George Fox, Journal (while in the middle colonies, 1672).


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George Fox was the English founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). He made a trip to the American colonies in 1672, and the following entry from his journal describes his travels through the middle colonies.]

 

... The 17th of 6th month [August] we had a very large meeting at Flushing with many hundreds of the people of the world, some came about thirty miles. And a justice of the peace was there and his family, and many considerable persons were there. A glorious and heavenly meeting it was, praised be the Lord God, and the people much satisfied. . . .

And when the wind served we came to the sloop, and many Friends came with us, where we took water for the new country, Jersey, down the great bay twenty-one miles and we were much toiled to get in our horses; and the 27th day of the 6th month, we landed in the morning by break of the day, in the new country at Middletown Harbour. As we passed down the bay we passed by Coney Island, and by Naton Island, and by Staten Island, and we came to Richard Hartshorne's. And on the 28th day we passed about thirty miles in the new country through the woods, very bad bogs, one worse than all, where we and our horses were fain to slither down a steep place, and then let them lie and pant, and breathe themselves, and they call this place Purgatory. And so we came to Shrewsbury in East Jersey, and on the first day of the week, the lst day of the 7th month [September], we had a very large and a precious meeting; and the blessed presence of the Lord was with us. And in that place a Friend is made a justice. Friends and other people came far to this meeting. And on the 2nd day of the 7th month, we had a men's and women's meeting, out of most parts of the new country Jersey, which will be of great service in keeping the gospel order and government of Christ Jesus (the increase of which hath no end) and for them to see that all do live in the pure religion and to walk as becometh the Gospel; and there is a Monthly and a General Meeting set up, and they are building a meeting-place in the midst of them. . . . And there a Friend, John Jay of Barbados, that was with me went to try a horse, and got on his back. And the horse ran and cast him on his head and broke his neck as they called it, and the people took him up dead, and carried him a good way, and laid him on a tree. And I came to him and felt on him, and saw that he was dead, and as I was pitying his family and him, for he was one that was to pass with me through the woods to Maryland that land journey, I took him by the hair of his head, and his head turned like a cloth it was so loose. I threw away my stick and gloves, and took his head in both my hands, and set my knees against the tree and wrested his head and I did perceive it was not broken out that way. And I put my hand under his chin, and behind his head, and wrested his head two or three times with all my strength, and brought it in, and I did perceive his neck began to be stiff, and then he began to rattle, and after to breathe, and the people were amazed, and I bid them have a good heart and be of good faith, and carry him into the house, and then they set him by the fire, and I bid them get him some warm thing to drink and get him to bed. So after he had been in the house awhile, he began to speak, and did not know where he had been. So we bound up his neck warm with a napkin, and the next day we passed on and he with us, pretty well, about sixteen miles to a meeting at Middletown, and many hundreds of miles afterwards, through the woods and bogs. And we swam our horses over a river, and went over on a tree ourselves, And at the meeting was most of the town. And Friends were and are very well, blessed be the Lord, and a glorious meeting we had and the Truth was over all, blessed be the great Lord God for ever. And after the meeting we passed to Middletown harbour about five miles, on the 9th day of the 7th month, to take our long journey through the woods towards Maryland. So we hired Indians, for it was upon me to pass through the woods on the other side Delaware Bay, to head the creeks and rivers if it were possible. So the 9th of the 7th month, we set forward, and passed through many Indian towns, and rivers, and bogs, and at night made us a fire, and lay by it. When we had passed about forty miles among the Indians, we declared the day of the Lord to them, and the next day we passed fifty miles and found an old house, which the Indians had forced the people to desert, and got us some fire, at the head of Delaware Bay. And the next day we swam our horses over a river about a mile, at twice, first to an island called Upper Tineconk and then to the mainland, and hired Indians to help us over in their canoes, and our horses.

