Illustration by Christine Fuller
Founded by George Fox, the non-conformist Christian group known as the Quakers (or to use their more formal name, the Society of Friends), began to hold meetings in England around 1650.
Friends Meeting House & Burial Ground at Hingham
On their website, Norfolk Heritage Explorer mentions the Quaker meeting room which was built on the west end of a house at Lilac Farm, Seamere Road, Hingham. This Friends’ Meeting House was used from 1708 to 1837.
I came across a list of interments (1687-1837) at the Friends’ Burial Ground at Hingham, in documentation on microfilm at the Norfolk Heritage Centre, Norwich. The names include Rachel Smith 1744, daughter; Elizabeth Smith 1752, daughter; Ann Smith 1765, widow.
Elizabeth Smith of Great Ellingham
Elizabeth Smith ‘of Great Ellingham in the county of Norfolk in the Kingdom of England‘ made her will on the 10th day of April, 1745. Elizabeth confirmed in her will that she was of sound mind and memory, but ‘considering the uncertainty of time in this life, I think it necessary to settle my affairs in this World‘.
She signed her will in Ballitore (Ballytore). The will itself confirms that ‘the above mentioned Ballytore it in ye county of Kildare within 30 miles of Dublin in the Kingdom of Ireland.’ Why was Elizabeth Smith in Ballitore?
Wikipedia tells us that Ballitore has historical Quaker associations. Could it be that Elizabeth Smith from Great Ellingham visited Ballitore in connection with her Quaker beliefs and practices? Was she travelling alone, or with a group of local Friends?
Whatever the reason for her visit to Ballitore, Elizabeth did survive the journey back to Great Ellingham. Seven years later Elizabeth Smith died, and was buried in the Quaker Burying Ground at Seamere, Hingham. She was survived by her mother, Ann Smith, whom she appointed as her sole executrix and beneficiary.
Probate was granted to Ann Smith on the 1st May, 1753. It would be usual during the process of obtaining probate for an executor (or, in this case, executrix) to be required to swear an oath. The notation concerning the probate of Elizabeth Smith’s Will, makes it clear that Ann Smith did not swear an oath, but made an affirmation ‘being one of the people called Quakers‘.
In addition to whatever she possessed at the time of her death, Elizabeth bequeathed to her ‘Dear Mother Ann Smith‘ also of Great Ellingham, ‘all my right title and interest in the House and outhouses land and lands in the said Great Ellingham to her and her heirs for ever‘.
Hey, David. 1997. Oxford Dictionary of Local & Family History. Oxford University Press. Page 166.
Norfolk Heritage Explorer website. http://www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk/record-details?MNF19403-Lilac-Farm-Seamere-Road&Index=18349&RecordCount=57338&SessionID=e2b26efc-fc18-4fa6-baca-4518d3d Accessed 16th August 2020
Wikipedia website. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballitore Accessed 16th August 2020
1753 Smith, Elizabeth, spinster, of Great Ellingham. Will. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: NCC will register Smith 160
1927 ‘All interments at Hingham Burial Ground as copied from the Register Book for 1687 to 1837 at Friends House, London’. Viewed on microfilm at the Norfolk Heritage Centre January 2020