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William Evans.

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

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flying from God, who could cause his justice to
overtake him, when and where he thought fit.



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



179



felt the cold strike to his heart ; and as most
illness then turned to the plague, he suddenly
grew very ill ; but the Lord was good to him,
and having further service for him, raised him
up again.

In the year 1666, Friends belonging to that
end of the city, agreed to remove the meeting
from Pail-Mall more among the body of
Friends, there being very few houses then in
the Mall except on the side next the Park, the
other side being a great row of large elm trees ;
and that which is now the market and the
square, and all thereabouts being fields. West-
minster being the residence of several Fi'iends,
and a great concourse of people that way, Gil-
bert and some Friends sought to get a place
for a meeting in those parts, and accordingly
they bought the lease of a house and garden
in the Little Almonry in Westminster, and
immediately paid down the purchase money,
and the meeting hath continued there ever
since.

The Lord by the visitation of pestilence
upon the city, had both thinned the people, and
made grass grow in the streets, of both which
his servants had forewarned the people, that
they might repent. But they not being hum-
bled, still persisted in their former loose course
of life, and continued in that persecuting spirit
which strove to lay waste the heritage of God,
by imprisoning, banishing, and despitefully
using his children and servants, their hearts
being hardened against the Lord ; and his
counsel, through his messengers being slight-
ed, and profaneness too much encouraged, to
the grief of the upright-hearted. The great



"But what finally fixed him in a resolution to
stay, and cast himself entirely upon the protection
and good pleasure of the Almighty was, that at a
time when his thoughts were more than commonly
serious upon this weighty subject, turning over the
Bible which lay before him, he cried out, Well, I
know not what to do. Lord direct me ! at that
juncture happening to stop and casting his eye on
the second verse of the 91st Psalm, he read to the
tenth, as follows, viz. ' I will say of the Lord, he
is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in him will
I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the
snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pesti-
lence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and
under his wings shalt thou trust : His truth shall
be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be
afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow
that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walk-
eth in darkness, nor for the destruction that wast-
eth at noon-day. A thousand shall fall at thy side,
and ten thousand at thy right hand ; but it shall
not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt
thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord which is thy
refuge, even the Most High thy habitation : There
shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague
come nigh thy dwelling,' &.c."



God beholding these things, suffered the de-
vouring flames to consume the dwellings of
thousands, and their costly furniture, and here-
by opened the prison doors, laying 13,000
houses in ashes. Gilbert being a partaker
with his brethren then under sufferings, and
an eye witness of what is here related, did
warn some of this impending judgment ; and
was desirous that those who are the children
of that persecuting generation which the Lord
thus visited, into whose hands this may come,
might take warning and return to the Lord
God.

In the year 1670, about the sixth month, it
being a time of great suffering generally
through the nation, Gilbert had it upon his
mind to visit his native country, the west of
England. He took his way through Reading,
where he visited Friends who were prisoners
for the testimony of their consciences ; and
having been refreshed together, he went from
thence to Bristol, and had a good meeting with
Friends. Fi'om thence he took his way through
Bridgewater, and after visiting Friends there,
passed on to South-Moulton, and from thence
into Cornwall, where he had several good
meetings, and went towards the Land's-end.
At John Ellis's, not far from thence, he had a
meeting on the first-day of the week, and the
Lord's power preserved him ; and the next
morning riding to visit some Friends very near
the Land's-end, he met the persecuting justice,
who, as Gilbert was afterwards acquainted,
was very much displeased that his accomplices
had failed to give him information, for he
would have seized Gilbert's and his man's
horses, for that day's meeting.

After having visited Friends in that part of
the country, he came to Penzance, and Mar-
ket-Jew ; and near Market- Jew, at a place
where there never had been a meeting before,
he had a meeting, to the great satisfaction of se-
veral present. From thence he went to Hels-
ton, and so to Falmouth and Truro, and back
to Loveday Hamley's at Tregangeeves, having
had meetings in several parts of that country.

