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Quaker Studies

Abstract

It is unusual for an historian to be able to establish in great detail the life of any but those considered one of 'the great and the good'. The substantial amount of documentary sources, both by, and about, the Quaker radical Daniel Eccleston of Lancaster (1745-1821), provide an opportunity to view a turbulent period in British history through the experiences of one individual. The links between industrial and scientific advance, Nonconformity in religion and calls for political reform were growing increasingly common as the eighteenth century progressed. This paper attempts to show the centrality of Eccleston's Quaker upbringing to his later political radicalisation. Although Eccleston was not an Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Paine or Richard Price, he was an Enlightenment radical, prepared to defend with his pen and a consequent loss of his liberty, the rights of the British to freedom of thought, speech, worship and writing.

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