The Missing Cross to Purity



1659-60.—His service in the South of Lancashire
—Attends a general meeting at Balby in Yorkshire—
Travels to London, also into Sussex, Kent, and so into Norfolk—
Returns to London and proceeds to Dover

WHEN I had continued at Swarthmore some time, it was upon me to go into the south of Lancashire, to visit Friends and their meetings; which I did, and had several good and serviceable meetings in several of the great towns in Lancashire, as at Garstang, Preston, Wigan, Liverpool, and Warrington, etc. Being at a meeting in Warrington, the 7th of the twelfth month, 1659, there came several rude soldiers of the baser sort, who greatly abused Friends. After they had been very violent to us, they broke up our meeting, and forced us out of the town; but we gathered together again, near to the town upon the roadside, and had a sweet and precious meeting. It was not long before the soldiers came there also, and as I was speaking they took me violently from among the rest, and beat me, some with their muskets, and others with their spears, in the sight of Friends, to the breaking of the hearts of many. When they had satisfied their wills with abusing me, they allowed me to return into the meeting again, which afterwards we kept a certain time to our great refreshment in the Lord, whose power and presence did exceedingly appear among us; for as our suffering at that time was greater than ordinary, even so was our refreshment in the Lord. I visited Friends in some parts of Cheshire and elsewhere; and when I had had good service in those parts, I returned again to Swarthmore, where I always found refreshment in the fullness of the Father's love, which abounded much among us in that blessed family.

I had not been long there, and with my own dear mother, who about that time laid down the body, when I was with her, but it was upon me to go southwards, first towards a general meeting of the brethren from several parts of the nation, which was at Balby in Yorkshire, and afterwards towards London; and it was so ordered that Thomas Salthouse, my dear companion and fellow servant, together with Bridget and Isabel Fell, accompanied me. When the time of our departure from Swarthmore was come, our hearts were sad and broken within us, as they used to be at such seasons; and when with prayers and supplications unto the Lord we had earnestly interceded one for another, and had committed one another to his custody and protection, as our manner was at such times, we took leave one of another in the fullness and virtue of love and unity; and then set forward on our journey, in the name and power of the Lord.

[* This surmise seems to have been realized; for by a few lines written by the said George Collison, at Carlisle, on the back of the original letter, he states, that when he came near that city, he was stopped by two troopers, who asked him if he had any letters; on his informing them he had one, they took him before the governor. It seems that great eagerness for information on the state of Scotland then prevailed, that nation being reported by the writer to be at this period "in a mighty uproar."]

When we came into Yorkshire, we had some meetings; and when we got to Balby, we found many of the ancient brethren there, and Friends that were come from several parts of the nation; so that the meeting consisted of many hundreds. When it was about the height, there came a part of a troop of horse to break it up, and dismiss Friends, but they were moderate, and Friends continued their meeting until they had freedom in the Lord to break it up. The next day we had a very large and precious meeting, not far from that place; and when we were abundantly refreshed together in the Lord, through the abounding of his mercy and goodness to us, we took leave one of another in much love and unity, and every one went in peace towards his respective place where the Lord had a service for him. The before mentioned Thomas Salthouse, my dear brother, and I, traveled southwards towards London, and visited Friends in our journey. As we were traveling in Nottinghamshire, some troops met us upon the road and apprehended us, and carried us before some of their commanders, who sent us to the commissioners at Nottingham, where we were further examined by some of them, and being found innocent were discharged, and allowed to pass on our journey in peace.

Coming into Northamptonshire we visited Friends at Wellingborough and the area, and being sweetly refreshed among them, we took our leave of them, and traveled along until, through the mercy of the Lord, we came well to London; where we had several precious meetings, and were more than a little comforted with the flock of God there, as often my soul had been before in that city. I stayed about two weeks, and afterwards parted with my dear brother Thomas Salthouse.

[The following letter, descriptive of the state of things in London at this period may be here inserted; it is taken from the Swarthmore Collection. London, 7th of Third month, 1660.]


Dear friend,

Our dear and unfeigned love reaches to you, and to the brethren with you, whom we dearly salute in the living Truth. We rejoice in the Lord, who lifts up our heads above the wickedness of wicked and ungodly men, which indeed has grown to an exceedingly great height in this city; which does exceedingly abound in pride, fullness, excess, and in all manner of superfluity of naughtiness, to the grieving of the spirits of just men, and to the making of their hearts sad, who fear the Lord and work righteousness. Yet, nevertheless, this we would have the brethren to know, that as yet we see scarcely any stop at all put to the work of the Lord in the city or country. For several precious meetings we had, as we came through the country, as a letter that is coming by the carrier, makes mention of, more at large, than at this time we shall do. As for the meetings, in general, in and near unto the city, they were, the last first-day, as full, large and peaceable, almost as Friends have at any time known them; and abundance of sober people resorted to them and were generally quiet—the guard of soldiers which for a season was kept at the Bull and Mouth, is now removed from there; and several quiet, large and precious meetings we have had there of late, since the guard was removed, which is not only removed from there, but also from several parts of the city. It is reported that the citizens would have all the soldiers of the old army removed out of the city forty miles, or rather disbanded; and they would undertake to guard and to protect the king and parliament. The old soldiers are in great contempt, and with most they are held in derision, and that dreadfulness which once attended them is now departed from them, and others that dreaded them are now become a dread unto them. Indeed, now are anguish and distress come and coming upon many, whose hearts have been nourished, and exalted, and puffed up without the fear God; who have not regarded the cries of the oppressed, nor stood in God's counsel; but have boasted themselves against [those] that hewed with them once. Therefore, is it just with the Lord to give them for a prey to their enemies, who were a prey to them, while they stood in God's counsel; from which many of them have departed, and therefore are they fallen, snared and taken. Friends in the city are almost generally well, as far as we know. John Stubbs has gone into Kent, Richard Hubberthorne is yet in the city. The greatest discourse among the people here is, about the king and the parliament's proceedings; who are speedily preparing the way for his coming, which is suddenly expected; but blessed be the Lord forever, in whose power we can testify, that our King is come, who reigns in power and great glory; and therefore we need not look for another.

Will Caton

Thomas Salthouse

 London, 8th of Third month.—This very day the king has been proclaimed in an extraordinary manner; the concourse of people that have been in the streets has been innumerable; the shouting for joy has been so exceedingly great among the people at times, that the sound of many trumpets could scarcely be heard; even the bells themselves could not sometimes be heard, but the noise has been exceedingly confused, like the noise of many waters. Time would fail me to relate the fantastic ceremonies that have been used, and the extraordinary pomp, the mayor and aldermen with the gentry have appeared in. Oh! the vanity and superfluity of wickedness which has appeared in the city, my pen could not declare it in several hours' time to the utmost. But at present I have not much time, being about to go to a meeting, not knowing certainly whether this day they will allow us to keep any of our meetings; for they would not allow that at Westminster to be kept this day. This wickedness, which is now at an extraordinary height, will have an end in the Lord's time. Let this be sent to Swarthmore, after Friends have seen it at Kendal; my entire love is unto all the faithful there and elsewhere. Farewell.

Will Caton

My dear love in that which is our life, is unto you all, and if George Fox is there I would gladly hear from him, as he is free.

Richard Hubberthorne

As for the sufferings of Friends, which George Fox said should be given to this parliament, it is not yet a convenient time to present them, because they do not act anything till Charles comes, but what is in order to the bringing of him in, and so they were but lost to be given to them at present.

London, 8th of Third month, 1660.

 [Also in R. H's handwriting apparently.]

I went down into Surrey and Sussex, where I had very good service for the Lord, and many precious meetings, which were of great service at that time. At Hurst in Sussex, upon the 27th of the third month 1660, I had a very large meeting, to which many Friends from several parts of the county resorted, together with many others that were not Friends; and an exceedingly precious and serviceable meeting it was, but weighty and heavy upon me, before I went into it. But this I have often observed and found by experience, that by how much the more I felt the weight of the service of the meeting, before I went into it, by so much the more was my service in it, and my reward accordingly; blessed and magnified be the name of the Lord forever!

At that time it was somewhat difficult traveling, by reason of the many watches that were set with a strict order, as I was informed, to apprehend all suspicious Quakers, Baptists, and Papists; however, the Lord was pleased to preserve me out of their hands. At the time called Whitsuntide, we had a very precious and large meeting near Horsham, of Friends out of four counties, according to appointment; which we enjoyed, through mercy, pretty peaceably, to our great refreshment in the Lord; who in those days did very eminently manifest his heavenly power and presence in our assemblies, to our great consolation in Him.

After the before mentioned general meeting was over, and I was clear of that county, I went into Kent, where I visited the brethren, and had many large and precious meetings, which tended much to the confirming and establishing Friends in the truth, and to the convincing of those that heard the same eternal truth declared.