Upon leaving Cornwall for Plymouth, he
received a letter from London, informing him
of the great persecution which attended Friends,
as well on their persons, as by the spoiling of
their goods : and that their meeting-house at
Horsleydown was begun to be pulled down,
there being a timorousness in some persons
to stand by their title, and own and defend the
same. Shortly after, by another letter, tidings
came that Sir John Robinson, then governor
of the Tower of London, had given order for
pulling down Friends' meeting-house at Rat-
cliff, which was done, for want of those ap-
pearing and owning the title, who were imme-
diately concerned therein. Another account



180



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



stated that the governor of the Tower intended
to pull down Friends' meeiing-house in AVheel-
er-street. The title of this meeting-house being
in Gilbert, and he being away from home, a
Friend was desired to wait on Sir John Robin-
son, and acquaint him that the person who
owned that meeting-house was gone a journey
into the west of England, and therefore to de-
sire he would forbear doing what he intended,
till the person that owned it returned : Robin-
son replied, " How long Avill it be till he re-
turn 1" To which answer was made. About
a fortnight or three weeks : the governor re-
plied, " I will then forbear three weeks." By
the time the Friend had thus spoken to Robin-
son, Gilbert was come to Plymouth in his way
back to London ; and having visited Friends
there, went to Kingsbridge ; and, contrary
both to his and Friends' expectation, had a
peaceable good meeting, and afterwai'ds spent
a little time with Friends who were under great
sufferings, and particularly two young maiden
gentlewomen, who had not long been con-
vinced, and were committed to prison, by a
warrant from a justice, whose name was Bare,
for their not coming to the parish place of wor-
ship to hear, as they styled it, divine service.
Gilbert hearing this, and having an interest in
some that were very eminent in the lieutenan-
cy, and ancient in the commission of the peace,
resolved to use his utmost endeavours and in-
terest, to procure the enlargement of those
women Friends. Whereupon he ordex'ed his
man to take care that his horses might be well
fed, for that he should now travel pretty
hard : so he left Kingsbridge, and it being a
very inclement day, came that evening to
Exeter ; and after having visited Friends, pro-
ceeded to a great knight's house, which was
about eighteen miles distant, and not much out
of the way towards London. When Gilbert
arrived, the knight was at home, and his gen-
tleman received him very kindly ; and he be-
ing well known to the lady and daughters of
the family, soon had access to the knight, who
was glad, as he expressed himself, to see Gil-
bert in those parts. The weight of his Friends'
sufferings, and in particular those of the two
females, lay so upon Gilbert, that he imme-
diately importuned the knight for their en-
largement ; to which he at last replied, that
he would do more for Gilbert than for all his
friends of his persuasion in the kingdom ;
upon which Gilbert acknowledged his kind-
ness, and pressed for his favour in their be-
half The time of the sessions being near,
he desired him to be there, and to take care
that they were called, lest otherwise they
might not be brought before the bench ; and he
would use hiy interest with the justices for
their enlargement. He ordered his clerk to



note down and remind him of what Gilbert
had said. Gilbert then took leave of the
knight, and his family, and set forward for
London, visiting Friends in his way. When
he arrived at London he ordered a poor Friend
to be put into Wheeler-street meeting-house,
to whom he made a lease; and then desired
the Friend who had before attended the go-
vernor of the Tower, to let him know the
person who owned the meeting-house in
Wheeler-street, was now come home, and
ready to attend him when he should be pleased
to appoint.

In a few days Gilbert was ordered to ap-
pear before the governor. He, with the other
Friend, went at the time appointed to the go-
vernor's house, in the Tower, and was soon
called in before him. He appeared very stern
towards Gilbert, and asked hiin if he owned
the meeting-house where Friends met in
Wheeler-street ; to whom he answered, he
did, and several more too. The governor
said, " And how dare you own any meeting-
house contrary to the king's laws?" To which
Gilbert said, that he owned that meeting-house
before the king had any such law. The go-
vernor replied, " I find you are a pretty fel-
low ; and pray, who lives in the meeting-
house ?" Gilbert answered, " My tenant."
" Your tenant !" said the governor, " What
is your tenant ?" " One that I have thought
good ta grant a lease to," said Gilbert.
" Then," replied the governor, " you have a
tenant that hath taken a lease from you?"
Gilbert answered, " Yes." Upon this the
governor looked not pleased, and calling the
other Friend by his name, said, " I think you
have now fitted me, and brought a fellow to
the purpose ; had your friends been as wise
as this fellow, you might have had your other
meeting-houses as well as this ;" and so dis-
missed them. After this. Friends taking the
same care, have ever since preserved their
meeting-houses.

