The Missing Cross to Purity

The Christian Progress

of George Whitehead

Part VI Continued

Cromwell Out, King Charles II Restored

(Puritans and Presbyterians Out, Episcopalians Back in Power)

In the year 1660, the commonwealth government, under which many of us had suffered persecution, being nearly expired, preparation was made for the return and reception of king Charles the second, upon his declaration, in substance as follows:

In King Charles the second's letter from Breda, that was sent to the house of peers, and read in the house, May 1st, 1660, and ordered by the lords in Parliament assembled, that the same should be quickly printed and published, for the service of the house, and satisfaction of the kingdom, it is declared:

"And because the passion and lack of charity of the times have produced several opinions in religion, by which men are engaged in parties and animosities against each other, which, when they shall hereafter unite in a freedom of conversation, will be composed or better understood, we do declare a liberty to tender consciences; and that no man be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion, in matters of religion, which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom; and, that we shall be ready to consent to such an act of Parliament, as upon mature deliberation shall be offered to us, for the full granting that indulgence."

This declaration and promise made way for the king's more easy and free reception at his return and restoration; many dissenters having a hope and expectation of the performance of the promise.

But in a few months after his coming to the crown, it happened that about thirty-five persons, called Fifth-Monarchy* men, made an insurrection and disturbance in the city of London, against the government, pretending for the monarchy and government of king Jesus; and then having faith that one person through the aid of God could chase a thousand, misapplying the Scripture; they made their attempt with great fury and violence, until suppressed and apprehended.

From which insurrection occasion was taken by the king, to issue out a proclamation; some of the principles as follows:

Prohibiting all unlawful and seditious meetings and conventicles, under pretence of religious worship, etc.; the reason being: That some evil effects have already ensued, to the disturbance of the public peace, by insurrection and murder, by reason of the meetings of Anabaptists and Quakers, and Fifth-Monarchy men, and such like names.

And to the intent, that none of these persons who have presumed to make so ill a use of our indulgence, may be strengthened in their proceedings, ..., no meeting whatever, of the persons before mentioned, under pretence of worshipping God, shall at any time forward is permitted and allowed, unless it is in some parochial church or chapel in this realm, or in private houses, by the persons there inhabiting; and that all meetings.... assemblies whatsoever, in order to any spiritual worship and serving of God, by the persons before said, unless in the places before said, shall be esteemed, and are hereby declared to be unlawful assemblies, and shall be persecuted accordingly; and the persons there assembled, shall be proceeded against, as riotously and unlawfully assembled.

And we do will and command our justices, that they cause the oath of allegiance to be tendered to every person brought before them," ..

*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.

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.

Hereupon the most irreligious and profane sort of people were animated, and took occasion against our religious and peaceable meetings, eagerly to endeavor to suppress them, being encouraged by the new justices and magistrates recently commissioned. The most vile and profane, such as drunkards, swearers, cursers, and the most wicked of all sorts, being exalted in their spirits upon the restoration of the king, and his accession to the crown, were then triumphant and insulting against all religious dissenters; and especially threatening the Quakers and their meetings with ruin. Seeing what a great flood of wickedness and debauchery had broken forth, and religion and virtue despised, we expected nothing but severe and hard treatment from our persecutors, whose hearts were set to ruin us, or to root us out of the land; dark clouds then appeared and threatened a great storm.

At a certain time, when I was traveling alone on the highway, and in earnest supplication to the Lord, and spreading our case and my complaint before him, in deep humility and contrition of spirit, I said in my heart and in expression, O Lord, this wicked, persecuting spirit that has got up and is let loose, will seek to lay waste and root your heritage and people out of the land. O Lord, plead our cause; plead the cause of your people, your seed and heritage. At which point the Lord revealed and gave me this answer:

The wicked shall not have their evil designs accomplished against my people; I will frustrate their wicked purposes; they shall not root my heritage out of the land, though they be allowed for a time to persecute and try my people; I will stand by and defend, and in due time deliver them.

Yes, and to this purpose, and much more of the same tendency, has the Lord often lovingly signified and revealed to me by his Holy Spirit, even in times of deep suffering and trials, that under any of them I might not faint, or be discouraged; but be sure to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, where praises ever live to him.

After the insurrection, and the offenders were brought to punishment, and the proclamation was issued; persecution, outrage and violence quickly broke out in the land. Then the roaring, raging, busy persecutors bestirred themselves to hunt up and down after religious meetings, assemblies and congregations, which were unjustly termed seditious conventicles, [conspiratorial assemblies] to break up and disperse them, and cause many to be imprisoned in filthy jails, where great numbers of innocent persons suffered, in most counties of England and Wales, especially of the people called Quakers, whose meetings were most open and easily inspected.

Friends were quick to plead and make known their innocent cause, to the king and government, both by word and writing; and show how clear their religious meetings were, as they always have been, from any sedition, plots, conspiracies, or contriving of insurrections against the government or nation, and consequently they are no such meetings as are by law deemed conventicles, unlawful or riotous meetings. So that those persecutions inflicted upon us, because of other persons’ crimes, who are a people wholly innocent, appeared to be no small perversion of justice, as well as injury, done to many hundreds of honest, industrious families, whose innocent cause the Lord in his own time, pleaded in those days; and since has stood by and helped his faithful people in their times of need.

Site Editor's Comments: Thus began a series persecutions, including three Parliamentary acts naming the hated Quakers, to deliberately destroy them. The King's father had been beheaded by a dissenting Puritan revolutionary Parliament. The King's allies were the upper class Royalists, primarily from the established Church of England. Now there had just occurred a revolution of dissenting religious fanatics, which put fear of all dissenting religious groups into the King. He turned to the only support around, the Church of England, whose members would support him financially and fight for him again, as they did to restore him; fearing the possibility of another war. The Quakers were no help, they wouldn't fight if necessary. Neither were the Quakers even able to help vote in a favorable Parliament's House of Commons, because to qualify as a voter, it was necessary to swear. So the Quakers were sacrificed in favor of temporal interests, with no fear of consequences - at least from earthly powers. The Church of England was losing paying members by the droves to the Quakers - some churches were empty of listeners and payers - so they were eager to destroy the Quakers. Further this national Episcopal church was accustomed to persecuting dissenters, having taken revenge on the Puritans at the restoration of the king replacing the Puritan Cromwell. The King, to secure his own throne, allied himself with the Church of England's radical desire to destroy the Quakers by imprisonment, financial ruin, and eventual banishment out of the land to the tropical colonies - aiming particularly at the ministers and leaders who were convincing their paying members to abandon their church.

The following is a partial account of my own suffering and exercise in those days:

A brief account of my commitment to Norwich castle with other Friends the 20th day of the Eleventh month, 1660.

George Whitehead, John Lawrence, Joseph Lawrence, and William Barber, with many other of our friends, were peaceably meeting together in the worship and service of God, at Pulham-Mary, Norfolk,- while we were calling upon the Lord in prayer, one from the office of chief constable, with a company of horsemen and footmen, without a warrant from any justice, came with halberds, pistols, swords, pitchforks, clubs and hedge pikes, and drug us and others of our friends out of the meeting. The next day we were carried on horseback several miles, and brought before Thomas Talbot, justice of peace, near Wymondham, or Windham, who committed us to prison, upon information which the constable gave him in writing, regarding the meeting; in which we were falsely accused of unlawfully meeting together. No one appeared to prove the charge against us. Nevertheless we were next day sent to Norwich castle; persecution being then generally stirred up against our friends especially, throughout the nation, and most prisons were filled with them, because of their religious meetings. To this jail of the castle of Norwich many of them had been committed, and their meetings disturbed and broken up, from one end of the county to the other, and likewise in the city of Norwich, which is a county distinct. We were so crowded in the castle, that we did not have sufficient room for sleeping; thirty or more were crowded in that old, nasty jail. Since there was a hole in a corner of the castle wall, called the vice, four Friends took that place to sleep in, though a narrow hole, without any chimney in it; yet there we got up two little beds, and slept two in each bed. It was very harsh quarters and lodging room, for lack of a chimney. It had on old decayed stone arch over it, allowing the rain to come so much in on us that we could not keep it off our beds, though we set basins to catch what we could. In the cold weather we burnt a little charcoal in the evenings, which we found somewhat injurious and suffocating, having no chimney to vent the smoke or steam; and in the day time we tried to stay warm by walking up the castle hill, and under the wall, having liberty of the prison. Although it was a cold bleak place in winter, we were glad that we had that benefit of the fresh air.

Although the hole in the wall was so poor quarters, we chose it for our lodging, partly for the relief of our friends, who were much too crowded in the better room below, within the castle walls. We had many good and comfortable meetings together, without disturbance. Several friendly persons had been let into prison, to meet with us on first-days especially; so at that time the prison became a sanctuary to us, as prisons and jails were to many of our poor, innocent, suffering friends. As the persecution was hot, with persecutors raging and roaring abroad, we were praying and praising the Lord our God, in prisons, jails, and holes.

