Ashwell Quakers - Everard Family
In the Journal of the Life, Travels, etc of Joseph Oxley, a minister in the Society of Friends in England, who made a religious visit to Friends in Essex and Hertfordshire, in the year 1760, he relates his coming “to Ashwell, where, although,” says he, “there is but one family of Friends, I had a large meeting of the neighbours.”
“In this place lives Barbara Everard, a poor, honest, decrepit creature, apparently convulsed all over by which her speech is much affected, and understanding also. Yet the Lord has been pleased to make use of this young woman in an extraordinary manner, having bestowed on her a gift in the ministry, in which office she appears above many of far more natural talents; in common conversation, who is difficult to be understood, being of a stammering tongue, but very clear in utterance in her ministry, her matter very correct and sound, opens the Scriptures very clearly, and preaches the gospel with great power and authority; and is of singular service in this place. She had at this meeting good service.”
The following is a letter written not long afterwards by Barbara Everard to Joseph Oxley.
Ashwell, 9th of Seventh mo, 1760
Loving Friend – This, with my love to thee and thy loving wife, hoping these lines will find you in good health, as we are, through the mercy of our God, who is the Father and Fountain of all our mercies, to whom be glory, both now and forever! Although we are far separated in body, yet we are near in spirit; for I do not forget thee, nor thy labour of love when amongst us; neither do I think they labour was in vain, for it tended to encourage us to press forward towards the mark of the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus, that so we might come to the knowledge of the things that belong to our soul’s everlasting peace. My desire is, that we may wait humbly for the teaching of that blessed anointing, that so we may witness a profiting; for the Lord is come to teach his people himself, yes, his presence is sometimes sensibly felt among us in our meetings.
The sixth of the Sixth month, we were at Baldock Yearly Meeting, which was a large good meeting; the testimonies were to the reproving of the backsliders from the Truth, and to the encouraging of the sincere and upright-hearted followers of our Lord Jesus Christ to hold on their way. At this meeting, Issac Sharpless gave notice, that he intended to be at Ashwell meeting the First-day following, which was very large, and a good open meeting; the Lord’s presence being sensibly felt amongst us, to the comforting of the mourners in Zion; and, I believe, the Lord will have a people to bear testimony to his great name and Truth in the earth, for he is sometimes pleased to make use of mean and contemptible instruments, to bear testimony to his great name, of which number I am one, as thou knowest very well. Yet the Lord doth not forsake me, for he is near to help all those that put their trust in him. For some time I have a concern upon my mind to go to a place called Weson (Weston), about two miles from Baldock, to have a meeting, where there had not been any meeting held for about twenty years before, which made me loath to give up to it. But when the mighty power of God arose in me, I was made willing, and my uncle and one of our young friends went with me, and the meeting was very large, there being, as was supposed, two hundred people at it; and I had a good open time among them, and they behaved soberly; so that I came away with a reward of peace in my own bosom; for the Lord is a rich rewarder of all them that faithfully serve him. Having given thee an account how things have been lately in these parts, I conclude with praises and hallelujahs to the everlasting God, who is near unto his people in all their exercises, to whom be glory, both now and forever, amen!
My uncle joins with me in love to thee and thy loving wife; our love is also to all sincere and true-hearted Friends.
Note: Barbara Everard was born in Ashwell in 1738 her parents were James Everard of Ardeley and Jane Newman of Bedfordshire. She had one brother Edward and two sisters Susannah and Jane.
Barbara was burial in the Ashwell Quaker burial ground on 09 Feb 1772 aged 34; in the Quaker records she was recorded as a minister for 17 years.
Some of the Everard family were shoemakers living for sometime in Vine Cottage, High Street, Ashwell and were related to the Farr and Christy families
There are at least three other Everard family members buried in the AQBG.