Soon after this, Gilbert had account by
letter, that at the sessions for the county of
Devon, the knight remembered his promise to
Gilbert, and moderated the justice who com-
mitted the two Friends. As they sat at din-
ner, he acquainted the other justices, that he
was informed of two young women, Quakers,
that lay in prison for not coming to church ;
" and," said he, " I am very much impor-
tuned to use my interest with you for their
enlargement, which I desire you will favour
so far that it may be done; for indeed I think
it is a pity they should be longer under con-
finement." This knight being in so eminent
a station, both on the bench and otherwise,
the rest of the justices acquiesced that they
should be brought before them accordingly.



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



181



" But, then," said the knight, " when they are
brought before you, and upon examining into
the matter, you shall think fit, as I hope you
will, to clear them, there will another hardship
attend them ; which is, that after they are
cleared by you, they will still be detained for
their fees ; for none of them will pay fees, and
thex'efore that they may be wholly at liberty,
we must, among ourselves, collect as much
money to give the jailer as will answer their
fees ; and," said he, " here I will begin :" —
laying down money on the table, and the rest
did the like. The Friends being brought be-
fore them on the bench, were cleared and set
at libei'ty to return to their habitations, which
they did accordingly ; for which favour Gilbert,
according to his wonted manner, returned the
knight his acknowledgment.

As he kept to the truth, still bearing the
cross of Christ, it came upon him to write
something by way of caution and encourage-
ment to such as were of the same trade, that
they might know the power of it to lead them
out of superfluity, and be a means to persuade
and advise others therefrom ; whereby that
which tended chiefly to gratify the proud,
loose, high mind, might as much as in them
lay, be discouraged ; the needless part be re-
linquished, the vain mind brought down, and
truth and a good conscience kept to, for which
he wrote the following paper ; and being com-
municated to several Friends of the same trade,
they were well satisfied with it, and desired it
might be printed, as follows :

" A Salutation or Testimony of true and
brotherly love, unto all who are concerned
therein.

" Dear Friends,

" To whom the truth of God hath ap-
peared, and hath been made known in the
light of his beloved Son, whom he hath sent
into the world to discover the ways of sin, in
the heai'ts and consciences of the children of
men ; that so all may depart from them, as
they are made known to them by the light
that shines in their hearts, which is the stand-
ard to try all by, and the balance to weigh all
in, of what sort soever, whether it be of God
or no. And this is the rule for us to walk by,
even the law of light, which gives life and
salvation to all that believe, and therein abide.
This it was which first gathered us together,
and raised desires in us after the Lord's way,
with which our souls are refreshed, and our
spirits comforted and consoled in the enjoy-
ment of it, more than with our appointed food.
When we have met together to wait upon him
in his heavenly way, he hath filled our hearts
with his dew, and refreshed us as with the
early and latter rain ; and here we came to



feel the Lord's power revealed, who works all
our works in us and for us, by the operation
of his own eternal spirit, by which he is
cleansing his sanctuary, and making vessels
fit for the Master's use, for life to reign in ;
that the love of God may overflow in all, in-
viting the nations to come and walk in the
light of the Lamb, and be saved. This is that
which we have breathed unto the Lord for, as
for ourselves, that so all may come to the
knowledge of the truth, and be saved. Where-
fore dear Friends, mind God's leading in all
things whereunto you are called, and therein
abide with the Lord, keeping a conscience void
of ofience towards God and man : that so the
truth may be adorned in us all, by a holy life
and godly conversation, as becomes the Gos-
pel of our Lord Jesus Christ; that so God,
over all, may have the glory and honour, to
whom it belongs for evermore.