Our friends William Barber and John Lawrence, having been men of note, and captains in the commonwealth's day, it appeared in them a piece of great self-denial and subjection to the cross of Christ, to patiently suffer for his name and truth sake, in such a poor, inhospitable lodging. I remember one morning when we were in bed, Joseph Lawrence, in his pleasant manner, said to his brother John: "O captain Lawrence, I have seen the day that you would not have laid here;" that is, in such a contemptible place, or poor lodging as that was; for both brothers and William Barber, had excellent accommodations at their own houses in all respects; though they were now partakers of the sufferings of Christ's followers.

In the time of that imprisonment in Norwich castle, near the latter end of winter, or about the beginning of the first month, 1661, I was taken sick of an ague and fever, which brought me so low and weak, that some friends who came to visit me, were ready to take their last leave of me, thinking I should die in that prison. Elizabeth, the wife of John Lawrence, being one day at my bedside, said, "Ah! poor, dear George, I fear we must part with him; his traveling among us is near an end." But in a few days, it pleased the Lord that I had some recovery and strength given me; yet every other day a very sick fit of the ague and fever continued for a little time. One night after I was in bed, I was very negatively affected with the smoke of a little charcoal fire in the room, and earnestly called to have it put out presently, otherwise I questioned whether I should live till next morning; so it was immediately put out, and I was quickly eased.

The time for our appearing at the spring assizes at Thetford drawing near, I believed I should be enabled to ride there; for we were all to appear there, who were prisoners for our religious meetings; and in order to go to the assizes, my horse was brought to the prison door three days before the assizes began. I rode with John Lawrence to his house at Wramplingham, on the seventh day of the week, being five or six miles on my way toward Thetford, and stayed there the next day and night following. That day I had again a very sick fit of the ague, but grew better before the next day, and then we took horse for Thetford, being about twenty miles from Norwich. The weather was cold, a hail shower overtook us, and I was again taken with a fit of the ague on the road, before we got to Thetford, yet with the Lord's help I held on, and grew better by the time we came to Thetford; and that afternoon could readily walk up to the top of the noted mount or hill which is by the town. We met the rest of our friends, who came from Norwich castle, at Thetford prison, where we were in the day time, after the assizes began; but at night had liberty to lodge at our friends' houses in or near the town.

Judge Hale and judge Windham, i.e. Wadham Windham, were the two justices who served at the same assizes, and judge Windham sat on the crown side. In his charge he terribly threatened dissenters, and those who would not go to the parish church and conform, or that kept conventicles or unlawful meetings; giving the country notice of several ancient severe penal laws made against such, and causing some of them to be read in court. An ancient Friend, Elizabeth Hawes, then living at Snare Hill near Thetford, gave me a full account with tears, after she had heard the said charge; being very sorrowful to see how they were bent to persecution. To encourage her, I signified the Lord would plead our cause and stand by us, and I would have no Friends discouraged, but be faithful to the Lord, and valiant for the truth upon earth; as I had often exhorted Friends.

Friends were several times called into court before the assizes were over; I was called four times, and particularly questioned why I had come into that county from my own; to which I gave the judges a sober and conscientious account, that I was called by the Lord to preach repentance, and to bear testimony to the truth, against hypocrisy, sin, and wickedness.

Being required to take the oath of allegiance, I told the judges, that Christ had commanded us not to swear at all, as also did the apostle James, who well knew the mind Christ and exhorted, "Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yes be yeas; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation." From which I inferred, if we may not swear by any other oath, then not by the oath of allegiance. Therefore we cannot swear at all, nor take any oath, either that of allegiance or any other; the judges did not dispute the point or the argument. But seeing that I and the rest of our friends then prisoners, were all of a mind in that case, that we all refused to swear, choosing rather to suffer for conscience, we were remanded to the prison in Thetford.

Before the assizes had ended, some of us were again called into court, and an indictment was read against me and some others, filled with false and bitter accusations and invectives, because we refused to take the oath of allegiance; that being the snare generally laid against us, for which we were charged with obstinacy and contempt against the king, his crown and dignity, and such like injurious charges. Being required to plead guilty or not guilty, I began to distinguish elements of the indictment, that some part of it was true, that we refused to take the oath, but it was not out of obstinacy or any contempt against the king or government, but for conscience sake, in obedience to Christ's command. Judge Windham urging us to plead guilty or not guilty, to prevent me from opening our case, I waved pleading in those terms, unless he would allow me to plead specially and distinctly to the several parts of the charge, in order to show the inconsistencies of them, and to show our clearness and innocence, who were the sufferers. The judge then grew offended, because I was not willing to be confined only to plead guilty or not guilty, and he was for having me taken away and remanded to prison; at which point I answered him, that when Paul was a prisoner, he was permitted to plead and speak before King Agrippa; Acts 26, and before the Turkish or heathen magistrates and rulers. Therefore I said it was a hard case that we may not be permitted to speak or plead for ourselves before you, who profess yourselves to be Christian magistrates. The judge appeared angry and disturbed; I was quickly removed out of the court. Take him away jailer, was such a mocking argument in those days, that it could not be disputed; yet judge Hale behaved himself more mildly and gently toward us.

It was observed that when several of us, as prisoners, were called into court together, some of the country justices on the bench, particularly one of them, would be accusing us to judge Windham, to incense him against us, and especially against John Hubbard Senior, of Stoak Ferry in Norfolk, and others for receiving and entertaining the Quakers and their preachers at their houses. Our loving, honest friend John Hubbard, seeing the envy of those persecutors, who wanted to make him an offender for entertaining strangers, as the apostle taught, was stirred up with zeal to answer his accuser, and plead a good conscience toward God and man, for he was known to be an honest man, fearing God. Testifying with zeal and courage, it gave a check, at that time, to the Justice’s accusations against innocent prisoners. But it was not unusual in those days, for ill-natured, persecuting justices, to be both accusers and judges on the bench, against our friends; and like invidious informers, endeavor to incense the judges against us, by unjust insinuations and accusations, with the intent to induce hard sentences against us, and often to prejudge our case, before judicially heard or tried.

Although in the time of the assizes at Thetford, the persecuting spirit was eagerly at work in our adversaries, I daily felt the Lord's power over all, by which I and my fellow prisoners were supported, strengthened and preserved in innocence and great peace, to the praise of our most gracious God. Although I could expect no other but that our persecutors would be allowed to strengthen and prolong our bonds, at least against some of us, whom they designed to make terrifying examples, yet I was not at all discouraged nor dejected in spirit, under that persecution; but returned cheerfully to prison to Norwich castle, and was better in every way as to my health and strength, than when I came out from there, to go to the assizes at Thetford.

It was to me a very remarkable and memorable token of the merciful Providence and love of God, that although I had been very weak and sick in prison in the castle only a few days before, and rode to Thetford assizes in a weak condition, yet while I was attending the assizes, I quickly recovered my health, so that my ague and fever were quite removed, and I did not have one fit all the time of that imprisonment, but was restored to perfect health, which continued for several years afterwards.

Six of us, to whom the oath was tendered, and who were indicted, were, with some others, remanded to the castle; and the rest were released, being mostly laboring men, farmers and tradesmen. Our persecutors had picked out those to send back to prison who they believed to be the most noted among the Quakers, as John Lawrence, Joseph Lawrence, William Barber, Henry Kettle, senior and junior, John Hubbard and several others, because of their love and kindness to their friends, and entertaining meetings at their houses. The time we were detained prisoners in Norwich castle, in the years 1660 and 1661, was about sixteen weeks, from the eleventh to the third month.

Our release was obtained by the king's proclamation of grace, as it was termed, in which, notwithstanding his grace or favor expressed towards the Quakers, it was not without a menace or threat, i.e., not intending their impunity, if they should offend in the future in a similar manner as they had done. This was principally holding their religious meetings, intended only for the worship of the living God, according to their consciences and persuasions; and for this cause our impunity or lack of punishment was not intended, as afterward in a short time it more fully appeared.

One more thing I may not omit some account of: when we were together in Thetford prison, in order to appear at the assizes, I met with Henry Kettle the elder, a prisoner there, who was an ancient man, and had been mayor of the town and a justice of peace, before he was in communion with us. After he had received our friends and had meetings at his house, having a love to truth and us, he was committed to prison. Once he and I were walking together in the prison yard, and he opened his condition and exercise to me; how he was hard pressed by relatives to take the oath of allegiance because they feared that he and his family would be ruined. For this reason, the trial would very hard for him to bear, considering his own weakness. However, he tenderly told me, he had considered Christ's words, "He that puts his hand to the plough, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God;" concluding therefore he must not look back; he must not draw back, or decline from the truth.

