The Friends Burial Ground, off Skinnergate in Darlington, is a tranquil area behind the Friends Meeting House. Has been in use as a graveyard since the 17th century and is estimated to contain around 1000 burials. The burial ground is accessed via the archway beside the Christian bookshop in Skinnergate.
This guide helps visitors to locate the graves of the prominent members of Darlington’s Quaker families with a map which can be downloaded, together with some brief information about those buried here, links to photographs of their headstones and more information which help to tell their stories.
The guide and accompanying map can also be followed on a smartphone or tablet, which will allow you to view the links to relevant documents and images during your tour.
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Prominent Darlington Quakers
Edward Pease (1767-1858)
He ran the business very successfully for a number of years, amassing a great fortune and retired in 1817 to put his efforts into promoting his railway. He lived in a house on Northgate where George Stephenson and Nicholas Wood called to meet him, hoping to convince him to use a steam powered locomotive engine, running on rails on his railway, which would go on to become the Stockton & Darlington Railway.
A portrait of of Edward Pease can be found in the Darlington Borough Council art collection.
Joseph Pease (1799-1872)
Joseph was the son of Edward Pease (1767-1858). Together with his father-in-law Joseph Gurney of Norwich, and other Quakers, he bought the land on which Middlesbrough developed in 1829 and expanded on his fathers industrial holdings with railways, mills and coal mines to become extremely wealthy.
In 1832 he became the first Quaker M.P. He paid for the planting and laying out of the South Park and also bought the clock for the market tower as well as being the principal subscriber to a chime of bells for St Cuthbert’s church. In 1870 he presented a fire engine, ‘Southend’ to the town, named after his home, Southend which is now Hotel Bannantyne. He also funded schools to educate children throughout his industrial empire in County Durham.
His statue stands on the corner of Northgate and Bondgate in Darlington, with bas-relief panels around the base representing his interests in the railways, politics, education and anti-slavery campaigning.
A portrait of of Joseph Pease can be found in the Darlington Borough Council art collection.
John Fowler (1826-1864)
Inventor of the double shared steam plough which allowed a highly efficient form of field ploughing. Rather than a machine pulling a plough behind it, Fowler’s plough was drawn across the field by a steam engine using a windlass and steel cable, and later a second stream engine at the opposite side of the field. The Royal Agricultural Society awarded him a prize of £500 at the Chester show in 1858 which had been offered ‘for a steam cultivator that shall, in the most efficient manner, turn over the soil and be an economic substitute for the plough or the spade’.
In the summer of 1864 his health was suffering as a result of over work and he retired to Ackworth in Yorkshire to recuperate. Having been recommended active exercise he began to hunt, but in November he fractured his arm falling from a horse. Tetanus ensued and he died on 4 December 1864.
A large granite monument to his engineering achievements stands in the South Park which was originally topped with a model of his steam plough but this was stolen in the 1970’s and never recovered.
Sophia Fry (1837-1897)
A national pioneer for women in Liberal politics, a philanthropist who raised funds to build a hospital in Darlington, worked to improve the education of girls and ensured that women had a role in the management of the British and Foreign School Society’s College in Darlington which trained mistresses for elementary schools.
Sophia was the granddaughter of Edward Pease (1767-1858) and wife of Theodore Fry who was Mayor of Darlington 1877-1878, M.P. for Darlington 1880-1895 and created a baronet in 1894.
Her father, John Pease, had Woodburn built for them, They transferred the name Woodburn from their previous home in Bristol when they moved into the new house in 1866. It was demolished in 1935.
Henry Pease (1807-1881) & Mary Pease (nee Lloyd) (1826-1909)
Henry was heavily involved in expanding the railway that his father had created and was responsible for opening the line across Stainmoor, with its summit at 1374 feet above sea level. He founded the seaside resort of Saltburn-by-the-Sea to capitalise on the new railway line which was extended from Redcar.
In 1867 he met Emperor Louise Napoleon to ask permission for a Peace Congress to be held in Paris, but was refused. However at the 1878 Peace Congress in Paris he was appointed President of the Peace Society.
Mary founded the Cockerton orphan home, a haven for young girls, and was president of the YMCA for 15 years.
They lived at Pierremont in Darlington and at Stanhope Castle.
Alfred Backhouse (1822-1888) & Rachel Backhouse (nee Barclay) (1826-1898)
Born into the family banking business, Alfred went on to run the headquaters of the business from what is now Barclays Bank on High Row and amassed a huge fortune, roughly £36m in today’s money, making him one of the wealthiest men of his age.
On his marriage to Rachel, herself from the Barclays Quaker banking family, the couple lived at Greenbank. However their home which Alfred created in Hurworth, Pilmore Hall, now the Rockcliffe Hall hotel was on a much more lavish scale, set is stunning landscaped grounds where he was able to enjoy his lifelong love of nature and horticulture.
