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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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ting, and now I have a fresh command laid on
me, and I cannot avoid it, but must go there



on Sunday next, and therefore I speak in kind-
ness to you, if you use at any time to go there,
that you refrain coming that day ; for I re-
ceive my command from so high a hand that
I dare not omit executing thereof." Upon this
discourse it was immediately laid on Gilbert,
that he must be at Hammersmith at the same
time Sir William had desired he would avoid
coming, and accordingly he told him so be-
fore they parted. Not consulting with flesh
and blood, he offered up himself; and went
accordingly to the meeting, the Lord's good
presence accompanied him, and gave him the
word of life to declare, in the authority of
which he stood up and delivered that which
was upon his heart towards the people, who
were assembled in the meeting. While he
was thus preaching, the troopers came into
the meeting, and stood for some time to hear
the truth declared ; but one being more rude
than the others, said, " This man will never
have done, let us pull him down," and accord-
ingly laid hands on him ; after which Gilbert
asked him. Who commanded them 1 to which
they replied, " Sir William Sawkell." Then
said Gilbert, " Let your officer know I am
here, and my name is Gilbert Latey ;" which
when Sir William heard, he came in trembling ;
and at last said, " Latey, did I not tell you that
I was commanded to be here to-day?" to which
Gilbert replied, "Thou didst, but did I not also
tell thee I was commanded by a Greater than
thou art, to be here also?" Upon this, said Sir
William, " Go, get thee gone about thy busi-
ness, and I will take care concerning the rest
here met ;" upon which Gilbert said, " If thou
hast any respect for me, then discharge all the
rest, and let me be thy prisoner :" so after
some time the Friends were set at liberty, and
Gilbert taken and carried before the lord Mor-
daunt and Sir James Smith, who were met by
appointment, as was supposed, to attend to
this matter. When Gilbert was brought be-
fore them, the troopers were called as evidence
against him ; and Gilbert made his defence in
such manner that his words seemed to have
place with them ; yet, notwithstanding, they
fined him and the house, and distrained on
some Friends for the same, among whom was
William Simonds who had a horse taken from
him. But Gilbert was not easy that any
Friends should suffer on his account ; and un-
derstanding they had got the horse and other
goods, which they kept still undisposed of, he
at last found means to be admitted to their
presence, and Laid the cruelty of that severe
law before them, of making one to sufl'er for
the offence of another ; adding, if he had
transgressed any laAv, the Lord had blessed
him wherewith to enable them to take their
course with him, and therefore desired the



184



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



Friends might not be made to suffer on his
account, or for anything by him said or done.
Having frequent opportunities to address him-
self to them, and also the favour of some who
were their equals, and acquaintance, to speak
to them on his and the Friends' behalf, and
the goods, though long detained, not being
sold, he at last so far prevailed, that the lord
Mordaunt gave him a warrant, that the horse
and goods thus taken, should be restored to
the owners ; and superseding the former war-
rant for distress, empowered Gilbert and the
Friends to take the horse and other goods
where they should find them. Friends know-
ing where they were, went accordingly, and
demanded them, and had them restored, which
was no small joy to Gilbert, that the suffering
designed on the Friends of that meeting, was
through the goodness of the Lord thus pre-
vented.

The Lord's power sustained and upheld his
people, by which Gilbert was carried on in his
testimony; and notwithstanding exercises were
permitted, and indeed abounded, yet the love
of God did much more abound, and he, with
what he had, was preserved ; no Friend, as
ever I heard of, suffering any more distress
upon his account. For being a man of ability,
the justices and informers were willing, when
they had opportunity, to fix what they were
permitted to take, either by law or otherwise,
upon him ; by reason of which, there were at
one time warrants against him for several
hundred pounds ; but the Lord being good to
him, even as to his servant of old, made the
enemies ready to say as their master did,
" Doth he serve God for nought ; hath he not
set a hedge about him, and all that he hath ?"
For, notwithstanding their contrivance and
subtilty, the Lord preserved both him and
what he had, that the destroyers' power was
always in measure limited ; for which, to the
great God, belongs the praise.

