Wednesday, April 25, 2007

George Fox's Letter to the Governor of Barbados

An Early Version of George Fox’s “Letter to the Governor of Barbados”

(from George Fox, To the Ministers, Teachers, and Priests, (So called, and so Stileing your Selves) in Barbadoes, 1672, pp. 65-79)

Edited by Stephen W. Angell

Why Study this Letter?

Religious orthodoxy, slavery, religious persecution – these are all issues that came to a head for Quakers in Barbados in 1671, at a time when their founder George Fox was trying to put his fledgling religious movement on a firm organizational footing. For those who want to find out about the costs of faithfulness within and outside of a religious movement, Fox’s instructions to the Barbadian Quakers of 1671 constitute a fascinating case study. Quakers have perennially been making extracts of the documents that stem from Fox’s visit to this sugar island. But the complex reality was greater than any one-dimensional portrayal of it.

For Friends of the Orthodox Christian persuasion, “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly” has been a much-cherished document because of the doctrinal dimension. For many years, the Friends United Meeting included a part of this work, under the title of “Extract from George Fox’s Letter to the Governor of Barbados,” as one of its three most important statements of doctrines in a booklet entitled, Authorized Declaration of Faith of the Five Years Meeting of the Friends in America. First published in 1922, it has been often reprinted in the years since. Of the three doctrinal statements included in this booklet, this letter attributed to George Fox is the only one to issue from the seventeenth century.

Liberal Friends have often objected to this document, on various grounds. In the first place, it has a feel of a creed, and Quakerism, at least according to the understanding of Liberal Friends, has always been a non-creedal religion. In the second place, Liberal Friends often object to the specific doctrines contained in this letter. A nineteenth-century scholar of Quakerism, Samuel Janney, demonstrated that this letter places far more emphasis on the work of the outward Christ and far less emphasis on the work of the inward Christ than most other Quaker writings from the seventeenth century. They are undoubtedly correct in seeing this aspect as a large part of the appeal of this letter to Orthodox Friends. On the other hand, Liberal Friends, as well as some Orthodox Friends, have often been fascinated by the issues of economic oppression and justice raised by this letter – and a sermon by Fox from the same visit, entitled Gospel Family Order.

This document has not had a universal appeal across time for Quakers. It first achieved a brief notice with the work here excerpted, which sought to counteract a sharp attack on Quakers in a wealthy English colony very far from the center of power. Although the quest for respectability over the next two decades pushed Quakers generally toward more orthodox Christian statements of their view, this document did not achieve further notice until 1694, five years after the passage of the Act of Toleration. The toleration granted Quakers at that time was tenuous enough, and continuing attacks by apostate Quakers like George Keith threatening enough, that the 1690s was definitely a decade in which Quakers were pushed to new protestations of Christian orthodoxy. Thomas Ellwood’s able and dexterous editing of Fox’s Journal, in which this document was inserted with a highly misleading appearance of verisimilitude, gave “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly” new life. However, it was not until the 1820s, and a sharp outbreak of tension and eventual schism between Quaker liberals and some primitivists, commonly called “Hicksites,” and Quaker evangelicals and conservatives, usually known as “Orthodox,” that this letter was really brought to the forefront of Quaker discourse. Its importance in disputes between Quakers has never really died down since.

Most currently published versions of the “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly” are based on the version of this letter which appeared in Ellwood’s 1694 edition of Fox’s Journal. The fuller, more defiantly polemical, more strongly Quaker, and less ecumenical version that is reproduced below was published in 1672, the year following the actual writing of this letter, and it would appear to be the only text of this letter was actually published in Fox’s lifetime.

Historical Context for this Letter

Barbados is the most easterly of the Leeward Islands, generally flat and about thirty miles long and twelve miles wide. English settlement of this island began about 1624, less than a half-century before Fox’s visit. The English planters experimented with various crops, including tobacco and indigo, but they found that they could make the most money with sugar. The production of sugar was quite labor-intensive, so the planters invested heavily in the purchase of slaves from Africa, making large profits off of unpaid labor. Quickly the number of African slaves came to dwarf the number of English free men and free women, so the fears of slave revolts came to be pervasive. The wealth of Barbados made it an exceptionally important colony for Britain, far more important than any North American colony, for instance – at least in the seventeenth century.

The English political ferment eventually came to affect this faraway island. In 1652, Oliver Cromwell asserted authority over Barbados; his appointee as governor was Richard Searle. Four years later the first Quaker missionaries, or “public Friends,” began to appear on the island. Searle was fairly sympathetic to the Quakers, but his term of governor did not outlast the Restoration in 1660.

Charles II re-organized Barbados and appointed William, Lord Willoughby, as the new governor. By 1660, Quakers had begun to attract many converts on the island, and some of these converts were rich planters. Six of the Quakers owned over 100 slaves. One punishment that the new royal government applied to English Quakers was exile from their homeland, in the form of transportation to Barbados, and by those means the numbers of Quakers on the island was augmented as well.

Barbados was divided into eleven parishes, and there was a larger supply of ministers there than in some other English colonies such as Virginia. Still the position of the church was somewhat weak. As was the case for all of the other American colonies, episcopal oversight was thousands of miles away, a distinct disadvantage for a church organized around bishops. The quality of the priests who served in Barbados was at a distinct disadvantage, and this tract by Fox provides evidence of that. That some priests drank too much and too readily resorted to violence spoke poorly of the quality of pastoral care on the island.

Still, there was considerable tension, because the Quakers had successfully set up an alternative religious network. They had built six meetinghouses. In other words, there were more than half as many meetinghouses as there were parishes. The drain caused by Quakers on the parishes was very substantial. But Barbadians could sense a complexity to Quaker life as well. In the early 1660s, a Quaker dissident by the name of John Perrot accepted an exile to Barbados. Perrot disagreed with Fox on several issues, wanting to rid Quakerism of its lingering ceremonialism. He disapproved of men taking off of their hats during prayer, of handshakes at the end of worship services – some of his followers even suggested that it was unnecessary to set times to meet for worship, but that should only happen as led by the Spirit. Some Quakers in Barbados were attracted by Perrot’s ideas. Perrot died in 1665, but his influence lingered. When Fox went to Barbados to establish “gospel order,” part of the order he envisaged was counteracting what he saw as Perrot’s unfortunate influences.

The raft of anti-Quaker and anti-dissenter legislation passed in Britain generally applied in Barbados as well. Partially under pressure from the newly restored Anglican ministers on the island, there were significant prosecutions of Quakers over the next decade for offenses such as refusing to contribute to the expenses of the militia and of the established church. For the former, Quakers pled their conscience; for the latter, they noted that they did not need the services of the Anglican ministers and did not see why they should pay for them. Nonetheless, they were found guilty and subjected to large distraints (taking of property) and also imprisonments.

Quakers, smarting at this mistreatment, perceived God’s hand at work in the afflictions suffered by their persecutors in Barbados and elsewhere. In predicting that “the Hand of the Lord God will suddenly come upon many of you with his swift Destruction,” Fox referred to recent disasters that had come upon Barbados, “one, of Fire, and the other of the Plague.” (10) In his Addition to “For the Governour,” he elaborated further, noting that there had been “a very great Fire, that burnt down most of the Houses at the Bridge.” (73) It is also true that in 1671 the governor’s council had proclaimed a day of prayer for “removing a grievous sickness and pestilential distemper.” Restoration England, whose officials were persecutors on a grander scale, had also recently suffered these same two afflictions on a grander scale, as there was an outbreak of the plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of London devastated that city in the following year.

When Fox visited Barbados in 1671, William, Lord Willoughby, was away, so he met twice with the Deputy Governor, a thirty-one-year-old man (and sixteen years Fox’s junior) named Christopher Codrington. Codrington appears to have received Fox quite cordially. In the battle over religious influence on the island, the civil authorities were really the only force with any ability to listen to both sides. So it was clear that both the Anglicans and the Quakers were attempting to their utmost ability to influence Codrington and the Barbadian Assembly.

While the doctrinal orthodoxy of Quakerism was clearly at issue, and indeed was the first issue addressed in “For the Governour,” it is also clearly not the most important issue. The most pressing issue was Quaker attitudes toward slavery, and whether Quakers could be trusted not to encourage slaves to rebel. Doctrinal issues were only addressed in “For the Governour” in one place in Fox’s To the Ministers, whereas issues relating to slavery were treated in several places, and quite repetitively, through the book.

At this early stage of the development of slavery in the English colonies of America, some very basic issues were still unsettled. Quakers wanted their slaves to take part in worship on Sunday, and Fox emphasized how the Quaker message bolstered the social order in Barbados that countenanced slavery. But was a slave’s status changed by his or her adoption of Christianity? Under plausible interpretations of English law, it could be argued that no Christian could be held in slavery. A court suit brought by Elizabeth Key in Virginia in the late 1650s was resolved in a way that seemed to suggest that Christian slaves like Key might be entitled to freedom, and understandably, other such suits were being brought into English courts throughout the Atlantic world. In the 1660s and 1670s, North American colonies were devising new laws to counteract this interpretation of British law, but the whole issue was still perceived as unsettled. Was the Quaker position of proselytizing slaves thus unwittingly jeopardizing the slave labor system upon which the prosperity of Barbados depended?

