Source: Google Books Image File
COMPILED FROM HER OWN NARRATIVE,
A SELECTION FROM HER EPISTLES, ETC.
Published in 1859
Margaret Fox is generally acknowledged by all but herself to have been the mother of the church
of early Quakers. Her home, the mansion of Swarthmore, was truly the cradle of the Quaker beginnings. Swarthmore was the refuge of many eminent early Friends, who came for refreshment, growth, fellowship, inspiration, and undoubtedly rest from their physical trials; for trials and persecutions were many in the early days in the north of England, where the Quakers were first established. At times there were people from five different countries there to learn and grow. She had been translated into the Kingdom of God. She is counted among the Valiant Sixty, that first wave of ministers raised up by the Lord, having heard the Word of Life from George Fox.
The early Quakers numbered within its ranks many eminent women, who have enunciated and explained its doctrines and testimonies, both by their ministry and writings; and have illustrated its Christian faith by the consistency of their lives and conversation, and their patience under persecution. Among these, none shone more conspicuously, in the early days of the Society, than Margaret Fox. Having been convinced by the preaching of George Fox, she became a faithful member of the church; her influence and reputation in the community, as well as her ministry and writings, greatly contributing in advance the cause of truth. As a preacher of the Gospel, she was fervent and weighty; as a writer, bold, earnest and persuasive; in her disposition, charitable and hospitable; and a warm sympathizer with the afflicted and persecuted. Her works having been long out of print, and almost unknown in this country. It is believed that the following compilation, giving a brief account of her life, a selection from her epistles, and a few extracts from her other writings, will prove acceptable in the reader.
HER BIRTH - PARENTAGE – MARRIES THOMAS FELL AND SETTLES
MARGARET Fox was born at Marsh Grange, in the parish of Dalton, in Fournis, Lancashire, England, in the year 1614. She was the daughter of John Askew, who was of an ancient and honorable family; he was honest, pious and charitable, and a man of estate and education.
She was married, in her eighteenth year, to Thomas Fell, of Swarthmore, a barrister-at-law, afterwards a justice of the Quorum in his county, a member of several Parliaments, vice-chancellor of the county Palatine of Lancaster, and else a judge in the circuit of West Chester and North Wales. Strict integrity and love of justice, tempered with mercy end moderation, were conspicuous traits in his character. In the seventy-sixth year of her age she wrote a short biographical sketch, rehearsing some of the principal events of her life, which has been largely used in the preparation of this work; in which, speaking of her husband, she says: “We lived together twenty-six years, in which time we had nine children. He was a tender and loving husband to me, and a tender father to his children, and one that sought after God in the best way that was made known to him. I was about sixteen years younger than he, and was one that sought after the best things, being desirous to serve God, so that I might be accepted of Him; and was inquiring after the way of the Lord, and went often to hear the best ministers that came into our parts. We frequently entertained at our house, many of those that were accounted the most serious, godly men, some of whom we then called lecturing ministers; and often had prayers and religious exercises in our family. This, I hoped I did well in, but often feared I was short of the right way; and after this manner I was inquiring and seeking about twenty years, when, in 1652, it pleased the Lord, in his infinite mercy and goodness, to send George Fox into our country, who declared to us the eternal truth, as it is in Jesus; and by the Word and power of the eternal God, turned many from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God."
