Haddonfield Monthly Meeting – A Brief History
Almost immediately upon the founding of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in England in the 1650s, members of the Society began to migrate to the New World in large numbers, settling mainly in Virginia, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Haddonfield Monthly Meeting began as part of this migration.
In September, 1681, a small, narrow stemmed vessel or “pink” called Ye Owner’s Adventure set sail from Dublin carrying several Quaker families. Most of these were probably English-born Quakers who had spent time in Ireland seeking refuge from religious persecution at home. Some of the names from this group that have come down to us are Mark Newbie, tallow chandler; William Bates, carpenter; Thomas Thackera, weaver; George Goldsmith and Thomas Sharp.
Ye Owner’s Adventure dropped anchor in the Delaware Bay at Salem on November 18, 1681. The passengers stayed with Quakers at Salem over the winter, and in early 1682 they purchased a boat and began searching the eastern shore of the Delaware River for a permanent settlement site.
The colony of West Jersey had been purchased in 1674 by a company of men, including William Penn, who were called Proprietors. They had divided the land along the Delaware into “tenths”, reserving the “Third Tenth” or “Irish Tenth” (roughly from Timber Creek to Pennsauken) for Quaker emigrants arriving from Ireland. The Friends from Ye Owner’s Adventure eventually settled along the Newton Creek in what became known as the Newton Colony and what is now known as West Collingswood. They worshipped in their homes until 1684 when they constructed a log Meeting House.
In the first two decades of the 18th century there were migrations of Quaker families southward from Burlington and eastward from Newton, accelerated by road building, commercial development and the arrival of Elizabeth Haddon, making Haddonfield an important Quaker settlement. Around 1715 Newton Meeting moved from its site along Newton Creek to Haddonfield and changed its name to Haddonfield Monthly Meeting.
In 1721 the Meeting community began to construct a meeting house on land deeded from John Haddon, This Meeting House was of log construction and was located where the Haddonfield Fire House stands today. The first Meeting for Worship in the Meeting House at Haddonfield took place on December 12, 1721. In 1760, a new Meeting House constructed of brick replaced the 1721 Meeting House.
1760 Brick Meeting House (Site of Present Day Fire House)
In 1786, several families from Haddonfield Monthly Meeting founded Haddonfield Friends School, which remains under the care of our Monthly Meeting today.
In 1827, a bitter schism split the Society of Friends in North America into two separate groups, Orthodox and “Hicksite”, each claiming to be the legitimate heirs to the traditional Quaker faith. The separation reflected divergent theological views as well differences which had grown among Quakers based on social class and other factors. Thus, Haddonfield Friends split into two congregations with two houses of worship. The Hicksites built a Meeting House on Walnut Street and Orthodox Friends worshipped at the Meeting House on Friends Avenue.
The bricks from the 1760 Meeting House were used to build the wall bordering the Haddonfield Monthly Meeting’s Cemetery
In 1955, after many years of patient and persistent conciliatory efforts by Quaker leaders, the two groups reunited and since that time there has been one Haddonfield Monthly Meeting. The old Hicksite Meeting House was sold to the owners of Acme Markets, the building was moved and expanded, but one can still see the outline of the Meeting House in the market building at the corner of Walnut and Ellis Streets. The combined Monthly Meeting selected the former Orthodox Meeting House as its home.
With no paid clergy, Haddonfield Monthly Meeting ascribes to the Quaker concept of the ministry of all believers. Over the years, the Haddonfield Monthly Meeting community has nurtured the spiritual leadings of its members in a wide variety of ministries in many fields including pastoral care, education, conflict resolution, social justice and activism in the cause of peace.
Today we are a vibrant faith community of approximately 200 members who worship together in the traditional manner of Friends and share a commitment to each other and to living each day answering that of God in all people. We aspire to a way of life that embodies the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace and non-violence, integrity, equality, community and stewardship.