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Home North Carolina Perquimans County City of Hertford Historical Markers Quaker Activity

Quaker Activity

US 17 at Perquimans River, Hertford, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 14' 11.9832", -76° 19' 36.3864"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"In 1672 missionaries William Edmundson and George Fox, founder of Society of Friends in America, held religious meetings in this area."
In May of 1672 William Edmundson, English-born missionary, traveled to the wilderness of Carolina to spread the Gospel for the Society of Friends. Alongside the Perquimans River, in an area now known as Phelps Point near the town of Hertford, Edmundson found the home of Henry Phelps (Phillips) and his wife, Quakers transplanted seven years earlier from New England. The clergyman arranged a meeting of neighbors, noting that “they had little or no religion, for they came and sat down in the meeting smoking their pipes.”

In October of the same year George Fox, recognized as the founder of the Society of Friends in America, met with these same neighbors. In 1676 Edmundson returned to find evidence of organized Quaker activity. Their efforts saw fruit as Quakerism dominated public life in the Albemarle region through the end of the century with the apex being the governorship of John Archdale (1694-1697).

The issue as to whether the exertions of Edmundson constituted the first organized religious service in Carolina may pique interest but is open to debate. Questions are likely to be raised about Native American religious services, conversions of Indians by Spanish explorers, and the baptismal service of Virginia Dare. It appears undeniable that Edmundson’s preaching constituted the first Quaker services.

William S. Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, I, 215-217
R. D. W. Connor, History of North Carolina, I (1919)
Stephen B. Weeks, The Religious Development in the Province of North Carolina (1892)
Catherine Albertson, In Ancient Albemarle (1914)
Haskell Monroe, “Religious Tolerance and Politics in Early North Carolina,” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1962): 267-283
Lindley S. Butler, North Carolina Genesis: Seventeenth-Century Albemarle County
Quaker Activity Historical Marker Location Map, Hertford, North Carolina