RECORDS OF PERSECUTIONS
All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Tim 3:12
And so the Early Quakers similarly suffered,
Of his true followers, Jesus said: 'No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.' (John 15:20). In Fox's time, there were five governments in England: Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, James II, and William and Mary. During the reign of Charles II alone, 13,562 Quakers were imprisoned; 338 died from injuries inflicted in meetings or imprisonment, and 198 were sent into slavery over the seas. (Source: Catholic Encyclopedia). Under the first four rulers, Besse's Sufferings counts 869 Quakers who died in prison. When sent to prison, even their children were sold as slaves. Countless others had their personal and real property seized as 'spoils' for the taking by the courts; after conviction for refusal to swear, failure to remove their hat in court, traveling on Sunday, failure to attend state-approved religious services, failure to pay tithes to the state approved parsonages, and for meeting in a non-government-approved worship service.
From Mary Howgill's, a prophecy from God, of why he allowed the persecutions:
Cromwell's Puritan government had severely persecuted the Quakers for failure to tithe and failure to swear. King Charles II returned to the throne, and shortly outlawed any service except the Church of England, with large fines, seizure of property, imprisonments, and finally banishment to the Caribbean colonies of Jamaica and Barbados. Just before this happened, Mary Howgill had a vision of the terrible persecutions to come. She was dismayed, and turned to the Lord, pleading for him to prevent it. In reply, thus said the Lord:
So gentle reader, the persecutions you are about to read were permitted for three reasons:
Christ's reply to his disciples, when they wished to punish the people who would not listen to him, was to severely rebuke them with: Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; it is the Spirit of Satan that punishes their fellow man over religion. Persecutions were predicted in Revelation by the Whore of Babylon, drunk on the blood of the saints who rode on the back of the beast with horns like a lamb, with many names, (Protestants and Catholic), imitating Christ's church. (See Babylon and Apostasy for more.)
-from George Fox's Journal
- and more from his Journal on Fox's imprisonments
After some further discourse, they committed me to prison again, there to stay until the next assize; and colonel Kirby gave orders to the jailer, to keep me close, and allow no flesh alive to come to me; for 'I was not fit,' he said, 'to be in conversation with men.' I was put into a tower, where the smoke of the other prisoners came up so thick, it stood as dew upon the walls, and sometimes it was so thick that I could hardly see the candle when it burned. I was locked under three locks; and when the smoke was great, the under-jailer could hardly be persuaded to come up to unlock one of the uppermost doors because he feared the smoke; so that I was almost smothered. Besides it rained in upon my bed; and many times, when I went to try and keep out the rain in the cold winter season, my shirt would be as wet as muck with the rain that came in upon me while I was laboring to keep it out. And since the place was high and open to the wind, sometimes as fast as I stopped the hole, the wind would blow it out again. In this manner I lay all that long cold winter until the next assize; in which time I was so starved with cold and rain, that my body was greatly swelled, and my limbs much benumbed.
- and one (of many) sample of Fox being attacked from his Journal
- from Edward Burrough's Testimony
Next morning I went over [to the Isle of Walney] in a boat to James Lancaster's. As soon as I came to land, there rushed out about forty men, with staves, clubs, and fishing-poles; who fell upon me, beating and punching me, and endeavoring to thrust me backward into the sea. When they had almost thrust me into the sea, and I saw they would have knocked me down in it, I went up into the middle of them; but they attacked me again, knocked me down, and stunned me. When I came to myself, I looked up and saw James Lancaster's wife throwing stones at my face, and her husband was lying over me, to keep the blows and stones from me. For the people had persuaded James's wife that I had bewitched her husband; and had promised her, that if she would let them know when I came there, they would be my death; and having gotten knowledge of my coming, many of the town rose up in this manner with clubs and staves to kill me; but the Lord's power preserved me, that they could not take away my life. At length I got upon my feet, but they beat me down again into the boat; which James Lancaster observing, he presently came into the boat to me, and set me over the water from them; but while we were on the water, within their reach, they struck at us with long poles, and threw stones after us. By that time we were come to the other side, we saw them beating James Naylor: for while they had been beating me, he walked into a field, and they never minded him until I was gone; then they fell upon him, and all their cry was, ‘ Kill him, kill him.'
When I had come over to the town again, on the other side of the water, the townsmen rose up with pitchforks, flails, and staves, to keep me out of the town, crying, 'Kill him, knock him on the head; bring the cart, and carry him away to the church yard.' So after they had abused me, they drove me a quite a way out of the town, and there left me. Then James Lancaster went back again, to look after James Naylor; and I being now left alone, went to a ditch; and having washed myself, walked about three miles to Thomas Hutton's, where lodged Thomas Lawson, the priest that was convinced. When I came in, I was so bruised that I could hardly speak to them; but I told them where I left James Naylor. Upon which they each took a horse, and went and brought him back there that night. The next day Margaret Fell hearing of it, sent a horse for me; but I was so sore with bruises, that I was not able to bear the shaking of the horse without much pain. When I came to Swarthmore, justice Sawrey and justice Thompson, of Lancaster, granted a warrant against me; but since judge Fell arrived back home, it was not served upon me; for he had been out of the country all this time that I was so cruelly abused. When he came home, he sent warrants into the isle of Walney, to apprehend all those riotous persons; whereupon some of them fled the country. James Lancaster's wife was afterwards convinced of the truth, and repented of the evil she had done me; and so did some others of those bitter persecutors also; but the judgments of God fell upon some, and destruction has come upon many of them since. Judge Fell desired me to give him an account of my persecution; but I told him, they could not do otherwise in the spirit which they were in; and that they manifested the fruits of their priest's ministry, and their profession and religion to be wrong. So he told his wife I made nothing of it; and that I spoke of it as a man that had not been concerned; for indeed the Lord's power healed me again.
From William Penn's admirable work called An Address to Protestants
Penn thus describes the persecutions. "Thousands have been excommunicated and imprisoned, whole families undone, not a bed left in the house nor a cow left in the field, nor any corn in the barn; widows and orphans stripped without pity, no regard being had to age or sex. And what for? Only because of their meeting to worship God after another manner than according to the form of the Church of England; but yet in a very peaceable way." . . . . "And though we are yet un-redressed, not a session of Parliament has passed these seventeen years in which we have not humbly remonstrated, (argued our case)."
