The Missing Cross to Purity

The Journal of George Fox - 1657 - 1661 - Back in England - End of Volume 1 <page 4 >

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This declaration did somewhat clear the dark air that was over the city and country; and soon after the king gave forth a proclamation, 'that no soldiers should search any house without a constable.' But the jails were still full, many thousands of Friends being in prison; which mischief was occasioned by the wicked rising of those fifth-monarchy-men. But when those of them that were taken came to be executed, they did us the justice to clear us openly from having any hand in or knowledge of their plot. After that the king, being continually pleaded with regarding this, issued a declaration, ' that Friends should be set at liberty without paying fees.' But great labor, travail, and pains were taken before this was obtained; for Thomas Moore and Margaret Fell went often to the king about it, and the King received them kindly.

Much blood was shed that year, many of the old king's judges being hanged, drawn, and quartered. Among those that suffered was Colonel Hacker, the one who sent me to prison from Leicester to London in Oliver's time. A sad day it was and a repaying of blood with blood. For in the time of Oliver Cromwell, when several were hung, drawn, and quartered for pretended treasons, I felt from the Lord God that their blood would not be ignored, but would be required, and I said as much then to several. And now upon the king's return, it was a time when several that had been against the king were put to death, just as the others that were for the king had been put to death before by Oliver; this was sad work, destroying people contrary to the nature of christians, who have the nature of lambs and sheep. But there was a secret hand in bringing this day upon that hypocritical generation of believers, who having gotten into power; grew proud, haughty, and cruel beyond others, and persecuted the people of God without pity. Therefore when Friends were under cruel persecutions and sufferings in the commonwealth's time, I was moved of the Lord to write unto them, to draw up their sufferings, and lay them before the justices at their sessions. And if they would not do them justice, then to lay them before the judges at the assize. And if they refused them justice, to lay it before the parliament, and before the protector and his council, that they might all see what was done under their government. And if they would not do justice, then to lay it before the Lord, who would hear the cries of the oppressed, the widows, and fatherless, whom they had made so. For what we suffered for, and for which our goods were spoiled, [property seized by the courts for refusing to swear], was our obedience to the Lord in his power and in his spirit, who is able to help and succor, and we had no helper in the earth but him. And the Lord heard the cries of his people, and brought an overflowing scourge over the heads of all our persecutors, which brought a quaking, a dread, and a fear among and on them all; so that those who had nicknamed us, the "children of light," and in scorn called us Quakers, the Lord made them to quake with dread and fear, and many of them would have been glad to have hidden themselves among us; and some of them, through the distress that came upon them, did finally confess to the truth. Oh! The daily reproaches, revilings, and beatings we underwent among them, even in the highways, because we could not put off our hats to them, and for saying, thou and thee to them! Oh! The havoc and spoil the priests made of our goods, because we could not put into their mouths and give them tithes!

{When the Independent Calvinist Puritans, the Baptists, and the Presbyterians first rose to power, they had a tenderness and cried that tithes were antichristian and called tithes, housecreepers [referencing the Pharisees, who devoured widows houses with their insistence on tithes]; but when these sects had gotten established and had many members with their steeplehouse, the began to make laws and orders, saying you must go to the steeplehouses, and when they got farther into outward power, they all got into steeplehouses and tithes. They said the tithes and steeplehouses were Divine Law with them, God, and the church; as though God or the church of Christ had need of earthly tithes. If they would have better said tithes and steeplehouses were human law, we could have easier believed it. And then they began to imprison and persecute Friends because they would not give them tithes. Many thousands of our Friends in those days suffered imprisonments, and many thousand pounds of property were taken from them. So they made many widows and fatherless for many died in prison that they had caused to be cast there.}

{But when the King came in, most of them lost their jobs, both magistrates and priest. They lost their jobs for the same reason they had persecuted us; for not conforming to their church faith and their directory, which they now did not have the courage to stand up for. Some conformed to the Common Prayer (Episcopal); and some of their hearers (members) said (flippantly) that they must be content with bread made from peas if they could not get wheat.}

Besides casting into prisons, and besides the great fines laid upon us because we could not swear! But for all these things did the Lord God plead with them. Yet some of them were so hardened in their wickedness, that when they were turned out of their places and offices, they said, 'If they had power they would do the same again.' {But old Cain's sword and arms were taken from his hand, and Judas lost his bag}. And when this day of overturning was come upon them, they said, ‘It was all our [the Quakers'] fault.' For which reason I was moved to write to them, and to ask, 'Did we ever resist them when they took away our ploughs and plough-gear, our carts and horses, our corn and cattle, our kettles and platters from us, and whipped us, and set us in the stocks, and cast us into prison, and all this only for serving and worshipping God in spirit and truth, and because we could not conform to their religions, manners, customs, and fashions? Did we ever resist them? Did we not give them our backs to beat, our cheeks to pull off the hair, and our faces to spit on? Had not their priests, that prompted them on to such work, plucked them with themselves into the ditch? Why then would they say," It was all our fault?" When it was owing to themselves and their priests, their blind prophets, that followed their own spirits into the ditch, and could foresee nothing of these times and things that were come upon them, which we had long forewarned them of; as Jeremiah and Christ had forewarned Jerusalem. They thought to have wearied us out and undone us; but they undid themselves. Whereas we could praise God; for despite all their plundering of us, we still had had a kettle, a platter, a horse, and a plough.

