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A Friendly Glossary

Philadelphia Monthly Meeting Women's Minutes

Quaker Abbreviations



acknowledged, acknowledgement

A formal, written statement of apology by an offending member to the meeting for having acted in a manner contrary to the rules of discipline.


announced marriage intentions










A statement issued by a monthly meeting to a person (or persons) transferring their membership to another monthly meeting.  Also a marriage certificate.


child, children



chosen overseer(s)

Overseers were responsible for the welfare and discipline of members of the monthly meeting


complained, complained of

A person could be complained of for an act which was contrary to the rules as outlined in the Discipline.








disowned, disowned for

"Such are to be treated with, as are guilty of lying, drunkenness, swearing, cursing; together with every other immoral or scandalous practice: and when persons are guilty in these respects, or any of them, after being treated with by the overseers or other concerned Friends, if they be brought to a sense of the iniquity thereof, such offenders are without improper delay, to remove the scandal, and clear, as much as possible, our holy profession therefrom, by acknowledging and condemning the offense, in writing, under their hands, to the satisfaction of the Monthly Meetings, to which they belong. And if any such offenders refuse so to acknowledge and condemn their faults, the said meetings ought speedily to testify against them."- Discipline (1819)


daughter, daughters






[see gct]



granted certificate to

"All members removing beyond the limits of their Monthly Meetings...are to apply to their respective meetings for certificates [of memberships] directed to [the monthly meeting] within the limits of which they propose to sojourn or settle. But if any shall remove without so applying, the Monthly Meeting of which they are members, after making the usual inquiry, and finding no obstruction, without improper delay, send certificates for them...but if their previous conduct require that they be treated with, and the distance be such as to render it inconvenient for the meetings they removed from, the Monthly Meetings, within the verge of which they are, should be requested to treat with them, and report the effect of their care: on which, if it prove satisfactory, certificates of removal may be directed; but if otherwise...- Discipline (1819)





Half-Yearly Meeting

Half-Yearly Meetings, such as Maryland and Ireland, which were held twice a year, composed of monthly meetings within a convenient geographical area, and with the responsibilities of a quarterly meeting.


joined another society

That is, another religious group or another branch of Friends, i.e. Orthodox to Hicksite


marry, married, marrying, marriage

Marriage occurs during the meeting for worship after approval is obtained from the meetings of which the two people are members.  Approval is based on a statement of good character and clearness from any other engagements.  After the couple exchange promises, marriage certificate is signed by the couple and by all in attendance. The clerk usually records a copy of this document in the meeting’s records.


(Meeting of) Ministers & Elders

Historically, a group of members of the monthly meeting who met to address the welfare and discipline of members. Ministers are members of the meeting who are recognized for their gifts of spiritual discernment and spoken ministry. While some Quaker meetings today employ ministers who are paid and/or specifically trained for ministry, historically most Quaker meetings had a lay ministry. Elders, similarly, are members of the meeting who take on pastoral roles, but are usually not paid clergy nor have formal training in this area. The term "overseer" is also used in some Quaker meetings of the past and today to signifiy a role similar to that of an elder, but can carry additional connotations of moral supervision.








married contrary to discipline

Both parties were members of the Society of Friends and were married by a civil ceremony or by a member of another denomination (i.e. "by a priest").


monthly meeting

The basic unit of Quaker administration, which holds regular monthly business meetings.  Before the 20th century, only members could participate.  It has responsibility for care of members, authorizes removals and marriages, maintains discipline, considers the queries, manages meeting property, fosters social concerns, and reports regularly to the quarterly meeting.  Business meetings are held in a spirit of worship, and so are in effect meetings for worship for conducting business.

Genealogically significant Quaker records (vital records such as births, deaths, and marriages) are maintained by the monthly meeting. Before the 20th century, Friends worshipped in several different meeting houses in a given geographic area. They worshipped in a meeting house close to where they lived and either travelled themselves or sent representatives to a monthly business meeting in a central location. The area under the care of a specific monthly meeting was not limited by state or municipal lines and could, in some areas with scattered populations, be quite large. (Example: Merion, Radnor, and Haverford compose what is now known as Radnor Monthly Meeting).


married out of society [see mou]



married out of unity

One of the parties was not a member of the Society of Friends, or was a member of another branch of Friends.


particular meeting

A formally established meeting for worship under the care of a monthly meeting. This would today be called a "worship group."


preparative meeting

A regularly organized business meeting of a single "congregation." It prepared business to be presented to the monthly meeting.  The scope of business as recorded in its minutes was normally limited to responses to queries and matters of property and school oversight.  Today, most preparative meetings have become monthly meetings or have been discontinued.


[see prcf]



produced a certificate from



quarterly meeting

Meetings for business held four times per year, attended by representatives of all monthly meetings in a county or region.  It is an intermediary between the monthly and yearly meeting, serves as an appellate body for disciplinary matters, and considers problems too large for a local meeting to solve.  A quarterly meeting holds the authority to establish or discontinue a monthly, preparative, or particular meeting for worship.


receive, received



received by request

A "convinced" Friend was accepted as a member by request.


released by request

Voluntary termination of one's membership in the Society.


reported married to



see "rocf"



received on certificate from

A certificate of membership was received from another monthly meeting.



When a member was found to have acted contrary to the rules as outlined in the Discipline, he was reported to (or complained of) the monthly meeting. The meeting then appointed a committee to treat with him and report their finding. Usually they reported "treated with satisfaction," and he condemned his misconduct. If not, it was reported "treated without satisfaction," and he was disowned. Any one disowned had the right of appeal to the Quarterly Meeting and the Yearly Meeting.





request, requests, requested



requested certificate to



requested to come under care [of meeting]

See recrq.


reinstate, reinstated

After a disownment the member could still condemn his misconduct and be re-instated in membership.


son, sons






Yearly Meeting

Yearly Meetings are large autonomous bodies of Quakers, meeting for several days once annually to conduct business, formulate the discipline, receive reports and concerns from its constituent meetings, review the state of the Society, and communicate with other yearly meetings and non-Quaker organizations