I was very glad to hear him voluntarily give such an honest account, both of his trial and good resolution, having well understood his weakness, how he had been wavering and halting in his mind; and how hard it was for him, being a person of great note, to give up to the cross of Christ, so as to endure reproach and persecution for Christ Jesus and his truth. Yet now when he had given up to suffer for Christ, he was assisted and strengthened by Christ, choosing to suffer with the rest of us than to lose his inward peace, by declining Truth's testimony; so that because he could not submit to the will of his persecutors, he was, contrary to law, removed from Thetford, the corporation where his residence was, to the county jail in Norwich castle, where his son Henry was detained prisoner with the rest of us.

At the next quarter-sessions held at Norwich castle, for the county of Norfolk, Henry Kettle the elder, was called into the court of sessions, where, to ensnare him, they required him to take the oath of allegiance, with efforts to impose it upon him. But he withstood their threats, and would not be imposed on, telling the justices, that he had been removed out of his own respective jurisdiction, to which he belonged, contrary to law, and therefore he was unduly brought before them in that court. It was a breach of his and the jurisdiction's privilege, to remove him there to that quarter-sessions, to be prosecuted or tried; and expressly contrary to Magna Charta, by which the liberties and privileges of corporations are to be upheld and maintained, and not violated.

I and another fellow-prisoner, being then on the Castle-hill, heard him plead in this manner, and hold them closely to the point; but instead of answering him legally, or vindicating their proceeding by law, they still obtruded and imposed upon him, saying, "It is no matter; it is no matter how you came here, that is not our business to inquire after how you are here; we have power to tender you the oath. Mr. Kettle, will you take the oath of allegiance, yes or no?"

He answered, "Let me be returned back to my own corporation, the town of Thetford, and there I may answer." But otherwise he considered himself not bound to answer in the court of sessions, held for the county or Norfolk, being unduly removed there out of his own.

This is the substance of their procedure against Henry Kettle, Senior at that time, as best as I can remember; and I paid serious attention to the discourse between he and the justices, who when they could not by persuasion or threats force him to take the oath, returned him to the castle jail, to remain prisoner with the rest or us.

I was glad and comforted, that he stood that trial as well as he did, and that the Lord supported him so as not to fall into the trap laid for him; but to avoid swearing, and evade their striving to impose an oath upon him, contrary to his conscience. I realized that this gave him more strength in the Truth, and his prosecutors were not allowed to bring him under the penalty of a premunire, no more than the rest of us, who were prosecuted in order to it, but all discharged by the King’s previously mentioned proclamation.

I was sensible the Lord had regard to Henry Kettle, Senior and his family; for they retained their love to the Truth and Friends; particularly his son Henry, and daughter Anne, who was a sober virtuous maid, though she lived not many years after she received the Truth; but her brother Henry lived to old age. And their mother, an ancient woman, had so much love to Friends, that she not only kindly hosted them, but when her son Henry was prisoner with us in Norwich castle, she came on foot from Thetford, to visit him and us in prison, manifesting her love and kindness thereby to us; and so far as I understood, she bore his suffering patiently, as well as she did her husband's afterward, beyond expectation, considering her weak condition. One cause or her coming on foot to visit us in prison, I suppose was, her age and weakness, not being able to endure riding so far on horseback. The Lord showed mercy to that family, as He did to many others in those days, who since are gone to rest from their labor and sufferings.

During our imprisonment we faithfully warned our persecutors against their hard proceedings, with information of the innocence and righteousness of our cause, so that they were left inexcusable. We saw to it that the king was also acquainted with it, and the general sufferings of our friends were laid before him, and their innocence was pleaded as a peaceable people not having forfeited their interest in the King's previous promise of liberty to tender consciences in matters of religion. Some of our friends at London reminded him of that previous promise; and by solicitation and frequent complaints of our persecutions and hardships, he was induced to issue the proclamation of grace for our release out of the prisons. But it also contained a threat, that immunity was not intended us, if we repeated our practice, as we had done upon the duty of religion.

So it came to pass that it was only for a short time after we were set at liberty that we could enjoy our religious meetings quietly. For the irreligious, persecuting spirit, was still at work in the nation among priests and magistrates, who would have all compelled to go to church, and conform. The pretence was, for all to be of one religion; when there was little of the life, substance, or purity of religion within their designs; but rather empty form, ceremony, and an outward show and pretence, to palliate covetousness, pride, looseness of conversation, manifold corruptions, and fleshly liberty, then abounding, and more and more evident. The libertines of those days with boasting told us: you must all go to church, or else you will lose your estates; you will be hung or banished; with many such threats and cruel mockings; yet it only served to strengthen our resolve, to the sure ground of faith and hope, that we knew Him, in whom we had living belief and hope for salvation and strength.

Parliament Acts to Suppress the Quaker Worship Meetings

So precipitant was the persecuting spirit and so eager to be at work under the same cover of law, that in the first parliament chosen after the king's restoration, they contrived a bill for suppressing our meetings. Since many of the persons chosen to be members of that parliament were known to be persecutors, they swayed and carried it by vote, so that the bill was committed and passed into an Act, which was entitled:

Act for preventing mischief and dangers,
that may arise by certain persons called Quakers,
and others, refusing to take lawful oaths

Whereas, of late times, certain persons under the name of Quakers, and other names of separation, have taken up and maintained many dangerous opinions and tenets, and among others, that the taking of an oath in any case whatsoever, although before a lawful magistrate, is altogether unlawful and contrary to the Word of God; and the said persons do daily refuse to take an oath, though it is fully tendered, by which it often happens that truth is wholly suppressed, and the administration of justice much obstructed.

And whereas the said persons, under pretence of religious worship, do often assemble themselves in great numbers, in several parts of this realm, to the great endangering of the public peace and safety, and to the terror of the people, by maintaining a secret and strict correspondence among themselves, and in the meantime separating and dividing themselves from the rest of his majesty’s good and loyal subjects, and from the public congregations and usual places of divine worship.

[It was therefore enacted.]
That if five or more Quakers, of sixteen years of age, or upward, assemble under pretence of joining in religious worship, not authorized by law, the party offending, being convicted by verdict, concession, or by the notorious evidence of the fact, shall forfeit for the first offence, the sum imposed, not exceed five pounds; and for the second, the sum imposed, not exceeding ten pounds, to be levied by distress and sale of the goods; and for want thereof, or non-payment, within a week after conviction, shall be committed to the jailor house of correction; for the first offence, three months; for the second, six months; to be kept at hard labor. And if after two convictions, they offend the third time, and are convicted, they shall abjure the realm, or the king may order them to be transported in any ship, to any of his plantations.

This Act was leveled against the people called Quakers, when nothing was justly chargeable against them, nor could any matter of fact be proved, but what concerned religion, and worship toward Almighty God, according to their conscientious persuasions; therefore it was purely for serving and worshipping Him according to our consciences, that we suffered greatly by this Act for a time.

George Whitehead, at 24 years of age, pleads with Parliament

Edward Burrough, Richard Hubberthorn, and myself, having notice, and understanding the matter contained therein, when it was formed into a bill, attended the parliament, and solicited against the same, that it might not be passed into an Act; discoursing with many of the members, and showing them how unreasonable and injurious it would be, to pass such an Act against us, an innocent people; our religious assemblies being peaceable, and only intended for the worship of Almighty God, according to our consciences, and in no wise tending to the terror of the public, in appearance or action. When the said bill was committed, we attended the committee several times, on the 10th and 13th days of the fifth month, 1661, and each of us were permitted to appear, and our reasons to be heard before the same, concerning the bill, why it should not pass against us. What I declared to the committee, I kept this account of, namely, the first time I signified:

That our meetings are in and for the worship of God, which really is a matter of conscience and of great weight to us, and that which in tenderness of conscience to Christ's command, we practice, for no other end but singly for the worship and service of God, according to the example and practice of the primitive saints and Christians; and that we behave ourselves peaceably towards all men; therefore we ought therein to have the liberty of our consciences, according to the king's promises of liberty to tender consciences in matters of religion.

And that if we suffer for our peaceable harmless meetings, which are only for the worship of God, according to the saints' practice, who met often together for that end, we suffer for the cause of God, and shall commit our cause to him, and know that He will plead and avenge it against our persecutors, or to the same effect, exhorting them to act in the fear of God, etc., with other words of concern to them.

The second time we appeared before the committee, I told them regarding our meetings, which their intended law chiefly was against, that we met together in the name and fear of the Lord God, and in obedience to him, as the saints of old did; so that they might as well go about to make a law, that we should not pray in the name of Christ Jesus, as to make one to hinder or suppress our meetings, which are in his name, and from which we may no more refrain, than Daniel could forbear praying to the true God, though it was contrary to King Darius' decree.

