The Missing Cross to Purity


And In Other Towns and Cities Across England,
the Persecution was Even More Intense.

In Colchester, England, persecution now was exceedingly fierce. In the month of October, William More, mayor of that town, came on a First-day of the week, and broke up the meeting of the Quakers, so called, and committed some of them to prison; the next week he did so again, and a week after he caused a party of the county troop to come to the meeting. These beat some, and did much mischief to the forms, seats, and windows of the meeting-place. And afterwards the mayor employed au old man to stop people from going in at the gate to the meeting-room; who told those that would have entered, that the mayor had set him there to keep them out. Now though they knew he was no officer, nor had any warrant, yet they made no resistance, but continuing in the street, thus kept their meeting in a peaceable manner, being not free for conscience-sake to leave off their public worship of God, though in that time of the year it was cold, and often wet weather; and thus it continued many weeks, though attended with so much difficulty.

In the forepart of December there came about forty of the king's troopers, on horseback, in their armor, with swords, carbines, and pistols, crying, ‘What in the devil are you doing here?’ And falling violently upon this harmless company, they beat them, some with swords, and others with carbines, without distinction of male or female, old or young, until many were much bruised; chasing them to and fro in the streets. The next First-day of the week these furious fellows came again, now with clubs as well as with swords and carbines, they most grievously beat those that were peaceably meeting together in the street to worship God. This cruel beating was so excessive, that some received more than a hundred blows, and were beaten so black and blue that their limbs lost their natural strength. A trooper beat one of them so long that the blade of his sword fell out of the hilt, which he that was being beaten saw and said to the trooper, ‘I will give it pick it and give it to you again,' which he did, with these words, ‘I desire the Lord may not lay this day's work to your charge.'

But to avoid prolixity, I shall not mention all the particular assaults which I find to have been committed there. These cruel doings continued yet several weeks, and some were beaten so violently, that their blood was shed in the streets, and they sunk down and fainted away.

One Edward Graunt, a man of about threescore and ten years of age, (whose wife and daughters I was well acquainted with),was so terribly knocked down, that he only lived few days afterwards. So hot was this time now, that these religious worshippers, when they went to their meeting, seemed to go to meet their death; for they could not promise to themselves to return home either whole or alive. But notwithstanding all this, their zeal for their worship was so lively, that they dared not stay at home, though human reasoning might have advised them so. And some of them had been people of note in the world; among others one Giles Barnadiston, who having spent six years in the university, in the study of human literature, afterwards came to be a colonel; but in process of time, having heard G. Fox the younger, preach, he was so entirely convinced of the Truth that he resigned his military command and entered into the society of those called Quakers; and continuing faithful, he in time became a minister of the gospel among the said people; being a man of a meek spirit, and one whom I knew very well. This Barnadiston did not forbear frequenting meetings, however horrible the persecution was, being fully given up to hazard his life with his friends.

One Solomon Fromantle, a merchant, with whom I was well acquainted, was so grievously beaten, that he fell down and lost much of his blood in the street; and yet the barbarous troopers did not stop beating him. His wife, a daughter of the Edward Graunt, fearing that he would be killed, fell down upon him, to cover and protect him from the blows with the hazard of her own body, as she herself told me in the presence of her husband; a conjugal love and fidelity well worthy to be mentioned, and left upon record. And though she then did not receive very fierce blows, yet there were some women who were sorely beaten with clubs, in which iron spikes had been driven. An aged widow received no less than twelve such bloody blows on several parts of her body; and another woman was pierced in her loins with such a spiked club. An ancient man of sixty-five yean was followed a long distance by three on foot and one on horseback, and so beaten and bruised, that a woman, pitying this old man, spoke to these vicious persecutors to stop; but this so incensed the rider on horseback, that he gave her a hard blow with his sword on the shoulder, with cursing and railing. This barbarity continued, until the persecutors became exhausted with their beating of the innocent, who seemed to become braver as the in these tribulations continued, however grievous. A great promoter of this furious violence was captain Turner, who ordered on his troopers to these actions. His malice was so great that once while breaking up of a meeting, he not only gave an order to beat the people, but also to destroy the room, windows, and walls; so that the damage came to five and twenty pounds.

