Sustaining “the Household of Faith”: Female Hospitality in the Early Transatlantic Quaker Community

08 Mar 2018

Women occupied a central place in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century transatlantic Quakerism. They acted as prophets, missionaries, authors and spiritual leaders of their communities. Recent scholarship has offered important insights into the unparalleled public roles available to women within the early Quaker community. But little is known about the networks of hospitality that developed across the Atlantic that made itinerant missionary service possible. The generosity of countless female Quakers to unknown "Friends" remains an underexplored aspect of early Quaker history. Using printed spiritual testimonies and correspondence exchanged between Quaker missionaries and their female hosts, this article shows how ministers were "sustained" during their travels. Active religious service did not have to equate to ministerial work, and networks of female hospitality provided an important accompaniment to the national and transatlantic Quaker mission.