonists in America were aware that many nations by this time used January 1st for the beginning of the new year, dates in January and February were often written as 1740/1741, meaning if one assumed the year began in January, the year was 1741, but if one was using the official English system, the year did not begin until March, so the year was still 1740. Be careful in transcribing the dates you see.