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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Quakerism originated during the civil wars of the mid-seventeenth century, a time of religious as well as political turmoil. The Quaker leader, George Fox, found many adherents in the north of the country during 1651–2, including James Nayler, the Quakers’ most effective publicist, and Margaret Fell, a gentlewoman whose home, Swarthmoor Hall, became the Quaker administrative centre. The Quakers taught direct access to God through the Light of Christ and were antagonistic to the established church. They held mass meetings where people quaked in ecstasy. Travelling men and women preachers spread the Quaker message across the country. In 1656 there was an acrimonious dispute between Fox and Nayler, when Nayler’s actions led to his conviction for blasphemy and severe punishment. After this, Quakers tried to improve their public image and started to build a national organization, developments interrupted by the political disruption of 1659–60.

Keywords: Quaker, George Fox, James Nayler, Margaret Fell, Swarthmoor Hall, light, meeting, blasphemy, women preachers

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