Sarah Fell.

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C. F. CLAY, Manager





















' I "^HE manuscript now printed for the first time and given
-*- verbatim et literatim has been for some years in the posses-
sion of the Society of Friends in London ; permission to publish
has been cordially given by the executive of that body. It has
been transcribed by Miss C. Fell-Smith, and the printers' proofs
have been checked by me with the original and I have added a
few textual notes.

The notes at the end of the volume are the result of long
periods of research in which I have been ably assisted by
gentlemen well acquainted with the Furness district, among
whom must be named W. G. Collingwood, M.A., F.S.A., of
Coniston, John F. Curwen, F.SA., F.R.I. BA., of Heversham,
and William Farrer, D.Litt., of Carnforth.

The persons whose names appear in the Account Book are,
in the main, unknown to history, even to Quaker history, but
the record of their financial transactions throws a bright light
upon conditions in an obscure part of England in the second
half of the seventeenth century. Professor C. H. Firth has stated
that " in general the special merit of the lives of the Quakers is
that they introduce us to a wider circle than the memoirs of
courtiers and noblemen ; all sorts and conditions of men appear
in their pages ; a picture of the middle classes and the people
could be put together from them " (article in The Scottish
Historical Review, for July, 191 3, on "Some Seventeenth Century

Diaries ").

N. P.

Friends' Reference Library,
Devonshire House,

BisHOPSGATE, London.
I. VI. 1920.



Introduction by John Brownbill, M.A.
Description and History of the Manuscript
A Note by Alice Clark ....

Text of Account Book











The Household Account Book or cash-book of Sarah Fell of
Swarthmoor here printed includes much beyond what its title
would lead the reader to expect, for incidentally there are set
down various sums received or spent on behalf of the local
Meetings of the Society of Friends, and others throwing light on
the business undertakings of the Fells and their kindred. Though
these casual entries do not give a complete record of the trans-
actions they refer to, they are of value in the dearth of other
records, and the book as a whole affords a fairly complete
account of the conditions of life in one of the larger houses in
Furness in the latter part of the seventeenth century.

Such a record possesses the greater interest from the fact
that Furness by its situation and history had characteristics of a
more primitive state of society than other parts of the country.
Lying between Windermere Lake and the Duddon Valley its
physical boundaries are very distinct, and the special jurisdiction
of the abbots of Furness had made it during the middle ages a
little principality in itself. The abbots were resident lords, and
in wealth as in jurisdiction had no rivals in the neighbourhood.
The Harringtons of Aldingham or Muchland, and their succes-
sors, had rank and a great estate, but did not reside except
occasionally in Furness. Gleaston Castle was built by them
about 1350, but seems to have fallen into decay a century later
and was left to go to ruin. The lords of Pennington and of Nevill
Hall in Ulverston resided respectively in Cumberland and York-
shire, and the families of Kirkby, Broughton and Fleming,
though they might be described as also of knightly rank, could
not attempt to rival their feudal superiors, the abbots. The little
house of Austin Canons at Conishead and the minor squires and
gentry, such as Bardsey of Bardsea and Ambrose of Lowick, do
not appear conspicuously.

The abbey fell and the rule of the abbots came to an end
during the century of confiscations which marked the Tudor
epoch and changed medieval to modern conditions. In 1487 the

X Introduction

Broughton estates were forfeited for loyalty to the house of York
and given to the earl of Derby, an absentee. In 1536 Conishead
Priory was suppressed and the Crown took possession ; about
fifteen years later it was sold to Sandys, whose successors were
the Doddings. Then came the fall of the abbey in 1538 ; the
revenues and exclusive jurisdiction were thenceforward adminis-
tered by the King's agent, who, when resident, was obviously
insignificant by contrast with the old abbots. The site and part
of the lands were sold by the Crown and became the property
of the Westmorland family of Preston, whose estate was called
" The Manor " simply. The Prestons were of equal position
with the Kirkbys and Flemings. Yet another confiscation, due
to the attempt to place Lady Jane Grey upon the throne, brought
the great lordship of Muchland into the Crown's possession ;
locally the act would have little significance, for it meant merely
the change of an agent. Then another in 1570 placed the Nevill
Hall estate in Ulverston at the mercy of the Crown, for its
owner, Sir John Nevill of Liversedge, had incurred forfeit by
taking part in the abortive rising in the North in 1569. These
changes had at least one result ; they allowed the minor families
of older days to spring into prominence.

