Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Imprisonment of George Fox



I think this drawing of George Fox is more or less complete. I have been an admirer of the Quaker movement for many years and it is the first time I have tried to do research about one of its main founders. On several occasions George Fox had visited a dwelling known as Halbathic, just outside the town I live in called Liskeard. Halbathic is a Post Medieval Longhouse with records dating back to 1328. It is the earliest surviving building in Cornwall that was used as a Nonconformist meeting house, adapted as a Quaker meeting house from 1655 to 1688 and owned by Yoeman Thomas Mounce. 


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.