The Journal of George Fox

Chapter 16

A Year in Scarborough Castle 1665-1666

After the assize, Colonel Kirby and other justices were very uneasy with my being at Lancaster; for I had galled them sore at my trials there, and they laboured much to get me removed thence to some remote place. Colonel Kirby sometimes threatened that I should be sent beyond sea.

About six weeks after the assizes they got an order from the King and council to remove me from Lancaster; and with it they brought a letter from the Earl of Anglesey, wherein it was written that if those things with which I was charged were found true against me, I deserved no clemency nor mercy; yet the greatest matter they had against me was because I could not disobey the command of Christ, and swear.

When they had prepared for my removal, the under-sheriff and the head-sheriff’s man, with some bailiffs, fetched me out of the castle, when I was so weak with lying in that cold, wet, and smoky prison, that I could hardly go or stand. They led me into the jailer’s house, where were William Kirby and several others, and they called for wine to give me. I told them I would have none of their wine. Then they cried, “Bring out the horses.”

I desired them first to show me their order, or a copy of it, if they intended to remove me; but they would show me none but their swords. I told them there was no sentence passed upon me, nor was I praemunired, that I knew of; and therefore I was not made the King’s prisoner, but was the sheriff’s; for they and all the country knew that I was not fully heard at the last assize, nor suffered to show the errors in the indictment, which were sufficient to quash it, though they had kept me from one assize to another to the end they might try me. But they all knew there was no sentence of praemunire passed upon me; therefore I, not being the King’s prisoner, but the sheriff’s, did desire to see their order.

Instead of showing me their order, they haled me out, and lifted me upon one of the sheriff’s horses.

When I was on horseback in the street the townspeople being gathered to gaze upon me, I told the officers I had received neither Christianity, civility, nor humanity from them.

They hurried me away about fourteen miles to Bentham, though I was so weak that I was hardly able to sit on horseback, and my clothes smelt so of smoke they were loathsome to myself. The wicked jailer, one Hunter, a young fellow, would come behind and give the horse a lash with his whip, and make him skip and leap; so that I, being weak, had much ado to sit on him; then he would come and look me in the face and say, “How do you, Mr. Fox?” I told him it was not civil in him to do so. The Lord cut him off soon after.

When we were come to Bentham, in Yorkshire, there met us many troopers and a marshal; and many of the gentry of the country were come in, and abundance of people to take a view of me. I being very weak and weary, desired them to let me lie down on a bed, which the soldiers permitted; for those that brought me thither gave their order to the marshal, and he set a guard of his soldiers upon me.

When they had stayed awhile they pressed horses, raised the bailiff of the hundred, the constables, and others, and bore me to Giggleswick that night; but exceeding weak I was. There, with their clog shoes, they raised the constables, who sat drinking all the night in the room by me, so that I could not get much rest.

The next day we came to a market-town, where several Friends came to see me. Robert Widders and diverse Friends came to me upon the road.

The next night I asked the soldiers whither they intended to carry me, and whither I was to be sent. Some of them said, “Beyond sea”; others said, “To Tynemouth Castle.” A great fear there was amongst them lest some one should rescue me out of their hands; but that fear was needless.

Next night we came to York, where the marshal put me into a great chamber, where most part of two troops came to see me. One of these troopers, an envious man, hearing that I was praemunired, asked me what estate I had, and whether it was copyhold or free land. I took no notice of his question, but was moved to declare the Word of life to the soldiers, and many of them were very loving.

At night the Lord Frecheville (so called), who commanded these horse, came to me, and was very civil and loving. I gave him an account of my imprisonment, and declared many things to him relating to Truth.

They kept me at York two days, and then the marshal and four or five soldiers were sent to convey me to Scarborough Castle. These were very civil men, and they carried themselves civilly and lovingly to me. On the way we baited at Malton, and they permitted Friends to come and visit me.

When we were come to Scarborough, they took me to an inn, and gave notice to the governor, who sent six soldiers to be my guard that night. Next day they conducted me into the castle, put me into a room, and set a sentry on me. As I was very weak, and subject to fainting, they sometimes let me go out into the air with the sentry.

They soon removed me out of this room, and put me into an open one, where the rain came in, and which was exceedingly thick with smoke, which was very offensive to me.

