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the innocent and guilty together; therefore I wrote against it to clear the truth from such things, and to stop all forward foolish spirits from running into such things.” I sent copies of it into Westmoreland, Cumberland, Bishoprick, Yorkshire, and to you here. I sent another copy of it to the king and his council, and it is like it may be in print by this time.” One of them said, “O ! this man hath great power " I said, yes, I had power to write against plotters. Then said one of them, ‘you are against the laws of the land.’ I answered, “nay; for I and my friends direct all people to the spirit of God in them to mortify the deeds of the flesh, this brings them into well-doing, and from that which the magistrates' sword is against, which eases the magistrates, who are for the punishment of evil-doers. So people being turned to the spirit of God, which brings them to mortify the deeds of the flesh, this brings them from under the occasion of the magistrates' sword. This must needs be one with the magistracy, and one with the law, which was added because of transgression, and is for the praise of them that do well. In this we establish the law, are an ease to the magistrates, and are not against, but stand for all good government.’ Then George Middleton cried, ‘bring the book, and put the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to him.’ He being a Papist, I asked him, ‘whether he had taken the oath of supremacy, who was a swearer? but as for us, we could not swear at all, because Christ and his apostle had forbidden it.’ Some of them would not have had the oath put to me, but have set me at liberty. The rest would not agree to it; for this was their last snare, and they had no other way to get me into prison, as all other things had been cleared to them. This was like the Papists' sacrament of the altar, by which they ensnared the martyrs. So they tendered me the oath, which I could not take: whereupon they were about to make my mittimus to send me to Lancaster gaol; but considering of it, they only engaged me to appear at the sessions, and for that time dismissed me. I went back with Margaret Fell to Swarthmore, and soon after colonel West came to see me, who was at that time a justice of the peace. He told us, “he acquainted some of the rest of the justices, that he would come and see Margaret Fell and me; but it may be,” said he, “some of you will take offence at it.’ I asked him, what he thought they would do with me at the sessions 2 he said, “they would tender the oath to me again.” Whilst I was at Swarthmore, William Kirby came into Swarthmore meeting, and brought the constables with him. I was sitting with Friends in the meeting, and he said to me, “How now, Mr. Fox : you have a fine company here.’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘we meet to wait upon the Lord.' So he began to take the names of Friends, and those that did not readily tell him their names, he committed to the constables' hands, and sent some to prison. The constables were unwilling to take them without a warrant, whereupon he threatened to set them by the heels; but the constable told him, “he could keep them in his presence, but after he was gone he could not keep them without a warrant.” The sessions coming on, I went to Lancaster, and appeared according to my engagement. There was upon the bench justice Fleming, who had bid five pounds in Westmoreland to any man that would apprehend me; for he was a justice both in Westmoreland and Lancashire. There were also justice Spencer, colonel West, and old justice Rawlinson, the lawyer, who gave the charge, and was very sharp against truth and Friends; but the Lord's power stopped them. The session was large, the concourse of people great, and way being made for me, I came up to the bar, and stood with my hat on, they looking earnestly upon me and I upon them for a pretty space. Then proclamation being made “for all to keep silence upon pain of imprisonment;' and all being quiet, I said twice, “Peace be among you.” The chairman asked, “if I knew where I was " I said, ‘Yes, I do ; but it may be, said I, my hat offends you. That is a low thing, that is not the honour that I give to magistrates, for the true honour is from above; which said I, I have received, and I hope it is not the hat which ye look upon to be the honour.” The chairman said, “They looked for the hat too, and asked, ‘wherein I showed my respect to magistrates, if I did not put off my hat?' I replied, “in coming when they called me.' Then they bid one, “take off my hat.” After which it was some time before they spoke to me, and I felt the power of the Lord to arise. After some pause, old justice Rawlinson (the chairman,) asked me, ‘If I knew of the plot " I told him, ‘I heard of it in Yorkshire by a Friend, who had it from the high-sheriff.” They asked me, ‘Whether I had declared it to the magistrates?' I said, ‘I had sent papers abroad against plots and plotters, and also to you, as soon as I came into the country, to take all jealousies out of your minds concerning me and my friends; for it is our principle to declare against such things.’ They asked me then, “If I knew not of an act against meetings?' I said, ‘I knew there was an act that took hold of such as met to the terrifying of the king's subjects, were enemies to the king, and held dangerous principles; but I hoped they did not look upon us to be such men, for our meetings were not to terrify the king's subjects, neither were we enemies to him or any man.’ Then they tendered me the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. I told them, “I could not take any oath at all, because Christ and his apostle had forbidden it; and they had had sufficient experience of swearers, first one way, then another; but I had never taken any oath in my life.” Rawlinson asked me, ‘Whether I held it was unlawful to swear?” This question he put on purpose to ensnare me; for by an act that was made, such were liable to banishment or a great fine, that should say, it was “unlawful to swear.”
