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Quakerism and the end of the Interregnum: a Chapter in the Domestication of Radical Puritanism

  • James F. Maclear (a1)

In that fantastic decade from 1650 to 1660, English saints of every persuasion strove frantically to make the rule of the Lord on earth a political reality. Imbued with a lively apocalyptic hope and enjoying the driving enthusiasm of nascent religions, the left-wing Puritan sects sought to build in England a holy commonwealth that would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. With the failure of the Barebone Parliament, their most promising opportunity passed by unrealized, but throughout the remainder of the Interregnum, Independents, Baptists, Fifth-Monarchy Men, and various mystical sects continued without abatement their endeavors to transform England into Zion.

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1 Davis, Godfrey, The Early Stuarts 1603–1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1937), 195.

2 Braithwaite, William C., The Beginnings of Quakerism (London: Macmillan and Co., 1912) and The Second Period of Quakerism (London: Macmillan and Co., 1919).

3 David, Laing (ed.), The Letters aud Journals of Robert Baillie (Edinburgh: Robert Ogle, 1841), II, 117.

4 Barclay, Abram Rawlinson (ed.), Letters, &c of Early Friends (London: Harvey and Darton, 1841), 30.

5 George Fox the Younger, A Noble Salutation and a Faithful Greeting unto Thee Charles Stuart (1660), 56, quoted in Sehenk, W., The Concern for Social Justice in the Puritan Revolution (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1948), 116.

6 Burrough, Edward, A Message to the Present Rulers of England (London: Giles Calvert, 1659), 6.

7 Fox, George, To the Councell of Officers of the Armie (n.d.), 6.

8 Norman, Penney (ed.), Extracts from State Papers Relating to Friends 1654 to 1672 (London: Headley Brothers, 1913), 42.

9 Firth, C. H., Cromwell's Army (London: Methuen & Co., 1912), 344345.

10 The evidence is summarized in Schenk, , Concern, 125. See also the interesting comment of Col. Daniel in John, Thurloe (ed)., A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, Esq. (London, 1742), VI, 168.

11 Tindall, William York, John Bunyan, Mechanick Preacher (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934), 99.

12 Ben, Nicholson, A Blast from the Lord (1653), 10, quoted in Schenk, , Concern, 122.

13 Burrough, Edward, A Declaration from the People Called Quakers (London, 1659), 3.

14 Tomlinson, William, Seven Particulars (London: Giles Calvert, 1657), 1, quoted in Tindall, John Bunyan, 103.

15 Quoted in Schenk, Concern, 119.

16 Burrough, Edward, A Meamsre of the Times (1657), 3334, quoted in Schenk, , Concern, 121.

17 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 161.

18 Penington, Isaac, Somewhat Spoken to a Weighty Question (1661), 4, quoted in Schenk, , Concern, 123.

19 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 313.

20 [Hyde], Edward, Earl of Clarendon, History of the Great Rebellion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1826), VII, 369.

21 Ibid., 373.

22 Reliquiae Baxterianae: Or Mr. Richard Baxter's Narrative of the Most Memorable Passages of His Life and Times (London: T. Parkhurst, J. Robinson, J. Lawrence, and F. Dunton, 1696), Part I, 7476.

23 See Vane's judgment of Quakerism in his The Retired Mans Meditations, or the Mysterie and Power of Godlines (London: Robert White, 1655), 184. For a brief study of Vane, see article by Charles Harding Firth in Leslie Stephen and Sidney, Lee (eds.), Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: University Press, 19211922), Vol. XX.

24 Gardiner, Samuel Rawson, History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1901), III, 72 n. 1. For the life of Pearson, see article by Fell-Smith, Charlotte in DNB, Vol. XV.

25 “John Lilburne to M. Fell, 1657,” Journal of the Friends Historical Society, IX (1912), 58.