One called Sir John Goodrich being one of the committee, stood up, and most busily inveighed against us, accusing our meetings, calling them unlawful, and contrary to law, tending to seduce people from the church, and to seduce such as are orthodox, and the like.

To which I answered:

"That if our meetings are contrary to law, then that implies there is some law, they are contrary to. If so, it seems superfluous and needless for you to go about to make another, if there is some law already in force against them. But no such thing, we hope can be proved against us, that our meetings are unlawful in themselves, being in obedience to the Lord our God, only for his worship, and agreeable to the practice of the primitive Christians, recorded in the Scriptures of truth. Such meetings are not unlawful, and such are ours, as we can prove, and therefore not unlawful,

If your intended law comes to be put in execution against us, for our peaceable meetings, it may produce sad sufferings upon thousands of innocent people in the nation and endanger the ruin of many families; and the loss of some lives, - and so it did - by persecution and imprisonments. Of what a bad report will this be, that an innocent people should thus be oppressed for their consciences, when no matter of fact, or crime, worthy of suffering for, can be proved against them, or to that purpose.

And further, if this intended law is enforced against us, it will elevate and strengthen wicked, malicious and lawless persons, to take occasion to persecute us beyond the law,- to exceed the severity thereof, as they have lately done - as for instance, when great numbers of us were imprisoned upon the king's Proclamation, for meeting together, some of our of friends were taken out of their bed, by rude fellows, and committed to prison; some poor men were taken from their occupations, and separated from their poor families, whom they were to maintain, and sent to prison; and often were taken traveling on the king's highway, about their lawful occasions and committed to prison, contrary to law, and which the king's Proclamation did not warrant them to do. Now you make a law to cause us to suffer for our peaceable meetings, how much more will rude and lawless persons, take encouragement thereby, to carry out their cruelty and persecutions against us, both beyond and contrary to what the law requires; and it is not your intended law that will satisfy that malicious spirits?

Therefore seriously consider and weigh our cause; these things I leave to your serious consideration."

Not having a particular or full written account of what my friends Edward Burrough and Richard Hubberthorn declared to the committee, I cannot insert the same with mine, otherwise I would have done it; but I remember the last time we were before the committee, Edward Burrough told those that if they made a law against our religious meetings, he should consider it his duty to exhort our friends to keep their meetings diligently.

Despite our pleas and reasoning to the committee against the bill, with even more said, they went forward, being intent upon it, in order to make their report to the whole house. With understanding as to when the bill was to be read in the house, were tried to attend and sought permission to speak in the house, before it was passed into an Act.

The day appointed, the 19th of July, 1661, Edward Burrough, Richard Hubberthorn and myself, with Edward Pyott of Bristol, who had been captain, went up to the Parliament House, and spoke to some of the members, whom we knew were friendly to us to move for our admittance to be heard in the house, before the bill was passed, for which we gave them in writing, a proposal to this purpose as follows:

"That we desired to have the liberty that criminals are allowed, that is, if they have any thing to say, or offer in court, why sentence should not be passed against them, they may be heard; so we desired to be heard as to why, why the bill ought not to be passed against us."

At which point, a motion was made in the house, and permission was given that we might be called in and heard. Accordingly we were soon called in before the bar of the House of Commons. There was a full house, and everyone was quiet, ready to hear what we had to offer.

As Edward Burrough began to plead in edification of the Quakers' meetings and against the bill before them, some of the members said to him: You must direct your speech to Mr. Speaker. He told them he would. The point he principally insisted on was:

That our meetings were in no way a terror to the people, as the bill’s preamble suggested, but our meetings were peaceable and innocent, only for the worship and service of Almighty God, and as are required by the law of God, placed in hearts and consciences, which they ought to make no law against. No human law ought to be made contrary to the law of God, forbidding us to worship him; and if they made such a law, it would not be binding on us, to disobey the law of God. To support this position, he mentioned and quoted to them that ancient law book, Doctor and Student, which he had in his hand; where, treating of the law of God, the law of reason, etc., written in the heart of man, it is said, "Because it is written in the heart, it may not be put away, neither is it ever changeable by diversion of place or time; and therefore against this law, prescription, statute or custom may not prevail; and if any are brought in against they are not prescriptions, statutes, or customs, but things void and against justice."

Then Edward Burrough told them that if they made such a law against our meetings, which are appointed for the worship of God, it would be contrary to the law of God, and void, or ought to be void, ipso facto. I remember this was the substance of what Edward Burrough pleaded to the house at that at time.

Richard Hubberthorn argued on this point, that is: "It being suggested that we were numerous, and holding a close secret correspondence among ourselves, our meetings might be the more dangerous, to contrive and cause insurrections, etc., as is implied in the preamble of the bill."

To which Richard Hubberthorn gave a fair and ingenuous answer:

That there could be no such danger in our meetings as to contriving insurrections or plots against the government; for our meetings were public, where all sorts of people may attend, and come to hear and see what is said or done. Therefore it was not likely or probable we would plot or contrive insurrections in them, in the sight of whole world. And if our meetings should be reduced to such a small number as but four or five persons, besides family members, it would not break our correspondence, but we would have more opportunity privately to correspond, and to plot and contrive insurrection or mischief, if we were a people of such bad principles, or so evilly principled; which we are not. Therefore it is most reasonable to allow our meetings to be public, as they are, and not to punish us on causeless suspicion of danger, when there appears no reason for the same; nor to make a law to limit them to small numbers: or to this import.

After Edward Burrough and Richard Hubberthorn had spoken against the bill, which was chiefly designed against our religious meetings, I began thus: I have a few words to offer to you, relating to what has been said, and I desire may be heard, for I shall use as much brevity as I can.

Mr. Speaker.
Then offer them, and do not reiterate.

George Whitehead:

We desire you in the fear of the Lord, to consider us, as we are an innocent and suffering people, and have been so under the several governments since we were a people, as our patience and innocence towards our persecutors in all our sufferings, have plainly manifested. For both under Oliver Cromwell and since his days, we have endured much hard suffering, persecution and imprisonment for our conscience; and yet we have not rebelled or sought revenge against our persecutors; but in all our undeserved sufferings, have committed our cause to the Lord. And therefore what an unreasonable thing is it, that a law should particularly be made against us, when we have done no evil, nor any injury against any man's person; nor could any such thing be proved against us, in respect to our meetings, that ever we were found guilty of. So that for you to make a law against us, tending to our ruin, and to go about to trample us under foot, when we are innocent and peaceable in the nation, and no matter of fact worthy of suffering proved against us, will neither be to the honor of the king, nor add any thing to your security. No, what a hard thing is it, for you to make a law to add afflictions and sad sufferings upon us, when there are several laws already by which we are liable to suffer, as those for tithes, oaths, and others; so that to make another law to afflict us, when nothing worthy of suffering is proved, seems to us very hard and unreasonable.

Further, we have neither forfeited our liberties, nor abused the king's indulgence, in anything acted by us. Since the king has promised liberty to tender consciences, providing condition that they do not disturb the peace of the kingdom; since and we have not having forfeited our interest in that, ought not, therefore, to be hindered of our liberty in matters of worship and conscience towards God. We can prove that our practice of assembling ourselves together, and our principles also, are grounded upon the righteous law of God, and agreeable to Christ's doctrine; and we are willing to vindicate and demonstrate them according to truth, if we might have liberty here; and that for the satisfaction of such as oppose or scruple them. In the fear of the Lord consider what you are doing, and seek not further to add affliction to us, lest you oppress the innocent.

However, if we suffer for our conscience, in obeying Christ, we shall commit our cause to the Lord our God, who will, no doubt, plead against our oppressors.

After Edward Burrough, Richard Hubberthorn and George Whitehead had declared to the House of Commons as related, Edward Pyott was also permitted to speak a few words to them, which he did very weightily, on this subject; reminding them of that golden rule which Jesus Christ has laid down, and requires us all to observe; which is, To do to all men as we would be willing they should do unto us; thereupon cautioning them, that as they would not want to be persecuted, oppressed or made to suffer for their religion or conscience, or have a law made for that purpose against them, no more ought they to make a law against us, to punish us for worshipping God according to our consciences or inward persuasions. Edward Pyott pressed hard his urgings upon them.

As we were withdrawing out of the house, some of the members near the door gently pulled me by my coat sleeve; I turned and asked them what they would have with me? They said, “Nothing, but to look upon you:" I was only a young man about twenty-four years of age.

We appeared and declared what was upon our minds, in great simplicity and sincerity; and the Lord's power and presence were with us, and helped us in our endeavors; and I saw clearly that what we declared innocently to them had some effect upon and reached the consciences of several of the members, who appeared serious and sober in their carriage toward us. I had an intimation afterwards, that some of the members confessed that what we had declared was very reasonable; and if they had feared God, or regarded his counsel, and allowed Him to rule among them, they would not have made that act against us.