Now I could enter upon a large relation of the trial of many prisoners at Worcester, before the judges Hyde and Terril; but since that trial was very similar in manner as that of John Crook, detailed in this writing, I will but cursorily make some mention of it. When the prisoners, being brought to the bar, asked, why they had been kept so long in prison; they were answered with the question, whether they would take the oath of allegiance. And endeavors were used to draw some to betray themselves, by asking them, where they had been on such a day. For if they had said, at meeting, then it would have appeared from their own mouth that they had acted contrary to the law ; but they answered warily, that they were not bound to accuse themselves. Others by evidence were charged with having been at a meeting; and when they said, that their meetings were not always for public worship; but that they had also meetings to take care for widows, fatherless, and others that were indigent; yet it was told to the jury, that though there was no evidence, that there had been any preaching in the meeting, yet if they only believed that the prisoners had held a meeting for religious worship, it was sufficient for them to approve the indictment. And yet such proceedings in other cases would have been thought unwarrantable.

Edward Bourn was imprisoned for having been at a meeting, and afterwards brought to his trial, the oath was tendered to him. Among other words he spoke in defense of himself he said, ‘Suppose Christ and his apostles kept a meeting here in this time, would this act against conventicles also take hold of them?' ‘Yes,' said the judge, 'it would! But rethinking himself he said, 'I won’t answer your questions; you are no apostles.' The conclusion was, that Bourn and several of his friends were fined each of them five pounds.

Now since those that were fined thus, did not use to pay the fines, judging that the thing which they were fined for was an indispensable duty they owed to God, and therefore they could not pay any such fine with good conscience, the consequence thereof generally was imprisonment, and seizure of their goods for payment of fines, whereby some lost twice, and it may be, thrice as much as the fine amounted to. Some of the prisoners made it appear, that they had been somewhere else, and not in the meeting, at the house of one Robert Smith, at such time as the evidence declared by' oath; yet because they gave no satisfactory answer to the question, whether they had not been there on that day, they were deemed guilty. The said Robert Smith was premunired: for the oath of allegiance being tendered to him, and he, menaced by the judge with a premunire, asked, for whom that law, for taking the said oath, was made, whether not for Papists. And on suspicion that some of that persuasion sat on the bench, he asked also, whether they, for the satisfaction of the people, there present, ought not also to take the oath. But the judge waived this, telling him, he must take the oath, or else sentence should be pronounced against him. Smith asked then, whether the example of Christ should decide the question; but the judge said, ' I am not come here to dispute with you concerning the doctrine of Christ, but to inform you concerning the doctrine of the law.' Then Smith was led away, and afterwards, when an indictment for his refusing the oath was drawn up, he was brought into the court again, and asked, whether he would answer to the indictment, or no; and the reasons he gave not being accepted, the judge said, before Smith had done speaking, ‘This is your sentence, and the judgment of the court: You shall be shut out of the king's protection, and forfeit your personal estate to the king forever, and your real estate during life.'* To this Robert said with a composed mind, ‘The Lord has given, and if he decides it to be taken away, his will be done.' Thus Robert Smith suffered, with many more of his friends, there and elsewhere: all which I believe my life-time would not be sufficient to describe circumstantially.

*premunire consisted of lifetime imprisonment, loss of all personal property to the king, and loss of real estate property while alive; upon death, the real estate to be returned to the rightful heirs. The laws of premunire were passed in Queen Elizabeth's reign in an attempt to discover the papists who were committed to the return of England to the rule of the Pope. But the Pope declared in a Papal Bull that lying under oath was permissable if the lie assisted the protection of the Roman sect. So, the law became useless, but was not repealed. Being still on the books, it was used against the Quakers, whom were known to be unable to swear to anything based on the commands of Christ and the Apostle James. Tens of thousands of Quakers suffered imprisonment and loss of property because they were committed to obeying the commands of Christ and James.