26 Barclay, Letters, 38–39.

27 Thurloe, , State Papers, IV, 508509; 531.

28 Norman, Penney (ed.), The Journal of George Fox (Cambridge: University Press, 1911), I, 312316.

29 Firth, C. H., The Last Years of the Protectorate 1656–1658 (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1909), II, 3033; Davies, , The Early Stuarts, 238.

30 Guizot, F. R. G., History of Richard Cromwell and the Restoration of Charles II (London: Bentley, R., 1856), I, 424; Britain, Great, Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, Vol. XIII (16591660) (London: Longmans and Co., 1886), 5.

31 Guizot, , Richard Cromwell, I, 426.

32 The Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, Fourth Series, VII (Boston: The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1865), 515.

33 Barclay, , Letters, 68.

34 Burrough, , A Message, 67.

35 Thurloe, , State Papers, VII, 527 carries the report: “They [Quakers] do not like this protector so well as the last.”

36 Extracts, 42–44.

37 This is a guess. The optimistic tone of the work and the fact that it is addressed to the parliament of the Commonwealth seems to indicate a date after the fail of the Protectorate in early May. A date after late July is doubtful since Fox entered his “Time of Darkness” at this time.

38 Fox, George, To the Parliament of the Comon-wealth of England, Fifty Nine Particulars Laid Down for the Regulating Things, and the Taking Away of Oppressing Laws, and Oppressors, and to Ease the Oppressed (London: Thomas Simmons, 1659), 9, 8; 5.

39 Barclay, , Letters, 62 ff. See also Firth, C. H. (ed.), The Clarke Papers (London: Longmaus, Green and Co., 18911901), III, 190; Diary of Thomas Burton, Esq., ed. John Towill Rutt (London: Henry Colburn, 1828), IV, 439446.

40 Britain, Great, Journal of the House of Commons [hereafter cited as C. J.] VII, 648.

42 Barclay, , Letters, 70.

43 Ibid., 69.

44 [Taylor, John], A Loving & Friendly Invitation to All Sinners to Repent, and a Warning to All Backsliders to Return unto the Lord (London: John Bring- hurst, 1683), 13.

45 These lists nre to be found in Cal. S. P., Dom., Vol. IX (16551656), 64; Vol. XII (1658–1659), 351–358. Several of these, of course, are out of place. See also Extracts, 6–13, 105–115. Norman Penney was bewildered by this evidence. “It is well known and understood,” he wrote by way of introduction to this material, “that the hardships suffered by Friends often resulted from whim, fancy, or even personal dislike of the magistrates. … It is not so well understood, and indeed it has come as a surprise to those best acquainted with the history of Quakerism, that Friends exerted themselves eagerly to obtain the appointment, as Justices, of persons whom they knew to be inclined to fairness and good ruling.”

46 Extracts, 107.

47 Ibid., 110–111.

48 Ibid., 7, 13.

49 Ibid., 105.

50 Ibid., 107.

51 Ibid., 13.

52 Ibid., 107.

53 Barclay, , Letters, 71; Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 458. Pearson was regarded as an expert on the tithes question (Fell-Smith, Charlotte, “Anthony Pearson,” DNB, Vol. XV).

54 Rich, Robert, Hidden Things Brought to Light or the Discord of the Grand Quakers among Themselves (1678), 29.

55 Braithwaite, , Second Period, 18, n. 3.

56 Needham, Raymond and Webster, Alexander, Somerset House Past and Present (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1905), 126.

57 C. J., VII, 656.

58 Journal of George Fox, I, 334. Exact dating is impossible here. Somerset House was being offered for sale throughout the summer and early fall.

59 Guizot, , Richard Cromwell, I, 407408.

60 Barclay, , Letters, 6970.

61 Quoted by Firth, C. H. in The Cambridge Modern History (New York: Maemillan, 1934), IV, 542.

62 C. J., VII, 694.

63 Guizot, , Richard Cromwell, I, 424.

64 Ibid., 185–186, 426.

65 Harwood, John, To All People that Profess the Eternal Truth of the Living God, This is a True and Real Demonstration of the Cause Why I Have Denied, and Do Deny the Authority of George Fox (1663), 4.