The powerful and awakening nature of the spiritual ministry of George Fox, and the effect produced by it on her own mind, and his discourse on this occasion, she thus describes:
"Our house being a place open to entertain ministers and religious people, one of George Fox's friends brought him there, where he stayed all night; and the next day being a lecture or fast-day, he went to Ulverstone steeple-house, but came not in until people were seated; I and my children had been there a long time before. And when they were singing, before the sermon, he came in; "and when they had done, he stood up, upon a seat or form, and desired 'that he might have liberty to speak;' and he that was in the pulpit said he might. And the first words that he spoke were as follows: 'He is not a Jew that is one outward, neither is that circumcision which is outward; but he is a Jew that is one inward, and that is circumcision which is of the heart.' And so he went on and said 'that Christ was the light of the world, and lights every man that comes into the world; and that by this light they might be gathered to God.' I stood up in my pew, and wondered at his doctrine for I had never heard such before; and then he went on and opened the Scriptures and said: 'The Scriptures were the prophet's words, and Christ's and the apostles' words; and what, as they spoke, they enjoyed and possessed, and had it from the Lord:' and said: 'Then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the spirit that gave them forth. You will say Christ said this, and the apostles say this; but what can you say? Are you a child of light, and have you walked in the light; and what you speak, is it inwardly from God?’ This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again and cried bitterly; and I cried in my spirit to the Lord: 'We are all thieves; we are all thieves; we have taken the Scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves.' That so struck me, that I cannot well tell what he spoke afterwards, but he went on declaring against false prophets, priests, and deceivers of the people. He came to our house again that night, and spoke in the family among the servants, and they were all generally convinced. I was struck in such sadness, I knew not what to do, my husband being away from home. I saw it was the truth, and I could not deny it; and I did as the apostle said: I received the truth in the love of it; and it was opened to me so clear, that I had never a slightest misgiving in my heart against it; but I desired the Lord that I might be kept in it, and then I desired no greater portion."
George Fox, in describing the circumstances attending his visit to Swarthmore at this time, after relating the controversies with the parish priest, Lampitt, and his discourses on religious subjects with Margaret Fell and her children, in which they were measurably convinced, says that: Soon after her convincement, a day which observed humiliation occurred; and Margaret Fell asked me to go with her to the steeple-house at Ulverstone, for she had not completely rejected that worship group. [This was a Calvinist Puritan sect, which the Fells attended]. I replied, ‘I must do as I am ordered by the Lord.' So I left her and walked into the fields; and the word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Go to the steeple-house after them.' When I came, Lampitt was singing with his people; but his spirit was so foul, and the message of the song was so unsuitable to their spiritual states, that after they had done singing, I was moved of the Lord to speak to him and the people. The word of the Lord to them was, 'He is not a Jew that is one outward; but he is a Jew that is one inward, whose praise is not of man, but of God.' Then, as the Lord opened further, I showed them, ‘That he had come to teach his people by his spirit, and to bring them off from all their old ways, religions, churches, and worships; for all their religions, worships, and ways were but talking of other men's words; but they were out of the life and spirit which those were in who gave them forth.' A justice name Sawrey cried out, 'Take him away;' but judge Fell's wife said to the officers, 'Let him alone; why may he not speak, as well as any other?' In deceit the priest Lampitt also said, 'Let him speak.' So I was able to declare the truth a fair amount of time until justice Sawrey ordered the constable to put me out; and then I spoke to the people in the graveyard, later returning to Swarthmore Hall.
Margaret Fell continues: "And at that time when I and my children, and a great part of our servants, were so convinced and converted unto God, my husband was not at home, being gone to London. When he came home, and found the most part of his family changed from our former principles and persuasions, which he left us in, he was much surprised at our sudden change; for some envious people, our neighbors, went and met him, and informed him that we had entertained such men as had taken us off from going to church, which he was very much concerned at, and seemed much troubled. And it so happened that Richard Farnsworth and some other Friends, (who had come into our parts a little after George Fox), were then at our house; and they discoursed with him persuaded him to be still and weigh things before be did anything hastily; and his spirit was somewhat calmed. After he had heard them speak awhile, he was better satisfied. I desired them to stay and not go away for George Fox would come that evening. I would have had my husband to have heard them all, and satisfied himself further about them because they had so prepossessed him against them of such dangerous, fearful things. Then he was pretty moderate and quiet; and his dinner being ready, he went to it, and I went in and sat down by him. While I was sitting, the power of the Lord seized upon me; and he was struck with amazement, and knew not what to think. The children were all quiet and still, and grown sober, and could not play on their music that they were learning; and all these things made him quiet."
