The Testimony of Margaret Fell concerning Her Late Husband, George Fox, Together with a Brief Account of Some of His Travels, Sufferings & Hardships Endured for the Truth’s Sake

It having pleased Almighty God to take away my dear husband our of this evil, troublesome world, who was not a man thereof; being chosen out of it, and had his life and being in another region, and his testimony was against the world, that the deds thereof were evil, and therefore the world hated himso I am now to give in my account and testimony of my dear husband, whom the Lord hath taken unto his blessed Kingdom and glory. And it is before me from the Lord, and in my view, to give a relation, and leave upon record the dealings of the Lord with us from the beginning.

He was the instrument in the hand of the Lord in this present age, which he made use of to send forth into the world, to preach the Everlasting Gospel, which had been hid from many ages and generations; the Lord revealed it unto him, and made him open that new and living way, that leads to Life Eternal, when he was but a youth, and a stripling. And when he declared it in his own counter of Leicestershire, and in Darbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire, and his declaration being against the hireling Priests and their practices, it raised a great fury and opposition among the Priests and people against him; yet there was always some, that owned him in several places; but very few, that stood firm to him, when persecution came on him. There was he and one other put in prison at Darby, but the other declined, and left him in prison there; where he continued almost a whole year, and then he was released out of prisonand went on with his testimony abroad, and was put in prison again at Nottingham; and there he continued a while, and after was released again.

And then he traveled on into Yorkshire, and passed up and down the great country, and several received him; and William Dewsbury, Richard Farnsworth, Thomas Aldman, and other, who all came to be faithful ministers of the Spirit of the Lord. And he continued in that country, and traveled through Holderness and the Woulds, and abundance were convinced; and several were brought to prison at York for the testimony to the Truth, both men and women so that we heard of such a people that were risen, and we did very much inquire after them. And after a while he traveled up farther toward the Dales in Yorkshire, as Wensdale and Sedbur; and among the hills, dales and mountains he came on, and convinced many of the Eternal Truth.

And in the year 1652 it pleased the Lord to draw im towards us; so he came on from Sedbur, and so to Westmoreland, as Firbank Chapel, where John Blayking came unto him; and so on to Preston, and to Grarig, and Kendal, and Underbarrow, and Poobank, and Cartmel, and Staveley; and so onto Swarthmore, my dwelling house, whither he brought the blessed tidings of the Everlasting Gospel, which I, and many hundreds in these parts, have cause to praise the Lord for. My then husband, Thomas Fell, was not at home at that time, but gone the Welsh circuit, being one of the Judges of Assize and our house being a place open to entertain ministers and religious people at, one of George Fox his Friends brought him hither; where he stayed all night. And the next day being a Lecture, or a fast day, he went to Ulverston Steeple house, but came not in, till people were gathered; I and my children had been a long time there before. And when they were singing before the sermon, he came in; and when they had done singing, he stood up upon a seat or form, and desired, that he might have liberty to speak and he that was in the pulpit, said he might. And the first word, that he spoke, were as follows: He is not a Jew, that is one outward; neither is that circumcision, which is outward but he is a Jew , that is one inward; and that is circumcision, which is of the heart. And so he went on, and said, how that Christ was the Light of the world, and lights every man that comes into the world; and that by this Light they might be gathered to God. &c. and I stood up in my pew, and wondered at his doctrine; for I had never heard such before. and the he went on, and opened the Scriptures, and said; the Scriptures were the Prophet’s words, and Christ’s and the Apostle’s words, and what, as they spoke, they enjoyed and possessed, and had it from the Lord and said, then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit, which gave them forth. You will say, Christ says this, and the Apostles say this but what can thou say? Are thou a child of Light, and have walked in the Light, and that thou speaks, is it inwardly from God? &c. This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly, we were all wrong. So I sat me down in my pew again, and cried bitterly and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, we are all thieves, we are all thieves; wh have taken the Scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves. So that served me, that I cannot well tell, what he spoke afterwards; but he went on in declaring against the false prophets, and priests, and deceivers of the people. And there was one John Sawry, a Justice of the Peace, and a professor, that bid the churchwarden, take him away and he laid his hands on him several times, and took them off again, and let him alone; and then after a while he gave over, and came to our house again that night. And he spoke in the family among the servant, and they were all generally convinced; as William Caton, Thomas Salthouse, Mary Askew, Anne Clayton and several other servants. And I was stricken into such a sadness, I knew not what to do; my husband being from home. I saw, it was the Truth, and I could not deny it; and I did, as the Apostle says, I received the Truth in the love of itand it was opened to me so clear, that I had never a tittle in my heart against it; but I desired the Lord, that I might be kept in it, and then I desired no greater portion.