66 Taylor, , A Friendly Invitation, 14.

67 Norman, Penney (ed.), The Short Journal and Itinerary Journals of George Fox (Cambridge: University Press, 1925), 55. The quotation actually refers to a somewhat later period, but the same tone is found throughout Fox's accounts of 1659.

68 Rich, , Hidden Things, 29.

69 The Journal of George Fox, I, 334.

70 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 534.

71 The Journal of George Fox, I, 341.

72 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 458, n. 4.

73 Ibid., 461–462.

75 Firth, , Clarke Papers, IV, 287.

76 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 480. Parker thought it possible that they were forced to help.

77 Howgil, Francis, An Information, and also Advice to the Armie on Both Parts, and This Present Committee of Safety Newly Erected, and to the Late Parliament (London, 1659), 7.

78 Croese, Gerard, The General History of the Quakers (London: John Dunton, 1696), 123124.

79 The Journal of George Fox, I, 334.

81 Braithwaite, , Second Period, 18.

82 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 461462.

83 Ibid., 463; “F. Howgill to E. Burrough,” JFHS, XXXV (1938), 99.

84 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 328.

85 Burrough, , A Message, 9 (wrongly numbered “11”).

86 Stubbe, Henry, A Light Shining Out of Darknes: Or Occasional Queries Submitted to the Judgment of such as Would Enquire into the True State of Things in Our Times. … With a Brief Apologie for the Quakers, That They Are Not Inconsistent with a Magistraey (London, 1659).

87 Stubbe, , A Letter to an Officer of the Army Concerning a Select Senate Mentioned by Them in Their Proposals of the Late Parliament (London, 1660), 61.

88 Short Journal, 55.

89 The most significant works here are [Edward Billing!], E. B., A Mite of Affection (London: Giles Caivert, 1659); Burrough, Edward, A Declaration from the People Called Quakers (London, 1659); Burrough, Edward, A Message to the Present Rulers of England (London: Giles Calvert, 1659); Howgill, Francis, An Information, and also Advice to the Armie on Both Parts, and this Present Committee of Safety Newly Erected, and to the Late Parliament (London, 1659). I hope in the future to publish an article on this Quaker literature of 1659.

90 Burrough, , A Message, 10.

91 Barclay, , Letters, 7273.

92 Howgill, , An Information, 9.

93 Burrough, , A Message, 7.

94 The Journal of George Fox, I, 334.

95 Ibid., II, 50. Note also the interesting statement of Sewel: “Now since some rash people that went under the name of Quakers, were for taking up arms under Lambert; and that the committee of safety offered great places and commands to some of that persuasion, thereby to draw them off from the truth they professed, G. Fox wrote a paper, wherein he showed the unlawfulness of wars and fightings. …” (Sewel, William, The History of the Rise, Increase, and Progress of thc Christian People Called Quakers [Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, n.d.], I, 272).

96 The Journal of George Fox, I, 347348.

97 Burrough, , A Declaration, 10.

98 See The Journal of George Fox; Being an Historical Account of His Life, Travels, Sufferings, and Christian Experiences (Eighth [Bi-Centenary] Edition; London: Headley Brothers, 1902) [Elwood Journal], I, 482.

99 Braithwaite, , Beginnings, 480.

100 There is some evidence that a few individual Quakers carried on anti-royalist activity after 1660. See Braithwaite, Second Period, 30–31, 39. Also see the interesting statements in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report 7 Appendix, Part I (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1879), 93, 130.

101 Jones, Rufus, “Introduction,” in Braithwaite, Second Period, xlvi–xlvii.

102 Schiatter, Richard B., The Social Ideas of Religious Leaders 1660–1688 (Oxford: University Press, 1940), 235243.

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