For Quakers, Barbados in 1671 seemed like the “nursery of Truth” – the indispensable center of New World Quakerism, and the foundation upon which all other New World Quaker triumphs would be built. Yet the uncertainties associated with being Quaker on that island were large and – at least for people like Fox – quite troubling.

Fox’s visit temporarily aided the Quakers, as after his departure numerous Barbadians – up to one thousand – flooded the meetinghouses established by the sect founded by this eminent man. The tide turned again in 1675, when the discovery of an imminent slave conspiracy involving dozens of blacks prompted Barbadian authorities to enact new laws more strictly controlling slaves and also new anti-Quaker laws. From 1675 to 1685, there was a storm of persecution against Quakers, lasting even longer than the persecution in the homeland that began to ebb after the accession of James II to the throne in 1684. In the 1690s, many Barbadian Quakers emigrated to other locations in the New World, most notably, the newly formed Quaker colony of Pennsylvania. Thus, in the early eighteenth century, the numbers of Quakers in Barbados had begun dwindling drastically. By 1800, Quakerism had died out in Barbados altogether.

How does “For the Governour” Compare to Christian Creeds?

As already noted, many commentators throughout history have noted similarities between this document and historic Christian creeds. We might well keep in mind some differences as well. This document nowhere mentions the Trinity, as virtually all Reformation-era Protestant creeds do. In fact, the Holy Spirit is nowhere mentioned, not because Quakers did not believe in the Holy Spirit, but because it is a response to a charge from Anglican ministers that Quakers denied God, Christ, and the Scriptures. The Anglicans did not charge that Quakers denied the Holy Spirit, so there was no need to respond on that point.

It is certainly not a statement that invites recitation, or even necessarily a vocal assent from other Quakers. It was Fox’s practice never to state the basics of a Christian Quaker faith the same way twice, and this practice arose out of his conviction that true faith must arise out of a vital religious experience. If he were repeating anyone else’s words, or even his own words, then that statement of faith would lack the freshness and immediacy that is required for a faith that issues directly from the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in this, however, to preclude him on one such occasion of making a statement of Quaker faith in a format that somewhat resembles Christian creeds, and that seems to be what we have here.

The treatment of the Scriptures here is also quite different from most Protestant creeds. The Westminster Confession actually begins with the Scriptures as the first item of belief, but it is the third matter addressed here, after Quaker views of God and Christ. The “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly” sticks with Fox’s oft-repeated contention that the Bible is the “words of God,” not the “Word of God,” the latter being a title that Fox contended must be reserved only for God. (Friends United Meeting’s “Extract” is limited in such a way that this distinctively Quaker assertion about the Scriptures is cut out of the letter.) This document is also similar to other early Quaker writings in its resolve that statements about religious faith should be framed only in the language of the Scriptures.

Still, unlike most Quaker writings from this period, “For the Governour” does echo or quote certain phrases from the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed. Here declarations about God and Jesus Christ are made in language almost identical to one or both creeds. Fox and other Friends probably would have justified this by observing that the parts of the creeds that they used were scriptural. “For the Governour” does not use the Apostles’ Creed’s assertion of Christ’s descent into hell nor descriptions of Christ in the Nicene Creed as “of the same essence as the Father,” as these cannot be found anywhere in Scripture. But other aspects of both creeds that might well be characterized as scriptural are not utilized in this letter. In addition to the letter’s lack of mention of the Holy Spirit, “For the Governour” does not address the resurrection of the body.

We should understand this as a Quaker attempt to establish a common language and point of reference with the Anglican priests attacking them, and, even more so, with ordinary Christians for whose allegiance Quakers and Anglicans were competing.

Unlike most Protestant creeds, there is no treatment of the outward sacraments or of other church ritual in this document, again typical of other early Quaker writings. This earliest published version of the ““For the Governour ” did set this statement of doctrines in the context of Quaker testimonies such as the non-observation of days and times and a free gospel ministry not based on education at Oxford or Cambridge, but this contexting is missing from versions of the letter used from 1694 onwards.

Beyond the resonances to the Apostles’ and portions of the Nicene Creed in the opening paragraphs of the “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly,” one would be hard-pressed to find a Christian creed that even remotely resembles what Fox and his companions penned here. The Baptist and Anabaptist creeds, such as the 1632 Creed of Dordrecht adopted by the Mennonites, come the closest, and that is not very close.

Howard Brinton has observed that in his Journal, Fox writes that he “with some other Friends drew up a paper,” and wonders whether Fox’s contribution to the group’s product must have been slight, since this is so different in form from Fox’s other summaries of the Quaker faith. I believe that a close reading of this letter will show otherwise. Fox’s contemporaries usually deferred to him on matters of Quaker faith, and this is no exception. Many of the Biblical texts employed were Fox’s favorites. Note the occurrence of the phrase “I say” on page 70, surely an upwelling of Fox’s own voice, a phrase that was amended by much later editors to “we say,” probably to emphasize the group contribution to this composition. (On the other hand, “we say” does occur on page 72 of the 1672 text.) While others may well have made contributions, it appears to me that Fox’s voice is dominant here. But this is an area that will require more investigation.

The arguments that this text was designed to meet

The text of this early edition of this “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly” comes at the end of a 79-page book. Inasmuch as we have only reproduced here the last fourteen pages of this book, it is necessary at this point to summarize the content of the first 65 pages, so that we can appreciate more fully the context in which this letter is embedded.

The book as a whole is a reply to Anglican ministers who have made a wide-ranging series of charges against Fox and other Quakers on Barbados. Nine of these ministers are mentioned by name: William Lessley, John Bernad, William Johnson, John Hopgood, Mathew Grey, John Page, William Frith, “Priest” Walker, and “Priest” Dyke. (Evidently, for the last two, only their last names were known.) Some of the charges were lodged in formal complaints to the civil authorities in Barbados, while others circulated far more informally through the grapevine. But the following eight charges are representative of the complaints that the Anglican ministers had concerning the Quakers:

1. Quakers were disruptive of good church order. For example, the ministers complained that they “frequently and irreverently interrupted” Anglican Church services. They also were not very respectful of the Anglican ministers. The ministers complained that they were “Uncharitably Pursued and Anathematized with Words, and Execrations, and Bitter Invectives.”

2. Quakers had a negative effect on church attendance, as they convinced many Barbadians to absent themselves from the Anglican services. The ministers wrote to the governor and council that the Quakers were the main cause of the “Poysoning, if not the utter Ruin of many Well-meaning Souls in our Flock, who being infatuated and inveighed with their Pernicious Tenets, do desert the Publick and Consecrated Places of God’s Worship.

3. More informally, George Fox was charged personally with being a sorcerer. He was alleged to have hanged ribbons on people’s arms, by which means he would bewitch them.

4. Equally scurrilously (at least from the Quaker point of view), Fox was charged with other improprieties, mostly of a sexual nature, such as an accusation that he had sexual intercourse with a young woman who accompanied him from England, and that he would be willing to have sex with his sister.

5. Quakers were charged with denying God, Christ, and the Scriptures.

6. The Anglican preachers also contended against many specific aspects of Quaker doctrine. Thus, they denied that there was any such thing as a supernatural, saving light of Christ within human beings, opting to understand any light within humans as a natural light. Also, the Anglican preachers disputed the Quaker contention that perfection is possible for saints this side of death.

7. Quakers were charged with encouraging black slaves to rebel.

8. Finally, and this was an argument directed far more toward the Governor and his Council than toward anyone else, the mere existence on the island of small Quaker worship groups, or “conventicles,” to use the contemporary pejorative term, violated numerous laws of England, in the Anglicans’ view. These laws were not being sufficiently enforced for the taste of the Anglican ministers, and hence they called for more vigorous enforcement.

What we know today as Fox’s letter to the Governor of Barbados was directed at charges 5 and 7, which were indeed very serious and threatening charges. But the book as a whole was dedicated to rebutting virtually all of these charges, as well as launching a vigorous counterattack on the Anglican clergy.

On one fundamental point, there would appear to have been a modicum of agreement between the Quakers and the Anglicans almost from the beginning. It would appear that Fox, as well as the Anglicans, would have conceded that there were significant theological differences between the two sides. The Quakers’ agenda was something like this: (1) They sought to clarify what the differences between the two sides were, in order to sort out the real theological disagreements from the “slanders and lyes cast upon” them by their opponents. (2) They sought to dispel groundless rumors. (3) They sought to defend their position by giving the best possible arguments for the views they really held. (4) They sought to convert their opponents by suggesting that their “day of visitation” was nigh, if not already past, although the invective that they really did unleash against the Anglican priests suggests that the intended audience for this book from which conversions might really have been expected on this island were the laity, not the clergy. By contrast, their opponents seem to have operated more from a compulsion model than a conversion model. (5) Finally, like their opponents, they sought to appeal to the civil authorities, the closest that any institution on this religiously divided island came to being neutral, in order to get the civil authorities on their side.

The counterattack is launched from page one. Fox asks the Anglican ministers, “unless you be in the same Power and Spirit the Apostles were in . . . to present the immortal Soul to the immortal God: Do you pretend to watch for the spiritual and everlasting Good of the People?” This wide-ranging counterattack covers such matters as the Quaker testimonies on the non-observation of Christian holidays (12-15), a free gospel ministry unsupported by state-collected tithes (16, 18-19), and the openness of the Christian ministry to ordinary laboring folk without college degrees (31 ff.). All of these points struck at the base of the very priestly activities that the Anglican ministers on the island were engaged in.

