George Fox (1624-1691) – Probably the one person more than anyone else who can be called the “founder” of Friends. His Journal is a classic for Quakers and non-Quakers alike as a record of spiritual struggle and practical activity
Isaac Penington (1616-1679) – One of the most famous Quaker writers of the first generation, often imprisoned. Many of his writings on prayer have become Quaker classics.
Margaret Fell (1614-1702) – “The mother of Quakerism”, she was an organizing genius — setting up new meetings, arranging for the relief of Quakers in prison and their families, writing, travelling, and often in jail herself. Her home, Swarthmoor Hall in Lancashire, England, was a busy hub of Quaker activity. Eleven years after her first husband’s death, she married George Fox.
William Penn (1644-1718) – Famous not only for establishing the colony of Pennsylvania, but for making the only treaties with Native Americans which were never broken; also famous for his part in the Penn-Meade trial in 1670, which established the right for juries to bring in their verdict without being intimidated by judge or state. Among his many writings, No Cross, No Crown and Fruits of Solitude are still popular.
Robert Barclay (1648-1690) – His book, Apology for the True Christian Divinity, was for many years the “standard” book of Quaker theology. It is still one of the best guides to what Friends believe.
Mary Dyer (died 1660) – Was hanged by the Puritan leaders of Massachusetts along with four other people on Boston Common for protesting the brutal anti-Quaker laws of Massachusetts; one of the earliest witnesses for religious freedom and toleration.
Samuel Bownas (1676-1753) – traveling minister, his book A Description of the Qualifications of a Gospel Minister has been rediscovered as a Quaker classic.
John Woolman (1720-1772) – Almost single-handedly awoke Friends to the evils of slavery. By the middle of the century, no Quakers held slaves, which made it much easier for Friends to take the lead in the anti-slavery movement. Also famous for his peacemaking journeys into the wilderness among Native Americans
Stephen Grellet (1773-1855), traveling minister and reformer; born in France and served in the personal guard of Louis XVI, he escaped execution during the French Revolution and converted to Quakerism. Traveled throughout Europe, Russia and the U.S.
Elias Hicks (1748-1830) – Quaker farmer from Long Island, travelling minister and great preacher; one of the central figures of the Orthodox-Hicksite separation of Friends in the 1820’s, Hicks was a strong believer in the “quietist” tradition of complete dependence on the Spirit.
John Dalton (1766-1844) – Quaker scientist who discovered the fact that each element has a characteristic “atomic weight”; also discovered that all gases share the same coefficient of expansion; also the first person to describe color blindness.
William Allen (1770-1843) – English Quaker pharmacist, philanthropist, educator and abolitionist, worked with Wilberforce to ban the international slave trade
Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) – Famous for her early work in prison reform and against capital punishment; personally visited all of the ships transporting women prisoners to Australia; helped to stamp out suttee (the practice in India of requiring widows to jump onto their husband’s funeral pyres); first woman to appear before British Parliament; strongly influenced founding of the Red Cross.
Edward Hicks (1780-1849) – American painter, famous for his dozens of renditions of the “Peaceable Kingdom” in Isaiah 11:6-9
Joseph John Gurney (1788-1847) – Younger brother of Elizabeth Fry, social activist, Bible scholar, organizer of Sunday Schools; author of A Peculiar People: Primitive Christianity Revived, a classic of Quaker theology. One of the chief figures in the Orthodox-Hicksite separations of the 1820’s.
Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) and Elizabeth Grimke (1805-1879) – pioneering speakers for abolition and also women’s rights
Levi Coffin (1798-1877) – Known as “the President of the Underground Railroad”, helped to organize the escape to freedom of hundreds of slaves.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) – Anti-slavery writer and poet; many of his poems are found in standard hymnals in all churches
Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) – Minister, anti-slavery worker, pioneer in the temperance and especially the women’s rights movements
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) – Social reformer and leader of the women’s suffrage movement.
Joseph Lister (1827-1912) – Doctor and surgeon, developed modern antiseptic techniques which have saved the lives of millions; transformed surgery from a dangerous, last-resort tool to a relatively safe procedure.
Allen Jay (1831-1910) – Minister, educator, and leader, he was one of the best-known Friends in the U.S. in the 1800’s. He worked on the Underground Railroad, built schools and colleges, helped organize Quaker missionary work, was a conscientious objector in the Civil War, and was deeply involved in the emergence and growth of pastoral Friends meetings. Lived at Springfield Friends Meeting for 8 years during the Reconstruction.
Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) – Mathematical astrophysicist; hypothesized that stars are fueled by the transformation of hydrogen into helium and helped to verify the correctness of Einstein’s theories.
Rufus Jones (1863-1948) – Teacher, lecturer, writer of many books, founder of the American Friends Service Committee; editor of The American Friend (now Quaker Life); travelled to Nazi Germany in an effort to negotiate the freedom of Jews.
Thomas Kelly (1893-1941) – Professor and writer, more famous after his “rebirth” as an adult. His Testament of Devotion is a classic on the inner life.
D. Elton Trueblood (1900-1994) – Professor and writer, founder of the Yokefellow movement. Influenced tens of thousands through his many books.
Other famous Quakers:
Actors and film makers:
Ben Kingsley (1943-_) Gandhi, Schindler’s List, Iron Man 3, Prince of Persia, The Jungle Book
James Dean (1931-1955), Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden
Judi Dench (1934-) (Shakespeare in Love, As Time Goes By, A Room With a View, GoldenEye, Chocolat, Victoria and Abdul, Murder on the Orient Express
Kevin Bacon (1958-), A Few Good Men, Apollo 13, Mystic River
David Lean (1908-1981), The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India
Joan Baez (1941-), Diamonds and Rust, There But for Fortune, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
David Byrne (1952-), lead singer for Talking Heads
Sydney Carter (1915-2004), Lord of the Dance, Julian of Norwich
Dave Matthews (1976-), lead singer for the Dave Matthews Band
Carrie Newcomer (1958-), Sanctuary, I Heard an Owl, If Not Now
Bonnie Raitt (1949-), Something to Talk About, I Can’t Make You Love Me
Donald Swann (1923-1994), prolific British composer, wrote more than 2,000 songs
Joseph Terrell (1990-), lead singer for bluegrass band MIPSO
Nobel Prize winners:
1946 for Peace – Emily Green Balch (1867-1961)
1959 for Peace – Philip Noel-Baker (1889-1982)
1993 for Physics – Joseph Taylor (1941-), discovery of binary pulsar
1996 for Economics –William Vickrey
Cassius Coolidge (1844-1934), Dogs Playing Cards
Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990) , illustrator
Sylvia Shaw Judson (1897-1978), sculptor and author of The Quiet Eye
Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966), painter
James Turrell (1943-), MacArthur prize winner, famous for his SkyScape installations
Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943-), astronomer, discovered pulsars
Peter Collinson (1694-1768), botanist
John Dalton (1766-1844), chemist, physicist, meteorologist; developer of atomic theory, first table of atomic weights, first description of color blindness, law of partial pressures of gasses
Arthur Stanley Eddington (188201944) – astrophysics, predicted that stars are fueled by the fusion of hydrogen into helium
Ursula Franklin (1921-2016) – metallurgist, feminist, peacemaker, environmentalist
Luke Howard (1772-1864), meteorologist and pharmacist, classified clouds
Len Lamerton (1915-1999), pioneer in nuclear medicine and radiation biology
Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971), crystallographer
Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), astronomer
Thomas Young (1773-1829),doctor, scientist, developed theory of light waves; assisted in the translation of the Rosetta Stone
Joseph Taylor (1941-), astronomy, discovered first binary pulsar
John Fothergill (1712-1780), doctor who developed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, described trigeminal neuralgia and strep throat; also a famous botanist and founder of Ackworth School
Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866), physician who described Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Mary Calderone (1904-1998), advocate for sex education and the use of birth control
Kenneth E. Boulding (1910-1993), economist, and educator,
Henry Cadbury (1883-1974), Bible scholar, historian, chairman of the AFSC
Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990), management theorist, founder of the Servant Leadership movement
Barnabas Hobbs (1815-1892), first president of Earlham College, later Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Indiana
Mary Mendenhall Hobbs (1852-1930), educator, historian, and worker for women’s rights
Rufus Jones (1863-1948), Quaker educator and theologian
Elbert Russell (1871-1951), pastor, head of the religion department at Earlham College, congressional candidate, and founding dean of Duke University Divinity School. (buried at Springfield Friends Meeting)
Piers Anthony (1934-), prolific science fiction writer
Sandra Boynton (1953-), children’s book writer, composer, director
