19th Century

One of the things which the founder George Fox had strongly promoted was honesty and trustworthiness in business. He often had to take goods to market for his master, and he refused to bargain: he set a fair price and expected to keep to that. He didn't like the traditional idea of bargaining, because he considered that telling someone your "best price" and then raising or lowering it was lying.

Quakers in any case tried hard to live by their Christian principles, which meant trying very hard to deal with everyone equally, being honest and even handed, and meaning what was said. They also worked hard to produce good quality products, and they treated their workers and colleagues well. By these simple means many Quakers accomplished great success in business.

The first Bank in Uxbridge had been established by Norton and Mercer in 1791. After being run by John and Nicholas Mercer from 1805, on the first of January 1806 it became Hull Smith and Mercer when Samuel Hull and John Smith joined the bank "who issue notes to a very large amount," says Redford and Riches' History of Uxbridge.

In 1816 a Savings Bank was opened. The History says: The benevolent individuals, who, in other excellent instutitions, have so frequently come forward, togetherwth many other gentlemen in the town and neighbourhood, instututed in 1816 a bank for the avings of the industrious and provident. The objects of the Institution were set forth in several papers circulated through the neighbourhood. The smallest deposit received is sixpence. Thre are four hundred and ninety depositors at present on the books.

Samuel Hull, along with Charles Clowes Esq, John Drummond Esq and the right honourable Lord Gambier were the trustees for the Savings Bank, and three Hulls were listed as managers in Uxbridge.

An interesting note: September 24, 1864 at the Old Bailey, evidence by a witness says: "I produced a canvass bag with 75 l. in notes; the parties round the small table could have seen it; we sat opposite them: there was a 5 l. Uxbridge note, signed Samuel Hull ."

1817 New Meeting House

The Meeting House built in 1755 became unsafe in 1817, and a new Meeting House was built and the burial ground enlarged at a cost of £1520-3-11.

This is the Meeting House which still stands today. The kitchen was enlarged in 1962. A fire destroyed the old panelling in the small meeting room in 1988, but the moveable panelling in the large meeting house survived.

Elizabeth Fry visits in 1823

Prison reformer  Elizabeth Fry's family were connected with the Hull Family in Uxbridge, and she used to visit Uxbridge, although there is only one visit mentioned in her journal, for 1823. She recorded in her journal:

Fourth Month 7th We went to Uxbridge, though naturally rather a low time, yet it ended with my real comfort. The Morning Meeting was a very solemn one, a deep feeling of good and the anointing of the Spirit appeared freely poured forth. The evening Meeting was satisfactory; and in several religious opportunities in the families my heart was enlarged in much love to the dear Friends there; whom I think I may say, I love in the Lord.

It was known that she stayed with the Hulls in Uxbridge, but the connection wasn't clear until now. Rebecca Hull was wrongly thought to have married a Hull cousin, but actually married John Fowler from Melksham. Her son, John Fowler, married Elizabeth Pease, whose mother was a Gurney cousin of Elizabeth Fry's. That is the closest connection I can find. Elizabeth's Pease cousin also married a Fry, and her uncle married Anna Hull Fell, daughter of another Uxbridge Hull.


Education for all

The Quakers in Uxbridge seem to have spent most of the 19th century in efforts to improve the education of the people living in and around the town. John Hull (b.1755) had begun the effort with his support of the Boys' Day school, and the School for Industry in the town.

Quakers were to be found on the committees for the School for Industry, the Savings Bank, the Infant school, the Board of Health, the Literary and Scientific Society, the Auxiliary Bible Society and many others.

In 1877 an adult school was started among the brickmaking population of West Drayton, on Sunday mornings.

In 1880, Alfred Dyer and two other friends, the Bastins, Philp and Jane, took over a cottage in West Drayton and held an evening school there, and a mothers' meeting. Sometimes as many as fifty people crowded into the cottage reported Celia Trott in her book on the history of Uxbridge Quakers, published in 1970.

A library started at the Meeting House in 1880, and within four years owned 274 books which were in active circulation. An adult school was established there in 1888.

In 1883 a school for poor children was started on Sundays. It started with four teachers and 30 children but soon doubled in size.

Alfred Dyer and the case of the kidnapped housemaid 1880

Alfred Dyer came to Uxbridge meeting in 1880, a publisher who was known for his pamphlets and a journal called "The Sentinel". The work he was best known for was his campaign against sexual slavery. There were three cases which drew public attention to his work, but none was more famous than the case of the kidnapped housemaid.

In 1880 Josephine Butler was working for the repeal of acts of parliament which brought prostitutes under the control of the government. In an attempt to stem the increase in venereal disease among the soldiers in the English army, inspections of the men had been instituted but were wildly unpopular. The government decided to take another tack and try to control the spread of disease among prostitutes. The Contagious Diseases act of 1864 and others subsequently, for example, made it compulsory for a woman to submit to medical examination of her most intimate areas if she was accused of prostitution, and if any sign of disease was found, she could be locked up and subjected to compulsory treatment.

Many women were falsely accused of prostitution, and one, who worked at a music hall, was famously driven to suicide when she was told she must either submit to examination or lose her job. She refused, the music halls were then told that they would be closed down as operating brothels if they employed her.

As Josephine Butler got more involved in protests about this issue, she discovered a traffic in young women to the brothels of Europe, not unlike the traffic which is known to exist today from the countries of Eastern Europe to England. It was in this context that she came into contact with Alfred Dyer.

Alfred Dyer had been told through an intermediary, of a young English girl being held against her will in a brothel in Brussels. An Englishman had gone to use the services of the brothel and had discovered her there, but despite his sympathy for her, had declined to help because he feared the publicity which might ensue for him. Alfred Dyer investigated the case, with the help of Josephine Butler was able to help the girl escape and to tell her story. She was a nineteen year old housemaid, Ellen Newland, who had been lured to Brussels from Brighton with the offer of marriage from a Brussels pimp.

He had courted her, treated her to suppers and nights out at the theatre, and offered to marry her if she would only move abroad. She travelled with him as far as Calais, where she was kidnapped by his accomplice, take to Brussels, subjected to an examination and sold to a brothel.

Alfred Dyer discovered that many English girls were being held against their will by brothels in Brussels, and set up the London Committee for suppressing the traffic in British Girls. Initially the police in Brussels denied that English girls were held in Brussels brothels and took investigators on a tour of many which had no underage or English girls in them. However, one of the police officers from Brussels travelled to London and revealed that there was corruption in the police, and that therefore, all the brothel owners visited had been tipped off to keep their underage and English girls out of the way.

As a result of this, three members of the Brussels police, and eleven brothel keepers were prosecuted and convicted in the Brussels court.

Alfred Dyer wrote a book, The European Slave traffic in English Girls, which ran to six editions in nine months.

In campaigning against this illegal trade in girls, both Alfred Dyer and Josephine Butler risked their reputation, because the public at that time felt that a woman who could be induced to work as a prostitute must be "fallen" anyway. That opinion was changed when there was publicity about the case of Adeline Tanner, a girl who was kidnapped to a Brussels brothel but was found to have a deformity which prevented her from providing sexual services... and therefore she could not be "fallen". The tide of public thinking about these things changed after that case was given publicity, especially since the poor girl had been sent to be operated on without anaesthetic in a Brussels VD clinic before being deported to England.

Alfred Dyer campaigned tirelessly against the British Army's use of prostitutes around the world, and against the abuse of women too. He travelled with his wife Helen to many parts of the world, including to the caged women of India, and wrote pamphlet after pamphlet denouncing the attitude of the British government which was so ready to forgive men for their use of prostitutes but so quick to condemn prostitutes themselves.