Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Bristol Episode/Trial by Parliament


The Bristol Episode/Trial by Parliament

     The most famous episode in Nayler's life is one regarding which we have very little in his own words—in fact there is only one written document from the entire period (mid-June through December, 1656) of which Nayler was one of the authors, and that comes late in the action. At least one important letter apparently written from Exeter jail to Margaret Fell has mysteriously disappeared, so that we know Nayler wrote such a letter only from Fell's reply. Possibly someone (Fox or Fell) at Swarthmoor Hall destroyed this evidence. We also find George Fox complaining that Nayler has written "secret and false letters" against him, but if Nayler did this, not one of these letters has survived. Historians try to piece together some sort of understanding of what led to Nayler's falling out with his long-loved and esteemed friend George Fox, his shocking demonstration at Bristol in October of 1656, his thinking at the time, and his relationship with those who accompanied him, from the writings of others—most of them unsympathetic to Nayler. Part of the puzzle is a mysterious conflict involving Martha Simmonds and some few Friends usually described in such language as "those who follow her filthy spirit." Nothing in the brief but lucid and thoroughly Quaker writings of Martha Simmonds prior to this controversy1 prepares us for the heat of the denunciations leveled at her. Her views seem to have been the same as those of other Friends, and no allegation of doctrinal heterodoxy ever arises in the writings of her opponents. She, like Nayler, published nothing during the period in question until she co-authored with him (along with Hannah Stranger and William Tomlinson) the pamphlet known as "O England thy Time is Come."

     So that readers are not left with a gaping hole in their picture of James Nayler's brief career, to be filled with the popular misunderstandings which surrounded Nayler then and still surround him today, I have chosen to include a large body of material not written by Nayler, all of it being, however, primary sources. Thus I print several letters (most of them not before published) written to or about Martha Simmonds, James Nayler, or both, by other Quakers during this seven-month period. I have not included George Whitehead's reminiscences in his introduction <530> to A Collection of Sundry Books, Epistles and Papers Written by James Nayler, which Whitehead's committee published in 1716, though this is the most commonly quoted source for observations of Nayler's "fall"; for it is too distant in time from the events. Not only can one question the accuracy of Whitehead's memory at that late date, but one glaring inconsistency calls the whole account in question: Whitehead claims to have received a direct account from Nayler himself "as we were walking together in the field at Great Strickland in Westmoreland, 1657." Nayler spent the entire year of 1657 in prison in London, hundreds of miles from Great Strickland. I have found no satisfactory explanation of this statement by Whitehead, and since the material he claims to have learned from Nayler's mouth in a place where Nayler was not might have been put together from other sources Whitehead probably had access to, I think the truthfulness of his account is in doubt. Whitehead's journal substantiates the claim that he was in Great Strickland in 1657 (and not at any later time during Nayler's lifetime); but no source can substantiate that Nayler was other than in Bridewell, under severe restrictions, and suffering poor health.

     The following letters are as nearly as possible arranged in chronological order. Ellipsis dots (...) represent omission of material unrelated to Nayler; asterisks (*) indicate spots where a manuscript was illegible or damaged.


     This is the truth from the Lord God concerning thee, Martha Simmonds: thou & who follows thy spirit: you are out of the truth, out of the way, out of the power, out of the wisdom, & out of the life of God; for you are turned from the light of Christ Jesus within you & doth disobey it, & lends your ear to another, & follows a lying spirit of divination which is put into your mouth, which works in your imaginations, which rises in you above the seed of God, & the true power of God you have lost, which some of you tasted of, & a wrong power acts you, which the power of God judgeth under; and that which leads you & hath power over you in your present actings is not the spirit of God but the voice of the stranger, which you follow; and are become goats, <531> rough & hairy, & on the left hand you stand. Though some of you have prophesied in the name of Christ, yet now are you workers of iniquity, & are & must depart: the light of the world knows you not for his: you are broken off from the body & cast out of the vine till the judgments of God purified you, & with the light. And all the children of light are you your works & actings denied which are acted, & not in the Spirit of God, & you are turned from the life, into the power of death, which worketh in the mystery of iniquity & carries you as with a tempest, above the cross of Christ Jesus; & the man of sin exalts himself in the temple of God, shows himself as God, & is but the spiritual wickedness in high places, which down to hell must be thrown though he be exalted in you, as to the stars of heaven; & you being out of the life having lost the savor & sense of the power of God. You worship the image & sets up altars to another than the living God, who is light; & you in the feigned hypocrisy & worships the works of a man's hand & man & not the works of God, is shut up in the grave, & a thickness of earth & filth is above it, & it hardly feels us, or can own us; the stone is rolled upon it, & watched with the wicked; but it is ours forever, though oppressed with mire & clay, & for it's sake we have spared you & have borne with the wicked, for the sake of the righteous, & yet have not justified the wicked, & would have hidden your shame, & gathered you under protection; & stood in trial with you, but you would not. And though we bear with patience to receive the end of all things from the hand of God, which will be good to them that stand faithful to the end, who sees the hand of God bringing forth his glory thereon all those things: but you have no part in it, & you & all your works wrought out of the light is to be condemned, & you & them & those which leads you out of the power. In the power of God I judge, & yet loves & preserves the just, which you are turned from & became enemies to it; & so to who are in it. But over your deceit we trample, & atop of it we tread, & your best works is as dust under our feet, even till your work be finished, & the fullness of transgression be made up, that it may fall & be ground to powder by the stone which you now reject, which will fall upon your heads, who have changed your way & are unstable, & are become as the chaff which is driven with the wind. I speak to that in you all which never changeth but shall be an eternal witness for God, to condemn that which is the ground of the heathen's blasphemy, though the offense come by you, who are turned from the light into the blaspheming nature, & raiseth up your own in the world, which reigneth over the seed of God in you, being out of dominion of Christ Jesus and woe unto that which hath laid a stumbling block, & betrayed the life, & this is the testimony of the Lord unto you all, who are led with & follows the spirit which erreth from the light of Christ Jesus.

Edward Burrough



     Martha Simmonds, thou hast departed from the counsel of God, & in the evil imaginations of thy heart thou is run forth to utter words without knowledge (who saith) thou dost not trouble Israel: the righteous seed is burdened with thee, who hath in thy deceitful practice opened the mouth of the enemies of God to blaspheme his name, & through thy sorcery hath abused the simplicity, which to thy charge will be laid in the day when the Lord will be glorified, in his righteous judgment upon thee, which will come upon thee in an hour thou knows not, & dash thee to pieces like a potter's vessel, & in that day thou shalt know thou hast troubled the Israel of God, & he will recompense into thy bosom tribulation & anguish of heart, for what thou hast done: speedily return to the light of Christ, with it search thy heart, & thou wilt see a spirit of strife in thee, which leads thee in deceit; and if thou do not return to the counsel of God, to guide thee out of deceit, in obedience to the light, to walk humbly before him, the Lord God of heaven & earth will throw thee down, to the shame & confusion of thy face, then will thou, & all that depart from the truth, be reigned over with the Israel of God to thy torment, when Israel shall be in rest forever.




     ... We write by the last post: of those people passing out of the town, as it appeared they would have gone unknown, but did not; some friends followed, & the other in hasting lost one another; so they were parted in three, the two men was together & the other each alone; & the two men was found next day & went to an inn; & so yesterday J.N. went toward G.F. west, & Jo. Bo. [John Bolton] & Nic. Gan. [Nicholas Gannicliffe] with him; & Stranger said he would come for London. Han. [Hannah Stranger] came to us 5th day & had lost all the rest; & said she would go to G.; & she passed that way, but Martha we have not heard on since: a mighty thing was in it that they should be so parted—even by nothing, as to the outward; & they were disappointed, whatever they intended. We went with J.N. yesterday about 15 mile; he said little to us, but he did one while weep exceedingly, so we <533> returned, & they rode on. We were glad that he went.