One day the Governor, Sir John Crossland, came to see me, and brought with him Sir Francis Cobb. I desired the Governor to go into my room, and see what a place I had. I had got a little fire made in it, and it was so filled with smoke that when they were in they could hardly find their way out again; and he being a Papist, I told him that this was his Purgatory which they had put me into. I was forced to lay out about fifty shillings to stop out the rain, and keep the room from smoking so much.

When I had been at that charge, and made it tolerable, they removed me into a worse room, where I had neither chimney nor fire-hearth. This being towards the sea-side and lying much open, the wind drove in the rain forcibly so that the water came over my bed, and ran so about the room that I was fain to skim it up with a platter. When my clothes were wet, I had no fire to dry them; so that my body was benumbed with cold, and my fingers swelled so that one was grown as big as two.

Though I was at some charge in this room also, I could not keep out the wind and rain. Besides, they would suffer few Friends to come to me, and many times not any; no, not so much as to bring me a little food; but I was forced for the first quarter to hire one of another society to bring me necessaries. Sometimes the soldiers would take it from her, and she would scuffle with them for it.

Afterwards I hired a soldier to fetch me water and bread, and something to make a fire of, when I was in a room where a fire could be made. Commonly a threepenny loaf served me three weeks, and sometimes longer, and most of my drink was water with wormwood steeped or bruised in it.

One time the weather was very sharp, and I had taken great cold, I got a little elecampane beer. I heard one of the soldiers say to the other that they would play me a trick: they would send me up to the deputy-governor, and in the meantime drink my strong beer; and so they did. When I came back one of the soldiers came to me in a jeer, and asked me for some strong beer. I told him they had played their pretty trick; and so I took no further notice of it.

But inasmuch as they kept me so very strait, not giving liberty for Friends to come to me, I spoke to the keepers of the Castle to this effect: “I did not know till I was removed from Lancaster Castle, and brought prisoner to this Castle of Scarborough, that I was convicted of a praemunire; for the Judge did not give sentence upon me at the assizes in open court. But seeing I am now a prisoner here, if I may not have my liberty, let my friends and acquaintances have their liberty to come and visit me, as Paul’s friends had among the Romans, who were not Christians, but heathen. For Paul’s friends had their liberty; all that would, might come to him, and he had his liberty to preach to them in his hired house. But I cannot have liberty to go into the town, nor for my friends to come to me here. So you that go under the name of Christians, are worse in this respect than those heathen were.”

But though they would not let Friends come to me, they would often bring others, either to gaze upon me, or to contend with me. One time a great company of Papists came to discourse with me. They affirmed that the Pope was infallible, and had stood infallible ever since Peter’s time. But I showed them the contrary by history; for one of the bishops of Rome (Marcellinus by name), denied the faith and sacrificed to idols; therefore he was not infallible. I told them that if they were in the infallible Spirit they need not have jails, swords, and staves, racks and tortures, fires and faggots, whips and gallows, to hold up their religion, and to destroy men’s lives about it; for if they were in the infallible Spirit they would preserve men’s lives, and use none but spiritual weapons about religion.

Another Papist who came to discourse with me said, “All the patriarchs were in hell from the creation till Christ came. When Christ suffered He went into hell, and the devil said to Him, What comest thou hither for? to break open our strongholds? And Christ said, To fetch them all out. So Christ was three days and three nights in hell to bring them out.”

I told him that that was false; for Christ said to the thief, “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise”; and Enoch and Elijah were translated into heaven; and Abraham was in heaven, for the Scripture saith that Lazarus was in his bosom; and Moses and Elias were with Christ upon the Mount, before He suffered.

These instances stopped the Papist’s mouth, and put him to a stand.

Another time came Dr. Witty, who was esteemed a great doctor in physic, with Lord Falconbridge, the governor of Tinmouth Castle, and several knights.

I being called to them, Witty undertook to discourse with me, and asked me what I was in prison for. I told him, “Because I would not disobey the command of Christ, and swear.” He said I ought to swear my allegiance to the King.

He being a great Presbyterian, I asked him whether he had not sworn against the King and House of Lords, and taken the Scotch covenant? And had he not since sworn to the King? What, then, was his swearing good for? But my allegiance, I told him, did not consist in swearing, but in truth and faithfulness.

