I have a Quaker ancestor on my mother’s side; as I am studying a good deal about peace and justice issues, Quakerism keeps popping up (and, as the Society of Friends is quite alive and well here in the UK, I keep meeting Quakers). This morning, I decided to stop by the local Meeting House and see if I could look up my ancestor in their library. He was easily found (Quakers are meticulous record keepers) in a volume entitled The History of Friends in America published in 1854. (This was a lovely book with engravings of historical sights and short biographies of those involved in the early days.)
Cuthbert Hayhurst (or Hairst it’s sometimes spelled). Was an English dissenter who was basically exiled to the Colonies. He came with William Penn in the 1600’s to found Pennsylvania and establish The Society of Friends in America. The History has this to say of him:
Cuthbert Hayhurst was born in Yorkshire about the year 1632. He was among the earliest of those who professed our principles in that county, and soon after attaining the age of manhood, he came forth as a minister of the gospel. As early as 1654, he suffered imprisonment in Yorkshire for preaching the truths of religion, and in 1666, whilst on a gospel visit to some of the southern counties of England, he was taken from a meeting at Oxford and committed to a gaol. He was also at other times deprived of his liberty for the faithful maintenance of our religious principles.
Cuthbert Hayhurst proceeded to Pennsylvania with William Penn in 1682, and proved an instrument, in the Divine Hand, of comfort and consolation to his brethren under their new circumstances. He appears to have been a very devoted minister, and to have given up much of his time to promoting the kingdom of his Redeemer: in the minutes of London Yearly Meeting, he is referred to as a great traveller in the cause of truth. “He was,” says Nicholas Wain, who knew him well both in England and America, “of great service to me and many others, being instrumental in bringing us near unto the Lord, and is at rest with Him for ever.” He ended his course at his residence in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in the First Month, 1683, about the fiftieth year of his age.
There are several other volumes referenced for specific incidents and the quote there. I’m told that the Mitchell Library (which is a huge reference library here in Glasgow) has the Friends’ older volumes, letters, and manuscripts. Cuthbert was in the thick of things when the dissenters were under great persecution, so there should be much more material on him.
I was expecting to just pop in for some information; however, as it happened, they were preparing to have the mid-week meeting and invited me to sit in. Having never attended a Quaker meeting, I didn’t quite know what to expect. It’s very simple. We sat quietly for some time—at the end of which, two of the elders shake hands, then we all shake hands. And that’s it. If someone feels so led, they might speak; otherwise, it’s just a time of quiet meditation.
And then we had lunch…we could talk during lunch.