Joseph John Gurney in Farmington

After 1828, the 1816 Quaker meetinghouse became officially a Hicksite (Quaker) Meetinghouse, but Orthodox Friends continued to use it for large gatherings.

In 1841, British Friend Joseph John Gurney traveled through the U.S. Gurney, son of a wealthy Norwich banker, was an aristocrat and a philanthropist, devoted to antislavery. He visited dignitaries in Washington, including the British ambassador, Senator Henry Clay, Senator John C. Calhoun, and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, trying to convince them that slavery could successfully be abolished, as the British had abolished it in the West Indies.

He also traveled throughout U.S. When he went west across upstate New York, he stopped in Farmington. There he spoke to “a large settlement of Friends.” “Great was the multitude of persons, including many of the Hicksite denomination,” he wrote, “who flocked to our meeting both in the morning and afternoon.” He held several meetings among this “sturdy, intelligent, and prosperous people,” including one in the Hicksite meetinghouse. He had “a memorable time; two large overflowing meetings; that in the afternoon, from the pressure of the multitude, held in the Hicksite meeting-house,” he noted in his journal. “ I think they were good times,” he added, “the truth being triumphant, and Christ fully preached.” [1]

Gurney spent the evening with a “veteran minister” (probably Caleb McCumber), “whose sterling good sense, comprehensive views of Christianity, and fervent piety, are not the less striking for the perfect originality and even quaintness of his manners and appearance.” Gurney, a British aristocrat, could not resist adding that “I give this brief description of our friend because it characterizes the effect produced by divine grace in the midst of he hardy discipline of these rough regions.” When Elizabeth Cady Stanton visited England on her honeymoon the following year, she and her husband Henry B. Stanton stopped to visit Joseph John Gurney. “We spent a few days with John Joseph Gurney at his beautiful home in Norwich,” Stanton remembered in her autobiography. “He had just returned from America, having made a tour through the South. When asked how he liked America, he said, ‘I like everything but your pie crust and your slavery.’"

[1]Joseph John Gurney, A journey in North America, described in familiar letters to Amelia Opie (Norwich [England]: J. Fletcher, 1841), 308-9; Joseph John Gurney, Journal, Rochester, New York, 7 Mo. 28, 1839; Joseph Bevan Braithwaite, ed., Memoirs of Joseph John Gurney (Norwich [England]: Fletcher and Alexander, 1854), 2:173.

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