The Missing Cross to Purity


Source: Google Books Image File

THE LIFE

of

MARGARET FOX


WIFE OF GEORGE FOX

COMPILED FROM  HER OWN NARRATIVE,
AND OTHER SOURCES

And

A SELECTION FROM HER EPISTLES, ETC.

Published in 1859

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Site Editor's Preface

Margaret Fox is generally acknowledged by all but herself to have been the mother of the church of early Quakers. Her home, the mansion of Swarthmore, was truly the cradle of the Quaker beginnings. Swarthmore was the refuge of many eminent early Friends, who came for refreshment, growth, fellowship, inspiration, and undoubtedly rest from their physical trials; for trials and persecutions were many in the early days in the north of  England, where the Quakers were first established. At times there were people from five different countries there to learn and grow. She had been translated into the Kingdom of God. She is counted among the Valiant Sixty, that first wave of ministers raised up by the Lord, having heard the Word of Life from George Fox.

She was the mother of nine children by her first husband, Judge Fell; a great supporter of the Quakers. After Judge Fell had been dead for eleven years, she married George Fox, who had been been commanded by the Lord to marry her.

Thus the generally acknowledged father of the Quakers joined with the already mother of the Quakers. Though they were unable to spend much time together, their love for each other was great; and George Fox, already an honored and treasured spiritual father to her children, became their dear physical step-father also. While George Fox continued to travel the world in his ministry, because of the responsibilities of her home and family, most of Margaret's time was spent in their care and the maintenance of the fellowship of Swarthmore and other fellowships in Northern England.

She spent a total of 10 years in prison. Fox himself spent 6 1/2 years, leading him to comment that there had never been a greater injustice in England than Margaret's imprisonment and deprival of property,* particularly when considering that her position approached gentry nobility. Like many early Quakers, she was brought to trial on a relatively minor charge, and then grossly imprisoned and deprived of property for refusing to take an oath or to swear, as forbidden by Christ and the apostle James. Yet, after her imprisonment, her zeal remained undaunted, as she served those who remained in prison; and as she continued to make courteous appeals to the several kings of her time. Her appeals were many letters, as well as several personal audiences with the kings, which required a long and arduous trip from her home to London and back that she made seven times. She was brilliant in her service and love to the early Friends and her forever, dear Master and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Several of her children, enjoying the everlasting inheritance, became ministers of Christ also.

* Cambridge Journal, Vol II, page 169.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

The early Quakers numbered within its ranks many eminent women, who have enunciated and explained its doctrines and testimonies, both by their ministry and writings; and have illustrated its Christian faith by the consistency of their lives and conversation, and their patience under persecution. Among these, none shone more conspicuously, in the early days of the Society, than Margaret Fox. Having been convinced by the preaching of George Fox, she became a faithful member of the church; her influence and reputation in the community, as well as her ministry and writings, greatly contributing in advance the cause of truth. As a preacher of the Gospel, she was fervent and weighty; as a writer, bold, earnest and persuasive; in her disposition, charitable and hospitable; and a warm sympathizer with the afflicted and persecuted. Her works having been long out of print, and almost unknown in this country. It is believed that the following compilation, giving a brief account of her life, a selection from her epistles, and a few extracts from her other writings, will prove acceptable in the reader.

LIFE

OF

MARGARET FOX

CHAPTER I
1614-1658

HER BIRTH - PARENTAGE – MARRIES THOMAS  FELL AND SETTLES AT SWARTHMORE
- RELIGIOUS LIFE - VISITED BY GEORGE FOX – SHE AND HER CHILDREN CONVINCED -
DISPLEASURE OF HER HUSBAND - LETTER FROM RICHARD FARNSWORTH -
JUDGE FELL RECONCILED, AND A MEETING ESTABLISHED AT HER HOUSE -
TESTIMONY OF ANTHONY PIERSON AND WILLIAM CATON TO THE EXEMPLARY
CHARACTER OF THE FAMILY - DEATH OF HER HUSBAND - HIS CHARACTER -
LETTER OF CONDOLENCE FROM ANTHONY PIERSON -  THEIR CHILDREN

MARGARET Fox was born at Marsh Grange, in the parish of Dalton, in Fournis, Lancashire, England, in the year 1614. She was the daughter of John Askew, who was of an ancient and honorable family; he was honest, pious and charitable, and a man of estate and education.

She was married, in her eighteenth year, to Thomas Fell, of Swarthmore, a barrister-at-law, afterwards a justice of the Quorum in his county, a member of several Parliaments, vice-chancellor of the county Palatine of Lancaster, and else a judge in the circuit of West Chester and North Wales. Strict integrity and love of justice, tempered with mercy end moderation, were conspicuous traits in his character. In the seventy-sixth year of her age she wrote a short biographical sketch, rehearsing some of the principal events of her life, which has been largely used in the preparation of this work; in which, speaking of her husband, she says: “We lived together twenty-six years, in which time we had nine children. He was a tender and loving husband to me, and a tender father to his children, and one that sought after God in the best way that was made known to him. I was about sixteen years younger than he, and was one that sought after the best things, being desirous to serve God, so that I might be accepted of Him; and was inquiring after the way of the Lord, and went often to hear the best ministers that came into our parts. We frequently entertained at our house, many of those that were accounted the most serious, godly men, some of whom we then called lecturing ministers; and often had prayers and religious exercises in our family. This, I hoped I did well in, but often feared I was short of the right way; and after this manner I was inquiring and seeking about twenty years, when, in 1652, it pleased the Lord, in his infinite mercy and goodness, to send George Fox into our country, who declared to us the  eternal truth, as it is in Jesus; and by the Word and power of the eternal God, turned many from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God."

The powerful and awakening nature of the spiritual ministry of George Fox, and the effect produced by it on her own mind, and his discourse on this occasion, she thus describes:

"Our house being a place open to entertain ministers and religious people, one of George Fox's friends brought him there, where he stayed all night; and the next day being a lecture or fast-day, he went to Ulverstone steeple-house, but came not in until people were seated; I and my children had been there a long time before. And when they were singing, before the sermon, he came in; "and when they had done, he stood up, upon a seat or form, and desired 'that he might have liberty to speak;' and he that was in the pulpit said he might. And the first words that he spoke were as follows: 'He is not a Jew that is one outward, neither is that circumcision which is outward; but he is a Jew that is one inward, and that is circumcision which is of the heart.' And so he went on and said 'that Christ was the light of the world, and lights every man that comes into the world; and that by this light they might be gathered to God.' I stood up in my pew, and wondered at his doctrine for I had never heard such before; and then he went on and opened the Scriptures and said: 'The Scriptures were the prophet's words, and Christ's and the apostles' words; and what, as they spoke, they enjoyed and possessed, and had it from the Lord:' and said: 'Then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the spirit that gave them forth. You will say Christ said this, and the apostles say this; but what can you say? Are you a child of light, and have you walked in the light; and what you speak, is it inwardly from God?’ This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again and cried bitterly; and I cried in my spirit to the Lord: 'We are all thieves; we are all thieves; we have taken the Scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves.' That so struck me, that I cannot well tell what he spoke afterwards, but he went on declaring against false prophets, priests, and deceivers of the people. He came to our house again that night, and spoke in the family among the servants, and they were all generally convinced. I was struck in such sadness, I knew not what to do, my husband being away from home. I saw it was the truth, and I could not deny it; and I did as the apostle said: I received the truth in the love of it; and it was opened to me so clear, that I had never a slightest misgiving in my heart against it; but I desired the Lord that I might be kept in it, and then I desired no greater portion."