The last-named confiscation has an immediate bearing on the
story of the Fells. Humberstone's Survey shows that Swarth-
moor was included in the demesne lands of Nevill Hall. Conis-
head Priory had had some share in it, and there may have been
minor proprietors. The details of its acquisition by the Fells
are not known. The Nevills' estate was granted out in parcels
either on lease or in fee, and the Fells probably purchased
Swarthmoor from the Crown grantees. The surname is a com-
mon one and little is known of the origin and fortunes of this
branch of them. The will of a Leonard Fell of Ulverston, dated
in 1542, shows that he had a grandson Leonard (son of Richard)
Fell and a son George, to each of whom he bequeathed " housing
and lands." The Ulverston registers do not afford sufficient
details to enable the descent to be traced with certainty, but the
son named may be the George Fell who in 1546 married
Margaret Henshaw. It is more to the point to notice that in
1570 one of the free tenants of the manor of Nevill Hall was
George Fell, holding a piece of land called St Mary's Acre. A
minor tenant was one Richard Pettyt, who occupied a piece of

Introduction xi

land in Swarthmoor ; this may be the " Pettie's Tenement"
frequently mentioned in the Account Book, It is of interest
because on the site of its barn was built the Swarthmoor meeting-

From its architecture Swarthmoor Hall is supposed to have
been built about the year 1600, and from its size it is clear
that the Fells had by that time acquired wealth and were
occupying a good position among the local families. The owner
was no doubt the George Fell, whose name appears in the
subsidy rolls of 1620, 1625 and 1628 as holding lands in
Ulverston of the clear annual value of ^3. There was however
another George Fell of standing in Ulverston ; he was assessed
to the subsidies named upon goods valued at ^^3. In 1625
George Fell the elder, described as "of Swarthmoor," and George
Fell the younger were of sufficient wealth to be summoned to
receive knighthood; they declined, and in 163 1 had to compound
for the refusal, such enforced compositions being a device to
increase the King's revenues. In 1623 Thomas Fell, as son and
heir of George Fell of Ulverston, gentleman, was admitted to
Gray's Inn, and in 1632 he married Margaret Askew, daughter
of John Askew of Marsh Grange, who bore him a son George
and seven daughters, one of whom, Sarah, kept the cash-book
now printed in full. Thomas succeeded his father before 1641,
when as "Thomas Fell, esq.," he was assessed to the subsidy for
lands of £T) clear value ; George Fell of Swarthmoor being at
the same time assessed for goods of £'i), as before. The lawyer
prospered and taking sides with the Parliament in the Civil
War was promoted to a judgeship in Cheshire, which then still
retained a separate judicial staff as a palatine county, and was
also made chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. Acquiring a
moiety of the manor of Ulverston he secured the position of his
family among the local squires. He died on Friday, 8 October,
1658, and lies buried in Ulverston church. By his will he founded
a grammar school in the town.

But though Judge Fell has attained a place in the Dictionary
of National Biography he and his house of Swarthmoor owe their
celebrity to his wife Margaret and to George Fox. There is no
need to dwell on their history. Margaret Fell's personality is
one of the glories of Furness. She became a convert of Fox's
at his first visit to the district in 1652, and though her husband

xii Introduction

did not follow her example he tolerated the meetings of the
Friends at his house. After ten years of widowhood she married
Fox in 1669, greatly to the disgust of her son George Fell.
This son died in 1670, before the Account Book begins, and
whatever right he had in Swarthmoor appears to have gone to
his seven sisters ; at least their descendants had it. From the
book itself it is clear that Margaret Fox, though by her second
marriage she had forfeited any legal claim to it, was in authority
there, for everything about the house or farm seems to have been
bought or sold " for mothers account." By inheritance she had
a share of Marsh Grange in Dalton, formerly, as its name would
indicate, part of the Furness Abbey estate and afterwards paying
a quit-rent to the Duke of Albemarle to whom the abbey's
lordship was granted at the Restoration for his services in
raising Charles II to the throne. In the time covered by the
Account Book, 1673-1678, Marsh Grange was occupied by one
of the daughters and her family — Mary Fell, who had married
Thomas Lower in 1668. Three other daughters also had
married, so that at Swarthmoor there were living with their
mother, Sarah, Susanna and Rachel. They occur very fre-
quently in the accounts, as may be imagined, and sometimes
they went little excursions in company, leaving traces like these:
" By money sister Lower, sisters Susannah, Rachel and myself
gave Mary Caton, when we went to sister Fell's — is." (49). This
would be their brother George's widow ; they dined there. Or
again : " By money in expense when we three maid sisters went
to Cartmel well — is. 2d" (391); the famous medicinal well under
Humphrey Head. An earlier visit made by the three sisters in
company with "brother Lower" had cost 9^^. (91).