The following extract describes how the students of the ministry at Oxford treated the Quakers meeting there:
Just in case you might be thinking this was an isolated incident, below is a letter describing a similar occurrences at Cambridge, from Stephen Crisp's Letters.
The reason for these minsiterial student riots is not difficult to understand. First: those born of the flesh will always persecute those born of the Spirit - it has been that way since Cain slew Abel. Second: the Quakers denied any ministers trained by universities, instead of being trained by Christ. Third: and most important, the Quakers were emptying churches throughout England of paid members, seriously threatening these Bible students' chances of finding a lucrative parish income from forced tithing supported by the courts. (Follow the money). Fourth: the divinity students knew the Quakers would not fight back, and their school officials hated the Quakers - so they believed there would be no consequence of their scandalous behavior.
From Sewel's History, Vol I:
Thus the ministerial students demonstrated they were not fit to be named Christians, much less pose as Christ's ministers. In fact, their university training only qualifies them to become ministers of Satan in Babylon, masquerading as belonging to Christ, but only as whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones; faithfully following in the footsteps of their fathers, the Pharisees who murdered Christ. Bible colleges only create hypocrites: those who charge for talking of religion, while walking in sin, puffed up with their fleshly knowledge of the words in the Bible, and without shame for failing to heed the words, of which they claim to be experts. Ministers trained in colleges claim they are Christ's ministers, even though Christ never called them, never trained them, never perfected them, never authorized them, and never gifted them with the ministry; of which all ministers' sole purpose is supposed to be for the perfection of the saints. Eph 4:11. Satan's ministers will deny perfection is even possible, ignoring the scriptures.
From George Fox's Journal:
From George Whitehead's A Christian Progress,
Now we were settled in the common ward among felons, in a low, dungeon-like place, under a market house, our lodging being upon rye straw, on a damp earthen floor, though we were content with it, and the place was sanctified to us. But not being willing to contribute to the jailer's extortion, nor free to buy any of his beer, he keeping a tap house, and many of his prisoners often drunk, his rage arose very much against us, after we were so many as five, sent to prison successively, and all in the common ward, and in the time of our confinement drinking only water. That for which he appeared most enraged against us, was because we frequently testified and cried against the foul and horrid sins of drunkenness, swearing, and other disorders and abuses among the prisoners, and which the jailer's servants occasioned by allowing their excessive drinking strong beer for his ungodly financial gain from the sale of the drink to them.
But the Lord stirred us up the more zealously to cry aloud against the wickedness of the jailer, his servants and prisoners for these gross evils and disorders; because the jailer made a profession of religion and piety, being member of a Presbyterian church in Bury, and calling in the prisoners on first-days toward evening, to instruct them and exercise his sort of devotion among them. Because I told him of his hypocrisy in that, his fruits being so much the contrary, his daughter was offended, saying, " What! call my father a hypocrite, who has been a saint forty years?" Now to evidence some of his fruits, and of our treatment by him and his agents, observe what follows:
On the 21st day of the tenth month, 1655, the jailer smote George Rose on the face until he drew blood; and on the 28th, he smote George Fox* and John Harwood on their faces before several witnesses. On the 21st of the eleventh month, he smote George Whitehead on his face until the blood came out at his mouth, only for reprehending and detecting some falsehoods he had uttered against us, which some present heard; at which point a woman of his own society or profession, seeing his fury and violence, told him he dishonored the gospel. It seems she was more tender and conscientious than he.
Many other times he shamefully abused us both in words and actions, by which his servants, tapster and turnkey, and some of his drunken prisoners took the greater encouragement to follow his example; for his tapster* often grossly abused us, and not only threatened us, but cast a stone violently, by which he hit one; and in his rage took up a stool to have struck or thrown at some of us, but was prevented by one present taking hold of it. He often slandered and beat some of us on the face, and also violently struck us with his fists, for no other cause but reprehending his and their wickedness.
Some of the prisoners also have often abused us, by taking away our food, alleging the jailer gave them permission to do so, and thereby taking occasion to injure us; several times beating some of us, stoning, despitefully using us, threatening to kill, and to knock some of us on the head.
One said if he killed us, he would not be hanged for it, and that there was no law for us if he did kill us; and being drunk with the jailer's strong beer, he kicked and wounded some of us on the legs, and greatly abused us, knowing it was against our principle and practice to fight or return any blows; which we could easily have done to him and the rest of the jailer's drunkards that abused us, if our principle would have allowed, being five of us, mostly able and lively young men. But we esteemed it greater valor and more Christian, patiently to suffer such injuries for Christ, than to fight for him, or avenge ourselves; and rather, when struck on one cheek, to turn the other, than to smite again. The said drunken prisoner who had so abused us, when he was a little sober, confessed that the jailer made him worse than he would have been against us. But by such inhuman usage, the jailer could not force our compliance with his covetous designs, or corrupt practices for gain.
On the 19th day of the second month, 1656, he came into the common ward, and asked if we would pay him for keeping us here? We asked him what we owed him. He said, "Fourteen pence a week, each of you;" though some of us had been thirty-one weeks in that common jail, and none of us did then lie in any bedding of his; but when some straw was brought us to lie on, which was allowed by the county for the prisoners' use there, we paid for bringing it, or we might not have had it. We told the jailer, that when we demanded a free prison, he turned us into this place; upon which he commanded the turnkey to take away our bed clothes, saying, “Take away their clothes, and leave them nothing but the straw to lie upon, and take away their boxes." So the turnkey and tapster took them all away, and left us not so much as our night cape, which were hung up in a basket by the wall.
And moreover the jailer threatened to take away our coats from off our backs; we told him he might do so if he would, for he might as well take them as our other goods, namely, our bed clothes, a coat and a cloak, and our boxes, in which was our food, i, e. bread and cheese, linen and other things. "Then," said he, “I will not take your coats until warmer weather." We told him he would shame his profession. He said, "'That's no matter, you are all heretics." After the above said goods were taken away, the jailer's daughter said, “They have robbed you of all." Those goods were detained from us about twenty-four weeks, in which time we well forced to lie in part of our wearing clothes, upon the straw; yet the Lord gave us patience and comfort in our sufferings, as he did his servants of old, who suffered the spoiling of their goods joyfully; being also made willing not only to suffer such spoil, but to lay down our lives for Christ's sake: glory to his name forever, who thus supported and comforted us in our tribulations.