After some further discourse I was taken away to my prison again; and afterwards Dr. Witty boasted in the town amongst his patients that he had conquered me. When I heard of it, I told the Governor it was a small boast in him to say he had conquered a bondman. I desired to bid him come to me again when he came to the Castle.

He came again awhile after, with about sixteen or seventeen great persons, and then he ran himself worse on ground than before. For he affirmed before them all that Christ had not enlightened every man that cometh into the world; and that the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, had not appeared unto all men, and that Christ had not died for all men.

I asked him what sort of men those were whom Christ had not enlightened? and whom His grace had not appeared to? and whom He had not died for?

He said, “Christ did not die for adulterers, and idolaters, and wicked men.”

I asked him whether adulterers and wicked men were not sinners.

He said, “Yes.”

“Did not Christ die for sinners?” said I. “Did He not come to call sinners to repentance?”

“Yes,” said he.

“Then,” said I, “thou hast stopped thy own mouth.”

So I proved that the grace of God had appeared unto all men, though some turned from it into wantonness, and walked despitefully against it; and that Christ had enlightened all men, though some hated the light.

Several of the people confessed it was true; but he went away in a great rage, and came no more to me.

Another time the Governor brought a priest; but his mouth was soon stopped.

Not long after he brought two or three Parliament-men, who asked me whether I did own ministers and bishops.

I told them, “Yes, such as Christ sent; such as had freely received and would freely give; such as were qualified, and were in the same power and Spirit the apostles were in. But such bishops and teachers as yours, that will go no farther than a great benefice, I do not own; for they are not like the apostles. Christ saith to his ministers, ‘Go ye into all nations, and preach the gospel’; but ye Parliament-men, who keep your priests and bishops in such great fat benefices, have spoiled them all. For do ye think they will go into all nations to preach; or any farther than a great fat benefice? Judge yourselves whether they will or not.”

There came another time the widow of old Lord Fairfax, and with her a great company, one of whom was a priest. I was moved to declare the truth to them, and the priest asked me why we said Thou and Thee to people, for he counted us but fools and idiots for speaking so.

I asked him whether they that translated the Scriptures and that made the grammar and accidence, were fools and idiots, seeing they translated the Scriptures so, and made the grammar so, Thou to one, and You to more than one, and left it so to us. If they were fools and idiots, why had not he, and such as he, that looked upon themselves as wise men, and that could not bear Thou and Thee to a singular, altered the grammar, accidence, and Bible, and put the plural instead of the singular. But if they were wise men that had so translated the Bible, and had made the grammar and accidence so, I wished him to consider whether they were not fools and idiots themselves, that did not speak as their grammars and Bibles taught them; but were offended with us, and called us fools and idiots for speaking so.

Thus the priest’s mouth was stopped, and many of the company acknowledged the Truth, and were pretty loving and tender. Some of them would have given me money, but I would not receive it.

After this came Dr. Cradock, with three priests more, and the Governor and his lady (so called), and another that was called a lady, and a great company with them.

Dr. Cradock asked me what I was in prison for. I told him, “For obeying the command of Christ and the apostle, in not swearing.” But if he, I said, being both a doctor and a justice of peace, could convince me that after Christ and the Apostle had forbidden swearing, they commanded Christians to swear, then I would swear. “Here is the Bible,” I told him, “thou mayest, if thou canst, show me any such command.”

He said, “It is written, ‘Ye shall swear in truth and righteousness.'”

“Ay,” said I, “it was so written in Jeremiah’s time; but that was many ages before Christ commanded not to swear at all; but where is it written so, since Christ forbade all swearing? I could bring as many instances out of the Old Testament for swearing as thou, and it may be more; but of what force are they to prove swearing lawful in the New Testament, since Christ and the Apostle forbade it? Besides,” said I, “in that text where it is written, Ye shall swear, what ‘ye’ was this? Was it ‘Ye Gentiles,’ or ‘Ye Jews’?”

To this he would not answer. But one of the priests that were with him answered, “It was to the Jews that this was spoken.” Then Dr. Cradock confessed it was so.

“Very well,” said I, “but where did God ever give a command to the Gentiles to swear? For thou knowest that we are Gentiles by nature.”