George Fox, in describing the circumstances attending his visit to Swarthmore at this time, after relating the controversies with the parish priest, Lampitt, and his discourses on religious subjects with Margaret Fell and her children, in which they were measurably convinced, says that: Soon after her convincement, a day which observed humiliation occurred; and Margaret Fell asked me to go with her to the steeple-house at Ulverstone, for she had not completely rejected that worship group. [This was a Calvinist Puritan sect, which the Fells attended]. I replied, ‘I must do as I am ordered by the Lord.' So I left her and walked into the fields; and the word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Go to the steeple-house after them.' When I came, Lampitt was singing with his people; but his spirit was so foul, and the message of the song was so unsuitable to their spiritual states, that after they had done singing, I was moved of the Lord to speak to him and the people. The word of the Lord to them was, 'He is not a Jew that is one outward; but he is a Jew that is one inward, whose praise is not of man, but of God.' Then, as the Lord opened further, I showed them, ‘That he had come to teach his people by his spirit, and to bring them off from all their old ways, religions, churches, and worships; for all their religions, worships, and ways were but talking of other men's words; but they were out of the life and spirit which those were in who gave them forth.' A justice name Sawrey cried out, 'Take him away;' but judge Fell's wife said to the officers, 'Let him alone; why may he not speak, as well as any other?' In deceit the priest Lampitt also said, 'Let him speak.' So I was able to declare the truth a fair amount of time until justice Sawrey ordered the constable to put me out; and then I spoke to the people in the graveyard, later returning to Swarthmore Hall.

Margaret Fell continues: "And at that time when I and my children, and a great part of our servants, were so convinced and converted unto God, my husband was not at home, being gone to London. When he came home, and found the most part of his family changed from our former principles and persuasions, which he left us in, he was much surprised at our sudden change; for some envious people, our neighbors, went and met him, and informed him that we had entertained such men as had taken us off from going to church, which he was very much concerned at, and seemed much troubled. And it so happened that Richard Farnsworth and some other Friends, (who had come into our parts a little after George Fox), were then at our house; and they discoursed with him persuaded him to be still and weigh things before be did anything hastily; and his spirit was somewhat calmed. After he had heard them speak awhile, he was better satisfied. I desired them to stay and not go away for George Fox would come that evening. I would have had my husband to have heard them all, and satisfied himself further about them because they had so prepossessed him against them of such dangerous, fearful things. Then he was pretty moderate and quiet; and his dinner being ready, he went to it, and I went in and sat down by him. While I was sitting, the power of the Lord seized upon me; and he was struck with amazement, and knew not what to think. The children were all quiet and still, and grown sober, and could not play on their music that they were learning; and all these things made him quiet."

"That night George Fox returned. After supper my husband was sitting in the parlor, and I asked him if George Fox might come in? And he said, yes. So George came in without any compliment, walked into the room, and began to speak presently; and the family, and James Naylor, and Richard Farnsworth all came in. He spoke as excellently as ever I heard him, and opened Christ's and the apostles' practices that they had been in, during their time. He opened the night of apostasy that had occurred since the apostles' days, and he exposed the priests and their practices in the apostasy. So well did he speak, that I thought if all in England had been there, they could not have denied the truth of those things.”

George Fox relates: "Soon after, judge Fell came home, his wife Margaret sent to me, desiring me to return there; and I, feeling freedom from the Lord so to do, went back to Swarthmore. When I came I found the priests and professors, and justice Sawrey had much incensed judge Fell and captain Sands against the truth by their lies; but when I came to speak with him, I answered all his objections, and so thoroughly satisfied him by the scriptures, that he was convinced in his judgment. After we had discoursed a pretty while together, judge Fell himself was satisfied also, and came to see, by the openings of the spirit of God in his heart, over all the priests and teachers of the world; and did not go to hear them for some years before he died; for he knew it was the truth that I declared, and that Christ was the teacher of his people, and their savior.”

Margaret Fell Writes to George Fox

from Margaret Fell, her children, and servants.

This letter is included as testimony to the presence/power of the Lord within George Fox, as well as the love he inspired in those whom he led to the Lord through his speaking the Word of the Lord in the Presence of God in his kingdom. To those who, through envy, cannot accept Fox's union with Christ in the Kingdom, these words appear to be effusive and curious; but think if you met Peter or Paul, would you not be in love with the Christ within them? Remember how Paul's spiritual children wept and hung to him, kissing him, when he told them he would not see them again? Such was the case with Fox and his spiritual children, and he was a spiritual Father to tens of thousands. Yet he never encouraged such praise, always focusing people on the message and to their Teacher within, rather than to himself without.

Some think the first part below to be mostly written by Margaret's direct transcriptions from her children: Susan, 3; Sarah, 10; Isabel, 12; and Mary, 5; [apx. ages]. These children were so affected by the Spirit of the Lord, that they immediately gave up their music, later going on to become prominent ministers in the faith; as did William Caton, the live-in boyhood companion of Judge and Margaret Fell's son, Will Fell. To catch another glimpse of Fox's stature in Christ, skim his statements in Fox's Statements from the Lord's Presence.

For George Fox:

Our Dear Father in the Lord, for though we have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have we not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus you have begotten us through the Gospel, (1 Cor. 4: 15). Eternal praises be to our father, we your babes with one consent being gathered together in the power of the spirit, you being present with us, our souls do thirst and languish after you, and do challenge that right that we have in you; oh you bread of life, without which bread our souls will starve. Oh forever more give us this bread and take pity on us, whom you have nursed up with the breasts of consolation. Oh our life, our desires are to see you again that we may be refreshed and established and so have life more abundantly, (John 10: 10). Let not that beastly power which keeps us in bondage separate your bodily presence from us, who reigns as King above it, and would rejoice to see your kingly power here triumph over it, oh our dear nursing father, (Num. 11:12). We hope you will not leave us comfortless, but will come again; though that sorrow be for a time, yet joy comes in the morning, (Ps. 30:51). Oh our life we hope to see you again, that our joy may be full, for in your presence is fullness of joy, and where you dwells is pleasures forevermore, (Ps. 16: 11). Oh you fountain of eternal life, our souls thirsts after you, (Ps. 63: 1), for in you alone is our life and peace, and without you have we no peace, for our souls is much refreshed by seeing you, and our lives are preserved by you, 0h you father of eternal felicity,

Oh my dear Father when will you come  - Susan Fell,

Dear Father pray for us - Sarah Fell,

Oh my dear heart shall we not see you
                once more again  - Isabel Fell,

You are the fountain of life
( Ps. 36:9) - Mary Fell,
                                                                   Margaret Fell,
                                                                   Thomas Salthouse,
   [Judge Fell's steward]
                                                                   Ann Cleaton,
              [household servant]
                                                                   Mary Askew,
            [household servant]
                                                                   Margaret Fell,          
[the daughter]
                                                                   Bridgett Fell,
                                                                   William Caton
           [the live-in companion to the son, Will Fell, who never became a Quaker. Caton later became great minister of the Lord in England and the Low Countries of Europe.]

(The second part, was apparently written by Margaret Fell exclusively, and speaks to the person who was somehow oppressing the entire family and servants.)

My own dear heart, though you have shaken the dust of your foot, at him who would not receive you, nor is not worthy of you, which shall be a testimony against him forever; yet you know that we have received you into our hearts, and shall live with you eternally, and it is our life and joy to be with you. And so my dear heart, let not the power of darkness separate your bodily presence from us, which will be a grief and trouble to us, and especially through him, whom you know can call nothing his own but the plagues and woes. My soul thirsts to have you to come over, if it be but for two or three days, to strike down the deceit in him for the truth’s sake. And if you do not come, it will add abundantly to our sorrow, and strengthen the beastly power. I know it is a burden and suffering to you, but you have born our burdens and suffered for us and with us; and now dear heart, do not leave us nor forsake us, for life and peace is in you.

Margaret Fell

1652


Note: the troublesome individual referenced above was probably not Judge Fell, who eventually converted to  become a Quaker. According to George Fox's handwritten note, after a second visit and shaking of the dust from his feet for being rejected, the referenced individual (thought to be Thomas Ayrey) was finally convinced of the truth.

(Updated from Source: Undaunted Zeal, The Letters of Margaret Fell, 2003; A Rich Collection of Margaret Fell's letters, by Elsa F. Glines, pp. 10-11)

The following letter, addressed to Margaret Fell by Richard Farnsworth, a few months after, may serve to show the continued interest he took in her convincement and establishment in the truth:

"Balbie, Yorkshire, 12th month, 1652.

