Considerable mystery has long surrounded the antecedents of the Society of Friends. George Fox, an unlettered country lad, has been pictured as having gathered the Society after receiving, through a series of direct revelations, a full-blown message of redemption. Quaker historians have sought to confirm this portrayal by emphasizing that it was “in communion with his deepest self” that he made his “great spiritual discovery,” and that it came to him from no outward source. This explanation seemed rather naive to the more sophisticated mind of Rufus M. Jones, and he set himself to the task of uncovering the actual source from which Fox's religious thinking was derived. His two volumes—Studies in Mystical Religion and Spiritual Reformers in the 16th and 17th Centuries —are sufficient testimony of the thoroughness and scholarship with which he tackled the problem. Nevertheless, after long and careful investigation, he felt obliged to confess that nothing more positive could be affirmed than that the possible influences in Fox's environment, for the most part, “worked upon him in subconscious ways, as an atmosphere and climate of his spirit, rather than a clearly conceived body of truth.” This conclusion was tenable so long as Fox was regarded as the founder of the Quakers. It now seems evident, however, by his own admissions, that he was not the founder but simply joined a sect already in existence. This fact necessitates an attempt to identify the group with which Fox became affiliated.