On the 28th, Mary Petche, an honest, poor Friend, who was employed to bring us necessities, coming to prison with some linen far us, namely: two shirts, two caps, two bands and four handkerchiefs. We had been robbed of the rest us before. The jailer took everything from her , and would not allow her to deliver them to us. The same day the turnkey took away George Rose's coat, which he usually wore; at other times, not allowing our provision to be delivered to us until he had stopped the woman that brought it and searched into her basket, to see what she had brought for us.
Not complying to take lodgings of the jailer, at 2s. 4d.*a week each of us, nor to pay him 1s. 2d. each, demanded by him, for the time we had been in the free prison, the common ward, he proposed to offer us some privileges if we would submit to his terms; which when we refused, his anger still continued against us, so much that on the 3rd day of the third month, he commanded his tapster to take away George Fox's hat, which the tapster took from his head; but the same day the jailer's wife, being more compassionate than her husband, brought him his hat again, and said she did not know that her husband commanded the tapster to take it from him.
Having shown such examples of malice and abuse to us, some of the prisoners when almost drunk, still were encouraged to repeat their violence against us, especially one, who was often most base and abusive, beating and kicking us, and striking some or us on the face, without reprehension by turnkey or tapster, when they have been present and known us to be abused; but instead of that, the tapster then also beat one of us in the face, though when they were out of drink, and not incensed by the jailer, we had them generally under and quiet.
But on the 19th of the third month, two of the prisoners so violently struck George Fox Jr. in the face, so that the blood came out at his mouth and nose. On the 21st day following, one of them shamefully spit upon George Rose’s and George Fox's faces, pulling them by their noses, as they have done by us several times; and one 22nd day of the same month, George Fox standing at the inner door, a pot of coals and ashes were thrown into his face by one of the prisoners. Thus, day by day for a time we were abused, beaten, buffeted, kicked, spurned at, and despitefully used, for no other cause than testifying against the frequent drunkenness, swearing, wickedness and ill government in that prison; and testifying against the tyranny, cruelty, and bad example of the jailer, his turnkey and tapster. It is too tedious to enumerate all their abuses and acts of violence and cruelties against us. They became conscious and aware they might be exposed. For fear of exposure the turnkey threatened to take away our writing materials, and did take away some, with several papers, saying we should write no more, often watching to hinder us from writing.
Having often threatened to lock us up in the women's ward, (a low, filthy room), because of our constant testimony against their gross disorders, and also against allowing the tapster to let the prisoners have so much strong drink as to drink to excess, and the abuse of themselves and others; the jailer, instead of reforming, proceeded in his unwarranted allowing such excess, and in punishing us for our righteous testimony.
On the 26th day of the third month, he caused George Rose to be put into the woman’s ward; upon which George Whitehead told the jailer to take notice, that it was for declaring against drunkenness and swearing, which he himself connived at, that he caused him to be put there. For which words the jailer caused him also to be soon shut up in the same ward; and likewise George Fox Jr. and Henry Marshall, we being one in our testimony; so we four were there locked up and confined near two hours; and when we only asked for a stool of our own to sit upon, they would not allow us to have it.
After they had let us all out, they put George Rose into the same ward again, and there confined him about four hours, and stones were cast in at the window, some of them striking him; the tapster also taking strong drink in his mouth and spitting it in his face as he looked out at the window. But our punishment from the jailer did not end here. While George Rose was shut up in the women's ward, the jailer came to George Whitehead and George Fox, and said, “If ye will persuade George Rose to be quiet, he may come out.” George Whitehead told him that he would not persuade him from crying against wickedness. At which point in his rage, he threatened to put us three into the dungeon, and caused George Rose to be brought out of the women's ward, and threatened to let us down into the dungeon with a cart rope; but he and the turnkey put us, (George Whitehead, George Fox Jr, and George Rose), down a ladder into the dungeon, where they seldom put any, except some very quarrelsome, murderous persons; for it is about four yards deep under ground, and very dark, and but a little compass at the bottom. In the middle of it was an iron grate, with bars above a foot distant from each other, and under the same a pit or hole, which we did not know how deep it was. But we were warned by a woman that saw us put down, and pitied us. So we kept near the sides of the dungeon that we might not fall into the pit. There we were detained nearly four hours, singing praises to the Lord our our God, in the sweet enjoyment and living sense of his glorious presence, being not the least terrified nor dismayed at their cruelties, but cheerfully resigned in the will of the Lord to suffer for his name and truth's sake, if they had left us to perish in that dark, dismal, and stinking dungeon; though the Lord would not allow that. Besides the jailer might fear being hanged if he had detained us, and we had died in the dungeon.
When we were let out of the dungeon, the turnkey shut us up in the common ward, and allowed a malicious prisoner to come in and smite George Rose violently on the head, without reprehending him for it; but that was a common practice among these persecutors, especially when drunk.
While we were in the dungeon, several of our friends came to visit us from Norwich, Colchester, Halsted in Essex, and other places, but were not allowed to come to us, nor could we to speak to them. At other times they have similarly dealt with us and our friends, when they have come many miles to see us. When our friends were kept out and they had come to the prison door or window, they have had water thrown on them by some of the jailer's company, pretending that he had an order from the justices that none of our friends should come to us; yet he and his wife told them that if they would pay the turnkey, they might come to us. The turnkey told them that if they would give him 6d. or 4d. a-piece, he would let them come to us; but they refused to gratify his covetousness in that. Our friends have been many times unjustly kept out from us; yes, when some Friends of Norwich have waited long outside to come in and see us, both they and we have been disappointed and prevented from seeing one another. Thus our friends have been kept outside from us, and we have been daily abused within.
The prisoner who was most abusive to us, being one of the jailer's drunkards, threw a naked knife fiercely at one of us, and when it missed, he threatened to kill some of us, saying he could but be hanged, he only had one life to lose. He also took away some of our things. We reported the theft to the jailer, and told him if there was any more blood shed by this prisoner, it would lie at his door; and if he did not approve of him in what he had done against us, we wished him to command him to restore us our things; but instead of doing that, his answer was, "Let him do what he will," in the hearing of this most abusive prisoner; by which he was encouraged to abuse us further, as well as abuse the woman Friend, who brought in our necessities; on whom he laid violent hands, pushing her backward. The turnkey also that night smote two of us for refuting some of his aspersions cast upon us, and said he could not treat us bad enough.
