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Shattered Expectations? George Fox, the Quakers, and the Restoration State, 1660-1685*

  • Richard L. Greaves

Extract

The prevailing view of Quakers in the Restoration era depicts them as a defeated movement no longer on the attack but henceforth under siege. They institutionalized, in the words of Richard Bauman, a strategy “of disengagement from the world's affairs” and embraced “a social policy founded on quietism.” Defeated politically, they were forced, according to this view, to relinquish their efforts to advance the cause of liberty “by militant, political means.” Thus the adoption of the peace principle as a hallmark of the Society of Friends emerged, according to Barry Reay, as a response to political defeat and as a stratagem for survival. This interpretation of Restoration Quakerism is similar in many respects to the stereotypical depiction of the Friends in terms of withdrawal and quiescence. I would like to suggest some modifications in this view by reexamining Quaker expectations at the Restoration, the Friends' involvement in political and legal matters, and the emergence and enforcement of the peace principle. The dominant characteristics of Restoration Quakerism are not withdrawal and quiescence but engagement and vigor.

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*

A slightly modified version of this paper was presented as a plenary address to the George Fox tercentenary conference at the University of Lancaster, April 1991. I am grateful to J. William Frost, Michael Mullett, Ted Underwood, and Robert Zaller for their suggestions.

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References

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1 Bauman, Richard, Let Your Words Be Few: Symbolism of Speaking and Silence Among Seventeenth-Century Quakers (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 118–19; Hill, Christopher, The Experience of Defeat: Milton and Some Contemporaries (New York, 1984), ch. 5; Cole, W. A., “The Quakers and Politics, 1652-1660” (Ph.D. diss., University of Cambridge, 1955); Reay, Barry, The Quakers and the English Revolution (London, 1985), pp. 106-107, 121. Reay, however, admits that “not all Quakers withdrew into their tents, and those who did still ventured forth from time to time” (ibid., p. 107).

2 George Fox the Younger, A Noble Salutation (London, 1660), p. 8. In February 1660, on the eve of the Restoration, Henry Fell expressed hope that the “powers of darknesse,” which were predominant in London, would soon be overthrown by God (Library of the Religious Society of Friends, London, Catón MSS, 3: 85 [hereafter cited as LF]).

3 Fell, Margaret, A Declaration and an Information (London, 1660), p. 6; Crane, Richard, A Fore-Warning (London, 1660), p. 5; Salthouse, Thomas, A Candle Lighted at a Coal from the Altar (London, 1660), p. 20; [Burrough, Edward], A Visitation and Presentation of Love (London, 1660), p. 6; Fox, George, To Those That Have Been Formerly in Authority (London, 1660), passim. In the latter work, Fox also chided the established clergy: “Will not the Priests pray for the KING now, as fast as they prayed against him, for the PARLIAMENT, to keep their benefices, who once prayed against him?” (pp. 3-4).

4 Burrough, , A Visitation, pp. 10-13, 2425.

5 Ibid., p. 4; Fox the Younger, , Noble Salutation, p. 3; Fell, Henry, in The Copies of Several Letters, Which Were Delivered to the King (London, 1660), p. 21 [hereafter cited as Copies].

6 Fox the Younger, , Noble Salutation, pp. 9, 17. Cf. Fox, George, An Epistle General to Them Who Are of the Royal Priest-hood (London, 1660), p. 14.

7 LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 3, fol. 136r; vol. 1, fol. 170r.

8 J[ohn] P[ennyman], ad cat. Bishop, George, To Thee Charts Stuart King of England (Bristol, 1660), p. 4.

9 Salthouse, , A Candle, pp. 5, 23; Smith, William, in Copies, p. 41; Sowter, John, in Copies, p. 29; Fox, , A Word in the Behalf of the King (London, 1660), p. 14; Fell, Henry, in Copies, pp. 1819; Pennyman, ad cal. Bishop, , To Thee Charts, pp. 5, 7.

10 Salthouse, , A Candle, p. 23.

11 LF, Spence MSS, vol. 3, no. 98.

12 Burrough, , A Visitation, p. 9; LF, Spence MSS, vol. 3, nos. 104, 110; Smith, William, in Copies, p. 42; Whitehead, George, in Copies, pp. 4950.

13 LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 4, fol. 18r.

14 LF, Spence MSS, vol. 3, nos. 56, 97; Fox the Younger, Noble Salutation, title-page; Ross, Isabel, Margaret Fell: Mother of Quakerism (2nd ed.; York, 1984), pp. 126–35 passim.