Fox also exhorted the Anglican ministers not to instigate religious persecution against the Quakers. One Biblical text to which he appeals is Matthew 13, one of Jesus’s parables which asserts that the wheat and the tares are not to be separated until the harvest, which Jesus explains is a figure of speech for the Last Judgment. Fox asks the Anglican ministers, “Now what’s the matter with you and others, who will be Gatherers when Christ hath forbidden you, lest you pluck up Wheat instead of Tares; seeing it is the Angels Work to sever the Wheat from the Tares, and the Wicked from the Just?” (29) Drawing on Ezekiel 34, Fox asserted that the Anglican ministers are “the False Prophets and Shepherds, who fed themselves, and cloathed themselves with the Wool, &c. when they should have fed the Flock.” (23) In effect, what the Anglican ministers were presenting as the maintenance of law and order, Fox was presenting as unfounded religious persecution.

There are several cases of clergy misconduct alleged in Fox’s text. Two of the Anglican ministers on Barbados, William Lessley and John Hopgood, were alleged to have beaten peaceable Quaker men very severely, without any provocation. In Hopgood’s case, for example, he is said to have “struck one Charles Bream on the Head, as they rode together on the high Way, by which stroke the said Charles received much harm and prejudice, and not long after dyed.” (18, 50) At least one Anglican minister was alleged to have used alcohol in an abusive way. The custom at celebrations at Barbados was for jugs of alcohol to be passed around to all in attendance. Parson Matthew Gray, however, having a fondness for brandy, “drunk up the brandy” when it reached him, justifying his selfish practice with a Biblical quotation that, in Fox’s view, was clearly misapplied: “be filled with the Spirit.” (17-18)

Fox protested with great indignation the unfounded rumors spread about his own personal life. As you will see below, his “Addition” to “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly” traces the rumor of Fox being a witch to an Independent minister in England during the mid-1650’s. On the matter of alleged sexual improprieties, Fox responded that “I abhor, detest, and scorn such things; it being well known in England . . . that I was never tainted with the least Unclean action, nor thus taxed, till I came here amongst you.”

The final seven pages of Fox’s text are concerned with some doctrinal matters on which the differences between the Anglican and Quaker positions were relatively clear. First, on the matter of Quakers “owning perfection here in this Life,” Fox does not deny the existence of original sin, but he finds the devil to be the sole source of original sin, and clears both God and Christ of any responsibility for it. As regards perfection, Fox asks, “Is not the Command of Christ to us to be Perfect as our Heavenly Father is Perfect? And was it ever the work of the Prophets and Apostles to preach up Imperfection for Term of Life; but always . . . the Prophets, Christ, and the Apostles pressed, and presseth us to Perfection? and what, do they press us to that which is impossible to be attain’d unto?” Christ will “present his Church perfect . . . without Spot, or Wrinkle unto God the Father,” but Fox imagines that the Anglican ministers will present their Church to God “with a Body of Death, and a Body of Sin.” (41-43)

After a brief treatment of spiritual baptism as Christ’s one baptism instead of water baptism, Fox proceeds to expound the Quaker understanding of the Light of Christ. The Anglicans believe the Light to be “Natural and Created, and a Made Light.” But according to Fox, they misunderstand the nature of the Light. It is really “a Heavenly Light and a Spiritual Light, wherewithal He Enlightens every one that comes into the World, which he commands us to believe in, through which we become Children of Light. . . . And so, as men are turned to the Light, and believe in the Light, they are ingrafted into Christ. . . And as Peter speaks of the Light, which was a Sure Word of Prophesie, whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a Light that shines in a dark Place, until the Day dawn, and the Day-Star arise in your Hearts, signifying that this Light was sufficient to bring them unto the Day-dawning. . . . In the Light they see more Light, and it shines more and more to the perfect day.” (46-47)

At this point, it would appear that Fox has adequately answered all the charges that the Anglican ministers have thrown against the Quakers except the two most serious ones: (1) that Quakers deny God, Christ, and the Scriptures; and (2) that Quakers have encouraged black slaves to rebel against their slave masters. These are the two matters centrally addressed in the “For the Governour and his Council and Assembly.”

Interrelationships Between Slavery and Christianity in Fox’s Epistle

While Fox’s letter seems to have two subjects, Friends’ view of slavery and the Friends’ claim to Christian orthodoxy, there is really only one unifying problem that ties together the seemingly quite diverse strands of this epistle. That one unifying problem is slavery.

To understand how this is so, we need some background. In seventeenth century Barbados, African slaves were understood to be black – that “Negro” was merely the Spanish word for “black” would be common knowledge. There was no corresponding conception of “whiteness,” an idea that would have entailed, for example, that English Protestants had something essential in common with Spanish, French, or Irish papists. Instead, when the English on Barbados chose to differentiate themselves from the Africans they brought to the island, they could do so through geographical origin: English/African. But their preferred conceptualization of difference was a religious one. On Barbados, the “Christians” were the master class, and the “heathen” were the slaves.

In their own perilous times, they would not have thought this to be a distinction universally applicable for all of humanity. On their route from England to Barbados, Fox’s ship had been pursued for some time by a strange and menacing vessel. Eventually, Fox’s ship managed to escape its nemesis – in Fox’s view, by providential means – but it would have been implicitly understood by everyone aboard that if they had been captured by the pursuing vessel, and if it had been a North African corsair, that all of the English on board would have been in danger of being sold into slavery. Indeed, some of Fox’s writings were directed to Quakers in Algiers who had met just that fate. So life’s vicissitudes could deliver one, by fate or providence, into either the condition of a master or the condition of a slave.

It surely goes without saying that the English on Barbados intended to preserve for themselves the condition of the master. But they were in an insecure position. They were a minority on their own island, outnumbered by their own African slaves. This, of course, entailed that slave insurrections were a constant possibility, and hence the matter for great fearfulness among the English. Likewise, hostile forces from without could also menace their wealth derived from slaves and sugar cultivation. Consequently, to most of the English on the island, a strong military posture seemed to be an absolute necessity.

But, first, before even getting to that question, it had to be settled that all of the English on the island were Christian – and that none of the Africans were. Richard Ligon, who published a chronicle of Barbados in 1657, wrote of an African who had informed him that he wished to become Christian. Ligon promised to take this up with his Barbadian master. Ligon was informed that it was an impossibility for the African to become Christian, because “Christianity” was what united all the free persons on the island, and a Christian slave would have to be freed. The Barbadian powers were vitally concerned about anyone that would blur the distinction between Christian and heathen.

Quakers in Barbados in 1671 were in anomalous position, something similar to that of the Irish in mid-nineteenth century America. They needed to prove that they were Christian, or else they would be automatically disqualified from the master class status. The starving Irish immigrants had, in the words of historian Noel Ignatief, to “become white” in order to achieve the status and upward mobility that they wanted in nineteenth-century America. Analogously, Quakers in Barbados in 1671 had to become Christian to qualify for the social status that they wanted. Simultaneously, they had to show that any religious plans they had for the African heathen would not threaten the Barbadian status quo. These two tasks were as related to each other as two sides of a coin.

Fox chose to address the question of the Quakers’ Christian identity first. The Anglican priests on the island had charged that Quakers denied God, Christ, and the Scriptures. In his response, Fox was at his Gnostic best, proclaiming a public theology that explicitly contradicted a major point of his private teaching on the island. Several of the phrases in Fox’s letter echoed phrases that he used liberally in his other writings. Citing the statement from Hebrews that Jesus Christ was “the author and finisher of our faith” was a staple of Fox’s writing, as was his belligerently stated contention in this letter that Scripture constituted The WORDS of God,” not the Word of God, the latter being a title that could only be given to Christ himself, in Fox’s view. None of this contradicted his teaching elsewhere, but what did contradict his teaching to Quakers on this island was his total omission in this epistle of everything he had ever taught about the inward appropriation of the gospel, that the gospel of Christ can only be real when it is internally experienced and inwardly lived out. His Gospel Family Order shows how central this was to his message to Barbadian Quakers, as it was indeed central to his message to Quakers in every other land. Thomas Chalkley’s writings show that Barbadian Quakers understood which was Fox’s real message, and that they cherished the memory of his spiritualist teaching. But if he had delivered a spiritualist message to the governor, his protestations that Quakers were Christian would not have been believed. So he chose a disingenuous route on his communication of theological belief to the Barbadian authorities, then entrusted the publication of this message to a Quaker mariner, because there was nothing in it that he wished to polish for posterity.

The more difficult part of his communication with Barbadian authorities was the reverse side of the coin, that of showing that Quakers were doing everything possible to prevent and discourage slave insurrections. That peaceable Quakers would not take part in the Barbadian militia was so intractable a problem that he never gets around to addressing that in his letter. But he does attempt to put the best case that he can on the Quaker insistence in including African slaves in their religious meetings, the problem being, of course, that in a common construction of English law at that time, that any Christianization of the Africans might result in the latter claiming their freedom. What Fox emphasizes over and over again is the use of Friends’ meetings to impart the message of social control that is found in such Scriptural sources as the Pentateuch and Paul’s epistles. What he wants to argue is that Quakers are reinforcing and strengthening the social fabric on Barbados, not placing it in desperate peril. Barbadian authorities seem willing, initially at least, to give their eminent if suspiciously radical guest the benefit of the doubt. But their tolerance of what could be a very dangerous teaching does not stretch very far. When a slave conspiracy is actually discovered in 1675, three years after Fox leaves the island, any implicit understanding that might provide an accommodation for the Quakers is definitively revoked, despite the lack of any evidence incriminating Quakers or their teachings to the slaves.