This abusive prisoner, who had threatened to kill some of us, taking encouragement from the example of the jailer, turnkey and tapster, one night being furiously drunk, after we were locked and bolted close in the common ward, resolved to kill one or other of us that night, and with curses he threatened over and over; nothing would satisfy him, unless he killed some of us. But in faith in the name and power of the Lord, we stood over him, believing he should not have power to hurt any of us, though he attempted it, taking up a fire brand; but we saw his power was limited, that he could not harm, much less kill any of us.
He had a boy in the same ward, about ten years old; and as the boy was kneeling by the wall, frightened to see his father in such a rage, the father presently took up a stone bottle, and violently threw it at his poor boy, but missed him, and broke it to pieces against the wall, the poor boy narrowly escaping with his life. For if it had hit him on the head, he probably would have killed his son. Still the drunken, outrageous man continued in his fury; he was determined to kill somebody that night, either his poor boy, or some other; or else he would not be pacified. Seeing him thus murderously resolved, it immediately came upon me with great weight, as I believed from the Lord, let us not see murder committed in our presence. At which point, I said to my fellow sufferers, let us seize him, and hold him hand and foot, until he will be quiet; and they presently took hold of him, laid him gently upon his back, and held him fast, hand and foot, as I think, above an hour's time, in which he made a roaring noise, but to no purpose; for we were all closely warded up in a low, dark place, hard to be heard in other parts of the prison; no, I am persuaded, any of us had cried out murder, we should scarcely have had one come to relieve any of us.
However, we prevented the intended murder, by holding the drunkard's hands and feet, until he was quiet and went to sleep. We made him promise before we would let him loose, having a strict eye over him, to prevent his doing any mischief; for though we had not cords to bind him with, yet we were sensible he needed to be bound or restrained from doing mischief, as much as any outrageous mad person.
Whitehead desribes God's comfort to those afflicted with sufferings:
Whitehead had just been released from the harsh imprisonment, partially described above, of fifteen months, for addressing a justice in a letter by his first inital and last name, instead of first name and last name. He had no bed, no blanket, no visitors, no outside necessities provided, coats stolen, food stolen; he was beaten, cursed continually, and threatened to be killed - having been housed in a common room with murderers and thieves. Yet as he relates, he received the secret comforts of the Lord:
Later Whitehead was arrested in a silent meeting in Affington or Suffolk, convicted of being a vagrant and a wanderer, and sentenced to be scourged by a public lashing with the whip. Whitehead relates the execution of the sentence.
Reading this, there should be no doubt of the early Quakers truly being united in Christ to God, who allowed their persecution, but who also comforted them and compensated them with outpourings of his strength and love, as he has, and will, aid his children while they are being persecuted by the envious children of darkness.
Barbara Blaugdone (1609-1704) went to Great Torrington, and, going into the steeple- house, spoke somewhat to the people by way of exhortation; but not having sufficient opportunity to clear herself, went to her lodging, and sat down to write. After noon the constables came to her and took away what she had written, and commanded her to go along with them to their worship. To which she answered, that they would not allow her to speak there, and that she knew no law that could compel her to go there twice in a day; and that they all knew she was there in the morning. Being thus unwilling to go, the next day the mayor sent for her. When she arrived, she found him moderate, and loath to send her to prison; but the priest being present, was very eager to have her punished, and said she ought to be whipped as a vagabond. She then told him to prove where ever she asked anyone for a bit of bread; but he said she had broken the law by speaking in their church. He so pressed the mayor, that at length he wrote a mittimus, and sent her to Exeter prison, which was twenty miles distant. There she remained for some time, until the assizes (rotating courts) came, but was not brought forth to a trial. After the sessions were over, she was put to lodge one night among a great company of gypsies, that were there in prison. The next day the sheriff came with a beadle,* who brought her into a room, where he whipped her till the blood ran down her back. She never cried at the blows; but sang aloud, and was made to rejoice that she was counted worthy to suffer for the name of the Lord. The angry beadle said, 'Do you sing? I will make you cry by and by;' and with that he laid on so hard, that nearby Ann Speed seeing this began to weep. But Barbara was strengthened by an uncommon and more than human power, so that she afterwards declared that if she had been whipped to death in the state she then was, she should not have been terrified or dismayed. The sheriff seeing that all the wrath of man could not move her, told the beadle to cease his beating. Ann Speed was then allowed to dress Barbara's stripes and wounds. The next day she was released from the prison with all the gypsies, and the beadle followed her two miles out of the town; but as soon as he left her, she returned back, and went into the prison to see her friends that were still prisoners there, and having visited them, she went home to Bristol.
An Account of the Cruelty Inflicted on the People Called Quakers
- from William Sewel's 1695 History of a People Called Quakers
The state of persecution at London, where desperate fury now raged; though it was not in that chief city alone the Quakers were most grievously persecuted: for a little before this time there was published in print a short relation of the persecution throughout all England, signed by twelve persons, showing that more than four thousand and two hundred of those called Quakers, both men and women, were in prison in England; and denoting the number of them that were imprisoned in each county, either for frequenting meetings, or for denying to swear, etc. Many of these had been grievously beaten, or their clothes torn or taken away from them; and some were put into such stinking dungeons, which some great men said, they would not have put their hunting dogs there. Some prisons were crowded full both of men and women, so that there was not sufficient room for all to sit down at once; and in Cheshire sixty-eight persons were in this manner locked up in a small room; an evident sign that they were a harmless people, that would not make any resistance, or use force. By such ill-treatment many grew sick, and not a few died in such jails; for no age or sex was regarded, but even ancient people of sixty, seventy, and more years of age, were not spared; and the most of these being tradesmen, shopkeepers, and husbandmen, were thus reduced to poverty; for their goods were also seized, for not going to church, (so called), or for not paying tithes. Many times they were forced to lie in prison on cold nasty ground, without being allowed to have any straw; and often they have been kept several days without food; no wonder therefore that many died by such hard imprisonments as these.