But we had only a very few in that Parliament who appeared openly to be our friends, or friends for liberty to tender consciences, in those days; namely, Edmund Waller, Senior, Esq., who was termed Witt Waller; he was principled against persecution, and for liberty of conscience, and always kind to us;and Michael Mallett, Esq., who afterward was convinced of the truth, and frequented our meetings, even in suffering times, when our meetings were forced to be kept outdoors in the streets of Westminster and London; and sir John Vaughan, then a young man, also appeared to be for us, and afterward was convinced of the truth, and went to our meetings when we were persecuted upon the Conventicle Act, and was imprisoned in Newgate with our friends, for a little time, being taken at a meeting at Mile-end. He continued afterward among our friends, and visited us in prison; and though at length some of his relations drew him aside, to his great prejudice, yet he retained a kindness, even when he came to be Earl of Carberry, and continued friendly to us when he was an old man, and until his latter end; not wholly forgetting what conviction and knowledge of the truth he received when among us.

There were also some few more of the members of that Parliament that were friendly toward us at that time when we appeared before them; but because the majority were resolved and bent to persecution, they passed the bill into an act. This resulted in great persecution and imprisonments that followed.

Persecutions Resumed

In the year 1662, our meetings in and about London were broken up with force and violence by the trainbands [militias] and officers, especially on the first-days of the week; which though was professed to be their Christian Sabbath, no holiness was observed, but rending and tearing innocent people out of their religious assemblies, and haling them to prison. Such furious work of persecution they commonly wrought on that day, which they pretended to be their Christian Sabbath and the Lord's day, and to be kept holy, as Israel was required to observe and keep the seventh-day for the Sabbath, according to the fourth commandment.

- from William Sewel's 1695 History of a People Called Quakers
(At the time of Sewel's publication, the below persecutions had occurred only thirty years previously,
so William Sewel was able to talk to actual victims, eye-witnesses, and examine fresh court records.)

The state of persecution at London, where desperate fury now raged; though it was not in that chief city alone the Quakers were most grievously persecuted: for a little before this time there was published in print a short relation of the persecution throughout all England, signed by twelve persons, showing that more than four thousand and two hundred of those called Quakers, both men and women, were in prison in England; and denoting the number of those who were imprisoned in each county, either for frequenting meetings, or for denying to swear, etc. Many of these had been grievously beaten, or their clothes torn or taken away from them; and some were put into such stinking dungeons, which some great men said, they would not have put their hunting dogs there. Some prisons were crowded full both of men and women, so that there was not sufficient room for all to sit down at once; and in Cheshire sixty-eight persons were in this manner locked up in a small room; an evident sign that they were a harmless people, that would not make any resistance, or use force. By such ill-treatment many grew sick, and not a few died in such jails; for no age or sex was regarded, but even ancient people of sixty, seventy, and more years of age, were not spared; and the most of these being tradesmen, shopkeepers, and husbandmen, were thus reduced to poverty; for their goods were also seized, for not going to church, (so called), or for not paying tithes. Many times they were forced to lie in prison on cold nasty ground, without being allowed to have any straw; and often they have been kept several days without food. It is no wonder therefore that many died by such hard imprisonments as these.

At London, and in the suburbs, were about this time no less than five hundred Quakers, imprisoned, and some in such narrow holes, that every person scarcely had convenience to lie down; and the felons were allowed to rob them of their clothes and money. Many that were not imprisoned, nevertheless suffered hardships in their religious meetings, especially in the London meeting place, known by the name of Bull and Mouth. Here the trained bands came frequently, armed generally with muskets, pikes, and halberds, and conducted by a military officer, by order of the city magistracy; and rushing in, in a very furious manner, fell to beating them, by which many were grievously wounded, some fell down in a swoon, and some were beaten so violently, that they lived not long after it. Among these was one John Trowel, who was so bruised and crushed, that in few days after he died. His friends therefore thought it expedient to carry the corpse into the before said meeting place, that it might lie there displayed for some hours, to be seen of everyone. This being done, raised commiseration and pity among many of the inhabitants; for the corpse, beaten like a jelly, looked black, and was swollen in a direful manner. The coroner was sent for; and he impaneled a jury of the neighbors, and gave them in charge, according to his office, to make true inquiry upon their oaths, and to present what they found to be the cause of his death. They viewing the corpse, had a surgeon or two with them, to know their judgment concerning it; and then going together in private, at length they withdrew without giving in their verdict, only desiring the friends to bury the corpse, which was done accordingly that evening. And though the coroner and jury met several times together upon that occasion, and had many consultations, yet they never would give a verdict; but it was sufficiently evident that the man was killed by violent beating. The reasons some gave for the suspense of a verdict were, that though it was testified that the same person, now dead, was seen beaten and knocked down; yet it being done in such a confused crowd, no particular man could be singled out, so that any could say, that a man had done the deed. And if a verdict was given that the deceased person was killed, and yet no particular person charged with it, then the city was liable to a great fine at the pleasure of the king, for conniving such a murder in the city in the day-time, not committed in seclusion, but publicly, and not apprehending the murderer, but allowing him to escape. In the meanwhile the friends of the deceased gave public notice of the murder, and sent also a letter to the lord mayor, which afterwards they published in print, together with a relation of this bloody business. In this letter it was said, 'It may be supposed you have heard of this thing, for it was done not in the night, but at midday; not suddenly, in ignorance, or by accident, but intentionally, and over a long time; and not in seclusion, but in the streets of the city of London; which circumstances all highly aggravate this murder, to the very shame and infamy of this famous city, and its government.'

The person who spread some of this printed material was imprisoned for his pains; nevertheless another brought one of them to the king, and told him how the thing had been done; at which the king said, ‘I assure you it was not by my advice that any of your friends should be killed: you must tell the magistrates of the city about it and prosecute the law against them.' The king's reply was soon after also published in print: but violence still prevailed; for the person that was apprehended for spreading the printed material, was sent to prison, by the special order of alderman Brown, of whom, since mention may be made several times in this work, it gives me occasion to say something of what kind of man he was:

In the time of Cromwell he had been very fierce against the royalists, especially at Abingdon, not far from Oxford; for this error he endeavored now to make compensation by violently persecuting the harmless Quakers; otherwise he was a comely man, and could commit cruelty with a smiling countenance. But more of his actions may be represented hereafter.

The Quakers, seeing that they could not obtain justice, let the matter of the murdered person alone; for suffering was now their portion, and therefore they left their cause to God. Often they were kept out of their meeting-houses by the soldiers; but then they did not use to go away, but stood outside the house, and so their number soon increased; and then one or other of their ministers generally stepped upon a bench, or some high place, and boldly preached. Being outside, he sometimes attracted more listeners than he would have inside. But preachers were sometimes soon pulled down by the soldiers; then another would stand up and preach, and thus often four or five, one after another, were taken away, as innocent sheep, and carried to prison with others of their friends, it may be up to forty or fifty at once. This puts me in mind of what I heard my mother, Judith Zinspenning say, who in the following year had come to England, with William Caton and his wife, who lived at Amsterdam, to visit her friend there; and coming to London, went with others to the Bull and Mouth meeting. When entrance being denied, they stayed in the street, where she saw one preacher after another pulled down, at the instant cry of some officer or other, ‘Constable, take him away.' Several were thus led away. The constable came also to her, and perceiving by her dress that she was a Dutch woman, pulled her by the sleeve, and said with admiration, ' What, a Dutch Quaker!' but meddled no further with her. This holding of meetings in the streets now became a customary thing in England; for the Quakers were persuaded that the exercise of their public worship was a duty no man could discharge them from, and they believed that God required the performing of this service from their hands. And by thus meeting in the streets, it happened sometimes that more than one preached at one time. Three or four at a time might preach, one in one place, and another in another; which in their meeting houses could not have been done conveniently. But thus they got abundance of people to listen to their message, and sometimes these eminent men, who passing by in their coaches, made their coachmen stop. By this unexpected fortune, they found there was a great harvest, and thus their church increased under sufferings; and in those hard  times they were pretty well purified of dross, since the trial was not for the insincere. For by frequenting their meetings in such a time, one was in danger of being either imprisoned, or beaten lame, or unto death; but this could not quench the zeal of the upright.