The irony is that Fox’s teaching on slavery eventually became the mainstay of the evangelical Christian pro-slavery position in North America. Some small but essential steps are necessary before Fox’s teaching can be adapted to pro-slavery uses. The most important of these steps were actions by a series of colonial legislatures divorcing a slave’s status from his or her religion, in effect, stating that a slave’s religious conversion would not affect his or her status as a slave. After the Act of Toleration in England and the subsidence of fears against Roman Catholicism, the step toward construction of “whiteness,” i.e., construction of the status of a master class on the basis of skin color, is given a giant push forward. In this rapidly changing historical situation, which reaches its tipping point about the time of Fox’s death in 1691, two decades after his visit to Barbados, the message that Fox gave on Barbados, arguing for religious instruction and humane treatment of slaves in exchange for an implicit understanding not to challenge the institution itself, became a broadly acceptable message among evangelical Christians in America, even in the stronghold of slavery in the Southern states. The most effective means of dispersing this religious understanding of slavery was initially the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, founded in 1703 by ex-Quaker George Keith, who, as a Quaker ten years previously, had taken an explicitly anti-slavery position in his tract entitled, An Exhortation and Caution to Friends concerning buying or keeping Negroes.

But whether Fox would have stuck with teaching that religious instruction and humane treatment render slavery an acceptable institution is a subject for legitimate doubt. His private teaching on the island of Barbados incorporated in Gospel Family Order suggests cautious support for freeing of slaves after a certain term of service, in effect subtly undermining any conception of lifetime, hereditary servitude. His close traveling companion, William Edmondson, returning to Barbados only five years later, during the harsher regime after the slave revolt, gave a much stronger anti-slavery statement. It is possible – but not guaranteed, by any means – that had Fox been led to make another visit to the New World sometime after the early 1670s, that the Holy Spirit might have led him to a different understanding of what God required in the Americas in terms of human relationships, and he would have seen that this fuller understanding of where God is leading us would have a strong Scriptural basis, too. In other words, the continuing revelation for anti-slavery to which later Quaker reformers such as John Woolman and Anthony Benezet responded so faithfully might well have come upon George Fox, too. Benezet himself was one who portrayed Fox as anti-slavery, as did the later reformer Elizabeth Gurney Fry. But all of this is speculative, and we must leave it behind at this point. Fox’s Barbadian project in 1671 was much more limited and defensive in scope, and resulting in great subtlety and ambiguity

Textual History of “For the Governour”

“For the Governour” had very little oversight from Fox in getting to press. Fox is presented to the public as the author of To the Ministers, Teachers, and Priests, (So called, and so Stileing your Selves) in Barbadoes, but when this book appeared in 1672, Fox was still traveling in the wilderness of North America. It would appear that the publication of this book was arranged by the mariner John Hull, who had transported Fox to Barbados and effectively functioned as his secretary. Indeed, To the Ministers contained two writings explicitly designated as Hull’s. The first was a lengthy letter “To William Lessley, Walker, William Johnson, William Frith, Dyke, and the rest of the Priests and Ministers in Barbadoes,” which reprimanded these Anglican ministers for their persecuting ways, and called upon them to repent and “Live forever with the Lord,” or alternatively, to face God’s judgment (51-60); and a postscript to that letter which contained even more fiery and prophetic denunciation of the ministers, after one of them subsequently preached an unfriendly sermon before the Barbadian Assembly. (61-64)

Possibly if Fox had seen this book through the press himself he would have edited it substantially. We’ll never know about that road not taken, but another publication that issued from his three months in Barbados he did feel was important enough to delay its appearance and to give it a thorough editing. This second publication was Gospel Family-Order: Being a Short Discourse concerning the Ordering of Families, Both of Whites, Blacks and Indians (1676). It was based on a sermon he had preached at Thomas Rous’ house in Barbados in 1671. On the two major themes of “For the Governour,” it was quite continuous in its treatment of slavery, emphasizing the importance of Quaker heads of families to provide religious instructions for their slaves, but quite discontinuous in its treatment of theology, reverting from the theology of “For the Governour” stressing Jesus as he lived and died over sixteen centuries earlier, to (in this 1676 volume), a Jesus and indeed an entire religion that internalized all aspects of the sacred history of Israel and the early Christian church (as “types”) and made that history relevant only by experience in one’s heart and then living it out in one’s own life. Thus, Gospel Family Order is much more typical of Fox’s theology as it had been developing over the previous quarter-century. Fox’s teaching as it related to slavery seemed to be entirely consistent between public settings (with non-Quakers present) and private settings (with only Quakers present). On theological issues, it was the opposite. What he taught in public was quite different from what he taught in private, with the outward Jesus and the external face of the Christian religion receiving emphasis only in the former.

Fox never reprinted To the Ministers during his lifetime, as he did several of his other tracts. Thus, the next time that the letter to the Governor of Barbados was considered for publication was immediately following his death, as his colleague Thomas Ellwood struggled to determine how to put together Fox’s Journal from a variegated set of manuscripts.

The manuscripts for Fox’s Journal has no narrative concerning his experience in Barbados, and Ellwood and every editor of Fox’s Journal since has struggled to determine how to handle those important months in Fox’s life absent a ready narrative.

They have arrived at very different solutions to the problem. Let’s look briefly at the solutions of two modern editors: Nigel Smith just leaves those months out, since there is no narrative coming from Fox. John Nickalls provided a selection of letters, as well as “For the Governour,” reproduced in main from To the Ministers.

Ellwood, in the early 1690s, carefully and skillfully crafted a solution that no modern day editor would adopt. He took all the available sources and crafted a narrative that represented Fox himself as speaking in the first person. For example, he took a letter that had been written about Fox in Barbados in the third person and included that letter in his edition of the Journal, with the main change being switching pronouns from the third person to the first person. The only part of To the Ministers that Ellwood used was the letter “For the Governour,” but without the Addition to the letter that had been attached to the main body of the letter in the 1672 work. The language has been smoothed out since 1672, and this is most likely Ellwood’s doing. The angry assertion that “we call the Scriptures as Christ and the Apostles call’d them . . ., namely The WORDS of God,” has been retained, but without the provocative capitals. Ellwood eliminated the puzzling assertion from the 1672 text that Christ “was made to be as Sin, or an Offence and Curse for us, who knew no Sin.” While these statements have Biblical precedents (II Cor. 5:21 and Gal. 3:13), this sentence makes little sense in light of the traditional Christian emphasis on Christ’s sinlessness. Ellwood’s modification that “Christ was made a Sacrifice for Sin; who knew no Sin, neither was Guile found in his Mouth” may well have had its intended clarifying effect, and had the added benefit of Scripture references all of its own; Jesus’ guileless speech was a theme of I Pet. 2:22.

While Ellwood’s text was not as streamlined as some later versions, it undoubtedly was intended to provide a modest help to Quakers who had to face the authorities in the immediate period after its publication. In the wake of the Act of Religious Toleration in 1689, when Quakers had been included only after a concerted lobbying campaign, any evidence of Quaker orthodoxy as Christians was most welcome. The Quakerism of the 1690s had to face periodic renewal of its toleration, and its leadership, men like Ellwood and George Whitefield, were cautious and conservative. Quaker statements resembling creeds were welcome, if they helped to fend off attacks by Anglicans and apostate ex-Quakers like George Keith, attending London Yearly Meeting in the year that Fox’s Journal was published to press his case against Pennsylvanian Quakers as insufficiently Christian. There were several such statements that resembled creeds written and disseminated widely in this conservative decade. Fox’s uncharacteristically well-organized letter “For the Governour” could also be useful in this circumstance, more so than the more typical spiritualist Gospel Family Order, a tract for which Ellwood could not find a place in his edited work. Whether it had a positive effect immediately is a more difficult question. Since it was buried deep inside Fox’s Journal, it would require careful readers who could provide it with effective publicity in a receptive era in order for large numbers of Quakers to pay attention to it.

History of Interpretation

In the eighteenth century, the century after the publication of the Ellwood edition of Fox’s Journal, Fox’s letter seems to have been little noticed, at a time when there were few disputes over religious doctrine among Quakers. For a long time after his death, personal reminiscences of Fox were more important to Quakers than Ellwood’s edition of his Journal, and the documents included therein. For example, Samuel Bownas’s dream about George Fox some decades after the latter’s death was affirmed in the truth of its portrait of Fox by another Quaker who had been with him on Barbados. Not only Fox but also Barbados had multivalent meanings for Quakers. It had been the location where some English Quakers had been transported involuntarily, and the fierce persecution against Quakers on the island itself had also seared itself into the Quaker consciousness, something to which Joseph Besse’s work testified. To the extent that Quakers noticed Fox’s writings from Barbados at all, they tended to focus on his remarks about slavery, rather than those on more abstract matters of Quaker theology. Thus, in his Views of American Slavery, Anthony Benezet employed a quotation from Gospel Family Order to show Fox’s “concern and fellow-feeling for the bondage of the negroes.” Elizabeth Gurney Fry and Caroline Stephen in the nineteenth century were among those who found positive value in this part of Fox’s Barbadian ministry.