" And now, dear Friends, we have some-
times met together to discourse of trades and
callings, but more particularly of our own,
which we are in, being tailors, in which we
have met with trials for many years, though
little of it hath been declared by some of us,
knowing the arm of the Lord has supported
us through all, and given us a reward as we
stood faithful to his requirings. This is our
desire for all that are convinced of the Lord's
truth, and know his heavenly way to walk in
it ; and where anything appears to draw back
or hinder, though it be as the right hand or
the right eye, yet if it offends, pull it out, and
cast it from you, and enjoy life, which is more
than all. And our desire for you all, is that
you keep nothing back which God calls for ;
and that you have not peace in your employ-
ments, of which we have sometimes discoursed
as superfluity, and things altogether needless,
whicb some of us for many years have left
undone. We wish it were so with all, that
there might be a clearness and an enlargement
in the Lord's power, and an increase of his
love, which is much better than the increase
of corn, or wine, or oil. And these things,
Friends, we lay before you in the love of God,
being delivered from those burthens that many
yet groan under, as lace, ribbons, and needless
buttons, altogether useless ; and such like
things, which the light doth not justify, but
are out of that in which the true fellowship
stands. As for answering the world in making
their clothes, we leave it to the witness of God
in you all, and as much as in you lies induce
them to moderation ; and as for Friends, we
hope that they will not desire, nor wear any-
thing inconvenient, and therefore need say
nothing more about it: believing the Lord will
so open their undei'standings, as that they will
preach to the world in all things, and adorn



182



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



themselves as becomes the Gospel ; which is
the power of God, by which we are called,
and the way in which we are to walk ; while
we are in these earthly tabernacles ; that so
our lights may shine forth to the world, and
they seeing our good works, may glorify our
Father which is in heaven, and that many may
say, ' Come, and let us go up to the mountain
of the Lord, and to the house of the God of
Jacob : and he will teach us of his ways, and
we will walk in his paths.' This is what our
very souls travail for to God, that every one
convinced of the Lord's heavenly truth may
enjoy it fully, and that nothing may be want-
incr ; and for this cause is this written, in dear
and tender love to you all, not as exercising
lordship over God's heritage, nor with reflec-
tion upon any man's person ; nor for disputa-
tion, nor leading into parties, or gratifying
any narrow private judgment ; but for the
honour of truth, and the glory of God, which
is our whole aim, the Lord knoweth. So in
the blessed unchangeable truth of God, we
salute you all, dear brethren, and in which we
remain in love unfeigned,

" Your dear friends and brethren,
Gilbert Latey, John Bowlover,

- William Walker, Thos. Taunton,
Edw. Eldershaw, William Taylby,
William Tillit, John Pearce,
William Brown, Henry Day,
Degory Marshal, John Thorpe.

" From our meeting in London, the
25th of the 1st month, 1672."

I now come to give some account of Gil-
bert's service in attending King Charles, which
he did several times ; but my intention being
brevity, I shall give but one relation out of
them all, it being thus : In the year 1683,
Friends at Norwich were under severe suflfer-
ings and close confinement, for meeting to
worship the Lord, according as in conscience
they were persuaded was their duty ; sixty-
three persons, both men and women being im-
prisoned, ten of them in a low dungeon,
twenty-nine steps under ground, and several
in the hole among the felons. The cruelty of
their sufferings cried aloud, and the severity
they underwent, through the rage of the
sheriff and jailer, not being warrantable ac-
cording to law, stirred up Friends the more to
have those sufferings laid before the king.
In order to this, they drew up the case ; and
Gilbert with our ancient and honourable Friend,
George Whitehead, whom he truly loved, and
ever had a more than ordinary esteem for,
were appointed to deliver it to the king ; they
being known to him, both having attended him
before. The king being at Windsor, and the
council to meet at Hampton-court, about the
middle of the second month, George and Gil-