Now the arrest of one preacher, and the standing up of another, became an ordinary thing in England, and it lasted yet long after, as I myself have been an eye-witness. And when there were no more men preachers present, a woman would rise, and minister to the meeting; no, there were such, who in years being little more than boys, were endued with a manly zeal, and encouraged their friends to steadfastness. In the meanwhile many also were imprisoned, without being hauled out of their meetings; for some have been apprehended for speaking only something on the behalf of their friends; as Rebecca Travers, who, going to the lieutenant of the Tower, desired him to have compassion on some who were imprisoned for frequenting of meetings. But he grew angry at this; and when she went away, one of the keepers gave her ill language; when she exhorted him to be good in his place, while it was the Lord's will that he had the job, he was so offended, that going back to the lieutenant, he complained that she had spoken treason; and thereupon she was apprehended and sent to prison. No, the rude soldiers were encouraged to cruelty by officers who were not a bit better, for they themselves would sometimes lay violent hands on peaceable people; as among the rest the before mentioned, alderman Richard Brown, who formerly had been a major-general under Cromwell, and now behaved himself with such outrageous fierceness, that even the comedians did not hesitate to expose  him, by an allusion to his name Brown, and saying, 'The devil was brown.'

Yet these persecutors had no ping of conscience for violating and profaning their professed Sabbath, by their works of violence and persecution. Even after an act of Parliament was made for the better observation of the Lord's day, as it was termed, those self-condemned, pretended Christians, in many places furiously went on in their persecution and cruelty, against their fellow creatures and honest neighbors, without regard to God or religious worship, on any day; to the great reproach and scandal of the profession of Christianity.

Pursuant to the before said act, as was pretended, my beloved brethren, Richard Hubberthorn, Edward Burrough and myself, with many more of our faithful friends, were haled out of meetings and imprisoned in Newgate, London; where so many of us were crowded together, both in that called justice-hall side, and in the chapel side of the prison, that we were had difficulty finding a place to sleep in that room. The chapel was on the top of Newgate, where many Friends lay crowded in hammocks; and Richard Hubberthorn and I lay on small pallet bed in a little hole or closet behind the chapel, and opening into it, so that the breath and steam of those that lay next to us, in the chapel, came much upon us. We chose to lodge on the chapel side for the encouragement of many of the poorer sort of Friends who were there. We did not wish the poorer friends to be offended or troubled, as we thought they might, if we had taken up our lodging among the richer sort of our friends, on justice-hall side. We had many good meetings in the chapel, and the Lord was with us, to our great comfort and encouragement in his name and power, for whose sake we suffered patiently.

Since it was summer time, and a hot season, when we were crowded in prison, some or our friends, who were prisoners, fell sick of a violent fever, of which some died; and were viewed by the coroner's inquest. And when some were removed out of prison on account of sickness, they quickly ended their days, after their close confinement. In those days of hot persecution, sir Richard Brown, was chief persecutor in London, and gloried much in his persecuting and imprisoning our friends, insulting over them. I remember one time when several of us were called into the court of sessions in the old Bailey, one Friend was moved to testify against their "persecuting and oppressing the righteous seed and people of God,” calling out to the magistrates on the bench, "How long will ye oppress the righteous seed," with other words on the same subject. While he spoke, Richard Brown in derision, began to sing, "Ha you any kitchen stuff maids? Ha you any kitchen stuff, maids? Hey, Wall fleet oysters, will you buy any Wall fleet oysters? Will you buy any Wall fleet oysters."

And he sang out much like the women that cry kitchen stuff and Wall fleet oysters up and down the streets in London. I thought it very strange, indecent behavior for a justice of the peace and alderman of London, so enticingly to show himself upon the bench, in a court of justice, in the presence of the lord mayor and the rest of the magistrates with many others also present. But it showed how, in this persecuting spirit, a principal persecutor triumphed in his own iniquity and gloried in his shame.

Since it was our first commitment for offence of the new act, many of us were committed for three months imprisonment in Newgate. Before the time of that imprisonment had expired, my dear friend and brother, Richard Hubberthorn, was taken sick and died; and our dear brother, Edward Burrough, who was detained prisoner after I was released, was also taken sick of a fever and died. Thus the Lord was pleased by death to release both of these my dear brethren, companions and fellow laborers in the gospel of Christ Jesus; whose death was lamented by many tender friends, respecting the great service which they had in their day.

And though I had a full share in suffering with my friends and brethren in those days of hot persecution, and was carried through such imprisonments and sufferings that ended the days of several, yet my days have been lengthened much beyond my expectation. I was ready to humbly inquire of the Lord why I had been spared and my days prolonged, when so many other of His faithful servants had died. He showed me that my trials and service in his church and people were not yet finished. He has often made me sensible of his merciful providence in my preservation through many trials and exercises, being supported by the word of faith and of his patience, in the kingdom and patience or our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. O my soul, praise you the Lord, my life, my strength, and my salvation; and let all that is within me bless his holy name.

In those days of hot persecution it was observable how furious some of the judges were against our friends. When they were brought as prisoners into court, the judges wanted evidence of facts against them upon trial. Some of our friends would not answer the judges' questions, which designed to have them testify against themselves; instead they demanded the right to face their accusers, or asked where their accusers were. Some of the judges would use the words, “Sirrah, sirrah, you are an impudent fellow, leave your babbling," threatening them, with severe menaces, and frowning on them; such behavior being very unbecoming of a justice or judge, who ought to be impartial, to do equal justice and right, without premeditation or partiality against any person.

After the persecutors had tried several Quakers, resulting in their being fined, imprisoned, and transported out of the land for not swearing or for their religious meetings, the rigid persecutors were still not satisfied. The process of three months and six months imprisonment, before it came to transportation or banishment, was too slow a procedure to answer their invidious designs. This riddance of us out of the land was not as quickly as they wished, though many of us suffered hard imprisonments. Therefore in a short time they procured another legislative act to shorten their work against us, namely; an act entitled an act to prevent and suppress seditious conventicles; which is later detailed.

The following is an account of my imprisonment with other Friends in the White Lion Prison in Southwark, near London, for assembling together in the worship and service of Almighty God. Our treatment in prison will show the manner how our friends, being often apprehended, were treated in those days, for our innocent, religious meetings:

Upon the 3rd day of the fifth month, 1664, the first-day of the week, our friends were peaceably met together at their usual meeting place at Horsleydown, according to their customary manner, waiting upon the Lord in his fear. And after some time, George Whitehead spoke to the assembly, exhorting in truth and righteousness. In the interim, a company of soldiers with muskets and lighted matches in their hands, rushed in, and before they came to the inner door, one of them fired a musket; and two of them violently pulled George Whitehead down, and haled him and some others out of the meeting. They conducted themselves very rudely, pushing and threatening our friends, forcing many out of the meeting, and raging at and pushing women when they came near their husbands, whom they had taken into custody. George Whitehead asking them to show their warrant for what they did, a soldier held up his musket over his head, and said that was his warrant.

Then they whose names are mentioned in the mittimus hereafter, with several more, some of whom they took near the meeting-house door, and others in the street, were taken to the main guard on Margaret's Hill; where they kept them for some time, until the so called justices came, who asked our friends whether they had been at the meeting where they were arrested. To which answer was made, that they desired to hear what evidence came against them; for some were taken in the street, and not all in the meeting; but they put it upon George Whitehead to confess, if he was not present at the meeting; to which he answered, “What evidence do you have against me, and I shall answer further?” Then some of the soldiers were called to give evidence concerning him, and the others with him; they witnessed, that he was taken in the meeting-house speaking to the people; which was all the evidence that was given against him.

George Whitehead objected to the soldiers as being incompetent witnesses; for they came, said he, in a rude and inhuman manner, with force and arms, and so apprehended us illegally, without any justice present, or warrant for what they did. Instead, one held up his musket, said that was his warrant. They came in a terrifying manner among a peaceable people; which was both contrary to the late act, upon which they pretended to proceed, contrary to the king's proclamation, which prohibits the seizing of subjects by soldiers, unless in time of actual insurrection, according as we told them. By the said act the deputy lieutenants and militia officers and forces are not required to be assisting in suppressing meetings, unless there is a certificate under hand and seal of a justice of peace, stating that he with his assistants were not able to suppress them. It was also told them that the act did not allow a dwelling house of any peer or other person to be entered, except in the presence of a justice of peace. He related that there was no justice of the peace present when they had been arrested, and their meeting was neither seditious or tumultuous, which the militia officers are required to be assistant to suppress. The words of the act were mentioned to them, and George Whitehead asked for justice to be levied against those who had so illegally apprehended them and broken the peace thereby.

Friends also complained against one of the soldiers for firing his musket near the meeting door in the entry, and shooting a bullet through two or three ceilings and a dwelling room, which bullet was found near a child's cradle, where the child used to be laid; and one of them showed the bullet.