But I, seeing the snare, avoided it, and told him, ‘That in the time of the law amongst the Jews, before Christ came, the law commanded them to swear; but Christ, who doth fulfil the law in his gospel-time, commands, “not to swear at all;” and the apostle James forbids swearing, even to them that were Jews, and who had the law of God.' After much discourse they called for the gaoler, and committed me to prison. I had the paper about me which I wrote as a testimony against plots, which I desired they would read, or suffer to be read in open court; but they would not. So being committed for refusing to swear, “I bid them and all the people take notice, that I suffered for the doctrine of Christ, and for my obedience to his command.” Afterwards I understood the justices did say, that they had private instructions from colonel Kirby to prosecute me, notwithstanding his fair carriage and seeming kindness to me before, when he declared before many of them, ‘ that he had nothing against me.” Several other Friends were committed to prison, some for meeting to worship God, and some for not swearing; so that the prison was very full. Many of them being poor men, without any thing to maintain their families by but their labour, which now they were taken from, several of their wives went to the justices who committed their husbands, and told them, ‘if they kept their husbands in gaol for nothing but the truth of Christ and for good conscience sake, they would bring their children to them to be maintained.’ A mighty power of the Lord rose in Friends, and gave them great boldness, so that they spoke much to the justices. Friends also that were prisoners, wrote to the justices, ‘laying the weight of their sufferings upon them, and showing them both their injustice and want of compassion towards their poor neighbours, whom they knew to be honest, conscientious, and peaceable people, that in tenderness of conscience could not take any oath; yet they sent them to prison for refusing to take the oath of allegiance. Though several of those imprisoned on that account were known to be men who had served the king in his wars, had hazarded their lives in the field in his cause, had suffered great hardships, with the loss of much blood for him, and always stood faithful to him from first to last, yet never received any pay for their service; and to be thus requited for all their faithful services and sufferings by those that pretended to be the king's friends, was hard, unkind, and ungrateful dealing.” At length the justices, being continually attended with complaints of grievances, released some of the Friends, but kept divers still in prison. There were four Friends prisoners for tithes, sent to prison at the suit of the countess of Derby, who had lain near two years and an half. One of these was Oliver Atherton, who being of a weakly constitution was, through long and hard imprisonment in a cold, raw, unwholesome place, brought so low and weak in his body, that there appeared no hopes of his life unless he might be removed. Wherefore, a letter was written on his behalf to the countess, and sent by his son Godfrey Atherton, wherein was laid before her ‘the reasons why he and the rest could not pay tithes; because if they did, they should deny Christ come in the flesh, who by his coming had put an end to tithes, and to the priesthood to which they had been given, and to the commandment by which they had been paid under the law. His weak condition of body was also laid before her, and the apparent likelihood of his death, if she continued to hold him there, that she might be moved to pity and compassion, and also warned not to draw the guilt of innocent blood upon her.' But when his son went to her with his father's letter, a servant of her’s abused him, plucked off his cap and threw it away, and put him out of the gate. Nevertheless, the letter was delivered into her own hand, but she shut out all pity and tenderness, and continued him in prison till death. When his son returned to his father in prison, and told him as he lay on his dying bed, that the countess denied his liberty, he only said, “She hath been the cause of shedding much blood, but this will be the heaviest blood that ever she spilt, and soon after he died. Friends having his body delivered to them to bury, as they carried it from the prison to Ormskirk, the parish wherein he had lived, they stuck up papers upon the crosses at Garstang, Preston, and other towns through which they passed, with this inscription:
‘This is Oliver Atherton, of Ormskirk parish, persecuted to death by the countess of Derby for good conscience sake towards God and Christ, because he could not give her tithes,’ &c.
