William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

. (page 34 of 105)
Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 105)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

he saw the priest himself was short. The
priest replied, he might say Amend, but all
would not do, so he left; him. The sessions,
considering the premises, wrote to Dacres, who
was a justice of peace, to let us have no wood,
neither would he give us our money again ;
and v/ood being in great men's hands, they
hearing this would sell us none for money, in
this part of England. Toward the end of the
reign of King Charles II., when great severi-
ties were practised against the dissenters, the
old priest died, and one George Story, a young
man, getting the place, and being not much
acquainted with Friends' integrity to the Lord,
in suffering for his name's sake, at a cei'tain
time he spoke to me, that if we would not suf-
fer Friends who lived in other parishes to come
and meet with us, he would not molest us ; but
if we would meet constantly in our parish, and
allow Friends of other parishes to come and
meet ^^•ith us, he would not suffer it. We not
complying with his proposal, he was hot in his
mind for persecution, and they began with
Sunday shillings, as they called them, for not



going to the public worship, and made distress
of Friends' goods. But this tliey thought did
but little, and afterwards the said priest caused
the wardens of the parish of Kirklinton to
frame a bill at the assizes against several of
us, and indicted us as popish recusants, for
not coming to their worship.* Processes were
issued out against us for twenty pounds a
month ; and our ineetings continuing large,
the priest greatly wanted an informer ; but
because of the ill success they that were en-
gaged in it before met with, sober neigh-
bours would not meddle. At last one James
Appleby, a Yorkshire man, brought up at
school, and having some knowledge of the
law, undertook the office of an informer. He
persuaded one Christopher Story, that lived at
Allergarth, to join with him, and in the tenth
month, 1682, they came to my house, the
meeting being there, and made information to
Henry Forster of Stonegarthside, a justice of
peace, of several being met together. He
asked him if I was at home : my name being
amongst the rest, he said I was, as the justice
reported, although I was in Lancashire, above
forty miles from my own house that day. A
warrant for distress came out, but I being gone
from home above two weeks before, and not
returning till six weeks after, the officers for-
bore to make disti-ess, and the informer was
at that time disappointed, perceiving his mis-
take. Though the informer had sworn false-
ly, yet they were so much encouraged by the
government, that little could be done against
them. Towards the latter end of summer,
seeing himself likely to escape the danger,
they came again to my house and took an
information, and went to John Aglionby of
Drawdykes, a justice, and a warrant was put
into the officers' hands, who were so sparing
in making distress that Richard Scott of New-
biggin, was bound to good behaviour for ne-
glect of his office. Most of what was about
my house being seized on, they proclaimed a
sale-day at public markets and other places ;
but as none came to buy, except James Apple-
by, the informer, and one man that he brought
.with him, they had things at their own rate.
Two horses he took to a fair in Northumber-
land, and sold them under half price, for
neighbours would not buy them. Driving the
sheep away, young people that were not
Friends being grieved to see it, set dogs upon
them ; and the noise being heard, other peo-

* This was by virtue of a law made in the reign
of Queen Elizabeth for the suppression of popery,
authorizing the levy of a fine of twenty pounds
sterling per month, on the goods and chattels of
all such as absented themselves from the establish-
ed worship, and acknowledged the supremacy of
the pope in matters of religion.