DEAR SISTER:

Mind to stand in the counsel of the Lord, which will keep down everything that would be exalted, and will not suffer you to conform to anything but that which is pure. Oh! be faithful, be faithful to what you know; and stand perfect in the will of the Lord; and the Lord will keep you, in His own power to Himself and arm you every way with Hill love and power. Stand in His council, and it will discover all the consultations of the enemy; and will scatter all imaginations, and will not allow them to take place in you, being but obedient to Him. Love not the world, but mind that which would draw you to live in the pure obedience of Him who is pure;  and standing in the pure fear, it will take away all slavish fears, and it will not allow you to conform to the world in anything; but you will be preserved in obedience to the Lord in what he requires; for the fear of the Lord keeps the heart clean; and it will keep you clean, and open to receive the teachings of the Father. Oh! stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has set you free, and it will keep you from the entanglements of the world; and your preservation will be, in standing in the counsel of  the Lord, who is the mighty Counselor, the everlasting Prince of peace; who will lead you and guide you into the everlasting kingdom of the Father, where there is peace and joy, rest, quietness and assurance forever! Give yourself up wholly to the Lord, who will preserve you in faithfulness and purity; and the everlasting Lord God Almighty keep you, and all the rest of our dear Friends, in the power of His love, and in the power of His truth, perfect in His will; that you may grow from strength to strength, and be established in the everlasting truth; and that He alone may be glorified, who is Lord of lords, and King of kings; to whom be glory, and honor, and praise, and thanks, for ever and ever! Amen.

I received you letter, which did much rejoice me. When your letter, with James and George, came, I was then gone towards Derbyshire, where I met with a gathered church. I have been in much service since I left you. Friends are very emboldened and courageous, who have had great opposition and persecution here; but all is at a stand; the enemy is greatly silenced; and the Lord carries on His own work, much to His own praise; to Him alone be glory, and honor, forever and ever!

My dear, love in the Lord presents itself to you all, to your son George, and to your daughters, and to all those of your servants in the truth of God; and the Lord cause them all to grow up into the truth, that He may be exalted among you all. All my dear hearts, prize the love and mercy of the Lord, and daily mind your growth into that which is eternal; and the everlasting love and power of the Lord keep you all in faithfulness to Him in what you know. Keep in the cross, and purity will grow. The safest way is in the cross; take up the cross daily; mind to be guided by that which crosses your own wills, and it will bring every idle word, thought and deed to judgment in you; and so the old man will be crucified, with the affections and lusts thereof; and you shall find the Lord to sit as a refiner, to judge out all the old leaven, the old nature; and so the new man will be raised up; and Christ, the power of God, will rule and reign in righteousness in you, who is the King of saints; to Him alone be all praise and thanks forevermore! Amen!"

Although Judge Fell did not openly unite with Friends, or attend their meetings, he was very favorable to their views, and generally sat in an adjoining room, where he could hear, without appearing to join in their worship. Some Friends, in his presence, speaking of the difficulty in obtaining a place to hold their meetings in that part of the country, he promptly and generously offered them his own house, saying: "You may meet here, if you will;" and notice being given, "there was a good large meeting there the next first-day," which was the first held at Swarthmore, where a meeting was established, and continued from 1652 to 1690. The room appropriated for this purpose was the large hall on the ground-floor, at one end of which, within the space of a bay window, the floor is raised two steps. In this place, it is said, George Fox and his [later to become] wife usually took their seats, and the other ministering Friends, when present. From this window George Fox often preached to the people assembled in the adjoining orchard, when they were unable, from their numbers, to meet within.

George Fox's fame, spreading with his doctrine, usually caused a large company to assemble to hear him, when he visited Swarthmore. At one time, Judge Fell, upon returning home, finding his stables filled with the horses of these strange guests, complained to his wife of the large accession of new comers, saying, if this continued, they would soon be eaten out, and have no provisions left for themselves. To this she pleasantly replied, that charity does not impoverish; and notwithstanding all this extra consumption, she fully believed that, at the end of the year, he would have no cause to regret their hospitality. And so it proved, for the same year the crop of hay was so abundant, that they had not only plenty for themselves, but a large surplus to sell. The example of this excellent family doubtless exercised a powerful influence on the minds of many who came within the sphere of its influence, inviting them to come taste and handle for themselves of the good Word of life, of which they had been made partakers, by yielding obedience to the requirements of truth. Several or their household became preachers of righteousness in word and conversation, and were instrumental in turning many from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Anthony Pierson, in a letter dated in 1653, thus describes the impressions which a visit to Swarthmore produced on his mind: "Oh! how gracious the Lord was to me in carrying me to Judge Fell's, to see the wonders of His power and wisdom; a family walking in the fear of the Lord, conversing daily with Him, crucified to the world, and living only to God. I was confounded, all my knowledge and wisdom became folly; my mouth was stopped, my conscience convinced. And the secrets of my heart were made manifest, and that Lord was discovered to be near, whom I ignorantly worshipped. I have seen at Judge Fell's, and have been informed from that precious soul his wife, in some measure what those things mean, which before I counted the overflowing of giddy brains. Dear heart, pity and pray for me, and let all obligations of former friendship be discharged, in well wishes to the soul of the old family friend, that he may partake with them of your heavenly possession."

In confirmation of this, is the testimony of William Caton, an intimate of the family. He says: “Oh! the love which in that day abounded among us, especially in that family! And oh! The freshness of the power of the Lord God, which then was among us; and the zeal for Him and His truth, the comfort and refreshment which we had from His presence, the nearness and dearness that was among us one towards another, the openings and revelations which we then had! My heart is affected with the remembrance of them at this very day. And here came that worthy family to be so renowned in the nation, the fame of which spread much among Friends; and the power and presence of the Lord being so much there with us, it was as a means to induce many, even from afar, to come there; so that at one time there would have been Friends out of five or six counties: all which tended to the augmenting of my refreshment. And on the other hand was I cherished and encouraged in the way of life, by my entirely beloved friend Margaret Fell, who as a tender-hearted nursing mother cared for me, and was as tender of me, as if I had been one of her own children. Oh! the kindness, the respect and friendship which she showed me, should never be forgotten by me." Margaret Fell continues, speaking of her husband: "He lived about six years after I was convinced, in which time it pleased the Lord to visit him with sickness, wherein he became more than usually loving and kind to our friends called Quakers, having been a merciful man to the Lord's people. I and many other Friends were well satisfied, the Lord in mercy received him to Himself."

His death occurred in the eighth month, 1658, he being about sixty years of age, leaving one son and seven daughters.

(The son's name was George; the daughters, Margaret, married to John Rouse; Sarah, to William Mead; Mary, to Thomas Lower; Susanna, to William Ingram; Rachel, to Daniel Abraham; Isabel, to -- Yeomans, afterwards to Abraham Morris; and Bridget, to John Draper. These marriages all occurred after his death.

John Rouse suffered severe persecutions in New England, and in addition to many cruel whippings, had his right ear cut off. He was a native of Barbados, subsequently settled near London. William Mead was the companion of William Penn at the time of their persecution and celebrated trial at the Old Bailey, familiar to all readers of Friends' history.)

William Penn, speaking of Judge Fell, says: "Being a just and wise man, and seeing in his own wife and family a full confutation of all the popular clamors against the way of truth, he covered them what he could, and freely opened his doors, and gave up his house to his wife and her friends, not valuing the reproach of ignorant or evil-minded people; which I here mention to his and her honor. That house was, for some years at first, till the truth had opened its way in the southern parts of the island, an eminent receptacle of this people."

Alexander Parker thus consoles with her on the death of her husband, and bears testimony to his worth: "Dear Sister, be you comforted and refreshed; though an outward stay be taken from you, the Lord, I know, will never leave you nor forsake you: your house is not left desolate, but the God of Jacob will be your refuge, and the Lord your maker is your husband. It was but very lately I heard of the laying down of the body of your husband, and truly it did at first sadden my spirit, knowing his dear love and tender care over the Lord's lambs."