"That night George Fox returned. After supper my husband was sitting in the parlor, and I asked him if George Fox might come in? And he said, yes. So George came in without any compliment, walked into the room, and began to speak presently; and the family, and James Naylor, and Richard Farnsworth all came in. He spoke as excellently as ever I heard him, and opened Christ's and the apostles' practices that they had been in, during their time. He opened the night of apostasy that had occurred since the apostles' days, and he exposed the priests and their practices in the apostasy. So well did he speak, that I thought if all in England had been there, they could not have denied the truth of those things.”
George Fox relates: "Soon after, judge Fell came home, his wife Margaret sent to me, desiring me to return there; and I, feeling freedom from the Lord so to do, went back to Swarthmore. When I came I found the priests and professors, and justice Sawrey had much incensed judge Fell and captain Sands against the truth by their lies; but when I came to speak with him, I answered all his objections, and so thoroughly satisfied him by the scriptures, that he was convinced in his judgment. After we had discoursed a pretty while together, judge Fell himself was satisfied also, and came to see, by the openings of the spirit of God in his heart, over all the priests and teachers of the world; and did not go to hear them for some years before he died; for he knew it was the truth that I declared, and that Christ was the teacher of his people, and their savior.”
Margaret Fell Writes to George Fox
Some think the first part below to be mostly written by Margaret's direct transcriptions from her children: Susan, 3; Sarah, 10; Isabel, 12; and Mary, 5; [apx. ages]. These children were so affected by the Spirit of the Lord, that they immediately gave up their music, later going on to become prominent ministers in the faith; as did William Caton, the live-in boyhood companion of Judge and Margaret Fell's son, Will Fell. To catch another glimpse of Fox's stature in Christ, skim his statements in Fox's Statements from the Lord's Presence.
(The second part, was apparently written by Margaret Fell exclusively, and speaks to the person who was somehow oppressing the entire family and servants.)
The following letter, addressed to Margaret Fell by Richard Farnsworth, a few months after, may serve to show the continued interest he took in her convincement and establishment in the truth:
Although Judge Fell did not openly unite with Friends, or attend their meetings, he was very favorable to their views, and generally sat in an adjoining room, where he could hear, without appearing to join in their worship. Some Friends, in his presence, speaking of the difficulty in obtaining a place to hold their meetings in that part of the country, he promptly and generously offered them his own house, saying: "You may meet here, if you will;" and notice being given, "there was a good large meeting there the next first-day," which was the first held at Swarthmore, where a meeting was established, and continued from 1652 to 1690. The room appropriated for this purpose was the large hall on the ground-floor, at one end of which, within the space of a bay window, the floor is raised two steps. In this place, it is said, George Fox and his [later to become] wife usually took their seats, and the other ministering Friends, when present. From this window George Fox often preached to the people assembled in the adjoining orchard, when they were unable, from their numbers, to meet within.
George Fox's fame, spreading with his doctrine, usually caused a large company to assemble to hear him, when he visited Swarthmore. At one time, Judge Fell, upon returning home, finding his stables filled with the horses of these strange guests, complained to his wife of the large accession of new comers, saying, if this continued, they would soon be eaten out, and have no provisions left for themselves. To this she pleasantly replied, that charity does not impoverish; and notwithstanding all this extra consumption, she fully believed that, at the end of the year, he would have no cause to regret their hospitality. And so it proved, for the same year the crop of hay was so abundant, that they had not only plenty for themselves, but a large surplus to sell. The example of this excellent family doubtless exercised a powerful influence on the minds of many who came within the sphere of its influence, inviting them to come taste and handle for themselves of the good Word of life, of which they had been made partakers, by yielding obedience to the requirements of truth. Several or their household became preachers of righteousness in word and conversation, and were instrumental in turning many from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Anthony Pierson, in a letter dated in 1653, thus describes the impressions which a visit to Swarthmore produced on his mind: "Oh! how gracious the Lord was to me in carrying me to Judge Fell's, to see the wonders of His power and wisdom; a family walking in the fear of the Lord, conversing daily with Him, crucified to the world, and living only to God. I was confounded, all my knowledge and wisdom became folly; my mouth was stopped, my conscience convinced. And the secrets of my heart were made manifest, and that Lord was discovered to be near, whom I ignorantly worshipped. I have seen at Judge Fell's, and have been informed from that precious soul his wife, in some measure what those things mean, which before I counted the overflowing of giddy brains. Dear heart, pity and pray for me, and let all obligations of former friendship be discharged, in well wishes to the soul of the old family friend, that he may partake with them of your heavenly possession."