bert went the evening before, intending for
Kingston ; but the tide being spent, and the
wind strong against them, they could reach
no farther than Wandsworth. Next morning,
though wet, they went on foot to Kingston,
where making but a very little stay at Ann
Fielder's, who was Gilbert's mother-in-law,
they proceeded towards Hampton-court ; and
having gone something more than half way
up the park, saw a concourse of people near
the canal, and drawing a little nearer, per-
ceived the king was there. Being come pretty
near the king, some of his nobles took notice
of them, and said, the Quakers were coming
towards his majesty ; the king then looking
towards the Friends, said he thought he knew
them ; upon which they spake, and desired he
would be pleased to hear them a few words,
they being come on purpose from London to
attend him. Upon this the king was pleased
to make a little stop, and George delivered to
him the case of our Friends, and laid before
him the severities and hardships they under-
went, and that it was contrary to law. The
king was pleased to say he would search into
the matter ; adding, " I will not have them
overcharged contrary to law by any means,
but will have my laws observed ;" and after
his thus speaking, was very pleasant, and
asked the Friends several questions, as why
they could not as well say. Aye and No, as
Yea and Nay ? To which they answered, that
it was equal to our Friends, either to say Aye
or No, or Yea or Nay, that which was most
proper they could make use of. " But," said
the king, "you will say Thee and Thou; what
is your reason for that?" To which Gilbert
made answer, "The same reason as the apos-
tle Paul, when speaking to King Agrippa, he
says, I think myself happy, King Agrippa, that
I shall answer for myself before tliee, es-
pecially because I know thou art expert in all
cu«toms, &c. Also, King Agrippa, believest
tliou the prophets? And, would to God not
only tlion^ but also all that hear me this day,
were both almost and altogether such as I am,
except these bonds." Upon this the king made
a little pause, and seemed to question whether
these passages were truly translated, yet said,
the translators might have translated You, as
well as Thou, from the Greek; upon which
George answered, " Then the translators were
as simple as we Quakers :" The king replied,
"But you will not pull off your hats, and what
have you to say for that ?" To which Gilbert
answered, " If to any mortal, then to the king
in the first place ;" but it is a matter of con-
science, and "we only do it when we approach
the Lord in prayer." " But," said the king,
" for all this, there are some among you that
have not done well :" to which Gilbert an-



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



183



swered, " They have no more pleased us than
the king:" whereupon some of the nobles said,
" May it please your majesty, your majesty
says some among these people have not done
well; must they be charged with that? It may
be possible that some of your majesty's own
sei-vants may not have done well, shall we
therefore be blamed for that ?" " No," said
the king, " God forbid ;" upon this some of
the nobles replied, " Pray, your majesty, hear
these men, for they speak well, and they look
well on your majesty;" said the king, "I pro-
test so tihey do, I admire to see such wise men
Quakers." Then Gilbert asked if they might
speak freely, for that they were in great
hazard in approaching the king's presence ;
upon which the king stretched out his hand,
and said, "Let no man molest or meddle with
them, but let them come to me when they have
occasion :" upon which Gilbert replied, " We
thank God we have had the favour of seeing
the king's face this day, and wish the king
health, prosperity, and length of days ; and
all you nobles that attend the king this day,
the Lord reward you for your moderation to-
wards us." George Whitehead again en-
treated the king to remember the prisonei's'
case presented to him, which he promised he
would ; upon which the king and nobles that
attended him withdrew to the council ; and the
Friends returned, after the council was over,
to London. The assizes coming on soon after,
the judges, when they came on the bench at
Norwich, were very moderate ; and when the
Friends were brought before them, made a
motion, that four or five of them should en-
gage for the whole to appear at next assizes,
when called ; which being accepted, they all
had their liberty ; and the women Friends were
wholly cleared, and no fees laid to be paid by
either the men or women, all which proceeded
from the attending the king, and his clemency
to his suffering subjects.

In or about the year 1671, Gilbert having
occasion in the way of his trade, which lay
much among great people, to wait on the lady
Sawkell; after having despatched the business
he went about, Sir William Sawkell, the lady's
husband, who then had a command under the
earl of Oxford, in his regiment of horse, came
into the room, and having, as well as his lady,
a kind respect for Gilbert, Avas often familiar
with him. Sir William asked him. What
meeting he went to 1 to which he answered,
" Sometimes to one meeting, and sometimes to
another :" " The reason," said Sir William,
" why I ask is, because I have had orders to
go and break up a meeting of your people at
Hammersmith, which I have deferred execu-



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 40 of 105)