CHAPTER II
1658-1662

LETTERS TO CROMWELL - LETTER FROM  A. RIGGE - GEORGE FOX APPREHENDED AT HER HOUSE - HER ACCOUNT OF THE APPREHENSION – GOES TO LONDON-INTERVIEW WITH KING CHARLES II - LETTER AND ADDRESSES TO HIM AND THE PARLIAMENT – INSURRECTION OF THE FIFTH MONARCHY MEN – SOLICITS AND OBTAINS THE DISCHARGE OF G. FOX SEVERAL LETTERS TO THE KING,  DUKE OF YORK, ETC. VISITS COLONEL  HACKER  IN PRISON - LETTER TO HER CHILDREN - RETURNS TO LONDON- ANOTHER INTERVIEW WITH THE KING RESPECTING TO IMPRISONMENT OF FRIENDS - RETURNS HOME - LETTER. TO THE KING – LETTER FROM FRANCIS HOWGILL.

THIS devoted woman, soon after her convincement, felt called to plead the cause of the persecuted and oppressed before the rulers of the land. She fearlessly approached the monarchs, and those in power, at various times during the course of her life, and laid before them the sufferings of Friends, explained their principles, and both by word and writing warned them of the consequences that would be likely to follow; that the righteous judgments of the Lord would be against such, who were persecuting others for conscience' sake. Her services in this way were of the most persevering and undaunted kind, and manifested her to be one in spirit and courage with her friend, George Fox. About this period, she addressed four letters to the Protector, Oliver Cromwell; in the second, she "bears witness to the spiritual worship of God, and to His mighty day, and teaching of His people Himself, and against all the outward formal worships which are without the spirit of truth, and of their overthrow. And against all the dark forms, and shadows, and false coverings, which he had been under; charging him, in the presence of God, not to give way to the men of the world, to make laws over the consciences of his servants, and to beware of hearkening to evil counselors, that would make a prey upon the people for their own ends, lest he brought guilt, plagues, and woe upon himself."

Ambrose Rigge thus bears testimony to the usefulness and worth of Margaret  Fell, at this time, in the church:

Binscombe, in Surry, 11th mo., 1659

DEAR SISTER,

Often you are in my remembrance, in my labor and travel in the vineyard of the Lord, which is grown sweet and pleasant to walk in, to the praise of God. I received your lines in Hampshire, when I was in much weakness of body, by which I was much strengthened and refreshed; and truly, dear sister, I hope in the Lord, through His strength, we shall be clear of all; but our trials are many, especially among false brethren, which as for the particulars at present I shall not commit to paper. Oh! dear sister, if it were not the living power of God, it could never abide all the blows that come against it; but in all this we faint not, but can truly say, our strength is renewed every morning - glory to God on high.

My love is dear to you, beyond what can be committed to paper, for the truth's sake, and your care over the flock of God; for which God will you reward. So, with my dear love to all your dear children and servants in the truth, I remain

Your dear brother in the labor of the Gospel,

Ambrose Rigge

In the year 1660, George Fox was apprehended at her house, and committed to Lancaster prison. Gough, the historian, relates, that "Margaret Fell considering the forcible entry and searching of her house, and arresting of her guest there, as a violation of the liberty of the subject, and an injury offered to her, published the following brief narrative of his apprehension;”

To all magistrates, concerning the wrong taking up and imprisoning George Fox at Lancaster:

I do inform the governors of this nation, that Henry Porter, Mayor of Lancaster, sent a warrant with four constables to my house, for which he had no authority nor order. They searched my house, and apprehended George Fox in it, who was not guilty of the breach of any law, or of any offence against any in the nation. They had him taken before the said Henry Porter, where bail was offered to be paid, (what he would demand for his appearance), to answer what could be laid to his charge. But he (contrary to the law, if he had taken him lawfully) denied to accept of any bail, and clapped him up in close prison. After he was in prison, a copy of the mittimus was demanded, which ought not to be denied to any prisoner, so that he may see what is laid to his charge; but it was denied him. He could not have a copy, they were only allowed to read it over, and everything there charged against him was utterly false. He was not guilty of any one charge in it, as will be proved, and manifested to the nation. So let the governors consider it. I am concerned in this thing, inasmuch as he was apprehended in my house; and if he is guilty, I am so too. So I desire to have this investigated.

She further determined on a  journey to London, to solicit the King's protection, and lay the circumstances of George Fox's imprisonment before him.

Her narrative proceeds :

"In the year 1660, King Charles the Second came into England, and within two weeks after, I was moved of the Lord to go to London, to speak to the King concerning the truth, and the sufferers for it, for there were then many hundreds of our Friends in prison in the three nations of England, Scotland and Ireland, which were put in by former powers. I spoke often to the King, and wrote many papers and letters to him, and many books were given by our Friends to the Parliament, and great service was done at that time. And they were fully informed of our peaceable principles and practices. I stayed in London one year and three months at that time, doing service for the Lord, in visiting Friends' meetings, and giving papers and letters to the King and council, whenever there was occasion. And I wrote and gave papers and letters to every one of the family several times, that is, to the King, to the Dukes of York and Gloucester, and to the Queen mother, to the Princess of Orange, and to the Queen of Bohemia. I was moved of the Lord to visit them all, and to write to them, and did give them many books and papers, and laid our principles and doctrines before them. I desired that they let us have discourse with their priests, preachers and teachers, and if they could prove us erroneous, then let them manifest it; but if our principles and doctrines were to be found according to the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles and saints in primitive times, then let us have our liberty. But we could never get any of them to meet with our Friends. Nevertheless they were very quiet, and we had great liberty, and had our meetings very peaceably for the first half year after the King came in, until the Fifth Monarchy men raised an insurrection and tumult in the city of London, and then all our meetings were disturbed, and Friends taken up. We were informed that the King had intended to have given us liberty if the insurrection had not happened. For at that very time, there was an order signed by the King and council for the Quakers' liberty, and just when it should have gone to the press, the Fifth Monarchy men arose, and then our Friends were very hardly used, and arrested at their meetings generally, even until many prisons throughout the nation were filled with them. Many a time I went to the King about them, who promised me always that they should be set at liberty; we had several in the council friendly to us, and we gave many papers to them. And with much ado, and attendance at that time, about a quarter of a year after after they first imprisoned Friends, a general proclamation from the King and council was granted for setting of  the Quakers at liberty. Then I had freedom in spirit to return home to visit my children and family."

“The leader of the Fifth Monarchy Men was Thomas Venner, a wine cooper, who, in his little shop on Coleman Street, stirred up his admirers with passionate expectations of a fifth universal monarchy, under the reign of King Jesus upon earth, and that the saints were to take the kingdom to themselves. To introduce this imaginary kingdom, they marched out of their meeting-house towards St. Paul’s churchyard, on Sunday, January 6, 1661, with about fifty well armed men resolved to subvert the present government or die in the attempt. This mad insurrection gave the court an excuse to break the recent “declaration of indulgence,” within three months after it was published. – Neale .

By the solicitations of Margaret Fell and Anne Curtis, (whose father had suffered death for previously attempting to bring back the King), they obtained, at this time, an order for the removal of George Fox to London; he was brought up by habeas corpus, before the court of the King's bench; where the matter was referred to the King and council. With no accuser appearing to testify against him, Fox was honorably discharged, after an imprisonment of twenty weeks.

In Margaret Fell's letters to King Charles the Second, and the Dukes of York and Gloucester, soon after their return to the kingdom, she "affectionately warns them in the sight of the Lord, the heart-searcher, not to slight the tenders of His love, for fear that they should be hardened. She wishes them to consider the goodness of the Lord in their several preservations, and restoration out of their troubles and into the desired nation, throne, and kingdom of their father; and not to take the glory and honor unto themselves; but to let the Lord have the glory thereof, who restored them without the shedding of blood, or loss of lives. She acquainted them, how God had a suffering people in the nation, which he had owned, and will own; and he had reproved and overthrown powers for their sakes whom he has blessed. Also signifying that God had brought the King to the throne to try him as to what he and his associates would do for His people, desiring them not to forget His benefits and mercies towards them, and that their hands might be kept out of blood and persecution; for when the innocent were wronged and persecuted, God will plead for and stand by them.”  She intimated that she 'Was moved of the Lord to write to them beforehand, that they might not be found actors against God and his people; also warning them to take heed whom they let come near them, lest they should be betrayed by dissemblers, or malicious and temporizing spirits who have turned with every power for their own ends."