15 Horle, Craig W., The Quakers and the English Legal System 1660–1688 (Philadelphia, 1988), pp. 281–84.

16 Bishop, , The Last Trump (London, 1662), pp. 8, 12.

17 Smith, Humphrey, Sound Tilings Asserted (n.p., 1662), pp. 67; Green, Thomas, A Trumpet Sounded (n.p., 1662), p. 7; Howgill, Mary, The Vision of the Lord of Hosts (n.p., 1662), p. 7; Billing, Edward, For Every Individual Superior and Inferior Magistrate (London, 1662).

18 Somerset Record Office, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fol. 24r [hereafter cited as SRO]. The biblical reference is to 2 Kings 22: 14-20.

19 Fox the Younger, , Noble Salutation, p. 19.

20 F, Thimbeck MSS, no. 5; LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 3, fol. 146r.

21 LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 5, fols. 43r–43Av.

22 LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 1, fol. 152r; Cheshire Record Office, MSS EFC 1/1/1 (entry for 20 June 1678) [hereafter cited as CRO].

23 LF, Morning Meeting Minutes 1673-92, pp. 7, 79; Lloyd, Arnold, Quaker Social History 1669–1738 (London, 1950), p. 90. Whitehead was presumably referring to either A General Epistle to Be Read, which he had written in December 1682 while a prisoner in Lincoln Castle, or Ministers Among the People of God (Called Quakers) No Jesuits (1683).

24 LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 1, fol. 24r; LF, Morning Meeting Minutes 1673-92, p. 19.

25 LF, Morning Meeting Minutes 1673-92, pp. 3, 5-6, 35, 63, 66, 68, 79-81.

26 CRO, MSS EFC 1/1/1 (entry for 3 June 1684); Dorset Record Office, MSS NQ1/A19, fols. 9v-10r.

27 SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/4, fol. 3r. Cook erroneously cited the 29th clause of Magna Carta, but intended the 39th, which stipulated that no free man should be imprisoned, disseised, or exiled except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

28 The Journal of George Fox, ed. Penney, Norman, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1911), 2: 290–91.

29 Cumbria Record Office (Kendal), MSS WD/Ry, Box 35, John Blaykling to Daniel Fleming (14 Oct. 1678); SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/3 (doc. 24). Friends were strongly discouraged from using the courts to resolve disputes among themselves. CRO, MSS EFC 1/1/1 (entry for 5 Feb. 1678); EFC 2/1/1 (entries for 5 May, 7 July, 3 Nov. 1680).

30 East Sussex Record Office, MSS SOF 13/1, fol. 23r.

31 Greaves, Richard L., Deliver Us from Evil: The Radical Underground in Britain, 1660–1663 (New York and Oxford, 1986), p. 66; LF, Morning Meeting Minutes 1673-92, p. 7.

32 Lloyd, , Quaker Social History, pp. 9091; [Penn, William], Englands Great Interest in the Choice of This New Parliament (n.p., [1679]), passim; Dunn, Mary Maples, William Penn: Politics and Conscience (Princeton, N.J., 1967), pp. 25-26, 32-40, 42. Apparently with an eye to the forthcoming election, the Oxfordshire Quarterly Meeting drew up a list of eighty-nine Quaker freeholders in the county in 1680 (Lloyd, , Quaker Social History, p. 83).

33 Reay, , The Quakers, p. 108. Cf. Whiting, John, Persecution Expos'd (London, 1715), p. 34. In the 1650s and again in the reign of James II some Quakers served as magistrates. [Harwood, John], To All People That Profess the Eternal Truth ([London], 1663), p. 4; LF, Barclay MSS, 1: 103.

34 B[urrough], E[dward], A Declaration to All the World (London, 1660), p. 5; this work was first published in 1657.

35 Pennyman, ad cal. Bishop, , To Tliee Charts, p. 8; LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 3, fol. 136r. Cf. H[owgill], F[rancis], One of Antichrists Voluntiers Defeated (London, 1660), p. 13.

36 Fox the Younger, , Noble Salutation, p. 18; Margaret Fell, A Declaration, p. 4.

37 Burrough, , A Visitation, pp. 2223; Fell, Henry, in Copies, p. 22; Fox the Younger, , Noble Salutation, pp. 1819.

38 Burrough, , A Visitation, p. 14; Whiting, , Persecution, p. 17; Fell, Margaret, A Declaration, p. 3.

39 [Fox, ], Three General Epistles to Be Read (n.p., 1664), p. 5. Cf. LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 7, fol. 169r.