pie, almost in every place where they came,
ran out with their dogs, and scattered the
sheep ; so that when the informer and others
had followed full two miles, they had but seven
left, and were greatly vexed thereat. When he
sold them, and had made fast the barn doors
[where my grain was] with locks and chains,
he used endeavours to hire threshers, but could
not get any for money in the country; so hired a
man at Newcastle, forty miles distant, and was
to give him twelve pence a day, meat and drink,
whereas the usual price is but four pence. The
man coming into the country, and people un-
derstanding his business, before he came to the
informer's house, or scarce within five miles
of mine, they persuaded him to turn again,
telling him some dangerous thing would befal
him if he meddled. So he returned again, and
would not thresh for money. The informer
being then persuaded he could not get it thresh-
ed, unless he had it carried away from the
place ; and his daughter being married to a
near neighbour of mine, he thought to have
removed the corn thither ; but her father-in-
law, being an old man, would not consent for
fear of danger, saying, " Some will burn it,
and my houses also ;" so that though there
was a great deal of corn, he had no power to
eet it : but sellina; other corn and thinss taken
from some Friends, he made a purse, went to
London, and made complaint against us to
Jefferies, then lord chief justice, and brought
subpoenas against sixteen of us, to appear at
London ; but we understanding a prison would
do, whether we went or not, resolved to abide at
home. Upon our not appearing, he went to
London again and made complaint against
justice Forster. Judge Jefferies coming the
northern circuit, the informer indicted us se-
veral times for meeting together, and called
our meetings riots, routs, and unlawful assem-
blies ; endeavouring by a warrant to make us
appear before Jefferies. But the constables
hearing, and partly believing, that we should
then be ruined, (for he had indicted about
twenty of the most substantial amongst us, as
he supposed,) would not be seen by the in-
former, till it was too late to bring us before
Jefferies. At this assizes, justice Forster was
fined one hundred pounds, and imprisonment
till paid, and put out of his place, which caused
some of the justices to be afraid. The inform-
er being high in his mind, and his money
almost spent, came to our meeting again, and
brought with him his son-in-law, George
Waugh, and carried his information to Henry
Dacres, a justice, (so called) and obtained a
warrant. I, being fined twenty pounds for
preaching, the officers took several cows and
young beasts, and drove them to the market ;
but not being willing to sell them, set men at



a little distance to tell buyers what sort of
goods they were ; and also asked above the
market price for them. The informer per-
ceiving it, made information to the said Da-
cres of their neglect, and one of them, George
Irwin, was bound to good behaviour. But
some responsible men, particularly Edward
Atkinson of Clift, went and prevailed with
Dacres to forbear a while, it being the begin-
ning of winter ; and with some distress of
Friends for small fines to quiet the informer
a little till the spring. In that time King
Charles died, and the informer's strength de-
cayed, and none of the justices would hear
him ; so they never sold the goods formerly
seized. We, being bound over to the assizes,
appeared ; our indictments were read, and we
required to answer Guilty, or Not Guilty. We
confessed we met together to wait upon God,
but not in that manner they represented us ;
which they took for a traverse, and demanded
fees and bond to prosecute, which we denying
were sent to prison and there remained until
King James, by his proclamation, set us at

Though much time was spent by the said
James Appleby and others, who used all their
endeavours for about three years to break our
meetings, impoverish our families, and impri-
son our bodies ; yet I can say all things
wrought together for good to them that loved
God. For in this time of persecution, which
continued near three years, we lost but one
man, and several were added, and many gath-
ered near to the Lord ; and we had glorious
meetings. I may say it was a time of love.
Whereas the officers usually came to disturb
us in our meetings, they were now command-
ed to see that none molested us there ; and at
once we were freed from the heavy burthens
our adversaries had cast upon us, and our
meetings grew large, and many flocked to

Now our necessity increasing for building
a meeting-house, and seeing no better way,
we went to Scotland and bought wood, and
built an house that would hold one-third more
than we then were, but in a few years it came
to be filled. The Presbyterians, who had hid
their heads for years, began to come forth
again, and built a meeting-house in the bor-
der, about four miles north of us, where they
met for a time ; but after a while dropped their
meeting, and the house went down, and truth
prospered. We saw that many wanted to be
informed of the right way of the Lord ; and
a meeting was appointed near the place where
the Presbyterians had built their meeting-
house ; and glorious meetings we had : many
were much reached and convinced.