Margaret Drabble (1939-), The Millstone, Jerusalem the Golden
Richard J. Foster (1942-), Celebration of Discipline, Freedom of Simplicity
Elfrida Vipont Foulds (1902-1992), The Story of Quakerism, Blow the Man Down, Some Christian Festivals
Philip Gulley, Front Porch Tales, Home to Harmony, If Grace is True, If the Church Were Christian
Jan de Hartog (1914-2002), The Peaceable Kingdom, The Lamb’s War, A Sailor’s Life
Eric Knight (1897-1943), Lassie, Come Home
James Michener (1907-1997), Tales of the South Pacific, Hawaii, The Bridges at Toko-Ri
Tom Mullen (1934-2009), A Very Good Marriage, Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered, Laughing Out Loud
Daisy Newman (1904-1994), I Take Thee Serenity, Diligence in Love, Now That April’s Here
Parker Palmer (1939 – ), The Courage to Teach, To Know As We Are Known, A Hidden Wholeness
John Punshon (1935-2017), historian and lecturer, author of Portrait in Grey and Encounter With Silence
Brinton Turkle (1915-2003 ), Thy Friend Obiadiah, Obadiah the Bold, Rachel and Obadiah, Do No Open
Anna Sewell (1820-1878), Black Beauty
Elizabeth Gray Vining (1902-1999), Windows for the Crown Prince, Adam of the Road
Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911), The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life
Jessamyn West (1902-1984), The Friendly Persuasion, Except for Me and Thee, The Quaker Reader, The Woman Said Yes
Jane Yolen (1939-), Owl Moon, Sister Light Sister Dark, Sword of the Rightful King
Jane Addams (1860-1935), social worker
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), American suffragist, abolitionist, and pioneer of feminism and civil rights
Eric Baker (1920-1976) activist, co-founder of Amnesty International and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Emily Greene Balch (1867-1961), economist, peacemaker, winner of Nobel Peace Prize
Benjamin Lay (1682-1759), early abolitionist
Alice Paul (1895-1977), worked for women’s right to vote
Clarence Pickett (1884-1965), longtime Executive Secretary for the American Friends Service Committee
Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), civil rights leader.
Ham Seok-heon (1901-1989), Korean peace activist
Yardley Warner (1815-1885), educator and minister, known as “the Freedman’s Friend,” helped to build 30 schools and 2 teacher training institutes for former slaves; buried at Springfield Friends Meeting
John Archdale, (1642-1717), Quaker governor of North Carolina
John Bright, (1811-1889), British politician, electoral reformer, free-trade advocate
Herbert Hoover (1864-1964), engineer, relief administrator, U.S. president
Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933), Japanese diplomat, educator, author
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994), senator and U.S. president
James Logan (1674-1751), mayor of Philadelphia, merchant, scientist and developer of the Conestoga wagon
Philip Noel-Baker (1899-1982) British Olympic athlete, politician, peacemaker
Moses Brown (1738-1836), industrialist and philanthropist
Charles Elmer Hires (1851-1939), pharmacist who invented root beer
Johns Hopkins (1795-1873), industrialist and philanthropist
Lydia Pinkham (1819-1883), creator of Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, one of the best-selling patent medicines of the 1800’s, containing unicorn root, fenugreek, black cohosh root, and a large percentage of alcohol. You can still buy it at many drug stores!
John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868-1905), chocolate maker and reformer
Elbridge Stuart (1836-1944), creator of Carnation Evaporated Milk, “the milk from contented cows”
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), journalist
Tabitha Ann Holton, (1854-1886), first woman to be licensed to practice law in North Carolina or the South (buried at Springfield Friends Meeting)
Jimmie Lewallen, (1919-1995), NASCAR racing driver (buried at Springfield Friends Meeting)
Famous people with Quaker background:
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), author, printer, politician, inventor
Daniel Boone (1734-1820), pioneer
Nathanael Greene (1742-1786), Revolutionary War general
Dolley Madison (1768-1849), wife of US President James Madison
Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Trappist monk and writer
Annie Oakley (1860-1926), Wild West sharpshooter
Thomas Paine (1737-1809), political activist
Betsy Ross (1752-1836), creator of the U.S. flag
Walt Whitman (1819-1892), poet
Businesses started by Quakers:
Allen and Hanbury (pharmaceuticals)
Friends Fiduciary Fund (mutual fund)
Friends Provident (life insurance)
Furness Withy (ship builders)
Pax World Funds (mutual fund)