George Fox in Scarborough Jail (1665-1666)

Around April 1665 Fox was transferred to Scarborough Castle even though he could hardly stand or walk. He was put into a room that was exposed to the sea and the wind and rain came into every part of it, and from the exposure his fingers swelled to double their usual size. He was allowed no visitors and lived on bread and water. He was eventually able to get a letter he had written explaining the injustices against him to a friend, who gave it to another friend who was part of the court, who gave it to the King. Fox’s friend, Marsh, spoke persuasively in his favour and Charles II ordered Fox’s release on 1st September 1666.

Fox suffered greatly in his latest imprisonment and all because he refused to take an oath. It is difficult to understand why the Quakers went to such lengths to avoid taking an oath even though it is mentioned in the Bible. It also says, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’ so I would have thought that responding to a law of the land that did not compromise a key part of their faith would have been acceptable. Many Quakers went to prison because they refused the oath and it was a really easy weapon for their persecutors to use. Perhaps they would have put them in prison anyway after all Fox was imprisoned illegally on several occasions. I cannot go into detail here but Fox notes in his biography many instances of the death or ruin of those who persecuted him, clearly they were judged for attacking the Lord’s anointed.