At London, and in the suburbs, were about this time no less than five hundred Quakers, imprisoned, and some in such narrow holes, that every person scarcely had convenience to lie down; and the felons were allowed to rob them of their clothes and money. Many that were not imprisoned, nevertheless suffered hardships in their religious meetings, especially in the London meeting place, known by the name of Bull and Mouth.* Here the trained bands came frequently, armed generally with muskets, pikes, and halberds, and conducted by a military officer, by order of the city magistracy; and rushing in, in a very furious manner, fell to beating them, whereby many were grievously wounded, some fell down in a swoon, and some were beaten so violently, that they lived not long after it. Among these was one John Trowel , who was so bruised and crushed, that in few days after he died. His friends therefore thought it expedient to carry the corpse into the before said meeting place, that it might lie there displayed for some hours, to be seen of everyone. This being done, raised commiseration and pity among many of the inhabitants; for the corpse, beaten like a jelly, looked black, and was swollen in a direful manner. The coroner was sent for; and he impaneled a jury of the neighbors, and gave them in charge, according to his office, to make true inquiry upon their oaths, and to present what they found to be the cause of his death. They viewing the corpse, had a surgeon or two with them, to know their judgment concerning it ; and then going together in private, at length they withdrew without giving in their verdict, only desiring the friends to bury the corpse, which was done accordingly that evening. And though the coroner and jury met several times together upon that occasion, and had many consultations, yet they never would give a verdict; but it was sufficiently evident that the man was killed by violent beating. The reasons some gave for the suspense of a verdict were, that though it was testified that the same person, now dead, was seen beaten and knocked down; yet it being done in such a confused crowd, no particular man could be singled out, so that any could say, that a man had done the deed. And if a verdict was given that the deceased person was killed, and yet no particular person charged with it, then the city was liable to a great fine at the pleasure of the king, for conniving such a murder in the city in the day-time, not committed in seclusion, but publicly, and not apprehending the murderer, but allowing him to escape. In the meanwhile the friends of the deceased gave public notice of the murder, and sent also a letter to the lord mayor, which afterwards they published in print, together with a relation of this bloody business. In this letter it was said, 'It may be supposed you have heard of this thing, for it was done not in the night, but at midday; not suddenly, in ignorance, or by accident, but intentionally, and over a long time; and not in seclusion, but in the streets of the city of London; which circumstances all highly aggravate this murder, to the very shame and infamy of this famous city, and its government.'
The person who spread some of this printed material was imprisoned for his pains; nevertheless another brought one of them to the king, and told him how the thing had been done; at which the king said, ‘I assure you it was not by my advice that any of your friends should be killed; you must tell the magistrates of the city about it and prosecute the law against them.' The king's reply was soon after also published in print, but violence still prevailed for the person that was apprehended for spreading the printed material was sent to prison by the special order of alderman Brown, of whom, since mention may be made several times in this work, it gives me occasion to say something of what kind of man he was.
In the time of Cromwell, Brown had been very fierce against the royalists, especially at Abingdon, not far from Oxford; for this error he endeavored now to make compensation by violently persecuting the harmless Quakers; otherwise he was a comely man, and could commit cruelty with a smiling countenance. But more of his actions may be represented hereafter.
The Quakers, seeing that they could not obtain justice, let the matter of the murdered person alone; for suffering was now their portion, and therefore they left their cause to God. Often they were kept out of their meeting-houses by the soldiers; but then they did not use to go away, but stood outside the house, and so their number soon increased; and then one or other of their ministers generally stepped upon a bench, or some high place, and boldly preached. Being outside, he sometimes attracted more listeners than he would have inside. But preachers were sometimes soon pulled down by the soldiers; then another would stand up and preach, and thus often four or five, one after another, were taken away, as innocent sheep, and carried to prison with others of their friends, it maybe up to forty or fifty at once. This puts me in mind of what I heard my mother, Judith Zinspenning say, who in the following year had come to England, with William Caton and his wife, who lived at Amsterdam, to visit her friend there; and coming to London, went with others to the Bull and Mouth meeting. When entrance being denied, they stayed in the street, where she saw one preacher after another pulled down, at the instant cry of some officer or other, ‘Constable, take him away.' Several were thus led away. The constable came also to her, and perceiving by her dress that she was a Dutch woman, pulled her by the sleeve, and said with admiration, ' What, a Dutch Quaker!' but meddled no further with her. This holding of meetings in the streets now became a customary thing in England; for the Quakers were persuaded that the exercise of their public worship was a duty no man could discharge them from, and they believed that God required the performing of this service from their hands. And by thus meeting in the streets, it happened sometimes that more than one preached at one time. Three or four at a time might preach, one in one place, and another in another; which in their meeting houses could not have been done conveniently. But thus they got abundance of people to listen to their message, and sometimes these eminent men, who passing by in their coaches, made their coachmen stop. By this unexpected fortune, they found there was a great harvest, and thus their church increased under sufferings; and in those hard times they were pretty well purified of dross, since the trial was not for the insincere. For by frequenting their meetings in such a time, one was in danger of being either imprisoned, or beaten lame, or unto death; but this could not quench the zeal of the upright.
Now the arrest of one preacher, and the standing up of another, became an ordinary thing in England, and it lasted yet long after, as I myself have been an eye-witness. And when there were no more men preachers present, a woman would rise, and minister to the meeting; no, there were such, who in years being little more than boys, were endued with a manly zeal, and encouraged their friends to steadfastness. In the meanwhile many also were imprisoned, without being hauled out of their meetings; for some have been apprehended for speaking only something on the behalf of their friends; as Rebecca Travers, who, going to the lieutenant of the Tower, desired him to have compassion on some who were imprisoned for frequenting of meetings. But he grew angry at this; and when she went away, one of the keepers gave her ill language; when she exhorted him to be good in his place, while it was the Lord's will that he had the job, he was so offended, that going back to the lieutenant, he complained that she had spoken treason; and thereupon she was apprehended and sent to prison. No, the rude soldiers were encouraged to cruelty by officers who were not a bit better, for they themselves would sometimes lay violent hands on peaceable people; as amongst the rest the aforementioned, alderman Richard Brown, who formerly had been a major-general under Cromwell, and now behaved himself with such outrageous fierceness, that even the comedians did not hesitate to expose him, by an allusion to his name Brown, and saying, 'The devil was brown.'