When I was clear of those parts, I returned again to London, where I stayed some time, and had good service. Afterwards I went into Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk, and visited Friends and their meetings in many places of the before mentioned counties, where I had as excellent good service as my heart could desire; for the Lord's refreshing presence went along with me, and the word of his power supported me, and carried me through the great and weighty service, in which I was so much exercised in that blessed day, in which the truth did flourish and prevail mightily in very many parts of the nation; which was no small cause of joy to us, who were witnesses of it.

I returned again to London, where I always found service enough, and for the most part a door open in that city.—When I had been some time in it, and had had good service there and the area, it was upon me to go over to Holland; and I returned into Kent after I had in much brokenness of heart, and in perfect love and unity taken my leave of Friends and brethren at London. In passing through the country I visited Friends and their meetings, as my manner was; and I stayed several days at Staplehurst, with Thomas Housegoe, who then lay upon his death-bed, who had been a serviceable instrument in his day in those parts; and after he was laid in the ground, we had a very precious meeting, there being many Friends at his burial.

At Dover, he writes to his friend George Fox, under date of the 16th of ninth month, 1660, — from which letter the following are extracts.

Since I came from London, I have had good service in this county, at Sutton, Cranbrook, Tenterden, but especially at Staplehurst, and in Thomas Housegoe's family; for it was so ordered that I came to his house the same day that he began to be very ill, and that very night I began to despair of his life; a day or two before he died, he gave a very good testimony to the truth, to the power and to the glory that is now revealed. It was upon me to stay till his funeral was over, which was last third-day; and abundance of Friends were at it, yes, several out of Sussex, so that it was a very honorable burial. After his body was laid in the ground, Friends drew near into the meeting place, with several of the world, where we had a precious meeting; for the power and presence of the Lord were abundantly manifested among us, to the consolation of Friends in general. That night it was upon me to return to his house again, where I had very good service, and in the morning I left them in a pretty good hopeful posture; but assuredly he will be very much missed in those parts, and I believe there will be now more necessity of Friends visiting them pretty often than there was before. I desire that you would be mindful of them. I have also been at Will Beeme's, and at Hythe, and at Folkstone, where I find Friends very well, but some in deep sufferings for that unhallowed ordination of tithe; some are in prison at Canterbury, and some in Dover Castle for refusing to pay it. Yesterday I came to this town, and had a very good meeting last night among Friends here, who are as well as ever I knew them. Since I came to this town, I have been to look for shipping, and there are some vessels ready. It is thought they may set sail either this night or tomorrow at night, if the wind continues fair. I purpose, if the Lord will that I can get passage, to pass by them to Zealand, and go from there to Holland; but the officers here that look after passengers are very untoward bad men; so how the Lord will order it, I know not at present. Dearly beloved of my soul, let your prayers be for me, that I may be kept in the power, life, and wisdom of our God, to his praise, and to the comfort and consolation of the brethren, with whom I can rest in the Lord, even in the heat of the day; glory be to the Lord forever.

Will Caton

Swarthmore Collection


1660—He leaves Dover for Holland—
His service in several cities and places—
Returns to London (1661), but soon after revisits Holland—
He travels with William Ames into Germany—
At Heidelberg he is courteously treated by the Prince Palatin

ABOUT this time I passed towards Dover, where I took shipping to Zealand, to go to Holland. After some hardship sustained at sea, by reason of tempestuous weather and contrary winds, through the providence of the Lord I got to Flushing, where I stayed but  little, and passed for Middleburgh, where I visited the very few Friends that there were in the city; and afterwards I went to Treveare, where I found a vessel almost ready to sail for Dort in Holland. In my journey I was exceedingly filled with the Lord's love, and the power of his might, though I was alone without any Friend in company with me. There were many passengers including a Catholic, who was filled with great envy and wickedness; he uttered desperate threatening words against me, causing others to be amazed that someone could make violent threats to someone who spoke against that person’s religion. In the height of his wickedness he boasted of a pardon which he had in his pocket, not only for the sins he had committed, but also for those he  would commit; but before we parted, the power of the Lord reached to his own witness in the man, by which  he was smitten in himself for his folly, and his fury against me was greatly  turned into friendship towards me. Thus do we often see the Lord changing the hearts of our enemies, and restraining them from the evil they intend against us; which we must acknowledge to be the Lord's doing, which is, and often has been, marvelous in our eyes. To him therefore be the glory, honor, and dominion, forever and ever.

I got well to Rotterdam, through mercy, where I found Friends very well in the Lord. After we had been sweetly comforted together, I took leave of them, and went to the city of Leyden, where I also visited that little flock, with whom my soul at that time was comforted. From there I passed to the city of Amsterdam, where my refreshment was augmented in the Lord among his babes in that place, at which I arrived the sixth of the tenth month, 1660.

Afterwards it was upon me with another Friend called Peter Hendricks, to go into Friesland, which we did; and in due time through mercy we arrived well upon a first-day in the morning, at a place called Dockham, where we went into the meeting of the Baptists, so called, which was very large. When he who was speaking had finished, I stood up and began to declare the everlasting truth in their own language. They were much divided among themselves, for some would gladly have heard me, others would not allow me; but one of the greatest of their teachers was very moderate, and spoke to this purpose, that if I had a nearer way to God to declare, than that which they knew, or one that was more excellent than theirs, they would willingly hear me. In order thereto many of them came together in the afternoon, and heard me declare that way which I preferred before theirs, and affirmed it to be nearer to God, and more excellent than theirs; and little they had at that time to object against it. Before we parted they were so far satisfied, that by their great silence, in which they sat as if they had been Friends, they seemed not to have any thing further to object. After the meeting was done, the before mentioned teacher invited us to his house, and to take up our lodging there, which for several reasons we were free to accept of. When we got to his house at night, many people followed us, so that we had a very good meeting. When we had continued there some time in very good service, we left that place and returned to Leuwarden, the metropolitan city of that province; there we found some in whom there were desires after the truth, with whom we had meetings. Afterwards we passed to a place called Mackham, where there were also many of the before mentioned Baptists, and we were entertained by an old man, who had been a preacher among them for many years.

When first-day came, it was upon us to go to their place of worship, which we did; and waited until he that was speaking had done. Afterwards I began to speak, but he would not allow me, (namely, he who had preached), but became quickly very angry, though the people would gladly have heard me; but he would not allow them. He became finally so uncivil, that he put the people out of the meeting place with his own hands; at which some being much offended, a skipper or master of a vessel, stood up and said, "If they would not allow me to speak there, I should speak at his house;" and the same man came and took us to his house, where afterwards we had a pretty good meeting, and such as had desires to hear the truth came there, so that I had some very good service there for the Lord.

When we were free of that place we went to Worchum, where we also had a meeting or meetings. When we were pretty clear of those parts, we returned again for Amsterdam, where we were received with joy and gladness by Friends, who rejoiced with us in the good service which we had had; and blessed be the Lord for our preservation.

[From this city Will Canton addressed a letter to Friends in England, (as is supposed), from which the following extracts are selected.]

O! my beloved friends, it is delightful to me to meditate upon the Lord's love to you, and it is a comfort and refreshment to my soul to feel you in the unity of the eternal Spirit, in which I have daily communion with you, though I am required, for the scattered seed's sake, to be much as without the camp, where the reproach is borne, with many weights and burdens, by reason of which my soul is sometimes bowed down. Yet, O! my friends, I share with you of that joy and peace, love and life, which abound in your tents; and in that  can I rejoice with you in the midst of our trials and sufferings, though as to the outward I am far separate from you. Yet know, that I have no more want and scarcity than I had when I was with you; for my heart is filled with love, my mouth with praise, and mine eyes with tears, when I behold your integrity and innocence, your faithfulness and constance, under your trials and burdens. Often is my soul poured forth unto my Father on your behalf;—unto whom a child is born, unto whom a Son is given; whose name is called the Prince of Peace, and of the increase of whose government there shall be no end. This is He, of whom I bear testimony to the nations, though they abhor Him, and say within themselves,—' we will not have Him to rule over us, or we will not allow any of His messengers and servants to dwell among us, but we will imprison them, and put them to death.’ Thus the Lord may allow them to do, until they have filled up the measure of their iniquities, as the Amorites did; and then shall his iron rod be stretched over them, by which they shall be broken to pieces like a potter's vessel, who have abhorred Him, and hated Him without a cause; but in that day will he spare you, who have followed Him through great tribulation.—In the meantime, O! beloved, he will try your faith and patience; but do not be troubled, for he knows what is good for you, in whom he has chosen in these latter days to manifest his power and glory, to the families of the earth, whose glory and dignity must be stained and brought to nothing.