Thomas Chalkley noted that Barbadian Quakers had taken to heart Fox’s inward religious message (the message we have located in Gospel Family Order), and this was what they advocated to potential converts. He does not make this contrast, but we might say that they valued the spiritualist theology of Gospel Family Order more than the public theology exalting an outward Jesus found in “For the Governour.”

Intense interest in “For the Governour” seems to have been stirred up among evangelical Quakers in the early nineteenth century. Three Quaker writers – Elisha Bates, Thomas Evans, and Elizabeth Fry’s brother, Joseph John Gurney – were especially vocal in their advocacy of Fox’s letter as a document that could be used to define religious orthodoxy among Quakers. But “For the Governour” had not achieved the kind of doctrinal pre-eminence among Friends that it later would. Both Gurney and Evans gave it as one of only a long list of orthodox Quaker confessions and declarations of Christian faith. For Gurney, it was one of 10 Quaker statements, issued on or before 1731, that confirmed “the divine origin and authority of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.” Evans was perhaps the first Quaker to publish a long extract from Fox’s letter.

Gurney found Fox’s letter to be useful in establishing two vital doctrinal points. In addition to confirming “the divine origin and authority” of the Scriptures, Gurney cited it in order to establish “that our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in all his gracious offices, is the only foundation on which the church is built; and that the free mercy of God in Him is the sole ground of the Christian’s hopes.”

Samuel Janney, a historian from the Hicksite tradition (or “Foxite” tradition, as he preferred to call it), fashioned a subtle response to the privileging of “For the Governour” over the numerous other texts that Fox had written in his lifetime. Janney thought that Fox’s letter was a rather shallow series of Scriptural texts, and that there were much more profound thoughts, many more riches, to be had elsewhere in Fox’s works. But, in good Quaker fashion, he did not tell this so much as show it. In an appendix of his life of Fox, he arrayed in parallel columns, the text from “For the Governour” with corresponding insights from other of Fox’s writings. Janney intended that the “extracts from his other writings . . . show what [Fox] understood those Scripture texts to mean.” Janney, like Fox, believed in the Divinity of Christ, but he rejected “the doctrine of Vicarious Satisfaction, which I think George Fox also rejected.” Thus he sought to frame narrowly the differences between Hicksite Friends like himself and Orthodox Friends like Gurney and Evans, focused on issues surrounding Christ’s atonement.

By the end of the century, “For the Governour” was no longer just one of a dozen or more confessional statements, but had become the main statement of doctrines from early Friends to which the Gurneyite branch of Orthodox Friends appealed. I have not found any reasoned explanation of why this particular doctrinal statement leaped to the head of the list, but its clear organization, relative brevity, and the authority given to it by its association with Quaker founder Fox, must have been among the reasons that it had become so highly regarded. Still, there were problems. At the Richmond Conference of 1887, Hannah J. Bailey from New England Yearly Meeting discussed the difficulty of instructing converts on the nature of Quaker beliefs. “They ask us our creed, and we tell them we have no creed but the Bible. We can get them to read George Fox’s letter to the Governor of Barbados, but there is much that is not included in that.” In her view, Fox’s letter needed supplementation, and the 1887 Conference ended up providing that with a fuller, and also quite controversial, statement of Quaker doctrines entitled the “Richmond Declaration of Faith.” But Gurneyite Friends became divided over whether the Richmond Declaration, or Fox’s letter which was still reprinted alongside of it, could be regarded as creeds.

Within the Gurneyite fold, there soon arose a modernist faction that was strongly opposed to understanding “For our Governour” and the Richmond Declaration of 1887 to be creeds. Rufus Jones was an especially vocal advocate for the modernist position. In a 1924 letter to Harry Keates, an advocate for his opponents, Holiness Quakers, Jones criticized “For the Governour” in the following fashion: “I have always found fault with this Letter. It is not the specific doctrines in it that I object to; it is, as I pointed out in my second article in the Friend, that George Fox seems here for once to have changed his interpretation of Christianity. Everywhere else he appears as the champion of a religion of life and experience and he strongly disapproves of statements of doctrine and formulation of views which he calls ‘notions.’ But in Barbados he either wrote such a statement or had his friends write one which he signed. I took the position that here he surrendered, at least for the time being, his usual religious attitude. I believe that my position is historically sound and I doubt if any body else in this generation has given as much time to the careful study of George Fox as I have.” (Rufus Jones papers, Haverford College Archives)

Howard Brinton, for many years the co-director of Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center in Pennsylvania, was a vocal advocate of Fox’s epistles as the best and most vital expression of his spirituality. Brinton, however, did not believe that “For the Governour” had been written by Fox: “The so-called ‘Letter of George Fox to the Governor of Barbadoes’ . . . does not appear in the 1698 folio [which contains most of Fox’s genuine letters]. Inserted in Thomas Ellwood’s 1694 edition of Fox’s Journal, it has occasionally been used as a creed by some bodies of Friends. That letter differs in style and content from the epistles in the folio collection, even from the nine letters of undisputed authorship to Friends in Barbados. Fox was seriously ill on the voyage from England to Barbados and needed constant attendance. The letter seems to have been prepared by members of the group. In editing the Journal, Thomas Ellwood supplies an introductory sentence to this letter beginning: ‘We drew up a paper, etc.’ Had he believed Fox wrote the letter, he would no doubt have said ‘I drew up a paper, etc.’ Fox unfailingly signed his letters ‘G.F.’ and here no such signature appears. (Religious Philosophy of Quakerism, 100)

Many books of Friends’ discipline have included extracts from “For the Governour,” including Christian Life Faith & Thought, Being the First Part of the Book of Christian Discipline of the Religious Society of Friends in Great Britain (1922), on pages 73-74, 99. The title given to it was “Epistle addressed by George Fox and others to the Governor of Barbados in 1671, at the time of their visit to America.” It does not appear in subsequent editions of books of discipline published by London or Britain Yearly Meeting. It also appears in the Faith and Practice of the Five Years Meeting of Friends in America (Book of Discipline)(1945), on pages 103 to 105, entitled “Extracts from George Fox’s Letter to the Governor of Barbadoes, 1671.” No edition of the joint faith and practice from Five Years Meeting (or Friends United Meeting, as it is now called) has appeared since 1945, but many of the books on faith and practice from individual yearly meetings within Friends United Meeting continue to include these extracts. The extracts in the British and American books of discipline are different, with the British book preserving more of the situational prose which describes the reason that Fox (together with his companions, in the British view) composed the epistle, and also preserving more of the Quaker distinctives that Fox (and possibly others) included in the epistle. The American version, by way of contrast, is edited in such a fashion as to remove all situational elements, thus making the statement appear more timeless, and also to remove Quaker distinctives, thereby turning it into a Christian statement less tied to denominational peculiarities.


While it is clear that several people were involved in the composition of this epistle, I believe that George Fox guided them and was a dominating force in the entire process. The method and content of this letter seem to me to be characteristic of Fox, and anomalies can be accounted for either by the stringent demands of the situation that Barbados presented to Fox and his companions, or (in the case of later recensions of this document) by the extensive editing that this letter was given after Fox’s death.

There are two common errors that Quakers make concerning the interpretation of this letter, and most who are aware of this letter’s existence make one of these errors. The first error, which occurs most frequently among evangelical Quakers, is to assume that this letter can be taken as a Quaker creed issuing from Fox himself. It was far from being that. I hope that I have shown that it can be accounted for simply as a reply to certain charges that were being leveled against Quakers, and that it is best regarded as an occasional piece of writing. While Fox himself issued statements of doctrine, he never saw the need for a creed that all Friends would affirm, nor did he champion one.

The second error concerning this letter, one made most often by liberal Quakers, is to assume that Fox didn’t, or perhaps shouldn’t have, written it, because it sounds like a creed. While Fox showed no favor toward adoption of a creed, he saw no reason to worry about having his writing sound like a creed if in this instance it could further Quaker convincements. While the only part of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds Fox was interested in were those parts that he could show as scriptural, he was willing to make use of them in an appropriate context. Fox’s emphasis was on being true to one’s own religious experience, testifying to what one knows “experimentally.” And it was quite possible that his or anyone else’s experiential language might take the form of a pre-existing creed. Fox saw that part of experiential truth was freshness in communication, so he never quoted himself, and while striving for consistency in his message, he also strove to communicate that truth in different words, in different combinations of scripture passages, with each of the hundreds of tracts that he published. This letter is certainly no exception to his experiential emphasis.

So, if we are to follow Fox’s example, there should be no reason why any Quaker cannot appropriate the words of a creed, as long as he or she stays true to his or her religious experience. Similarly, there should not be any reason why any Quaker should have to subscribe to a creed – in either case, religious experience, when tested by faith community and Scripture, ought to be cultivated and honored for its freshness of insights.

