Our Story

Quakers, Whales, Poets and Peace

Milford Haven's panel in the Quaker Tapestry

Quakerism began in Britain about 1652. Before the 1688 Act of Toleration made life in England and Wales better for Quakers, many emigrated to America to escape persecution and frequent imprisonment.

For the first hundred years of Quakerism in Pembrokeshire there was not one day without at least one Quaker in prison at Haverfordwest because their conscience would not let them swear oaths, pay tithes, serve in the militia, or, during the worst of the persecution by Charles II, dare to meet together to hold Meeting at all. 

Some poorer Quakers gathered near St David's in the 1680s at Maes Mynydd, living in simple homes and taking day labour locally all in the hope that they might take ship to Pennsylvania as steerage passengers to escape the persecution.

Here are some synoptic notes on Quakerism & Quakers in Pembrokeshire covering the period 1642 to the 1950s.

We also have an article from a local paper about Quakerism in Haverfordwest.

Refusal to take part in The American War of Independence led to Quakers from Nantucket returning to Britain in 1792, establishing the town of Milford Haven, and making it the base for their whaling fleet. This is Richard C Allen's article in Quaker Studies about it.

We are fortunate to have a diary written by Abail Folger, one of those Nantucket settlers, who wrote it as notes to send to her daughter.

The Migration of Quaker Whalers from Nantucket, Massachusett to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Milford Haven, Wales: by Maida Barton Follini

Also notable among the Nantucket settles in Milford Haven were the Starbucks and William Rotch.

The Nantucket Quakers built the Meeting House. It was opened in 1811.

​We have designed a walk around the town that links many of the sites related to those first Quakers in Milford Haven and telling something of the history.

​That Quaker concern with peace also led Waldo Williams - the renowned poet of the Welsh language - to campaign during the 1950s against the Preseli Hills being used as tank ranges, and to his being imprisoned for refusal to pay taxes that might be used for war.

​Stephen Griffiths, a long time Member of the Meeting, wrote a book about the History of Quakers in Pembrokeshire, which can be bought from the Meeting.

Here is a short film about the Milford Haven that Waldo William would have known. It was shot in 1947.

Between 1981 and 1986 many Quaker Meetings contributed panels to The Quaker Tapestry, including Milford Haven.

The 2016 Architectural Survey of the Meeting House. Johanna Roethe, Associate, The Architectural History Practice Ltd: "One of the most important Friends' Meeting Houses in Wales, and significant in the history of Milford as being built for the Nantucket whalers, who are mostly buried in the small graveyard behind."

In 2022 we joined the History Points project and have one of their QR code points in our gateway linking in the Meeting House with other local and national points of historical interest across Wales.

A History of Quakers in Pembrokeshire


A History of Quakers in Pembrokeshire by Stephen Griffiths

£4.95 plus postage.

Stephen Griffiths was a member of our Meeting form 1949 until his death in 2010 at the age of 101. He taught for many years at Pembroke Grammar School. He was born and raised in Blaenau Ffestiniog and wrote several books and articles in his native Welsh.

Copies can be ordered via the form on our Contact Us page


Testimonies to the grace of God as shown in their lives