[He then proceeds to give a similar narrative of his labors in Friesland, though somewhat more detailed than given at this place in the Journal. He afterwards adds ;]

The sudden and violent storm which you have had in England,* has also stirred the waters very much here, so that they rage and swell, as if they would prevail beyond the bounds which are set for them. Much mire and dirt they cast up, venting part of it in their weekly intelligence, and part in ballads, in which they seem to lay that chiefly to the charge of Friends which lately happened in London, as if they had conspired together to do much more than what was done. The vulgar sort of people that have no feeling of the witness of God in themselves, they believe it; but some sober and honest-hearted men slight it, and do not much regard it. But the baser sort take a mighty occasion hereby against us, and they rage and tear as if they would swallow us up quickly. We are credibly informed that fifty of the wildest of men here have combined together, not only to break our meeting, but also to pull down the house to the ground, where we have often met; so that you may understand that we are here daily in as great jeopardy as they in England, that are not yet cast into prison. The last first-day there were some very wicked men at our meeting, who were exceedingly desperate and violent; but blessed be the Lord! they were not allowed to do much harm, and that which they did, was more to the house, than to Friends, who are given up to the will of the Lord, as well to suffer with you for the Truth, as to rejoice with you in the Truth.

[*This is the reaction to the Fifth Monarchy attempted revolution, which was falsely linked to the Quakers. Pepys describes how thirty-one of them, shouting, "The King Jesus and the heads upon the gates;" this put all London in terror. They routed the trainbands [companies of militia], put the king's lifeguard to the run, broke through the city gates, killed twenty men, and led every one to believe that they numbered five hundred, while every householder armed himself and forty thousand stood ready to oppose these fierce fanatics. ( Pepys's Diary, ed. 1893, vol. i, pp. 319-322.)

From Ruth Murray's Valiant for the Truth: This was the mad outbreak of the Fifth Monarchy men, a sect which arose in the time of Cromwell, claiming that the Lord Jesus was speedily coming to set up his throne upon the earth. Sir Henry Vane was one of the leaders of this party, and as he was now in prison with the judges [those Parliament Puritans who had sentenced the King's father to be beheaded] of Charles I, it was supposed this revolt was partly caused by the desire to set him free.

On the night of the 6th of First Month, 1661, a wine cooper by the name of Venner, whose reason was unbalanced, inflamed some fifty or sixty visionaries by vehement preaching, and these men rushed from his meeting in London, proclaiming King Jesus. The quiet city was hushed in sleep, but in a few moments there was a great uproar. The trainbands [militia] were called out, and the instigators of the tumult fled into the country for two days, concealing themselves in the woods. On the 9th they returned in the open day, in the fanatical belief that neither bullets nor sharp steel could hurt them, broke through the city gates, routed all the trainbands they met, killing several, and put even the King's guard to the run. They were finally overcome and most of them taken prisoners; the rest fell with weapons in their hands, shouting that Christ was coming presently to reign upon the earth. Not withstanding the insignificant character of this outbreak, a feeling of uncertainty fell over the nation. Many high in rank were known to belong to the Fifth Monarchy men, and the Earl of Clarendon, desirous of establishing a standing army, increased the fears of people by announcing the danger of a great insurrection.

King Charles II, remembering his father being beheaded by the Puritans, all dissenters were looked upon with suspicion; and Friends, though innocent of participation in any plots, had to bear the brunt of the persecution which followed. Armed men broke up their meetings.
In their trials, the Fifth Monarchy men admitted that the Quakers had no part in their abortive attempt. Despite the slanderous accusations, the blame to the Quakers was spread by envious men to foster persecution against the Quakers on the continent also.]

Now friends, you know this day has been long foreseen, and often have you been told that it would come, and seeing it has come, do not think these fiery trials strange which attend, though for the present they may not seem joyous; yet without all controversy, good will be brought forth by them to some, and these things shall not be in vain; for it appears to me that they work together for the hastening of that work, which the Lord is determined to cut short in righteousness for the elect's sake. Therefore, let that reasoning part be kept under, that would say, this would hinder the work; for who are you that reasons with the Lord? Is not the work his? Do you know better than he, what would be for the furtherance of it? If not, be still, patient, and content; and let him work for his Truth with us, or without us, according to the good pleasure of his will; who has all power in his hand. This is he in whom we have believed, who commands the winds and the seas to be still, and they obey him; have we not seen it, and are not we his witnesses? If so, let us be patient a little, and we shall see the Lord work wonderfully.

Though I have written thus largely to you at present, yet my heart is as full of love as it was when I began to set pen to paper. So in the fullness, do I most dearly salute you, and in it do I leave you, and commit you unto Him, who is of power to establish all your hearts in the living Truth, in which I remain, your dear brother in the fellowship of sufferings, in the gospel of peace,

William Caton

Amsterdam, 25th of Eleventh month, 1660

I continued several months in Holland, where I had very good service, sometimes at Atkmore, sometimes at Haarlem, sometimes at Leyden, sometimes at Rotterdam, but mostly at Amsterdam; and I was much alone, especially about that time, for William Ames who had had very good service in those parts, was some time in Germany, and some time at Hamburg; and once he traveled through Bohemia, and to Dantzig, and from there to Poland. John Higgins who had been much in Holland, was seldom with me; so that I was much alone in the country; but the mercy and goodness of the Lord abounded very much towards me, for which my soul has cause forever to praise and magnify his name.

About the time called Whitsuntide, in the year 1661, it was upon me to come over to London, chiefly to visit Friends there and the area, after their great suffering. The Lord gave me an opportunity, with two other Friends, William Welch and Benjamin Furly. Through the mercy of the Lord we got well over to Harwich, and from there to Colchester, and so to London; where I was at several precious meetings, and was more than a little refreshed with the brethren, not only at London, but also at Kingston. But being pretty much pressed in spirit to return for Holland again, where there was some needful service for me, which required my haste, I took my leave of Friends and brethren, in much love and unity at London, with whom my refreshment at that time was so great, that the remembrance of it afterwards was a great comfort to me. We got well back to Colchester, where we had a very large and precious meeting, to our own and Friends' strength in the Lord. We then went to Harwich, from where we passed over to Holland again, and had a prosperous and successful journey of it, blessed be the Lord, which tended much to our encouragement.

At that time I had in hand the book, called, An Abridgement, which I printed at Rotterdam; and after I had finished it, I visited Friends in most places of that country, and had several good meetings among them, to their and my refreshment in the Lord. About that time it was upon me to go into Germany, partly to visit Friends, and partly to speak with the Prince Palatine, and some else in that country, I took my leave of Friends in Holland with much tenderness of heart, committing them to the custody and protection of the Almighty. About the 10th of the seventh month, 1661, with my dear brother William Ames, I set forward on our journey towards Germany, and in due time we got well to Cologne; from there we traveled towards the Grave de Whitt's country, who had promised large liberty to all sorts of people, that would come and inhabit in his dominion. When we came there, we went to his house, and had an opportunity to speak with him; and he reasoned very moderately with us a while, and we endeavored to inform ourselves as much as we could from his own mouth, of the certainty of what was published in his name concerning liberty. But in the end, we perceived clearly from him, that his invitation, though promising liberty or toleration, was not so much out of love to tender consciences, as out of covetousness for what was theirs, as since has more evidently appeared.

After we had had a very good time with him, and had informed ourselves sufficiently, and tried the ground from where such things proceeded, we parted from him, and went up into the country, and had good opportunity to speak with some of the priests and people; and after we had satisfied and cleared ourselves, we left those parts, and traveled on our journey towards the Palz or Palatinate; where in due time we arrived, through the mercy of the Lord, at a place called Kriesheim, where we found a small remnant of Friends, who bore their testimony to the truth; with whom we were refreshed, after our long and pretty tedious journey. There we continued some time, helping them to gather their grapes, it being the time of their vintage; and when we had had a time of refreshment among them, we traveled towards Heidelberg, the place of the prince's residence. Soon after we came to Heidelberg, we went to the captain of the prince's life-guard, and made known our desires to him concerning speaking with the prince; and he was willing to procure us access to him. Soon after, the prince sent for us to his palace, and he being at dinner, caused us to stand by him; and he heard very moderately what we had to say to him. Afterwards we presented several books to him, all which he kindly received from us, and was very courteous to us, and reasoned very familiarly with us in the presence of the great ones that were with him; and after we had had a favorable opportunity with him, we returned to our lodging.

In a short time after we went up to the prince's palace again, having some further occasion to speak with him; and having free access to him, we found him very moderate and courteous to us as before. He spoke to his captain to cause us to sit down at the table with his attendants, which we found freedom in the Lord to do; for he seemed to be somewhat troubled before, when he had observed our lack of freedom to eat with him. After dinner we had long private discussions with him, the governor of Manheim only being present; and we found him to be pretty courteously affected towards us. Therefore we were freer to declare the truth in much plainness to him, and zealous in pleading Friends' cause with him, who had suffered by the priests about their tithe in his dominions. After we had spent some hours with him that day, we returned to our lodging again.

