- Fox, George
- ( 162 4-1691 )founder of the Quaker movementGeorge Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, popularly known as the Quakers, was born in July 1624 in Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, England. During his teen years, as an apprentice shoemaker, his religious speculations led him to withdraw from the Church of England. As early as 1643, he was traveling around England speaking against grand church buildings and ordained ministers as irrelevant to one's personal relationship with God. His preaching took on a more positive tone after a divine revelation in 1646. He became convinced that God dwelled within each person, and that communication with God was possible. Christ communicated to people through what Fox termed the Inner Light.Fox organized an initial group, the Friends of Truth, which became the core group for the Society of Friends. The Friends withdrew from the Anglican community and refused to pay their church tithes. They were first called Quakers, originally a derisive label, by Justice Bennet of Derby, in reference to Fox's call to tremble before the word of the Lord.By 1660, the movement had acquired some 20,000 adherents, but Fox and the Quakers did not fare well under the Restoration. More than 300 were killed in assaults or died in prison; another few hundred were sent into slavery, and more than 13,000 were imprisoned. The persecution slowed but did not stop their growth.Among Fox's early converts was Margaret Fell (1614-1702), wife of the vice-chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. She provided a haven in Britain for Quakers at her estate, Swarthmore Hall. As a widow, she married Fox in 1669. Women were to play a prominent role in the developing movement.Fox visited Germany and Holland in this period, and then crossed the Atlantic to visit the American colonies, Barbados, and Jamaica. William Penn, his close associate and founder of two havens for Quakers in America, frequently accompanied Fox. Fox traveled until his death in 1691.Fox worked out the Quaker organization, which relied on a set of monthly (congregational), quarterly (district), and annual (national) meetings. The movement appointed elders to care for ministry, and overseers to care for the poor and provide for the education of children. They adopted a simple lifestyle; their meetings consisted of waiting for communications from the inner Light to prompt witnesses to speak.Penn asssumed leadership of a group that gathered and published Fox's Journal, his major literary output, which appeared in 1694.Further reading:■ T. Canby Jones, George Fox's Attitude toward War (Richmond, Ind.: Friends United Press, 1984)■ George Fox, The Journal of George Fox, ed. by John L. Nickalls (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 1995)■ Philip F Gura, A Glimpse of Sion's Glory: Puritan Radicalism in New England 1620-1660 (Middle-town, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1984)■ H. Larry Ingle, First among Friends: George Fox and the Creation of Quakerism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.