THE QUAKER INFLUENCE

It became the practice of the monarch to lease the seized lands to someone local, but between 1649 and 1660 there was no monarch following the Civil Wars. Judge Thomas Fell of Swarthmoor Hall acquired the lease of the Manor during this period and there are two significant developments on the Common that date from this time. Judge Fell was a prominent supporter of Cromwell, although he eventually refused to serve in Cromwell’s government.

On the very edge of the Common are the two farms of High and Low Sunbrick, the latter dating from 1655 and now a Grade II listed building with a granary and a kitchen garden wall dating from the 18th century. One suspects that the lease of land for the only buildings on the Common arose from Judge Fell's influence in high places.

At the same time, Thomas’s wife, Margaret, was clearly able to persuade him to obtain the release of land for a burial ground for the burgeoning Quaker movement in the area, and she and 226 other Friends were eventually buried in the plot behind High Sunbrick Farm. This plot is entered through a gap in the wall, but there are no gravestones to be seen as Quakers believed that such adornments were idolatrous. Between 1654 and 1767 227 Friends were buried here, including George Fox's wife Margaret in 1702 (she married George Fox after Thomas Fell died in 1658).

The farm remained in Quaker hands until 1885 when it was sold following the death of Hannah Goad who was a great benefactor to many charities in the area. At her death the farm was held by copyhold from the Manor of Muchland (Crown) at an annual rent of two pounds ten shillings and one and three-quarters pence!

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