And then he went on to Dalton, Aldingham, Dendrum, and Ramside chapels and steeple houses, and places several up and down, and the people followed him mightily; and abundance were convinced, and saw, that which he spoke, was the Truth but the priests were all in a rage. And about two weeks after James Naylor and Richard Farnsworth followed him, and enquired him out, till they came to Swarthmore, and there stayed a while with me at our house, and did me much good; for I was under great heaviness and judgment. But the Power of the Lord entered upon me, within about two weeks, that he came; and about three weeks end my husband came homeand many were in a mighty rage. And a deal of the captains and great ones of the coutnry went to meet my then husband, as he was going home, and informed him, that a great disaster was befallen among his family, and that they were witches; and that they had taken us out of our religion and that he might either set them away, or all the country would be undone. But no weapons formed against the Lord, shall prosper; as you may see hereafter.

So my husband came home greatly offended and any may think what a condition I was like to be in, that either I might displease my husband, or offend God; for he was very much troubled with us all in the house and family, they had so prepossessed him against us. But James Naylor and Richard Farnsworth were both then at our house, and I desired them to come and speak to him; and so the did, very moderately and wisely; but he was at first displeased with them; but the told him, they came in love, and good will to his house. And after that he heard them speak for while, he was better satisfied; and they offered, as if they would go away but I desired them to stay, and no to go away yet; for George Fox will come this evening. And I would have my husband to have heard them all, and satisfied himself farther about them; because they has do prepossed him against them of such dangerous, fearful things in his coming first home. And then was he pretty moderate and quiet and his dinner being ready, he went to it; and I went in, and sat me down by him. And while I was sitting, the Power of the Lord seized me and he was stricken with amazement, and knew not what to think; but was quiet and still. And the children were all quiet and still, and grown sober, and could not play on their music, that they were learning and all these things made him quiet and still.

And then at night George Fox came and after supper my husband was sitting in the parlor, and I asked him, if George Fox might come in? and he said, yes. So George came in without any complement, and walked into the room, and began to speak presently; and the family, and James Naylor, Richard Farnsworth came all in and he spoke very excellently, as ever I heard him; and opened Christ and the Apostles’ practices, which they were in, in their day. and he opened the night of apostasy since the Apostles’ days, and laid open the priests and their practices of apostasy; that if all in England had been there, I thought, they could not have denied the truth of those things. And so my husband came to seel clearly the Truth, of what he spoke,and was very quiet that night, and said no more; and went to bed. and next morning came Lampit, priest of Ulverston, and got my husband in the garden; and spoke much to him therebut my husband had seen so much of the night before that the priest got little entrance upon him. and when the priest Lampit was come into the house, George Fox spoke sharply to him, and asked him; when God spake to him, and called him to go, and preach to the people? But after a while the priest went away this was on a sixth day of the week about the fifth month, 1652. And at our house divers Friends were speaking one to another, how there were several convinced here aways; and we could not tell, where to get a Meeting my husband also being present, he over heard, and said of his own accord, you may meet here, if you will and that was the first meeting we had, that he offered of his own accord. And then notice was given that day and the next to Friends; and there was a good large Meeting, that was at Swarthmore and so continued there a Meeting from 1652, till 1690. And my husband went that day to the steeple house, and none with him, but his clerk and his groom, that rid with him; and the priest and people were all fearfully troubled but praised be the Lord, they never got their wish upon us that day.