“Indeed,” said he, “in the gospel times everything was to be established out of the mouths of two or three witnesses; but there was to be no swearing then.”

“Why, then,” said I, “dost thou force oaths upon Christians, contrary to thy own knowledge, in the gospel-times? And why dost thou excommunicate my friends?” for he had excommunicated abundance both in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

He said, “For not coming to church.” “Why,” said I, “ye left us above twenty years ago, when we were but young lads and lasses, to the Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists, many of whom made spoil of our goods, and persecuted us because we would not follow them. We, being but young, knew little then of your principles. If ye had intended to keep your principles alive, that we might have known them, ye should either not have fled from us as ye did, or ye should have sent us your epistles, collects, homilies, and evening songs; for Paul wrote epistles to the saints, though he was in prison. But they and we might have turned Turks or Jews for any collects, homilies, or epistles we had from you all this while. And now thou hast excommunicated us, both young and old, and so have others of you done; that is, ye have put us out of your church before ye have got us into it, and before ye have brought us to know your principles. Is not this madness in you, to put us out before we were brought in? Indeed, if ye had brought us into your church, and when we had been in, if we had done some bad thing, that had been something like a ground for excommunication or putting out again. But,” said I, “What dost thou call the Church?”

“Why,” said he, “that which you call the steeple-house.”

Then I asked him whether Christ shed His blood for the steeple-house, and purchased and sanctified the steeple-house with His blood. And seeing the Church is Christ’s bride and wife, and that He is the Head of the Church, dost thou think the steeple-house is Christ’s wife and bride, and that He is the head of that old house, or of His people?”

“No,” said he, “Christ is the head of His people, and they are the Church.”

“But,” said I, “You have given the title Church to an old house, which belongs to the people; and you have taught them to believe so.”

I asked him also why he persecuted Friends for not paying tithes; whether God ever commanded the Gentiles to pay tithes; whether Christ had not ended tithes when He ended the Levitical priesthood that took tithes; whether Christ, when He sent His disciples to preach, had not commanded them to preach freely as He had given them freely; and whether all the ministers of Christ are not bound to observe this command of Christ.

He said he would not dispute that.

Neither did I find he was willing to stay on that subject; for he presently turned to another matter, and said, “You marry, but I know not how.”

I replied, “It may be so; but why dost thou not come and see?”

Then he threatened that he would use his power against us, as he had done. I bade him take heed; for he was an old man. I asked him also where he read, from Genesis to Revelation, that ever any priest did marry any. I wished him to show me some instance thereof? if he would have us come to them to be married; “for,” said I, “thou hast excommunicated one of my friends two years after he was dead, about his marriage. And why dost thou not excommunicate Isaac, and Jacob, and Boaz, and Ruth? for we do not read that they were ever married by the priests; but they took one another in the assemblies of the righteous, in the presence of God and His people; and so do we. So that we have all the holy men and women that the Scripture speaks of in this practice, on our side.”

Much discourse we had, but when he found he could get no advantage over me, he went away with his company.

With such people I was much exercised while I was there; for most that came to the Castle would desire to speak with me, and great disputes I had with them. But as to Friends, I was as a man buried alive; for though many came far to see me, yet few were suffered to come to me; and when any Friend came into the Castle about business, if he looked towards me they would rage at him.

At last the Governor came under some trouble himself; for he having sent a privateer to sea, they took some ships that were not enemies’ ships, but their friends’; whereupon he was brought into trouble; after which he grew somewhat more friendly to me. For before I had a marshal set over me, on purpose to get money out of me; but I was not free to give him a farthing; and when they found they could get nothing off me, he was taken away again.

The officers often threatened that I should be hanged over the wall. Nay, the deputy-governor told me once that the King, knowing I had great interest in the people, had sent me thither, that if there should be any stirring in the nation, they should hang me over the wall to keep the people down.

There being, a while after, a marriage at a Baptist’s house, upon which occasion a great many of them were met together, they talked much then of hanging me. But I told them that if that was what they desired, and it was permitted them, I was ready, for I never feared death nor sufferings in my life; but I was known to be an innocent, peaceable man, free from all stirrings and plottings, and one that sought the good of all men.