In confirmation of this, is the testimony of William Caton, an intimate of the family. He says: “Oh! the love which in that day abounded among us, especially in that family! And oh! The freshness of the power of the Lord God, which then was among us; and the zeal for Him and His truth, the comfort and refreshment which we had from His presence, the nearness and dearness that was among us one towards another, the openings and revelations which we then had! My heart is affected with the remembrance of them at this very day. And here came that worthy family to be so renowned in the nation, the fame of which spread much among Friends; and the power and presence of the Lord being so much there with us, it was as a means to induce many, even from afar, to come there; so that at one time there would have been Friends out of five or six counties: all which tended to the augmenting of my refreshment. And on the other hand was I cherished and encouraged in the way of life, by my entirely beloved friend Margaret Fell, who as a tender-hearted nursing mother cared for me, and was as tender of me, as if I had been one of her own children. Oh! the kindness, the respect and friendship which she showed me, should never be forgotten by me." Margaret Fell continues, speaking of her husband: "He lived about six years after I was convinced, in which time it pleased the Lord to visit him with sickness, wherein he became more than usually loving and kind to our friends called Quakers, having been a merciful man to the Lord's people. I and many other Friends were well satisfied, the Lord in mercy received him to Himself."
His death occurred in the eighth month, 1658, he being about sixty years of age, leaving one son and seven daughters.
(The son's name was George; the daughters, Margaret, married to John Rouse; Sarah, to William Mead; Mary, to Thomas Lower; Susanna, to William Ingram; Rachel, to Daniel Abraham; Isabel, to -- Yeomans, afterwards to Abraham Morris; and Bridget, to John Draper. These marriages all occurred after his death.
John Rouse suffered severe persecutions in New England, and in addition to many cruel whippings, had his right ear cut off. He was a native of Barbados, subsequently settled near London. William Mead was the companion of William Penn at the time of their persecution and celebrated trial at the Old Bailey, familiar to all readers of Friends' history.)
William Penn, speaking of Judge Fell, says: "Being a just and wise man, and seeing in his own wife and family a full confutation of all the popular clamors against the way of truth, he covered them what he could, and freely opened his doors, and gave up his house to his wife and her friends, not valuing the reproach of ignorant or evil-minded people; which I here mention to his and her honor. That house was, for some years at first, till the truth had opened its way in the southern parts of the island, an eminent receptacle of this people."
Alexander Parker thus consoles with her on the death of her husband, and bears testimony to his worth: "Dear Sister, be you comforted and refreshed; though an outward stay be taken from you, the Lord, I know, will never leave you nor forsake you: your house is not left desolate, but the God of Jacob will be your refuge, and the Lord your maker is your husband. It was but very lately I heard of the laying down of the body of your husband, and truly it did at first sadden my spirit, knowing his dear love and tender care over the Lord's lambs."
LETTERS TO CROMWELL - LETTER FROM A. RIGGE - GEORGE FOX APPREHENDED AT HER HOUSE - HER ACCOUNT OF THE APPREHENSION – GOES TO LONDON-INTERVIEW WITH KING CHARLES II - LETTER AND ADDRESSES TO HIM AND THE PARLIAMENT – INSURRECTION OF THE FIFTH MONARCHY MEN – SOLICITS AND OBTAINS THE DISCHARGE OF G. FOX SEVERAL LETTERS TO THE KING, DUKE OF YORK, ETC. VISITS COLONEL HACKER IN PRISON - LETTER TO HER CHILDREN - RETURNS TO LONDON- ANOTHER INTERVIEW WITH THE KING RESPECTING TO IMPRISONMENT OF FRIENDS - RETURNS HOME - LETTER. TO THE KING – LETTER FROM FRANCIS HOWGILL.