About that time we were very busy in answering several books that were had been written in High Dutch against the truth and Friends; the answers to which we intended to have printed here; but the printers, fearing the reproof of the clergy, dared not print them for us in this city. We then departed from there, and returned again to Friends at Kriesheim; and when we had stayed some time with them, William Ames determined to return again for Amsterdam, there to get the before mentioned books printed. He took his leave of Friends, and I went along with him to a place called Alstone, where the governor of those parts lived. It was upon us to go to him, to lay some abuses before him that were sustained by Friends. He was moderate towards us, and we had a good service with him. He gave me an order for the officer of the place where Friends lived, to take care that the rude multitude did not abuse Friends. After we had been with him, we took leave of each other in the endearment of our Father's love, and he [William Ames] went for Holland, and I returned to Kriesheim again; there I stayed with Friends some time, and afterwards went to Heidelberg again, for I was not clear of that city. When I came there I hired a lodging in a goldsmith's house, and sometimes I went up to the prince's palace, and had good service there; and sometimes I was with some of the great ones of the city, with whom I had also very good service, and some of them were very courteous and respectful to me; and more love appeared in some of them towards me than others could well bear. Then the enmity in the clergy began to get up against me; and through the means of some that were envious against me, I with another young man, who were all the Friends that were in that city, were ordered to appear before the council, as also the man that entertained us. This accordingly we did, and had a very good service, for never had there been any Friend there before: so they had many things to query of me; and the Lord was pleased at that very time to give me enough wherewith to answer them, as also utterance, boldness, and dominion, even to the admiration of some. They were moderate towards us, and allowed me to speak pretty freely and largely among them; but in the end, that they might appear to do something, they would have me to depart out of their city, though they had nothing to lay to my charge, except for declaring the truth, and dispersing some books which testified of the truth; nevertheless, they allowed us then to depart from their judgment seat in peace.

Afterwards the prince came to hear of it, and as we were informed, was very highly displeased with the council for troubling us, when we had given them no just occasion. After that I went to the president's house, who had examined me before the council; and after a little discourse with him, he became pretty moderate, and reasoned very familiarly with me, and asked me many things concerning our Friends in England; as also concerning the magistrates' proceedings towards them; and I was very free to give him a full account thereof for his information. Before we parted he seemed to be very loving to me, and thanked me for the present I had given him, which was some Friends' books; and yet before the council, my giving of such books to people was the greatest crime they had to lay to my charge, though both the prince and he received them from me, and accepted of them.


1661.—He visits Manheim and Frankfort, his ill-treatment in a Monastery—
visits the Jesuits’ College at Worms—
At Heidelberg is introduced to the Prince—
Is married to Anneken Derricks at Amsterdam, 1662.

I WAS several months, yes half a-year, in that country, where I had very good service for the Lord, some time in one place, some time in another. I was several times at a city called Manheim, where there were a sort of Baptists, who lived together as one family, and had their goods common; with whom I was several times, and made my testimony among them to the truth of God, though few of them received it. I was with the governor of that city several times at his own house; and he was very courteous to me, at least seemingly, and desired me to come to his house as often as I came to the city. I was also in the country with a countess, so called, who was very loving to me, and pretty open to hear the truth. At her house I found a great lord, so called, who formerly had been general of the emperor's army, as I was informed; and I had a great conference with him in the countess' presence, who agreed  with me in her judgment, more than with the great man before mentioned. After I had had some very good service with them, I left  them.

I was also at Frankfort, and endeavored to get some books printed there, but could not prevail with the stationers; for the books that were to be printed, were first to be viewed by some of the clergy. When I saw I could not prevail there, I went with a Friend to another city called Hannau, where we got our business done; and afterwards returned again to Frankfort, one of the large, if not the greatest, city in Germany. On a certain time, I went into their principal monastery or temple, where the emperors are usually crowned; and the priests were gathering to their devotion. They were exceedingly offended with me, because I stood with my hat on in the so called sacred building, though it is an idolatrous, place. Some of the priests spoke to me, and one in particular was exceedingly angry. When we had spoken but a little together in Latin, he turned from me in a fury, and another that was with him fell upon me, and beat me sorely, and there he left me bleeding in the temple, where I left much of my blood behind me, as a testimony against the idolatry of that idolatrous place.

I was also in the synagogue of the Jews of that city, where I reasoned long with them, and had a good opportunity to bear a faithful testimony of the eternal truth; though they could apprehend little to it with their dark minds, which were blinded with the god of this world, as their forefathers were. I had also some books to dispose of among them, which for novelty's sake they coveted much after. When I had cleared myself of them, I left them; and in due time returned again into the Palz.

I was also at the city of Worms; and it was upon me to go to the Jesuits' college, to reason with them, or some of them, concerning the truth of God, and their traditions, which I did. When I came there, one that was eminent among them soon entered into a discussion with me, and spoke very insincerely to me for some time. At the first he seemed to have hopes, as it appeared to me, to have won or gained me to his religion; and therefore he seemed to be more ready and willing to accommodate me in whatever I stated, so far as I believe he was able. But when he saw I did not hesitate to lay open their apostasy, and boldly gave my testimony against their inventions, superstitions, and traditions, he could scarcely contain himself from breaking out into a passion. I spent some hours in dispute with him in the presence of several that belonged to the college, for whom he was as the mouth for the whole. When I had cleared my conscience, and had borne a faithful testimony unto the truth among them, I left them, and returned again to Kriesheim, where our Friends lived. Wherever  I saw the Lord had a service for me, went; sometimes I was there, sometimes at Heidelberg, and sometimes elsewhere.

[Extract from an Epistle addressed to Friends in London, by William Caton, dated Kriesheim, near Worms, in Germany, 30th of Eleventh month, 1661. This instructive Epistle is printed at large in Besse's Sufferings, vol. ii. p. 451]

We have cause to praise and magnify the Lord God omnipotent forever, who does not only comfort and refresh us in our tribulations, through the consolations of his eternal Spirit, but also has prepared a refuge for us, which we have truly found in his eternal light and pure power. Now if no storm had come, then I believe there would not have been such flocking and flying to this refuge, as there has been, and as there is, and as I hope, there will be; therefore, if the storm of persecution does drive such as were neither cold nor hot from under their green trees of specious pretences and fair shows of religion and reformation, to this sure hiding place or refuge, which is in the eternal light, life, and power, which you have now made manifest, then will it be good in its season. Therefore let none be afraid of it who are faithful in their measures; for indeed our heavenly Father is so abundant in mercy and goodness to his people, that if he allows storms and tempests to arise, he does not only still them, but even in the very time of them he covers his dear babes with the banner of his everlasting love, so that truly they need not to fear, though sometimes they that are tender and young among them may be too much afraid. Forasmuch as I know that the refuge before mentioned is known to you, and the covering of the Lord's eternal Spirit manifested in you, which is the banner of his love spread over you, therefore I beseech you to be of good courage in the Lord; for to what end should you fear? To what end should you be troubled? To what end should you take thought? You know that neither fear of heart, trouble of mind, nor yet taking of thought, can in any wise avert these things. If it is the good pleasure of the Almighty to purge and refine you in the furnace of persecution, as heretofore he has done with many of his witnesses in the world, think it not strange that it should be so with you; but rather think it strange that the Lord has so long dealt so gently with you, and that he has so remarkably restrained the violence of the mighty, who have risen up against you, as if they would have devoured you at once. But behold, how have they been abased, brought down from their seats, and overturned; and though they have, as it were, bruised your heel, yet they have not prevailed against the Lamb, the captain of your salvation; neither have they overcome you, whose faith has stood in the power of the Most High, through which you have overcome, and not by the force of arms, nor by might of princes, nor by the greatness of your multitude. Remember, therefore, these things; and strengthen you one another in the faith and in the patience; and look you alone unto the Lord, and hearken and hear what his Spirit says in you and to you.

When the spirit of enmity rules, there is not much liberty to be enjoyed in matters of religion; for it is well known to you, how through that spirit we have suffered from the beginning, which has wrought mightily against us in our native country. In these countries there are three sects tolerated: the Papists, the Lutherans, and the Calvinists; and all these have their particular government in their particular cities and villages; and all of them are addicted to persecute those that are not of their sect. But above all others they seem to be bent against us, as the most offensive, irregular, and perturbations people that are of any sect; and notwithstanding the great variance that is and has been among themselves, yet they can, as it were, join hand in hand against the truth and us. As for the Papists, they hate us as new up-started heretics, whom they account worthy of death; and the Protestants, they revile us and upbraid us, as if we were the pope's emissaries; and many of them esteem us as not fit to live upon the earth. So that as much as in them lies, they seek to toss us to and again, as a ship upon a troubled sea. But thanks be to God, our anchor holds; so that they, with all their hard threats, which proceed from their rocky hearts, cannot split our confidence, nor make shipwreck of our faith; which is in the Lord Jehovah, who is over all, blessed forevermore!"

