The George Fox Incident

1651AD - 1651AD

George Fox (1624-91) was a travelling shoemaker who founded a religious movement - the Society of Friends, or 'Quakers'.  He preached in many places in the Midlands and North of England and is the subject of an odd incident in the history of York.

Some time in 1647 Fox had experienced a revelation which convinced him that the church and state were corrupt and that people should communicate directly with their god; perhaps not a great revelation to everyone else, but Fox chose to proclaim his message in the most contentious of ways.  His denunciations alarmed the authorities and he was twice imprisoned.  Soon after he was released for the second time, two days before 'the time called Christmas', 1651, he travelled to York.

Fox wrote an autobiography, so we can pick up the story in his own words:

"The next day I came into York, where were several very tender people. Upon the First-day following, I was commanded of the Lord to go and speak to priest Bowles and his hearers in their great cathedral. Accordingly I went. When the priest had done, I told them I had something from the Lord God to speak to the priest and people. "Then say on quickly," said a professor, for there was frost and snow, and it was very cold weather. Then I told them that this was the Word of the Lord God unto them, -- that they lived in words, but God Almighty looked for fruits amongst them.

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, they hurried me out, and threw me down the steps. But I got up again without hurt, and went to my lodging...,"

So, George Fox, probably the only religious leader to have been thrown down the steps of York Minster.

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