History and Archives


       Richmond Friends Meeting History Highlights

       1795-1962: The History of Richmond Friends Meeting

       1917-1930:  A Brief Look at Richmond Friends’ Spending

      1963-1969:  Notes from Richmond Friends Meetings for Business

       The Winston House

       The Jacob House

       Hanna Watts Clarke

       1790 The Virginia Abolition Society

       1802 Petition Against Slavery

       Robert Pleasants

       James Pleasants

       Friends Association for Children

       Living Out the Peace Testimony

       African-American Quakers

       Quaker Women in the 19th Century

       The AFSC and School Desegregation

       Vietnam Summer Project

       Quaker History Travel Sites

       2004-2005 R.E. Building Expansion Project


Richmond Friends Meeting History Highlights

Richmond Friends Meeting (RFM) organized in 1795, and soon built its first Meeting House at 19th and Cary Street in Church Hill. This was the second oldest “church” in Richmond.  We have a long history of religious observance and social justice within the Richmond community. In 1995, we celebrated our 200th birthday. Click here to read the summary compiled by Betsy Brinson. Our Meeting has used a number of locations in Richmond. Click here to see the complete list of places.


American Quaker Beginnings -

 In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson reflected on the religious intolerance in seventeenth-century Virginia, specifically on the anti-Quaker laws passed by the Virginia Assembly from 1659 onward. Jefferson apparently believed that it was no more than an historical accident that Quakers had not been physically punished or even executed in Virginia as they had been in Massachusetts.

From "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic" pages on the Library of Congress website. Click the following link to see several articles on early Quaker experiences http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel01-2.html


Sampler from First Friends Meeting House

 Mary Winston's needlework thought to be in the first Friends Meeting House built by George Winston. It was embroidered by Mary Winston in 1806. The buildings near the bottom are two views of the Richmond Friends Meeting house located at 19th and Cary Street. It is no longer there.

Contributed by Donna Rugg


The Winston House

 George and Judith Winston were birthright Quakers who were active with Richmond area Quakers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. George was a maker of bricks and a builder so he built the first Meetinghouse at 20th and Cary Street in 1797. Photo of the Winston House circa 1935.  A narrative about the Winston House.



The Jacob House

Click here to see an article titled "Plainly Significant: " The Jacob House is a Window on Richmond through the Centuries" by Charles Pool and Dulaney Ward. It was published in the Richmond Journal of History and Architecture in Spring, 1995. The Richmond Journal is a publication of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.


An early photograph of the Jacob House.

A restored version of the 1895 photograph


Click here to see an article on the Jacob House by Harry Kollatz, Jr. published in Richmond Magazine, October 2003. He connects its 200 year history with present day places and events.


In 2003, the Richmond Friends Meeting assisted in the selection of a new owner for the Jacob House.


1802 Quaker Petition Against Slavery

Click here to see a transcription of the 1802 Quaker petition against slavery presented to the Virginia legislature.  Among those signing this petition are Samuel Parsons (the father of Samuel Pleasants Parsons, whose house survives at 601 Spring Street in Oregon Hill) and James Ladd (the uncle of Elizabeth Ladd, who married Samuel Pleasants Parsons).


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1777 Robert Pleasants

Robert Pleasants, who was born at Curles in Henrico County, Virginia in 1723 and died in 1801, was one Virginia’s most noted Quaker abolitionists. As one of the founders of the Virginia Abolition Society in 1790, he served as president. In 1782 he successfully lobbied for the Manumission Act, which, within one decade, was responsible for freeing over ten thousand slaves in Virginia. In 1792 Mr. Pleasants submitted a petition to the U.S. Congress from the Virginia Abolition Society calling for the end of the slave trade. Mr. Pleasants went to court repeatedly to free hundreds of slaves. He wrote to Virginia leaders such as George Washington and Patrick Henry, asking that slavery be abolished.

Several of these documents are contained on this website.


In 1784, two years after manumitting his slaves, Mr. Pleasants founded the Gravelly Hill School, the first school for free blacks in Virginia, and set aside 350 acres of land to maintain the schools. Henrico Parks and Recreation will dedicate a historic maker on the Gravelly Hill Site in 2003.


The Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association successfully petitioned the  Richmond City Council in 2003 to name Pleasants Park at 401 South Laurel Street for Robert Pleasants.


(Click on the links below to view the documents)


1777 Letter from Robert Pleasants to Patrick Henry


1785 Letter from Robert Pleasants to George Washington (original)


1785 Letter from Robert Pleasants to George Washington (transcription)


1790 Robert Pleasants Abolition Society Advertisement (original)


1790 Robert Pleasants Abolition Society Advertisement (transcription)


1790 Letter to Virginia Independent Chronicle Attributed to Robert Pleasants


1790 The Virginia Abolition Society


1791 Memorial of the Virginia Society by Robert Pleasants


1822  James Pleasants

James Pleasants deserves more fame than he has received. He was raised a Quaker and served as Governor of Virginia, 1822-25. He also served in the House of Delegates, the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate. Click here to read the complete article.


1967 The Vietnam Summer Project

One of the most divisive events in 20th century U.S. history was the war in Vietnam. The antiwar movement gained national prominence in 1965, peaked in 1968, and remained powerful throughout the duration of the conflict. In June 1967, in keeping with our position against war, the Richmond Friends Meeting hosted in our Kensington Avenue building the office for the Vietnam Summer Project, a statewide program opposing U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Click here to read the complete article.


Living Out the Peace Testimony

Friends affirm a Biblical basis for the peace testimony. A Prince of Peace was prophesied who would bring in a Peaceable Kingdom. “Thou shalt not kill” is one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus taught and lived peacemaking and love of enemy. George Fox similarly counseled his followers “to live in the life and power which does away with the occasion for war.” Click here to read an excerpt from History of Richmond Friends Meeting, 1795-1962 by Mary Fran Hughes-McIntyre.


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This information was collected by Betsy Brinson. You may send her e-mail by clicking here