When I was at Heidelberg, there came two of my dear brethren to the city, John Stubbs and Henry Fell, who had been at Alexandria in Egypt, and in Italy. The postmaster of the place seeing them, brought them to my lodging, for he knew me well, and they had no knowledge that I was in the city. Soon afterwards the captain of the prince's life-guard, having seen them in the street came. He was a very courteous man to us, discussing very friendly and familiarly with us; and afterwards told the prince of the before mentioned Friends being in the city. Soon after, the prince sent his secretary to my lodging to ask us to come up to the castle to speak with him, which accordingly we did. When we came there, he began to speak friendly and familiarly to us, as his manner was, and ask them much concerning their travels, and how it had been with them. We had a very gallant opportunity with him in the presence of the nobles, so called, that were conversant with him. After he had discussed for a long time with us, he parted very lovingly from us, and soon after we went out of the city.

When the before mentioned brethren were with me, I received some letters out of Holland, in which  I was informed of the death of Niesie Derricks, of Amsterdam, who had been a dear and special friend of mine, and a true and faithful servant to the flock of God in the Low Countries; of whose love and virtue, faithfulness, and good service a volume might be written. When I heard of her departure, my heart was very sad and broken within me; and indeed it was more than I could well bear. But the before mentioned brethren were with me, and they bore with me; and the Lord supported me in that heaviness, and comforted me with the promise and assurance which I had from him, of his raising and bringing her sister Anneken Derricks, with some else, into her love, life and spirit, to perform that or the like service for the Lord which she had done.

When I had been about half a year in Germany, and had had very good service, especially in the Palatinate, it was upon me to return again for Holland, which accordingly I did. When, through the mercy of the Lord, I had safely arrived, I visited Friends, as my manner was, and we were sweetly refreshed together.

[In the eighth month, 1662, he was married to Anneken Derricks, at the meeting in Amsterdam.]

The same day after the meeting was done, we carried William Ames's body to the ground, who had finished his testimony, and left a good savor behind him. Though we went as wisely to work as we could to prevent a tumult; yet nevertheless on a sudden the rude people were gathered together, and became so tumultuous, that only with great difficulty could we get through them with the corpse, which finally was laid in the ground; and afterwards the multitude was very rude, and Friends were much abused. However, through mercy we were all preserved.


1662.—He returns to England; when in London, he sees Edward Burrough in Newgate shortly before his death
—Travels into Surrey, Sussex, and Kent; is apprehended at Folkestone, but is discharged
—Again visits Holland, and returns with his wife—
travels into Warwickshire, and arrives at Swarthmore

AFTER our marriage I continued several weeks with my dear wife, and the Lord was pleased very much to comfort and refresh us together with his infinite loving kindness which abounded to us, and with his heavenly blessings which he caused to descend upon us; for which our souls have cause forever to praise and to magnify his name. Afterwards I went out upon the service of truth, to visit Friends in other places, as I had done before. In less than three months after I married, it was upon me to go for England; and in order thereunto I took leave of my dear wife and Friends in those parts; and about the 25th of the eleventh month, 1662, I embarked for England; and through the mercy of the Lord, I got well to Colchester, where I was sweetly refreshed with Friends, as I was accustomed to be in that place. Afterwards I went into the country, where I had several good and precious meetings, and then went up to London with another dear brother, and there I was also sweetly refreshed as I was accustomed when among the flock of God, and especially at Newgate with dear Edward Burrough, who was then a prisoner there; but in less than two weeks after he was released from his bonds, for the Lord removed him out of this evil world, that he might reward him with life everlasting in the world without end.

When I had been certain days in London, it was upon me to go down into Surrey, Sussex, and Kent, which I did, and visited Friends in Surrey, and had some very good meetings among them, to our refreshment in the Lord, being accompanied by my dear brother Joseph Fuce. Afterwards we went to Horsham in Sussex, and visited our Friends and brethren who were in prison there; after which we had some good meetings in that county. At a meeting at Hurst, I was in much danger of being apprehended through the envy of a wicked priest; but the Lord restrained the officers from executing his will, and therefore I was preserved out of their hands.

We passed into Kent, visiting Friends and their meetings in our travels, as our manner was: at Staplehurst we had a precious general meeting, after which we parted in the fullness of brotherly love; he [Joseph Fuce] went back into Sussex again, and I went towards Dover. When I came to Folkestone, I attended a general meeting there; and while I was speaking, the officers of the town came into the meeting, apprehended me, and carried me before the mayor. The mayor was relatively moderate and would finally have set me at liberty, if I had promised him that if I went to the meeting again, I would not speak in it again, which thing I could not in any wise promise, and gave him my reasons why I could not; upon which he sent me to prison. That same day afterwards we were had twice before the mayor, there being others with me, who finally discharged us all that night. On 1st day of the first month, 1663, I took leave of Friends there and went to Dover, where I had a very good, serviceable and refreshing meeting among Friends; we were comforted together in the presence of the Lord. I left them and went to a general meeting in East Kent, and from there to Canterbury, and so to Rochester, visiting Friends; and from there to London. I stayed several days in that city, where I had several precious meetings. Afterwards, according as it was upon me, I went from there into the country again, in order to return for Holland; and had several good meetings in the country at my return, to the renewal of our strength in the Lord.

When the Lord of his mercy had thus prospered my journey, and made it successful, he also gave me a good opportunity to return again for Holland; where I arrived about the 10th of the second month, 1663, to mine and Friends' great refreshment in that country, and especially of my dear wife; with whom I stayed not very long at her home, but as was upon me, went from city to city, visiting Friends and their meetings. The Lord was with me, in whose living presence we were comforted together as in months past.

I had not stayed above three months in those parts, when it was upon me to go for England again. My dear wife having longing desires, with some other Friends at Amsterdam, to see Friends in England; she and they determined to go along with me, which accordingly they did; and through the good hand of the Lord we got to Harwich about the 29th of the fourth month 1663, where we had a very good meeting with Friends, to our refreshment. From there we went to Colchester, where we also had a good meeting. On the first-day following, we were at a general meeting in the country, to which many Friends and others resorted; and when I came there I understood that the constable had been there before me, and that he was determined to come again to break up the meeting. However, when Friends were gathered, I went in among them in the name and power of the Lord; and when I had sat but a little in the meeting, my heart was full of the Word of life, which I had to communicate to the congregation. The meeting was very gallant and precious. When I was  done speaking and had sat down, the constable came into the meeting with his warrant subscribed by several justices; but he did not know me from the rest. In addition, there being a woman Friend speaking. He troubled himself a little with her; but afterwards went away; and my liberty was preserved for future service, through the mercy and goodness of the Lord God. Afterwards we visited Friends at Coggeshall and Witham, to their and our refreshment in the Lord.

In some short time after, we went up to London, where we were much comforted with Friends; who rejoiced more than a little to see people of another nation, and of a strange language, brought into the same living truth in which they were established, and to bear the same image that they bore, and to be comprehended in the same love, which the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ had shed abroad so richly among them. When we had been very sweetly refreshed with Friends in several precious meetings in the city and elsewhere, we went to Kingston to a general meeting. One of the Dutch Friends was moved to speak pretty much in the meeting, and I interpreted for her; with which Friends were much affected and refreshed, feeling the same life and power in her that dwelt in us, giving testimony to the same eternal Truth. This, I say, did much refresh Friends, and confirm them in the present truth.

After that we returned to London, where we were comforted together as before; but we stayed not long there, for it was upon me to go into the north; and it was upon my dear wife, and the rest of Friends, to return again for Holland. I with several dear Friends, accompanied them aboard, where I took my leave of them, and committed them to the custody and protection of the Almighty.

In a short time alter I also said goodbye to Friends in the city and pursued my journey northwards. When I came into Warwickshire, I met with my dear friend Margaret Fell, and two of her dear children, as also two dear brethren, Thomas Salthouse, and Leonard Fell; and truly our rejoicing was more than a little in the Lord, having not seen one another for a long time before. We traveled together into Staffordshire, and there parted, some went for the north, some for Derbyshire; I returned again to a general meeting in Warwickshire, and went afterwards to Warwick, Coventry, etc., and visited Friends in several places in that county, where I also met with dear George Fox to my refreshment. After that I went into Derbyshire, and had a meeting in the city of Derby, and visited Friends elsewhere in that county. Then I went into some part of Nottinghamshire, where I met with dear Margaret Fell again; and afterwards we went to Chesterfield, where we had a very good meeting. We then went into Yorkshire, visiting Friends as we went, to a place called Sinderhill Green, where dear George Fox met us; and there we had a gallant general meeting together.