And then after a few weeks, George went to Ulverston Steeple house again, and the said Justice Sawrey, with others, set the rude rabble upon him and they beat him so, that he fell down as in a swoon, and was sore bruised and blackened in his body, and on his head and arms. then my husband was not at home but when he came home, he was displeased, that they should do so and spoke to Justice Sawrey, and said, it was against Law to make riots. And after that he was sore beat and stoned and Walney, till he fell down and also at Dalton was he sore beat and abused; so that he had very hard usage in divers places in these parts. And then when a Meeting was settled here, he went again to Westmoreland, and settled Meetings there; and there was a great convincement, and abundance of brave ministers came out there aways, as John Camm, John Audland, Francis Howgil, Edward Burrough, Miles Halhead, and John Blayking, with divers others. He also went over Sands to Lancaster, and Yelland, and Kellet, where Robert Widders, Richard Hubberthorne and John Lawson, with many other were convinced. and about that time he was in those parts, many priests and professors rose up, and falsely accused him of blasphemy, and did endeavor to take away his life; and got people to swear at a sessions at Lancaster, that he had spoken blasphemy. But then my husband and Colonel West, having had some sight and knowledge of the Truth, withstood the two persecuting justices, John Sawrey and Thompson; and brought him off, and cleared him for indeed he was innocent. And after the sessions there was a great Meeting in the town of Lancaster; and many of the towns people came in, and many were convinced. And thus he was up and down about Lancaster, Yelland, Westmoreland and some parts of Yorkshire, and our parts above one year; in which time there was above twenty and four ministers brought forth, and were ready to go with their testimony of the Eternal Truth unto the world and soon after Francis Howgil and John Camm went to speak to Oliver Cromwell.

And in the year 1653 George;s drawings was into Cumberland by Milholm, Lampley, Embleton and Brigham, Parsley and Cockermout, where at or near Embleton and Benson, but chiefly with John Wilkinson, a preacher at Embleton and Brigham; who after was convinced, and owned the Truth, and was a serviceable minister both in England, Ireland and Scotland. And then he went to Coldbeck and several places, till he came to Carlisle, and went to their steeple house and they beat and abused him, and had him before the magistrates; who examined him, and put him in prison there in the common jail among the thieves. And at the Assizes one Anthony Pearson, who had been a Justice of the Peace, and was convinced at Appleby (when he was upon the bench) by James Naylor and Francis Howgil, who were then prisoners there, and brought before him; so Anthony Pearson spoke to the Justices at Carlisle, he being acquainted with them, having married his wife out of Cumberland; and after a while they released him. And after he went into several parts of Cumberland, and many were convinced, and owned the Truth and he gathered and settled Meetings there among them, and up and down in several parts there in the North.

And in 1663 he came north again, and to Swarthmoore and then they sent our warrents, and took him again, and had him to Holcross before the Justices, and tendered him the Oath of Allegiance; and sent him Prisoner to Lancaster Castle. And about a month after, the Justices sent for me also out of my house, and tendered me the Oath; and sent me a prisoner to Lancaster. And the next Assizes they tender the Oath of Allegiance and Supremacy to us again both, and premunired me but they had missed the date, and other things in his indictment, and so it was quashed; but they tendered im the Oath again, and kept him prisoner a year and a half at Lancaster Castle. And then they sent him to Scarborough Castle in Yorkshire, where they kept him prisoner close under the soldiers much of a year and a half; so that a Friend could scarcely have spoken to him yet after that it pleased the Lord, that we was released. But I continued in prisons, and a prisoner four years at that time and an order was procured from the Council, whereby I was set at liberty. And in that time I went down into Cornwall with my son and daughter Lower, and came back by London to the Yearly Meeting; and there I met with him again and then he told me, the time was drawing on towards our marriage; but he might first go into Ireland. And a little time before this was he prisoner in his own country at Leicester for a while; and then released. And so into Ireland he went and I went into Kent and Sussex; and came back to London again and afterwards I went to the west, towards Bristol, in 1669 and there I stayed, till he came over from Ireland. And then it was eleven years after my former husband’s decease. And in Ireland he had had a great service for the Lord and his Eternal Truth, among Friends and many people there; but escaped many dangers, and times of being taken prisoner; they having laid in wait afore hand for him in many places. And then he being returned, at Bristol, he declared his intentions of marriage and there was our marriage solemnized. and then within ten days after I came homewards; and my husband stayed up and down in the countries among Friends, visiting them.