George Moor, one of the justices, answered that it was done accidentally and not intentionally. How it could have been accidentally was not apparent, considering the rest of the soldiers held their matches apart from their muskets. If accidentally done, consider whether such a man who had no more discretion or care, was a fit person or officer, to come in that manner with musket charged, among a peaceable, harmless people, assembled to worship God? But George Moor excused their having their muskets loaded. And to George Whitehead’s saying that there was no justice present when they were apprehended, George Moor answered, that he was present; George Whitehead told him, they did not see him there; and the soldiers were asked if he were present among them, they said no; but he said he was present because he had been near the meeting, just a little distance from it. When George Whitehead asked judgment against those soldiers that had broken the peace, and requested that they would correct or stop such proceedings for the future; for he said, if any are hurt by the soldiers, it will be required at your hands. They answered that our friends might take such legal course, and have the benefit of the law, but they would have to swear to the events charged against them.

As to the charge against George Whitehead, that he was at an unlawful assembly, and there was taken speaking; he answered, that it must be some unlawful act done by the persons met that could make the meeting unlawful; and therefore desired to know what unlawful act they had committed in their meeting. He told them that it was neither simply the meeting, nor the number met, whether five or five hundred, that could reasonably be judged unlawful, if the act or occasion met about was lawful; but it is an unlawful act that makes an unlawful meeting. As to the act of Parliament, which is named, An act to prevent Seditious Conventicles, the same should signify its nature and intent, and the preamble the reason or cause of it, and that is against such as under pretence of ender consciences, do contrive insurrections at their meetings. The preambles of laws are esteemed the keys of laws. One of the justices said, he did not know but that our meeting were to that intent. George Whitehead told him, whatever he or any other might suspect against them proves nothing. Suspicion proves no fact; we are an innocent people, fearing God.

Some of the justices alleged upon the evidence, that George Whitehead was at the meeting, and taken speaking, and the meeting was above the number of five. To which George Whitehead said, "That proves nothing of the breach of the law against him, unless they could prove some unlawful act done or met about; for it is not the number makes the transgression, but the fact, if it is unlawful; and if three are met about an unlawful act, it was an unlawful meeting, or a riot;" which Friends urged several times, that it must be an unlawful act that must make a meeting unlawful. Thereupon they excepted against the evidence as insufficient for conviction, or passing sentence of imprisonment upon them in order to banishment. And it was urged as a matter of weight, which concerned them to consider of.

At which point George Moor with some others, commanded the people to depart, and caused the soldiers to disperse those who stood civilly by, to hear and see what became of our friends - that they might not hear their trial, and would have had George Whitehead taken away. Since George Whitehead was several times accused for speaking in the meeting, he asked the justices to have the witness testify what he spoke in the meeting; but they would not ask the question, neither could the witnesses answer to it when it was proposed by our friends; so that no breach of the law was proved against them. One Friend told them, “We suppose you will not count it a transgression to speak, where nothing can be proved against what is spoken, unless you would have us dumb, and not speak at all.”

And then as to meeting to the number or five or above, under color or pretence of religious exercise not allowed by the liturgy, which incurs the penalty of the act, George Whitehead questioned what manner of religious exercise the liturgy did disallow of; and granted that he was at the meeting, and there did speak, having a word of exhortation to the people; but that still they fell short in their proof, either that the meeting was seditious or tumultuous, or that the exercise of religion or worship that we practiced was disallowed by the liturgy. For, said he, the liturgy allows what the holy Scriptures allow; and if I had a word of exhortation to speak according to the gift of God received, this is allowed by the Scriptures, therefore not disallowed by the liturgy, so that you have not proved the transgression of the law against me. To which they gave no answer. The clerk said it was a dilemma. Some Friends they let go, because the soldiers could not testify whether they took them in the street or in the meeting.

But seeing they resolved to proceed against some of our friends, George Whitehead told them that if they had so much moderation in them, they needed not, neither were they enjoined, to proceed to the rigor of the law, so as to imprison them for three months, seeing the law allowed any time not exceeding three months. But if they would imprison them to the maximum, George Whitehead demanded that they might have sufficient prison room, and not be stifled and destroyed by many being crowded together, as several were before in the same prison; for if they were, he told them, it would be required at their hands, and God would plead their cause, and call them to account for what they had done against them.

After several exchanges between them, more than are here mentioned, Friends refusing to pay five pounds fine each, were committed to jail without bail or mainprize, [fine in lieu of imprisonment]. While the justices were committing them, there was exceedingly great thunder, lightning and rain, and the water was high in the street that the soldiers could not get them to prison, but kept them in the street in the rain, and afterwards took them back to a house until the water had fallen; and then they were taken very late to prison and very wet.

The two keepers, Stephen Harris and Joseph Hall, after a short time demanded from each of them, 3s. 6d. a week for lodging, or 2s. apiece for the bare room; the best part in which overflowed with water. But they would not yield to the jailer's oppression, or pay him down ten shillings, which he required for that first night, but desired to be left to their liberty; and if they received any courtesy or accommodation from him, they would consider him as they found cause; but could neither pay for a prison, nor uphold oppression in it. Stephen Harris threatened them with the common ward, where the felons lay, and commanded them to go into it, which they refused, as a place not fit for true men to be in; yet he turned them into the common ward among the said felons. Friends warned him not to allow them to be abused, but they made light of it, saying, "It is your own fault," and seemed to encourage the felons against our friends.

As soon as the keepers had turned their Backs, the felons demanded half a crown from the Friends each, swearing what they would do to them; and because Friends could not answer their unjust demands, they fell upon them, searched their pockets, and took what money they found from several of them. When they had so done the keeper came to the window, and the felons confidently told him what they had done and how much they had taken, and that they must have more from them, for which he did not at all reprove them. They said they hoped he would stand by them in what they did; he made them return the cloak they had taken from one Friend, after they had taken his money; and laughed at them when they threatened Friends, and swore and cursed; the keepers also swore at them, and threatened to make them bow; at which point the felons gave a shout, crying, God a mercy, boys, we'll be upon them again.

Besides these abuses which our friends met with from the jailers and prisoners, the ward was such a nasty, stinking hole, and so crowded with those felons, and several women lying among them, which some called their wives, that our friends had nowhere to lay their heads to rest, nor a stool to sit down upon; but when they were weary, were willing to sit down on the floor, among the vermin, in a stinking place. A complaint was made about these gross abuses to some of the justices that had committed them. The next night the jailer was forced to let Friends have room to lodge apart from the felons.

A copy of the mittimus follows:

SURREY, ss. To the keeper of his majesty’s jail for the county.

Since George Whitehead, George Patteson, Joseph Dunsdnle, Gilbert Hutton, George Rawlins, Edward Pattison, and Timothy England, were this day taken at a seditious assembly or Conventicle, and are convicted for the same before us; therefore, according to the said act, we have fined them at the sum of five pounds apiece, which they refuse to pay down unto us. Therefore in his majesty's name, we command you to receive their bodies into your jail, and them safely to keep without bail or mainprize, for the space of three months from this present day. And hereof see that you in no wise fail, under the pains and penalties in the act mentioned,

Dated the 3rd day of July, 1664.


A few days after my commitment to White Lion prison, another trial befell me. I was taken out of the prison, before John Leothal, about the plot in the north of England, 1663, being unjustly accused by a Yorkshire man, a sort of an attorney, or lawyer, to have been involved in that plot, because I had been born in Westmoreland; and though he could not make out any proof against me, yet he persisted in his own evil jealousy and surmise, that I was such a person, whom he named, and said was in the plot; affirming that my name was not Whitehead, but another name. I was then carried in a boat to Whitehall, guarded with musketeers, and the jailer also with us, and there had into a room near the secretary's office, where the jailer waited with me. The lawyer, who had falsely suggested the crime against me, went in, and after some time sent out someone to examine me and my accuser with him. Then I was questioned about my name, the examiner, looking in a list or names which he had in his hand. I gave him a just account of my name and clearness, yet my accuser would confidently contradict me, saying, "Your name is not Whitehead, but Marshden," or such a like name. I told him surely I knew my own name, as I had declared it. Presently an ancient gentleman entered, hearing my accuser tell me my name was not Whitehead, and contradicted him; saying, "Yes, his name is Whitehead; he has written several books, in which his name is in print;" which gave a check to him, and prevented further examination.

This busy, false accuser and prosecutor, went in again to the secretary's office, and in a little time came out and warned the jailer not to discharge me until he had order from the secretary. Whether he had order to caution the jailer was questionable, for the man appeared very busy against me without cause, or any previous knowledge of me, or I of him. But seeing he was so confident in his unjust prosecution, I questioned in my thoughts whether he might not be suborned to prosecute me, or did it to get himself some fame or some reward for a pretended discovery. However, I judged it best and safest for me to trust in the Lord my God for preservation, and to be resigned to his will; and desired if he allowed me to be prosecuted and tried for my life, I might have opportunity to vindicate and clear our holy profession and Friends, and my own innocence also, from all such works of darkness, as plots and conspiracies against the king or government. I resolved to do this, if I were brought to a place of execution. Nevertheless I wrote a letter from prison to the lord Arlington, then Secretary of State, to clear my own innocence from those false suggestions and insinuations which were made against me, about the plot before mentioned, which was delivered to him, and I heard no more of it, but was released out of prison with the rest, when the three months were expired, for which we had been committed.