Although the couple did not have any children of their own, when Alfred’s brother died leaving three ophaned children his nephew James Edward Backhouse 1845-1897 (see below) went to live with them at Pilmore. Alfred had Hurworth Grange built as a wedding gift to his nephew and his bride.
Alfred and Rachel were heavily involved in improving health in the town and gave their time and substantial funds to support Darlington’s first hopsital, in Russell Street and later the creation of another hospital on the site of their former home at Greenbank.
Edward Pease (1834-1880)
Son of Joseph Pease (1799-1872). Edward went in to the family spinning business. He was an advocate of total abstinence, philanthropic and deeply religious. Ill health led him to give up the business and to buy an estate in Bewdley, Worcestershire where he invested much time and money in horse breeding, aiming to prove the economic value of mules of different types.
He died in Lucerne in Switzerland and after many years of campaigning for a free library in Darlington he left money to build the Edward Pease Free Library in Crown Street.
Mary Hodgkin (1882-1956)
James was the nephew of Alfred Backhouse, banker to the Quaker industrialists of Darlington. Elizabeth was from the Quaker Barclay family of bankers.
Alfred built Hurworth Grange for James and Elizabeth as a wedding gift, close to his own home Pilmore Hall, now the Rockcliffe Hall Hotel.
in 1896 the Backhouse’s Bank was merged with the Gurney Bank of Norwich and Barclay’s of London to create what is now Barclays Bank.
Theodore West (1827-1898)
He had a passionate interest in the natural world and gave lectures on subjects including “The Wonders of the Human Eye”, “The Wonders of the Human Frame” and “Homes Without Hands or Work Done by Ants, Bees and Wasps in India, Africa and Australia from an Engineering Point of View” around the region. He also donated specimens to the Darlington Naturalists Society.
Jonathan Backhouse (1779-1842)
Jonathan took over the family’s banking business from his father, also called Jonathan. The bank helped to finance the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which brought them into conflict with the Earl of Darlington of Raby Castle who objected to the disruption of his fox hunting.
In an attempt to bankrupt Backhouse’s bank, and with it end the development of the railway, in 1819 the Earl secretly plotted to present a huge number of Backhouse bank notes at one time and demand them to be exchanged for gold. Jonathan got wind of the plot and raced to London to gather as much gold as possible from his fellow Quaker businessmen. Rushing back to Darlington his carriage lost a wheel near Croft Bridge but he managed to redistribute the weight of gold, ‘balancing the cash’ so that he could continue on three wheels. Arriving back at the bank on High Row just in time, he was able to exchange the bank notes delivered by the Earl’s agent for gold in full, exclaiming that if his master wanted to sell Raby Castle he would pay for it with the same metal.
Jonathan lived with his wife Hannah Chapman Gurney (from the wealthy Gurney banking family of Norwich) at Polam Hall. Together they undertook missionary work, travelling extensively around England and America.
John Kendrew (1748-1800) unmarked
A optician and inventor with a mill for grinding glass in Darlington. He invented a mechanical process for spinning flax which was built by clockmaker Thomas Porthouse and they patented it together, each building their own flax mill in Darlington and licencing the technology widely for use in other mills.
Kendrew grew up in the area around what is now called Kendrew Street.
James Backhouse (1720-1798)
Alfred Kitching (1808-1882)
Kitching left his brother’s town centre foundry business to set up his own engineering works near North Road Station supplying the early railway industry. The company built the locomotive Derwent which is on display at the Head of Steam railway museum. He lived at Elmfield (behind KFC) in Northgate Darlington.
William Cudworth (1815-1906)
William began his working life as an apprentice to a shipbuilder in Sunderland and later spent time as a sailor, developing the knowledge he needed to set up business as shipbuilder in Middlesbrough. In 1840 he gave this up and began work for the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company. In 1850 he became an engineer with the Middlesbrough and Guisborough Railway and in 1857 he began work on the Hownes Gill Viaduct on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, later taking over from John Dixon as chief engineer for the company. He went on undertake engineering work on marshalling sidings at Shildon and Newport, new passenger and goods-stations and the enlargement of the Middlesbrough Dock before retiring in 1883.
For the next quater of a century he devoted much of his time to literature and language, translating several masterpieces of Greek and Latin literature into English. He became on of the first teachers at the Friends’ Adult School in Darlington and at the age of 80 he taught himself Italian in order to read Dante in the original.
He died at Saltburn in his ninety-first year. In his obituary by the Institute of Civil Engineers he was described as “ever calm in demeanor and careful and exact in his use of language; and he was eminently just and upright in all the affairs of life.”
There is a painting of him in the National Railway Museum collection.