At Warborough in Oxfordshire, those called Quakers were also grievously abused in their religions meetings, and even aged women not spared; which often caused the cry of innocent children to go up to heaven, when they saw their mothers thus ill treated. For magistrates themselves to break their canes to pieces on those that were met together, was but an ordinary thing; and then sometimes other sticks were made use of: often also women were stripped of their upper garments; and this accompanied with the spoil of goods. That these, persecutors were thus enraged was not strange, when we consider that some were stirred up to it by their teachers; an instance of which was given by Robert Priest of the same place, who once said in his sermon, that the king's laws, though they were contrary to the law of God, yet ought to be obeyed. Quite otherwise was the doctrine of the apostles Peter and John, when they said to the Jewish council, 'Judge you whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God.'

In Northamptonshire, where persecution was also very hot, the Bishop of Peterborough said publicly in the steeple-house, after he had commanded the officers to put in execution the last act against seditious meetings, ‘Against all fanatics it has done its business, except the Quakers; but when the parliament sits again, a stronger law will be made, not only to take away their lauds and goods, but also to sell them for bond slaves.' Thus the churchmen [Episcopalians] blew the fire of persecution.

At York the spoiling of goods was also fiercely driven on by alderman Richardson; and even boys and girls, that were under sixteen years of age, and therefore not subject to the penalty of the law, were fined; and when the constables showed themselves unwilling to assist in the robbery, they were snarled at, and one prosecuted for not performing his duty, because he had refused to take away a man's cloak. But if I should mention the ill-usage committed in all counties and places, when should I come to a conclusion?

Thomas Green, a grave man, with whom I have been very familiarly acquainted, being in prayer at a meeting at Sawbridgworth in Hertfordshire, was pulled off his knees, and dragged out; and being brought before the justices Robert Joslin and Humphrey Gore, they fined him twenty pounds, for speaking or preaching at the said meeting; and granted a warrant to John Smith and Paul Thomson, constables, to seize goods or property; upon which they went into the said Thomas Green's shop, in Royston, and took away as much goods as were worth fifty pounds. But this did not quench his zeal; for like a true and faithful pastor, he continued to feed the flock, and to edify the church with his gift, in which he was very serviceable.

At another time, the justices Peter Soames and Thomas Mead, gave a warrant to seize twenty pounds worth of goods from the said Thomas Green, for preaching at a meeting at Upper-Chissel in Essex. And the officers going to Thomas Green's shop, took all they could get, leaving nothing in the shop but a coil of worsted thread, which had fallen on the ground, and had not been observed by them.

T'heophilus Green suffered also great spoil of goods for having preached in a meeting at Kingston-upon-Thames, he was put into the stocks for several hours, and fined twenty pounds. And having preached the three next First-days of the week at Wandworth, he was for each fined at the same rate.

The week following, being at Uxbridge, and visiting some poor children of his friends, whose father and mother died shortly one after another, he took two of them as his own, and looked after the disposing of the rest. And staying there until the first day of the week, he went to the meeting, and exhorted his friends to keep their meetings in the name of Jesus; at the speaking of which words the constable and informer came in, and carried him away to justice Ralph Hawtrey, who fined him twenty pounds, and sent him prisoner to Newgate in London, with a mittimus; wherein he charged him, that he had exhorted the people to keep their meetings in the name of Jesus, notwithstanding the laws of men to the contrary. Warrants being issued forth to make distress for the above mentioned fine, which amounted to one hundred pounds, five shillings; they came and opened his doors, and took away all his goods they found, leaving him neither bed nor stool. And after he had been kept prisoner three months, he with seven more were brought to the sessions' house at Hicks' Hall, and the oaths of allegiance and supremacy were tendered to them. To which his plea was, 'As an Englishman, I ought either to be acquitted or condemned, for the cause for which I was committed, before I should answer to any other matter or cause. Besides, I look upon myself to be illegally committed, as being fined and committed for the same fact.' But they told him that he must answer whether he would swear or not; and then he should be heard. But continuing to refuse swearing, he was remanded to prison with the rest; and afterwards being sent for again, and still unwilling to break Christ's command, not to swear at all, the sentence of premunire was read against him and his fellow-prisoners, so they continued in jail above two years, until they were discharged by an act of grace from the king.