The ways that concerns about vital religious questions were wrapped up with matters of social oppression, namely, slavery, in which Quakers of that time were deeply complicit, should impart an extra element of humility to our consideration and appropriation of this letter. How might our religious preoccupations in our own twenty-first century be diverting us from addressing and alleviating matters of oppression and injustice to which we each should be devoting far more attention? Might this be an area where we especially need to cultivate freshness of insight?




And His

Council & Assembly,

And all Others in Power, both Civil and

Military in this Island; from the People


(With an ADDITION)[2]

Whereas many Scandalous Lyes and Slanders have been cast upon us,[3] to the rendring us the more Odious (viz.) That we do deny God, and Christ Jesus, and the Scriptures of Truth, &c. This is to inform you, That all our Books and Declarations (that for these many years have been published to the World) do clearly testifie to the contrary; but yet, for your sakes this is now given forth.[4]

That God (who is the Only Wise, Omnipotent, and Everlasting God) we do Own and Believe in,[5] who is the Creator of all things both in Heaven and in Earth,[6] and the Preserver of all that he hath made; who is God over all; blessed forever; to whom be all Honour, and Glory, [66] and Dominion, and Praise and Thanksgiving, both now and for evermore.[7]

And that Jesus Christ is his Beloved and Only Begotten Son,[8] in whom he is Well pleased; who was Conceived by the Holy Ghost, and Born of the Virgin Mary;[9] in whom we have Redemption, through his Blood, even the Forgiveness of Sins; who is the express Image of the Invisible God, the First born of every Creature; by whom were all things created that are in Heaven, and that are in the Earth; Visible and Invisible; whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers.[10]

And we do own and believe, that he was made to be as Sin, or an Offence and Curse for us, who knew no Sin;[11] and was Crucified for us in the Flesh, without the Gates of Jerusalem; and that he was Buried, and Rose again the Third Day, by his own Power,[12] for our Justification; and we do believe, that he Ascended up into Heaven, and now sitteth at the Right Hand of God.[13]

And that this Jesus is the Foundation of the Prophets and Apostles,[14] and our Foundation; so that there is no other Foundation to be laid, but what is laid, even Christ Jesus: and that he tasted Death for every man,[15] and shed his Blood for all men: that he is the Propitiation for our Sins, and not for our Sins only, but for the Sins of the whole World:[16] For saith John the Baptist of him, Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the Sins of the World, John 1.19.

And we do believe, That he is our Alone Redeemer and Saviour, even the Captain of our Salvation;[17] who saves us from Sin, as well as from Hell, and from the Wrath to come, and destroyes the Devil and his Works;[18] who is [67] the Seed of the Woman, that bruises the Serpent’s Head,[19] to wit, Christ Jesus; who is Alpha and Omega, the First and Last.[20]

That he is (as Scriptures of Truth say) our Wisdom, Righteousness, Justification and Redemption;[21] neither is there Salvation in any other; For there is none other Name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved:[22] it is he alone who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls,[23] he it is that is our Prophet, whom Moses long since testified of in Acts 3.22, 23.[24] A Prophet shall the Lord our God raise up unto you, of your Brethren, like unto me, him shall you hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you: and it shall come to pass, that every one that will not hear that Prophet, shall be Destroyed from among the People.

He it is that is now come, and hath given us an Understanding, that we may know him that is true; and a Rule in our Hearts, even his Law of Love and of Life in our Inward Parts,[25] which makes us free from the Law of Sin and Death.[26]

And we have no Life, but by him; For he is the Quickening Spirit, the Second Adam, the Lord from Heaven;[27] by whose Blood we are cleansed,[28] and our Consciences sprinkled from Dead Works,[29] that we might serve the Living God; by whose Blood we are purchased.[30] And so he is our Mediator, that makes Peace and Reconciliation between God offended, and Us offending; being our Surety of the New Testament, and[31] the Oath of God, the New Covenant of Light, Life, Grace and Peace; the Author and Finisher of our Faith.

Now this Lord Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Man, Emanuel, God with us, we all own and believe in; whom the High Priests[32] raged against, and said, He had spoken Blasphemy;[33] and the Chief Priests, and Elders of the Jews, took Counsel together, and put him to Death; the same [68] whom Judas betray’d for Thirty Pieces of Silver, which he had from the Priests; who gave a Large Sum of Money to the Souldiers, to broach a Horrible Lye, namely, that they should say, That his Disciples stole him away by Night, whilst they Slept.[34] And after he was risen from the Dead, you may see in the Acts of the Apostles, how that the chief Priests and Elders Persecuted the Disciples of this Jesus, for preaching Christ, and his Resurrection: this (we say) is that Lord Jesus Christ, whom we own to be our Life and Salvation.[35]

Now concerning the Holy Scriptures.

We do believe, That they were given forth by the Holy Spirit of God, through Holy Men of God, who spoke (as Scriptures of Truth say[36]) As they were Moved by the Holy Ghost, in 2 Pet. 1.1. and that they are to be Read, and Believed and Fulfilled; and he that fulfils them is Christ. And are profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Correction, and for Instruction in Righteousness; that the Man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all Good Works, 2 Tim. 3:16[-17]. and are able (as Divinely Inspir’d)[37] to make us Wise to Salvation, through Faith in Christ Jesus.[38] And we do believe, That the Scriptures are the Words of God; for its said in Exod. 10.1. God spake all these Words, saying &c. meaning the Ten Commandments, given forth upon Mount Sinai: and in Rev. 18,[39] saith John, I testifie unto every man, that heareth the WORDS[40] of the Prophesie of this Book; if any man addeth unto These – and if any man shall take away from the WORDS (not Word) of the Book;[41] So in Luke 1.20 Because thou believest not my WORDS: and John 5.47 & 15.7 & 14.23 & 12.47. So that we call the Scriptures as Christ and the Apostles call’d them, and as the Holy Men of God call’d them, namely The WORDS of God.

[69] Another Slander and Lye[42] they have cast upon us, is, namely, That we should teach the Negars[43] to Rebel.

A Thing we do utterly abhor and detest in and from[44] our Hearts, the Lord knows it, who is the Searcher of all hearts, and knows all things, and so can witness and testifie for us, that this is a most Egregious and[45] Abominable Untruth.

For, that which we have spoken and declared to them is, to exhort and admonish them, To be Sober, and to Fear God,[46] and to love their Masters and Mistresses, and to be Faithful and Diligent in their Masters Service and Business; and that then their Masters and Overseers will Love them, and deal Kindly and Gently with them:[47] And that they should not beat their Wives, nor the Wives their Husbands; nor multiply Wives, nor put away their Wives, nor the Wives their Husbands, as they use frequently to do:[48] and that they do[49] not Steal, nor be Drunk, nor commit Adultery, nor Fornication, nor Curse, nor Swear, nor Lye, nor give Bad Words to one another, or unto any one else. For there is something in them, that tells them, That they should not Practice those Evils (or any other) before mention’d: Which if notwithstanding they should do them, that there are but two Ways; the one, that leads to Heaven, where the Righteous go & the other, that leads to Hell, where the Wicked and Debaucht, Whoremongers and Adulterers, Murderers, Lyars & Thieves[50] go: To the one the Lord of Heaven and Earth will say, Come ye Blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you, from the Foundation of the World; but to the other he will say, Depart ye Cursed into Everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. The Wicked, into Everlasting Punishment; but the Righteous, into Life Eternal, Mat. 25.

Now consider, Friends, that its no Transgression, for a Master of a Family to instruct his Family himself, or else, some others in his behalf; but rather, that it is a very great Duty lying incumbent upon them: As Abraham did, and [70] Joshua did; as to the first, the Lord said, I know that Abraham will command his Children, and his Houshold after him; and they shall keep the Way of the Lord, to do Justice & Judgment that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him: And as for Joshua, said he, Josh 14.15. And if it seems Evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this Day whom you will serve, whether the Godds which your Fathers served, that were on the other side of the Flood; or the Godds of the Amorites, in whose Land ye dwell: But as for me, and my House we will serve the Lord.[51] And further consider this, That it is a Duty lying upon us, to Pray[52] and to Teach, Instruct and Admonish those in and belonging to our Families, it being the Command of the Lord, the Disobedience to which will incur the Lord’s Displeasure; as you may see in Jer. 10.25. where its written, Pour out thy Fury upon the Heathen, that know thee not; and upon the Families, that call not upon thy Name. Now Negars & Tawny Indians[53] make up a very great part of Families here in this Island, for whom an Account shall be required[54] at the Great Day of Judgment, when every one shall be Rewarded according to his Deeds done in the Body, whether they be Good, or whether they be Evil: In that Day, I say,[55] of the Resurrection, both of the Good and of the Bad, of the Just and of the Unjust; when the Lord shall be revealed from Heaven with his Mighty Angels, in Flaming Fire, taking Vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with Everlasting Destruction from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power, when he shall come to be Glorified in his Saints,[56] 2 Thess. 1.8.[57]


Here follows the Addition.[58]

Whereas divers Reproachful Speeches, by some of the Priests and People of the Island of Barbados, were cast upon George Fox, since his arrival here, its manifest that the Devil was the Author of them, to prevent and pervert the Minds of People from the Living Truth of God, and the Right Way to God, to wit, Jesus Christ; of whom the said G.F. inform’d the People, this so they might all come to inherit Christ Jesus, and so inherit the Substance, viz. Christ, their Teacher, their Way, their Prophet (of whom Moses prophesied long since, That him they should Hear [Deut. 18:15-19] their Bishop, to Over-see them; and their Shepherd, to Feed them; and their Minister, that Ministereth Grace and Life and Truth unto them; who is their Rock and Foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, and of us, who in Scorn they call Quakers; yea, of that Christ, who bruised the Serpent’s Head, and destroyes the Devil and his Works.

