Hugh Beavin

The founder of the Quaker movement

George Fox, the founding father of the Religious Society of Friends - better known as the Quakers - was born in 1624 in Fenny Drayton.

He was born into a time of religious and civil turbulence, a time when Roman Catholics and Protestants bitterly opposed each other and the growth of the Presbyterians encouraged the birth of other ultra Protestant groups like the Puritans.

Shortly before his birth in 1620, one group of Puritans left England and set sail for America - and a place in history as the Pilgrim Fathers.

And while George was still a young man the civil unrest boiled over into the Civil War and spawned yet more religious and political groups, such as The Levellers.

At the outbreak of the war George left Fenny Drayton and embarked on a life of travel around the country, searching for answers to his questions of faith.

He was shocked by what he found, but in 1652 he reached the Yorkshire Dales and had a vision that inspired him. Word spread and groups of dissatisfied religious seekers flocked to hear him speak.

Over the next 10 years his society continued to grow, but the Quakers came under increasing attacks for their views, and these continued right up until the Act of Toleration was passed in 1689.

Two years later George died, having suffered bouts of severe illness in his later years - brought on by his terrible experiences in prison and his arduous travels around America.

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley-on-line