In the year 1679, he took another journey
to visit his native place, in the county of Corn-
wall ; passing through Reading, and visiting
some Friends there, he proceeded on to the
north part of the county, to wait on a family
which in those days bore great sway in the
county of Berks, and had been kind to Friends.
After having received a friendly and kind en-
tertainment from them, he went to Bath, and
Bristol, visiting Friends as he had opportunity ;
and through pai't of Somersetshire, and the
north part of Devonshire, till he came to
Falmouth in Cornwall. Doctor Lamplugh,
the then bishop of Exeter, had done him se-
veral favours in respect to Friends under suf-
ferings in his diocese ; which made Gilbert
the more solicitous to inquire, as he passed



through the same, how things generally were
with Friends up and down that diocese, as also
in the courts then kept by and under the said
bishop ; and finding his moderation and kind-
ness to have been extended in a general man-
ner to Friends, Gilbert, according to his won-
ted custom, on his return waited on the bishop
at his palace in Exeter, to acknowledge the
favours he had so largely extended to Friends.
The bishop received him with a great deal of
kindness, taking him in his arms, and ex-
pressed his benediction ; after which he led
him into a private room, and said, " All must
not know how well you and I love one an-
other ;" and then asked Gilbert, what wine he
shotdd give him ; to which he replied, he had
given him that which was better. " Pray,"
said the bishop, " what mean you by that ?"
said Gilbert, " Thou hast given me thy love,
which is better than wine." " Then," said
the bishop, " if so, pray sit down by me ; and
if it may be no offence, how far have you
been, or are going, in these parts?" To which
Gilbert answered how far he had been, and
told him of the inquiry he had made, con-
cerning the moderation both of him and his
officers, to Friends. " Well," said the bishop,
" and I am sure you will not flatter any body,
and therefore tell me what name I have where
you have been." To which Gilbert replied,
that he had no tidings to give but what was
well ; upon which the bishop thanked him,
both for his inquiry and report. Gilbert again
acknowledged his kindness and favours, and
after some time they took leave of each other.
Having at all times easy access to him, and
also the favour at any time when there might
be occasion, to write to him: in the year 1683
he wrote to the bishop, and received the follow-
ing answer :

" Mr. Latey,

" I had acknowledged the receipt of
your civil letter before now, but that I staid
till our assizes were over, that I might see
what proceedings were made against any of
your persuasion ; and I can hear of none. I
find no processs of late against any of them
in any of my courts, for I have examined my
officers about it. What the justices of peace
have done in their Monthly Meetings I know
not; but sure I am, that such as live quiet and
peaceable in the land, by any order from me,
are no way disturbed ; and I believe the justi-
ces are gentle enough to such as do not affront
them. I never was, nor will be for persecu-
tion, but shall endeavour that by any amica-
ble way, such as have erred may be brought
into the way of truth, and that we may all
enjoy one another in heaven. I am now



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



185



somewhat indisposed : writing is irksome to
me. God Almighty bless you ; I am your
truly loving friend,

" Thomas, Exon.
" Exeter, March the 24th, 1683-4."

Soon after King James came to the crown,
Gilbert was one who presented the king with a
list of 1500 Friends, prisoners for conscience-
sake, about 800 of whom being estreated, and
writs nigh ready to go forth for seizing their es-
tates for twenty pounds per month, Gilbert, with
our honourable elder George Whitehead, took
great care and unwearied pains to procure
a stop to be put to these violent prosecutions,
and obtained, by the king's commission, the
following order from the then lord Trea-
surer : —

" After my hearty commendations, these
are to authorize and desire you to forbear
making forth any process against any the per-
sons hereunto annexed, each sheet being sub-
scribed by myself; the three first sheets hav-
ing four columns of names, the fourth only
two, till the next term ; and if any process is
already made forth, you are immediately to
supersede the same ; and for so doing this
shall be your warrant.



" Whitehall Treasury Chamber,
the 4th of March, 1685.



" Rochester.



" To my very loving friend,
the Clerk of the Pipe."



