An unwillingness to ‘doff their hats’ to aristocrats and royalty because of belief in the equality of all, inadvertently led to the Religious Society of Friends receiving the now well known ‘nick-name’, Quakers.
The Society was founded by George Fox and others in the north of England in the 17th century, a time of great religious restlessness and class division in society.
Jane Drexler, convenor of the Quaker Service Australia management committee, recalls how the early Friends “recognised every one as being equal and actively preached that to the point that they would not doff their hats to the aristocracy and so ran afoul of the local hob-knobs and big-wigs.”
And while they did not preach revolution against this and other inequalities, their highly visible stand soon had George Fox standing before a magistrate.
“He basically berated the judge for what he was doing and used words, along the lines of, ‘you should be quaking in your boots before the Lord’ and the judge then got even more exasperated and said to the gaolers ‘take that quaker away’ and that was how the name came into common usage.”
What was originally a term of abuse has typically been adopted as a badge of honour…
Email to request full article for personal reading or to purchase for publication.
First published in Alive Magazine