William Charles Braithwaite

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William Charles Braithwaite
Born 23 December 1862
Died 28 January 1922
Castle House, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Religion Society of Friends
Spouse(s) Janet Morland
Children Richard Bevan Braithwaite

William Charles Braithwaite (1862 – 1922) was a British historian, specialising in the early history of the Society of Friends (Quakers).

Braithwaite was the son of Joseph Bevan Braithwaite (1818-1905) and Martha Gillett (1823-1895).[1] One of his eight siblings was stockbroker Joseph Bevan Braithwaite (1855-1934).[2] He attended Oliver's Mount School, Scarborough, and University College London.[3]

Upon the death of John Wilhelm Rowntree in 1905, Rufus Jones invited Braithwaite to write the early history of the Society of Friends. Rowntree and Jones had set out in 1897 to write a "comprehensive history of Quakerism", but the former died before this was possible.[4] As a result, it is Braithwaite who wrote the two classic histories which popularised this research; The Beginnings of Quakerism in 1912, and The Second Period of Quakerism in 1919.

In 1955 F. J. Smithen stated that The Beginnings of Quakerism was "still regarded as the standard work on the rise and early fortunes of the Quaker movement".[5]

In 1909, Braithwaite gave the second Swarthmore Lecture, entitled "Spiritual Guidance in the experience of the Society of Friends".

He married Janet Morland, and his son was the philosopher Richard Bevan Braithwaite.[1]

Published works[edit]

  • Red Letter Days; a Verse Calendar (1907)[3]
  • The Beginnings of Quakerism (1912)
  • The Message and Mission of Quakerism (1912) (with Henry Theodore Hodgkin (1877-1933))
  • Foundations of National Greatness (1915)[3]
  • The Second Period of Quakerism (1919)
  • Spiritual Guidance in the Experience of the Society of Friends (Swarthmore Lecture 1909)
  • The penal laws affecting early Friends in England


  1. ^ a b William Charles Braithwaite (I16368)
  2. ^ Judy Slinn, ‘Braithwaite, Joseph Bevan (1855–1934)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 1 Aug 2012
  3. ^ a b c ‘BRAITHWAITE, William Charles’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 1 Aug 2012
  4. ^ Edward H. Milligan, ‘Rowntree, John Wilhelm (1868–1905)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 7 Jan 2012
  5. ^ The Journal of Ecclesiastical History (1956), 7 : pp 126-127