Founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). George Fox was born in Drayton-in-the-Clay,
Leicestershire, England, the son of Puritan parents. Little is known of his
early life, apart from what he wrote in his journal: "In my very young years,
I had a gravity and stayedness of mind and spirit not usual in young children.
Insomuch that, when I saw old men behave lightly and wantonly toward each
other, I had a dislike thereof raise in my heart, and I said within myself,
`If ever I come to be a man, surely I shall not do so, nor be so wanton.'"
At the age of 19, he gained deep, personal assurance of his salvation and
began to travel as an itinerant preacher, seeking a return to the simple practices
of the New Testament. He abhorred technical theology, and preached a faith
borne of experience, freshly fed and guided by the immediate presence of the
Fox was persecuted almost daily, yet his power of endurance was phenomenal.
He was beaten with dogwhips, knocked down with fists and stones, brutally
struck with pikestaves, hard beset by mobs, incarcerated eight times in the
pestilential jails, prisons, castles and dungeons-yet he went straightforward
with his mission as though he had discovered some fresh courage which made
him impervious to man's inhumanity.
He undertook as far as possible to let the new life in Christ take its own
free course of development in his ministry. He shunned rigid forms and static
systems, and for that reason he refused to head a new sect or to start a new
denomination, or to begin a new church. He would not build an organization
of any kind. His followers at first called themselves "Children of the Light,"
and later adopted the name "The Society (or Fellowship) of Friends."
Fox preached and traveled for 40 years throughout England, Scotland, Holland,
and America. His life demonstrated the truth of his famous saying, "One man
raised by God's power to stand and live in the same spirit the apostle and
prophets were in, can shake the country for ten miles around."