Amongst the rest that came and joined with
Vol. I.— No. 4.

us after the persecution was over, Aaron At-
kinson was one, who was of believing parents
convinced almost with the first, and of good
repute in the country : his father lived but a
few years after his convincement ; yet bore a
good testimony for the time. After his de-
cease, his wife, whose name was Ann, dwelt
near the Lord ; and her heart was filled with
love to God and his people ; and though she
was left with six small children, and not much
outward substance, yet she was not at all cast
down under her exercise : for the Lord sweet-
ened her passage, and made hard things easy,
that she remained bright and cheerful in her
countenance. After some time she sickened,
and I went to see her, being four or five miles
off"; when I came, I found her in a heavenly
frame of spirit, and resigned to die : and she
was not anxious for her children, but fully be-
lieved the Lord would take care for them :
thus in a few days she sweetly finished her
course. Her children were mostly provided
for by Friends and relations. In their young
days they proved generally vain and wanton
for a time ; yet remembering the faith which
was in their mother, I expected to see their
restoration ; which in due time came to pass.
For Aaron, when he was but young, and car-
ried a linen pack on his back, being at Wil-
liam Graham's of Sikeside, his near kinsman,
went to an evening meeting at Christopher
Taylor's ; and in the time of prayer, the Lord,
being supplicated that as he had been pleased
to visit the fathers he would visit the children,
graciously answered that supplication ; and
reached Aaron by his power, that he was as
one slain at once, and freely giving up, went
out in the faith and greatly prevailed. His
master, William Armstrong, who was a Pres-
byterian, hearing of it, was at a stand what
to do with him ; yet concluding we were an
honest people, he would try him further ; and
after some time, his master was convinced
also ; and they lived together in much love,
and honoured truth in their trading, being at
a word with people. Though they lived near
Scotland, they saw they were not to trade in
goods which were prohibited, as many did ;
neither were they free to sell such striped or
gaudy cloth as was not seemly for Friends to
wear. And as their acquaintance was great,
and their integrity well known in the country,
by being preachers of righteousness where
they were concerned among men ; so the
Lord raised them up, and gave them living
testimonies publicly to bear in the power and
demonstration of the Spirit. Aaron was first
concerned in a very powerful manner, to the
reaching of the hearts and consciences of
many. And then William came forth, and
many people who knew them had a desire to



hear them, and many meetings were kept at
fresh places up and down the country, and
people that were not Friends would come three
or four miles to our meetings frequently ; so
that in time our meeting-house became too
little, and people that were not Friends would
send to us to have meetings on their ground.
A great openness there was in the country,
and amongst others, all Aaron Atkinson's
brothers that were living joined with Friends,
and walked circumspectly ; his sister also
came, but died some time after. Honest
Friends, of what employment soever, were
then concerned to be testimony-bearers in the
way of their trade and business ; and though
it looked for a time as if it would have hurt
their trades, yet as Friends were faithful, and
preserved in a meek and quiet spirit, they
prospered ; and though some had but little
when they were convinced, their endeavours
were blessed : for being diligent in the man-
agement of their trades and affairs, and care-
fully keeping their words and promises, they
gained credit in the country.


Visit to Friends in Ireland and in several parts
of England — Some occurrences in his men
county (Cumberland) — Jour 71 ey to Scotland —
111 treatment at Glasgoiv — Visit to Friends in
the Western and Southern parts of England —
Further services ; much of ivhich not particu-
larly noticed — An Epistle to Friends.

In the year 1687, I travelled into Ireland
to visit Friends; it was in the beginning of the
troubles that happened in King James's reign;
and was a dismal time, few nights passing
where I went without houses being broken open,
and English and Scots plundered by the native
Irish. The dark power they were under was
a load to my spirit, and my greatest concern
of mind was to bring Friends to the enjoyment
of that which man could not give or take from
them; that though the fruit of the olive should
fail, and the earth not yield her increase, nor
any flock be in the fold, yet they might joy in
the Lord, and rejoice in the God of their sal-
vation. When I was clear, I returned home,
and found my family well.

In the year 1689, John Bowsted and I tra-
velled through Lancashire, Cheshire, Stafford-
shire and Gloucestershire, to Bristol, having
many meetings in divers places, and found
great openness both amongst Friends and
other people.

After we were clear of Bristol, and had
visited Friends in many places, we travelled
through Wiltshire, and visited most of the

meetings in our way, by Reading and Wind-
sor, to London. We found great openness in
and about that city ; and when we had visited
the meetings there and were clear, we took
meetings on our Avay, toward Banbury, and a
great openness there was amongst people in
divers parts in that country, and coming to-
wai'ds Birmingham and Wolverhampton we
parted, and John Bowsted travelling into
Wales to visit Friends, I went home.