     ... G. writ to J.N., & Tho. B. meeting him gave it to him; but G. writ nothing to us; he made not much of it, & bade that no Friends should be discouraged. He said the wrong thing in them was got above, & J.N. had lost his dominion, but there was something in it. This is the substance of what we can gather. ...

F. H.     J. A.

Bristol, 2nd of the 6th mo., 56


Dear Sister,

     In the life may thou know me first in & the love power of faithfulness do I dwell. And with that love I do thee salute & be thou faithful & look not out. I would with all care have this enclosed to be affirmed & diligence used to send to the friends therein mentioned, that it may be affirmed. My dear J.N. is as one that is not, but the Lord is faithful who changes not, & his Spirit is true, whose mercy faileth not. My dear love to thee and all faithful friends, as if named, but I am at present straitened. Farewell.

     Kendalshire, this 5th of the 6th [i.e., August], [16]56
          one that dearly loves thee

R[ichard] F[arnworth]


Bristol the 11th day of the 6th month, '56


     ... I am here at Bristol at present; T.R. and I passed from hence 10 days since towards G.F., and when we came to London we were informed by friends there that there was no passing that way, for there is watches all the country over that no Friends can pass to Launceston ** but are taken up & had to prison, and hearing that J.N. and Jo. Bolton & Nich. Gannicliffe were taken up & carried to prison, who passed from Taunton 2 days before to go towards G.F., so I saw freedom rather to return to Bristol. ... Thou hast heard the particulars concerning J.N. from E.B. or F.H., who can give a more particular account of it than I can, and that he is in prison at Exeter and fined as we hear by Judge Steele for not putting off the hat and the other two with him, there are 10 in all in prison there. J.N. & Jo. B. had liberty by General Desborough to pass to Launceston and were within 15 miles of Launceston, but were sent back to Exeter by the mayor of Okehampton. ...

Thy dear babe in my mother
of the everlasting family of God
Hen. Fell




     In the name of Jesus Christ, in which we are baptized, and being baptized, doth baptize into his name and death, and declare the kingdom of God which we are made partakers of through his name, which is above all, by which salvation is wrought and revealed and made manifest for the remission of sin, in which name who is one and hath led us out of the number into one do we thy dear brethren and fellow laborers in the Lord's work greet thee and all the households of faith, who have received the ingrafted word which is able to save the soul, by which all that keep it are preserved in the hour of temptation, and do witness victory over the dragon; and he comes to be chained by the word, the eternal decree, and shut into the pit of darkness and sealed. And truly we could rejoice as in regard of ourselves with a holy rejoicing in the Lord our righteousness and strength, who hath by his power and strength girded us & made us able to break a bow of steel, and to snap the spears of the uncircumcised asunder, and to triumph over the residue of the heathen, who will not that he should rule, whose scepter is righteousness forever, who hath stretched out his arm in power & comes up as from Edom with garments red and scatters the heathen as chaff before him & brings forth the captive out of captivity; and of his dominion there is no end, all glory unto him forever: but oh my dear this is a day of sore distress with us, as we have had since we went out of the Lord's camp, for hell hath opened her mouth, & the devil is in great rage, thinking to make void all our work in a day, & the sea rageth and the floods lift up their voices, and seems to overflood all at once, the Lord rebuke them, and we are free to acquaint thee of a little, and but a little we must write, that thou may feel our burden and bear with us in the day of trial. About a month ago or upwards Edw. Burrough and I went out of the city and had general meetings over divers counties, and I went about a week after, and went another way, through divers counties, and mighty & large was our work; and James Nayler was left in the city. We met at Bristol at the fair, and gallant service we had; some had thoughts to have been at Launceston at the Assizes; but soon after my departure two women of this city who were in the openings and prophecies run out into the imaginations and lying wonders, and James let them in and harkened unto them, and was quite overthrown, and lost all taste & savor, and was brought totally under the powers of deceit; and set these women upon the top of all, although they manifested both him and them; yet he went out of this city and left all under the power of darkness & the <535> enemies to rejoice, and so all our sore travails and labors like to be made void in a day; all was slighted and came running afoot to Bristol and did not own a Friend, but we know little of all this. There came a man with him full of deceit and the two women after through towns and great places preaching his resurrection, and they came to a meeting on the first day, where was five thousand people at the Fair time, and Friends from all counties in the nation almost was; I was speaking, and when I saw that man coming before him bareheaded and saw the other I was almost struck dead; and E.B. seeing stood up and spoke, and so we quieted the meeting gallantly, and went to him & bid him go along with us, but they held him, and he would not go, and many friends who knew him expected him to speak, but he was as a dead lion. At last the women came away, and he followed, and Friends got him into a Friend's house; but he would not speak a word to neither John Audland nor to Edw. Burrough, nor I nor none of the precious Friends of London; we stood lamenting over him and crying, but he resisted us, and the women cried like bears, when we desired to part them. And we left them, and shame covered all our faces, and stayed three or four days in the city; and we could not hinder Friends of Bristol, but they were going to see him; at last Friends wrote from London to E.B., and all was undone and like to be overthrown in both cities, and Edw. rode post to London, & I stayed with Jo. Audland to see what would be the end and lest all had been lost and destroyed in a day. J.A. & I appointed a meeting a mile out of the city to draw Friends from them, and so the most came, and when the women heard where we were, they got soon stole away and he with them out of the city, so we sent some Friends out early to seek him in the fields about 7 miles, and they found him, and the power of darkness being somewhat broken he was calm to them that found him, and asked for us and engaged to stay till the morrow at that town. So J.A. and I went with two more Friends, and then he spoke to us, and told us he had motion to Geo. Fox, so when we had got the thing down at Bristol and a general meeting or two, for a great buzz was among all Friends, but it will die; so I rode in haste to London where we have woeful work, where some are almost distracted, some careless, some questioning all, and the adversaries opposing at every meeting in such rage that it is much if our lives be preserved; and one of the women is come back & opposes; that know the Lord pray for us, for our distress is great, yet the heathen knows little of James, and since we have received by the post he with John Bolton and another friend of Bristol are all imprisoned at Exeter where there are 10 Friends in prison for passing and riding on the road, and they three are fined 20 marks apiece for not putting off their hats. At Launceston the Assizes is begun, and there is we hear 14 in prison: but of anything further we have <536> not heard; only we sent a post to G.F. All is full prisons in the west part and in every county: oh my dear all counties lies open to the destroyer, and hath none to order them: really I had rather have half of the nation to minister unto, than this city, and what Friends as are in that country who hast been thisaways, let them come speedily. Exhort all to keep low in the fear; when the sons of the morning fall, who will not fear? My dear, we have poured out our hearts unto thee, and made known our grief, that thou may partake with us of our burden: salute us to all that love the Lord. The power of our Lord Jesus preserve thee and us in his powerful life; pray for us; the heathen knows little of this. Let us hear from thee as soon as thou art free. We are thy brother, who are made a spectacle and are set for signs and wonders, as a butt to shoot at by the heathen.