In her second letter to the King, she desires that he would "Take care for the nation as for his own family, that every one might enjoy his particular right and property, and liberty of conscience; seeing God is delivering His people from under oppressors, that they may serve Him in freedom of spirit who has heard the cry of the oppressed, and His ears are open to the prayers of the innocent. And that, therefore, it would be good for the King, that his ears should not be shut, lest his heart should grow hard, that he should not slight what they say unto him, who have a testimony for the Lord, and he will bear them witness, when He comes to make inquisition for blood."

In her third letter to the King, delivered by her own hands, on account of his proclamation for bringing to trial those who had been instrumental in the death of his father, she says: "Since God brought him into this nation in love and mercy without shedding of blood, or taking of revenge, she wishes that he would consider this and show mercy; seeing the Lord said to the merciful, I will show myself merciful, but to those without mercy I will myself be unmerciful. Advising him not to look out at those that would incense him to revenge, which is not the will of God, nor good for the King, whose best way is to show mercy and forgiveness, and commit his cause to the God of heaven; and let his heart be inclined unto love and mercy, and to grant liberty to the tender consciences of the people; where God's throne is, there are no plots, or evil intentions, or secret conspiracies that should ever prevail against him," ….

The following letter she addressed to the King upon the death of the Duke of Gloucester:

"The Lord has come very near you. Oh! that you would consider it, and see His hand, that thereby you may learn righteousness, and do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord, that so your throne may be established; and that you would see the Lord testifying, that He does not love pride, vanity and vain glory; that now, in the very time of your joy, he has turned it into mourning. The God of power give you to understand His will and mind, that you may make Him your joy, who has the life and breath of all men in His hand."

During her sojourn in London, she paid a visit to Colonel Hacker, a day or two before his execution, he having been one of the judges of King Charles the First, and now condemned for the part he took in that transaction; he also had been a very violent persecutor of George Fox a few years before. She reminded him of what he had formerly done against the innocent; he remembered it, and said he knew well to whom she alluded, and had trouble on him for it.

It is related of her, that as a tender mother, being sensible of the exercise and trial of her dear children, for her long absence from them, and family, she wrote many tender and consolatory letters to them for their encouragement in the truth, and satisfaction in the Lord on her behalf; excluding her long absence, as being so deeply engaged in his fear to clear her conscience, and for His suffering people's sake. Intimating to them how desirable it would be to her to return home to her dear end beloved children, as soon as the Lord pleased to clear her from her long and laborious attending, on behalf of His oppressed people."

The following appears to be one of the letters alluded to:

" London, 25th 10th mo., 1660.

My dearly beloved lambs and babes - My love is to you all; and my prayers to the Lord is for you all, that in His arm and power you may be kept in the bosom of His love, there to be nursed and cherished up to eternal life.

George Fox is now  freed, blessed be the Lord God  - whose arm and power alone has done it. After he had appeared before the judge who sent for him; then he appeared before the Lord Chief Justice of England in his chamber; and the next day he appeared before them all in open court, in the King's bench. And all this after the King had granted an order to set him free; but they would not set him free till he had appeared in all these places, to see if anything would come against him. It was of great service for the truth.

I cannot write at present punctually the time of my return, for I do feel that I am not yet clear of this place; but do still wait for the Lord's will and pleasure, and in his time to be manifested to me. May you rest satisfied in that, for there is everlasting peace, and there you will enjoy me. I do not know how suddenly the Lord may give me my freedom to come home; but when it is, I shall embrace it lovingly. Let me hear of the little ones, how it is with them all; you mention little of them when you write. My desire is to hear of you all, and of your well being in the Lord. It may be that you have heard before this, that James Naylor has finished his natural life, and has laid down this body of earth about three-score miles off London. So no more, but my love in the Lord Jesus is with you; and as soon as the Lord gives me permission, I shall return. The eternal arm of the Almighty be with you.

Margaret Fell

"I stayed at home about nine months, and then was moved of the Lord to go to London again, not knowing what might be the matter or business that I should go for. At Warrington, I discovers an act Parliament had made against the Quakers for refusing oaths. And when I came to London, I heard the King had gone to meet the Queen, and to be married to her at Hampton Court. At this time Friends' meetings at London were much troubled with soldiers, pulling Friends out of their meetings, and beating them with their muskets and swords; so that several were wounded and bruised by them; and many were cast into prison, through which many lost their lives. All this was done to a peaceable people, only for worshipping God, as they were persuaded in their consciences. Then I saw the King and the Duke of York at Hampton Court, and I wrote several letters to them, and therein gave them to understand what desperate and dangerous work there was in London; and how that soldiers had come in with lighted matches and had drawn swords among Friends, when they were meeting in the fear and dread of the Lord to worship Him; and if they would not stop that cruel persecution, it was very likely that more innocent blood would be shed, and that would witness against their actions, and lie upon them, and the nation. Within some certain days after, they beat some Friends so cruelly at the Bull and Mouth (meeting) that two died of the beatings. The King told me that his soldiers did not trouble us, nor should they, and said the city soldiers were not his, and they would do as they pleased with them; and after a little time they were more moderate, and the King promised me that he would set those at liberty that were in prison; and when he brought his Queen to London, he did set them at liberty. And then I came home again, having stayed about four months in and about London."

The following is the substance of letter written by Margaret and presented to King Charles the Second at Hampton Court upon the renewal of the persecution under the law for "The preventing mischiefs and dangers that may arise from certain persons called Quakers, and others, refusing to take lawful oaths:"

'KING CHARLES -

Often has the desire of my heart been to God for you, that you might be preserved out of persecuting the saints and people of God, who has been gracious and long suffering, while moderation has in some measure been kept to tender consciences. Certainly that promise that you made in true simplicity, as I do believe, was then in your heart, that you 'Would give liberty to tender consciences," which I am assured it is upon record in the sight of the Lord God; and you are bound unto Him in your conscience to perform. Therefore is my heart affected with the danger that you incur; seeing merciless men are set to work to come into the meetings of God's people, with swords, pistols and muskets, as if they were coming against thieves or open professed enemies. It is strongly on my heart once more to give you warning to take care of these things, to take a little view of them in time before it is too late. You have made an act against us, for what cause the Lord knows, we being harmless and innocent, and tender towards you, although our sufferings have been great; but since you have made a law, it is unreasonable you should exceed it in severity. These things, with many more, are laid upon me from the Lord to lay before you, who has put power in your hand to see righteousness and equity acted in the kingdom; that you may not provoke the Lord is the desire of my heart, who am a true and faithful lover of your soul,"

Margaret Fell

The following beautiful letter was addressed to her in London by Francis Howgill, who subsequently ended his days in prison, for the testimony of the truth:-

Grayrigg, 29th 9th mo., 1661

DEAR MARGARET -

In Him, who has become a place of broad rivers and streams unto us, and the portion of our cup, and the lot of our inheritance, do I most dearly salute you. The former days are not forgotten by me, nor the years past, when we were all made to drink of one cup, and were baptized into the death and suffering of Christ: and were made to drink it willingly, knowing it was our portion allotted to us of the Lord, which we would not pass, but must drink thereof. Although it was  irksome and grievous unto us, when our strength was but small, yet God, out of His infinite love and mercy, strengthened us to bear, and to suffer, and to deny what hid immortality and life from us. He bore us up in His arms, and made us to endure with patience the sufferings and the death; that so we might obtain the resurrection of the dead; which indeed was a blessed time, though for a moment it seemed grievous. But now, having obtained the resurrection of the dead, being baptized into the resurrection and into the life, more blessedness is known, even spiritual blessings, which God has given us to enjoy in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that like as we suffered one for another, and one with another, so we might be made to rejoice one with another, and for another, and in Him alone; in whom all our fresh springs are, and from whom our joy and gladness and consolation spring. He has opened the springs of the great deep, and has made life spring up, whereby His little ones are refreshed, and the young men strengthened, and the ancient and honorable confirmed and established. Holy and revered be His name forevermore, who is exalting His glorious mountain above the top of all the earth; and making Jerusalem the praise and glory and admiration of the whole earth. Let me tell you, I am no more weary than the first day the sickle was put into the harvest; when we went out sowing the seed, weeping and in tears; but seeing sheaves brought home, and full loads into the barn, and full draughts caught in the net, it has made me look beyond fainting - blessed be the Lord.