The meetings of those called Quakers were miserably disturbed in Horslydown in the county of Surrey. On the 25th of September several musketeers came into the meeting-house, and hauling those that were met together, into the street, the troopers came riding amongt them, and beat and abused them violently, pushing them with their carbines, which the others did with the butt-ends of their muskets, to that degree, that above twenty persons were wounded and sorely bruised; no, so desperately wicked were these mischievous fellows, that a party of horse sought to ride over these harmless people; but the horses, more merciful than the riders, and not going forward, they turned them, and by curbing and reining them backward, strove to do what mischief they could. On the 2nd of October these peaceable people, having been kept out of their meeting-place, a party of foot, and a party of horse, came among them and abused them no less violently than the week before; so much that with beating and knocking they broke several of their muskets and pikes, and one carbine, and above thirty persons were so sorely wounded and bruised, that their blood was spilled in the streets.

On the 9th of the same month the soldiers, both horse and foot, came again to the meeting at the same place, and one of them having a shovel, threw the dirt and mire from the channels, [open gutters of sewage] on both men and women; and after him the horse and foot came, and fell upon them, striking and knocking down, without respect to age or sex, until they drew blood from many; and when some of the inhabitants in pity took them into their houses, and saved their lives, the soldiers forced open the doors, and hauled them into the street again, and plucked off their hats, that they might strike on their bare heads; insomuch that many had their heads grievously broken. Some troopers also tore the women's clothes off their backs, and hauled them through the mire by their horse’s sides; and some of the foot soldiers put their hands in a most shameful manner under the women's coats: no, a soldier twice struck a woman that was big with child, with his musket on the belly, and once on the breast, while another flung dirt in her face: so that she miscarried. And above fifty persons were this day sorely wounded and bruised. The 16th of this month these conscientious people meeting again to perform their worship to God, a great party of horse and foot came, and fell to beating them so violently, as if they would have killed all on the spot; so that the blood ran down about the ears of many; and one of the constables endeavoring to stop the wicked crew from shedding more blood, they fell upon him also, and broke his head; and when they were rebuked for their cruel dealing, some said, 'If you knew what orders we have, you would say we dealt mercifully with you.' And being asked, 'How can you deal thus with a people who make no resistance nor opposition?' they answered, ‘We had rather, and it would be better for us, if you did resist and oppose.' From which it appeared plainly, that this mischief was done to provoke opposition, that they might have permeate their hands in the blood of these sufferers, and so have had their lives and goods for a prey. It was therefore thought convenient to acquaint the king and his council with this barbarous cruelty; which had such effect, that some stop was made to these excessive cruelties, though their abuses did not altogether cease.

Persecutions in Boston

Site Editor's Note: I have noticed in my years that the more uncertain one is in their unbeliefs, the more threatening opposing beliefs are. Many Puritans left England in an earlier age to escape persecution, fleeing to the American colonies. It is tragic that when the Quaker faith arose, the Puritans were the most violent in opposition. I suggest that their faith, based on an extremely rigid outward observance of rules within the Bible, was so fragile, that when the Truth appeared with the Quakers, they were the most frightened. Therefore they reacted in desperation to put out the Light that said their faith was on the sandy bottom, ready to be washed away by the first storm. They viciously persecuted the Quakers and anyone who dared care for them.

But, now ask yourself this question: is your faith based on the Bible, or is it based on knowing God within yourself, who teaches you, guides you, corrects you, and purifies you? (while of course, being in conformance to the Bible's testimony). Can you say you have the same spirit as the Apostles in the Bible? Are your actions and words controlled by the Holy Spirit within you?

If you find these questions threatening, perhaps you understand how the Puritans persecuted the Quakers.

The spirit of persecution is still alive today; I have had many fundamental Christian readers of this web site accuse me of being a minister of Satan, who, given the opportunity, would probably be inspired by their holy? spirit to strike me for the glory? of God.