So he is the Way to God, to the pure God, who is the Pure Foundation of many Generations, & is the Life of all Mankind, that have Life; for as they all dyed in the first Adam, so the Life they have is in the second Adam, to wit, Christ Jesus, by whom the World was made; who was Glorified with the Father before the World began.

Now, I say, every one must receive him, in whom they have Life Eternal, who is the Son of God; and so receiving him, they receive the Faith of the Son of God, and receive his Blood, that sprinkles their Hearts and Consciences from dead Works, that so they might serve God in the [72] new Life in Christ Jesus. I say, that Christ Jesus, that was Crucified without the Gates of Jerusalem, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and was Dead and Buried, whom Judas betray’d to the Chief Priests for thirty pieces of Silver, who afterwards arose out of the Grave, even the third day; though the Magistrates and Priests set a Watch, a Guard of Souldiers upon his Sepulchre; and the chief Priests gave the Souldiers large Money to say, That his Disciples stole Him away by Night.

This Christ, I say, is our Life, who Dy’d for our Sins, and is Risen for our Justification; who remains in the Heavens at the Right hand of God, until the restitution of all things: And we say,[59] He is Manifested and Revealed in us, and we are in him by his Light, Power, and Spirit; and he hath taught us what to believe in, to wit, the Light, as you may see in John, who saith, He is the Light; and commands us, to believe in the Light, that we may be the Children of Light: And so, we are Believers in the Light (to wit, Christ Jesus) and have the Witness within our selves: And after we believ’d, we were seal’d by the Spirit of Promise; and we can set to our Seal, That God is True in all his Prophets and Promises, concerning his Son; and the Doctrine of the Apostles, that preacht Christ’s Birth and Life, Miracles, Sufferings, his Death and Resurrection. So we do confess him before men, to be our Shepherd, our Way, and our Foundation, and the Head of his Church; and he is our Bishop, our Minister, and our Priest; who is made higher then the Heavens, Holy and Harmless: and this we are not ashamed to confess before men.

Now as for the Filthy and Unsavory words, that have been cast upon me, they are all False. O! that People should bend their Tongues to invent filthy Lyes, and that others should be given up to believe a Lye: So that Saying of Christ is fulfilled, They shall speak all manner of Evil of [73] you for my sake. But yet this we can truly say, The Lord forgive them, if it be his will, if that they have not sin’d out their day; and we do earnestly desire their Repentance, if there be any place found for Repentance. But truly, it is much if God’s Wrath and his Sore Judgments do not fall heavy upon them in this Island; a great measure whereof they have seen and felt already, and that not long since, both by the Plague, that swept Multitudes away, as with a Besom;[60] and by a very great Fire, that burnt down most part of the Houses at the Bridge: but we desire in our Hearts, if it be his Will, That his Wrath may pass from them: And yet I cannot, nor do not see how well they should escape, and go Unpunished, since people give themselves up to such Debaucht Talk, and Wicked and Slanderous Speeches, which manifests the Wickedness of their Hearts: For, an Evil Man, out of the Evil Treasure of his Heart, brings forth that which is Evil; out of the abundance of his Heart his Mouth speaks, Luke 6.45.

Now therefore, O Barbadians, I Warn you to take heed and Repent, lest the Judgments and Wrath of the Lord break out like Fire suddenly upon you, and as a Thief in the Night, in an Hour when you little Dream of it. For alas! I do see that that makes my Heart even ready to Tremble almost, to speak of the Judgments and Plagues that this Corrupt Nature brings upon a Land.

Where, alas! is Vertue to be found among you? where is Sobriety? where is Moderation? as the Apostle saith, let your Moderation be known to all men, the Lord is at hand, Phil. 4. where is Modesty? where is Love Unfeigned? where is Holiness and Righteousness (the Blessed Fruit of the Spirit of Life and Holiness) to be found; but rather the Fruits of the Flesh: O! what a Great Crop may be gather’d of these? And so that Birth of the Flesh judgeth of others to be like it self.

[74] Know this, If your Priests were the Ministers of Christ, then such things would be Reproved by you, and you and your People would receive us gladly when we come among you in the Name and Fear of the Lord, and Visit you in Love; and not have raised such false Report and Wicked Slanders of us, and cast so much Dirt & Filth upon our Faces to mar us: so that it is much to be feared, that you have lost the Day of your Visitation; you having Rejected those whom the Lord hath sent in Love to Visit you here: And ‘tis no Wonder, considering that this has been the Practice of the False Prophets, and Shepherds and Priest of Old, to raise Lying Slanders upon the Truth; and so do you, as you may see all along in the Scriptures of Truth. O! what Rage and Malice, what Envy and Cruelty did the Priests and Jews (who profest themselves, to be the Children and People of God, and Children of Abraham the Faithful) act against the Prophets of the Lord, & against Christ & his Apostles, see John 8.39,40, &c. But withal, mark their End; what became of them all? Its said, The Name of the Wicked shall Rot , but the Name of the Righteous shall never be blotted out: and Psal. 37.5, &c.

And thus you Priests, and others of your Gang (who they are you may guess) have broacht & publisht these Lyes and Slanders, whose Minds and Tongues seem wholy bent to do Mischief, and to speak Evil of the Righteous: But a Lying Tongue God abhors, Psal. 119.163 And Tophet is prepar’d of Old for such, as you may read in Rev. 21.8.

Now we may say, What Christianity is amongst the People here? and what Religion have they been taught? And truly, this is not Civil, nor Neighbourly done, of such as have raised up these Slanders and Lyes, whereof G.F. was not guilty, nor ever heard of them before: so that it seems, the Father & Mother of these Lyes are here in this Island; and therefore query, whether you Priests & Baptists have not been the Men-Mid-[75]Wives, to forward the birth of them. O! where is Modesty, and where is Vertue, that should be in your Minds and Mouthes? Where is Truth in your Inward Parts? Yea some of these filthy things have been in the Minds & Mouthes of some who have been of some Repute amongst you, yea, and of the Teachers too, which is a very strange thing; had it been only the rude rabble of people, it had not been worth the taking notice of; but for such as look upon themselves, as Men of Repute amongst you, to have such things in your minds and mouthes, it is very strange, had they any regard to their own Credit and Reputation; though I shall name none, but you all know your selves who you be: & therefore it is good for you all to Repent of these things, and seek after Vertue, and after Peace, Truth and Holiness, without which no man shall see God, and after the Lord Jesus, who teaches no such Lyes nor Slanders; but destroyes the Lyar, and Author of Lyes.

Another Slander they have got up here, That G.F. should Hang Ribbons upon peoples Arms, by which means they were Bewitcht, Which was first forg’d by an Independent Priest, one of Oliver Cromwell’s News-Mongers, who put it into his

Weekly-News-Book:[61] and when he was question’d, where he had the Information; first, he said, it was a Woman, and then afterwards, said, it was a Man that told him of it; but never could we get from him the Name of that Man or Woman, or of the Town and Country where he or she lived to this day. And this Lye and Slander went for credit, it being printed in the Dyurnal; and the Priests likewise publisht it in their Pulpits; and others would Swear, that their Brother Independent Priest caused it to be put into the News-Books, when they perceived many of their Hearers to forsake them, who would not put into their Mouthes any longer; therefore they raised this Slander, thinking thereby, to cast a Stumbling-block before the [76] people, to stop them from coming to embrace the Truth: but they were deceived in that; for that manifested their Folly the more, and their Lyes and Slanders; and confirmed the people the more in the Truth. And these Independents were the first that gave the Nick-name of Quakers; as, one Bennet[62] at Darby, 1650.

And then likewise they rais’d Slanders, That we deny’d God and Christ, and the Scriptures; which were all Lyes; and then the Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists set their people to Scoff and Mock us; calling us Tremblers, and Shakers and Quakers in that day, & what not, when they had the day of it, the Tythes, and Pulpits and the Power in their Hands. But the Lord God, when he had brought the King into his Power, then he shook’t them out of their Pulpits, their Tythes, and Esther-Reckonnings, and Midsummer-Dues, &c. and made such Shaking, & Quaking, & Quivering amongst them, as Rock’t and Shook’t them out of their Great Benefices, & laid their Maintenance levil with the Earth, insomuch as they durst hardly Creep into a House to Meet; & so the Lord hath given them Shaking, and Quaking, and Trembling and Quivering enough, who were the first Raisers of that Nick-Name, in calling the people of God Quakers: So that they have had a Dreadful Day of Trembling since that. And therefore let others take heed, and mind the Example of all these Lyars and Slanderers that are gone before them.