After the aforesaid warrant, an order was
obtained to lay these cases before Sir Robert
Sawyer, the attorney-general, who after a
considerable time and solicitation, made his
report to the lord Sunderland and earl of
Middleton, then secretaries of state, who trans-
ferred the report to the king in council, where
an order was obtained to refer the matter to
the lord privy-seal, and that a warrant might
be passed in that office to the pipe-office, show-
ing that the king had pardoned the offences and
relinquished the fines. The time this matter
took up in soliciting and attending was not a
little, nor the fatigue the Friends underwent
small, as was well known to many ; and at
last their health was so impaired, that Gil-
bert was fain to leave his wife and family,
being hardly able to get into the coach which
was to take him into the country. He had
not been there above a week, when a let-
ter came from his dear companion George
Whitehead, informing of his being taken so
ill, that he could not go out of his house; and
that Gilbert, if possible, must return, or else
the great cause would be at a stand. Gilbert
knowing the concern to be of great weight,
breathed unto God for strength to enable him

Vol. I.— No. 5.



to go on with the service ; which desire was
answered by the Lord, and his strength re-
newed so that he returned, and again attended
at the pipe-office, till the matter was accom-
plished; and soon after Friends were dis?charged.
After this was effected. Friends were not
free from sufferings ; for, notwithstanding so
great a number were thus discharged, abun-
dance were still continued in prison ; some,
for not coming to the public worship, or as
they called it, for not coming to church, were
taken up and imprisoned on the writ de ex-
communicato capiendo, and others who in
obedience to Christ's command, could not in
these perilous times forsake meeting often to-
gether, to wait upon and worship him, accord-
ing as they were persuaded was their duty, in
spirit and truth, were sorely persecuted, fined,
and committed to prison, under close durance,
till they should pay the fines. Among these
were several scores in Newgate in the city of
Bristol, some of whom were merchants and
dealers in the said city ; and many being
under confinement in other parts of the na-
tion ; Gilbert was one who attended the king
with a petition on their behalf. It had so
good effect, as to obtain their liberty and re-
lief, as may be perceived by the following re-
port from the attorney-general, viz.

" I HAVE considered of this petition, and of
the several cases annexed. For those that are
in prison for not coming to church, or upon
excommunicato cajnendo, for the same, I can
discharge upon a former warrant directed to
me, which I have offered to do ; but the far
greater number of those in the schedule are
imprisoned until they pay their fines set upon
them for unlawful conventicles within the city
of Bristol, to which city the fines are granted
by their charter ; and I do find that the sheriffs,
to whom those fines are allotted, have acquit-
ted their fines under their hands ; so that I
conceive they may be discharged without fur-
ther warrant from his majesty ; which I shall
take care of ; and also as to those fined in
Southwark, annexed to this schedule, or any
others which are fined for being at conventi-
cles, whose fines are not pardoned. But if his
majesty, of special grace, be pleased to dis-
charge them, the easiest way to them will be
by a warrant under his majesty's signet, to
acknowledge satisfaction, and thereupon to set
them at liberty ; and by like warrant, the
persons imprisoned upon an excommunication,
may be set at liberty.

" Robert Sawyer.

" May the 5th, 1686."

Gilbert again attended the king, to lay be-
fore him the hardships our Friends underwent
24



186



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



by mercenary informers ; and also gave him
an account of Friends having been for some
years kept out of their meeting-place at the
Savoy, in the Strand, of which the soldiers kept
possession and made it their guard-house ; and
that in the same manner they kept Friends out
of their meeting-place at the Park in South wark,
who for a considerable time met without doors,
the soldiers having converted one part of the
meeting-house into a guard-room, and fitted
the other part to read mass in. As to the
matter which related to some of the chief in-
formers that harassed our meetings, and made
great spoil of Friends' goods, as mentioned in
the petition, a warrant was thereupon granted
by the king, for the examination thereof; a
copy whereof followeth : —

" Whereas several persons called Quakers,
have exhibited a petition to his majesty, com-
plaining of several misdemeanors and irregu-
larities of several informers ; and his majesty
having been pleased to refer the examination
thereof to us, by warrant from the right
honourable the earl of Middleton, one of his
majesty's principal secretaries of state, we do
appoint to consider of the same on Friday,
being the fourth day of June next ensuing, at
four of the clock in the afternoon, at Mr.
Graham's chamber, in Clifford's Inn; and we
desire you, the persons undernamed, to be
present then, in order to our proceeding in
the said affair.

" Given under our hands, the last day of
May, 1686.