A book was also printed, wherein many base abuses, and also his furious behavior were exposed to public view; and this book was dedicated to him with this small epistle:
Although published without the author's name, one of the books was not only sent to Brown, but as a sign that the Quakers, so called, owned it, about thirty others were delivered to the lord mayor, and the sheriffs of London, so that they might know what "Was done under their authority;" for some, though not authorized, were bold to act against the Quakers whatever their malice prompted them to because they were favorites at court. Among these was one Phillip Miller, who, though not an officer, yet in the month of May of this year, came into a meeting of these people on John's street, in the parish of Sepulchers, at London, without any order or warrant, and having a cane in his hand, commanded the rabble who accompanied him to arrest whomever he pleased; and then he summoned a constable, whom he forced by his threats to go along with him, and five persons he apprehended, among whom was John Crook, of whom further mention is to be made again. Some days after, this Miller came to the meeting place again and struck several persons with his cane because they would not depart at his command; and then he charged the constables, whom he brought along with him, to secure and take into custody whom he pleased. About the latter end of this month, on a First-day of the week, captain Reeves, and some soldiers with muskets and drawn swords, came violently rushing into the Bull and Mouth meeting, where they pulled down the person preaching, and then laid hold of another, who asked Reeves to show his order for this his doing. Reeves answered, he would not show his authority in that place; but it appeared afterwards that he no warrant. Yet he caused his soldiers to take away about forty persons, (some of whom were not at the meeting, but had been taken up in the streets), and have them put into Paul's yard, where they were kept until the public worship was ended there; and then alderman Richard Brown came into the place where the prisoners were guarded, and with great rage and fury laid hands first on a very aged person, and pulled him down twice by the brim of his hat, causing its loss. Then he treated another person similarly, and a soldier struck a great blow with a pistol on this person's bare head. Brown treated two others the same, and then he sent them all to Newgate prison, guarded by soldiers.
The same day some soldiers came to a meeting in Tower street, and without any warrant, took away twenty-one persons, called Quakers, and carried them to the Exchange, where they kept them some time, and then brought them before Richard Brown, who in a most furious manner struck some and kicked others; which made one of the prisoners, seeing how Brown hit one with his fist in the face, and kicked him on the shin, say, 'What, Richard, will you turn murderer! You did not do so when I was a soldier under your command at Abingdon, and you commanded me with others, to search people's houses for pies and roast meat, because they kept Christmas as a holy time; [the Cromwellian Puritans considered Christmas with exchange of gifts and a feast to be rooted in the pagan birthday of the Roman God, Saturn], and we brought the persons prisoners to the guard, for observing the same.' For such a precise man Brown was at that time, that he pretended to root out that superstitious custom; though there is reason to question whether his heart was sincere in this respect. However, such blind zeal was unfit to convince people of superstition. Brown, knowing that this had offended those of the church of England, endeavored now to make amends for it, by his fierce brutality against the harmless Quakers, and so to gain the favor with the churchmen and those of the King's court, now returned to power, [the Anglicans came back into power, replacing the Puritans shortly after Cromwell died]. One of Brown's family, having heard what was said to him, replied, 'There is an Abingdon bird.' To which Brown, returned, ‘He is a rogue for all that,' and struck him with his fist under the chin; which made another prisoner say, ‘What, you are a magistrate and strike people!' Upon which Brown with both his hands pulled him down to the ground by the brim of his hat, and then commanded the soldiers to take them all away, and carry them to Newgate prison.
Upon a First-day of the week, in the month called June, a company of soldiers came into the Bull and Mouth meeting, with pikes, drawn swords, muskets, and lighted matches, as if they were going to fight; though they knew well enough they should find none there but harmless people. The first thing they did was to pull down the one preaching, whom they hauled out of the meeting, rejoicing as if they had obtained some great victory; then they brought him to the main guard at Paul's, and returned to the Bull and Mouth, where they apprehended some more, which they also carried to Paul's. After some hours, these prisoners were carried to the house of Alderman Brown, and he, asking the names of the prisoners, and hearing that of John Perrot, said, ‘What, you have been at Rome to subvert,' but recalling himself, said, ‘to convert the Pope.' On which Perrot told him, 'He had suffered at Rome for the testimony of Jesus.' Whereupon Brown returned, if you had converted the Pope to your religion, I should have liked him far worse than I do now.' To which Perrot replied, 'But God would have liked him better.' After some more short discourse, Brown committed them all to Newgate.
After this manner, the meetings of those called Quakers were disturbed at that time, of which I could produce, if necessary, many more instances. Once, a man named Cox, a wine merchant, came with some soldiers into a meeting, where, after using great violence, they took up two Quakers, whom they beat most grievously, because they refused to go along with them, though they showed no warrant for it. At length the soldiers carried them both upon muskets into Paul's yard, and when they laid them down, they dragged one of them by the heels on his back, in a very barbarous manner; which being done, the said wine-cooper was heard to say, he would go and get a cup of brew, for these devils had worn him out. Still, he went to another meeting-place of these people, where he also behaved himself very wickedly; and being asked for his order, his answer was holding out his sword, ' This is my order.' Thus it seems he would ingratiate himself with Brown, who now being in favor in court, was knighted, and sometime after also chosen lord mayor of London. By Cox's furious behavior, the soldiers were also encouraged to commit all manner of mischief; insomuch, that being asked, what order they had for their doings, one lifting up his musket, said, ' This is my order.' So that things now were carried by a club-law. Nor did the soldiers respect age, but took away out of a meeting at Mileend, two boys, one about thirteen and the other about sixteen; and they were brought before the lieutenant of the Tower, who to one present, saying, he supposed they were not of the age of sixteen years, and then not punishable by the act, returned, they were old enough to be whipped ; and they should be whipped out of their religion. And so he sent them to Bridewell, where their hands were put into the stocks, and so pinched for the space of two hours, that their wrists were much swelled; and this was done because they refused to work, being persuaded that they had not deserved to be treated so; they also ate nothing at the charge of the Mid work-house. These lads, though pretty long in that prison, yet continued steadfast, rejoicing they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of the Lord; and they wrote a letter to their friends' children, exhorting them to be faithful in bearing their testimony for the Lord, against all wickedness and unrighteousness.
