The phrase "disorderly walking" dates back to some of the earliest Quakers writing of the late 1600's. The concept is that a true member of the Society of Friends walks a path throughout their lives whose proper bounds are prescribed by the Discipline. If they follow this path they remain a member in good standing. The phrase "disorderly walking" implies straying from the path required by Discipline and places the member in imminent danger of disownment.
An epistle from a general meeting in June 1676 discusses the principle of collective discipline and the responsibility of each meeting to admonish its own members:
"God hath taught us to deny the Customs, Fashions, & Words of the World, which are evil, & to bear a Testimony against it...to stir up the pure mind in one another, that the Principles of the blessed Truth, be allways Stood in..."
It goes on to state the duty of each meeting to admonish its members for "disorderly walking," and lists these offences:
not to keep the form of sound words
or use or wear needless Attire
or to oppress or defraud any man in his dealings
Not endeavor to bring up Children in the fear of the Lord
The phrase "disorderly walking" was sometimes used to conceal the real nature of the offense to protect confidentiality, or deflect outside criticisms. Event violent offenses could be cloaked in this way.
Quaker Ancestors Group