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aged in them by the magistrates and clergy. Appeals to the quarter-sessions for redress against exorbitant exactions were unsuccessful; as the juries were overawed, or their verdicts for the appellants rejected. *
In the year 1677, the officers, encouraged by the magistrate, who acted the part of an informer, took away from six friends in Cheshire, for one meeting, 2001. Lu Gloucestershire a justice of the peace, besides indicting at the sessions twenty-seven for absence from the national worship, who had suffered deeply before on the conventicle act, and levying heavy fines, anmercifully beat some with his own hands, plucked two out of the meeting by the hair of their heads, and drew his knife, if he had not been pre. vented by his servants, to wound others. At Plymouth, their meetings were forcibly interrupted and dispersed : their property suffered by fines and distresses, and their persons were abused by the rabble, and by the officers and soldiers of the garrison, who, among other insults, threw squibs of fire and hot burning coals upon them. In many other parts they were treated with no less severity. The parish officers were sometimes instigated by menacing letters, or impelled to act against their inclinations by the clergy exciting the justices to punish by fines and imprisonment, for neglect of duty, such, whose moderation and humanity rendered them reluctant to prosecute or plunder their conscientious neighbors.
Through the succeeding years they continued to be harrassed with prosecutions on all the variety of penal laws ; which were rigorously enforced on great numbers of this society; who suffered all the hardships imposed on them by unreasonable men, with pious fortitude and resignation. In 1682, the persecution of this people broke out and was carried on with uncommon outrage and cruelty at Bristol. The damage done to their meeting-bouses was computed at 150l. A rabble of rude boys was encouraged to insult and abuse the female part of the assembly, even women of repute and consideration, and to tear their dress. The signal for this atack was, “ Have a care of your hoods and scarfs.” Many of them were thrown into prison, where their health was endangered for want of room: many beds
• Gough, vol. ii. p. 420-424. S Id. p. 426—29, 438. Vol. V.
being crouded into one small apartment, and some were obliged to lie on the ground, in a filthy place wbich had been a dog-kendel. The remonstrances of the prisoners to the magistrates on the straitness and noisomeness of their prison, and the certificates of physicians on the subject, were treated with equal disregard. “As their constaucy in the great duty of assembling to worship God, while at liberty, was invincible; so a prison could not confine the freedom of their spirits, or the impulse of their con sciences : they continued the practice of this duty in their imprison inent." This drew on them gross abuse, even from the sheriff, who fell furiously on several, threw one headlong down to the great hazard of his life, and commanded another to be ironed and put down into the condemned felon's place. Many suffered, as in former years, and other places, by heavy fines and grievous distraints : goods to the value of 1551. being seized to discharge a fine of 791. When most or all of the men were imprisoned, the women kept up the religious meeting, till they also were cast into gaol. When their parents were in confinement, the children, after their example, regularly held their meetings, behaving on those occasions with much gravity and composure, and undergoing many abuses with patience. Their age exempted them from the last of the law, but their minority could not screen them from furious assaults; some were put in the stocks, others were unmercifully beaten with twisted whalebone-sticks. Persecution was not at this period peculiar to Bristol ; but carried on, in most parts, with great animosity: and many famiJies were ruined in their circumstances. In 1683, about eighty persons were, at one time, committed to Chester castle; where they could find neither rooms nor lodginge for such a number, so that they were obliged for two nights, some of them to walk about, others to lie on tables and benches, and some on flags spread on the floor. At length thirty of them were put into a filthy dungeon, out of which the felons were then removed. In Somersetsbire, informers were encouraged against them, and protected in perjury; their meeting-houses were defaced, and they were, in great numbers, imprisoned, fined, distrained, and excommunicated. When shut out of their meeting houses for di
vers years, in and about the city of London, they assembled in the streets in all weather; this they did in the year 1683, for three months together, when the river Thames was so frozen that borses, coaches, and carts. could pass to and fro upon it, and a street be erected and stand over it.* There was computed to be upwards of seven hundred members of this society in the different prisons of England, this year. Sir Christopher Musgrave, though a zealous churchman, expressed his utter dislike of the severe usage of this people, saying, " the prisons were filled with them, that many of them had been excommunicated and imprisoned for small matters, and that it was a shame and scandal for their church to use the quakers so hardly on very trivial occasions." + Severe prosecutions, similar acts of injustice, oppression, violence and cruelty, against this society, marked the year 1684, which were the disgrace of the preceding years. I
Among those who suffered from bigotry armed with power, the name of George Fox takes the lead. After his return from America, in 1673, as he was on the road to visit his mother on her death-bed, Fox and Thomas Lower who was his wife's son-in-law, were seized, as they were inconversation in a friend's parlor at Tredington in Worces. tershire, and sent to the county gaol. They applied, by detter, to the lord lieutenant and deputy lieutenants of the county, for the interposition of their authority for their release; stating their case, the illegality of their commitment, and Fox's solicitude for liberty to pay the last debt of af. fection and duty to his dying parent. But the application was ineffectual. Lower, by the interposition of his brother, who was the king's physician, might have obtained his liberty; as a letter to lord Windsor for his release was procured : but, bearing too great a respect to his fatherin-law, to leave bim in prison alope, he suppressed the letter, and volantarily continued his companion there. At the quarter-sessions they were produced in court, when, on the examination, it appearing that they had been causelessly imprisoned, and had a right to an immediate release, the oaths of allegiance and supremacy were tendered to Fox, Gough, vol. ii. p. 522, 525, 528, 532, 547-48. Id. P. 536, 509.