During our period the mother was frequently absent from
Swarthmoor. George Fox had returned from America in 1673
and his wife and Sarah Fell went to greet him on his arrival at
Bristol. Sarah must have returned soon for the book begins on
25 September ; Margaret went with her husband on visits,
returning alone in December. Then Fox was imprisoned at
Worcester almost the whole of 1674, and in July his wife with
her daughter Susan Fell went to visit him at Worcester. She
laboured much in procuring his release, and they returned
together to Swarthmoor in June, 1675. In March, 1677, George
Fox set off on his travels once more, his wife accompanying him

Introduction xiii

as far as Sedbergh (371). Other periods of absence are to be
found by examining the accounts, many if not all being visits to
Meetings of the Society of Friends in the neighbourhood and
beyond it ; one to the Meeting at Coppull, near Wigan, and
then into Cheshire occurring in 1677 (403). Sarah Fell herself
appears to have been one of the chief organizers of the Women's
Meetings of the Society in the district, and those at Swarthmoor,
Cartmel and Hawkshead are frequently referred to ; Lancaster,
Quarrel Flat in Cartmel, Walney Island and Kendal were other
Meetings visited, and once a meeting at Hugh Tickell's in
Cumberland was attended by mother and daughter (loi). The
local success of the Society in Furness is to some extent
accounted for by the isolation of the district and the paucity of
what were called " gentle " families. Practically all the house-
holders were equal, whether they were styled gentlemen or
yeomen or husbandmen, and the simplicity of speech and
manners inculcated by the Friends was already prevalent. The
general religious condition seems to have been that of quiet
acquiescence in whatever arrangements the State made — episco-
pacy was succeeded by presbyterianism and this again by
episcopacy without any noteworthy opposition being aroused,
although there were numerous nonconformists after the Restora-
tion. For a time the authorities looked sharply after them,
mistrusting their loyalty, but there is little evidence of a perse-
cution distinctly religious. The Baptists at Tottlebank and
Torver and the Society of Friends are the earliest known
instances of organized nonconformity.

The history of the latter goes back to the preaching of Fox in
1652. The Friends were persecuted before the Restoration by the
Presbyterian Sawrey and after it by the Episcopalian Kirkby.
In the end the last-named seems to have come to the conclusion
that there was no harm in them, and when George Fox settled
for a time at Swarthmoor in 1675, Colonel Richard Kirkby, the
chief man of the local gentry, called upon him to welcome him
(Camb. ^Az/. ii. 311). The general persecution of nonconformists
in 1684 extended to Furness, William Kirkby, the colonel's son,
being an active agent in it but finding some of his brother
magistrates hostile to him. The parochial clergy seem to have
been quiescent.

The Account Book has incidental notices of persecution. A

xiv hitroduction

possible case may be Sarah Fell's own imprisonment. She

mentions that on 5 May, 1676, she "went to prison at Dalton,"

(271), but no cause is assigned. Again on 7 December, "father,"

i.e. George Fox, "gave Thomas Benson, bailiff of the liberties,

for his civility to me, being a prisoner — 2s. 6d." (337, see 275,

300, 362). The detention could not have been for any long time,

as the accounts were kept very fully, almost day by day, at that

time ; and the reason may have been purely civil, for there are

elsewhere references to the courts at Dalton and Ulverston and

the assizes at Lancaster. On 15 November, 1677, money was

lent to Richard Gawith, "when he went to prison" (434, 435),

and in the following February 5^-. was sent to him, " he being

prisoner at Lancaster" (463). Though again no reason is given

the offence was most probably a religious one, he having the

sympathy of his fellow-believers. About the same time "mother's

fine in Cheshire" (46i)of ;^20 is recorded among the payments;