THIS devoted woman, soon after her convincement, felt called to plead the cause of the persecuted and oppressed before the rulers of the land. She fearlessly approached the monarchs, and those in power, at various times during the course of her life, and laid before them the sufferings of Friends, explained their principles, and both by word and writing warned them of the consequences that would be likely to follow; that the righteous judgments of the Lord would be against such, who were persecuting others for conscience' sake. Her services in this way were of the most persevering and undaunted kind, and manifested her to be one in spirit and courage with her friend, George Fox. About this period, she addressed four letters to the Protector, Oliver Cromwell; in the second, she "bears witness to the spiritual worship of God, and to His mighty day, and teaching of His people Himself, and against all the outward formal worships which are without the spirit of truth, and of their overthrow. And against all the dark forms, and shadows, and false coverings, which he had been under; charging him, in the presence of God, not to give way to the men of the world, to make laws over the consciences of his servants, and to beware of hearkening to evil counselors, that would make a prey upon the people for their own ends, lest he brought guilt, plagues, and woe upon himself."
Ambrose Rigge thus bears testimony to the usefulness and worth of Margaret Fell, at this time, in the church:
In the year 1660, George Fox was apprehended at her house, and committed to Lancaster prison. Gough, the historian, relates, that "Margaret Fell considering the forcible entry and searching of her house, and arresting of her guest there, as a violation of the liberty of the subject, and an injury offered to her, published the following brief narrative of his apprehension;”
She further determined on a journey to London, to solicit the King's protection, and lay the circumstances of George Fox's imprisonment before him.
Her narrative proceeds :
“The leader of the Fifth Monarchy Men was Thomas Venner, a wine cooper, who, in his little shop on Coleman Street, stirred up his admirers with passionate expectations of a fifth universal monarchy, under the reign of King Jesus upon earth, and that the saints were to take the kingdom to themselves. To introduce this imaginary kingdom, they marched out of their meeting-house towards St. Paul’s churchyard, on Sunday, January 6, 1661, with about fifty well armed men resolved to subvert the present government or die in the attempt. This mad insurrection gave the court an excuse to break the recent “declaration of indulgence,” within three months after it was published. – Neale .
By the solicitations of Margaret Fell and Anne Curtis, (whose father had suffered death for previously attempting to bring back the King), they obtained, at this time, an order for the removal of George Fox to London; he was brought up by habeas corpus, before the court of the King's bench; where the matter was referred to the King and council. With no accuser appearing to testify against him, Fox was honorably discharged, after an imprisonment of twenty weeks.
In Margaret Fell's letters to King Charles the Second, and the Dukes of York and Gloucester, soon after their return to the kingdom, she "affectionately warns them in the sight of the Lord, the heart-searcher, not to slight the tenders of His love, for fear that they should be hardened. She wishes them to consider the goodness of the Lord in their several preservations, and restoration out of their troubles and into the desired nation, throne, and kingdom of their father; and not to take the glory and honor unto themselves; but to let the Lord have the glory thereof, who restored them without the shedding of blood, or loss of lives. She acquainted them, how God had a suffering people in the nation, which he had owned, and will own; and he had reproved and overthrown powers for their sakes whom he has blessed. Also signifying that God had brought the King to the throne to try him as to what he and his associates would do for His people, desiring them not to forget His benefits and mercies towards them, and that their hands might be kept out of blood and persecution; for when the innocent were wronged and persecuted, God will plead for and stand by them.” She intimated that she 'Was moved of the Lord to write to them beforehand, that they might not be found actors against God and his people; also warning them to take heed whom they let come near them, lest they should be betrayed by dissemblers, or malicious and temporizing spirits who have turned with every power for their own ends."
In her second letter to the King, she desires that he would "Take care for the nation as for his own family, that every one might enjoy his particular right and property, and liberty of conscience; seeing God is delivering His people from under oppressors, that they may serve Him in freedom of spirit who has heard the cry of the oppressed, and His ears are open to the prayers of the innocent. And that, therefore, it would be good for the King, that his ears should not be shut, lest his heart should grow hard, that he should not slight what they say unto him, who have a testimony for the Lord, and he will bear them witness, when He comes to make inquisition for blood."