I am glad you stayed so long in that city (London), in which we have had many a burden and weary day: but that fruit is brought forth unto God, plenteously balancing all, and makes me forget travail. I have been northward in Northumberland, Bishoprick, and upon the east sea, and back to York; truly the garden for the most part is very pleasant, and gives a goodly smell, now when the south wind blows upon it.

Dearly farewell in the holy covenant of life,

Francis Howgill

CHAPTER III
1662-1668

PERFORMS A RELIGIOUS VISIT TO SEVERAL COUNTIES - MEETS WITH GEORGE FOX -
THEIR ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT IN LANCASTER CASTLE  - HER TRIAL – TESTIMONY AGAINST SWEARING  - PREMUNIRED, AND REMANDED TO PRISON - LETTER FROM HER DAUGHTER -
LETTER TO HER SON-IN-LAW AND WIFE - INEFFECTUAL EFFORTS TO OBTAIN HER RELEASE -
THE HARDSHIPS AND PRIVATIONS OF HER IMPRISONMENT -
EXPOSTULATORY LETTER TO THE KING – DESCRIPTION OF LANCASTER CASTLE –
HER RELEASE

In the year 1663, in company with one of her daughters, Margaret Fell performed a religious journey of about one thousand miles, visiting Friends in Somersetshire, Devonshire and Dorsetshire to Bristol, from there to Yorkshire, into Northumberland and Westmoreland. In the course of their travels they met with George Fox, who accompanied them home, soon after which he was arrested and committed to Lancaster outer castle.

She says: "About a month after the same justices sent for me to appear at Ulverston, and when I came there they asked me several questions, and seemed to be offended at me for keeping a meeting at my house, and said they would tender me the oath of allegiance. I answered they KNEW I could not swear, and why should they send for me from my own house, where I was about my lawful occasions, to ensnare me? What had I done? They said if I would not keep meetings at my house, they would not tender me the oath. I told them I should not deny my faith and principles for anything they could do to me; and while it pleased the Lord to let me have a house, I would endeavor to worship him in it. So they caused the oath to be read, and tendered it to me; and I refused it, telling them, I could not take any oath for conscience' sake, Christ Jesus having forbidden it. They then made a mittimus and committed me prisoner to Lancaster Castle, and there George Fox and I remained in prison until the next assizes; and then they indicted us upon the statute for denying the oath of allegiance; for they tendered it to us both again at the assizes; but they said to me, if I would not keep a meeting at my house, I should be set at liberty. But I answered the judge that I rather choose a prison for obeying God, than my liberty for obeying men contrary to my conscience. So we were called several times before them at that assizes, and the indictments were found against us. The next assizes we came to trial, and George Fox's indictment was found to be dated wrong, both in the day of the month, and in the year of the King's reign, so that it was quashed; but mine they would not allow the errors that were found in it to make it void, although there were several; so they passed the sentence of premunire upon me, which was, that I should be out of the King's protection, and forfeit all my estate, real and personal, to the King, and be imprisoned for life. But the great God of heaven and earth so supported my spirit under this severe sentence, that I was not terrified, but gave this answer to Judge Turner, who gave this sentence: 'Although I am out of the King’s protection, yet I am not out of the  protection of the Almighty God.' So there I remained in prison twenty months, before I could get so much favor of the sheriff, as to go to my own house;  which then I did for a little time, and returned to prison again."

While before the judges, she bore this clear and noble testimony against swearing, and vindicated herself from all causes of offence:

“I am here this day upon the account of my conscience, and not for any evil, or wrong done to any man, but for obeying Christ's doctrine and commands, who has said in the Scriptures: 'That God is a spirit, and that his worship is in spirit and truth:' and for keeping meetings in the unity of this spirit. Now you profess yourselves to be Christians, and you own the Scriptures to be true; and for the obedience of the plain words of Scripture, and for the testimony of my conscience, am I here.

I say this to the oath, as I have said in this place before now, Christ Jesus has commanded me not to swear at all; and that is the only cause and no other; the righteous Judge of heaven and earth knows, before whose throne of justice you must all appear one day. His eye sees us all, and beholds us at this present time, and hears and sees all our words and actions. Therefore everyone ought to be serious for the place of judgment is weighty. This I do testify to you here, where the Lord's eye beholds us all, that for the matter or substance of the oath, and the end for which it was intended, I do acknowledge one part and deny the other. That is to say, I do acknowledge truth, and faithfulness, and obedience to the King, in all his just and lawful demands and commands. I do also deny all plots and contrivances against the King, and all Popish supremacy, and conspiracy. I can no more transgress against King Charles in these things, than I can disobey Christ Jesus' commands. By the same power, and by virtue of the same word, which has commanded not to swear at all, the same does bind me in my conscience, that I can neither plot nor contrive against the King, nor do him or any man upon the earth any wrong. I do not deny this oath only because it is the oath of allegiance, but I deny it because it is an oath and because Christ Jesus has said, Swear not at all, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor any other oath; and if I might gain the whole world for swearing of an oath, I could not; and whatever I have to lose this day, for not swearing, I am ready to offer up."

One of the justices observed: "Mrs. Fell, you may with a good conscience put in security to have no more meetings at your house, if you cannot take the oath."

"Will you make it good," said she, "that I may with a safe conscience make an engagement to forbear meetings, for fear of losing my liberty and estate? Will not you and all here judge me, that it was for saving my estate and liberty that I did it? And should I not, in this, deny my testimony; and would not this defile my conscience? "

Considerable effort was made by some of her friends in London to prevent the sentence of premunire being passed upon her, and some of her children applied to the King in her behalf; but without any effect. The following is a letter from one of her daughters on the subject:

"Mile EndGreen, near London, 27th 4th mo., 1664

ENDEARED AND TENDER-HEARTED MOTHER: - My duty and very dear love is freely given and remembered unto you, as also my very dear love is to dear George Fox. This is chiefly to let you understand that yesterday my sister and I went to Whitehall; where we spoke to the King, and told him if he would please signify something to the judges, before they went their circuit, to release you; otherwise it would be past, for the time drew very near or the assizes. He said he would release you, if we would promise you would not go to meetings. Sister said we could make no such engagement for the meeting had been kept many years and never had done any harm. He said, "cannot your mother keep within her own family, as she may have five persons present, but she must have such tumultuous meetings?" We said she has no such meetings; they are only her neighbors that come. The King said there were some Quakers in the last plot. Sister said that could not be proved. He said he had letters about it and their names. So Chifines, (one of the pages) , told us to come on the fourth day; and we intend to go tomorrow. I was there about a week later and told the King that now the assizes drew very near, if he did not do something for you, they would run you into a premunire, and get your estate from you and your children; and I desired him to take it into consideration. He was then very loving to me, and said he would take it into consideration. And he said, 'they shall not have her estate from her;' he took me by the hand as soon as he came near me. I also spoke to Prince Rupert, and desired him to put the King in mind of it. He said he would do what he could in it, and went then to the King and spoke to him. Prince Rupert has always been very loving to Friends and has often spoken to the King about you.

Sister gives the renewed remembrance of her entire love to you and dear George Fox, as also does my brother; I suppose sisters Isabel and Sarah will be gone. Remember me to sisters Susanna and Rachel. I am your dutiful and obedient daughter,

Mary Fell

The following letter, written by Margaret Fell, when in prison, to her son-in-law, John Rouse, and his wife, after she had been premunired, shows, that having been deeply taught in the school of Christ, and strengthened by Him, she had learned, like the Apostle Paul, that in whatsoever state she found herself therewith to be content:

"Lancaster Castle, 1st 10th mo., 1664.

"As I have often said to you, give up to be crossed; that is the way to please the Lord, and to follow Him in His own will and way, whose way is the best. Let nothing enter your mind concerning anything about me, for I am well contented in the work of the Lord. I know your care and tenderness for Friends were not lacking; and so be all satisfied in the will of the Lord God. I hope in the Lord that you are all together, however this comes to you. Be all satisfied and content with the will of the Lord; and let neither murmuring nor repining enter any of your minds; and let not sorrow fill your hearts, for we have all cause to rejoice in the Lord evermore, and I most of all.