Setting forth at large the reasons of his refusing to pay tithes, the length of his imprisonment, the hardships he underwent, her hard-heartedness towards him, and the manner of his death. After his death, Richard Cubban, another of her prisoners for tithes, wrote a large letter to her, on behalf of himself and his fellow-prisoners at her suit, laying their innocency before her; “and that it was not out of wilfulness, stubbornness, or covetousness, that they refused to pay her tithes, but purely in good conscience towards God and Christ; letting her know, if she should be suffered to keep them there till they every one died, as she had done their fellow-sufferer, Oliver Atherton, they could not yield to pay her. And therefore desired her to consider their case in a christian spirit, and not bring their blood upon herself also.” Yet she would not show any pity or compassion to them, who had now suffered hard imprisonment about two years and a half under her. Instead thereof she sent to the town of Garstang, and threatened to complain to the king and council, and bring them into trouble, for suffering the paper concerning Oliver Atherton's death to be stuck upon their cross. The rage she expressed made the people take the more notice of it, and some of them said, ‘the Quakers had given her a bone to pick.” But she, that regarded not the life of an innocent sufferer for Christ, lived not long after herself; for that day three weeks that Oliver Atherton's body was carried through Ormskirk to be buried, she died; and ber body was carried that day seven weeks through the same town to her burying place. Thus the Lord pursued the hard-hearted persecutor. I was kept till the assize, and judge Turner and judge Twisden coming that circuit, I was brought before judge Twisden, on the 14th of the month called March, the latter end of the year 1663. When I was set to the bar, I said, ‘peace be amongst you all.' The judge looked upon me, and said, ‘what! do you come into the court with your hat on 1 Upon which words, the gaoler taking it off, I said, “the hat is not the honour that comes from God.' Then said the judge to me, “will you take the oath of allegiance, George Fox " I said, ‘I never took any oath in my life, nor any covenant nor engagement.” “Well,” said he, “will you swear or no?' I answered, ‘I am a christian, and Christ commands me “not to swear;” and so does the apostle James likewise; and whether I should obey God or man, do thou judge.” “I ask you again,” said he, ‘whether you will swear or no?' I answered again, ‘I am neither Turk, Jew, nor Heathen, but a christian, and I should show forth christianity. And I asked him, if he did not know that christians in the primitive times, under the ten persecutions, and some also of the martyrs in queen Mary's days, refused swearing, because Christ and the apostle had forbidden it ! I told him also, they had had experience enough, how many had first sworn for the king and then against him. But as for me, I had never taken an oath in my life. My allegiance did not lie in swearing, but in truth and faithfulness; for I honour all men, much more the king. But Christ, who is the great prophet, the King of kings, the Saviour and judge of the whole world, saith, I must not swear. Now, whether must I obey Christ or thee! For it is tenderness of conscience, and in obedience to the command of Christ, that I do not swear: and we have the word of a king for tender consciences. Then I asked the judge, if he did own the king “Yes,” said he, “I do own the king.” Why then, said I, dost thou not observe his declaration from Breda, and his promises made since he came into England, “that no man should be called in question for matters of religion, so long as they lived peaceably?" If thou own the king, said I, why dost thou call me in question, and put me upon taking an oath, which is a matter of religion; seeing thou nor none else can charge me with unpeaceable living " Upon this he was moved, and looking angrily at me, said, ‘Sirrah, will you swear?' I told him, ‘I was none of his sirrahs, I was a christian; and for him, an old man, and a judge, to sit there and give nicknames to prisoners, it did not become