" Richard Graham,
per Burton.

" To Jeffery Nig-htingale, Esq.
Peter Lugg, Esq.
Capt. John Hilton." '

Friends also appeai'ing, made good their
allegations and charges, so that the informers
received a just rebuke, and met with so much
discouragement from making further prose-
cution, that this proved in great measure, a
fatal stroke to those mercenary men, who had
made their boasts of what they would do to
enrich themselves ; and in order thereto, had
set their agents in many parts to ruin the
king's peaceable subjects. But their hands
were now very much weakened, and their de-
signs broken by the Lord, who soon after
gave rest and peace to his church and people,
and restored to them their meeting-houses, and
the quiet enjoyment of their peaceable meeting
together.

In the year 1688, Gilbert and two Friends,
namely George Whitehead and William Penn,
meeting at White-hall, they asked him if he
would go along with them to wait upon the
king. He made some little pause before he



gave his answer, having nothing in his mind
to say, or to attend the king for ; and as he
thus stood silent, it opened in his heart what
he should say to the king, whereupon he told
the Friends, he was ready to go with them.
Accordingly they went, and had admittance
to the king's presence, there being only one
person present besides the king and the
Friends. George Whitehead and William
Penn having spoken what they had to say,
the king was pleased to ask Gilbert whether
he had not something to say ; upon which, in
a great deal of humility, he spake as follows :
" The mei'cy, favour, and kindness which the
king hath extended to us as a people, in the
time of our exercise and sore distress, we
humbly acknowledge; and I truly desire that
God may show the king mercy and favour in
the time of his trouble and sore distress." To
which the king replied, " I thank you ;" and
so they parted.

What was then spoken by Gilbert, lived
with the king ; and a considerable time after,
when in Ireland, he desired a Friend to re-
member him to Gilbert and " Tell him, the
words he spake to me I shall never forget ;
adding, that one part of them was come, and
he prayed to God the other might also come
to pass." Gilbert desii'ed the Friend, when he
returned again to Ireland, if he had opportu-
nity to see King James, to let him know that
the second part of what he had said, in rela-
tion to the king, was also in great measure
come to pass, and that the Lord had given him
his fife.

Soon after the coming in of King William,
the benefits resulting from the toleration al-
lowed in the late reign, made some think that
it would be of great service, if what was
granted then by a dispensing power, might
now, in this happy reign, be established by a
legal act of parliament ; and King William
having a desire to make his subjects easy, the
pi'omoting of this good work was acceptable
to him. A bill of that kind was proposed to
the parliament, and order given for the bi'ing-
ing it in, which accordingly was passed, under
the title of, " An Act for exempting their
Majesties' Protestant Subjects, dissenting from
the church of England, from the penalties of
certain Laws," (being about thirteen in num-
ber ;) and it was enacted, " That all Protest-
ant dissenting Subjects should take the oaths
mentioned in a Statute made in that parlia-
ment, and should make and subscribe the
Declaration mentioned in a Statute made in
the thirtieth year of King Charles II ; which
oaths and declaration the justices of peace
at the General Sessions were required to
tender."

Upon the reading of this bill in the House,



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



187



Friends understanding the tenor of it to bind
all to take the oaths aforesaid, and as they
for conscience sake could not swear in any
case, they solicited the parliament for a clause
to make them alike easy with the rest of the
king's Protestant subjects. Gilbert was one,
with divers others, appointed to attend this
service, and their labours were blessed with
success. A clause was prepared and received
by the House ; which is as foUoweth : —

" Whereas there are certain other persons,
dissenters from the church of England, who
scruple the taking of any oath ; be it enacted
by the authority aforesaid, that every such
person shall make and subscribe the aforesaid
Declaration, and also this Declaration of Fi-
delity, following." — Which may be seen at
large* in the act passed in the month called
May, 1689.* Subscription was also required
to a profession of Christian belief, according
to the words thei'ein contained. f

In the year 1694, being the fourth of the
reign of King William and Queen Mary,
Gilbert attended the king at Kensington,
with the following petition, which had so
good effect, that one hundred Friends were
discharged.

" To the King.