Gough, vol. iii. p. 24-30.
and on his refusing to take them, he was remanded. Bat Lower, on account of his powerful connexions, was discharged. Soon after Fox was removed by an habeas corpus to the King's-bench bar at Westminster. The judges, influenced by the reports and representation wbich Parker, the justice who first apprehended him, had dispersed, remanded him to Worcester gaol ; only indulging him with liberty to go down his own way, and at his leisure, provided he would not fail to be there by the following assizes, in April 1674. He accordingly appeared, wben the judge Turner, who had before passed sentence of præmunire against him at Lancaster, referred the matter back again to the sessions. He was then charged with holding a meeting at Tredington from all parts of the nation, to the terrifying of the king's subjects. Though Fox vindicated himself from this misrepresentation, yet, as he again refused the oaths, an indictment was drawn up and delivered to the jury; who, under the instruction of the chairman, found the bill against him. This he determined to traverse : and on refusing to give bail, or any other security for his appearance but his promise, he was sent back to prison. By the interposition of some moderate justices, however, in about two hours after be had liberty given him to go at large till the next quarter-sessions. In the mean time he attended the yearly meeting in London, and delivered before some of the justices of the King's-Bench a de. claration of his fidelity to the king, and denial of the pope's supremacy and power: but as his case was under cogoiz. ance of the quarter-sessions at Worcester, the judges were unwilling to meddle with it, not being regularly before them. At the next sessions he appeared to traverse the indictment; but when he proceeded to shew the errors which were sufficient to quash it, the oath was again required of him, and upon his refusal to take it, the jury found him guilty. An admonition of the consequence of a præmunire being given him in court, this was, after he was sent out of court, clandestinely recorded in his absence, for the sentence thereof; and under it he was remanded to prison. Here he was seized with a great sickness, which reduced bin to great weakness, and made bis recovery doubtful. His wife came from the North to attend him, and
solicit his discharge : after contining with him three or four months, and her endeavors to procure his release proving unsuccessful, she went to London, and solicited the king in person, who would have released him by a pardon ; but Fox declined obtaining his liberty in this mode, as he conceived that it would be a tacit acknowledgment of guilt; and he declared,“ he had rather lay in prison all his days, than come out in any way dishonorable to the truth he made profession of." He preferred having the validity of his indictment tried before the judges, and with this view procured an habeas corpus to remove him to the king's-bench bar.-On his appearing before four judges, his counsellor, Mr. Thomas Corbet, advanced a new plea in his favor, and gained himself great credit, by ably urging, “ that by law they could not imprison a man upon præmunire." The judges required time to consult their books and statutes on this plea ; and postponed the hearing until next day. They then proceeded, though they found the advocate's opinion well founded, to examine the indictment, in which the errors were so many and so gross, that they were unanimous in judgment, “ that the indictment was quashed and void, and that George Fox ought to be set at liberty.” Thus he honorably obtained bis discharge, after an unjust imprisonment of a year and almost two months. Some of his enemies, insinuating " he was a dangerous man to be at liberty,” moved the judges that the oaths might be tendered to bim: but Sir Matthew Hale would not consent to it; saying, “ he had indeed heard some such reports of George Fox, but he had also heard more good reports of him."* He appears to have been unmolested after, till the
year 1681, when he and his wife were sued in small tithes in the exchequer, although they had in their answer to the plaintiff's bill proved, that no such tithe had been demanded or paid off her estate during forty-three years she bad lived there : yet because they could not answer upon oath, they were run up to a writ of rebellion, and an order of court was issued to take them both into custody. Fox, understanding this, laid the case before the barons of the exchequer. On the hearing of the cause a sequestration was
Gough, vol. ii. p. 377-391.