F.H. E.B. London the 13th of 6 mo., 1656



     ... I heard there is little done at the city; friends are confined at Exeter. There are many, which they take up and prison, who were passing, that no Friend can travel unless some give a pass or fee. J.N. is in prison there; he is much as he was; that much I have in a letter from John Bolton, by which thou may more fully understand as followeth: "J.A., dear heart, I thought good to let thee know that J.N. is, so far as it appears to me, still much alike as to the frame of spirit as he was when we parted, & hath been in a fast this 10 or 11 days, only once he took a little wine, & for the most part he doth night & day take water in his mouth & put it out again after he have had it some space, but the life which I have once known to breathe forth I find not so free of the letter. He is very quiet & lies much." My dear heart, in the eternal unity do I rest with thee. Those bearing will give thee account of passages. So I rest with thee in the life of truth, which is precious, thy dear brother, J.A.

     The names of the prisoners at Exeter is as followeth: John Bolton, James Nayler, Nicholas Gannicliffe, Thomas Rawlinson (& 20 d. taken from him), Thomas Boylston, Henry Godman, John James, Robert Crab, Samuel Cater, Thomas Hawkings, John Browne in ***, Thomas Powell, William Bayly, Humphrey Smith, Priscilla Cotton, Katherine Martindale, Jane Bland, Ann Rawlinson, Mary Erbury, Dorcas Erbury, Elizabeth Rutland, Joan Ingram, & Katherine Thorne in bridewell, in all 23. ...

     Olveston, the 18th of 6th mo.



Dear precious sister,

     ... I was within two miles of Cornwall before I was taken, past every watch of Devonshire; and then a man came after me, & said he must stay me, so carried me to a constable, and so to a Justice (as they called him). They examined me, & I told them my occasion was to Launceston, with necessaries for friends, because I owned the name of a Quaker, & had no pass, he said he would send me to prison, where I now am; a priest made my mittimus, & they sent me back to the constable's house, where they kept me with a guard that night, & about the 11th hour of the night he asked me for my money. I told him if he took any from me he stole it; & he took 20s out of my pocket & said he would give it to the men for carrying me to prison. I could have come myself with 2d. ... James Nayler is here with me, standing in the will of God, waiting in his own way, for he is precious & dear with God, & is willing to bear reproach; he hath been in a fast; he ate no bread but one little bit, for a whole month, & there was about a fortnight when I came to him he took no manner of food, but some days a pint of white wine, & some days a gill mingled with water; but now he eats meat, for he & I are both at a diet, for he is not free to eat with Friends in prison; for I am dear & tender over him, & so I know art thou. Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits; & believe not every report, for God will be glorified in all his works. For James saw this thing long before it came, & thou knowest he wrote to thee of it, that there must be a suffering, but he knew not how; & when it came on him, he would have hid it, but it might not be, but he stands innocent of things that are spoken & done, & hath peace & comfort, & inward joy. He & I have had liberty 2 days to walk into a garden. ... There is a sort of high-flown spirits in prison with us, here is Mary Howgill, & Jane Bland, James Harrison's wife, divers other friends, 25 in all. We have a little room to meet together in every day, which the jailer hath 10s a week for. There is one bed of hay in it, & another of a Friend, & all the rest of Friends lies among thieves & murderers. But all are pretty well content. ... My diet is naught but bread & water, & hath not been since this day fortnight; I am almost satisfied in it, as any time when I was with thee. So fare thou well, my dear & precious sister .... Glory be to the Lord forever. Prisoner at the common jail of Devon at Exeter, 23rd of 6th month, 1656. Tho. Rawlinson.



Dear Sister:

     ... Let thy prayers be to thy heavenly Father for us that we may be kept pure in the power of the Lord to finish our testimony with faithfulness to him who hath called us into his work, for this late example may be a warning to all who are called into the work, to be diligent & watchful lest the enemy prevail, & in this thing we may clearly see that there is none stands so sure but there is need of a carefulness that they do not fall; for it hath saddened the hearts of many & truly the members have suffered exceedingly in these parts. I know thou art not ignorant of whom I speak, even he who dwelt in the wisdom of God, J.N. Dear sister, let thy prayers & the prayers of the churches be for him ...

Tho. Briggs, John Braithwaite, Wiltshire, 23rd of 6th month.


     Dear sister, in the dear unchangeable love of God I salute thee. After I came to London I instantly labored to find out the truth of the matter, before I could receive anything against Jam. Nayler, and I went to Martha Simmonds, which was the woman that F.H. mentioned in his letter. And I asked her of the ground of those things which had made the differences, she being the party which was as the cause, and she being constrained to tell me, having nothing in her mind against me as against others, she told me something plainly how he come under judgment: she being at one time in a meeting, she spoke and was judged by F.H. to speak in her will, and she being troubled in her mind went to James & told him that she was moved to speak and then was judged, and he also judged her. And told her that she sought to have the dominion & charged her to go home & follow her calling, & that with other things wrought in her mind. And the other woman, Hannah Stranger, she also went to James and said that he had judged the innocent, and not judged righteously, and something to that effect did she & Martha speak to him, which word he received to be the word of the Lord. And coming under the power of their words, judgment came upon him, and much trembling night and day, while he was in London, for some nights lying upon a table, and then they reigned & deceit got up especially in Martha to glory and boast over all. And now an exceeding filthy spirit is got up in her, more filthy that any that yet <539> departed out of the Truth, and with it labors to break and destroy the meetings if it was possible. When I spoke to her and told her how the deceit enters she could not bear it nor stand. And I see it was the will of the Lord that I should come hither so soon; upon the first day I was at the Bull & Mouth where the wicked oppressors were exceeding violent, as towards the pulling of me down sometimes, but was not permitted to do it. For dominion over them the Lord gave me before the end that they were silent. And in the afternoon I had a great meeting at Gnr Roberts, and all was quiet. And this day I was at a great meeting of Friends, and Martha Simmonds came thither; and when we had waited in silence a while, she stood up & spoke, judging all Friends that they were not come to the cross, nor that there was not one to take her part, and would have drawn them from the meetings to have waited with her, and have kept their own habitations, & then she fell on singing with an unclean spirit, and the substance of that which she said in her singing was, "innocency, innocency," many times over, for the space of an hour or more. But in the power of the Lord I was moved to speak soon after she begun. And with many tears was I in the eternal power made to reach the witness of God to bring that under the fear & dread of God which she would have raised into lightness. And she continued singing; but when the witness of God was raised, and many hearts was broken into tears with the eternal power, then the word of life in others rose against her, and when she saw the power of God arise against her and reign over her in those who were ready to be stumbled by her before, then she was tormented against me and tried on deep subtlety for a long time together, turning it into a song, and that we were all the beast, and I the head of the beast. But the day was a day to the Lord, that the life of God in many was raised from under a thick cloud which was come over, and it was a day of washing of the garments of many that was spotted and stained through offenses, but the Lord God is arising to his eternal glory, and is bringing his image in brightness from under the cloud, and chaining the dragon.

     The persecution is great in Cornwall; everyone that passeth that the watches meet with, if they say but that they own Friends, they are sent to prison. There are 26 in Exeter and in Essex they have given forth *** to take up all that passeth to meetings that are strangers, but upon their power the Lord God will trample, to bring forth his own seed. Now concerning J.N., whether thou hear my being for him or against him, let the peace of God preserve thy mind, for both ways may be too much let forth: but God will bring forth an effect of good by it to those that continue faithful to the end.

London 26th day of 6th mo.

Thy dear bro. in the pure
light and life of God      R.H.



Dear M.

     Having present opportunity and freedom, to write to thee in short, of our passage since we came from Holland, ...

