Shak­ers talk to Probus

Loughborough Echo - - NEWS -

AF­TER the usual greet­ing by the pres­i­dent, Pat Har­ris, Shep­shed Probus Club sec­re­tary Wilf Shel­ton con­tin­ued with club busi­ness and Stan told his funny sto­ries.

A good meal was en­joyed by the mem­bers be­fore the day’s speaker, David Jones, re­galed is with tales of “The Shak­ers of New Eng­land.” Now don’t be fooled by the name, they are not a dance group; they are a re­li­gious or­der formed near Manch­ester.

Like many break­away re­li­gions they weren’t un­der­stood in Eng­land and so, led by their leader Ann Leigh, eight of them sailed for Amer­ica in 1774. Although there are sim­i­lar­i­ties Shak­ers are def­i­nitely not Quaker or Amish.

Shak­ers ex­panded in the North East states of Amer­ica, num­ber­ing 6000 mem­bers by 1820.

They de­cided that Ann Leigh was the sec­ond com­ing af­ter Je­sus even though she was a woman.

The Shak­ers were well ahead of the rest of the world both in in­no­va­tion and ed­u­ca­tion. Chil­dren were given ad­vanced ed­u­ca­tion with boys be­ing taught in win­ter and the girls in sum­mer. Boys were re­quired to work in the fields in sum­mer hence the school­ing in win­ter.

Shak­ers earned money by mak­ing fur­ni­ture such as lad­der back chairs, also brushes and pack­ag­ing seeds.

How­ever they were a lit­tle ex­treme in their re­li­gious fer­vour, one of their rules be­ing no phys­i­cal con­tact so pro­cre­ation was dif­fi­cult which most prob­a­bly ex­plains why there are only three Shak­ers left in the world.

Many left the or­der with some join­ing the Quak­ers who were happy to in­cor­po­rate them into their own move­ment. The women in the Shaker or­der were treated as equals far ear­lier than the rest of the world.

The early in­ven­tions by the Shak­ers were not patented and were stolen by un­scrupu­lous man­u­fac­tur­ers and even­tu­ally the Shak­ers woke up to the fact and closed the loop­hole.

One of the suc­cesses of the Shaker women who were ex­cel­lent knit­ters were their big jumpers and cardi­gans in­cor­po­rat­ing a sin­gle let­ter sig­ni­fy­ing a school, col­lege or univer­sity and th­ese be­came pop­u­lar through­out the world.

As men­tioned ear­lier there are only three Shak­ers re­main­ing and they are old, one man and two women so un­for­tu­nately it is cer­tain that in the next few years the move­ment will be­come ex­tinct - vic­tims of their own or­der.

Af­ter thank­ing the speaker, mem­bers were re­minded that the next meet­ing will be on Oc­to­ber 2.

New mem­bers are al­ways wel­come and can con­tact our sec­re­tary Wilf on 01509 769802.

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