Afterwards, the Governor growing kinder, I spoke to him when he was going to London to the Parliament, and desired him to speak to Esquire Marsh, Sir Francis Cobb, and some others; and let them know how long I had lain in prison, and for what; and he did so. When he came down again, he told me that Esquire Marsh said he would go a hundred miles barefoot for my liberty, he knew me so well; and several others, he said, spoke well of me. From which time the Governor was very loving to me.

There were, amongst the prisoners, two very bad men, that often sat drinking with the officers and soldiers; and because I would not sit and drink with them too, it made them the worse against me. One time when these two prisoners were drunk, one of them (whose name was William Wilkinson, a Presbyterian, who had been a captain), came to me and challenged me to fight with him.

Seeing what condition he was in, I got out of his way; and next morning, when he was more sober, showed him how unmanly it was in him to challenge a man to fight, whose principles, he knew, it was not to strike, but if he was stricken on one ear to turn the other. I told him, if he had a mind to fight, he should have challenged some soldiers that could have answered him in his own way.

But, however, seeing he had challenged me, I was now come to answer him with my hands in my pockets; and (reaching my head towards him), “Here,” said I, “here is my hair, here are my cheeks, here is my back.”

With this he skipped away from me and went into another room; at which the soldiers fell a-laughing; and one of the officers said, “You are a happy man that can bear such things.” Thus he was conquered without a blow. After awhile he took the oath, gave bond, got out of prison; and not long after the Lord cut him off.

There were great imprisonments in this and the former years, while I was prisoner at Lancaster and Scarborough. At London many Friends were crowded into Newgate, and other prisons, where the sickness was,< and many died in prison. Many also were banished, and several sent on ship-board by the King’s order.

Some masters of ships would not carry them, but set them on shore again; yet some were sent to Barbadoes, Jamaica, and Nevis, and the Lord blessed them there. One master of a ship was very wicked and cruel to Friends that were put on board his ship; for he kept them down under decks, though the sickness was amongst them; so that many died of it. But the Lord visited him for his wickedness; for he lost most of his seamen by the plague, and lay several months crossed with contrary winds, though other ships went on and made their voyages.

At last he came before Plymouth, where the Governor and magistrates would not suffer him nor any of his men to come ashore, though he wanted necessaries for his voyage; but Thomas tower, Arthur Cotton, John Light, and other Friends, went to the ship’s side, and carried necessaries for the Friends that were prisoners on board.

The master, being thus crossed and vexed, cursed them that put him upon this freight, and said he hoped he should not go far before he was taken. And the vessel was but a little while gone out of sight of Plymouth before she was taken by a Dutch man-of-war, and carried into Holland.

When they came into Holland, the States sent the banished Friends back to England, with a letter of passport, and a certificate that they had not made an escape, but were sent back by them.

In time the Lord’s power wrought over this storm, and many of our persecutors were confounded and put to shame.

After I had lain prisoner above a year in Scarborough Castle, I sent a letter to the King, in which I gave him an account of my imprisonment, and the bad usage I had received in prison; and also that I was informed no man could deliver me but him. After this, John Whitehead being at London, and having acquaintance also with Esquire Marsh, he went to visit him, and spoke to him about me; and he undertook, if John Whitehead would get the state of my case drawn up, to deliver it to the master of requests, Sir John Birkenhead, who would endeavor to get a release for me.

So John Whitehead and Ellis Hookes drew up a relation of my imprisonment and sufferings, and carried it to Marsh; and he went with it to the master of requests, who procured an order from the King for my release. The substance of the order was that “the King, being certainly informed that I was a man principled against plotting and fighting, and had been ready at all times to discover plots, rather than to make any, etc., therefore his royal pleasure was that I should be discharged from my imprisonment,” etc.

As soon as this order was obtained, John Whitehead came to Scarborough with it, and delivered it to the Governor; who, upon receipt thereof, gathered the officers together, and, without requiring bond or sureties for my peaceable living, being satisfied that I was a man of a peaceable life, he discharged me freely, and gave me the following passport:

“Permit the bearer hereof, George Fox, late a prisoner here, and now discharged by His Majesty’s order, quietly to pass about his lawful occasions, without any molestation. Given under my hand at Scarborough Castle, this first day of September, 1666.


“Governor of Scarborough Castle.”

