Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Shakers. the name usually given to the "United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing," a sect founded by Anne Lee (1736-84), a native of Manchester, Jane Wardlaw, a tailor's wife, who belonged to the Society of Friends, declared she had received a Divine message announcing that Christ's second coming was about to take place, and that He would assume the form of a woman. Anne Lee applied this prophecy to herself, and gained a few converts besides Jane Wardlaw and her husband. They were called "Shakers," owing to the extravagant gestures they adopted when engaged in worship. In consequence of the persecution to which they were subjected, Anne sailed with her followers to America in 1774, and formed a settlement at Niskayuna (now Watervliet), near Albany, New York. The centre of the society, which adopted communistic ideas, combined with strict celibacy, was afterwards fixed at New Lebanon. The Shaker settlements, of which there are fifteen, comprise both men and women, under the direction of an elder and an elderess. In addition to their own peculiar doctrines regarding marriage and a female incarnation, they share many of the views held by the Quakers. They are a quiet, industrious people, famed for their agricultural skill and their knowledge of medicinal herbs. The English Shakers owed their origin to Mary Ann Girling (1827-86), who became a prey to the same kind of delusions as Anne Lee. They formed a settlement in the New Forest, where they suffered great privations, and after the death of Mrs. Girling, whom they regarded as immortal, the community was dissolved.