Review Of "Dublin's Merchant-Quaker: Anthony Sharp And The Community Of Friends, 1643-1707" By R. L. Greaves

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Greaves, author of several well-documented books on 17th-century dissenters, argues that Anthony Sharp (1643-1707) represents the transformation of Irish Friends from a charismatic sect into a respectable Protestant denomination. Sharp, whose father gave him several hundred pounds to begin business, ended by owning a woolen manufactory with 500 workers, at least 29 houses, and several thousand acres of land. Converted c. 1663, he became a minister, clerk and treasurer of various meetings, a controversialist who defended Friends against religious and political opponents, and a strict enforcer of the discipline. The meeting used Sharp's legal training and business skills in a wide variety of activities: arbitrating between members, defending those persecuted for tithes, planning buildings, documenting persecutions, and raising money for schools. He emerges as devoted to the welfare of the Quaker community, but with no sympathy for Irish Catholics. Like George Whitehead, the leader of English Quakers after Fox's death, Sharp showed little intellectual originality in his writings or activities for the meeting. Greaves's account provides valuable new information about this significant sect whose Irish members numbered less than 5,000. For collections specializing in history of religion and Ireland. Upper-division undergraduates and above.


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