Many ways were these professors warned, by word, by writing, and by signs; but they would believe none, until it was too late. William Simpson was moved of the Lord to go at several times for three years naked* and barefooted before them as a sign to them, in markets, courts, towns, cities, to priests' houses, and to great men's houses; telling them, 'So should they be stripped naked as he was stripped naked!' And sometimes he was moved to put on hair sackcloth, and to besmear his face, and to tell them, 'So would the Lord God besmear all their religion as he was besmeared.' Great sufferings did that poor man undergo, sore whippings with horse whips and coach whips on his bare body, grievous stoning and imprisonments in three years time, (before the king came in), that they might have taken warning; but they would not, but rewarded his love with cruel usage. Only the mayor of Cambridge treated him nobly, for he put his gown about him, and took him into his house.

*Many people find this shocking, but Isaiah was also ordered by the Lord to go naked for three years. Isa 20:1-4.

Another Friend, Robert Huntingdon, was moved of the Lord to go into Carlisle steeple-house, with a white sheet about him, among the great Presbyterians and Independents there, to show them that the white robe (priests of the King’s church) was coming again; and he put a halter about his neck to show them that a halter was coming upon them; which was fulfilled upon some of our persecutors not long after.

Another, Richard Sale, living near Westchester, being constable of the place where he lived, had a Friend sent to him with a pass, (whom those wicked professors had taken up for a vagabond, because he traveled up and down in the work of the ministry), and this constable, being convinced by the Friend brought to him, gave him his pass and liberty, and was afterwards himself cast into prison. After this, on a lecture day, Richard Sale was moved to go to the steeple-house in the time of their worship, and to carry those persecuting priests and people a lantern and candle, as a figure of their darkness; but they cruelly abused him, and like the dark professors that they were put him into their prison called Little Ease, and so squeezed his body therein that not long after he died. Many warnings of various sorts were Friends moved in the power of the Lord to give to that generation; which they not only rejected, but abused Friends, calling us giddy-headed Quakers; but God brought his judgments upon those persecuting priests and magistrates. For when the king came in, most of them were turned out of their places and benefices (paid church offices), and the spoilers were spoiled; and then we could ask them, who were the giddy-heads now? Then many confessed we had been true prophets to the nation, and said, had we cried against some priests only, they should have liked us then; but we crying against all that made them dislike us. But now they say, ‘that those priests, then looked upon to be the best, were as bad as the rest.' For indeed some of those that were counted the most eminent priests were the bitterest and greatest stirrers up of the magistrates to persecution. And it was a judgment upon them to be denied the free liberty of their consciences when the king came in, because when they were uppermost they would not have had liberty of conscience granted to others. One Hewes, of Plymouth, a priest of great note in Oliver's days, when some liberty was granted, prayed, 'That God would put it into the hearts of the chief magistrates of the nation to remove this cursed toleration.' Others of them prayed against it by the name of intolerable toleration. But awhile after, when the king was come in, and priest Hewes turned out of his great benefice for not conforming to the common-prayer, a Friend of Plymouth meeting with him, asked him, ‘Whether he would account toleration accursed now? And whether he would not now be glad of toleration?' To which the priest returned no answer, save by the shaking of his head. But as stiff as this sort of men were then against toleration, it is well known many of them petitioned the king for toleration and for meeting-places, and paid for licenses too. But to return to the present time, the latter end of the year 1660 and the beginning of 1661.

Although those Friends, who had been imprisoned upon the rising of those monarchy-men, were set at liberty, meetings were still much disturbed, and great sufferings Friends underwent; for besides what was done by officers and soldiers, many wild fellows and rude people often came in. Once when I was at Pall Mall, an ambassador with a company of Irishmen and rude fellows came to us; the meeting was over before they came, and I had gone up into a chamber, where I heard one of them say, he would 'kill all the Quakers.' I went down to him, and was moved in the power of the Lord to speak to him. I told him, the law said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;' but you threaten to 'kill all the Quakers, though they have done you no harm.' But, I said, here is gospel for you: 'Here is my hair, here is my cheek, here is my shoulder,' turning it to him. This came so over him so that he and his companions stood as men amazed, and they said, if that was our principle, and if we were as we said, they had never seen anything like it in their lives. I told them that what I was in words, I was the same in life. Then the ambassador, who had stayed outside came in; for he said that the Irish colonel was such a desperate man that he dared not come in with him for fear he would have done us some mischief; but truth came over him, and he carried himself lovingly towards us, as also did the ambassador; for the Lord's power was over them all.

At Mile-end Friends were kept out of their meeting place by soldiers; but Friends stood nobly in the truth, valiant for the Lord's name, and at last the truth gave them dominion.

About this time we had an account that John Love, a Friend who had been moved to go and bear testimony against the idolatry of the Papists, was dead in prison in Rome; and it reported by the nuns in France that he was hung under the cover of the night. {They said they didn't have anything against him except he was a threat to their religion; and to cover the shame of their action, they reported that he had fasted himself to death}. John Perrot was also prisoner there, and being released came over again; but after his arrival here, he with Charles Baily and some others turned aside from the unity of Friends and truth. At which point I was moved to issue a paper, declaring how the Lord would blast him and his followers, if they did not repent and return, and that they should wither like the grass on the house-top; which many of them did,* but others repented and returned.

*Thomas Ellwood, in his autobiography, describes Perrot as one who designated himself a minister before he was ready, and was so conceited that he decided to go to Rome to convert the Pope to being a Quaker. He first ran out, objecting to the removal of hats in prayer, saying it was a violation of individual conscience; several went with him, including Naylor and Ellwood, both of whom returned. John Perrot later ran out supposedly in objection to women's meetings, but he really objected to any censure of his conduct; he never returned to the fellowship. Trying to discredit the Quakers, he was caught forging a deceptive paper using Edward Burrough's name. Later he went to the American colonies, where he became a severe persecutor of Quakers for failure to swear. Becoming convinced of the Truth and joining Quakers did not result in automatically being reborn, much less reaching maturity. The cross was still necessary to suffer, in order to kill the old man, before birth; and then maturity was yet necessary. Those, who never matured in Christ, were obviously subject to all kinds of errors, particularly when they would not yield to the patient, gentle correction of those who were mature in Christ.

Also before this time we received account from New England, 'that the government (Puritans) there had made a law to banish the Quakers out of their colonies, upon pain of death in case they returned.' Several of our Friends, having been so banished and returning, were taken and actually hanged, and many more were in prison, in danger of the like sentence being executed upon them.' When those were put to death, I was in prison at Lancaster, and had a perfect sense of their sufferings as though it had been myself, and as though the halter had been put about my own neck, though we had not at that time heard of it. But as soon as we heard of it, Edward Burrough went to the king, and told him, ‘there was a vein of innocent blood opened in his dominions, which if it were not stopped would overrun all.' To which the king replied, ‘But I will stop that vein.' Edward Burrough said, ‘Then do it speedily, for we know not how many may soon be put to death.' The king answered, 'As speedily as you will. Call, (said he to some present), the secretary, and I will do it presently.' The secretary being called, a mandamus was granted. A day or two after, Edward Burrough going again to the king to desire the matter might be expedited, the king said, he had no occasion at present to send a ship there, but if we would send a ship we could do it as soon as we would. Edward then asked the king, if it would please him to grant his deputation to one called a Quaker to carry the mandamus to New England?' He said, ‘Yes, to whom you will.' Upon which E. B. named Samuel Shattock, who being an inhabitant of New England was banished by their law, to be hanged if he came again, and to him the deputation was granted. Then we sent for Ralph Goldsmith an honest Friend, who was master of a good ship, and agreed with him for three hundred pounds, (goods, or no goods), to sail in ten days. He prepared to set sail, and with a favorable gale, in about six week’s time, arrived at the town of Boston in New England, upon a First-day morning. With him went many passengers, both of New and Old England, Friends, whom the Lord moved to go and bear testimony against those bloody persecutors, who had exceeded all the world in that age in their bloody persecutions. The townsmen at Boston, seeing a ship come into the bay with English colors, soon came on board and asked for the captain. Ralph Goldsmith told him, he was the commander. They asked him, if he had any letters? He said, yes. They asked, if he would deliver them? He said, 'No, not today.' So they went ashore and reported, there was a ship full of Quakers, and that Samuel Shattock was among them, who they knew was by their law to be put to death for coming again after banishment; but they knew neither his errand nor his authority. So all being kept close that day, and none of the ship's company allowed to go on shore; next morning Samuel Shattock, the king's deputy, and Ralph Goldsmith, went on shore, and sending back to the ship the men that landed them, the two of them went through the town to the governor's, John Endicott's door, and knocked. He sent out a man to know their business. They sent him word their business was from the king of England, and they would deliver their message to none but the governor himself. At which point they were admitted in, and the governor came to them; and having received the deputation and the mandamus, he put off his hat and looked upon them. Then going out, he bid the Friends follow him. He went to the deputy governor, and after a short consultation came out to the Friends, and said, ‘We shall obey his majesty's commands.' After this the master gave liberty to the passengers to come on shore, and presently the noise of the business flew about the town; and the Friends of the town and the passengers of the ship met together to offer up their praises and thanksgivings to God, who had so wonderfully delivered them from the teeth of the devourer. While they were meeting, a poor Friend came in, who, being sentenced by their bloody law to die, had lain some time in irons, expecting execution. This added to their joy and caused them to lift up their hearts in high praises to God, who is worthy forever to have the praise, the glory, and the honor; for he only is able to deliver, to save, and support all that sincerely put their trust in him. Here follows a copy of the mandamus.

Charles R.

Trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. Having been informed, that several of our subjects among you, called Quakers, have been and are imprisoned by you, whereof some have been executed, and others, (as has been represented to us), are in danger to undergo the like. We have thought fit to signify our pleasure on that behalf for the future; and do hereby require, that if there are any of those people called Quakers among you, now already condemned to suffer death or other corporal punishment, or that are imprisoned and objecting to the like condemnation, you are not to proceed any further there with this; but that you promptly send these persons, (whether condemned or imprisoned), over to  our kingdom of England,* together with the respective crimes or offences laid to their charge, to the end such course may be taken with them here as shall be agreeable to our laws and their demerits. And for so doing, these our letters, shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge. Given at our court at Whitehall, the 9th day of September, 1661, in the thirteenth year of our reign.'

‘Subscribed: To our trusty and well beloved John Endicott, Esq. and to all and every other governor or governors of our plantations of New England, and of all the colonies there, that now are or hereafter shall be. And to all ministers and officers of our plantations and colonies within the continent of New England.

            'By his majesty's command, William Morris

* The King instructed the government magistrates of Boston to send over any condemned Quakers to England. The Boston magistrates knew full well they had violated the laws of England, killing and mutilating the Quakers; and being afraid of their testimonies if sent back to England, the cowardly Puritan magistrates immediately freed all Quakers from prison and sentences in order to bypass their being sent back to England.

Some time after this several New England magistrates came over, with one of their priests. We had several discourses with them concerning their murdering our friends, the servants of the Lord; but they were, ashamed to stand to their bloody actions. At one of those meetings I asked Simon Broadstreet, one of the New England magistrates, whether he had a hand in putting to death those four servants of God, whom they hanged for being Quakers only, as they had nicknamed them? He confessed he had, and I then asked him, and the rest of his associates then present, whether they would acknowledge themselves to be subjects to the laws of England? And if they did, by what law they had put our friends to death? They said, they were subjects to the laws of England, and they had put our friends to death by the same law as the Jesuits were put to death here in England. I asked them then, whether they did believe those friends of ours, whom they had put to death, were Jesuits, or affected by the Jesuits? They said, no. Then, said I, you have murdered them, if you have put them to death by the law that Jesuits are put to death here in England, and yet confess they were not Jesuits. By this it plainly appears you have put them to death in your own wills, without any law. Then Simon Broadstreet, finding himself and his company ensnared by their own words, asked, did we come to trap them? I told them they had caught themselves, and they might justly be questioned for their lives; and if the father of William Robinson, (who was one of those that were put to death), was in town, it was probable he would question them, and bring their lives into jeopardy. Here they began to excuse themselves, saying, ‘There was no persecution now among them;' but next morning we had letters from New England, giving us account that our friends were persecuted there afresh. Therefore we went to them again, and showed them our letters, which put them both to silence and to shame. In great fear they seemed to be, in case someone should call them to account and, prosecute them for their lives, (especially Simon Broadstreet); for he had confessed before so many witnesses that, 'he had a hand in putting our friends to death,' that he could not deny it; though he afterwards through fear shuffled, and would have unsaid it again. After this he and the rest soon left the city, and got back to New England again. I went also to Governor Winthrop, and discoursed with him about these matters; but he assured me, ‘He had no hand in putting our friends to death, or in any way persecuting of them, but was one of them that protested against it.' These stingy persecutors of New England were a people that fled out of old England from the persecution of the bishops here; but when they got power into their hands, they so far exceeded the bishops in severity and cruelty, that where the bishops had made them pay twelve pence a Sunday, (so called), for not coming to their worship here, they imposed a fine of five shillings a day upon such who would not conform to their will worship there, and seized the property of Friends that could not pay it. Besides, many that were imprisoned, they whipped many most cruelly; they cut the ears off some, and some they hanged; as the books of Friends' sufferings in New England largely show, particularly one written by George Bishop of Bristol, entitled, 'New England Judged:' (in two parts.) Some of the old Royalists were earnest with Friends to have prosecuted them; but we told them, we left them to the Lord, to whom vengeance belonged, and he would repay it. And the judgments of God have since fallen heavy on them: for the Indians have been raised up against them, and have cut off many of them.

Note from Valiant for the Truth: In the seventh month of the year 1656, two women Friends arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, from England. They were cruelly treated, and shut up in prison for five weeks. Nicholas Upsal, an old resident of Boston, and an earnest christian, was much distressed at the condition of these poor friendless women. No food being provided for them, he induced the jailer to supply them, by paying him five shillings a week. They were only released from jail to be sent back to England.

A month after, a ship-load of Friends arrived in Boston, and although no law then existed against the Quakers, they were considered too dangerous to be allowed their liberty, and after a short imprisonment, were sent back to England. Governor Endicott now made a law, prohibiting masters of vessels from bringing Quakers to the colony, and threatening imprisonment to any who should come. Honest Nicholas Upsal was sorely troubled at this unrighteous law, as it seemed to him, and remonstrated with the rulers against such edicts, warning them to take heed, lest they be found fighting against God, The rulers resented such interference, and the old man was fined twenty pounds, and banished from the colony. The neighboring colony of Rhode Island offered an asylum for all who suffered on account of their religion. Roger Williams, its founder, had been banished from Massachusetts for his liberal views, and in arranging the government of his new home, declared that" the doctrine of persecution for the cause of conscience, is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrines of Jesus Christ." There in the depth of winter Nicholas Upsal bent his steps, and was kindly sheltered on his journey by an Indian chief, through whose encampment he passed.
The Indian could not understand why this feeble, aged person should undertake this journey at such an inclement season. But when he understood the cause, he offered to share his wigwam with the stranger, saying, " What a God have the English, who deal so with one another about their God."

The dreaded heresy grew and increased notwithstanding all the efforts of the rulers of the Massachusetts colony to check it, and more stringent laws were enacted. A fine was imposed on all who should absent themselves from public worship. No one could offer any refreshment to one of the hated Quakers without being fined, and all who held their views were sentenced to be whipped, lose their ears, have their tongues bored with hot iron, and if these measures did not induce them to recant, they were to be banished from the colony. Even children did not escape. In some cases they were condemned to be sold as slaves at the Bermudas, in payment of the fines imposed on their parents. But no ship captain could be found, who was willing to carry out this unjust sentence, and it was not put in execution. One of our own poets has drawn a graphic picture of this cruel imposition, in the ballad of Cassandra Southwick!

But it was in the New England Colonies that the extreme penalty of death was inflicted upon those whose greatest crime in the eyes of their judges was that they were Quakers. Mention has already been made of the persecutions to which some of this hated sect were subjected, and in 1655 the General Court of Plymouth issued a proclamation denouncing them as "publishing dangerous and horrid tracts," and declaring that any convicted of holding their views should be banished from the colony under pain of death. In obedience to this law four persons were ordered to leave the jurisdiction. They were William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, William Leddra, and Mary Dyer, who had 'come to Boston to labor for their Lord.' In obedience to this mandate they left the town, but William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson could not feel satisfied to go further than Salem. Here they spent the night with some of their friends, and in the morning, after an affecting parting, they started again for Boston with a few who resolved to bear them company. It seemed almost like a funeral procession, as they calmly but solemnly went to their doom, following what seemed to them the direction of their Lord. On reaching the town they were soon arrested and committed to prison. The next month Mary Dyer returned and was also taken into custody. The prisoners were then brought before the court and sentence of death pronounced upon them.

On the day appointed for their execution a band of two hundred armed men, besides many horsemen, were called out to escort these harmless, unarmed Quakers to the gallows. The prisoners were placed in the center with a drummer next to them, who was ordered to make noise enough to drown their voices, if they attempted to speak to the crowds which followed them. There were mingled feelings in the hearts of the spectators, for all could not unite with the unjust judges, but the prisoners themselves were at peace. We are told "they went with great cheerfulness, as to an everlasting wedding feast." The men suffered first, and Mary Dyer ascended the scaffold, but as the rope was placed about her neck a cry was heard, "She is reprieved." Her son had made such earnest intercession that her life was granted him on condition she should leave the Colony at once.

In the spring of 1660 Mary Dyer felt she must return to Boston, and was soon in her old prison again. Being brought before the court, the governor, John Endicott, asked her if this was the same Mary Dyer, to which she replied, "I am." She then gave the reason for her return, that she believed the Lord had sent her to beseech them to repeal their wicked law, and to warn them that He would assuredly punish those who opposed His will. Her expostulations were unavailing, Governor Endicott was immovable, and she was condemned to be hung at nine o'clock the next day.

Morning came; Boston Common presented an unwonted spectacle. Groups of awe-stricken women were talking in whispers of the sad fate awaiting one who was like themselves a wife and a mother. Children were gazing with wonder and terror at the gloomy gallows tree erected before them, and wondered what wicked thing this woman could have done that she must be hanged; while strong men, who denounced the mistaken zeal of the Quakers, could but acknowledge they were an honest sect, and many would fain have let them alone. Soon came the sound of drum and fife, and a company of soldiers marched by; then came men beating their drums loudly, and by their side walked calmly and serenely the heroine of the day, the hated, despised Quaker. She ascended the scaffold, and when her life was again proffered, on condition she should leave Boston forever, she replied, "Nay, I cannot promise. In obedience to the will of the Lord I came, and in His will I abide, faithful unto death." The signal was given, the drop fell, and this faithful witness for Jesus went home to be with Him forever.

From William Sewel's 1695 History of the Christian People Called Quakers: The Governor of Massachusetts; the magistrates of Boston, Cambridge, and Salem; the priests, and many other officials who massively persecuted the Quakers with beatings, chopping off ears, boring tongues and hanging, themselves met strange, dramatic deaths, sometimes realizing it was the judgment of God. But the entire Boston area suffered an even stranger judgment; Quoting Sewel:

Yet one thing remarkable I may mention here, which when I first heard, could not fully give credit to: but thinking it worth the while to make a narrow inquiry into it, I did so, not only by writing, but also from the mouths of persons that had been eye-witnesses, or had been informed by such; and from these I got this concurring observation, namely,  that the country about Boston was formerly a very fruitful soil that produced excellent wheat; but that since the time this town had been stained with the blood of the Quakers, so called, no wheat, or similar crops, would grow to perfection within twenty miles, though the ground had been ploughed and sown several times; for sometimes what was sown was spoiled by vermin or insects; at other times it grew up: but scarce yielded more than was sown, and so could not countervail the charge; and in another year the expected harvest was quashed by another accident; and these disappointments continuing many years, the people at length grew weary of making further trial, and so left the ground untilled; notwithstanding that twenty miles off from Boston the soil is fruitful, and yields very good corn. But there having been so many re-iterated instances of unfruitfulness nearer the town, ancient people that are alive still, and remember the first times, generally agree in their opinion that this ill a judgment from heaven, and a curse on the land, because of the shedding of innocent blood at Boston. This relation I had from so many credible persons, (though the one knew nothing of the other, as differing much in time), yet what they told me did so well agree in the main, that I could not but believe it, though I do not use to be credulous; and therefore I have been the more exact in my inquiry, so that I con no longer question the case; but it seems to me as a punishment on that blood-thirstiness which now hath ceased long ago.

There is a book on this web site that totally covers the Puritan persecutions of the Quakers in Massachusetts.

About this time I lost a very good book, being taken in the printer's hands: it was a useful teaching book. {It was such a teaching book that none had ever been like it}, containing the signification and explanation of names, parables, types, and figures in the scriptures. Those who took it were so affected that they were afraid to destroy it; but thinking to have made a great advantage of it, they would have let us have it again, if we would have given them a great sum of money for it; which we were not free to do.

Sometime before this, while I was prisoner in Lancaster castle, the book called the' Battledore' came forth, which was written to show that in all languages [it was written in 25 languages] thou and thee is the proper and usual form of speech to a single person, and you to more than one. This was set forth in examples or instances taken out of the scriptures, and out of books of instruction in about thirty languages. John Stubbs and Benjamin Furly took great pains in compiling it, which I asked them to do; and some things I added to it. When it was finished, some of them were presented to the king and his council, to the bishops of Canterbury and London, and to the two universities one apiece; and many of them were bought. The king said, ‘it was the proper language of all nations.' The bishop of Canterbury, being asked what he thought of it, was so at a stand that he did not know what to say about it. For it did so inform and convince people, that few afterwards were so rugged towards us for saying thou and thee to a single person, for which before they were exceedingly fierce against us. For thou and thee was a sore cut to proud flesh and to those who sought self-honor; who, though they would say it to God and Christ, would not endure to have it said to them. So that we were often beaten and abused, and sometimes in danger of our lives for using those words to some proud men, who would say, ‘What! you ill-bred clown, do you thou me!' as though there lay christian breeding in saying you to one, which is contrary to their grammars and teaching books, by which they instructed their youth.

Now since the Roman bishops and priests were busy and eager to set up their form of worship, and compel all to come to it, I was moved to give forth the following paper, to open the nature of the true worship which Christ set up, and which God accepts; thus:

‘Christ’s worship is free in the spirit to all men; and such as worship in the spirit and in the truth are those that God seeks to worship him; for he is the God of truth, and is a spirit, and the God of the spirits of all flesh. He has given to all nations of men and women breath and life, to live, move, and have their being in him, and has put into them an immortal soul. So all nations of men and women are to be temples for him to dwell in; and they that defile his temple he will destroy. Now as the outward Jews, while they had their outward temple at Jerusalem, were to go there to worship, (that temple God has long since thrown down, and destroyed that Jerusalem,- the vision of peace, and cast off the Jews and their worship, and in their place has set up his gospel-worship in the spirit and in the truth), so now all are to worship in the spirit and in the truth. This is a free worship; for where the spirit of the Lord is and rules, there is liberty; the fruits of the spirit are seen, and will manifest themselves. The spirit is not to be limited, but to be lived and walked in, that the fruits of it may appear. The tares are such as hang upon the wheat, and thereby draw it down to the earth; yet the tares and the wheat must grow together until the harvest, for fear that in plucking up the tares they should pluck up the wheat with the tares. The tares are such as worship not God in the spirit and in the truth, but grieve the spirit, vex and quench it in themselves, and walk not in the truth; yet will hang about the wheat, the true worshippers in the spirit and in the truth. Christ's church was never established by blood, nor held up by prisons; neither was the foundation of it laid by carnal weaponed men, nor is it preserved by such. When men went from the spirit and truth, they took up carnal weapons to maintain their outward forms, yet they cannot preserve them with their carnal weapons; for one plucks down another's form with his outward weapons. And this work has been among the christians in name since they lost the spirit, and spiritual weapons, and the true worship which Christ set up, that is in the spirit and in the truth; which spirit and truth they that worship in are over all the tares. All who would try plucking up the tares are forbidden by Christ, who has all power in heaven and earth given to him; for the tares and the wheat must grow together until the harvest, as Christ has commanded. The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. Now if the stone fills the whole earth, all nations must be temples for the stone. All that say they travail for the seed, and yet bring forth nothing but a birth of strife, contention, and confusion, their fruit shows their travail to be wrong; for by the fruit the end of everyone's work is seen for what it is.'

George Fox

About this time many Papists and Jesuits began to fawn upon Friends, and talked up and down where they came, that of all the sects the Quakers were the best and most self-denying people; and said, ‘It was a great pity that they did not return to the holy mother church.' Thus they made a buzz among the people, and said, ‘they would willingly discourse with Friends.' But Friends were reluctant to meddle with them, because they were Jesuits, looking upon it to be both dangerous and scandalous. But when I understood it, I said to Friends, ‘Let us discuss with them, however they are.' So a time was appointed at Gerard Roberts's, there came two of them like courtiers. They asked our names, which we told them; but we did not ask their names, for we understood they were called Papists, and they knew we were called Quakers. I asked them the same question that I had formerly asked a Jesuit, namely, 'Whether the church of Rome was not degenerated from the church in the primitive times, from the spirit, power, and practice that the apostles were in?' He to whom I put this question, being subtle, said, ‘He would not answer it.' I asked him, why? But he would show no reason. His companion said, he would answer me; and said, ‘they were not degenerated from the church in the primitive times.' I asked the other, ‘whether he was of the same mind?' He said, ‘yes.' Then I replied, for the better understanding one another, and that there might be no mistake, I would repeat my question over again after this manner: 'Whether the church of Rome now was in the same purity, practice, power, and spirit, that the church in the apostles' time was in?' When they saw we would be exact with them they grew agitated, and denied that, saying, ‘It was presumption in any to say they had the same power and spirit which the apostles had.' I told them, it was presumption in them to meddle with the words of Christ and his apostles, and make people believe they succeeded the apostles, yet be forced to confess, 'they were not in the same power and spirit that the apostles were in; ‘This, said I, is a spirit of presumption, and rebuked by the apostles' spirit. I showed them how different their fruits and practices were from the fruits and practices of the apostles. Then one of them got up, and said, 'You are a company of dreamers.' No, I said, you are the filthy dreamers, who dream you are the apostles' successors, and yet confess, 'you have not the same power and spirit which the apostles were in.' And are not they defilers of the flesh, who say, ‘It is presumption for any to say, they have the same power and spirit which the apostles had!' ‘Now’, I said, 'if you have not the same power and spirit which the apostles had, then it is manifest that you are led by another power and spirit than the apostles and church in the primitive times were led by.' Then I began to tell them how that evil spirit, which they were led by, had led them to pray by beads and by images, and to set up nunneries, friaries, and monasteries, and to put people to death for religion; which practice I showed them was below the law, and far short of the gospel, in which is liberty. They were soon weary of this discourse, and went their way; as we heard, they gave an order to the Papists 'that they should not dispute with us, or read any of our books.' So we were rid of them; but we had reasonings with all the other sects: Presbyterians, Independents, Seekers, Baptists, Episcopal-men, Socinians, Brownists, Lutherans, Calvinists, Arminians, Fifth-monarchy-men, Familists, Muggletonians, and Ranters; none of which would affirm they had the same power and spirit that the apostles had and were in. So in that power and spirit the Lord gave us dominion over them all.

As for the Fifth-monarchy-men I was moved to give forth a paper, to manifest their error to them; for they looked for Christ's personal coming in an outward form and manner, and fixed the time to the year 1666; at which time some of them prepared themselves when it thundered and rained, thinking Christ had then come to set up his kingdom, and they imagined they were to kill the whore without them. But I told them the whore was alive in them, and was not burned with God's fire, nor judged in them with the same power and spirit the apostles were in. And their looking for Christ's coming outwardly to set up his kingdom was like the Pharisees' , Lo here,' and' Lo there.' But Christ has come and has set up his kingdom above sixteen hundred years ago, (according to Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's prophecy), and he had dashed to pieces the four monarchies, the great image, with its head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet part of iron, part of clay; and they were all blown away with God's wind, as the chaff in the summer threshing floor. And when Christ was on earth, he said, his kingdom was not of this world: if it had been, his servants would have fought; but it was not, therefore his servants did not fight. Therefore all the Fifth-monarchy-men, that are fighters with carnal weapons, are none of Christ's servants, but the beast's and the whore's. Christ said, ‘All power in heaven and in earth is given to me;' so then his kingdom was set up above sixteen hundred years ago, and he reigns. And we see Jesus Christ reign, said the apostle, ‘and he shall reign until all things be put under his feet;' though all things are not yet put under his feet, nor subdued.


While this was happening in England, several self-denying women, left their comfortable homes and went forth at their Master's bidding, to carry the knowledge of the glorious gospel of Christ to the ignorant and blinded followers of false gods.

Mary Fisher was another woman who came to faith in Jesus Christ through the ministry of George Fox. When Mary Fisher began preaching (a scandalous thing for a woman to do!) she too was imprisoned. Her stated crime was that she had spoken to a priest. (She had: her parish minister.) The next 16 months found her in a fetid jail, but at the same time being schooled in the way of discipleship by other imprisoned Quakers. When she was released the mayor of a near-by city had her and other Quaker women stripped to the waist as a public humiliation, and then flogged.

In 1655 Mary, accompanied by another Quaker (a woman with five children) embarked for America. Upon landing in New England they found the Puritan authorities hostile. A hundred of their books were burned. The two women were stripped, searched for signs of witchcraft, and imprisoned. They would have starved had not the jailer been bribed. Authorities eventually released them and immediately deported them to England.

Two years later Mary Fisher believed herself called of God to commend the gospel to the Sultan of Turkey. Upon arriving in Smyrna she asked at the British Consul how she could contact the Sultan. The British Consul told her that her mission was foolhardy, and put her on a ship for England. She managed to persuade the ship's captain that she was neither deranged nor silly. He put her ashore at the next port. Mary traveled 600 miles overland to find Sultan Mohammed IV, together with his army of 20,000. A message from her informed him that an Englishwoman had come with something to declare to him from the great God. An audience was granted, and the next morning she was ushered into the presence of the Sultan, arrayed in his robes of state, and surrounded by his officers, also splendidly attired. Into this scene of pomp and splendor came the simple Quaker, like David of old before Goliath, with no weapon of her own, but in the name of the Lord of Hosts. The Sultan, through his interpreters, courteously asked her to declare her message, and listened attentively while she spoke. She told him she had a message from "The Great God." He received her with all the graciousness and protocol accorded an ambassador. She laid before him what God had laid on her heart, and it was translated into Arabic. Whereupon she set sail for England. Sultan Mohammed, though seemingly at the acme of power and glory in the early part of his reign, found only trouble and perplexity at its close, and, being deposed by his subjects, died in seclusion.

Eventually Mary Fisher married and returned to America, settling down not in New England this time but in Charleston, South Carolina, where her remains are buried.

Katherine Evans and Sarah Cheevers, who started for Alexandria, did not meet with as favorable a reception, for on landing at Malta they were soon arrested by order of the Roman Catholic Inquisition, and imprisoned in a small room where were only two holes for light and air. They were so oppressed by the heat that they frequently lay down on the floor by their door, hoping some air would come in at the threshold. Their skin was parched, the hair fell from their heads, and they often fainted. At last they were allowed to have the door open some part of the time each day. The inquisitors often visited them, endeavoring to persuade them to renounce their religion, and threatening them with death if they did not. But they were steadfast, and boldly expressed their views, confounding their opponents by the power and truth with which they vindicated their principles.
Notwithstanding all their trials, the peace of God so filled their hearts that they could write thus:  "We do greatly rejoice and glorify the name of our Heavenly Father, though we be the least of the flock, yet we are of the true fold, whereof Christ Jesus is the Shepherd, and He hath a tender care over us, and hath carried us through and over our great afflictions. We are witnesses He can provide a table in the wilderness, both temporal and spiritual. Oh the endless love of our God, who is as an everlasting fountain, whose crystal streams never cease running to every thirsty soul."

The rigor of their confinement was at last somewhat abated, and they preached Jesus zealously to all who came near them. After many fruitless attempts had been made for their release by their friends in England, George Fox went to the Earl of D'Aubeny, and represented the case in such strong terms that he promised to write to the authorities at Malta, requiring their release. This was accordingly effected, after three years of privation and suffering, during which these two frail, delicate women were enabled to exemplify the truth of the declaration, "My God shall supply all your needs."

(Source: Valiant for the Truth, and Life of Mary Fisher.)


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