About this time, George Story, priest of the
parish, whom I mentioned before, hired a cu-
rate, and went away, and was a chaplain in
King William's army, when they went for
Ireland, and afterwards became dean of Car-
rickfergus. He was kind to Friends, and
though he had a demand of tithe on a great
many of us for several years, yet rather than
cast us into prison, he went without it to this

Truth having appeared, and the understand-
ings of many being opened by the Divine Light
thereof, we were led out of many customs and
practices, which we saw were attended with
bad or disorderly consequences ; and amongst
the rest, a custom generally practised by peo-
ple in our country, namely, making doles at
burials. When we were first convinced, that
practice was grown so common, and to such
an extravagancy, that great numbers of people
came to burials, both rich and poor without
invitation, and as people were very extrava-
gant in many things, this became a snare to
some, and an uneasiness to us, and we could
see no real service in making such doles, when
people were met together on such a weighty
occasion, but on the contrary, great disorders
often happened. Under a serious considera-
tion we had a stop in our minds, and could not
follow the people of the world in that custom,
thei'efore we thought fit to break it off at once,
which we did, and gave nothing at that time
to poor or rich. After a little time, the people
saw it to be a good way, and came from doing
much to doing but a little; they frequently
came to our burials, and that in a great deal
of seriousness ; scarce an high word among
them. Then we observed time and room
enough to keep a meeting, and good seasons
we had many times, to the satisfaction of
Friends and others. So that I never yet heard
of any complaint for want of outward bread,
but many have acknowledged the satisfaction
they had, in partaking of the inward bread
that was broken at such times, and great ser-
vice there was among the people. When
Christopher Ta3dor was laid in his grave,
who was a just man and of good fame in the
country. Friends and relations with many
others met together to accompany his body to
the burial place, where the Lord was pleased



eminently to appear through his brother, An-
drew Taylor, a worthy instrument to the con-
vincing of many of the right way of the Lord ;
and when that saying was spoken of to the
people, how the prophet Samuel said, " Whose
ox, or whose ass have I taken, or whom have
I defrauded," the like answer was returned in
the hearts of the people, that the deceased had
wronged no man. And the Lord's presence
greatly appeared ; many were deeply affected,
and several convinced.

As the church increased, a godly concern
came upon several, to promote a strict Disci-
pline therein, that as there had been a coming
out of Babylon, thei'e might be such a sepa-
ration, that that which was unclean might not
be touched, and this became a hard thing to
some, to cast off and forsake all their old
lovers : yet the Lord owned his people, and
truth prospered, and many were willing by the
grace of God, to put their hand to help for-
ward this good work, and their shoulders to
bear a part of the burden, and so the work
became more easy, few appearing to oppose
good order in the church ; for which the Lord
shall have all the praise.

Our meeting-house being too little, and a
part of our Friends living three or four miles
northward, beyond the River Line, which
being difficult to get over, having neither boat
nor bridge, with consent of Friends, they es-
tablished a meeting among themselves, in the
winter, and after some time built a meetino -
house, except that once every month, they met
with us at Sikeside, and also on the week-days.

In the year 1691 I travelled into Scotland,
having Thomas Blair with me. I had it in
my mind to go and see a few Friends at Glas-
gow, for at that time there was no settled
meeting there. We travelled to Edinburgh,
and so to the north, and back again into the
west. Coming to Gartshore, after the meeting
I acquainted Friends that I had in my mind to
go to Glasgow and visit the few Friends there,
and inquired if any Friend would go along
with me, but some excusing themselves, and I
being resolved before hand, said if none of
them would go, yet I would, and coming there
I found the people so barbarous, that I did not
think there had been any such in the three
nations. I felt a little of it as I came towards
Gartshore, and set my face westward : I thought
I felt a great cloud of darkness, yet having tra-
velled several times through Scotland, and been
in many places, both in England and Ireland,
I did not think they would have been so cruel
as they proved. James Milner and John Milner
went with us to Glasgow, where putting up our
horses at an inn, we sent for our friend John
Hewstown, and told him we were come to see
them, and inquired if we could have a little

