Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The story of the Zelley family starts in Somersford Magna, Wiltshire, England. John Sealy and his wife Martha must have been persuaded early to convert to the Society of Friends (Quakers). In the records of the Wiltshire Monthly meeting we find their children's names and birth dates listed. It is only an assumption as to their marriage date, perhaps records will be found later.

Several of the children are recorded as dying young, and with two Johns births listed, it is assumed the first John died young also. Daniel born 1656, Thomas born 1663, John born 1665 and Mary born 1671, may have all lived to reach adulthood. Nothing further is known at this time about Thomas, John and Mary.

During the persecution of the Quakers, some records have been found relating to similar family names, notably in the "Nonconformist Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths," compiled by Rev. Heywood and Rev. Dickenson, commonly called the "Northowarm or Coley Register." These notes corroborate the statements made in some histories that the time of greatest persecution under the Stuarts was in 1683-4. Other particulars respecting the persecution of the Quakers will be found in "Besse's Sufferings", and of other Nonconformists in "Calamy's Lives of the Ejected". In the "Coley Register" there are two notations for a Robert and Francis Seele. In each instance they are accused of being Popish Recusants, by simply not adhering to all of the rules of the Church of England. This could also mean they were Quaker. In each instance they were accused with the same couple, Joseph and Margaret Ward of Crofton, Yorkshire.

"Crofton.-Joseph Ward and Margritt his wife, Robart Seele and
ffranceas his wife, Recusants.
Crofton.-Robert Seele and ffrances his wife, Joseph Ward and
Margrett his wife-popish recusants."

Quakerism came to Gloucestershire in the middle of the seventeenth century, to the south of the county, where meetings were held in the fields near Bristol and strong groups of Friends were soon established. Simultaneously it was spreading to the small towns and villages of the Cotswolds. These early Friends gathered in farm buildings and weaving sheds, in the open air and in private homes.

During the Restoration, meetings were often interrupted and members sent to prison. Many Gloucestershire Friends were cloth makers, and when the trade declined, and persecution increased, groups from Painswick, Nailsworth and Tetbury left for America.

The Meeting House at Nailsworth was originally a farm building. Friends first met there in 1680 and it has been little altered since. Some of the original furniture-benches and an oak chest-is still in use.
More info avail above

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