- from Valiant for the Truth:

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

A month later, a ship load of Friends arrived in Boston, and although no law then existed against the Quakers, they were considered too dangerous to be allowed their liberty, and after a short imprisonment, were sent back to England. The Governor of Massachusetts, John Endicott now made a law, prohibiting masters of vessels from bringing Quakers to the colony, and threatening imprisonment to any who should come. Honest Nicholas Upsal was sorely troubled at this unrighteous law, as it seemed to him, and remonstrated with the rulers against such edicts, warning them to take heed, for fear that they are found fighting against God. The rulers resented such interference, and the old man was fined twenty pounds, and banished from the colony. The neighboring colony of Rhode Island offered an asylum for all who suffered on account of their religion. Roger Williams, its founder, had been banished from Massachusetts for his liberal views, and in arranging the government of his new home, declared that "the doctrine of persecution for the cause of conscience, is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrines of Jesus Christ." There in the depth of winter Nicholas Upsal bent his steps, and was kindly sheltered on his journey by an Indian chief, through whose encampment he passed.

The dreaded Quaker heresy grew and increased despite all the efforts of the rulers of the Massachusetts colony to check it, so more stringent laws were enacted. A fine was imposed on all who did not attend their Puritan public worship. No one could offer any refreshment to one of the hated Quakers without being fined, and all who held their views were sentenced to be whipped, have their ears cut off, and have their tongues bored with hot iron; and if these measures did not induce them to recant, they were to be banished from the colony.

From Sewel's History:

On their arrival at Boston, William Brend and William Leddra, who were deemed special offenders, were separated from their companions. They were placed in a miserable cell, the window of which was so stopped, as not only to deprive them of light, but also of ventilation, while all conversation between them and the citizens was strictly forbidden. The jailer, following the cruel course which he had pursued towards Thomas Harris, refused to allow them an opportunity of purchasing food, though they offered to pay for them. But he told them, it was not their money, but their labor he desired. Thus he kept them five days without food, and then with a three-corded whip gave them twenty blows. An hour after he told them, they might go out, if they would pay the marshal that was to lead them out of the country. They judging it very unreasonable to pay money for being banished, refused this, but yet said, that if the prison-door was set open, they would go away. The next day the jailer came to W. Brend, a man in years, and put him in irons, neck and heels so close together, that there was no more room left between each, than for the lock that fastened them. Thus he kept them from five in the morning, till after nine at night, being the space of sixteen hours. The next morning he brought him to the mill to work, but Brend refusing, the jailer took a pitched rope about an inch thick, and gave him twenty blows over his back and arms, with as much force as he could, so that the rope untwisted; and then, going away, he came again with another rope, that was thicker and stronger, and told Brend, that he would cause him to bow to the law of the country, and make him work. Brend judged this not only unreasonable in the highest degree, since he had committed no evil, but he was also altogether unable to work: for he lacked strength for want of food; having been kept five days without eating, and whipped also, and now thus unmercifully beaten with a rope. But this inhuman jailer relented not, but began to beat anew with his pitched rope on this bruised body, and foaming at his mouth like a madman, with violence laid ninety-seven more blows on him, as other prisoners that beheld it with compassion, have told ; and if his strength, and his rope had not failed him, he would have laid on more; he threatened also to give him the next morning as many blows more. But a higher power, who sets limits even to the raging sea, and has said, "to this point now you shall come, but no further," also limited this butcherly fellow; who was yet impudently stout enough to say his morning prayer. To what a most terrible condition these blows brought the body of Brend, who because of the great heat of the weather, had nothing but a serge cassock upon his shirt, may easily be conceived. His back and arms were bruised and black, and the blood hanging as in bags under his arms; and so into one was his flesh beaten, that the sign of a particular blow could not be seen; for all his flesh had become as a jelly. His body being thus cruelly tortured, he lay down upon the boards, so extremely weakened, that the natural parts decaying, and strength quite failing, his body turned cold. It seemed as it were a struggle between life and death; his senses were stopped, and he had for some time neither seeing, feeling, nor hearing; till at last a divine power prevailing, life broke through death, and the breath of the Lord was breathed into his nostrils. Now, the news of this cruelty spread among the people in the town, and caused such a cry, that the governor sent his surgeon to the prison to see what might be done; but the surgeon found the body of Brend in such a deplorable condition, that, as one without hopes, he said, his flesh would rot from off his bones, before the bruised parts could be brought to heal. This so exasperated the people, that the magistrates, to prevent a tumult, set up a paper on their meeting-house door, and up and down the streets, denouncing this abominable and most barbarous cruelty; and said, the jailer would be dealt with at the next court. But this paper was soon taken down again upon the instigation of the high priest, John Norton, who, having from the beginning been a fierce promoter of the persecution, now did not hesitate to say, "W. Brend endeavored to beat our gospel ordinances black and blue, if he then be beaten black and blue, it is but just upon him; and I will appear in his behalf that did so." It is therefore not much to be wondered at, that these precise and bigoted magistrates, who would be looked upon to be eminent for piety, were so cruel in persecuting, since their chief teacher thus wickedly encouraged them to it.