this of course does not throw light on the local conditions in

Furness. The few local Catholics do not seem to have suffered

any active persecution after the Restoration until the Oates

Plot. A list of "convicted recusants" drawn up somewhat before

that time shows seven names in Urswick, thirteen in Dalton and

six in Aldingham ; these would have to pay the fines and be

subject to the ostracism decreed by the statutes. Their chief

local protector was Sir Thomas Preston of The Manor (243. 3),

but when his son died he left the district and joined the Society

of Jesus in 1674. He continued to maintain a Jesuit chaplain in

Furness, whose arrest was in 1678 attempted by Daniel Fleming

of Coniston, one of the local justices. At Bardsea was seated

the decaying Anderton family also adhering to the ancient

religion ; James Anderton and his wife are recorded in the list

just mentioned. Bardsea Hall is mentioned in the Account

Book (75. i), a payment of 6d. having been made there, perhaps

a quit-rent for some parcel of land.

Apart from the Prestons of The Manor, the last of whom, as
just stated, left the place in 1674, the chief neighbours of the
Fells were the Doddings of Conishead (15. 8). The hearth tax
roll (21. i) of 1673 shows that Swarthmoor and Conishead each
had 13 hearths liable to the tax; this means that they were very
great houses for that period, and it may be stated that no other
house in Ulverston had more than 5 hearths, that house being

Introduction xv

Jonathan Williamson's ; those of Thomas Fell and Widow
Woodburne had 4 each; twelve houses had 3 hearths and twelve
2 ; forty-one had only one hearth liable. The Doddings are
mentioned occasionally. Miles Dodding, the then owner of
Conishead (15.8), had been a minor at the Restoration, but his
epitaph describes him as "a faithful son of the Church of
England." He would therefore be out of sympathy with the
Swarthmoor family on religious matters, though his father had
fought for the Parliament in the Civil War and was most likely
a Presbyterian. The only Furness squire who was an avowed
nonconformist was the Baptist Roger Sawrey (135. i) of Brough-
ton, some eight miles north-west from Swarthmoor, but as the
Account Book records a visit of Sarah Fell and her sister to
Broughton Tower (221) it seems probable that there was religious
intercourse between them.

Speaking generally the accounts throw no light on the social
relations among the local gentry and yeomen. They do, how-
ever, give some information as to the general conditions of life in
the Swarthmoor household and the district. The occupations
were, of course, mainly agricultural, but other trades were carried
on, and some of the bolder commercial efforts of the family are
indicated (34. i). Nor yet is there much recorded of public
affairs. The various assessments paid to the constables of
Ulverston are of course entered in the accounts, but without a
hint of the indignation they aroused at the time. Early in 1674
Miles Dodding wrote to Daniel Fleming of Rydal complaining
of " the insolent assessors of Ulverston, who continue their over-
charges though they have been fined. The constables pretend
that the fines cannot be enforced because they have not been
able to sell the goods distrained on that account." A little later
William Kirkby wrote stating that he and his two cousins the
Prestons had had before them the Ulverston assessors and sub-
collectors, who obstinately refused to obey a former order in
Mr Dodding's case. One local agitation is casually mentioned,
a small tax being paid in October, 1673, "for charges in managing
the business of Dalton parish being overlaid in its assessment "
(9). The complaint of the Dalton people seems to have been
renewed in the following June on a fresh levy being demanded
in respect of foot-soldiers. In July Dodding proposed a meeting
of magistrates to consider how "to compel the obstinate Dalton

xvi Introduction

men to pay their arrears"; but more moderate views were taken
by the general body of magistrates, who next year appointed
special surveyors to inquire into the assessment. The " managing
the business" concerned the Fells through their ownership of
Marsh Grange. In 1677 "an assessment to build 30 ships with"
was paid in respect of Pettie's Tenement (395). In addition to
the taxes royal briefs were sent round asking gifts for the relief
of distress of various kinds ; two of them are mentioned, one
occasioned by a fire in Cheshire in 1673 (i5) ^'"^^ another for a
fire in Southampton in 1675 (207). There was also a collection
for a fire at Northampton in 1675/6 (241).

