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Crich village cross

Clay's Barn

Picture of Clay's Barn

Squire Clay�s barn lies in the shadow of Crich Church. It was here in 1667 that forty-one Quakers were imprisoned on their way to Derby gaol for not paying tithes to the church.

A Fritchley Quaker called Margaret Lynam had an important part to play in their sad story.

Her husband John Lynam suffered somewhat at the hands of the persecuting priest at South Wingfield. In 1661 he was imprisoned for 10 weeks for not paying his tithes to the priest. In 1662 he was fined 25 shillings and had a cow worth �3 10s 4d taken from him by the priest. The same thing happened in 1663 when he was also excommunicated from the church.

In 1667 he was once again in prison, his wife Margaret having to manage their farm in Fritchley. It was in this year that forty-one male and female Quakers were arrested at a meeting in Eyam and dispatched to Derby gaol. They had to walk.

When they reached Crich, with four constables, they were imprisoned altogether in one room in Clay�s Barn. No provision was made for their comfort or feeding them. Margaret organised the local Quakers and went to the barn to feed and offer comfort to the prisoners. She also sent a message to Quakers at Little Eaton to tell them that this band of prisoners would be passing their way the next day and to have food ready for them.

From an early report of the event:

Down the track on the Common, among the gorse and heather, and along �Top Hag� with its birch and hazel bushes the company slowly went; across the Amber and along the highway to Belper, where the nailer boys were inclined to pelt them, but were mostly restrained by the nailer women who knew that these were no malefactors. When Little Eaton was reached a tempting meal was offered to the constables to induce them to stop.

The message sent ahead by Margaret had given time for a meal to be prepared for the whole company. After a month in gaol they were set free along with Margaret�s husband John.

PS In 1677, after 30 years of persecution, John and Margaret Lynam went to Pennsylvania where they helped to found the township of Darby.

Based on information provided by Valerie Jones (nee Lynam)