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bids swearing even to them that were Jews, and that had the law of God. So after much other discourse had passed, they called for the jailer and committed me to prison. I had about me that paper which I had written as a testimony against plots, which I desired they would read, or suffer to be read in open court, but they would not. So I 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. There were several friends besides committed to prison, some for meeting to worship God, and some for not swearing, so that the prison was very full. And many of them being poor men, that had nothing to maintain their families by but their labour, which now they were taken off from, several of their wives went to the justices that had committed their husbands to jail, and told them if they kept their husbands in jail for nothing but the truth of Christ and for good consciencesake, 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 spake much to the justices; friends also that were prisoners writ unto the justices, laying the weight of their sufferings upon them, and shewing them both their injustice and want of pity and 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 them who were imprisoned on that account, were known to be men that had served the king in his wars, and had hazarded their lives in the field in his cause, and had suffered great hardships, with the loss of much bluod for him, and had always stood faithful to him from first to last, and had never received any pay for their service; and to be thus requited for all their faithful services and sufferings, and that by them 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 that were prisoners, but kept divers of them still in prison.
Amongst those that were then in prison, there were four friends prisoners for tithes, who were sent to prison at the,
suit of the countess of Derby (so called) and had lain there then near two years and an half. One of these, whose name was Oliver Atherton, being a man of a weakly constitution, was, through his 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 recovery, or life, unless he might be removed from thence. Wherefore a letter was written on behalf of the said Oliver Atherton to the said 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. And his weak condition of body was also laid before her, and the apparent likelihood of his death, if she did continue to hold him there; that she might be moved to pity and compassion, and also warned not to draw the guilt of his innocent blood upon herself. But when his son went to her with his father's letter, a servant of her's abused him, and 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. So when his son came back 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. Then 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 lo
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 the said countess her prisoners for tithe, writ á
large letter to her, on behalf of himself and his other 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, and letting her know that if she should be suffered to keep them there till they every one died there, as she had done their fellow-sufferer, Oliver Atherton, yet they could not yield to pay her. And therefore desired ber to consider their case in a Christian spirit, and not bring their blood upon herself also. But she would not shew any pity or compassion towards them, who had now suffered hard imprisonment about two years and an half under her, but 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 that 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, tbat 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 her body was carried dead that day seven weeks through the same town to her burying place. And thus the Lord pursued the hard-hearted persecutor. Turner and judge Twisden coming that circuit, I was
As for ne I was kept to the assize; and then judge brought before judge Twisden on the 14th day of the month called March, in the latter end of the year 1663. When I was set up 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! Upon which words the jailer 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 or 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 Í should obey God or man, do thou judge. I ask you again, said he, whether you will swear or no? swered again, I am neither Turk, Jew, nor heathen, but a Christian, and should shew 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 men had first sworn for the king and then against the king; but as for me, I had never taken an oath in all my and 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, who is the King of kings, who is the Saviour of the world, and the great judge of the whole world, he saith I must not swear; now, whether must I obey, Christ or thee? For it is in tenderness of conscience, and in obedience to the commands 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. Now if thou ownest the king, said I, why dost thou call me into 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. Then 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, that was an old man and a judge, to sit there and give nick-names to prisoners, it did not become either his grey hairs or his office. Well, said he, I am a Christian too. Then do Christian's works, said I. Sirrah, said he, thou thinkest to frighten me with thy words. Then catching himself and looking aside, he said, Hark! I am using the word [sirrah] again, and so checked himself. I said, I spake to thee in love, for that language did not become thee, a judge; thou oughtest to instruct a prisoner in the law, if he were ignorant and out of the way. And I speak in love to thee too, said he. But, said I, love gives no nick-names. Then he roused himself up and said, I will not be afraid of thee, George Fox; thou speakest so loud thy voice drowns mine and the court's, I must call for three or four criers to drown thy voice; thou hast good lungs. I am a prisoner here, said I, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake; for his sake do I suffer, and for him do I stand this day; and if my voice were five times louder yet I should lift it up, and sound it out for Christ's sake, for whose cause I stand this day before your judge ment-seat, in obedience to Christ, who commands not to swear, before whose judgment-seat you must all be
brought, and must give an account. Well, said the judge, George Fox say whether thou wilt take the oath, yea or nay? I replied, I say as I said before, whether ought I to obey God or man, judge thou? If I could take any oath at all, I should take this; for I do not deny some oaths only, or on some occasion, but all oaths, according to Christ's doctrine, who hath commanded his not to swear at all. Now if thou or any of you, or any of your mi-'nisters or priests here, will prove that ever Christ or his apostle after they had forbidden al} swearing, commanded Christians to swear, then I will swear. I saw several priests there, but never an one of them offered to speak. Then said the judge, I am a servant to the king, and the king sent me not to dispute with you, but to put the laws in execution; therefore tender him the oath of allegiance. “ If thou love the king,' said I, why dost thou' break his word, and not keep his declarations and speeches, wherein he promised liberty to tender consciences. I am a man of a tender conscience, and in obedience to Christ's command I cannot swear. Then you will not swear, said the judge; take him away, jailer. I said, It is for Christ's sake that I cannot swear, and for obedience to his command I suffer, and so the Lord forgive you all. So the jailer took me away; but I felt the mighty power of the Lord was over them all.
Upon the sixteenth day of the same month I was brought before judge Twisden again, and he was somewhat offended at my hat, but it being the last morning of the assize before he was to go out of town, and not many people there, he made the less of it. He asked me wheiher I would traverse, or stand mute, or submit; but he spake so fast, and in such haste, that it was hard to know what he said. However, I told him I desired I might have liberty to traverse the indictment, and try it. Then said he, take him away, I will have nothing to do with him, take him away. I said, Well, live in the fear of God, and do justice. Why, said he, have not I done you justice? I replied, That which thou hast done hath been against the command of Christ.' So I was taken away, and had to the jail again, and there kept prisoner till the next assizes.
Sometime before this assize Margaret Fell was sent prisoner to Lancaster jail by Flemming, Kirby, and Preston, justices, and at the assize the oath was tendered to her also, and she was committed again to prison, to lie till the next assize.