After I was released, I would have made the Governor a present for the civility and kindness he had of late shown me; but he would not receive anything; saying that whatever good he could do for me and my friends he would do it, and never do them any hurt. And afterwards, if at any time the mayor of the town sent to him for soldiers to break up Friends’ meetings, if he sent any down he would privately give them a charge not to meddle. He continued loving to his dying day.

The officers also and the soldiers were mightily changed, and became very respectful to me, and when they had occasion to speak of me they would say, “He is as stiff as a tree, and as pure as a bell; for we could never bow him.”

[Here is an interesting entry in the Journal in the year 1669: “I then visited friends at Whitby and Scarborough. When I was at Scarborough, the governor, hearing I was come, sent to invite me to his house, saying, ‘Surely, you would not be so unkind as not to come and see me and my wife.’ After the meeting I went to visit him, and he received me very courteously and lovingly.”]

The very next day after my release, the fire broke out in London, and the report of it came quickly down into the country. Then I saw the Lord God was true and just in His Word, which he had shown me before in Lancaster jail, when I saw the angel of the Lord with a glittering sword drawn southward, as before expressed.

The people of London were forewarned of this fire; yet few laid to heart, or believed it; but rather grew more wicked, and higher in pride. For a Friend was moved to come out of Huntingdonshire a little before the fire, to scatter his money, and turn his horse loose on the streets, to untie the knees of his trousers, let his stockings fall down, and to unbutton his doublet, and tell the people that so should they run up and down, scattering their money and their goods, half undressed, like mad people, as he was sign to them; and so they did, when the city was burning.

Thus hath the Lord exercised His prophets and servants by His power, shown them signs of His judgments, and sent them to forewarn the people; but, instead of repenting, they have beaten and cruelly entreated some, and some they have imprisoned, both in the former power’s days and since.

But the Lord is just, and happy are they that obey His word.

Some have been moved to go naked in their streets, in the other power’s days and since, as signs of their nakedness; and have declared amongst them that God would strip them of their hypocritical professions, and make them as bare and naked as they were. But instead of considering it, they have many times whipped, or otherwise abused them, and sometimes imprisoned them.

Others have been moved to go in sackcloth, and to denounce the woes and vengeance of God against the pride and haughtiness of the people; but few regarded it. And in the other power’s days, the wicked, envious, and professing priests, put up several petitions both to Oliver and Richard, called Protectors, and to the Parliaments, judges and Justices, against us, full of lies, vilifying words and slanders; but we got copies of them, and, through the Lord’s assistance, answered them all, and cleared the Lord’s truth and ourselves of them.

But oh! the body of darkness that rose against the Truth in them that made lies their refuge! But the Lord swept them away; and in and with His power, truth, light, and life, hedged his lambs about, and preserved them as on eagles’ wings. Therefore we all had, and have, great encouragement to trust the Lord, who, we saw by His power and Spirit, overturned and brought to naught all the confederacies and counsels that were hatched in darkness against His Truth and people; and by the same truth gave His people dominion, that therein they might serve Him.

Indeed, I could not but take notice how the hand of the Lord turned against the persecutors who had been the cause of my imprisonment, or had been abusive or cruel to me in it. The officer that fetched me to Holker-Hall wasted his estate, and soon after fled into Ireland. Most of the justices that were upon the bench at the sessions when I was sent to prison, died in a while after; as old Thomas Preston, Rawlinson, Porter, and Matthew West, of Borwick. Justice Fleming’s wife died, and left him thirteen or fourteen motherless children. Colonel Kirby never prospered after. The chief constable, Richard Dodgson, died soon after, and Mount, the petty constable, and the wife of the other petty constable, John Ashburnham, who railed at me in her house, died soon after. William Knipe, the witness they brought against me, died soon after also. Hunter, the jailer of Lancaster, who was very wicked to me while I was his prisoner, was cut off in his young days; and the under-sheriff that carried me from Lancaster prison towards Scarborough, lived not long after. And Joblin, the jailer of Durham, who was prisoner with me in Scarborough Castle, and had often incensed the Governor and soldiers against me, though he got out of prison, yet the Lord cut him off in his wickedness soon after.

When I came into that country again, most of those that dwelt in Lancashire were dead, and others ruined in their estates; so that, though I did not seek revenge upon them for their actings against me contrary to the law, yet the Lord had executed His judgments upon many of them.