Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Chris Bruce-Jones gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on ‘Enterprising Friends’ about the extraordinary commercial successes of Victorian Quakers.  The Quaker movement arose from the turmoil of the English Civil War.  Refusing to pay tithes and swear oaths of allegiance to the King, many Quakers had to endure torture and imprisonment until toleration improved after 1672.  In Bristol, Thomas Gurney financed several Quaker businesses, including iron manufacture by Abraham Darby.  Quakers were good employers, providing fair pay, housing and education for their employees.  They were honest in business and encouraged philanthropy, humanitarian causes and were prominent in the movement to abolish the slave trade. 

The Storrs-Fry family set up cocoa manufacture and later made chocolate bars, expanding rapidly in the second half of the 19th Century.  There were also the Cadburys in Birmingham and the Rowntrees in York.  In Norwich, the Gurney family set up various businesses and banks which eventually became Barclays.  Quakers were also involved in clock-making in London and biscuit manufacture in Reading (Huntley & Palmers).  Charles Lloyd became a Quaker and suffered imprisonment in Wales.  His family were heavily involved in iron manufacture and set up banks to finance canal building.  The banking arm eventually led to the creation of Lloyds Bank in 1865.

Enterprising Friends - the extraordinary commercial successes of Victorian Quakers by Chris Bruce-Jones