The following is a composite of Sewel's History and small sample of James Bowden's The History of the Society of Friends in America, (in full available for your reading on this site):

After laboring for some weeks in the work of the ministry, in the vicinity of Providence and Newport, Christopher Holder and John Copeland, felt a religious call to proceed to Boston. At this place they had already experienced both imprisonment and the lash of the knotted scourge; and they were not ignorant that on the return of those who had been banished from Massachusetts, as they had been, the loss of one of their cars would probably be the penalty inflicted. But these faithful men, feeling assured that their call was from on high, humbly obeyed the requisition, believing that He who had previously been their help and their shield, would not forsake them in any extremity to which they might be exposed for the truth's sake. Leaving Providence on the 3rd of Sixth Month, 1658, they arrived on the same evening at the town of Dedham. In Dedham they lodged there one night; but the next day, were taken up by a constable, and carried to Boston, where being brought before the governor, he said in a rage, "you shall be sure to have your ears cut off."

They sent them to the House of Correction with the following order:

To THE KEEPER OF THE HOUSE OF CORRECTION

You are, by virtue hereof, required to take into your custody the bodies of Christopher Holder and John Copeland, and them safely to keep close to work, with prisoners' diet only, till their ears be cut off; and not to allow them to converse with any while they are in your custody.

Edward Rawson , Secretary.

In pursuance of this order, the two Friends were kept closely confined; and the unmerciful jailer, pursuing his usual course towards such prisoners, prevented them for several days from having food, because they declined to work at his command.

Not long after, John Rous came again to Boston, but was shortly after taken, and committed to prison. On the 17th of September, he with Holder and Copeland were brought before the magistrates in the court. Upon seeing them, the cruel Governor Endicott raged in anger and agitation: "You shall have your ears cut off." The deputy-governor told them that they were in contempt of the magistrates and ministers, having come there again to seduce the people; therefore they might know that whatever befell them, whether the loss of their ears, or of their lives, their blood would be upon their own heads.They denying this, and said that the Lord had sent them there. Governor Endicott replied: "You are greater enemies to us than those that come openly; since under pretence of peace, you come to poison the people." That men, who had been imprisoned, and whipped, and banished for their religious opinions, should still persist in the advocacy of them with the certainty of incurring increased severities, was what the darkened mind of Endicott could not comprehend; he said: "What, you remain in the same opinion you were before?" The prisoners meekly replied: "We remain in the fear of the Lord;t he Lord God has commanded us, and we could only obey and come." The governor voiced: "The Lord commanded you to come! It was Satan."

Being asked for proof that the Lord had sent them, they replied that it was some kind of proof the Lord had sent them, because they met with the same treatment as Christ had told his disciples they would suffer for his name sake, such as whipping, etc. To this major-general Denison said,“Then when malefactors are whipped, they suffer for Christ's sake?” Then John Rous, whose father was a lieutenant-colonel in Barbados, said, “If we were evil-doers, the judgments of God would be heavier upon us than those we suffer by you.” To which major Denison replied, “Mr. Rous, (for so I may call you, having heard your father is a gentleman), what judgment of God do you look for greater than is upon you, to be driven from your father's house, and to run about here as a vagabond, with a company of deceivers, except you look for a halter. To this Rous said; “I was not driven from my fathers house, but in obedience to the Lord I left it; and when the Lord shall have cleared me of this land, I shall return to it again.” Then Endicott called to the secretary to read the law, who then read this clause in it, that if any that had been judged by the law, and should they presume to return again, they should have one of their ears cut off. Some more words were spoken, and among the rest, Endicott said, “The Quakers have nothing by which to prove their commission except the spirit within them, and that is the devil.” And when one of the prisoners said, “We have seen some of your laws that have many scriptures in the margin; but what example have you in Scripture for cutting off ears?” Endicott asked, "What Scripture is there for hanging?" To which Denison said scoffing, “Yes, they would be crucified.” Then Endicott called the three prisoners by name, and said in great passion, "It is the sentence of the court, that you three have each of you his right ear cut off by the hangman."