On the 16th day of the eighth month, 1664, being the first-day of the week, our friends were met together in the fear of the Lord, according to their usual manner, in their meeting place at the Bull and Mouth, near Aldersate, London. George Whitehead was there an declared the truth in the power and dread of the Lord God. After some time a great company of men with halberds* came into the meeting, and a little after shut the meeting-house door, and kept out many people that would have come in. The halberdiers stood and heard quietly for near an hour, as was thought; only one rude fellow attempted to pull George Whitehead down, but did not. Afterward came the lord mayor and a company with him, and Richard Brown followed. In a little time after the mayor came in, a rude fellow violently pulled George Whitehead down from speaking, and shoved him near the door; the mayor asked him his name, which he told him.

*A halberd is a medieval weapon consisting of a spearhead attached to a long pole or pikestaff; superseded by the bayonet and fitted with an ax head.

Richard Brown came somewhat rudely into the meeting, reviling and deriding our friends; at which point one of them gave testimony for the presence of the Lord in our meeting after this manner: "The Lord brought us here; and the presence of the Lord is among us; and this is my testimony." Richard Brown answered, "The devil brought you here; and the devil is among you, and this is my testimony;" laughing, and swinging his arms. To his words: the devil is among you, friends presently replied, "It is since you came that he is among us.” He threatened to send them to Bridewell, but George Whitehead exhorted Richard Brown and the mayor to moderation and civility towards us. Richard Brown answered, "If you will be civil to us, we will be civil to you." George Whitehead desired the mayor to produce the law they had broken, and that they might have a fair trial. Richard Brown answered, "Yes you shall have a fair trial at the sessions tomorrow, since it has not yet ended." Then some of the halberd men took George Whitehead and some of his friends into the street, and after they had kept them some time, they sent them in companies to Newgate, without sending warrants with them, being fined one shilling each, or six days imprisonment.

At the same time a particular warrant was sent to the jailer, from the mayor and Richard Brown, to detain William Smith, James Carter, William Parker, Elizabeth Chapman, and Jane Boadle, prisoners, for a pretended third offence, until delivered by due course of law.

In such manner both our men and women friends were frequently imprisoned, and jails filed with them in those days; for their persecutors were in great heat and haste to get them banished upon the second act or Parliament made for that end.

If they could bring them under conviction for a third offence, as they termed our meeting to worship the only living and true God; which if anyone among us did but confess, was enough to make him or her an offender, and to be convicted quickly by the confession, either for a first, second, or third offence. The shortness of our last imprisonment, as well as the smallness of the fines of one shilling apiece, seemed designed to exile us more quickly out of the land by banishment, after conviction for three pretended offences.

Now it may not be improper to give some account of the contents of the second act or Parliament, designed not only for our imprisonment, but also for our banishment out of the land of our nativity; and that with more expedition than could be effected by the first act, though the Lord our God would not allow that design of banishment to take any such general effect against us, as was desired by our invidious persecutors; for by his judgments in a great measure he frustrated our adversaries.

However many of our innocent friends were sentenced for banishment, only a few in comparison, were actually shipped or banished out of the land. The preamble and penalties of the act follow, 16 Car. 2, ch, iv.

It is styled, An act to prevent and suppress seditious conventicles. In the preamble, the 25th Eliz. ch, i, is declared to be in force: and also for providing of further and more speedy remedy against the growing and dangerous practices of seditious sects, and other disloyal persons, who under pretence of tender consciences, do at their meetings continue insurrections, as late experience has shown. Thus far the preamble and reason given for the act.

Thereupon it is enacted, that if any person of the age of sixteen years and upwards, being a subject, etc., shall be present at any assembly, conventicle, or meeting, under color or pretence of any exercise of religion, in other manner than is allowed by the liturgy of the church of England, every such person being convicted before two justices of the peace, to be committed to the jailor House of Correction, there to remain without bail or mainprize, for any time not exceeding three months, unless such person pay down to the said justices such sum of money not exceeding five pounds, as they might fine the offender at.

And for the second offence, the person convicted incurred the penalty of imprisonment for any time not exceeding six months, without bail or mainprize, unless the person convicted pay down such sum of money, not exceeding ten pounds, as the justices would fine him.

The penalty for the third offence, was imprisonment without bail or mainprize, until the next general quarter sessions, assizes, jail delivery, etc., there to be indicted, arraigned, etc., and when convicted, judgment to be entered, that such offender should be transported beyond the seas, to any of his majesty's foreign plantations - Virginia and New England only excepted - there to remain seven years.

And the said respective courts were also empowered to give out warrants to the several constables, etc., where the estate, real or personal, of such offender so to be transported, should be; commanding them to seize into their hands the profits of the lands, and to impound and sell the goods of the person to be transported, for the reimbursing the sheriff's charges for conveying and embarking the person to be transported.

And it is also enacted, that in case the offender convicted for the third offence, shall pay one hundred pounds in court, he shall be discharged from imprisonment, transportation and judgment for the same.

And it is further enacted, that the like imprisonment, judgment, arraignment, and proceedings, shall be against every such offender as often as he shall again offend after such third offence; nevertheless is dischargeable and discharged by payment of the like sum as was paid for his or her said offence, next before committed, together with the additional and increased sum of one hundred pounds more upon every new offence committed.

But this severe act was made temporary, being to continue in force for three years only, after the end of that session, and to the end of the next session of Parliament, after the end of the three years, and no longer.

And indeed it was time that persecuting, cruel law should expire; for the its execution was a great oppression and ruin of many of the king's innocent, peaceable subjects and families, especially of those called Quakers. For three years the persecutors tried to force the Quakers back into the Church of England or to have them banished. By the persecutors frequent imprisonments leading to banishment, they brought dishonor to their church, priesthood, and profession; making many widows, fatherless, and impoverished from honest, industrious families with their cruelties, imprisonments, fines, and seizures of their property for payment of fines. Our religious assemblies were often disturbed and broken up by the persecuting agents, officers and soldiers; many of us were apprehended and brought before the magistrates, witnesses called and examined, with no evil fact proved against any of us, nor any breach of the public peace or sedition, much less of any plots of insurrection or of any other dangerous practice whatever. Although those arrested had been in a meeting of silence, the persecuting justices would endeavor to make it a seditious conventicle, when they had no proof of any sedition or unlawful act, or hint of evidence against it in any of our meetings.

The manner of their proceeding to conviction against many of us has been thus; when apprehended and convened before the magistrates, and the officers or witnesses called, they declare they took such persons in a conventicle or meeting. The magistrate asks: What did they do there? If the witness answered that he took such person preaching or teaching, or praying, then he is asked, What did he say? The witness typically cannot remember one sentence of preaching or prayer. However, the persecuting magistrate took it for granted it was a seditious conventicle, though he had no proof of any sedition preached, taught, or uttered in prayer, nor any evidence or knowledge of what was said; yet he quickly passed judgment, entered conviction, and imprisoned the persons accused.

If any of the persons taken confessed they had met to worship God in spirit and in truth, or to wait upon God, the persecuting magistrates quickly seized on that saying it was enough, or that they had confessed enough to convict them of a conventicle or unlawful assembly.

If the witnesses or informers had no evidence to give of any overt act or religious exercise done in the meeting, but only that all were in silence, as many times has been testified; the persecuting magistrates or justices would still either rule the meeting a riot or unlawful assembly of such a silent meeting, when there was not the least appearance of a riot, force or violence, nor anything acted or spoken in terrorem or injury of anyone’s person or property whatever.

When a persecuting justice with a constable and others, came huffing and stamping into the assembly, whether all were in silence, or one was preaching; they either commanded the people to be pulled out of the meeting, or the doors to be shut, to keep them in. After their names were taken, the officers and other rude persons would either pull and push people out until they become weary of the arresting work. The justices then either imprisoned or fined many of the more well-known persons, though there was no act committed of any evil tendency proven.

Persecuting justices would easily receive information against our religious meetings, however ignorant and impertinent they were. If an envious informer told the justice the Quakers were met under color of religious exercise, contrary to the liturgy and practice of the church of England, the informer or witness presumed to be the judge both of law and fact; when he probably did not understand what the word liturgy even meant, nor could explain the practice of the church of England, which was not limited to reading the common prayer only. If the witness declared there was preaching or praying in such a meeting, yet could not remember one word or sentence expressed in either, (as it has often happened), nevertheless such silly, ignorant, and impertinent evidence was often accepted for conviction.


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