Afterwards we went to Balby, where we stayed some days, and many Friends resorted there, so that we had a good time of refreshment together. After this I took my leave of Friends, for it was upon me to hasten towards Swarthmore in Lancashire, which I did, but visited Friends by the way as my manner was, to our mutual comfort in the Lord. In due time, through the goodness of the Lord, I arrived safely at Swarthmore, where I had not been for some years; and there I was received in abundance of love, and was very sweetly refreshed with the remainder of the family. When first-day came, we had a very precious meeting, to the refreshing of the whole body of Friends that were present; for the power and presence of the Lord God was much among us, which was the cause of our great consolation in the Lord, blessed be his name forever and ever.



1663.—He visits Friends in Cumberland— Proceeds into Durham
—At Scarborough takes shipping for Holland, but reaches Yarmouth Roads
—is driven back by storm again to Yarmouth,
where he is committed to prison from Eighth month, 1663, to Second month, 1664.

AFTER being at Swarthmore I went to Lancaster, Kendal, and other places, and visited Friends in those parts to our mutual comfort. It was upon me to go into Cumber land, which I did, so far as to the city of Carlisle, where I visited Friends in prison, and there, even in the prison, I had a very precious meeting; and afterwards I visited Friends in several parts of that county, to our great refreshment in the Lord.

When I was clear of that county, I returned again to Swarthmore, and there I found dear George Fox. Dear Margaret Fell was also returned home, which tended to the augmenting of my rejoicing which was great at that time with them, the family and Friends. I had not been long there when it was upon me to return again for Holland; but in the interim I went over to Lancaster to a general meeting which was held there in the assize week; and some occasion I had with some of the justices, as in reference to a certificate, which three of them granted me under their hands and seals, there being then reports of a plot, and for preventing my being stopped upon suspicion without cause. I therefore had their certificate, and returned again to Swarthmore; where I stayed but a little, when I took my leave of them in the fullness of endeared love, and with much brokenness of heart, and so I left them, being accompanied by several of the brethren into Westmoreland; and after we were much comforted together, we took leave one of another, and parted in the same love and unity in which we had been so plenteously refreshed together.

I traveled into the Bishoprick, and visited Friends there, and went to Durham, and visited those that were in prison; and from there went to Sunderland, and had a general meeting between Sunderland and the Shields. Upon inquiry after shipping for Holland, I heard of several that were preparing to go over, but the wind being contrary, and being desirous to visit more Friends, I traveled along the country, not far from the sea-side, visiting Friends as I went, at Shotton, Stockton, Whitby, and elsewhere, and had some very good meetings. When I came to Scarborough, I heard of vessels there also, that were intended for Holland. After I had had a very good opportunity with Friends there, to their and my refreshment, the wind being fair, and the ships ready to sail, I took my leave of Friends, and went aboard one; but soon after, we met with contrary winds; however, we got up as far as Yarmouth Roads, and there waiting awhile, the weather being pretty good, we set sail again, intending to run over, if the Lord permitted. When we had traveled about ten leagues, I was very convinced we would have a storm, and told the master of it, and asked him to return again for England; it being then indifferent weather. He was not offended by my words, but continued to press forwards, though the wind was contrary. But that night following, according to my persuasion and expectation, we had a very strong tempestuous storm, and our ship proved very leaky; so the pumping and other extraordinary work greatly wearied and tired the men. To outward appearance we were in much danger, for about the very height of the storm in the night season we lost the use of the helm for a time, so that the poor men were in great distress. In the meanwhile my soul interceded with the Most High, who heard my requests, and granted my desires; though for my own part, I was freely given up to the blessed will of the Lord, if it had been to have made my grave in those great deeps. But the Lord was determined to show mercy unto us, which evidently appeared, in his bringing us, through such apparent danger among the sands, even finally back to the English coast again; for which extraordinary mercy my soul has cause forever to bless, praise and magnify his glorious name.

Afterwards we were safe, through mercy, into Yarmouth Roads again, and the wind remaining contrary, we put into the haven, and I went up to the town, where I waited some days for the wind. In the mean time the first-day of the week came, and it was upon me to go to the meeting of Friends, which accordingly I did. At about the end of it  several officers and soldiers came and apprehended besides myself, seven Friends, who were strangers in the town, five of whom belonged to one vessel. They carried us to the main-guard, where they kept us that night. We had a very good service we had with the officers and among the soldiers; and the next morning we were brought before the bailiffs of the town, who tendered us the oath of allegiance; and because we refused to take it, or any oath whatsoever, we were committed to prison upon the 4th day of the eighth month, 1663, and continued in prison until the 22nd of the second month, 1664; and then I with the rest of my fellow prisoners was discharged.

The following interesting Epistles, nearly all of which are from the Swarthmore Collection, will serve to carry on the narrative beyond the period of the termination of the Journal.


Yarmouth Common Jail, 9th of eighth month, 1663

Dear and affectionately beloved Friends,

In the everlasting fellowship of the gospel of peace, into which we are brought through the arm of God's eternal power, do I dearly and tenderly salute you; who are dear and near unto me in the truth of God, which he has made known unto us, to the comfort of our souls; by which  he has engaged us above all the families of the earth to love and to serve him with reverence and godly fear. Although those who are without, do judge we are losers through our knowledge of the Truth, yet we find that we are become gainers through it; for if we lose the love and peace and liberty, which the world in times past has afforded us, we have gained the peace of God and liberty in his eternal Spirit; if we lose that honor and treasure which are of the world, and which we have had in the world, we are honored of our God with bearing his name, and we are become sharers, with the rest of his sanctified ones, of heavenly treasure, which the world cannot give us, neither can it take away from us. So to whosoever deems or imagines we are losers through our coming to be of this way, or by our coming to the knowledge of this eternal Truth, I say, no; for the things that we have lost by reason of it, being but as dross and dung, are not worthy to be compared to what we have gained through it. Shall not we therefore love the Truth? Shall not we be willing to suffer the loss of all this world can afford us for its sake? For can we have a better cause to suffer for than the Truth? Can we suffer upon a more honorable account, than upon the Truth's account, upon the account for which all the righteous men, who have suffered in all ages, have suffered? Who are we that we should be called to this high and honorable calling?—Or that we should be accounted worthy to become witnesses of this ancient Truth in this generation, to bear our testimony unto it with the rest of the faithful witnesses, servants and handmaids of the Most High! The consideration of these things I confess might even be enough to break and overcome our hearts, and to engage us, as it were, afresh unto our God, who has chosen us and loved us, before we loved him or made choice of him to be our Lord and God; whom we have found to be so exceedingly gracious and merciful toward us. Let our souls and spirits therefore praise and magnify him forever and ever!

Now, Friends, you may hereby understand, how that after I had had a very precious opportunity with many of you in the north, to my great refreshment in the Lord, I was clear in myself to return again for Holland; and in order thereunto, I passed towards the seacoasts; and when I came there, I heard of ships that were nearly ready to go for Holland, both at Newcastle and Sunderland. But the wind being out of the way or contrary, and I being desirous to improve my time to the utmost, and withal being very desirous to see as many Friends as I could before I took shipping, I traveled along the coasts towards Whitby and Scarborough, and had some very good and precious meetings among Friends by the seaside. Finding a ship ready at Scarborough, and the wind being good, I went aboard her; but the wind became contrary again; however we kept out at sea and that for the space of nine days, whereas if the wind had been good we might have sailed it in two days. But finally a tempestuous storm came upon us, of which I had had some sight before, and told the master of it, and would have had him return again for England; and indeed it was so violent that as to outward appearance we were in very imminent danger; and the more so because our ship had a bad leak, or rather more than one, and sometimes the pump was so out of order that it would do no service, and besides they had lost the use of their helm, even in the very height of the storm. In the meantime the ship was in no small danger of being foundered or overset; and as for the poor men they were as if they had been plunged into the sea, and by reason of their continual pumping, besides the extraordinary toil they had with the sails, they were so exceedingly wearied out, that their courage and strength were very much departed from them. In which time I did much intercede with the Lord, and did with much fervence of spirit wrestle with him, that if it was his will their lives might be spared, and we preserved out of that extreme danger; though as for my own part I found myself freely given up to bequeath my soul into his bosom of everlasting love, and my body to be buried in that great deep. Indeed I confess I could sometimes expect little else. At that time I could have bid you all farewell, and all that in this world I do enjoy, and could have gone to my everlasting home in peace with my God; who even then beheld my meditations and intercessions; and because he loved me, was he prevailed withal, even for his mercy's sake, who was determined, as appeared, to show mercy unto us. For when we were near the sands, where dear Hugh Tickhil's wife and another Friend were cast away, as I am informed, in their passing for Holland, the Lord was pleased to cast us between two sands, which if our ship had come to strike upon either, she must in an instant have become a wreck. But blessed be the name of the Lord who preserved us out of that imminent danger, by which  he has exceedingly engaged me unto him, and his unspeakable mercy I hope shall be held in a perpetual remembrance by me his servant; who at this time makes mention of this deliverance unto you, to the end that you may know how good the Lord has been to me, and that you with me may return thanks unto him; not only for his mercies in general toward us, but for this to me in particular; the consideration and sense of which have more than a little broken my heart, which has been filled with praises unto the Most High.