The prisoners were brought into another room- where John Rous said to the marshal, “We have appealed to the chief magistrate of England.” To which he answered, he had nothing to do with that. Holder said, "Such execution as this should be done publicly, and not in private for this was contrary to the law of England." But captain Oliver replied, “We do it in private to keep you from tattling.” Then the executioner took Holder, and when he had turned aside his hair, and was going to cut off his ear, the marshal turned his back on him, which made Rous say, “Turn about and see it;” for so was his order. The marshal then, though filled with fear, turned, and said, - “Yes, yes, let us look on it.” Rous, who was more undaunted than his persecutor, suffered the like, as well as the third, and they said, “those that do it ignorantly, we desire from our hearts the Lord to forgive them; but for those who do it maliciously, let our blood be upon their head; and such shall know in the day of account, that every drop of our blood shall be as heavy upon them as a millstone.” Afterwards these persons were whipped. In the strength of God," say the prisoners, "we suffered joyfully, having freely given up not only one part of our body, but our entire body, if the Lord so required, for the sealing of our testimony which the Lord has given us." On the 7th of the Eighth Month, John Rous, Christopher Holder, and John Copeland, were released from prison; the first having been confined for six, and the other two for nine weeks.

Even children did not escape. In some cases they were condemned to be sold as slaves at the Bermudas, in payment of the fines imposed on their parents. Sewel resumes with two revealing stories of persecution of children:

Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, of Boston, had been imprisoned for failing to attend the Puritan public worship. Their children, seeing the treachery of the religious authorities, refused to attend the worship services also. They were fined ten pounds each, and with no money to pay the fine, the treasurer of the county, Edmund Butler with legislative authority, decided to sell them as slaves in Barbados. However, he could find no shipmaster willing to participate in such a diabolical scheme; one even made the excuse that the prisoners would spoil the ship's company. To which Butler replied, "No, you need not fear that, for they are poor harmless creatures, and will not hurt anybody." Will they not so," replied the shipmaster, "and will you offer to make slaves of such creatures?" So their deliberate malice, with pretended excuse, was exposed and inadvertently admitted. Fortunately, the children were not transported, but returned to their home to fend for themselves, their parents still in prison.

It also is reported that a girl, ebout eleven years old, named Patience Scott, whose religious mother had been cruelly whipped by these people, bore witness against their wicked pcrsecution; which so incensed her persecutors, that they sent the child to prison; and the child having been examined, spoke so well to the purpose, that she confounded her enemies; some of whom confessed, that they had many children, who had been well educated, and that it would be well if they could say half as much for God, she could for the devil. But the child was so young, they could not resolve to he banishment, as they did with others.

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

On the day appointed for their execution a band of two hundred armed men, besides many horsemen, were called out to escort these harmless, unarmed Quakers to the gallows. The prisoners were placed in the center with a drummer next to them, who was ordered to make noise enough to drown their voices, if they attempted to speak to the crowds which followed them. The prisoners themselves were at peace. We are told "they went with great cheerfulness, as to an everlasting wedding feast." The men were hung first, and then Mary Dyer ascended the scaffold, but as the rope was placed about her neck a cry was heard: "She is reprieved." Her son had made such earnest intercession that her life was granted him on condition she should leave the colony at once.

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

Morning came. Boston Common presented an unwanted spectacle. Groups of awe-stricken women were talking in whispers of the sad fate awaiting one, who was like themselves a wife and a mother. Children were gazing with wonder and terror at the gloomy gallows tree erected before them, and wondered what wicked thing this woman could have done that she must be hanged; while strong men, who denounced the mistaken zeal of the Quakers, could acknowledge they were an honest sect. Soon came the sound of drum and fife, and a company of soldiers marched by; then came men beating their drums loudly, and by their side walked calmly and serenely the heroine of the day, the hated, despised Quaker. She ascended the scaffold, and when her life was again proffered, on condition she should leave Boston forever, she replied, "No, I cannot promise. In obedience to the will of the Lord I came, and in His will I abide, faithful unto death." The signal was given, the trap door fell below her, and this faithful witness dropped to her death, going home to Jesus to be with Him forever.

