While in Cornwall in 1656 Fox and a friend were arrested and taken to a magistrate who imprisoned them in Launceston Jail for having long hair. They were in jail for nine weeks before being escorted to trial by a body of soldiers. The charges against them were not proved but they were fined for not taking their hats off in court and were sent back to Launceston Prison until they paid their fine; something Fox was not inclined to do as it was unjust. They were then thrown into ‘Doomsdale.’ Fox describes it well in his Journal. ‘A nasty, stinking place, where they used to put murderers after they were condemned. The place was so noisome that it was observed few that went in did ever come out again in health. There was no house of office in it, and the excrement of the prisoners that from time to time had been put there had not been carried out (as we were told) for many years. So that it was all like mire, and in some places to the tops of the shoes in water and urine; and he would not let us cleanse it, nor suffer us to have beds or straw to lie on.
At night some friendly people of the town brought us a candle and a little straw, and we burned a little of our straw to take away the stink. The thieves lay over our heads, and the head jailer in a room by them, over our heads also. It seems the smoke went up into the room where the jailer lay; which put him into such a rage that he took the pots of excrement from the thieves and poured them through a hole upon our heads in Doomsdale, till we were so bespattered that we could not touch ourselves nor one another. And the stink increased upon us; so that what with stink, and what with smoke, we were almost choked and smothered. We had the stink under our feet before, but now we had it on our heads and backs also; and he having quenched our straw with the filth he poured down, had made a great smother in the place. Moreover, he railed at us most hideously, calling us hatchet-faced dogs, and such strange names as we had never heard of. In this manner we were obliged to stand all night, for we could not sit down, the place was so full of filthy excrement.’
Fox relates how his imprisonment helped spread the light of God into Cornwall. ‘And indeed my imprisonment there was of the Lord, and for His service in those parts; for after the assizes were over, and it was known that we were likely to continue prisoners, several Friends from most parts of the nation came into the country to visit us. Those parts of the west were very dark countries at that time but the Lord's light and truth broke forth, shone overall, and many were turned from darkness to light, and from Satan's power unto God. Many were moved to go to the steeple-houses, and several were sent to prison to us; and a great convincement began in the country. For now we had liberty to come out, and to walk in the Castle-Green; and many came to us on First-days, to whom we declared the Word of life.’
They were soon moved to a better part of the prison and they were put in a foul dungeon that was the main sewer for the prison. They often were abused by the jailer and eventually, the injustices that were being done to them were made known to the townspeople and eventually to Cromwell who ordered their release.