time with Friends ; but his wife being no Friend,
and the people very cruel, she was not willing
any meeting should be in their house, where-
upon om' friend John Neile, having a child not
well, we went thither, and being retired a little,
something opened upon my mind to speak.
After I- had said a little, on a sudden people
came rushing into the house in a rude manner,
as the following account will show, and stoned
us out of their town with great severity. We
went that night to Hugh Wood's of Hamilton
with a great deal of peace and comfort in our
own particulars. There we wrote the follow-
ing account :

" A Looking- Glass for the Inhabitants of the
Town of Glasgow.

" We Christopher Story and Thomas Blair,
being come from our habitations in the county
of Cumberland, to visit Friends in Scotland,
were in the pure love of God drawn to Glas-
gow. John Milner, of Gartshore, and James
Milner, of Hamilton, in the same love and in
the freedom of their spirits went along with
us, and meeting with our friend John Hews-
town, we went to visit our friend John Neile
and his wife, they having a child not well ;
and after we had waited a little together upon
the Lord, to feel his power and enjoy his
presence, we can safely say, the Lord was
near us, so that I was made willing, in obedi-
ence to the Lord's requirings, and spoke of
the great joy and comfort that was received
in the Lord's presence, desiring jiothing more
than this, that all people might be sensible of
the goodness of God held forth unto mankind,
in and through his Son Christ Jesus ; also ex-
horting the people to turn unto the Lord, and
believe in the light, that manifests sin and evil,
showing unto all according to plain Scripture,
that it was sin in all ages that separated be-
tween man and his Maker, and it was iniquity
that withheld good things from him, &c.

" For this cause and no other given by us
many cried with great bitterness against us,
surrounding the house, knocking at the win-
dows, women as well as men, with great fury,
saying, ' Pull him out, pull him out,' seeming
as if they would have torn us ; but others of
them were more moderate and seemed inclina-
ble to hear, if the rabble would have been
quiet. At last there was an uproar amongst
them, and they quari'elled one with another,
at which time I became silent, and a young
man amongst them more uncivil than the rest,
named James Bear, a Presbyterian, as he said,
and no magistrate, neither had he any warrant,
with some others, would hale us out into the
streets ; but after some arguing with him and
wishing that this day's work might not be laid
to his charge, he was more quiet. Then John



Hewstown seeing their incivility, exhorted
them to moderation with some other Sci'ipture
words of brotherly advice, lest their bonds
should be made stronger ; at which some
scoffed ; others said, ' We could fain hear you
preach, for we never heard Quakers pi'each.'
A little after, not being clear in the sight of
the Lord, I was concerned to clear my con-
science, and spoke to the people according to
Scripture, that except our righteousness exceed
the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees,
we could in no wise enter the kingdom of
heaven ; endeavouring, by several Scripture
passages, to prove the necessity of first making
clean the inside of the cup and platter, then
the outside will be clean also, that they might
not be liable to the woe pronounced against
the scribes and pharisees. Then came in one
thronging among the people, whose name was
John Sprewell, tobacco merchant, and pulled
me violently out of the house. When I was
out of the doors, the rabble laid hands on us,
as if they would have torn us to pieces ; but
the said Sprewell hailed us to the magistrates,
and commanded the rabble to be civil, but they
cried and shouted, and threw dirt and stones
at us through the streets, saying, ' He is a
Jesuit dog, he hath spoken blasphemy ;' but
none of them offered to prove anything against
any of us. We were brought before bailiff
Brooke, one of the magistrates, who when he
understood the matter, said he had not time
then to hear us, but he would call us at another
time. But the said John Sprewell desired earn-
estly that he would detain us till some of their
teachers were brought to examine us. Yet
notwithstanding the magistrate dismissed us,
and Christianly desired the said Sprewell to
preserve us from the rabble ; Sprewell went
away, and left us to the will of the rabble,
who stoned us all along the streets to the house

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 105)