The Quakers: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

Joseph Foord (1714-1788)

Campaigner for Better Quality of Life


Joseph Foord was born in the North Yorkshire village of Fadmoor on 13 July 1714. He had a Quaker upbringing though he was later 'disowned' by the local group due to a scandal over an illegitimate son.


He went on to work for the large Duncombe estate, overseeing a number of farms and trying to increase efficiency. He had a good knowledge of the local lands and was very aware that some farms and villages suffered from a lack of water.


To improve their water supply he set about designing and building a series of water courses over the moors. This was by no means an easy task, especially when just one of the courses covered 13 miles!


Foord's dedication to the task changed peoples lives, providing a reliable water supply for the first time and helping alleviate the usual summer droughts. Many villages continued to rely on his water courses until the council water supply was established in the 20th Century.


Foord went on to travel to America but died in January 1788, shortly after returning to Yorkshire. Unusually, as he was no longer a member of the organisation, he was buried in Thirsk's Quaker burial ground.

Map of Duncombe Estate, North Yorkshire, where Joseph Foord made new water courses»

Document icon Learning article provided by: Campaign! Make an Impact |  Ryedale Folk Museum | 
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