Moreover, Friends, I would have you understand, that the Lord having delivered me out of the storm before mentioned by sea, he has allowed me to come into another by land among unreasonable men, who are like unto the waves of the sea. But he that limits the one, limits the other; and I am confident that he that has preserved me in the one, will in due time deliver me out of the other. By contrary winds, after we had been nine days at sea or the area, we put in here at Yarmouth; and on a first-day I went to the meeting of Friends, which was a precious peaceable meeting. At the end of it, when we were standing up to depart, officers and many soldiers came there, and carried eight of us away prisoners to the main-guard, where they kept us that night among the soldiers; and the next day we were carried before the magistrates of the town, who presently tendered the oath unto us. I told them, I had never sworn but one oath in my life, that I knew of, and that was when I was a boy; and I had known the terrors of the Lord against the thing, and therefore I dared not swear again. But without any respect to my or our tender consciences, they committed us to the common jail; and so much confidence they had that we would be true to our principle, that they had made out our mittimus beforehand, yes, before they examined us; in which the only thing charged against us was for refusing to swear. We were all strangers to the town, come occasionally and accidentally to it; for five of the Friends belonged to one vessel in the town, who had come here to load with herrings for the Straits. One of them was the merchant, another the master, another his mate, and the other two seamen; the others are Friends out of the country. There are warrants out for apprehending Friends in the town also. They are very high, (as the sea was for a season); and they keep Friends from us, and would force us to have what we have occasion for of the jailer, which we cannot consent to, though we suffer five times more than we do at present. But notwithstanding their fury and rage against us, it is well with us,— blessed be the Lord; and we are resolved, in his name and power, to bear our testimony for the Lord in this place, as many of our brethren have done elsewhere. For my own part I am perfectly satisfied in the will of the Lord, not so much admiring at my present bonds, as I have admired various times that I have been so long kept out of bonds; unto which I have long been freely given up in the will of God, where my soul is in peace with the Lord. Unto him who has gathered you by the arm of his power, and who is able to preserve you unto the end, whose name is called the Lord of hosts, do I commit you all; with whom I remain, in the unity and fellowship of the eternal Spirit of life, your dear friend and brother,

William Caton


Extract from an Epistle of W. Caton to Friends, dated a few days after the preceding one; it is from a collection of copied letters from Colchester.

Dear Friends,

How near at hand we found Him unto us, even as a rock of defense to flee unto, in our greatest straits, difficulties and temptations! What free access have we had unto Him through his eternal Spirit in ourselves, when by jails, houses of correction, force of arms, or the like, we have been hindered from having access one unto another, or from meeting together in the outward! How did we rejoice in the Lord, when he covered our heads as in the day of battle, even until the fury of the wicked came to be abated!

Forasmuch as in these perilous times, we cannot well serve our God in that way in which He requires us to walk, without being in jeopardy of bonds and imprisonments, or of having other sufferings imposed upon us, by reason of our meeting together to wait upon the Lord. It does so much the more concern us to feel the drawing of our God by his eternal Spirit to our meetings; that when we are met, we may so much the more enjoy His presence to the refreshment of our souls. Then if we suffer for waiting upon him, he will not leave us comfortless in that suffering; neither will it be grievous to us, while we keep in that through which we enjoyed him in our meetings, for in that we may enjoy him in our sufferings. Then it will be better to be one day in prison with the Lord, than a thousand elsewhere without the enjoyment of his presence, in which we have found, as you know, much joy and peace, much comfort and consolation.

I suppose many of you have heard of my bonds,—how that after God, of his mercy, had delivered me out of a mighty violent storm at sea, I was cast in here; where they in authority have shown themselves to be worse to me and the Friends with me, than the barbarous people of Melita were to Paul and them that were with him; who showed them no small kindness, for they received and lodged them courteously. But these that are called Christians, showed themselves far from courteous, in that they broke up our meeting with many soldiers, and afterwards committed us to prison; and instead of showing us much kindness, they have been so cruel to us, as that sometimes it was difficult for us to get water and bread. However, the Lord is with us, and their cruelty has been little to us; for we know that our God will, in his own due time, deliver us out of their hands, when our testimony is sufficiently borne. Of this I am very sensible, that with the baptism of suffering under this spirit of persecution in the nation, many are to be baptized into the fellowship of the gospel with the saints in light. Blessed and thrice happy are they, and will they be, who continue faithful unto the end,—for they shall be saved. Farewell in the Lord, in whom I remain your dear friend and brother,

William Caton

Yarmouth Common Jail, 14th of Eighth month, 1663


Dear brethren, Thomas Salthouse and J. P.,

Yours dated the 12th of last month I have this afternoon received, to my refreshment in the seed immortal; in which I feel your love extending to me, and perceive your sympathizing with me in these my bonds; in which the Lord has been pleased to try me a little, together with the rest of my fellow prisoners, even as he has tried many who are now at liberty as I was, when they have been as I am. But blessed be the Lord, it has been a good time for me; and as I think I told you before, much I have enjoyed of the Lord since my confinement, and his love is perfectly continued unto me, in which my soul does solace itself night and day. Much I could say unto you, if I were with you and the rest of our dear and near relations in that blessed family, who know my voice and integrity, my love and simplicity; which is also pretty much known to many more, whom I love in the Lord. In these parts I find the love of Friends to be much to me; but they are but seldom permitted to come in to us, for the bailiffs do absolutely forbid it, for fear, as they pretend, lest they should bring in ammunition to us, books or letters, etc.—However, in eight weeks' time, through the providence of the Lord and our patient long suffering, our persecutors are brought so far as that they now do in part condescend to allow provision to be handed in to us at the door. The last seventh-day the jailer caused the door to be opened for provision to be brought in, which was more than ever he had done before; yet on the last second-day they were so high again, that when Friends would have brought in a spinning wheel, they would not allow them; and they going about to pull it up at the window, the turnkey cut the cords. But enough as to these things, for the Lord is with us; through whose word, power and Spirit we doubt not, but we shall in his time become victorious through suffering; as our Captain and thousands of his followers have been.

I was truly glad to hear of your liberty, and of Friends' welfare, and of the peace and preciousness of your meetings in those parts; and especially of the well-being of that honorable family, and also of dear George Fox's liberty yet in it, which I know is no small mercy to it. I desire to be dearly remembered to him, also to dear Margaret Fell, and to all her dear children; unto whom my affectionate love is, as you right well know, as unto the rest of the family. I was glad to hear that my general epistle was come well to hand, and that it had such influence upon the hearts of our beloved Friends in the meeting to their refreshment. It is much with Friends in these parts, as you relate it is in the north, that is the meetings are mostly pretty quiet, blessed be the Lord; but many of them are cited, and some excommunicated, and others have their goods spoiled, for not repairing to their devised devotion. I am yet very well, blessed be the Lord; so are we all.

My dearest love is with you, my dear brethren :—Farewell,

William Caton

Yarmouth, 1st of Tenth month, 1663


Addressed to James Moore, woolen-draper, Kendal.

J. M.

With the salutation of dear and unfeigned love, do I dearly salute you, and all our dear Friends and brethren with you; and being sensible of your desires to hear of me, to the end you might know how it was with us at the sessions, these are therefore to inform you, together with the rest of Friends, that we were not once called at the sessions. When I saw they had adjourned their court, I went and spoke with the clerk thereof, to know the reason why we were not called; he said, because the court was minded to favor us : for if we had been called then, there must have been a bill of indictment preferred against us, and the oath tendered again to us, and then we should have been more liable to have been premunired, etc. He said further, if we would but give sureties for our good behavior, we might go about our business and the like. Afterwards I wrote to the judge and to the bailiffs; and the chief collector of this town took it from me, and gave it to one of the justices, who willingly carried it to the judge, and did plead our cause pretty much; the judge was a moderate wise man, and willing that we should have our liberty; and though he was in much haste to be gone out of the town, yet he prescribed to them a way how they might clear us, namely, by taking any one man from the quay, though but a porter, and he might serve to be bound for a hundred of us; and when he came again he would take it off the tile, so that we should not be called, neither needed even to appear any more. Further, he knowing our tenderness of conscience, ordered that the clerk should take nothing of us; neither would he have had us further troubled or longer detained. And this, one of the justices, that carried our paper and is our great friend, sought further to have accomplished, to the end that we might have our liberty; but when the judge was gone, some of our grand adversaries consulted together, and resolved to perpetuate our bonds, except we should yield and give our consent to the recognizance. Although they did not desire that we should come to appear at the sessions, yet they would have us to submit to satisfy their wills more or less; and because we cannot satisfy them, therefore are our bonds continued. However, the before mentioned friendly justice is very much dissatisfied, and told the rest, in the hearing of one of our friends, that he could not be quiet, and would not be quiet till he had us out; and in order thereunto, he labors yet very much to procure our liberty, but what the end thereof will be, time will manifest. In the meantime we hope to rest satisfied in the will of our God.