Colonel Kirby causes our bonds to be renewed and straightened more and more; and they lock up George Fox under pretence of an order that should come from London. Get this enclosed letter of George Fox sent to Gilbert Latey, that George Whitehead and they may draw out what they see convenient.

Margaret Fell

Some attempts were afterwards made to obtain her release, or at least some mitigation of the rigors of her imprisonment, but with no better success. Gilbert Latey, in one of his letters, giving an account of an interview he had with Lord D'Aubigny on her behalf, says:

"That neither the King nor chancellor would do anything at all for us. Neither could any man be heard to speak for us. Then I told him of the unjustness of your imprisonment, and of the badness of the jury, and its being contrary to law, and that you desired nothing but a fair prison, and that the thieves and murderers had more liberty than you, and that you were locked up in a bad room, and Friends not allowed to come to speak to you; and I told him I had a paper of it, and desired that he would pass it. He told me he was sorry with all his heart, but he would tell me no lie; he was sure nothing could be done, and he believed they did it on purpose to vex us. So I parted with him for he said he could do nothing, since all the clergy were against us, and nothing could be done at all; neither did he care to meddle with the paper at all. So I was glad to leave him."

Gough, the historian, remarks:

"Such rigorous imprisonment as these people, particularly George Fox and Margaret Fell, were subject to, being in smoky rooms, in such bad condition that the rain came in upon them in abundance, was more than sufficient punishment for petty criminals, and an evidence of the unfeeling malice of their persecutors needlessly to expose Margaret Fell in particular to such hardships, a woman of estate, the widow of a judge, and a man of consequence in the country, who had been used to comfortable accommodations in her own house, and was every way on a level with her persecutors, except the possession of power. But all the hardships she suffered, in being arbitrarily forced from her home and family, without cause or crimination, and hurried to this dismal jail, was not a sufficient gratification of the groundless enmity of these magistrates, until they went the furthest lengths they could go, by prosecuting her to a premunire, realizing the proverb, summum jus, summa injuria: the execution of perverted law is accumulated injury."

She earnestly reasoned the wrong with the King, on the injustice of the law authorizing the banishment of Friends, reminding him of her former interview with him, and the rigors of her own imprisonment, in a letter addressed to him; some extracts from which are here inserted:

"from my prison at Lancaster Castle, the 6th day of the 6th month, 1666,"

"KING CHARLES:

I desire you to read this over, which may be for your satisfaction and profit. In the fear of the Lord God stand still, and consider what you and you have been doing these six years, since the Lord brought you peaceably into this realm, and made you rulers over this people. The righteous eye of the Almighty has been over you, and has seen all your doings and actions. What laws have you made or changed, save such as have laid oppression and bondage on the consciences of God's people, and that of no less penalty than banishment out of their native country? The greatest crime that you could find with the people of God was, that they obeyed and worshipped Christ Jesus; so that the greatest stroke that has appeared of your justice has been upon such as you counted offenders for worshipping of God, insomuch that several of your judges of the land have several times said, in open court, to any that did confess they met to worship the Lord God, that that was crime enough, whereby they could proceed to banishment. When it was asked in open court, whether it was now become a transgression or a crime in England to worship God? He that was then Chief Justice of England answered: 'Yes, yes. Oh! wonderful, let this be chronicled in England for after ages, that all magistrates may dread and fear so to affront the Almighty; except they dare say they are stronger than he.'

All this has been without any just cause given at any time by that people, which was the object of this law; so that men, that had but the least measure of righteousness and equity, could never have proceeded on to have inflicted such a height of punishment, without some just ground.

All that was ever pretended, was but suspicion, which can never be paralleled; to be prosecuted to such a height of suffering without a just ground given, although occasion has been continually sought and watched for, but never found; but the Lord has preserved His people innocent and harmless; and therefore is He engaged to plead their cause, into whose hand it is wholly given and committed.

I desire you also to consider seriously, in the fear of the Lord, what effects and fruits these things  have brought forth.

I believe it has brought hundreds of God's people to their graves; it has also rendered this realm, and the governors of it, cruel, in the eyes of all people, both within its own body, and in other nations; besides the guilt of innocent blood lies upon this kingdom.

Since which time, the Lord in His judgments has taken many thousands of its people away by His two judgments, pestilence and sword.

Before any of this was, when you first entered into this kingdom, I was sent of the Lord to you, to inform you truly of the state and condition of our people; and when I came before you, 0 King, I told you I had come to you on behalf of an innocent, harmless, peaceable people; which words I would then, and ever since, and should at this day seal with my blood, if I were put to it. Your answer to me was: 'if they are peaceable they will be protected.'

I also wrote to you several times concerning our faith and principles, how that we could not swear for conscience'  sake; neither could we take up arms, or plot, or contrive to do any man wrong or injury, much less the King. I also told you that we must worship God, for God required it of us.

We did likewise give you many of our books, which contained our faith, and principles and doctrine, by which we might be tried by the scriptures of Truth, (which all of you do profess), whether our principles were erroneous or not; and to that purpose we gave our books to the King and Parliament, and to the bishops and ministers, both ecclesiastical and civil. All this, with much more, I wrote to you, and warned you of, (I can truly say in the fear of the Lord), in much love and tenderness to you. Now I may say unto you, for these things you have kept me in prison three long winters, in a place not fit for people to lie in; sometimes for wind, and storm, and rain, and sometimes for smoke; so that I am only alive because of the power and goodness of God that has been with me. I was kept a year and seven months in this prison before I was allowed to see the house that was mine, or children or family, except when they came to me over two dangerous sands in the cold winter, when they came with much danger of their lives; but since the last assizes I have had a little more respect from this sheriff, than formerly from others. In all this I am very well satisfied; and praise the Lord, who counts me worthy to suffer for His sake.

Now after all my sufferings, in the same love that I visited you in the beginning, I desire you once more to fear the Lord God, by whom kings rule, and princes decree justice; who sets up one, and pulls down another, at His pleasure.

Let not the guilt of the burden of the breach of that word that passed from you at Breda, lie upon your conscience, but as you promised when you were in distress, and else renewed it many times since, that you would give liberty to tender consciences; in the fear of the Lord perform it, and purge your conscience of it. Hearken not to wicked counselors, who have stopped it in you all this time for they will bear none of your burden for you, when the Lord pleads for breach of covenant with Him and His people. I know it has been often in your heart to perform it, and you have seen what fruit the lack of it has brought forth. So if you love your eternal peace and comfort with the Lord, try what the performance of it will bring forth, and you will thereby see you have hearkened to wrong counselors. And every mortal man has but a moment in this life, either to serve, fear and honor the Lord, and thereby to receive mercy from Him; or else to transgress, sin, disobey, end dishonor Him, and receive the judgment of eternal misery.

So none of you know how long, or how short your day may be; therefore fear not man, that can kill the body; but fear the Lord, who, can kill both the body and soul, and then can cast the soul and body into hell; yes, I say unto you fear Him.

From a true lover of all your souls (though a sufferer by you), and the desire of my heart is that you may take these things into consideration in time, before it be too late, and set open the prison doors, and let the innocent go free, and that will take part of the burden and guilt off you, for feat that the door of mercy be shut against you."

Margaret Fell

Lancaster Castle, the prison of Margaret Fell, in its present form, was founded by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in the 14th century. This castle and its predecessor have been noted strongholds, famous in British history from the time of the Romans to the days of Cromwell and the Pretender. A recent writer thus describes the castle, and the room occupied by George Fox:

"He who penetrates within the enclosure of the castle will wonder at the kind of life which kings and princes must have led in the days of its erection. Here are the same rooms of John of Gaunt, visited sometimes by his father, Edward the Third - small, stately, strong apartments, having few windows in the exterior, and these narrowed to the smallest possible dimensions - well fitted to serve as the prisons they have since become. Fox's room was in the dungeon, and the window of what was his residence during many long, dreary months is conspicuous over the greater part of the ancient town. It was evidently, at one period, a room of considerable size, but in Fox's day it was old and ruinous. He could scarcely walk across his apartment, because of the dilapidated state of the floor. The smoke that came from the other prisons was so dense, that sometimes a burning candle was scarcely visible, and he was in imminent danger of being choked; and the jailer was with difficulty persuaded to unlock one of the upper doors, in order to let out the smoke. In wet weather it rained upon his bed. The inconveniences of his prison affected Fox to such a degree, during a cold and prolonged winter, that his body became swollen, and his limbs benumbed. When he was brought up at the March assizes, 1665, he was so weak that he could scarcely stand or move.”

