George Fox

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George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691) was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers or Friends.

The son of a weaver from rural England, Fox lived in a time of great social upheaval and war. He rebelled against the religious and political authorities by proposing an unusual and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. He travelled throughout Britain as a dissenting preacher, for which he was often persecuted by the authorities who disapproved of his beliefs.

Fox married Margaret Fell, the widow of one of his wealthier supporters; she was a leading Friend. His ministry expanded and he undertook tours of North America and the Low Countries, between which he was imprisoned for over a year. He spent the final decade of his life working in London to organize the expanding Quaker movement.

Though his movement attracted disdain from some, others such as William Penn and Oliver Cromwell viewed Fox with respect. His journal, first published after his death, is known even among non-Quakers for its vivid account of his personal journey.

Contents

Early life

George Fox was born in the strongly puritan village of Drayton-in-the-Clay, Leicestershire, England (now known as Fenny Drayton), 15 miles (24 km) west-south-west of Leicester. He was the eldest of four children of Christopher Fox, a successful weaver, called "Righteous Christer"[2] by his neighbours, and his wife, Mary née Lago. Christopher Fox was a churchwarden and was relatively wealthy; when he died in the late 1650s he was able to leave his son a substantial legacy.[3] From childhood, Fox was of a serious, religious disposition. There is no record of any formal schooling but he learned to read and write. "When I came to eleven years of age," he said, "I knew pureness and righteousness; for, while I was a child, I was taught how to walk to be kept pure. The Lord taught me to be faithful, in all things, and to act faithfully two ways; viz., inwardly to God, and outwardly to man."[4]

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