Main content

"The White Quakers Dublin, 1842-1858"


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Ernest H. Bennis (1869-1956), a birthright member of Limerick Monthly Meeting, was an amateur Irish Quaker historian. The eldest child of Joseph Fisher Bennis, a grocer, and Emilia Frances Carrol, he married Helen Margaret Pike, a member of Limerick Monthly Meeting, in 1901. The couple had at least one child, Emilie Bennis (b. 1908). Bennis died in Limerick, Ireland, in 1956.

Joshua Jacob (ca. 1802–1877), founder of the White Quakers, was born at Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland, and was educated at Joseph Tatham's school in Leeds and later in Ballitore, County Kildare. Having been apprenticed to Adam Calvert, Jacob established himself in 1830 as a grocer in Dublin, and his shop, the Golden Teapot, became famous for its fine tea. In 1829, he married Sarah Fayle and they had three sons. A birthright member of the Society of Friends, he criticized the comforts of Quaker life, and in 1838 he was disowned by that body. Assisted by Abigail Beale of Irishtown, near Mountmellick, Queen's County, he formed a society of his own, which gained adherents in Dublin, Clonmel, Waterford, and Mountmellick. In 1842, he and his followers began to practise a communal holding of goods. They also appeared in loose, unbleached woollen garments, a costume previously adopted in 1762 by John Woolman. The new society, commonly called 'White Quakers', held the first of what became yearly meetings in Dublin on May 1, 1843. During these years Jacob issued many (undated) pamphlets and Some Account of the Progress of the Truth as it is in Jesus, a publication which appeared at intervals in 1843.

When a bequest of £9000 was used by Jacob for the benefit of his community, he was taken to court and it was held in 1844 that he had misappropriated money to which others were entitled. On his rejection of the judgment he was imprisoned for two years, and the community's property was seized and put up for auction. From prison, he issued anathemas against the Irish lord chancellor E. B. Sugden and Edward Litton, master of the Irish court of chancery. After Jacob's release on grounds of ill health in 1846, the White Quakers were active in food distribution during the great famine, but in 1848, the movement disintegrated. The next year Jacob established a community at Newlands, Clondalkin, County Dublin, formerly the residence of Arthur Wolfe, Viscount Kilwarden. Its members lived in common, abstaining from meat, and using bruised corn instead of flour. On this community's dissolution, Jacob went into business again at Celbridge, County Kildare. Since 1842 he had lived apart from his wife, who could no longer share his religious views. On her death he married and adopted the religion of a poor Roman Catholic, Catherine Devine, raising six children in that faith. He died in Wales on February 15, 1877, and was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, in a plot purchased many years previously for the White Quakers.

Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This collection is comprised of the single volume excercise book, in which is a copy of an essay entitled "The White Quakers of Dublin, 1842-1848" by Ernest H. Bennis. The essay focuses on Joshua Jacob, an Irish Quaker who began his own branch of Quakerism, called the "White Quakers."


Processed by Kara Flynn; completed March, 2016.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kara Flynn
Finding Aid Date
March, 2016
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Collection Inventory

Manuscript. 0080 linear ft..
Box 13
Physical Description

0.0080 linear ft.

Print, Suggest