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Quaker Studies

Abstract

By the second half of the eighteenth century, women ministers had become the principal upholders of the spiritual life of Quakerism in Yorkshire. Drawing on a range of sources including the institutional records of Quaker Meetings, personal correspondence and spiritual journals and autobiographies, this paper aims to shed light on the precise nature of female leadership in the Religious Society of Friends and to contribute to greater understanding of the conditions under which it became dominant. It suggests that the growing tendency for women to outnumber men as ministers was closely linked to wider social and economic trends within contemporary Quakerism, and highlights the importance of family ties and support networks of kinship and friendship in underpinning women's exercise of ministering responsibilities.

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