     First, we arrived in Kent, and Wm. went to London, and I stayed some days in Kent amongst Friends, and then took journey towards George, in which journey we met Wm. Caton, who intends for Holland. The passage betwixt G.F. and Bristol was stopped, and Friends taken up and had to prison. Amongst which is Jam. Nayler & Thomas Rawlinson. It was so ordered by divine hand that we got up. Notwithstanding the watches, a pass was promised from the Mayor of Bristol; Friends are well at London and released from their outward bonds, only their fees excepted, but it's likely that must not stay them long. Thomas Rawlinson remember his love to thee from Exeter Jail who accompanies with James and lies with him amongst a little straw, and in the same place where pirates lies, but they are well. Thomas Rawlinson wrote a letter to thee, which took date about a week before the writing hereof as far as I remember; if thou write to him, he would desire thee to signify to him whether thou received it or not. James is pretty, and dear to the whole household of God forever, and the rotten rags and dust which he was covered with is near taken off, and his strength remains, but silent at the meeting amongst Friends; but some spirits who knows him not is exalted above him in their own imaginations, and he sees it, but silent under it; he spoke to me, I was much tendered and refreshed with him in the unspeakable dearness of love ...

Bristol, 2 day, [7th] Month

John Stubbs


     Friends, mind that which keepeth you all meek and low, to be guided with it. And all consider that which keepeth you in the way of peace, that none of you may be puddling in your own carnal wisdom, which is to be confounded, which is shut out of the kingdom of God. All wait to have dominion over that, that ye may know peace and unity, and the love of God that doth not change. And do not strive one with another, lest ye do hurt one another; for it is not the hasty Spirit that doth get the victory, but the Lamb, who must reign over the world, and was before it was. And the mind which is forward, judge; and dwell in the peaceable way, and that ye may be patterns in your <541> imprisonments to them which be out of the image of the son of God.

     To the prisoners in Exon; written while J.N. was there, with many more in prison.




     Thou must bear thy own burden, & thy company with thee while15 iniquity doth increase & by thee is not cried against. Thou hast satisfied the world, yea their desires [which] they labor16 for, & thou & thy disciples are with the whole world17 joined against truth, it is manifest through your wilfulness, & stubbornness, & this is the word of the Lord God to thee.

     Martha Simmonds, which is called your mother, she bid me bow down, & said I was lord, & king, & that my heart was rotten, & she said, she denied that which was head in me, & one of them said, she had stopped Francis Howgill's mouth, & silenced him, & turned my word into a lie, & into a temptation, & she came singing in my face, inventing words, & Hannah boasted, & said, if they was devils make them tremble, & she boasted what she would do, & cry against.

     Many did not expect that thou wouldst have been an encourager of such as do cry against the power & life of truth, but wouldst have been a nourisher of truth, & not have trained up a company against it.

     And what is that which doth fulfill the world's prophecy, & their desires? Therefore consider, & search thyself if this be innocency. The light of God in you all I own, but this I judge.

George Fox


     Dear sister, my dear love salutes thee & thy family & the rest of my brethren & sisters thereabouts: I passed from London to Bristol where I was the last first day but one: Friends all are pretty well there. From there I passed to Exeter and stayed there 2 nights. J.N. his condition is pretty low and tender, & dear & tender love from my soul flowed forth to him. After a little time his heart was opened towards me, & he let forth himself to me. But there came Martha Simmonds when I was there; & when at any time we were together she would have called him away, & he was too much subject to her. She remains in her filthiness still; she had then been at G.F. & begun to sing before him at Launceston, & he <542> judged her unclean spirit; but she exalted herself & judged him as she had judged me & worse; & said he might come down out of his wisdom & subtlety, & much of that nature, and did appear so impudent yet had not the wisdom of God prevented it would have set the rude multitude against them, but at last she was brought down to confess & to own her condemnation in words & from there she came to *** where I was, as I said before; but that which was for judgment was head in her, and when I passed from Exeter J.N. was loving *** towards me. I came to G.F. upon the 7th day at night & was with him upon the first day at widow Hamley's, 26 miles from Launceston, & so he passed to a meeting one way & I another in Cornwall, & upon the fifth day it is like we shall meet again at a general meeting & from there pass towards Exeter. Here are a people which have been very wise arising here into the love of the truth.

Thy dear brother, R. Hubberthorne, Cornwall, 16th day 7th month


Ah James,

     I forbore judging thee openly till I came to Exeter, though your actions were judged, and when I came thither I sent for thee, and thou wouldst not come to me though thou hadst not been with me outwardly since I left thee at London, whereby prejudice & jealousy might have been stopped in thee, but thou appeared before me before I saw thy face, as a man come out of a clay pit, whose garments were dirty, and thou being stubborn would not own me when I was moved to pray, but stood in the high nature rebellious, and I saw thee at Exeter, a cloud of darkness would arise up against me, which was entered into thee, & wickedness as I told thee was growing into a mountain which would have betrayed the Lamb, the Just. And thou the same thyself after would have done in the streets, though since thou saw something of it. And now James the darkness is entered into thy disciples' vessels, out of thee, & is poured abroad; and is driven home again by the life & power of truth. And as Martha cried against the truth, and Hannah, so now do thy disciples, and such as have had relation to the Ranters which are gotten up & comes & cries against the truth with impudence & boldness, & such be you and they have caused the truth, the right way, to be evil spoken of. But James, the power of the Lord God of light & life & of truth is owned; though thou & all the world deny it. Come to that of God in thee which lets thee see the Lord, & lets you see your conditions, & forgive you; for every one of you must feel a reward according to your works; and thou when first thou wast tried at Exeter, thou wast out of the power <543> of God, for thy sacrifice is not accepted; now it is manifest, them that be of thy flock, begotten disciples which are turned from the power, that which formerly they were in (& owned) Cain-like are turned against the Just, & betraying it to the world, & making tumults, & stirring up tumultuous people & mockers & scoffers to sport themselves against the truth, so they have joined themselves with the Edomites & called thee Lord. Therefore, O James, be awakened & consider aright & shake off & come from under the cloud of earth & darkness; hadst thou been obedient to the voice of the Son of God, the Lamb of God, innocency should have cleared thee; the power of darkness should not have touched thee; but James, thou & thy disciples being out of the power, the power is over you & all your poison & railing speeches doth not touch me, though they come & rail against the truth, as the world doth, it doth not touch the truth. And such as had been lost, & had liberty formerly, who were come under the judgment of the truth, now are come to liberty. And thou art a tree to shelter them. Never talk of the Lamb of God, the Son of God, while you are persecuting him & betraying him, and delivering him to the world, through a false Christ; you that have been the comers & goers, to the Son of God, he is in the desert, so be all you that are against the power of truth, and are hardened, which it once convinced; you hate the power of truth, deny you do the power of truth, judge, for James thou separates thyself from friends and draw a company after thee, & separated from the power of the Lord God, yet truth followed thee & bowed down to thee, under thee, to recover thee. And you kick against it. And so all them that depart from friends to thee comes who would gather a party make a party, in the self-separation crying against the truth, which formerly they were convinced by; with it, you are judged & condemned which truth shall answer that of God in every one of you, though you may run and compass awhile & boast of joy & peace, up in the air, from the truth; but truth hath comprehended them & thee. This is the word of the Lord God to thee & the rest of thy disciples; and come down to the witness of God in you. This is the very word of the Lord God to you: Christ takes upon him the seed and it is marred.

     From him who is of the world, George Fox

All friends whom this comes to, dwell in the light of life & power, which comprehends darkness.