Some days before this time, Thomas and John Herbert, living in London, and other musketeers, came with their naked swords into some private dwellings, and broke down two or three doors; (for when some persons were seen to enter a house, though it was only to visit their friends, it was called a meeting). Now it happened in one house, these rude fellows found five persons together, one of whom was William Ames, who had come there from Holland, and another was Samuel Fisher; and when it was demanded what warrant they had, they held up their swords, and said, 'Do not ask us for a warrant; this is our warrant.' And which point they took away these persons by force, and carried them to Paul's yard, where they were a laughing-stock to the soldiers. There they were brought to the Exchange, where they met with no better reception from the rude soldiers. Then they were conducted to alderman Brown's house on Ivy -lane. He sent them to Bridewell [jail] with a mittimus, to be kept at hard labor. But afterwards rethinking and finding that his mittimus was without justice, (for these persons were not taken from a meeting), next morning he sent another mittimus, by which they were charged with unlawfully assembling themselves to worship. If one of the musketeers had heard any of these persons speak by way of exhortation to faithfulness in this hot time of persecution, this would have been taken for a sufficient charge, though not cognizable by law; but they used shifty charges, however so poor or silly.
Thus these persons were committed to Bridewell, and required to beat hemp; and they were treated so severely, that W. Ames grew sick, even near to death, wherefore he was discharged; for in a sense it might be said, that his dwelling-place was at Amsterdam in Holland, since he was there the most part of the time for some years successively; and that he might not be chargeable, he worked at wool-combing; and if it was alleged that he was of Amsterdam, it seems they would not have him die in prison, as some of his friends had already. The others having been six weeks in Bridewell, were presented at the sessions in the Old Bailey; [court] but instead of being tried for what was charged against them, they were required to take the oath of allegiance, as the only business, (according to what the deputy recorder said), they were brought there for. The prisoners then demanded, that the law might be read, by virtue of which the said oath was required of them. This was promised by the court to be done; but instead thereof they ordered the clerk to read only the form of the oath, but would not permit the law for imposing it to be read. But before the prisoners had either declared their willingness to take it, or their refusal of it, they were commanded to be taken away; which the officers did with such violence, that they threw some of them down upon the stones. This made Samuel Fisher say, 'Take notice people, that we have not yet refused to take the oath; but the court refuses to perform their promise which they made but just now before you all, that this statute for it should be read. If such doings as this ever prosper, it must be when there is no God.' But this was not regarded; and the prisoners without any justice were sent to Newgate. Among these, was also one John Howel, who had been sent by alderman Brown to work at Bridewell, because he being brought before him, did not tell on a sudden what was his name; and being demanded in the court why he did not tell his name, he answered, because he had been beaten and abused in the presence of Richard Brown, when he was brought before him. Brown who was also on the bench, asked him roughly, 'Where were you abused!' And Howel replied, ' Blood was drawn on me in your presence; which ought not to be done in the presence of a justice of peace.' But Brown growing very impetuous, returned, 'Hold your prating, or there shall be as much done again here in the presence of the court.'
About mid-summer, Daniel Baker returned into England from severe persecution in Malta, and about a fortnight after his arrival, he, with four others, were taken by a band of soldiers from the Bull and Mouth meeting, and carried to Paul's yard, where having been kept for some hours, they were brought to Newgate prison; but in the evening they were brought before alderman Brown, to whom Baker with meekness said, ‘Let the fear of God and his peace be set up in your heart.' But Brown fell in laughing, and said, ‘I would rather hear a dog bark;' and using more such scoffing expressions, he charged Baker and others with the breach of the king's law in meeting together. To which Baker said, 'The servants of God in the apostles' days, were commanded to speak no more in the name of Jesus; and they answered, and so do I too, whether it is better to obey God than men - judge yourself.' He also cited the case of the three children at Babylon, and Daniel who did not obey the king's decrees. But Brown grew so angry, that he commanded his men to smite Daniel on the face. This they did, and pulling him four or five times to the ground, they smote him with their fists, and wrung his neck so, as if they would have murdered him. These fellows did this to please Brown, showing themselves to be ready for any service, however abominable. And Baker reflecting on his travels, signified, that even Turks and heathens would abhor such brutish actions. His fellow-prisoners were also abused by Brown, and then sent to Newgate again. And after some days, they were called to the court sessions, where their indictment was read, which like others in such cases, generally ran in these terms: that the prisoners, under pretence of performing religious worship, otherwise than by the laws of the kingdom of England established, unlawfully and tumultuously did gather and assemble themselves together, to the great terror of his majesty's people, and to the disturbance of the peace of the king; in contempt of our said lord the king and his laws, to the evil example of all others in the like ease offending. The indictment being read, no witness appeared against the prisoners, except Brown, who sat on the bench. Therefore the oath, as the ordinary trap, was tendered to them; for it was sufficiently known, that their profession did not allow them to take any oath. They denying to swear, were sent back to prison, to stay there until they should have taken the oath.
If I would here set down all such like cases as have happened, I might find more work than I should be able to perform: for this vexing with the oath was become so common, that some have been taken up in the streets, and brought to a justice of the peace, that he might tender the oath to them, and in case of denial, send them to prison, though this was directly contrary to the statute of Magna Charta, which expressly said , ‘No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be dispossessed of his freehold or liberties, but by the law of the land.' But this was not regarded by Richard Brown, who did whatever he would for force and violence were now predominant; and sometimes when the prisoners were brought to the bar, for frequenting meetings, freedom was denied to them to justify themselves; but to be bullied and hindered was their lot.
Once it happened, that a prisoner, who had been a soldier formerly under Brown, seeing that no justice or equity was observed, called to him, saying, 'That he was not fit to sit on the bench; for he made the son to hang the father at Abingdon; so that he could prove him to be a murderer. This bold saying caused some disturbance in the court, and Brown, however heavy the charge was, did not deny the thing in court, nor clear himself from it; yet the other Quaker prisoners did not approve this upbraiding, but signified, that though the fact were true, yet they were not for reproaching any magistrate upon the bench, whose place had office they did respect and honor. But I do not find that Brown, (on that account), ever prosecuted him that spoke so boldly, although otherwise he did whatever he would, without fearing that his fellow-magistrates, (who respected him that was a favorite at court), would disclaim it, as may appear by this following instance.
