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My Main Quaker Page
See the suggested Reading List below.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) began around 1650, in England from the teachings and leadership of George Fox. It very quickly spread to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Long Island, Rhode Island and a little later to Pennsylvania.
It is important to understand the hierarchical structure of the Meetings. At the top is the Yearly Meeting. The New York Yearly Meeting was established very early. Under it developed the Half and Quarterly Yearly Meetings. This chain structure met as the name implies and questions of belief and discipline and other matters were passed up the chain to their appropriate level. The Monthly Meeting, reporting to a Yearly Meeting, was a key element to the more local community. The MM could conduct marriages and meet out discipline.
Considering the NY Yearly Meeting, as settlers kept moving west and up the Hudson River, new meetings would be established. Under the Monthly Meeting would be a Preparative Meeting. At the edge of settlement would be a group of Quakers asking for an indulged meeting, this may be granted and if they grew and became established they may be granted Prep Meeting status. Eventually a strong Prep Meeting could become a Monthly Meeting with a number of Prep Meetings under its jurisdiction. This governing structure provided strong roots to support the ever growing branches. Nine Partners is just such a Monthly Meeting in Dutchess County, NY.
Adolphustown was first to be a Prep Meeting under Nine Partners but due to its distance it was granted the right to conduct marriages, a matter that would normally be that of a Monthly Meeting. Not long after it became a MM under New York YM and local Prep Meetings sprang up at West Lake, Ameliasburgh, etc.
The Discipline is a book and is what its name implies. In it were the Queries that were to be read each meeting and the Answers recorded in the minutes. It is in reading the Queries, Answers and Discipline in the Adolphustown Minutes that one gains an understanding for the strength, vitality, care for others including native Indians, equality and respect for women, education for children, opposition to slavery and good conduct that was exemplified by these settlers. It is no wonder that others wished to join and become part of such a strong community. The Society of Friends grew rapidly during this time. See the West Lake page for the full text of the Queries.
The Queries below are from The Discipline of the NY Yearly Meeting in 1810 and were used by the West lake Meeting.
First Query. Are
Friends careful to attend all our meetings for religious worship and
discipline; is the hour observed; and are they clear of sleeping and of
other unbecoming behaviour in them?