In her third letter to the King, delivered by her own hands, on account of his proclamation for bringing to trial those who had been instrumental in the death of his father, she says: "Since God brought him into this nation in love and mercy without shedding of blood, or taking of revenge, she wishes that he would consider this and show mercy; seeing the Lord said to the merciful, I will show myself merciful, but to those without mercy I will myself be unmerciful. Advising him not to look out at those that would incense him to revenge, which is not the will of God, nor good for the King, whose best way is to show mercy and forgiveness, and commit his cause to the God of heaven; and let his heart be inclined unto love and mercy, and to grant liberty to the tender consciences of the people; where God's throne is, there are no plots, or evil intentions, or secret conspiracies that should ever prevail against him," ….
The following letter she addressed to the King upon the death of the Duke of Gloucester:
During her sojourn in London, she paid a visit to Colonel Hacker, a day or two before his execution, he having been one of the judges of King Charles the First, and now condemned for the part he took in that transaction; he also had been a very violent persecutor of George Fox a few years before. She reminded him of what he had formerly done against the innocent; he remembered it, and said he knew well to whom she alluded, and had trouble on him for it.
It is related of her, that as a tender mother, being sensible of the exercise and trial of her dear children, for her long absence from them, and family, she wrote many tender and consolatory letters to them for their encouragement in the truth, and satisfaction in the Lord on her behalf; excluding her long absence, as being so deeply engaged in his fear to clear her conscience, and for His suffering people's sake. Intimating to them how desirable it would be to her to return home to her dear end beloved children, as soon as the Lord pleased to clear her from her long and laborious attending, on behalf of His oppressed people."
The following appears to be one of the letters alluded to:
"I stayed at home about nine months, and then was moved of the Lord to go to London again, not knowing what might be the matter or business that I should go for. At Warrington, I discovers an act Parliament had made against the Quakers for refusing oaths. And when I came to London, I heard the King had gone to meet the Queen, and to be married to her at Hampton Court. At this time Friends' meetings at London were much troubled with soldiers, pulling Friends out of their meetings, and beating them with their muskets and swords; so that several were wounded and bruised by them; and many were cast into prison, through which many lost their lives. All this was done to a peaceable people, only for worshipping God, as they were persuaded in their consciences. Then I saw the King and the Duke of York at Hampton Court, and I wrote several letters to them, and therein gave them to understand what desperate and dangerous work there was in London; and how that soldiers had come in with lighted matches and had drawn swords among Friends, when they were meeting in the fear and dread of the Lord to worship Him; and if they would not stop that cruel persecution, it was very likely that more innocent blood would be shed, and that would witness against their actions, and lie upon them, and the nation. Within some certain days after, they beat some Friends so cruelly at the Bull and Mouth (meeting) that two died of the beatings. The King told me that his soldiers did not trouble us, nor should they, and said the city soldiers were not his, and they would do as they pleased with them; and after a little time they were more moderate, and the King promised me that he would set those at liberty that were in prison; and when he brought his Queen to London, he did set them at liberty. And then I came home again, having stayed about four months in and about London."
The following is the substance of letter written by Margaret and presented to King Charles the Second at Hampton Court upon the renewal of the persecution under the law for "The preventing mischiefs and dangers that may arise from certain persons called Quakers, and others, refusing to take lawful oaths:"
The following beautiful letter was addressed to her in London by Francis Howgill, who subsequently ended his days in prison, for the testimony of the truth:-
PERFORMS A RELIGIOUS VISIT TO SEVERAL COUNTIES - MEETS
WITH GEORGE FOX -
In the year 1663, in company with one of her daughters, Margaret Fell performed a religious journey of about one thousand miles, visiting Friends in Somersetshire, Devonshire and Dorsetshire to Bristol, from there to Yorkshire, into Northumberland and Westmoreland. In the course of their travels they met with George Fox, who accompanied them home, soon after which he was arrested and committed to Lancaster outer castle.
