From a scattering of quiet country manors in Scotland, Ireland and the Home Counties but chiefly in Norfolk where for many generations the Gurney family has lived, emerged a dynasty of nonconformist industrialists, philanthropists and orators. The seventeenth century Gurneys, Barclays, Hanburys and Hoares became part of the newly founded Quaker movement in which their many imprisonments and crippling fines led to a greater freedom of worship for all and, for themselves, enough respect for their integrity to attract investment in their ever-expanding firms of weaving, brewing, and above all banking. Later Buxton, the pride of the family, led them in anti-slavery campaigns while his sister-in-law, the most famous of the Gurneys, Elizabeth Fry, set about reforming the appalling conditions in prisons. Only after nearly two hundred years of Quakerism did this intrepid family, with its innumberable business and marital mergers, turn to the Church of England, and so become eligible for parliament, university and the services. Today its descendants include many distinguished public figures - including the author herself.