" The case and request of the people called
Quakers, in behalf of many of them, who
are present sufferers for conscience sake,
humbly presented :
" Showing,

" That as the God of all our mercies
hath preserved us, a peaceable and quiet peo-
ple in the land, according to our Christian
principle and profession, under the various
revolutions of government, so we humbly hope
and resolve by his divine assistance, ever to



* These include a solemn declaration of the
subject to be true and faithful to King William
and Queen Mary, a renunciation and abhorrence
of the doctrine of the See of Rome, that princes
excommunicated and deprived by the pope or his
officers, may be lawfully deposed and murdered
by their subjects ; and of the supremacy and
jurisdiction of the pope in matters civil or eccle-
siastical, within the realm.

f This profession of Christian belief, was drawn
up by Friends, and presented to the committee of
parliament as a substitute for the one in the bill,
which contained some expressions not entirely
agreeable to the Society. The committee ac-
cepted the proposal, and it passed the House as
follows, viz :

" I, A. B., profess faith in God the Father, and
in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God, and
in the Holy Spirit one God blessed for evermore,
and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the
Old and New Testament, to be given by divine
inspiration."



continue ; being also heartily thankful for the
several kindnesses and compassions received
from the government, especially for the present
liberty we now by law enjoy, in point of re-
ligious worship. Yet forasmuch as many of
the said people are continued under deep suf-
ferings in their persons and estates by tedious
imprisonments, seizures, and sequestrations ;
divers also of late have died in prisons, and
many more [are] under pxosecution, and liable
so to suffer in England and Wales, tending to
the ruin of many families; for these causes of
conscience, viz. chiefly on contempts (as ad-
judged) for not answering on oath in cases of
tithes,:}: when sued in the Exchequer, and also
for not answering upon oath, when prosecuted
in the Ecclesiastical Courts for tithes, church-
rates, &c. whereupon they proceed to excom-
munication, and by signijicavits, procure writs ^
de excommunicato capiendo, and sometimes
justices' warrants to imprisonment.

" We therefore humbly remind the king of
the great severities and prosecutions formerly
inflicted on us, which were sometimes abated
and respited, when it pleased God to move the
hearts of the kings and governments to show
compassion and favour to us, whereof these
are some instances :

" First. By King Charles II. his proclama-
tion of grace in 1661, whereby many of our
Friends were released out of prisons.

" Secondly. By his letters patent, or par-
don in 1672, pursuant to his declarations of
indulgence to tender consciences in the same
year.

" Thirdly. By an act of parliament, the
25th of Charles II., chap. 5, entitled, ' An
Act for the King's Majesty's most gracious,
general, and free pardon,' pardoning con-
tempts, &c. against the king ; whereby many
also of the said people were discharged and
released out of prisons.

" Fourthly. Also by King James II., many
were released out of prisons, and relieved by
divers commissions, and two general procla-
mation pardons, the one in 1685, and the
other in 1688.

"Fifthly. And also by an act of ' gracious,
genei'al, and free pardon,' in the second year
of King William and Queen Mary, several
were discharged from contempts and imprison-
ments.



\ When proceedings were commenced in any
of these courts against Friends, the law required
that the defendant should make answer upon oath,
by bill or otherwise, on pain of being adjudged
guilty of a contempt with forfeiture therefor. As
Friends could not swear on any occasion, they
could of course make no legal answer, and were
therefore subjected to all the penalties of the law,
without the benefit of pleading exceptions, &c.



188



LIFE OF GILBERT LATEY.



" These foregoing noted precedents of royal
favour and compassion to the oppressed, and
the present confinements and hardships of
many innocent persons, tenderly considered ;

" We, the said people, humbly request, that
the king would be pleased to extend his
favour and compassion towards the said suf-
ferers, for their lawful ease and relief from
the present confinements, as in his wisdom
and clemency shall seem most meet and con-
venient.

" Signed in behalf of the said people and snfTerers,
and delivered to the king at Kensington, in the
secqnd month, called April, 1695."

In consequence of this application, about
one hundred Friends who were prisoners,
were soon after discharged by an act of in-
demnity, for which our acknowledgments
are due both to God and the government.
After all the waiting and solicitations, although
ease was obtained for some, others were under
severe sufferings, which often arose by Chan-
cery and Exchequer proceedings, the inability



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 41 of 105)