Many other Quakers, or even those caught being kind to Quakers, were brutally whipped, removing all or most of the flesh from their backs and sides.

The first woman Quaker preacher was Elizabet Hooton, one of the Valiant Sixty sent by Christ throughout England to preach the true gospel. In 1661, when sixty five years of age, Elizabeth went to America on a missionary journey, arriving at Boston in 1662. Because of the Puritan laws against the Quakers, she had considerable difficulty in obtaining food or shelter. While visiting some Quakers in prison, she was taken before the governor, John Endicott, who after insulting her, sent her to prison. She was subsequently carried two days' journey into the forest and left there to starve. She managed to find her way to Rhode Island, obtained a passage to Barbados, returned to Boston, and after a brief stay came back to England. Having procured a license from King Charles II to settle in any of the American colonies, Elizabeth Hooton returned to Boston, where she attempted to settle, but found that the king's license was set at invalid by the rules of the town. She then went to Cambridge, where, because she would not deny her creed, she was thrown into a dungeon and kept without food or drink for forty-eight hours, (a person attempting to give her food was fined 5 pounds). She was afterwards ordered by the court to be whipped through three towns, which was done in the depth of winter and with great severity. She was then again carried into the depth of the forest and left; she again found her way to a town, where she was befriended, and then left; after visiting Rhode Island, she returned to Cambridge, where she was again subjected to barbarous usage. She and her young daughter accompanying her were stripped to the waist and whipped while being drug through snow behind a cart for a total of 80 miles, as they passed through three major Puritan towns. The Puritans called both Quaker men and women witches, possessed of the devil. There is more complete Memoir on the life of Elizabeth Hooton available on this site for your reading.

George Fox stated he knew exactly when the hangings happened and could feel the noose around his neck. At least 27 more Quakers were scheduled to be executed by the Calvinist Puritans [Congregationalists] of Boston, (one or more was executed before their action). Fox was still in prison, so Edward Burrough went to the King and immediately appealed to him to halt the executions; King Charles was touched, and ordered all Quakers, imprisoned for life or scheduled for execution, to be brought back to freedom in England. King Charles immediately issued a mandamus, [a legal order from the King, which could in no way be avoided by the lower courts], condemning this practice and demanding all convicted Quakers to be returned promptly to England. A group of Quakers at their own expense quickly set sail for New England with the King's mandamus in hand, and Friends were suddenly and dramatically rescued from prison and their scheduled executions. Later in England, George Fox met with some of these persecutors from Boston with questions so penetrating that it deeply shamed them, and they admitted their guilt of murdering the Quakers. Fearing prosecution from the relatives of those murdered, they fled back to New England.

Even when rarely possible to prosecute their persecutors in court, Quakers consistently declined to prosecute them, leaving them to God's judgment. But God was not so restrained. The Massachusetts proud Puritan Christian? persecutors met strange, dramatic deaths, sometimes acknowledging it was the judgment of God. John Endicott, the vicious governor who had so many whipped to the point that all their flesh on their backs was destroyed, himself was afflicted so that his back slowly rotted away, with a stench that drove away any would be relievers. It is a remarkable fact that many of those who were foremost in the persecution of Friends in New England, were either suddenly cut off, or ended their days miserably. Bellingham died distracted—Adderton, was thrown from his horse and died instantly—Norton, a minister of Boston died suddenly, his last words being "the hand" or "judgments of God are upon me.”But the entire Boston area suffered an even stranger judgment - quoting Sewel:

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

Cain, who was of the wicked one, murdered his brother.
And why did he murder he him?
Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

1 John 3:11-12

The above is only a small sample of the sufferings of the Quakers in New England. The history of the New England sufferings in much greater detail is also available on this site.

This web site's purpose is to show how to become
free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.