She says: "About a month after the same justices sent for me to appear at Ulverston, and when I came there they asked me several questions, and seemed to be offended at me for keeping a meeting at my house, and said they would tender me the oath of allegiance. I answered they KNEW I could not swear, and why should they send for me from my own house, where I was about my lawful occasions, to ensnare me? What had I done? They said if I would not keep meetings at my house, they would not tender me the oath. I told them I should not deny my faith and principles for anything they could do to me; and while it pleased the Lord to let me have a house, I would endeavor to worship him in it. So they caused the oath to be read, and tendered it to me; and I refused it, telling them, I could not take any oath for conscience' sake, Christ Jesus having forbidden it. They then made a mittimus and committed me prisoner to Lancaster Castle, and there George Fox and I remained in prison until the next assizes; and then they indicted us upon the statute for denying the oath of allegiance; for they tendered it to us both again at the assizes; but they said to me, if I would not keep a meeting at my house, I should be set at liberty. But I answered the judge that I rather choose a prison for obeying God, than my liberty for obeying men contrary to my conscience. So we were called several times before them at that assizes, and the indictments were found against us. The next assizes we came to trial, and George Fox's indictment was found to be dated wrong, both in the day of the month, and in the year of the King's reign, so that it was quashed; but mine they would not allow the errors that were found in it to make it void, although there were several; so they passed the sentence of premunire upon me, which was, that I should be out of the King's protection, and forfeit all my estate, real and personal, to the King, and be imprisoned for life. But the great God of heaven and earth so supported my spirit under this severe sentence, that I was not terrified, but gave this answer to Judge Turner, who gave this sentence: 'Although I am out of the King’s protection, yet I am not out of the protection of the Almighty God.' So there I remained in prison twenty months, before I could get so much favor of the sheriff, as to go to my own house; which then I did for a little time, and returned to prison again."
While before the judges, she bore this clear and noble testimony against swearing, and vindicated herself from all causes of offence:
One of the justices observed: "Mrs. Fell, you may with a good conscience put in security to have no more meetings at your house, if you cannot take the oath."
"Will you make it good," said she, "that I may with a safe conscience make an engagement to forbear meetings, for fear of losing my liberty and estate? Will not you and all here judge me, that it was for saving my estate and liberty that I did it? And should I not, in this, deny my testimony; and would not this defile my conscience? "
Considerable effort was made by some of her friends in London to prevent the sentence of premunire being passed upon her, and some of her children applied to the King in her behalf; but without any effect. The following is a letter from one of her daughters on the subject:
The following letter, written by Margaret Fell, when in prison, to her son-in-law, John Rouse, and his wife, after she had been premunired, shows, that having been deeply taught in the school of Christ, and strengthened by Him, she had learned, like the Apostle Paul, that in whatsoever state she found herself therewith to be content:
Some attempts were afterwards made to obtain her release, or at least some mitigation of the rigors of her imprisonment, but with no better success. Gilbert Latey, in one of his letters, giving an account of an interview he had with Lord D'Aubigny on her behalf, says:
Gough, the historian, remarks:
She earnestly reasoned the wrong with the King, on the injustice of the law authorizing the banishment of Friends, reminding him of her former interview with him, and the rigors of her own imprisonment, in a letter addressed to him; some extracts from which are here inserted:
Lancaster Castle, the prison of Margaret Fell, in its present form, was founded by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in the 14th century. This castle and its predecessor have been noted strongholds, famous in British history from the time of the Romans to the days of Cromwell and the Pretender. A recent writer thus describes the castle, and the room occupied by George Fox:
Having endured an imprisonment of about four
years, Margaret Fell was at length set at liberty by an order
of the King and council, in the year 1668.
Note: At one time there were 4500 Friends in prison in England
and Wales. In 1662, 20 died in different prisons in
London, and 7 more after their liberation, from ill treatment.
In 1664, 25 died; and in 1665, 52 more. The number
that perished in this way throughout the whole kingdom
amounted to 869. For a full account of the cruelties practiced
against the early Friends, the reader is referred to two
folio Volumes entitled Besse’s Sufferings."