     Dear sister, with whom my dear love & fellowship remains in the eternal Spirit & with the rest of the faithful, in my last letter I gave thee <544> a short testimony of my passing to G.F. & being with him: he passed out of Cornwall upon the 20th day of 7th month & came to Exeter, and was there upon the 21st day, being the first day of the week. Upon the 7th day in the evening he was with J.N.; he had a meeting in the prison upon the first day, & in the meeting in tenderness was made to judge that which was out of the way and spoke to J.N. in particular, which J.N. could not well bear but did not oppose it openly, and there beinga man of London with J.N. (he that acted those things with J.N. in London & in his passage to Bristol), he drew Ja. out of the meeting with some few of them separating themselves from Friends. Upon the 2nd day in the morning Ja: came to G: to the inn, and he was tender and broken and dear love went out from G. to him & in tenderness he spoke to him, commending his former faithfulness, from which words Ja. takes occasion to justify himself in his present condition. After James was passed from G. to prison again I passed up into the prison to Ja., and in dear love & tenderness being with him a certain time, something lay on me to have spoke to him privily from those filthy spirits that was about him, and so I asked him if he was free to pass out from them; but he would not, but said I might speak it there amongst them what I had to speak. & one of the women in her filthiness spoke unto me saying I had followed Christ for loves & now when he was upon the cross I spised him—with more of the like, so after a little time I was constrained by the Spirit to speak unto them, to let them see what they sow unto & what fruits they brought forth, & how in their deepest the tendered humility an envy which spring up against all Friends that were in the truth and power of God, and that we were not to look for any other fruit nor other power than that which we had received a measure of, but to increase in that which we had received; & at that present time Geo. came into the prison. And after I had spoke when we were sitting silent, & he called of Jam. three or four times, but he would not speak to him, then he turned away and went out. Geo. spoke to me that if I was free to stay longer with them I might, & that he would come again, & I stayed longer; & after a while I was moved to speak in tenderness to Ja. that he might see whom he now was subject unto and whom he rejected, and whether he did not know that those whom he now rejected and would not be subject unto nor answer, as Geo. F., had not as much of God in them to be obeyed as those whom he was subject unto, which if they bid him come or go either up or down he was subject. And after I had spoke as I was moved with love to him, Geo. came again and spoke some words to them all, & we passed out of the prison to the inn. And a little after Ja. came to the inn; and he was broken and tender and wept, and said to Geo. that there was that which could never be separated from him; and much love and tenderness was from Geo. to him. And he offered to give Geo. an <545> apple, but he would not receive it. And so with some love & tender affections he parted from us at that time.

     Upon the same day we went into the castle yard to where James was; & there Geo. had much communication with him of things, but Ja. stood to justify himself in things which was reproved with the light, but there did little at that time break out against others.

     Upon the 3rd day in the morning Geo. sent for James to come to him, he having something to speak privily to him which he would not have spoken in public; but he would not come, so a little after we went to the prison; but he was passed out towards the castle yard, and so was at the castle gate; & Geo. went up to him, & we stayed in the street that they might be private. Geo. asked him why he would not come when he sent & asked him if he would now go thither, then he said that he had told the jailer that he would go to the castle & had not told him of going to the inn. Then Geo. asked him if he would then go with him to tell the jailer that he would go to the inn, but he would not. So then Geo. spoke much to him in the street privately, but in the end something got up in him against Geo., & when Geo. was turning away from him he openly uttered forth these words: "Take heed of lying and false accusing." And several in the street heard, both prisoners and others. But Geo. passed away & would not reply openly.

     Then after we were passed away Geo. sent me to him again, & Edw. Pyott went with me to ask him wherein he could charge him with lying or false accusing, & I went to him and asked him: what was that lying and false accusing which he so publicly charged against Geo. in the street? He said that he did not charge him with lying nor false accusing. Then I told him that he spoke to none else but him in particular; then he said that Geo. knew what he meant, and that it was lies that he had received from in others, and so judged by them, and then said that he did but question those things. Then I said, "Ja., thou knowest that he hath questioned things from the reports but not judged things by the reports." Then I asking him why he could not come to Geo. when he sent to him in love, he answered, when he sent to me there was a love in me that would have carried me through fire and water to him, but yet I must not go, for I saw that if I went that was up in him that there would have been nothing but strife and contention, and therefore I saw it better to fly from it. Then I said unto him, that which was contrary to the love that would have carried thee to him through fire and water and did cause thee to fly was enmity, and if it was better to fly, then it had been better to have fled than to have published it in the street. Then he said, what should he answer us anything for when I sought to catch him in my wisdom & subtlety. Yet he confessed that it had been better for him not to have *** it. What things I spoke unto him the Spirit of God witnessed with me that <546> it was in innocency, peace, tenderness, & in the power of the love conferring advantages but seeking none against him. Afterwards Geo. & I passed to him again into the prison, where he & some others with him was sitting in a place where he lies which is lower than the rest of the chamber, & Geo. spoke much to him & told him how he had sought to cover all things & in the wisdom of God from the world, & now he to tell him in the street openly of lying & false accusing, wisdom would not have done so, though saith Geo such things hath always been spoken against me; & much more he spoke; & Ja. wept and professed a great love and again offered Geo. an apple & said, "If I have found favor in thy sight receive it." But he denied and said, "If thou can say thou art moved of the Lord to give me it." Ja. said, "Would thou have me to lie?" Then Ja. having Geo. by the hand, he asked him if he might kiss him. Geo. standing above the low place would have drawn Ja. out to him, but he would not come out; but Geo. standing still could not bow down to him at his asking of him in that thing which if he had come out he could have suffered him to have done it. Then Geo. gave him his hand to kiss, but he would not; and then George said unto him, "It is my foot." So with some few more words we passed away, and Geo. passed up again to him before we went out of the town, & that night we came from Exeter 10 miles & had a meeting, & so passed through Somersetshire and had every day a meeting, till we came to Bristol. And Geo. was at Bristol upon the last first day, being the 28th day of 7th month, & I was 16 miles from Bristol, & had a great meeting & upon the 2nd day I came to him to Bristol, & upon the 3rd day there was a general meeting at Bristol. Upon the 4th day I was at a general meeting in Somersetshire & came to go at night. Upon the 5th day I was at a general meeting in Wiltshire & came again that night to Geo. at Bristol, & in the evening there was a meeting in Bristol; and the 6th day we both stayed in Bristol, and there was a great meeting of friends. The 7th day, if the Lord will, Geo. passeth to Justice Stokes to be there upon the first day, & I pass with him for anything I know as yet, and the next first day after Geo. is to have a general meeting at Reading & then pass to London, & I know nothing to the contrary but that I may be pass to London the beginning of the next week; so if thou write to me thou may write to London.

     This above mentioned concerning Ja. I thought good to mention unto thee, that thereby thou may better understand his condition and the note which Geo. wrote unto him as for these things, thou may keep them se***, only thou may let Robt. Widder see it: there is another note which Geo: wrote unto J.N. which I have not time now to copy out.

     Thy dear bro.,

R. Hubberthorne

     Bristol, the 4th day, 8th month



     James, thou hadst judged & written thy secret & false letters against him thou shouldst not; thou shouldst not deal so presumptuously against the innocent, & then after thou wouldst have kissed him when thou hadst done this. A innocency & justice is delivered from that & you all and truth, innocency & justice is set atop of you all, and this thou must read & own.

     And, James, it will be harder for thee to get down thy rude company than it was for thee to set them up (if ever thou come to know and own Christ), whose impudence doth sport and blaspheme the truth.

     Martha Simmonds & Stranger & his wife is denied for their lies & slanders & so judged out with the truth.