"Nor were Fox's friends in this neighborhood allowed to escape. Many of his followers, and among them Margaret Fell, at whose house he had been apprehended, were also confined in the castle, where an apartment exists, still called the Quaker's room, because it was the scene of the sufferings of many of these oppressed and unresisting Christians."

Having endured an imprisonment of about four years, Margaret Fell was at length set at liberty by an order of the King and council, in the year 1668. Note: At one time there were 4500 Friends in prison in England and Wales. In 1662, 20 died in different prisons in London, and 7 more after their liberation, from ill treatment. In 1664, 25 died; and in 1665, 52 more. The number that perished in this way throughout the whole kingdom amounted to 869. For a full account of the cruelties practiced against the early Friends, the reader is referred to two folio Volumes entitled Besse’s Sufferings."

CHAPTER IV
1668-1690

VISITS IMPRISONED FRIENDS - HER. MARRIAGE WITH GEORGE FOX AT BRISTOL - AGAIN IMPRISONED ON THE OLD PREMUNIRE - HER HUSBAND AND TWO OF  HER CHILDREN OBTAIN AN ORDER FOR HER DISCHARGE - WHICH IS DISREGARDED - SHE OBTAINS A FREE DISCHARGE UNDER THE GREAT SEAL, RELEASING HER AND HER ESTATE FROM THE PREMUNIRE - VISITS LONDON TO SAY GOODBYE TO  HER HUSBAND, WHO GOES TO AMERICA - HIS RETURN, AND IMPRISONMENT IN WORCESTER JAIL – HE IS  PREMUNIRED - HER EFFORTS IN HIS BEHALF- HIS RELEASE, AND RETURN TO SWARTHMORE - LETTER TO THOMAS LOWER - RETURNS TO LONDON - VISITS THE KING - HIS DEATH- INTERVIEW WITH KING JAMES - FRESH IMPRISONMENT - EPISTLE TO WOMEN FRIENDS OF LONDON.

Shortly after her release, "she was moved of the Lord" to make an extended journey through many of the counties of England, visiting most of the Friends who were imprisoned in the nation, and spending a number of weeks in London and Bristol. It was on her return from this visit that she again met with George Fox, and remarks: "It was eleven years after my former husband's decease, and George Fox being then returned from visiting Friends in Ireland; at Bristol he declared his intentions of marriage with me. There also our marriage was solemnized, in a public meeting of many Friends, who were our witnesses.”

George Fox, in his journal, gives the following relation of his marriage. Before proceeding therein be was careful that the rights of her children should not suffer, and had their free consent, for, he said, "I would have all things done plainly, for I sought not any advantage to myself."

After this meeting in Gloucestershire, we traveled until we came to Bristol; where I met with Margaret Fell, who was come to visit her daughter Isabel Yeomens. I had seen from the Lord, a considerable time before, that I should take Margaret Fell to be my wife; and when I first mentioned it to her, she felt the answer of life from God thereunto. But though the Lord had opened this thing to me, yet I had not received a command from him for the accomplishing of it then. Therefore I let the thing rest, and went on in the work and service of the Lord, according as he led me; traveling up and down in this nation and through Ireland. But now being at Bristol, and finding Margaret Fell there, it opened in me from the Lord that the thing should be accomplished. After we had discussed the matter together, I told her, 'if she also was satisfied with the accomplishing of it now, she should first send for her children:' which she did. When the rest of her daughters arrived, I asked both them and her sons-in-law, 'if they had anything against it, or for it?' desiring them to speak; and they all severally expressed their satisfaction with the proposal. Then I asked Margaret, 'if she had fulfilled her husband's will to her children?' she replied, ‘the children knew she had.' At this point I asked them, 'whether, if their mother married, they should not lose by it?' and I asked Margaret, ‘whether she had done anything in difference to it, which if so she might speak about it to the children?' the children said, 'she had answered it to them, and desired me to speak no more of that. I told them, 'I was plain, and would have all things done plainly; for I did not seek any outward advantage to myself.' So our intention of marriage was laid before Friends both privately and publicly, to their full satisfaction, many of whom gave testimony to it, for it was of God. Afterwards, a meeting being appointed for the marriage in the public meeting-house at Broad Mead, in Bristol, we took each other in marriage; the Lord joining us together in the honorable marriage, in the everlasting covenant and immortal seed of life. During the joining, living and weighty testimonies were stated there by Friends, as they were moved of the heavenly power which united us together. Then was a certificate, relating both the proceedings and the marriage, openly read, and signed by the relations, and by most of the ancient Friends of that city; besides many others from several parts of the nation.

Note: In confirmation of this, and showing the justice and conscientiousness that characterized George Fox, in regard to property, and of his opinions being in advance of those then prevailing on the subject, the following circumstances, related in his Journal, will serve to illustrate. Being prosecuted for tithes against his wife’s estate at Swarthmore, and William Mead, her son-in-law, appeared before the court, “when,” he says, ”William Mead told the judges, that I had engaged myself never to meddle with my wife's estate. The judges could hardly believe that any man would do so; whereupon he showed them the writing under my hand and seal; at which they wondered.

Note: The following is a copy of her marriage certificate:

These are to signify unto all whom this may concern that on the eighteenth day of the eighth month in the year one thousand, six hundred sixty nine, George Fox and Margaret Fell propounded their intentions of joining together in the honorable marriage, in the covenant of God in the Men’s meetings, at Broad Mead, within the City of Bristol (having before made mention of such their intentions to several friends,) on the behalf of which there were several testimonies given, both by the children and relations of the said Margaret, then present, and several others, in the power of the Lord, both of men and women, declaring their satisfaction, and approbation of their declared intention of marriage. Likewise at another meeting both of men and women, at the place previously mentioned, on the twenty first day of the month and year before mentioned, the said George Fox and Margaret Fell did again publish their intention of joining together in the honorable marriage in the covenant of God, unto which, there were again many living testimonies borne by the relations and friends then present, both of Men and Women. The same intentions of Marriage being again published by Dennis Hollister at our public meeting-place before mentioned, on the two and twentieth day of the month and year before mentioned, and then again, a public testimony was given to the same, that it was of God who had brought it to pass. For the full accomplishment of the before mentioned proposal and approved intention, at a public meeting, both of men and women friends, appointed on purpose for the same things, at the place before mentioned, and on the twenty seventh day of the month and year before mentioned, according to the law and ordinance of God, and the example and good order of His people, mentioned in the Scriptures of Truth, who took each other before witnesses, and the Elders of the people, as Laban appointed a meeting, at the marriage of Jacob; and as a meeting was appointed on purpose, when Boas and Ruth took each other; and also as it was in Canaan, where Christ and his disciples went to a marriage. George Fox did solemnly, in the presence of God, and us his people, declare that he took the Margaret Fell in the everlasting power and covenant of God which is from everlasting to everlasting, and in the honorable marriage, to be his bride, and his wife. Likewise Margaret did solemnly declare that, in the everlasting power of the mighty God, and in the unalterable word, and in the presence of God, His Angels, and his holy assembly, she took George Fox to be her husband, unto which marriage, many living testimonies were borne in the sense of the power and presence of the living God, manifested in the assembly; of which, we, whose names are here subscribed are witnesses.

Signed by 92 men and women Friends." – Friends Review, vol 1. p. 270..

Her narrative proceeds: "Soon after I came home, there came another order to cast me into prison again; and the sheriff of Lancashire sent his bailiff, and pulled me out of my own house, and had me to prison at Lancaster Castle, where I continued a whole year; and most of that time I was sick and weakly. And after some time my husband endeavored to get me out of prison; and a discharge at last was obtained, under the great seal, and I was set at liberty."

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