And soon after I came home, there came another order from the council to cast me into prison again; and the Sheriff of Lancashire sent his Bailiff, and pulled me out of my own house, and held me a prisoner at Lancaster Castle (upon the Old Premunire;) where I continued a whole year and most part of all that time I was sick and weakly; and also my husband was weak and sickly at that time. And then after a while he recovered, and went about to get me out of prison; and a discharge at last was got under the Great Seal; and so I was set at Liberty. and then I was to go up to London again, for my husband was intending for America and he was full two years away, before he came back agian into England; and then he arrived at Bristol, and then came to Londonand he intended to have come to the middle of the Nation with me. But when we came into some parts of Worcestershire,, they got there information of him; and one Justice Parker by his warrant sent him and my son Lower to Worcester Jail and the Justices there tendered him the Oath, and Premunired him, but released my son Lower; who stayed with him most of the time he was prisoner there.

And after some time he fell sick in a long, lingering sickness, and many times was very and so they wrote to me from London, that if I would see him alive, I might go to him; which accordingly I did. and after I had tarried seventeen weeks with him, I went up to London, and write to the King an account of his long imprisonment, and how he was taken in his travel homewards; and how he was weak and sick, and not like to live, if they kept him long there. And I went with it to Whitehall myself; and I met with the King, and gave him the paper and he said, I must go to the Chancellor, he could do nothing in it. Then I writ also to the Lord Chancellor, and went to his house, and gave him my paper, and spoke to him, that the King had left it wholly to him; and if he did not take pity, and release him out of that prison, I feared, he would end his days there. And the Lord Chancellor Finch was a very tender man, and spoke to the Judge; who gave out a Habeas Corpus presently. And when we got it, we sent it down to Worcester; and they would not part with him at first, but said, he was Premunired, and was not to go out on that manner. And then we were forced to go to Judge North, and to the Attorney General, and we got another order, and sent down from them; and with much ado, and great labor and industry of William Mead, and other Friends, we got him up to London, where he appeared in Westminster Hall at the King’s Bench, before Judge Hales, who was a very honest, tender man; and he knew, they had imprisoned him but in envy. So that, which they had against him, was read; and our counsel pleaded, that he was taken up in his travel and journey and there was but a little said, till he was quitted. And this was the last prison, that he was in, being freed by the Court of King’s Bench.

And when he was at liberty, he recovered again and the I was very desirous to go home with him, which we did. And this was the first time, that he came to Swarthmoor, after we were married; and so he stayed here much of two years. And then went to London again to the Yearly Meeting; and after w while went into Holland and some parts of Germany, where he stayed a pretty while and then returned to London again at the next Yearly Meeting. And after he had stayed a while in and about London, he came into the north and Swarthmore again; and stayed that time nigh two years and then he grew weakly, being troubled with pains and aches, having had many fore and long travels, beatings, and hard imprisonment. But after some time he rode to York and so passed on through Nottinghamshire, and several Counties, visiting Friends; till he came to London to the Yearly Meeting, and stayed there, and there aways, till he finished his course, and laid down his head in peace.

And though the Lord has provided an outward habitation for him, yet he was not willing to stay at it; because if was so remote and far from London, where his service most lay. and my concern for God, and his holy, Eternal Truth was then in the North, where God had placed and set me; and likewise for the ordering and governing of my children and family; so that we were very willing both of us, to live apart some years upon God’s account, and his Truth’s service, and to deny ourselves of that comfort, which we might have had in being together, for the sake and service of the Lord, and his Truth. And if nay took occasion, or judged hard of us because of that, the Lord will judge them; for we were innocent. and for my own part, I was wiling to make many long journeys, for taking away all occasion of evil thoughts and thou I lived two hundred miles from London, yet have I been nine times there, upon the Lord, and his Truth’s account; and of all the times that I was at London, this last time was most comfortable, that the Lord was pleased to give me strength and ability, to travel that great journey, being seven six years of age, to see my dear husband, who was better in his health and strength, than many times I had seen him before. I look upon that; that the Lord’s special hand was in it, that I should go them; for he lived but about half a year after I left him which make me admire the wisdom and goodness of God in ordering my journey at that time.

And now he hath finished his course, and his testimony, and is entered into his eternal rest and felicity. I trust in the same powerful God, that his holy arm and power will carry me through, whatever he has yet for me to do; and that he will be my strength and support, and the bearer up of my head unto the end, and in the end. For I now his faithfulness and goodness, and I have experience of his love; to whom be glory and powerful dominion forever Amen.


This writing by Margaret Fell was incorporated in the First Edition of The Journal of George Fox, edited by Thomas Ellwood and published in London by Thomas Northcott in 1694.

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