Swarthmoor, 15th of the 8th month

Dear Brother,

     I have received thy letter, and it was gladness to me when I received it, and I could receive and bear what thou had written in it if thou had kept in subjection, love and unity as thou did express in thy letter. But since, I have heard that thou would not be subject to him to whom all nations shall bow; it hath grieved my spirit. Thou hath confessed him to be thy father and thy life bound up in him, and when he sent for thee and thou would not come to him, where was thy life then; was thou not then banished from the father's house, as thou knows thou hath writ to me? And that which showed thee this which was to come I own, but that which banished thee I must deny. And when he bended his knees to the most high God for the seed's sake, and thou would not bend nor bow nor join with him, how wilt thou answer this to Him who hath given him a name, better than every name, to which every knee must bow? This is contrary to what thou wrote to me, where thou saith George is burying thy name that he may raise his own; but it was thy name that stood against him then. And thou writ to me the truth should never suffer by thee; for where the seed suffers the truth suffers; doth not the Seed and all the body suffer by that spirit <548> that holds not the head but rebels against him? Oh consider what thou art doing. I am sure the Lamb in his suffering is in subjection, not resisting nor exalting; but in the time of his suffering he is servant to all the seed. And if thou stood in the suffering for the seed, thou had not resisted him who is the promise of the Father to the seed, who hath said, "Blessed are ye that are not offended in me." Oh, dear heart, mind while it is called today what thou art doing, lest thou walk naked and be a stumbling-block to the simple; and be tender of the truth which thou hath served before and suffered for, which draws thine ear from unclean spirits, which is like frogs which cometh out of the mouth of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. These was seen when the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates: read and understand, and return to thy first husband. My dear brother, I can bear all that hath been past, if thou will be subject to the will of the Father; and he who doth the will hath learned obedience and is subject; and I could lie down at thy feet that thou might trample upon me, for thy good; and so I know would he whom thou hath resisted, though to the spirit that rebels it cannot be, for that is not one with the Father. So in dearness and tenderness have I written to thee, my Father shall bear me witness; and I warn thee from the Lord God that thou beware of siding with unclean spirits, lest thou be cut off forever. Let me hear from thee shortly as thou can after the receipt of this.

     Thy dear sister in the eternal love, M.F.

     I wrote to thee after I had received thy letter which may be may come to thee after this, but then I did not know of this.

     My husband took some letters from the foot post which was to me which mentioned the difference between G. and thee, and he read them.


     ... Dear heart, we met with G.F. at Jo. Crook's; I acquainted him how all things was in the north. It's like he will be at London again before we get to ship; it's like there is an evil thing begot amongst Friends in that city the same as was amongst the church at Corinth, divisions & strife & contention, one saying I am of James, another saying I am of Francis & Edward, & so it's like that truth will suffer by them....

          Thy brother in his measure,

Rich. Roper

from Woburn in Bedfordshire this
20th of the 8th month




     ... There is orders for all or most of the prisoners to be freed by O.P. and the council & the fines taken off; at Exon all are freed but one, whom I believe will not stay long in. I received a letter yesternight from thence, and J.N. and the rest are at liberty, and all passed away, but he and 5 or 6 who are working and plotting all mischief they can. M. Simmonds & her husband is gone to him, with another man & his wife, one Stranger; they went from house to house to draw disciples after them & to go with them, but they got none,25 and so they went with the order to *** on and so in the way they met with G.F. and judged him & said his heart was *** and said he should lose his sons, & boasted what J.N. would do; truly my dear J.N. is bad, and he hath written private letters to some in the city who were in deceit, & told them, G.F. tempted him but he had withstood him, and resisted him, and there is such filthy things acted in there in such havoc & spoil & such madness among them, as I cannot write; but there is about 10 of them in all with him, & they call him "I am," and the "Lamb," and they are bringing him to this city; they have made truth stink in those parts, and truly my dear G.F. bore it so long, and stood so of us, that it's become a mountain, and he sees he suffered it too long now; I saw thy letter which James sent thee; & I saw it full of cunning subtlety, and repented I had sent it thee; but standing to thy own, nothing without can hurt; G.F. intends to come into the city this week before J.N. and they come; all is in pretty order now, and they will miss of their expectation; God hath showed the mystery of deceit and made it manifest and will consume it; yea, they shall melt away that hate the Lord; so do not write to J.N. till thou hear further, lest his deceit grow stronger. ...

London 21st of 8th month

F. H.


M.F., Dear sister,

     In the eternal truth into which we are baptized according to our measures do I salute thee, and the children with thee, who are begotten <550> by the immortal seed, heirs of the inheritance which is incorruptible & that fadeth not through the riches of his grace, who is God over all, blessed forever, who hath visited us with the dayspring from on high, & accepted us in the Beloved, and keepeth us in this great hour of temptation and the powers of darkness, which is come upon these parts. For thou mayest understand, that on the 6th day of the last week, between the 2d & 3d hour in the afternoon, J.N. & his company (being released at Exeter) came into this town with full purpose & resolution to set up their image, & to break the truth in pieces, and to bruise and tread down & beguile & devour the tender plants of the Lord in this his vineyard, as before was given forth, with which being overfilled & made drunk with the indignation of the Lord, they brought in J.N. on horseback, who rode with his hands before him. One rein of his bridle Martha Simmonds led, & Hannah Stranger the other, & some went on his sides, & Hannah's husband went bare before him, and Dorcas Erbury with a man of the Isle of Ely rode after, & thus they led him, & thus he rode through the town, the women singing as they went, "holy, holy, holy, hosannah," & so passed to the White Hart, a bad inn, where they lay when they brought him first to Bristol on the fifth month; multitudes following them (for the whole town was around) through the streets thither, & into their chamber, though it had rained very hard, before whom the women put off some of their upper-garments to dry them at the fire.

     This noise soon brought the magistrates together, who sent for them all, and J.N.'s pockets they searched, & found about him *** letters of those women to him, wherein they call him Jesus (& that his name was no longer James), the only begotten Son of God, the king of Israel, the Prince of Peace, with suchlike, by which the mystery of iniquity which worked was brought forth, which we sought formerly to have covered, & judged down, but now was brought forth before the sun, & which the world desired, & the enemy sought after, come to pass. And with these were other letters taken, discerning & judging that spirit that was head in them, & seeking to recover him. One that G.F., which was written with my hand, and sent to him from Reading when we were together about the 12th instant (a copy of which I have enclosed thee) & two of thine & one of Eliz. Smyth's, which exceedingly served the truth as it was ordered by the wisdom of God, seeing this thing must come forth, to the saving of it & us all before the world clear & innocent of their defilements.

     The women (as I hear) owned their papers, & sang before them as before, & M. lightly took him by the hand & said "Hosanna"; & to prison they sent them all, notwithstanding their pass from O.P., viz. J.N., M. & her husband, H. & her husband; the Isle of Ely man, & Dorc. Erb.