At Norwich there are several of our friends in prison, some committed from the assize, and some from the session, being fined for keeping on their hats in their courts of judicature. Since the assize, meetings have been broken up at some places in these parts;—for the judge was very high and severe against he fanatics, so called, in his charge and proceedings. But Friends are sweetly kept, blessed be the Lord; and the truth is of good report and of good esteem among the upright in heart, notwithstanding the tribulation which comes upon them by reason of it. This very day we have had more visitors, than we have had in all the time that we have been prisoners here before. Much pity seems to be in the hearts of people towards us; and good service we had with them; but blindness and ignorance has happened to the most of them. The chief occasion of their coming to the jail was to see some condemned persons; and being here they came to see us also, and finding every man close at his work, the sight was so much the more strange to them.

I have little else to communicate, besides the redoubling of my salutation of true love unto you and to all the brethren. I am, dear James, your real friend and brother,

William Caton

Yarmouth, 18th of Second month, 1664.

P. S.— The vessel out of which my fellow prisoners were taken, when they were put in prison here, was taken by the Turks, and carried into Algiers; so that though our persecutors intended it for evil towards them, yet the Lord may have allowed it to come to pass for their good; and one of them having heretofore been a slave in Turkey, knows what a miserable servitude it is. But the Lord knows right well, how to order things for the best, to them that fear him.


At the period of the following Epistle, we find William Caton in Holland; it is dated Rotterdam, 16th of Tenth month, 1664

Dear and entirely beloved friends,

"The love and affection that abounds in my heart towards you in the Lord I cannot easily express, nor the fervency of my desire to the Lord for you; yet however herein can I satisfy myself, in that we are come to read and feel one another in that which is immortal—which tongue (to the full) cannot express, nor pen (to the utmost) demonstrate; and even through this, which is immortal, does my love extend unto you; and with the sense of your love, and the mercy of God to you and me, is my heart broken, my spirit melted within me, and mine eyes filled with tears. What is that which thus breaks and overcomes me? Surely it is nothing but the sense of the same love and life, which we have felt one in another, when we were together, the comforting and refreshing of our souls. Although I am far separated from you as to the outward, yet I am not destitute of that which your souls delight in, nor deprived, through my external separation, of your joy and delight, of your solace and consolation, which is mixed with your adversity and suffering. However my heart is often sad, and my spirit afflicted within me, because of the many impediments and obstructions which the Lord's truth meets withal in this country; by which  it is much hindered from spreading and breaking forth; so that I cannot say that it flourishes and prospers here, as it has flourished and prospered among you, when the Lord's truth did so eminently break in upon you, and his heavenly power did so mightily break forth among you, to our refreshment in the Lord. Yet verily I have no cause to complain for the accustomed goodness and tender mercy of the Most High is perfectly continued unto me, otherwise I should be much more bowed down than I am, and that through the sense I often have of the body's suffering, and of yours as members of it; and also of the subtle working of Satan, together with other things of the like nature; but the sense of the before mentioned goodness and mercy does support me in all my travels and sufferings in the Gospel. I doubt not, my dearly beloved, but that you have the sense of the same to support and uphold you, in all your manifold afflictions and tribulations. Well, therefore, be patient and content in the will of the Lord, without willing anything, but that his will may be done in all things; lest while you should will to have things thus and so, and after this manner or the other, you should be found out of the will of the Lord, and among them that are willing and running, and unbelieving, to whom there is no true peace or rest. But I hope God, of his infinite mercy, will establish your hearts in faith and peace; that you may depend wholly upon his power and mercy, which previously upon all occasions we have found sufficient. To this then will I commit you all, my dear friends; and in the sense and virtue of the same, do I dearly greet and salute you all with love unfeigned in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I suppose that some of you have heard of my being lately in Friesland; where there was but little entrance to be gotten for the truth, and therefore was my refreshment the less, and my sufferings the more. However some few I found, and but few, in their metropolitan city, who with a ready mind received my testimony. When I had been there some time, I returned again to Amsterdam, where we are much more visited with strangers in our meetings than in any other place in this country. As concerning the plague there, it is, through mercy, very much abated so that there died the last week but about one hundred and eighty-six, which is about the ordinary number that used to die in a week. However the city is not yet free of the sickness for the same day I came from there, I was to visit a Friend who was exceedingly ill of the plague, and two of his children are lately dead of the sickness, with another young man that lodged in his house. So that whom the Lord is pleased yet to visit with it, he visits; and therefore none can assure himself of being freed from it longer than the Lord pleases.

About the latter end of the last week, at and about Amsterdam, there was a multitude of trees, small and great, that were so admirably rent and broken and bowed down by ice that was frozen upon them, that it was very wonderful to behold; surely it was a figure to that lofty city, and to the inhabitants of it, who are like unto those whom the prophet compared to the tall cedars of Lebanon. Here has also been a strange comet seen for some weeks by many in these parts, which signs and tokens, as also the late visitation of the plague, together with the present threatening war, cause many to muse, and some to believe. Yet the Lord is determined to bring yet greater judgment upon this land; and it may be that when the vial of the Lord's indignation shall be poured forth, then the day of the Lord's gathering shall be. This day I have seen their weekly news, in which they have made mention of our seven Hertford Friends, who were ordered to be banished from England, showing that neither wind nor weather would serve the ship so that she could sail. When the master could have no success with them, he put them ashore, that he might accomplish his voyage the better. This even makes our enemies imagine, that the hand of the Lord is against our persecutors, in their proceedings against Friends. I have lately visited most Friends in this country, and they are pretty well, blessed be the Lord; and their dear love is to you all, and for anything I know, their small meetings are for the most part pretty peaceable. Often am I, with other Friends, truly sensible of your manifold sufferings, and a perfect sympathizing we find in our very hearts with you; and we doubt not but you are sensible thereof. Truly we are right willing, not only to share with you of your consolation, but also to partake with you of your tribulation. So read you our love, desire and willingness, and compare the same with yours, and you shall find that we are like-minded with you, yes of one heart and soul, and members of one body with you. In this union and oneness we suffer and rejoice with you ;—and in the one eternal Spirit, by which we are united, do I remain, as in months past, your dear brother and companion,

William Caton

 The following are extracts from the latest original letter of W. Caton's, which the Editor has been able to discover. It is dated Amsterdam, 19th and 20th of the eighth month, 1665, and is addressed to James Moore, woolen-draper, Kendal.

I give you to understand, that through the infinite mercy of the Lord we are very well, and our meetings continue unmolested; except sometimes among the many strangers that resort to them, there may be some contentious or light person, who may seem to be a little troublesome. But I must confess we have no just cause to complain, having I no greater suffering than our sympathizing with our suffering brethren in England in their grievous sufferings. О! that the Lord would be pleased, in this remarkable visitation, which is upon that nation, to break the hearts of those who are so inclined to persecution;—that they might come to desist from all such destructive enterprises, which are so exceedingly prejudicial, both to kings, kingdoms, and subjects, as might largely be shown. I think it is very commendable to see, as I have often seen in this city, Calvinists, Lutherans, Papists, Baptists of many sorts, Jews, Friends, Armenians, etc., go in peace, and return in peace, and enjoy their meetings in peace, and all are kept in peace in the city, and that without any trouble to the rulers; who I think have it manifold better, and are much more at peace and quietness than the magistrates in England, who first are troubled with making laws to take away liberty of conscience, and then more than a little with executing those laws, etc.

I was glad to hear of the welfare of my friends and relations; to whom I desire to be remembered, and in particular to my sister Dorothy and her husband. Let them know, how that I and my dear wife are very well, blessed be the Lord. I desire that my dear love be dearly remembered to all our Friends and brethren; also to Friends at Cartmel, Underbarrow, and about Hawkshead, and at and about Swarthmore; in particular to dear Margaret Fell and her children. Of my love to Yealand Friends in the truth I could say much. I herewith commit you all to the protection of the Almighty—and in love unfeigned remain yours and your dear friend,

William Caton

There is reason to believe that within two, or, at most, three months from the date of this last epistle, William Caton was removed by death, in Holland.

 As George Fox said of him: “He died in the Lord, and is blessed; and rests from his labors, and his works follow him.”

The End

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