The 12th day of the 7th month, this day we passed about thirty miles and came at night to a Swede's house, and got a little straw, and lay there all night. And there we hired another guide; and next day we traveled about forty miles through the woods and rivers, and made us a fire at night and lay in the woods. . . . and from thence we came to Christian River and swam over our horses, and it was bad and miry, some dam, sixteen miles, and being very weary in the streets and enquiring to buy some corn for our horses, the governor came in to the street and invited me to his house and to lodge there, and said that he had a bed for me and I was welcome. I went to his house on the Seventh-day of the week, and he proffered his house for a meeting, and so I had a meeting at his house the Firstday [Sunday], a precious one, blessed be the Lord, and pretty large. The heads of the town were there and most of the town, the governor and his wife, and the sheriff, and the scout, who is a man of great esteem amongst them. Many men and women were tender and confessed to the Truth and received it, blessed be the Lord for ever, Amen. Here had never been a meeting before, not within a great way of it till now, by any of our Friends.

The Indians at Delaware lay in wait to cut off some of our company as they passed that way, but their design was discovered, one being hanged at Delaware two or three days before we came thither. The Lord gave us power over all, blessed me his name for ever. . . .

On the 18th day we passed through many tedious bogs, and traveled hard about fifty miles, and came well through the woods to Maryland, to Robert Harwood's at Miles River, very weary. . . . And a judge's wife was there who was never at our meeting before, and many others there who were well satisfied, and the power of the Lord was over all, blessed be his name for ever. And she said after the meeting she had rather hear this man once than the priests a thousand times, and she is convinced. . . .

And on the 27th day we passed by water twenty miles to a meeting, very large, some hundreds of the world, and an establishing meeting it was, and there were four justices of the peace and an Indian emperor, and one of his great men, and another great man of another nation of Indians, and they stayed all the meeting. And I had a good speech with them the night before; and I spoke by an interpreter, and they received the Truth, and were very loving; and the emperor said he did believe that I was a very honest man.

Blessed be the Lord, his Truth doth spread

And after the meeting was done, the wife of a judge of that side of the country, one of the Assembly, being at the meeting that day sent to speak with me and desired me to go with her, home to her house, for her husband was sick and not like to live; and it was three miles. And after the meeting I was hot, but I got a horse and went with her; and he was finely raised up and after came to our meetings. . . .

On the 30th we passed five miles by water and then about fourteen miles by land through the woods to John Edmondson's at Tred Avon Creek. And on the 3rd day of the 8th month [October], we came to the General Meeting of all Maryland Friends; and it held from the Sixth-day to the Third-day of the next week, which was five days, that is three days were the General Meetings for public worship, and two days the men's and women's meetings. And many of the world were at the public meetings, some Papists, clerks of their courts, and there were eight justices of the peace, and one of the judges and his wife, and another judge's wife, and many considerable persons of quality. And they judged that there was a thousand people; and one of the justices said, that he never saw so many people together in the country, though it was rainy weather. And Friends and people were generally satisfied and convinced, and the blessed power of the Lord was over all, and a great convincement there is, and a great inquiring after the Truth among all sorts of people, and the Truth is of a good report and Friends are much established, and the world convinced. They said they had never heard the Scriptures so clearly opened before, for said they, 'He hath them at his fingers' ends, and as a man should read them in a book and hold it open before him.' And the people were satisfied beyond words, and a glorious powerful meeting there was, blessed be the Lord for ever. And when the General Meeting was done, we had some of all the choice of the men and women to meet together for I had something to inform them concerning the glory of God, and the order of the Gospel and the government of Christ Jesus and concerning the great meeting. . . .

At Flushing as soon as the meeting was done, there stood up a priest's son and laid down three things that he would dispute, the first was the ordination of ministers, the second women's speaking, and the third that we held a new way of worship. And I spoke to him and demanded what he had against what I had spoken and he could say nothing. Then I said it was like Christ's way of worship which he set up above 1,600 years ago, and was a new way of worship to him and his priests, it being in the spirit and in the truth. And as for women's speaking, such as the apostles did own I owned, and such as they did deny I did deny....


Source:
The Journal of George Fox, 2 vols. , edited by Norman Penney (Cambridge, 1911), 2: 225-30, 251. *Spelling has been modernized.

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