A certain person who had been in a very violent and abusive manner taken to prison by the soldiers out of a meeting, because he was not willing to go, said in the court, that his refusing to go, was because they would not show him any warrant for their apprehending him; since for all be knew, they might be robbers or murderers, with whom he was not bound to go. But Brown, who was for violence, said to this, if they had dragged him through all the kennels in the street, they bad served him right, if he would not go. This he spoke in such a furious manner that one of the prisoners told him, 'You have had many warnings and visitations in the love of God, but have slighted them; therefore beware of being sealed up in the wrath of God.' Hereupon one of the jailers came with his cane and struck several of the prisoners so hard, that several of them were much bruised; and it was reported by some, that Brown cried 'knock him down,' though others, (for mitigating it a little), would have it, pull him down. But the former seems most probable for the blows were so violent, that some of the spectators cried out, murder! murder! and asked, ' Will you allow men to be murdered in the court!' Whereupon one of the sheriffs in person came down from his seat to stop the beating. But Brown was so desperately filled with anger, that he said to the prisoners, 'If any of you are killed, your blood shall be upon your own head;' and the hangman standing by with his gag in his hand, threatened the prisoners to gag any of them that should speak anything. Thus innocence was forced to give way to violence. And once, when one at the common juridical question, guilty, or not guilty, answered, 'I deny I am guilty, and I can say I am not guilty; and also in Latin, non reus sum.' Yet he was sentenced as mute, and fined accordingly, though the words he spoke, fully signified not guilty, although he had not expressed them in the same terms. But now they were for crossing the Quakers in every respect.
I will yet mention some more instances of Brown's brutality, before I leave him. Another being demanded to answer to his indictment, guilty, or not guilty, and not presently answering, but thinking a little what to speak safely, Brown with scoffing said, 'We shall have a revelation by and by.' To which the prisoner said, 'How long will you oppose the innocent? How long will you persecute the righteous seed of God?' But while he was speaking. Brown indecently began to cry in the language of those wenches that go crying up and down the street, 'Aha, aha, Will you have any wall-fleet oysters.' And, 'Have you any kitchen-stuff maids?' And when a prisoner at the bar said he could not for conscience-sake forbear meeting among the people of God, Brown scurrilously returned, 'Conscience, - a dog's tail.' And when alderman Adams speaking to one of the prisoners said, 'I am sorry to see you here;' 'Sorry?' said Brown,' What should you be sorry for?' 'Yes,' said Adams, 'He is a sober man.' But Brown, who could not endure to hear this, replied, that there never was a sober man amongst them, meaning the Quakers. The spectators, who took much notice of him, disliked this his attitude exceedingly. But he seemed to be quite hardened; for at a certain time two persons being upon their trial for robbing a house, he told them, they were the biggest rogues in England, except for the Quakers.
Sometimes it happened that the prisoners were brought to the bar without being indicted; and when they said, 'What have we done?' and desired justice, Brown, having no indictment against them, often cried, ‘Will you take the oath?' And they then saying ‘that for conscience-sake they could not swear,' were condemned as transgressors, though such proceedings as these were directly against the law. But this seemed at that time little to be regarded. However, sometime before, it happened at Thetford in the county of Norfolk that judge Windham, at that time showing himself just in the like case, sharply reproved the justices upon the bench, for having not only committed some persons to prison, but also had them up to the bar, when no accuser appeared against them. But Richard Brown did whatever he would, and showed himself most furiously wicked, when any prisoner was brought before him with his hat on.
One John Brain, being taken in the street, and not in any meeting, was brought by some soldiers before Brown; who, seeing him with his hat on, ordered him to be pulled down to the ground six or seven times, and when he was down, they beat his head against the ground, and stamped upon him; and Brown, like a mad man, told them pull off his nose; at which point they very violently pulled him by the nose. And when he got up, they pulled him to the ground by the hair of his head, and then by the hair pulled him up again. And when he would have spoken in his own behalf against this cruelty, Brown bade them stop his mouth. Whereupon they not only struck him on the mouth, but stopped his mouth and nose also so close, that he could not draw breath, and was liked to be choked; at which actions Brown fell to laughing, and at length sent him to jail.
Thomas Spire, being brought before Brown, he commanded his hat to be taken off; and because it was not done with such violence as he intended, Brown caused it to be put upon Sprie's head again, saying, 'It should not be pulled off so easily! Then he was pulled down to the ground by his hat, and pulled up again by his hair. William Rill being brought before him, he commanded his hat to be pulled off so that his head might be bowed down; whereupon he being pulled to the ground, was plucked up again by the hair of his head, George Ableson was thus pulled five times one after another to the ground, and plucked up by his hair, and so beaten on his face, or the sides of his head, that he staggered, and bled, and for some days was under much pain.
Nicholas Blithold being brought before Brown, he took his hat with both his hands, endeavoring to pull him down to the ground; and because he fell not quite to the ground forwards, he pushed him, to throw him backwards; and then he gave him a kick on the leg, and thrust him out of doors. When Thomas Lacy was brought before him, Brown himself gave him a blow on the face; and Isaac Merrit, John Cook, Arthur Baker, and others, were not treated much better; so that he seemed more fit to have been a hangman, than an alderman, or justice. But I grow weary of mentioning more instances of his cruelty. These his abominable achievements were published in print, more at large than I have mentioned them; and the book, as has been said already, was dedicated to him. And yet I do not find any have been prosecuted on that account; though Brown was so extravagantly wicked that one would think he had some financial motive in his wickedness, such as a wood vendor advocating burning people at the stake to help sell his wood.
In this hot time of persecution, Francis Howgill wrote, and gave forth the following paper for encouragement of his friends.
This writing of Francis Howgill, who was a pious man, together with many other powerful exhortations of such who valiantly went before, was great encouragement in this time of severe persecution. For how furious so ever their enemies were, yet they continued faithful in supplications and fervent prayers to God, that he might be pleased to assist them in their upright zeal, who aimed at nothing for self but from a true fear and reverence before him, dared not omit their religious assemblies. And they found that the Lord heard their prayers, so that I remember to have heard one say, that at a meeting where they seemed to be in danger of death from their fierce persecutors, it was though he were ravished, so that he hardly knew whether he was in or out of the body. Persevering in faithfulness to what they believed the Lord required of them, in the process of time, when their enemies believed they were about to destroy the Quakers, they saw the Lord God Almighty rise up in their defense, and quashed and confounded the wicked devices of their cruel persecutors, as will be seen in the course of this history.
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