40 SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/4, fol. lr; LF, Barclay MSS, 2: 148.

41 LF, Spence MSS, vol. 3, nos. 4, 100, 107.

42 LF, Spence MSS, vol. 3, nos. 118-19; SRO, MSS DD/SFR 8/2, p. 72; LF, Barclay MSS, 2: 165.

43 CRO, MSS EFC 1/1/1 (entries for 1 March 1679; 2 March, 1 June, 7 Sept. 1686; 13 March, 12 June, 11 Sept. 1688); EFC 2/1/1 (entry for 2 Jan. 1678); EFC 4/1/1 (entries for 3 Nov. 1680; 2 Feb., 5 April, 5 July, 3 Aug. 1681; 3 Jan., 7 Feb., 2 May, 6 June, 4 July, 5 Sept. 1682; 1 Feb., 11 March, 1 April 1684); EFC 5/1/1 (entry for 8 Oct. 1679); EFC 5/2/1 (undated entry, c. 1679).

44 LF, Barclay MSS, 2: 168; [Harwood, ], To All People, p. 4; Price, John, The Mystery and Method of His Majesty's Happy Restauration (London, 1680), p. 31; Fox, , Journal, ed. Penney, 2: 47; Hill, The Experience of Defeat, ch. 5; Brock, Peter, The Quaker Peace Testimony 1660 to 1914 (York, 1990), ch. 2; Reay, , The Quakers, pp. 41-43, 83-84, 8891; Barbour, Hugh, The Quakers in Puritan England (New Haven, Conn., 1964), pp. 196, 202. Some Quaker converts had fought in the royalist armies (H[ardcastle], P[eter], The Quakers Plea [London, 1661], p. 4).

45 Hill, , The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (New York, 1973), p. 194; Bossy, John, “One More Allegory,” Bunyan Studies 2 (Spring 1990): 77.

46 Salthouse, , A Candle, p. 7; Fox, , Journal, ed. Penney, 2: 53, 272. Cf. Whitehead, , in Copies, p. 49. Some Quakers in Maryland and Rhode Island were espousing pacifist principles in the late 1650s (Brock, , Quaker Peace Testimony, pp. 1920).

47 Fox, , in Copies, pp. 4, 67; idem., A Word, pp. 4, 13; LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 7, fol. 129v. In the aftermath of the Northern Rebellion Fox again pressed his contention that “the jewes weapons were carnall: but the true christians weapons are spirituall” (Journal, ed. Penney, , 2: 55).

48 Smith, William, A Short Testimony on the Behalf of Trutlis Innocency (London, 1660), pp. 56; Burrough, , A Visitation, pp. 1011.

49 Fell, Margaret, A Declaration, p. 7. Brock too underscores the emergence of the peace principle prior to the declaration of 1661 but does not link its widespread adoption among Friends to their disillusionment with the interregnum regimes (Quaker Peace Testimony, pp. 22-25).

50 Greaves, , Deliver Us from Evil, pp. 5053.

51 Fox, , et at., A Declaration from the Harmles & Innocent People of God (London, 1661), pp. 1-2, 45. For using “camall weapons” the Fifth Monarchists were denounced by Fox, as “none of Christs servants but ye beasts & whores” (Journal, ed. Penney, 2: 12).

52 Reay, , The Quakers, p. 121.

53 The Journal of George Fox, ed. Nickalls, John L. (Cambridge, 1952), p. 357; Nayler, James, in Copies, p. 16; Caton, William, in Copies, p. 46; Fell, Margaret, A Declaration, pp. 78; Fox the Younger, , Noble Salutation, p. 19, Cf. Fox, , Our Covenant with God (London, 1660).

54 Fox, , et al., A Declaration, p. 8; cf. p. 4.

55 LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 3, fol. 146r.

56 Public Record Office, London, State Papers 29/63/70 [hereafter cited as PRO, SP]; Hill, , The Experience of Defeat, p. 162.

57 Quoted in Vann, Richard T., The Social Development of English Quakerism 1655–1755 (Cambridge, Mass., 1969), pp. 1617.

58 PRO, SP 29/8/155; 29/43/25; Calendar of the Clarendon State Papers, vol. 5, ed. Routledge, F. J. (Oxford, 1970), p. 258; LF, Morning Meeting Minutes 1673-92, p. 7.

59 LF, Spence MSS, vol. 3, no. 106.

60 Reay, , The Quakers, pp. 105106; SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fol. 2r.

61 LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 3, fol. 182r-v. Cf. Greaves, , Deliver Us from Evil, p. 106.

62 Ibid., p. 65; LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 1, fol. 44r–v.

63 Kingdomes Intelligencer 50 (8-15 December 1662), pp. 804–06; Greaves, , Deliver Us from Evil, pp. 177-78, 180-81, 190, 200–01; PRO, SP 29/84/28.

