Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameIsaac CREWDSON
Birth1780
Death1844
OccupationCotton Manufacturer
FatherThomas CREWDSON (1737-1795)
MotherCicely DILWORTH (1748-1814)
Marriage1803
SpouseElizabeth JOWITT
Birth1779
Death1855
Children
Birth1805
Death1806
Birth1808
Death1864
Notes for Isaac CREWDSON
Isaac Crewdson (6 June 1780 – 8 May 1844)[2] was a minister of the Quaker meeting in Manchester who published a book, A Beacon to the Society of Friends, that triggered a split that affected Quakers throughout England. The book was said to have "set off ... a volcanic explosion".

Isaac Crewdson was born in 1780 in Kendal but moved in his teens to Manchester. He successfully entered the cotton trade and became a mill owner. He had been brought up in the Society of Friends but it was not until later that he became empowered by evangelism.

Crewdson married Elizabeth Jowitt of Leeds in about 27 July 1803[2] and he was said to be related to many Quakers around the country. He rose to be a traditionalist Quaker minister from 1816 in the Society of Friends although his convictions were later questioned by his studies. In January 1835 he published, at a book fair in Frankfurt, A Beacon to the Society of Friends which highlighted a dichotomy he saw between the Bible's teachings and the doctrines of his church.

Joseph John Gurney, a senior figure in his church, saw the book as reviving the works of Elias Hicks, whose thoughts had been largely abandoned in his native America. The book nominally was an attack on Hicks, but the defence used more quotes from the scriptures than it did from Hicks' work. The commentary meanwhile was provoking. Gurney saw the book as containing "delusions and perversions" which "undermined" the work of the Quakers.

The book focussed the controversy and aroused discussion not only within the Manchester group, but in other societies across both England and America. Crewdson was a force to be recognised: it was recounted that he had managed to persuade a Quaker meeting to build a meeting house not only for them, but large enough to hold ten per cent of all the Quakers in the country at that time.[3] Unusually, Crewdson was baptised by a minister in London. It is thought that this is the first time a Quaker minister was baptised. He stopped being a minister in November 1836 when he wrote a letter of resignation noting his regret but also his belief that the Quakers had moved away from scripture and some of their founders' writings were blasphemous] In 1836 and the following year, nearly fifty people left the Manchester meeting and another 300 left other meetings throughout the country. This argument split families like Lloyds (the bankers) and ended businesses like the Benson and Cropper partnership.

In 1836-7 meetings were set up of Quaker elders, including Josiah Forster, who unsuccessfully tried to heal the schism in the Quakers caused by the Beaconite Controversy, but the roots of the differences had started as early as 1831 and proved to be unreconcilable.

Death and legacy

Crewdson died at Bowness on 8 May 1844, and was buried at Rusholme Road cemetery, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester. His followers, who called themselves Evangelical Friends and were called Beaconites, drifted away and many became Plymouth Brethren. His daughter, Mary Crewdson married. The last surviving member of the Quaker committee who demanded Crewdson's resignation believed 35 years later that their decision with respect to Crewdson was mistaken.
Last Modified 5 May 2014Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh