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The Last Imprisonment.


Between this and the fair, my wife came out of the North to Bristol to me, and her son-in-law, Thomas Lower, with two of her daughters,225225    When George Fox married Margaret Fell she had one son George, and seven daughters, as follows: Margaret, who married John Rous; Bridget, who married John Draper; Isabel, twice married, first to William Romans and then to Abraham Morrice; Sarah, who married William Mead (Penn’s companion in the famous trial) Mary, who married Thomas Lower; Susanna, who married William Ingram, and Rachel, who married Daniel Abraham. came with her. Her other son-in-law, John Rous, William Penn and his wife, and Gerrard Roberts, came from London, and many Friends from several parts of the nation to the fair; and glorious, powerful meetings we had at that time, for the Lord’s infinite power and life was over all.

I passed into Wiltshire, where also we had many blessed meetings. At Slattenford, in Wiltshire, we had a very good meeting, though we met there with much opposition from some who had set themselves against women’s meetings; which I was moved of the Lord to recommend to Friends, for the benefit and advantage of the Church of Christ,226226    This is the beginning of a serious opposition to Fox’s system of government, which finally grew to an open schism. It was headed by John Wilkinson and John Story. It was one of the most trying struggles of Fox’s life. “that faithful women, who were called to the belief of the Truth, being made partakers of the same precious faith, and heirs of the same everlasting gospel of life and salvation with the men, might in like manner come into the possession and practice of the gospel order, and therein be helpmeets unto the men in the restoration,227227    That is, in reclaiming those who have gone astray. in the service of Truth, in the affairs of the Church, as they are outwardly in civil, or temporal things; that so all the family of God, women as well as men, might know, possess, perform, and discharge their offices and services in the house of God, whereby the poor might be better taken care of, the younger instructed, informed, and taught in the way of God; the loose and disorderly reproved and admonished in the fear of the Lord; the clearness of persons proposing marriage more closely and strictly inquired into in the wisdom of God; and all the members of the spiritual body, the Church, might watch over and be helpful to each other in love.”

After a visit at Kingston, I went to London, where I found the Baptists and Socinians, with some old apostates, grown very rude, having printed many books against us; so that I had a great travail in the Lord’s power, before I could get clear of that city. But blessed be the Lord, his power came over them, and all their lying, wicked, scandalous books were answered.


[After a visit with William Penn at the latter’s home at Rickmansworth, he started on his journey north towards Swarthmore, accompanied by his wife, two of her daughters and his son-in-law, Thomas Lower, a journey which led to more than a year’s imprisonment—his last imprisonment, as it proved.]


At night, as I was sitting at supper, I felt I was taken; yet I said nothing then to any one of it. But getting out next morning, we travelled into Worcestershire, and went to John Halford’s, at Armscott, where we had a very large and precious meeting in his barn, the Lord’s powerful presence being eminently with and amongst us.

After the meeting, Friends being most of them gone, as I was sitting in the parlour, discoursing with some Friends, Henry Parker, a justice, came to the house, and with him one Rowland Hains, a priest of Hunniton, in Warwickshire. This justice heard of the meeting by means of a woman Friend, who, being nurse to a child of his, asked leave of her mistress to go to the meeting to see me; and she speaking of it to her husband, he and the priest plotted together to come and break it up and apprehend me.

But from their sitting long at dinner, it being the day on which his child was sprinkled, they did not come till the meeting was over, and Friends mostly gone. But though there was no meeting when they came, yet I, who was the person they aimed at, being in the house, Henry Parker took me, and Thomas Lower for company with me; and though he had nothing to lay to our charge, sent us both to Worcester jail, by a strange sort of mittimus.

Being thus made prisoners, without any probable appearance of being released before the quarter-sessions at soonest, we got some Friends to accompany my wife and her daughter into the north, and we were conveyed to Worcester. Thence, by the time I thought my wife would reach home, I wrote her the following letter:


Dear Heart:

“Thou seemedst to be a little grieved when I was speaking of prisons, and when I was taken. Be content with the will of the Lord God. For when I was at John Rous’s, at Kingston, I had a sight of my being taken prisoner; and when I was at Bray Doily’s, in Oxfordshire, as I sat at supper, I saw I was taken, and I saw I had a suffering to undergo. But the Lord’s power is over all; blessed be His holy name forever!

G. F.”228228    Margaret Fox and her daughter were sent on under the escort of a Friend, a merchant from Bristol, who, Fox says, “seemed to have met us providentially to assist my wife and her daughter in their journey homewards, when by our imprisonment they were deprived of our company and help.” Fox had just received a message that his mother was in her last illness, and it had been his intention to part from his wife in Warrickshire and have a last visit with his aged mother. This privilege never came, for Mary Fox, of Fenny Drayton, died while her son was in Worcester prison.


[This imprisonment began December 17th, 1673. The case was brought before the sessions on the 21st of January, 1674. “When we came in,” he writes, “they were stricken with paleness in their faces, and it was some time before anything was spoken; insomuch that a butcher in the hall said, ‘What, are they afraid? Dare not the justices speak to them?’” There was manifestly no case against them on the mittimus, but the judge, at the suggestion of the “priest,” took the easy way to catch them. “You, Mr. Fox, are a famous man, and all this may be true which you have said: but, that we may be the better satisfied, will you take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy?” The usual refusal was given, followed with the penalty of praemunire. During this long imprisonment he had the promise of a pardon from the king, but he refused to get his liberty by any method which implied that he had done wrong and needed pardon. At the next sessions, in April, he got a temporary liberty, so that he went to London and attended yearly meeting, after which he returned to Worcester for a new trial, which ended in the same old way. Meantime the strong man’s constitution was yielding to the incessant strain upon it.]


About this time I had a fit of sickness, which brought me very low and weak in my body; and I continued so a pretty while, insomuch that some Friends began to doubt of my recovery. I seemed to myself to be amongst the graves and dead corpses; yet the invisible power did secretly support me, and conveyed refreshing strength into me, even when I was so weak that I was almost speechless. One night, as I was lying awake upon my bed in the glory of the Lord which was over all, it was said unto me that the Lord had a great deal more work for me to do for Him before He took me to Himself.

After this [about October 1st, 1674] my wife went to London, and spoke to the King, laying before him my long and unjust imprisonment, with the manner of my being taken, and the justices’ proceedings against me, in tendering me the oath as a snare, whereby they had praemunired me; so that I being now his prisoner, it was in his power, and at his pleasure, to release me, which she desired.

The King spoke kindly to her, and referred her to the Lord-Keeper; to whom she went; but she could not obtain what she desired, for he said the King could not release me otherwise than by a pardon, and I was not free to receive a pardon, knowing I had not done evil. If I would have been freed by a pardon, I need not have lain so long, for the King was willing to give me pardon long before, and told Thomas Moore that I need not scruple, being released by a pardon, for many a man that was as innocent as a child had had a pardon granted him; yet I could not consent to have one. For I would rather have lain in prison all my days, than have come out in any way dishonourable to Truth; therefore I chose to have the validity of my indictment tried before the judges.

Thereupon, having first had the opinion of a counsellor upon it (Thomas Corbet, of London, with whom Richard Davis, of Welchpool, was well acquainted, and whom he recommended to me), an habeas corpus was sent down to Worcester to bring me up once more to the King’s Bench bar, for the trial of the errors in my indictment. The undersheriff set forward with me the 4th of the Twelfth month.

We came to London on the 8th, and on the 11th I was brought before the four judges at the King’s Bench, where Counsellor Corbet pleaded my cause. He started a new plea; for he told the judges that they could not imprison any man upon a praemunire.

Chief-Justice Hale said, “Mr. Corbet, you should have come sooner, at the beginning of the term, with this plea.”

He answered, “We could not get a copy of the return and the indictment.”

The Judge replied, “You should have told us, and we would have forced them to make a return sooner.”

Then said Judge Wild, “Mr. Corbet, you go upon general terms; and if it be as you say, we have committed many errors at the Old Bailey, and in other courts.”

Corbet was positive that by law they could not imprison upon a praemunire.

The Judge said, “There is summons in the statute.”

“Yes,” said Corbet, “but summons is not imprisonment; for summons is in order to a trial.”

“Well,” said the Judge, “we must have time to look in our books and consult the statutes.” So the hearing was put off till the next day.

The next day they chose rather to let this plea fall and begin with the errors of the indictment; and when they came to be opened, they were so many and gross that the judges were all of opinion that the indictment was quashed and void, and that I ought to have my liberty.

There were that day several great men, lords and others, who had the oaths of allegiance and supremacy tendered to them in open court, just before my trial came on; and some of my adversaries moved the judges that the oaths might be tendered again to me, telling them I was a dangerous man to be at liberty.

But Chief-Justice Hale229229    This is Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale. said that he had indeed heard some such reports, but he had also heard many more good reports of me; and so he and the rest of the judges ordered me to be freed by proclamation.

Thus after I had suffered imprisonment a year and almost two months for nothing, I was fairly set at liberty upon a trial of the errors in my indictment, without receiving any pardon, or coming under any obligation or engagement at all; and the Lord’s everlasting power went over all, to His glory and praise.

Counsellor Corbet, who pleaded for me, obtained great fame by it, for many of the lawyers came to him and told him he had brought that to light which had not been known before, as to the not imprisoning upon a praemunire; and after the trial a judge said to him, “You have attained a great deal of honour by pleading George Fox’s cause so in court.”230230    It will be noticed that Fox is set at liberty on the errors in his indictment, and not on a judicial decision that it is illegal to imprison on a praemunire.

Being at liberty, I visited Friends in London; and having been very weak, and not yet well recovered, I went to Kingston; and having visited Friends there, returned to London, wrote a paper to the Parliament, and sent several books to them.

A great book against swearing had been delivered to them a little before; the reasonableness whereof had so much influence, that it was thought they would have done something towards our relief if they had sat longer. I stayed in and near London till the yearly meeting, to which Friends came from most parts of the nation, and some from beyond sea. A glorious meeting we had in the everlasting power of God.

The illness I got in my imprisonment at Worcester had so much weakened me that it was long before I recovered my natural strength again. For which reason, and as many things lay upon me to write, both for public and private service, I did not stir much abroad during the time that I now stayed in the north; but when Friends were not with me, I spent much time in writing for Truth’s service. While I was at Swarthmore, I gave several books to be printed. 231231    George Fox was now only fifty-one years old, but he was prematurely broken by the sufferings and exposures which only such an iron constitution as he possessed could have endured for thirty years. He still had fourteen years to live, but from now on a decided change appears. There is no cessation of activity, but it is activity of a quieter sort. Only one important mission journey falls in these years—the visit to Holland and Germany. Henceforth he makes his pen speak for him. Epistles and books are the main results of these fourteen years. The Journal grows dry and devoid of dramatic interest, and our gleanings from it will be few. He is much at Swarthmore or at Kingston, near London where Margaret Rous, a daughter of his wife, lived.


[This letter to his “Dear Heart” from York during the winter of 1677 shows that he still had some power of endurance left.]



“To whom is my love, and to thy daughters, and to all Friends that inquire after me. My desires are that ye all may be preserved in the Lord’s everlasting Seed, in whom ye will have life and peace, dominion and settlement, in the everlasting home or dwelling in the house built upon the foundation of God.

“In the power of the Lord I am brought to York, having had many meetings in the way. The road was many times deep and bad with snow, our horses sometimes were down, and we were not able to ride; and sometimes we had great storms and rain; but by the power of the Lord I went through all.

“At Scarhouse there was a very large meeting, and at Burrowby another, to which Friends came out of Cleveland and Durham; and many other meetings we have had. At York, yesterday, we had a very large meeting, exceedingly thronged, Friends being at it from many parts, and all quiet, and well satisfied. Oh the glory of the Lord that shone over all!

“This day we have had a large men’s and women’s meeting, many Friends, both men and women, being come out of the country, and all was quiet. This evening we are to have the men’s and women’s meeting of the Friends of the city.

“John Whitehead is here, with Robert Lodge and others; Friends are mighty glad, above measure. So I am in my holy element and holy work in the Lord; glory to His name for ever! To-morrow I intend to go out of the city towards Tadcaster, though I cannot ride as in days past; yet praised be the Lord that I can travel as well as I do!

“So with my love in the fountain of life, in which as ye all abide ye will have refreshment of life, that by it we may grow and gather eternal strength to serve the Lord, and be satisfied, to the God of all power, who is all-sufficient to preserve you, I commit you all.

G. F.

“York, the 16th of the Second month [April] 1677.”


[After much service in several counties, he returns to London. The Journal proceeds:]


It pleased the Lord to bring me safe to London, though much wearied; for though I rode not very far in a day, yet, through weakness of body, continual travelling was hard to me. Besides, I had not much rest at night to refresh nature; for I often sat up late with Friends, where I lodged, to inform and advise them in things wherein they were wanting; and when in bed I was often hindered of sleep by great pains in my head and teeth, occasioned, as I thought, from cold taken by riding often in the rain. But the Lord’s power was over all, and carried me through all, to His praise.

To the London Yearly Meeting232232    1677. many Friends came from most parts of the nation; and some out of Scotland, Holland, etc. Very glorious meetings we had, wherein the Lord’s powerful presence was very largely felt; and the affairs of Truth were sweetly carried on in the unity of the Spirit, to the satisfaction and comfort of the upright-hearted; blessed be the Lord for ever!

After the yearly meeting, having stayed a week or two with Friends in London, I went down with William Penn to his house in Sussex,233233    Worminghurst. John Burnyeat and some other Friends being with us. As we passed through Surrey, hearing the quarterly meeting was that day, William Penn, John Burnyeat, and I, went from the road to it; and after the meeting returning to our other company, went with them to William Penn’s that night; which is forty miles from London.

I stayed at Worminghurst about three weeks; in which time John Burnyeat and I answered a very envious and wicked book, which Roger Williams, a priest of New England (or some colony thereabouts) had written against Truth and Friends.234234    Fox did not see Roger Williams in Providence, though the latter had a personal tilt with John Burnyeat at Newport in 1671. After George Fox had left Providence and had gone back down the Bay with his companion, Nicholas Easton, governor of Rhode Island Roger Williams rowed to Newport with a challenge to a debate. Fox, however, had already left the island, and was well on his way toward Long Island. Williams then wrote, what Fox elsewhere calls “Roger Williams’s ‘Book of Lyes,’” a book bearing the grimly humorous title, “George Fox digged out of his Burrows,” Boston, 1676. (See Publications of the Narragansett Club, Vol. V., pp. xx.-xlv., Providence, 1872.) Fox and Burnyeat reply to this “slanderous book” in a sixty-five-page pamphlet entitled, “A New England Fire Brand Quenched.” Fox seemed not to know just where the famous “apostle of soul liberty” lived as he says, “a priest of New England (or some colony thereabouts!)”

When we had finished that service, we went with Stephen Smith to his house at Warpledon in Surrey, where we had a large meeting. Friends thereaway had been exceedingly plundered about two months before on the priest’s account; for they took from Stephen Smith five kine (being all he had) for about fifty shillings tithes.

Thence we went to Kingston, and so to London, where I stayed not long; for it was upon me from the Lord to go into Holland, to visit Friends and to preach the gospel there, and in some parts of Germany. Wherefore, setting things in order for my journey as fast as I could, I took leave of Friends at London; and with several other Friends went down to Colchester, in order to my passage for Holland.

Next day, being First-day, I was at the public meeting of Friends there, which was very large and peaceable. In the evening I had another large one, but not so public, at John Furly’s house, where I lodged. The day following I was at the women’s meeting there, which also was very large.

Thence next day we passed to Harwich, where Robert Duncan, and several other Friends out of the country, came to see us; and some from London came to us there, that intended to go over with me.

The packet in which we were to go not being ready, we went to the meeting in the town, and a precious opportunity we had together; for the Lord, according to His wonted goodness, by His overcoming, refreshing power, opened many mouths to declare His everlasting Truth, to praise and glorify Him.

After the meeting at Harwich we returned to John Vandewall’s, where I had lodged; and when the boat was ready, taking leave of Friends, we that were bound for Holland went on board about nine in the evening, on the 25th of the Fifth month, 1677. The Friends that went over with me, were William Penn, Robert Barclay, George Keith and his wife, John Furly and his brother, William Tallcoat, George Watts, and Isabel Yeomans, one of my wife’s daughters.

About one in the morning we weighed anchor, having a fair brisk wind, which by next morning brought us within sight of Holland. But that day proving very clear and calm we got forward little, till about four in the afternoon, when a fresh gale arose which carried us within a league of land. Then being becalmed again, we cast anchor for that night, it being between the hours of nine and ten in the evening.

William Penn and Robert Barclay, understanding that Benjamin Furly was come from Rotterdam to the Briel to meet us, got two of the boatmen to let down a small boat that belonged to the packet, and row them to shore; but before they could reach it the gates were shut; and there being no house without the gates, they lay in a fisherman’s boat all night.

As soon as the gates were opened in the morning, they went in, and found Benjamin Furly, with other Friends of Rotterdam, that were come thither to receive us; and they sent a boat, with three young men in it, that lived with Benjamin Furly, who brought us to the Briel, where the Friends received us with great gladness.

We stayed about two hours to refresh ourselves, and then took boat, with the Holland Friends, for Rotterdam, where we arrived about eleven that day, the 28th of the month. I was very well this voyage, but some of the Friends were sea-sick. A fine passage we had, and all came safe and well to land; blessed and praised be the name of the Lord for ever!

Next day, being First-day, we had two meetings at Benjamin Furly’s, where many of the townspeople and some officers came in, and all were civil. Benjamin Furly, or John Claus, a Friend of Amsterdam, interpreted, when any Friend declared. I spent the next day in visiting Friends there.

The day following, William Penn and I, with other Friends, went towards Amsterdam with some Friends of that city, who came to Rotterdam to conduct us thither. We took boat in the afternoon, and, passing by Overkirk, came to Delft, through which we walked on foot.

We then took boat again to Leyden, where we lodged that night at an inn. This is six Dutch miles from Rotterdam, which are eighteen English miles, and five hours’ sail or travelling; for our boat was drawn by a horse that went on the shore.

Next day, taking boat again, we went to Haarlem, fourteen miles from Leyden, where we had appointed a meeting, which proved very large; for many of the townspeople came in, and two of their preachers. The Lord gave us a blessed opportunity, not only with respect to Friends, but to other sober people, and the meeting ended peaceably and well. After it we passed to Amsterdam.


[After a conference the following meetings were established or “settled.”]


A monthly, a quarterly, and a yearly meeting, to be held at Amsterdam for Friends in all the United Provinces of Holland, and in Embden, the Palatinate, Hamburg, Frederickstadt, Dantzic, and other places in and about Germany; which Friends were glad of, and it has been of great service to Truth.


[One of the most interesting episodes of this journey was the visit paid by George Keith’s wife and Fox’s step-daughter, Isabel Yeomans, to the Princess Elizabeth, to whom Fox sent a personal letter. “Princess Elizabeth” was the daughter of the unfortunate Frederick, Elector Palatine, and granddaughter of James the first of England. She was a woman of great spiritual gifts and of considerable intellectual power. She was the friend and correspondent of the philosopher Des Cartes. She had, previous to this visit, made the acquaintance (which developed into close friendship) of William Penn and Robert Barclay. She frequently used her influence upon her uncle, King Charles, and her brother, Prince Rupert, to secure the release of Friends from the prisons of England and Scotland. Her answer to George Fox’s letter is as follows:]


Dear Friend:

“I cannot but have a tender love to those that love the Lord Jesus Christ, and to whom it is given, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him; therefore your letter and your Friends’ visit have been both very welcome to me. I shall follow their and your counsel as far as God will afford me light and unction; remaining still your loving friend,


“Hertford [Westphalia], the 30th of August, 1677.”


[Twice we get glimpses of the great world movements which just then had these Low Countries for their stage. In the great struggle with Louis XIV, the dykes had been cut and much of the country was under water. Here is an experience in East Friesland:]

One of the magistrates of that city [Groningen] came with us from Leeuwarden, with whom I had some discourse on the way, and he was very loving. We walked nearly two miles through the city, and then took boat for Delfziel; and passing in the evening through a town called Appingdalem, where had been a great horse-fair that day, there came many officers rushing into the boat, and being somewhat in drink, they were very rude. I spoke to them, exhorting them to fear the Lord, and beware of Solomon’s vanities. They were boisterous fellows; yet somewhat more civil afterwards.


[The other circumstance which connects Fox here with history is his epistle written to the Peace Ambassadors in the city of Nimeguen. The entry in the Journal says: “I wrote an epistle to the ambassadors who were treating for a peace at Nimeguen.” This is dated Amsterdam, the 21st of 7th mo. (September), 1677. It concludes with these words:]


“From him who is a lover of Truth, righteousness, and peace, who desires your temporal and eternal good; and that in the wisdom of God that is from above, pure, gentle, and peaceable, you may be ordered, and order all things, that God hath committed to you, to His glory; and stop those things among Christians, so far as you have power, which dishonour God, Christ, and Christianity!

“G. F.”


[Here is an incident of travel in Germany.]


Being clear of Hamburg, we took leave of Friends there, whom we left well; and taking John Hill with us, passed by boat to a city in the Duke of Luneburg’s country; where, after we were examined by the guards, we were taken to the main-guard, and there examined more strictly; but after they found we were not soldiers, they were civil, and let us pass.

In the afternoon we travelled by wagon, and the waters being much out, by reason of heavy rains, when it drew towards night we hired a boy on the way to guide us through a great water we had to pass. When we came to it, the water was so deep, before we could come at the bridge, that the wagoner had to wade, and I drove the wagon.

When we were come on the bridge, the horses broke part of it down, and one of them fell into the water, the wagon standing upon that part of the bridge which remained unbroken; and it was the Lord’s mercy to us that the wagon did not run into the brook. When they had got the horse out, he lay a while as if dead; but at length they got him up, put him to the wagon again, and laid the planks right; and then, through the goodness of the Lord to us, we got safe over.

After this we came to another water. Finding it to be very deep, and it being in the night, we hired two men to help us through, who put cords to the wagon to hold it by, that the force of the water might not drive it from the way. But when we came into it, the stream was so strong that it took one of the horses off his legs, and was carrying him down the stream. I called to the wagoner to pluck him to him by his reins, which he did, and the horse recovered his legs; and with much difficulty we got over the bridge, and went to Bremerhaven, the town where the wagoner lived.

It was the last day of the Sixth month that we escaped these dangers; and it being about eleven at night when we came in here, we got some fresh straw, and lay upon it until about four in the morning. Then, getting up, we set forward again towards Bremen, by wagon and boat.

On the way I had good opportunities to publish Truth among the people, especially at a market-town, where we stayed to change our passage. Here I declared the Truth to the people, warning them of the day of the Lord, that was coming upon all flesh; and exhorting them to righteousness, telling them that God was come to teach His people Himself, and that they should turn to the Lord, and hearken to the teachings of His Spirit in their own hearts.


[While the work was going forward in these fresh fields, trouble was increasing at home, as this brief letter shows:]


Next day, feeling a concern upon my mind with relation to those seducing spirits that made division among Friends, and being sensible that they endeavoured to insinuate themselves into the affectionate part, I was moved to write a few lines to Friends concerning them, as follows:

“All these that set up themselves in the affections of the people, set up themselves, and the affections of the people, and not Christ. But Friends, your peaceable habitation in the Truth, which is everlasting, and changes not, will outlast all the habitations of those that are out of the Truth, be they ever so full of words. So they that are so keen for John Story and John Wilkinson, let them take them, and the separation; and you that have given your testimony against that spirit, stand in your testimony, till they answer by condemnation. Do not strive, nor make bargains with that which is out of the Truth; nor save that alive to be a sacrifice for God, which should be slain, lest you lose your kingdom.

“G. F.”

Amsterdam, the 14th of the Seventh month, 1677.”


After some time George Keith and William Penn came back from Germany235235    Whither they had gone for some religious service. to Amsterdam, and had a dispute with one Galenus Abrahams (one of the most noted Baptists in Holland), at which many professors were present; but not having time to finish the dispute then, they met again, two days after, and the Baptist was much confounded, and Truth gained ground.236236    This Galenus Abrahams was a Mennonite and a man of considerable note. Sewell, the Quaker historian, who had himself been a disciple of Abrahams, tells us that in this discussion, which lasted five hours, the latter maintained the position that “nobody nowadays could be accepted as a messenger of God unless he confirmed the same by miracle.” (See Sewell’s “History of Friends,” Vol. II., page 368, edition of 1823. See, also, Barclay’s “Religious Societies of the Commonwealth,” pages 174, 251.) During his second visit to Holland, Fox had another interview with the famous Mennonite which gives an interesting side light on the penetrating power of Fox’s eyes, already noticed. “Before I left I went to visit one Galenus Abrahams, a teacher of chief note among the Mennonites, or Baptists. I had been with him when I was in Holland about seven years before and William Penn and George Keith had disputes with him. He was then very high and shy, so that he would not let me touch him, nor look upon him (by his good will) but bid me ‘Keep my eyes off him, for,’ he said, ‘they pierced him.’ But now he was very loving and tender, and confessed in some measure to truth; his wife also and daughter were tender and kind, and we parted from them very lovingly.”

Finding our spirits clear of the service which the Lord had given us to do in Holland, we took leave of Friends of Rotterdam, and passed by boat to the Briel, in order to take passage that day for England. Several Friends of Rotterdam accompanied us, and some of Amsterdam, who were come to see us again before we left Holland. But the packet not coming in till night, we lodged that night at the Briel; and next day, being the 21st of the Eighth month, and the first day of the week, we went on board, and set sail about ten, viz., William Penn, George Keith, and I, and Gertrude Dirick Nieson with her children.

We were in all about sixty passengers, and had a long and hazardous passage; for the winds were contrary and the weather stormy. The boat also was very leaky, insomuch that we had to have two pumps continually going, day and night; so that it was thought there was quite as much water pumped out as the vessel would have held. But the Lord, who is able to make the stormy winds to cease, and the raging waves of the sea calm, yea, to raise them and stop them at His pleasure, He alone did preserve us; praised be His name for ever!

Though our passage was hard, yet we had a fine time, and good service for Truth on board among the passengers, some of whom were great folks, and were very kind and loving. We arrived at Harwich on the 23d, at night, having been two nights and almost three days at sea.

Next morning William Penn and George Keith took horse for Colchester; but I stayed, and had a meeting at Harwich. There being no Colchester coach there, and the postmaster’s wife being unreasonable in her demands for a coach, and deceiving us of it also after we had hired it, we went to a Friend’s house about a mile and a half in the country, and hired his wagon, which we bedded well with straw and rode in it to Colchester.

I stayed there till First-day, having a desire to be at Friends’ meeting that day; and a very large and weighty one it was; for Friends, hearing of my return from Holland, flocked from several parts of the country, and many of the townspeople coming in also, it was thought there were about a thousand people at it; and all was peaceable.

I stayed at Bristol all the time of the fair, and some time after. Many sweet and precious meetings we had; many Friends being there from several parts of the nation, some on account of trade, and some in the service of Truth. Great was the love and unity of Friends that abode faithful in the Truth, though some who were gone out of the holy unity, and were run into strife, division, and enmity, were rude and abusive, and behaved themselves in a very unchristian manner towards me.237237    He had previously had a trying time with opponents who were “very unruly and troublesome” in some meetings held at the home of his friend Thomas Ellwood, at Hunger Hill, near London.

But the Lord’s power was over all; by which being preserved in heavenly patience, which can bear injuries for His name’s sake, I felt dominion therein over the rough, rude, and unruly spirits; and left them to the Lord, who knew my innocency, and would plead my cause. The more these laboured to reproach and vilify me, the more did the love of Friends that were sincere and upright-hearted, abound towards me; and some that had been betrayed by the adversaries seeing their envy and rude behaviour, broke off from them.

About two weeks after I came to London, the yearly meeting began, to which Friends came up out of most parts of the nation, and a glorious, heavenly meeting we had. Oh, the glory, majesty, love, life, wisdom, and unity, that were amongst us! The power reigned over all, and many testimonies were borne therein against that ungodly spirit which sought to make rents and divisions amongst the Lord’s people; but not one mouth was opened amongst us in its defense, or on its behalf.

Good and comfortable accounts also we had, for the most part, from Friends in other countries; of which I find a brief account in a letter which soon after I wrote to my wife, the copy whereof here follows:


Dear Heart:

“To whom is my love in the everlasting Seed of life that reigns over all. Great meetings here have been, and the Lord’s power hath been stirring through all. The Lord hath in His power knit Friends wonderfully together, and His glorious presence did appear among them. And now the meetings are over, blessed be the Lord! in quietness and peace.

“From Holland I hear things are well there: some Friends are gone that way, to be at their Yearly Meeting at Amsterdam. At Embden, Friends that were banished are got into the city again.

“At Dantzic, Friends are in prison, and the magistrates threatened them with harder imprisonment; but the next day the Lutherans rose, and plucked down (or defaced) the Popish monastery; so they have work enough among themselves.

“The King of Poland received my letter, and read it himself; and Friends have since printed it in High Dutch.238238    This is an interesting letter to John III. of Poland, in which are given many passages from the words of sovereigns, both ancient and modern, in behalf of liberty of conscience. The letter is an able and valuable document, written, as the writer says, “in love to thy immortal soul and for thy eternal good.” It closes with this postscript:
   “Postscript.—‘Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ And remember, O king, Justin Martyr’s two Apologies to the Roman emperors, in the defence of the persecuted Christians; and that notable Apology, which was written by Tertullian, upon the same subject; which are not only for the Christian religion, but against all persecution for religion.”
By letters from the Half-Yearly Meeting in Ireland, I hear that they are all in love there.

“At Barbadoes, Friends are in quietness, and their meetings settled in peace. At Antigua also, and Nevis, Truth prospers, and Friends have their meetings orderly and well. Likewise in New England and other places, things concerning Truth and Friends are well; and in those places the men’s and women’s meetings are settled; blessed be the Lord!

“So keep in God’s power and Seed, that is over all, in whom ye all have life and salvation; for the Lord reigns over all in His glory, and in His kingdom; glory to His name forever, Amen.

“In haste, with my love to you all, and to all Friends.

G. F.

“London, the 26th of the Third month, 1678.”

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