64 PRO, SP 29/77/50; 29/78/6; LF, Barclay MSS, 1: 92, 93. Two Quakers-the shoemaker Robert Wharton and the surgeon George Walker-were accused of complicity at Kendal but were apparently not tried (Braithwaite, William C., The Second Period of Quakerism [2nd ed.; London, 1961], p. 30; cf. p. 39).

65 PRO, SP 29/91/7.1; Fox, , Journal, ed. Penney, 2: 34-35, 52; LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 3, fol. 154r; Ross, , Margaret Fell, p. 181.

66 LF, Abraham MSS, no. 8; LF, Swarthmore MSS, vol. 3, fol. 105r; Fox, , Journal, ed. Penney, 2: 46, 58. Cf. LF, Barclay MSS, 1: 92.

67 PRO, SP 29/117/37.

68 PRO, SP 29/155/15.

69 PRO, SP 29/171/21, 21.1; 29/190/104.1; Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1666-67, pp. 495-96.

70 Oreaves, , Enemies Under His Feet: Radicals and Nonconformists in Britain, 1664–1677 (Stanford, Calif., 1990), p. 31; British Library, Add. MSS 41,810, fol. 14r; 41,818, fol. 265r.

71 PRO, SP 29/147/86, 86.1; 29/156/107.1.

72 PRO, SP 29/95/66; 29/113/63, 63.1-2.

73 PRO, SP 29/260/136. Fox, of course, continued to denounce both plotting and violence. Journal, ed. Penney, , 2: 172, 272.

74 Greaves, , Enemies Under His Feet, pp. 136-37, 156.

75 CRO, MSS EFC 1/1/1 (entry for 5 June 1683); EFC 4/1/1 (entries for 3 and 12 June, 7 Aug. 1683); PRO, SP 29/428/60, p. 97; 29/430/111, pp. 29, 33, 53; 29/431/15, 30.

76 SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fol. 46r; Whiting, , Persecution, pp. 128–29; LF, Dix MSS A29S; Fox, , All Friends Everywhere (London, 1683), p. 3. Cf. similar petitions to the justices at Bridgwater (SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/4, fol. 121r) and Ivelchester (SRO, DD/SFR 10/4, fol. 50r), and the judges of assize at Taunton (SRO, DD/SFR 10/4, fols. 118v–119r). The Friends also reprinted the declaration against plotting first issued after the 1661 Vennerite rebellion; Braithwaite, , Second Period, p. 113.

77 Whiting, , Persecution, p. 32.

78 BL, Add. MSS 41,812, fol. 226r–v; 41,818, fols. 79v–80r, 125r.

79 BL, Lansdowne MSS 1152, fol. 243v.

80 Clifton, Robin, The Last Popular Rebellion: The Western Rising of 1685 (New York, 1984), pp. 178-79, 192; LF, Dix MSS H2S.

81 SRO, MSS DD/SFR(w) 1, p. 95; SRO, DD/SFR 10/2, fol. 48r–v; LF, Meeting for Sufferings Minutes 1684–85, pp. 87, 90, 96, 98; Whiting, , Persecution, pp. 141–43. One of the ships used by the defeated rebels to escape to the Netherlands was apparently provided by a Quaker (BL, Add. MSS 41,812, fol. 171v).

82 LF, Meeting for Sufferings Minutes 1684-85, pp. 96-97, 103, 113, 138, 173, 196.

83 Reay has identified only twelve Quakers who supported Monmouth; The Quakers, p. 110. Wokey, Bishop, Paul, and Bryant were clearly not active Friends.

84 LF, Meeting for Sufferings Minutes 1684-85, pp. 121-22, 125; cf. pp. 84, 87, 90, 93, 96-97, 100-01, 110-12, 116, 120, 123-24, 128, 131, 134, 143, 154A, 164, 185, 206, 260; SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fols. 57r–57Av.

85 SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fol. 48r–v. Cf. LF, Dix MSS H2S; Meeting for Sufferings Minutes 1684-85, p. 139; Whiting, , Persecution, pp. 157–58.

86 SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fol. 49r.

87 SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fols. 49r, 50v; LF, Dix MSS H2S. Efforts were also made to secure the repentance of Francis Scott and John Hellier. SRO, MSS DD/SFR(w) 1, p. 95.

88 SRO, MSS DD/SFR 10/2, fol. 69r.

* A slightly modified version of this paper was presented as a plenary address to the George Fox tercentenary conference at the University of Lancaster, April 1991. I am grateful to J. William Frost, Michael Mullett, Ted Underwood, and Robert Zaller for their suggestions.

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