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to your commandments we cannot be obedient; but if by violence you put us out of the city, and have power to do it, we cannot resist." Having said this, they went out of the court, but tarried in the city, preaching as before, for some time*. In 1663, Francis Howgill was summoned before the justices, as he was in the market-place at Kendal on his business; and, for refusing the oath of allegiance, was committed to prison till the summer assizes, at which the oath was again tendered to him, and upon refusal an indictment was drawn up against him, which he traversed. But as he would not enter into bond for his good behaviour, which he considered as a tacit acquiescence in the charge of ill-behaviour, and a bar to attendance on meetings, he was recommitted to prison. At the spring assizes he was brought to his trial; when, under a rigorous sentence of premunire, he was sent back to the prison, where he remained till released by death, for nearly five years, deprived of every comfort and convenience his persecutors could take from him. He died, after a sickness of nine days, the 20th of January, 1688-9. During his confinement he evidenced the peaceful and even tenor of his soul by his patience; and preserved to the last an amiable equanimity, which had characterised him through life, the serenity of his conscience bearing him superior to his sufferings and to the fear of death. He wrote a copious treatise against oaths, wherein he maintained the unlawfulness of swearing under the gospel. His virtues, innocence, and integrity of life, were conspicuous. He was generally respected by those who knew him; his sufferings were commiserated; and the unmerited enmity and cruelty of his persecutors condemned. Several of the principal inhabitants of Appleby, and particularly the mayor, visited him in his sickness; and some of them praying that God might speak peace to his soul, he answered, "He hath done it." He also expressed himself thus: "That he was content, and ready to die; praising the Almighty for the many sweet enjoyments and refreshing seasons he had been favoured with on his prison bed, wherein he lay, freely forgiving all who had a hand in his restraint." A few hours before he departed, he said, "I have sought the way of the Lord from a child, and lived innocently as among men; and if any inquire concerning my latter end, let them know, that I die in the faith in which I lived and suffered for." After these words, he uttered some others in prayer to God, and so finished his life in perfect peace, in the fiftieth year of his age.
Mr. Gough has preserved a letter of useful instructions, addressed to his daughter, which he left behind him. His will, made some time before his decease, bequeathed out of his real estate, his personal having been forfeited to the king, a legacy to his poor friends in those parts where he lived, and a token of his affectionate remembrance to several of his brethren and fellow-labourers in the ministry+.
Gough, vol. 1. p. 112. 126. 144, &c. + Ibid. vol. 2. p. 31, 96-108, and 236-241.
FROM THE DECLARATION OF INDULGENCE TO THE
WHEN the king published his declaration of indulgence, the
* The patent, when made out, contained eleven skins of vellum.
anced and assisted by the temporizing conduct of other dissenters; and abated the heat of persecution, and blunted the edge of the sword before it reached the other sects; the more ingenuous of whom, therefore, esteemed their intrepidity, regarded them with gratitude as the bulwark that kept off the force of the stroke from themselves, and prayed that they might be preserved steadfast, and enabled to break the strength of the enemy. Some of the Baptists especially expressed a high opinion both of the people and their principles, which sustained them in undergoing sufferings that others thought of with terror*..
When the revocation of the indulgence, and the displeasure of the court against the dissenters, let loose the whole tribe of informers, and gave fresh spirit to persecuting magistrates: prosecutions, in every mode of distress, were renewed against this people, at the capricious will of every justice. Severe proceedings against them were grounded on the statute of premunire of James I. for refusing to swear; on the obsolete statute of 201. per month, for absence from the parish-church, which penalty, or two-thirds of a person's estate, were seized by exchequer process; and for tithes, to excommunication and procuring writs de excommunicatio capiendo to be issued, to throw them into prison. They became a prey to idle and profligate informers, encouraged and instigated by their superiors. And, instead of obtaining durable and effectual relief, their sufferings became heavier and more aggravated during the remainder of this reign to the end of itf.
In 1675, William Hall of Congleton, being fined 201. for a meeting at his house, had his house broken open, and two cartloads of goods, to the worth of 407. besides a mare, were carried away. About the same time cattle and goods to the value of 100% were taken from sundry persons in and about Nantwich; and from one person the bed on which he lay, and even the dunghill in his yardt.
In the next year, prosecutions on the conventiele act subsided in London, but the rigorous enforcing of the ecclesiastical laws was rarely or never suspended. The number plundered, excom-municated, imprisoned, and of those who died in prison, was too large to be recited §. But while the penal laws were suffered to lie dormant in London, they were enforced with rigorous severity in other parts of the nation. In one instance a poor man, with a wife and five children, had little to pay the fine for being at a meeting but his bed, which the compassion of the officers would not permit them to seize but the obdurate magistrate commanded them to take it. The wife, endeavouring, afterward to maintain her children by baking a little bread, and selling it in the market, it was seized at one time to the value of nineteenpence, and at another to the value of fourteen-pence. From another person for a fine of 71. goods to the worth of near 187.
* Gough's History of the Quakers, vol. 2. p. 364–368.
§ Ibid. p. 414.
were taken. The distresses made this year in Nottinghamshire, upon the members of this society, for their religious assemblies only, amounted to 7127. and upwards. In the city of Hereford, as prosecutions on the law were ineffectual to suppress their meetings, lawless violence and gross abuse were offered by the populace; the windows of their meeting-houses were broken by stones, and sometimes the roof was untiled; their assemblies were interrupted by the sound of the horn, shouting and casting stones and filth, and their persons assaulted. The mob, instead of being restrained and punished for these outrages, were, if not stimulated to them, abetted and encouraged 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, 2007. In 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, unmercifully 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 prevented 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 neighbours‡.
Through the succeeding years they continued to be harassed 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-houses 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 dresses. The signal for this attack 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 being crowded into
* Gough, vol. 2. p. 416, 417. +Ibid. p. 420-424.
Ibid. p. 426-429, 438.
one small apartment, and some were obliged to lie on the ground, in a filthy place which had been a dog-kennel. 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 constancy 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 consciences: they continued the practice of this duty in their imprisonment." 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 felons' 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 jail. 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 lash 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 families 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 lodgings 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 Somersetshire, 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 divers 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 horses, 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
* Gough, vol. 2. p. 522-525. 528-532. 547, 548.