<551>     Whilst they were before the magistrates our meeting was; whither to its like they had come with the town after them, had not the magistrates put them up; but with us in silence was the presence of the Lord very great, & the Lord went forth with his power to preserve all his lambs & babes in one, & to break the powers of darkness, & to chain them down, so that Friends are all kept & preserved; none are hurt, none go to visit them (as I can hear of), & whatever is of God is raised & stirred up against this work of darkness; for that those who had a secret love to truth & yet never appeared were manifest, & that of God in the whole town witnessed to us & our innocency, even in our enemies, & begat in them a good savor, & much moderation, & a secret joy (even in some persecutors our own it was which was it) that we were clear; & whereas the highest rage might have been expected, the mighty power of the Lord chained down all, & doth chain down all, & the priests are cut short of their hopes of striking the truth as one with these; & in much wisdom & honor stands the truth over all: the right raised, the wrong chained down. So that, as the wisdom of the Lord hath ordered it, seeing this was to come forth, it is best that at first it should come out here, & in such a manner, before it had either scattered here, or defiled other parts. For now it is manifest, & a testimony from the living presence of the Lord is gone & given against it in the hearts of all, & the letters of Friends saves the truth, & this work of darkness is cut off & confounded, & all Friends in all parts preserved, whose simplicity is not now beguiled, but witnesseth against those works of darkness. This is the Lord's doing, & it is marvellous in our eyes. Eternal living praises be unto him out of whose mouth proceeds the sword with two edges with which *** against his enemies and cuts short the expectation of the *** the destruction of Jerusalem. ***

     The next day J.N. was sent for before the magistrates, some of the priests being present, & G.F.'s letter was read to him sentence by sentence, & asked he was whether he would own it; some of which he did, & some he said was a lie, as that passage where it is said this is the word of the Lord God to thee, & Martha Simmonds who is called your mother, so he denied his mother; but as to their other questions, they obtained nothing of advantage from him; for he was subtle, few in words, & low; of whose examination & of the papers I have endeavored to get copies that so might have the certainty, which if I can procure, it's like I may send copies to thee, & of this thing as it proceeds. But to J.A. I have wrote more particularly, who it's like may inform thee. And I see little against them they will make in the issues as to their lives, which the priests breathe after.

     This day M. was examined alone, & I hear how she rambled into declaring how she spake first to J. & compassed him, how he was at <552> Bristol before, with suchlike, which cleared the innocent the more who before this day saw & testified against this spirit, & G.F.'s letter was read to her; she was very confident & boasted what her work should come, & threshed Farmer the priest exceedingly. But of these things I can little enlarge, Friends staying whilst this is wrote; & I am not so certain of particulars. The magistrates told James of our denying him, & so read your letters & examined him upon them, & took notice that we judged him & were not one with him. So hath the Lord wrought all things in the behalf of his truth, which stirs everywhere, & makes our meetings precious, who in this sharp exercise are put to it (though young & tender) to thresh the power of darkness; the Lord hath ordered it so to be by his ***. Pray for us that we may be kept steadfast & unmovable to the praise of his grace, that his name may be by us honored, who is the king immortal, God only wise, blessed forever.

     Dearly beloved in the Lord, I had thy letter & was refreshed in spirit. I received thine by J. Wilkinson to J.N., & because these things were so I opened it & saw it convenient not to deliver it lest it should be taken, & then thou know what not that might prove, & private I keep it, but to thee do give this notice.

     As to the moneys sent, there is a note enclosed. My dear love is to M.F. & thy other children, & to all Friends, & to thy husband. My wife dearly salutes you all. In my measure of the living ***

Bristol, 27th 8th month, 1656

I am thy Brother,
G. B.

The enclosed is given forth by G.F. for all the magistrates in these nations, a great part of which is laid on me, & as thou art free thou mayest take care that copies thereof be taken, & sent to the magistrates in Westmorland, Cumberland, Bishoprick, Northumberland, & Scotland. G.F. would have the English every one to have one if it ***


     Dear sister, my dear love salutes thee & the rest of thy family, and all the faithful thereabouts; since I wrote unto thee I have been in the east counties, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, where the service of the Lord is great, and the laborers are but few. And as the trial is great so is the reward, which is his power and presence to accompany his work. And at present I am come up again to London, but it is like I shall not stay here in the city, but pass into the west to Bristol and southwards <553> if the Lord will. J.N. is here at London, and hath been a certain time. He and the women are kept as prisoners at an inn and have been twice called before a Committee of Parliament men and examined, wherefore he would own that Jam. Nayler was Christ, but he kept them out of all accusations against him saying he denieth Ja. Nayler to be Christ, but Christ was in him. And there hath several times of the Parliament men come to the place where they are kept prisoners, questioning him about such things as was others by him, & the women in their witnessing of him to be God, but he sometimes put them off without giving them a full answer and left them unsatisfied. Upon the 6th day that I was with James. The women are exceeding filthy in acting in imitations and singing. And that power of darkness in them *** him as I wrote to thee at the first that it was come over him, many people come daily to them, both of the world and also such as are convinced. And wonders at the imitation which is acted among them as often they will kneel before him, and James speaks pretty much to Friends as in justifying all their actings to be in innocency. And sometime he will say whatsoever become of me keep you to the measure of God. And then he will say that if any find drawings of the Lord to own that distressed condition in which they are, they may. I was moved to speak something to him when I was with him, and to speak to his words that he being in a condition that he know not what should become of him, that condition was not fit to exhort others into. And to lay upon the imitation of the women how everyone made a voice and a howling, which the **** measure of God in any that was there might discern, but he was not willing to hear me *** the truth of anything to the people, but said I might have left it to them to have discourse without speaking of it. Then I told him I might speak the truth and leave it to them to discern, nevertheless then he said that words did make the thing obvious; then I asked him if words of truth did make the truth obvious. With several other things whereby my heart was made to pity his condition, but all the counsel of the brethren to him is contemned in the present state in which he is, though bowels of tenderness have been reached to him. And some that are unstable think that there is a great power among them, but though as a cloud it darken some at the present (being risen out of the earth), at the end of the days of the imitation it will fall to the earth again. And the sun will shine over it. And the children will receive power of the son to reign over all deceit. This I have writ to let thee understand something of his condition as it is. But many have now warned to keep to their own measure & so are safe.

Lond. 25th of 9th mo

thy dear bro.,  R.H.



The 9th month 18th day, Westminster, 1656

     Since my last James Nayler & those that were imprisoned with him at Bristol are brought up to this place. And on the 7th day last they were examined before a Committee of Parliament, part of the Parliament, and many other persons being present; James answered all the accusations with so much wisdom & meekness, & clearness to the understanding of all indifferent persons, that the whole assembly except some violent men of the committee was strangely astonished & satisfied with his answer; he was accused for being called Christ the Son of God, him in whom the hope of Israel stands, the Lamb of God and the like. And that he took worship to his person and that some kneeled down to him & the like. He testified of himself that he is the son of God, that the hope of Israel stands in Christ Jesus, and a measure of him is revealed in him; that he is a lamb of God and hath many brethren; and for any worship or honor he denies that any was due to James Nayler. But if any were moved to give such things to the appearance of God in him; as to a sign of Christ's second coming and being revealed in his saints (the great mystery that hath been hid from ages), he did not judge them for it. The outward things run into by them are denied by Friends, but tenderness uses. Amongst all that there may be as were made by it; great is the wisdom of the Lord, who can turn all things to his own praise. My dear love to you and all Friends. So I bid you farewell, your dear Friends in the truth,

Anthony Pearson


My dear Friends,

     We have now seen something of that brought forth which lay in the hearts of divers fruits of a bloody spirit carried on in a blind zeal for God. Within two days you departed from hence, the major part of the Parliament agreed upon a censure against James Nayler: which was to stand two hours in the pillory in Westminster, & thence to be whipped at a cart's tail to the Old Exchange, London; then another day to stand on the pillory in the Old Exchange, and there also to be bored through the tongue with a hot iron, and marked in the forehead with the letter "B" for a blasphemer; then to be carried to Bristol, and there to be set on the pillory, and then whipped again through Bristol; and then from <555> there to be returned to Bridewell in London, and there to be kept prisoner during the pleasure of the Parliament; and not to have ink, pen or paper allowed him, but to be kept to hard labor; this was their mercy instead of taking away his life, whether such mercy be not cruelty let all men judge that have reason: the next day being Wednesday (as it is called) he was sent for to the house to receive this sentence, which he received with much meekness and quietness, only desiring the Lord to fit his body to endure it, and not to lay it to their charge, or words to that purpose.

