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Daniel Wheeler and the draining of the St Petersburg marshes – Friends House Moscow
Home > All blog posts > ...for UK supporters > Daniel Wheeler and the draining of the St Petersburg marshes

2018 is the 200th anniversary of when the marshes around St Petersburg began to be drained by the Quaker Daniel Wheeler. When Tsar Alexander wanted to undertake this project, he contacted the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain with a request to send someone to oversee the work. Alexander already had friendly contacts with Quakers and trusted them to find a specialist for this purpose.

After an initial prospecting trip, in 1818 Daniel Wheeler took his wife, family and a group of workers out to St Petersburg.  They settled first in the Okhta region, then at Shushary (now near Pulkovo airport). Wheeler’s work was very successful. He used modern English agricultural methods, drained a large area of marshland, and began to grow crops on it for the St Petersburg market. He also attempted to improve the life of his Russian workforce by building cottages for workers and giving them plots of land.

While in Russia, Daniel’s wife and one daughter died and were buried near the family home in Shushary.  The 200th anniversary has been marked by restoring this Quaker burial ground and consecrating it.

The following news article appeared, in Russian, on 16 March 2018 here in Gorod Pushkin (www.gorodpushkin.ru). You can read more about Quakers in Russia here.

(This is a rough translation from Google Translate – to be replaced)

Yesterday in Shushary they consecrated the place of the restored grave of the family of Daniel Wheeler, an English Quaker, a grain merchant from Sheffield, an ameliorator. In the XIX century, Daniel Wheeler drained over a hundred thousand acres of marshes in the vicinity of St. Petersburg – in Volkovka, on Okhta, in Shushary. For his significant contribution to the amelioration of the St. Petersburg lands, Nicholas I granted a plot of land near Tsarskoye Selo under the Quaker Cemetery.

This year marks 200 years since the beginning of the draining of marshes in St. Petersburg under the guidance of an English meliorator. By this date, the family graves of the Wheelers were restored. The wife and youngest daughter of Daniel Wheeler died in Shushary and are buried there in the cemetery.

The restoration of the grave was financed by the St. Petersburg Charity Fund named after Grachy Poghosyan.

Consecrated place of burial of the Wheelers archpriest of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Shushary father Eugene. At the end of the ceremony, a reception was held in the temple complex of Shushary.

The photo of the graveyard is from the news article in Gorod Pushkin.