The founder of the Quaker movement was a Leicestershire shoemaker called George Fox. At the age of nineteen, he gave up his trade and became an itinerant preacher. His message was that there was a direct relationship between God and each believer and that all human beings were equal and equally worthy of respect. He visited Scotland in 1657, preaching in various locations and founding or strengthening Societies of Friends in Musselburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Hamilton.
The town of Hamilton may have been the birthplace of the Quaker movement in the west of Scotland. Lady Mary Hamilton, a member of Hamilton family, attended a meeting of the Society of Friends, for which she was taken to task by the local Presbyterian minister. The Duke’s gardener, the appropriately named Hew Wood, was a member of the Society and he set aside an area in his own garden for his last resting place and that of any Friends who wished to join him. He was buried there in 1701 and his widow followed in 1705.
Separate burial grounds for Quakers were created at Shawtonhill in the parish of Glassford; in Gartshore near Kirkintilloch; in the village of Partick and in Stirling Square, Glasgow. The Society of Friends formed an association in Glasgow in 1687. They were few in number and persecuted by the local citizens for their beliefs. In 1730, they bought part of a house from John Purdon, one of their members, for use as a meeting place and it was used as such until 1791. The meeting house was near the east end of Stirling Street, in Stirling Square, a site which had disappeared by the beginning of the twentieth century, to be replaced by the junction of Stirling Street and North Albion Street.
The Friends also had a burial place in Stirling Square, probably on a 100′ x 50′ foot plot to the west of the meeting house. The ground was later sold on the express condition “that the bones of their friends should not be disturbed at all time coming”. No surviving registers or monumental inscriptions for the graveyard are known.
[The image shows Stirling Square, the location of the former Quaker burial ground, and is courtesy NLS]