     On Thursday he went through the first part of this sentence (viz.): he was set on the pillory before Westminster Hall-Doors a pretty way in the palace yard with his face towards the Hall that one might see him stand a great way into the Hall & with a paper pinned upon his hat on his head with this inscription: "For Horrid Blasphemy, and being a Grand Imposter, and Great Seducer of the people." There he stood from half an hour after ten till it was past one; they would be sure to make the two hours long enough, though it was an extraordinary cold day. When he was taken down thence he was bound to a cart tail, and being naked to the waist, only a white cap on his head, he was whipped with a whip of seven cords as I heard full of knots from the palace yard to the exchange in London. I did not hear that he spoke a word, but only before his whipping began, he desired the Lord to make him to go through it, he was led as a lamb to the slaughter & as a sheep before the shearers, which openeth not his mouth; there being made like his Master. From the Exchange he was had to Newgate, there to be kept till Saturday, and then to go on with the rest of his punishment: but such effect the first days' sufferings had upon the hearts of many, that were even pierced through therewith, and some who were strangers, who walked not with him, were stirred up to petition the Parliament to respite the rest of his sufferings for a week, which was granted. And so he hath gone through no more, as yet; what may be done in that time we know not. Besides his whipping, the bailiffs that rid as the cart went on along were very cruel; some of them trod many times on his feet with their horses, and crushed him against the cart. Thus his sorrows was increased, yet opened he not his mouth, nor doth a harsh word come out of his mouth, against them that hath thus used him, but prays for them, sometimes with tears: this seed will have a plentiful harvest. For many hearts are hereby drawn forth in love towards him, and he is full of love & tenderness & humility, & is cheerful. I shall enlarge no further, but with my love to you all, & Friends with you, I rest your Friend and Brother




My Dear Friends,

     I gave thee an account the last week of so much as James Nayler passed through; they have now gone on to inflict more according to the sentence that was passed upon him. For on the last seventh day being the third day of the eleventh month they set him upon the pillory beside the Old Exchange in London, where he stood from twelve of the clock till two, and then was he taken out, and fastened with his back to the pillory, and had his tongue bored through with an iron, some say it was great, near the bigness of a tobacco pipe, and it was thrust a great way through; when they had done that he was burned in the forehead with the letter "B": that I myself did see to smoke standing over against him on the other side of the street. He did not move nor shrink all the while they did these things to him. Robert Rich was much upon the scaffold by him, & kissed his forehead where it was burnt; his tongue was so ill burnt that I do not perceive that he speaks, yet since it was done their cruelty is very great against him, and I do not perceive as yet that there will be any remitting the rest of his censure which is yet behind, but he must go through it; they are a bundle of the most extreme cruelties that hath been heard, and all heaped upon one man. O the cruel bloody spirit of Hagar & her children which it is to be cast out, & is not found in the New Covenant, nor shall enter into the New Jerusalem. I hear that James did express in writing that he know nothing but peace, but as to his outward man, that is apparent to all to be tortured by them sufficiently. Two days before James his last suffering there came four or five priests to him to the prison; Nye was one of them; and they suffered none to be in the room with them, not any one person while they asked James questions; therefore he refused to answer except what was said might be writ, & he might have a copy, which being granted, he answered them; but when they had done he desired to have what they had writ. And when he had showed them how they had wronged him, in leaving out something he said, and putting in something he said not, they in anger burnt it, without giving a copy, & so might report to the House what they pleased; it was just as Demetrius & four more silversmiths should have been sent to examine Paul, none present, & they to report his case to his judges. O unreasonable generation of earthly men, how unfaithful are they, how can a man trust them? surely they are making way for their discovery to all men. Their downfall hastens, for they lie at the bottom of all this cruelty that's acted. No more but my love to Friends.


Editor's Notes

1. Martha Simmonds, "A lamentation for the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (London 1655); "When the Lord Jesus came to the city" (1655).

2. Markey Mss. 120-121, transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith. If William Bittle is right in dating it to "late May or early June" of 1656 (James Nayler: The Quaker Indicted by Parliament [Richmond: Friends United Press, 1986], pp. 84-85), either it or the letter by Dewsbury which follows may be the earliest written record of the Simmonds controversy.

3. Markey Mss 123. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith. As with Burrough's fierce letter to the Simmonds group, we have no definite date for this missive.

4. ARB Mss 114. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith. Excerpted. Also in Journal of the Friends Historical Society, 48 (1956), pp. 90-91. This and subsequent letters deal with various Friends' comings and goings from a large meeting held at Bristol at the time of the St. James Fair, Nayler's subsequent attempt to visit Fox at Launceston prison, his arrest and confinement at Exeter.

5. Sw.Mss. 3.56. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning.

6. Sw.Mss. 1.81. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning. Excerpted.

7. Caton MS III:132-36. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

8. Sw.Mss. 1.12. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning. Excerpted.

9. Sw.Mss. 3.12. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning. Excerpted.

10. Sw.Mss. 3.86. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning. Excerpted.

11. Caton Mss. 3:364-8. Transcr. by Diana Morrison-Smith. Along with Simmonds' own testimony recorded by Farmer (pp. 564-65 below), this is our only contemporary record regarding how Simmonds and Nayler came to be associated.

12. Sw.Mss. 4.27. Transcribed by Licia & Larry Kuenning. Excerpted.

13. Epistle 110 in A Collection of Many Select and Christian Epistles ... by ... George Fox (London: T. Sowle, 1698), p. 88.

14. Box C/1/1-2, transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith; also Sw. Mss. 3.193, transcribed by Licia Kuenning. The latter seems to be a slightly edited version of the former, so the former is followed as probably original.

15. Sw.Mss. 3:193 alters "while" to "whose."

16. Sw.Mss. 3:193 alters "labor" to "looked."

17. Sw.Mss. 3:193 changes "with the whole world" to "& the world is."

18. Sw.Mss. 3.153. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

19. Portfolio 24, No. 36. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

20. Gibson Mss. 5.93. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

21. Sw.Mss. 3.195. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

22. Spence Mss. 3:38, as transcribed in Braithwaite, Beginnings of Quakerism (Cambridge University Press, 1955) pp. 249-50; and Isabel Ross, Margaret Fell, Mother of Quakerism (York: Sessions, 1984) pp. 396-398. Nayler never received this letter, sent via a Friend who passed it on to George Bishop. Bishop apparently returned it to Fell undelivered (see p. 552 below).

23. Sw.Mss. 3.131. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning. Excerpted.

24. Etting Mss 30, as transcribed in Henry J. Cadbury, ed., Swarthmore Documents in America.

25. Cadbury states in a footnote here, "From here to the end the writing runs at right angles on a second page, and has been lightly crossed through, as if to indicate that it was to be omitted in copying."

26. Sw.Mss. 1.188. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning, with help from the transcript printed in Hugh Barbour & Arthur O. Roberts, Early Quaker Writings: 1650-1700 (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 1973), pp. 481-485.

27. Caton Mss. 369-371. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

28. Box C1/1/1-2. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

29. Box C1/1/1-2. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.

30. Box C1/1/1-2. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.