VISITS IMPRISONED FRIENDS - HER. MARRIAGE WITH GEORGE FOX AT BRISTOL - AGAIN IMPRISONED ON THE OLD PREMUNIRE - HER HUSBAND AND TWO OF HER CHILDREN OBTAIN AN ORDER FOR HER DISCHARGE - WHICH IS DISREGARDED - SHE OBTAINS A FREE DISCHARGE UNDER THE GREAT SEAL, RELEASING HER AND HER ESTATE FROM THE PREMUNIRE - VISITS LONDON TO SAY GOODBYE TO HER HUSBAND, WHO GOES TO AMERICA - HIS RETURN, AND IMPRISONMENT IN WORCESTER JAIL – HE IS PREMUNIRED - HER EFFORTS IN HIS BEHALF- HIS RELEASE, AND RETURN TO SWARTHMORE - LETTER TO THOMAS LOWER - RETURNS TO LONDON - VISITS THE KING - HIS DEATH- INTERVIEW WITH KING JAMES - FRESH IMPRISONMENT - EPISTLE TO WOMEN FRIENDS OF LONDON.
Shortly after her release, "she was moved of the Lord" to make an extended journey through many of the counties of England, visiting most of the Friends who were imprisoned in the nation, and spending a number of weeks in London and Bristol. It was on her return from this visit that she again met with George Fox, and remarks: "It was eleven years after my former husband's decease, and George Fox being then returned from visiting Friends in Ireland; at Bristol he declared his intentions of marriage with me. There also our marriage was solemnized, in a public meeting of many Friends, who were our witnesses.”
George Fox, in his journal, gives the following relation of his marriage. Before proceeding therein be was careful that the rights of her children should not suffer, and had their free consent, for, he said, "I would have all things done plainly, for I sought not any advantage to myself."
After this meeting in Gloucestershire, we traveled until we came to Bristol; where I met with Margaret Fell, who was come to visit her daughter Isabel Yeomens. I had seen from the Lord, a considerable time before, that I should take Margaret Fell to be my wife; and when I first mentioned it to her, she felt the answer of life from God thereunto. But though the Lord had opened this thing to me, yet I had not received a command from him for the accomplishing of it then. Therefore I let the thing rest, and went on in the work and service of the Lord, according as he led me; traveling up and down in this nation and through Ireland. But now being at Bristol, and finding Margaret Fell there, it opened in me from the Lord that the thing should be accomplished. After we had discussed the matter together, I told her, 'if she also was satisfied with the accomplishing of it now, she should first send for her children:' which she did. When the rest of her daughters arrived, I asked both them and her sons-in-law, 'if they had anything against it, or for it?' desiring them to speak; and they all severally expressed their satisfaction with the proposal. Then I asked Margaret, 'if she had fulfilled her husband's will to her children?' she replied, ‘the children knew she had.' At this point I asked them, 'whether, if their mother married, they should not lose by it?' and I asked Margaret, ‘whether she had done anything in difference to it, which if so she might speak about it to the children?' the children said, 'she had answered it to them, and desired me to speak no more of that. I told them, 'I was plain, and would have all things done plainly; for I did not seek any outward advantage to myself.' So our intention of marriage was laid before Friends both privately and publicly, to their full satisfaction, many of whom gave testimony to it, for it was of God. Afterwards, a meeting being appointed for the marriage in the public meeting-house at Broad Mead, in Bristol, we took each other in marriage; the Lord joining us together in the honorable marriage, in the everlasting covenant and immortal seed of life. During the joining, living and weighty testimonies were stated there by Friends, as they were moved of the heavenly power which united us together. Then was a certificate, relating both the proceedings and the marriage, openly read, and signed by the relations, and by most of the ancient Friends of that city; besides many others from several parts of the nation.
Note: The following is a copy of her marriage certificate:
Her narrative proceeds: "Soon after I came home, there came another order to cast me into prison again; and the sheriff of Lancashire sent his bailiff, and pulled me out of my own house, and had me to prison at Lancaster Castle, where I continued a whole year; and most of that time I was sick and weakly. And after some time my husband endeavored to get me out of prison; and a discharge at last was obtained, under the great seal, and I was set at liberty."