Sunday was probably devoted to religious exercises, as we
may gather from the records of small sums being given to collec-
tions on that day, but secular business was not avoided. Tuesday
was given to the Women's Meetings of the Society. Thursday
was a busy day for the account-keeper and probably for every-
one around, it being the Ulverston market-day. Saturday was
the Dalton market-day, but that does not seem to have interested
the Swarthmoor household so much as the Ulverston day. A
clock is mentioned (93), and the accountant's watch also (39,
233, 311); this was mended by a whitesmith in Ulverston, but
once it had to be sent off to Lancaster (115). Several guinea
pieces came into Sarah Fell's hands; three she sold for ^i. is.^d.
each. This seems to have been the usual value, though on one
occasion only 20s. was recorded. Two pieces of gold which
brought £\. lis. may have been a guinea and a half-guinea; the
coin was then a new one and its value fluctuated (379. i).

A purchase of beeswax for candlewick (235) indicates how
the house was lighted. The fuel in common use was no doubt
peat from the neighbouring mosses ; there are various pay-
ments for cutting and carrying turf, as well as for purchases of
it. Coals are mentioned, but were probably too expensive for
general employment in the house; thus £\. 8j-. was paid for
4 qrs. of coals bought from Miles Dodding "to burn a limekiln
with " (277), and a little later £\.2s. ^d. was paid for 3 qrs. (323).
Bracken was used for thatching some of the buildings (253).

Food and drink are naturally prominent in the accounts.
Sarah Fell wrote to her mother in 1675 — "We desire to know,
as soon as thou can, when we may expect you with our dear
father, for several reasons as thou may well know. Thou should

Introduction xvii

buy us a cask of wine, of what sort thou judges father likes best,
for we have none, only some cider and March beer bottled up ;
also you should buy us some anchoves, some olives and two
larding needles and some oranges and lemons and what else you
think fit."^ At that time it was by no means easy to provide
stores for a great house in F'urness. Much came from the land
and gardens about Swarthmoor, and there were shops in Ulvers-
ton, many purchases for the house being made there on market
days as the most casual glance at these pages will show, but
many things had to be sent for from Lancaster or sometimes
from Kendal. In 1676 a cask of wine was brought from Kendal
at a cost of 4^. ^d. (303); it had reached Kendal from Newcastle;
a little later four other runlets arrived from Newcastle, the
carriage being 2s. lod. each (315). From Newcastle also a
Hollands cheese was brought at a cost of 6d. (353). A later
entry confirms the impression that Newcastle was the convenient
East Coast port for the Dutch trade and Kendal the last stage
on the way to Furness (459). White wine is found used for
physic (27) ; malt (81), ale (353), and brandy (299) are men-
tioned, malt being sold as part of the produce of the estate.
Among the medical resources kept at hand were cinnamon
waters (249), juniper berries (274), saffron and "treakle" (27);
"blooding leeches" (113, 117; see 389) also were used, and a
"jannes drink" (534) is named. Sugar candy (231), beer and
brimstone (263) are found to have been given to calves not in
good health, and " bolalmanacke " was another cattle medicine


It was from Lancaster that most things were brought that
could not be purchased at Ulverston. The carrier seems to
have come regularly across the Sands to attend the Thursday's
market, and there he was met by his customers. A long list
might be gleaned from the accompanying accounts ; it will
suffice to mention some to show both the provision made for
Swarthmoor and the limited resources of the adjacent market
town: bedsteads, garden shears, scythes, spades, nails, bridle,
salmon, red herrings, seed wheat, French beans, fruit, spices,
salad oil, vinegar, oil of almonds, starch, books, writing-paper, a
cask of sweetmeats, chocolate, hops, flax, linen, cloth and serge.
Through Lancaster also they received trunks from Preston, a

^ Webb, I^e/ls, p. 292, corrected by the original at Devonshire House.
P. d

xviii Introduction

"portmantle" from Wigan (31), cheese from Cheshire (233),
oats from Manchester (391), brown sugar from London (25), a
basket from Bristol (231), various things from Worcester and a
box from York (243). Letters were usually brought and sent
off by the carrier, but on one occasion 2s. 6d. had to be paid "for
going with a letter to Lancaster to the post, that required haste "
(347), and on another is. 6d. was given to a special messenger sent
to the county town. Oranges and gloves were received from

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