And because that G.F. and some Masters of Families, had some Meetings with the Negars belonging to friends, and did admonish them and Christianly perswade them, that they should be content with having but one wife, each man of them; and that the Wives should love their Husbands, and the Husbands their wives; and fear God, and not abuse them, either with blows, or in Bitter Words, and that they should not Steal nor commit fornication or Adultry, nor do any wicked thing; but that they should [77] serve and Worship the Lord God in Spirit and in Truth, and yield subjection to their Masters, and those over them, and do what they did in Singleness of Heart &c. Whereupon some of you Priests have raised, as we understand, a Slander upon Friends, viz. that we have a Design to teach the Blacks to rebel: which is a most false Lye; whereas indeed, it should have been their work (who take upon them to be Ministers of Christ) to admonish the Blacks and Taunies themselves, and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them themselves. But was not there a great Professor, that said to a Black’s Child, Lord bless thee, and after did she not, as re-calling her words, say, Lord forgive me; as though the Blacks had no souls to save as well as the Whites? Its credibly reported that once when a Black came to a Steeple-House in time of worship, That the Sexton came to him with his Whip, and said unto him, Get thee out thou Dog; what do you here? are these the words of Christ? for sure the Lord Would have all to be saved: And have you no Gospel for Blacks? is not the Gospel to be preached to all Nations and peoples? and are not the Blacks of some Nations and people? did not Christ dye for the Blacks and the Taunies, as well as for the Whites? and was not his Blood shed for all men, and are they not men? And must Christ be preacht to some people and not to some others? And as for designs we deny, disown, and abhor all such things: We desire that all may live Peaceable under the Governors of their respective Families, and under the Government of the Island and nations wherein and amongst whom they are, for we are so taught of Christ, namely, to seek the good of all men, and peace with all men. And we would have all men to be saved, as well as our selves. And we Covet none of the People’s Money, neither Gold nor Silver, as you Priests do, but as freely we have received, so freely we give: For we do not come into a Parish, to make the People and their goods [78] our Free-Hold for term of life, as yours do; and pretend and make the people believe, that we do watch for their souls as you Priests do and yet never intend it; but watch when the harvest comes that you may share in their goods and estates that God hat blest them with encrease: And as you know they do in other places, watch when the Sows pig, that they may have the Tythe Pig, and the Tythe Egs, &c. and watch when the Turkies and Hens hatch, that they may have some of the encrease of the Chickins, and Goglings, &c. this is that they watch for; And watch when the Corn is ripe, and the cocks of hay are made, this is that they Gape for, gain from their quarter as of old, for their goods, and not for the good of their souls; which if a man give them not, nor put into their Mouths, then they prepare war against them. This, I suppose, is well known here, and these are the Souls they watch for; and where they find a bigger Benefice, thither do they go; for such things it is they watch for; and so, as the old Proverb is, No Penny, no Pater Noster:[63] For what Pater Noster have you had of you Priests, without a Penny in this Island? Have you not thrown away that Command of Christ, who said, Freely you have received, freely give? And have you not come short of the Example of Paul, who saith, Acts 20.33. I have Coveted no man’s Silver, or Gold, or Apparel (Yea, your selves know, That these Hands have ministred many Necessities, and to them that were with me) that so he might be an Example to all that followed him. So that I say, Such have not follow’d the Apostle in this particular: But is not Demas your Example, who forsook the Truth, and embraced the things of this present World? And the False Prophets and Shepherds, are they not your Example, who seek for their Gain from their Quarter, and Horsleech like, think they can never have enough; read Isa. 56 throughout: And seek for the Wool and the Fleece, and to make a Prey of the Sheep; read Ezek. 34.cap. [69] [sic][64] And preach for filthy Lucre, for Hire, for the Love of Money, that mind Earthly things, who are Enemies to the Cross of Christ: these are the things that such watch for, and not for people’s Souls; and to get and present their Souls to God, as the True Ministers did and do: and if any one would not give them their Hire, though they never set them a work, they would Persecute them, and Cry Out for the Magistrate’s Power to assist them: So that are not such as these next a kin to the Order of Begging Friars; for do they not Beg of the magistrate, for their Tythes or Maintenance to be paid them? And was not the first rite of Tythes from the Pope? who raised up and instituted that Order of Fryar Mendicants, since Christ’s and the Apostles dayes, who said, Freely you have received, freely give. So read Jer. 5 & Tim. & Titus, & Micah 3 and see whose Steps such Ministers walk in; and Mat. 23 throughout; and see if you do not walk in the Steps of them, against whom Christ pronounced such Heavy, Dizmal and Dreadful Woes.

[1] 1694 edition adds “of Barbadoes” here.

[2] 1694 edition omits this phrase “(With an Addition)”, along with the corresponding text, the last nine pages of the 1672 book. Since we are following the 1672 text, the Addition will be included here.

[3] The passive tense obscures the identity of the accusers, who were Anglican ministers on Barbados, and the preceding text in To the Ministers identifies the following persons by name: William Lessley, John Bernad, William Johnson, John Hopwood, Mathew Grey, John Page, William Frith, and two ministers identified by last names only – Priest Walker and Priest Dyke.

[4] 1694 edition substitutes “Yet notwithstanding , for your Satisfaction, we do now plainly and sincerely declare” for “yet, for your sakes this is now given forth.”

[5] 1831 and subsequent editions straighten out the sentence structure: “we do own and believe in God, the only wise, omnipotent, and everlasting God, who is the creator of all things . . .” The “Extracts from George Fox’s Letter to the Governor of Barbados,” published in 1922 as part of The Authorized Declaration of the Faith of the Five Years Meeting of the Friends in America, begins with this sentence.

[6] Starting from the beginning of the paragraph, this phraseology is very similar to the opening of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.” It is also reminiscent of the Nicene Creed, which has God “the Maker of all things visible and invisible.” Divergences from these creeds introduced by Fox and his companions strengthen Scriptural resonances: God “only wise” found in Rom. 16:27; I Tim. 1:17; God “omnipotent,” Rev. 19:6; God “everlasting,” Gen. 21:33; Psalm 93:2; and others; “Creator of all things,”in two deuterocanonical texts: Sirach 24:8; II Maccabees 1:24.

[7] See I Tim. 1:17; I Pet. 5:11; Rev. 4:11; 5:13; 7:12.

[8] Compare to the Nicene Creed (Constantipolitan): “one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten son of God,” and the Apostles’ Creed, “Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.” This is also Scriptural language. For “beloved son,” see Mark 1:11 and others; for “only-begotten son,” see John 1:18; John 3:16. For Fox, it was far more important that his language be Scriptural than creedal.

[9] Apostles’ Creed speaks of Christ “who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.” Matt. 1:20 uses the language “conceived . . . of the Holy Ghost” to refer to Mary’s baby.

[10] Colossians 1:14-16.

[11] II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13. Doctrinal obscurity appears to have prompted a change, when the letter was inserted in the Journal. Instead of “that he was made to be as Sin, or an Offence and Curse for us, who knew no sin” the 1694 version has “he was made a Sacrifice for Sin; who knew no Sin, neither was Guile found in his Mouth.” Biblical citations for amended version: Heb. 10:12; I Pet. 2:22.

[12] Instead of “by his own Power,” the 1694 edition has “by the power of his Father.”

[13] Again this last half-sentence is similar to both the Apostles’ and the Nicene Creeds. Here is the wording of the Nicene Creed: “was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father.”

[14] 1694 edition prefaces “Prophets and Apostles” with the word “Holy.”

[15] Heb. 2:9.

[16] I John 2:2.

[17] Heb. 2:10.

[18] I John 3:8.

[19] Gen. 3:15.

[20] Rev. 1:11; 22:13.

[21] I Cor. 1:24, 30.

[22] Acts 4:12.

[23] I Pet. 2:25.

[24] Of course, the Acts of the Apostles was not written by Moses, but this passage from Acts is based on Deut. 18:15-19. Also, Acts 3:22 quotes Moses by name. The 1694 edition erroneously changes this citation to Acts 2: 22,23; subsequent editions perpetuate this error.

[25] 1694 edition omits “in our Inward Parts”. Compare original with Jer. 31:33.

[26] Rom. 8:2.

[27] I Cor. 15:45-47.

[28] I John 1:7.

[29] Heb. 9:14; 10:22.

[30] 1694 edition omits “by whose Blood we are purchased,” a phrase deriving from Acts 20:28.

[31] 1694 edition omits “our Surety of the New Testament, and,” a phrase deriving from Heb. 7:22.

[32] Instead of “High Priests,” 1694 edition has “High-Priest.” Scripturally, the exact phrase “High Priests,” denoting Annas and Caiaphas, is found only in Luke 3:2, but references to “chief priests” and allusions to “high priests” can be found elsewhere in the gospels, including John 18:12-24.

[33] Matt. 26:65; these are words spoken by Caiaphas who is represented here as the sole high priest.

[34] The strong emphasis on Judas and the High Priest(s) here, something rarely, if ever, found in any Christian statement of doctrines, is undoubtedly an allusion to the nine Anglican ministers who were such strong opponents of Quakerism on Barbados. By the time of Fox’s death, such parochial allusions had become obscure and outdated, likely impelling Ellwood’s change from “High Priests” to “High-Priest.”

[35] In the 1694 edition, this is the end of the first paragraph of the Letter.

[36] Instead of “as Scriptures of Truth say”, 1694 edition has “as the Scripture it self declares”.

[37] 1694 edition omits “(as Divinely Inspir’d)”.

[38] II Tim. 3:15. The “Extracts from George Fox’s Letter to the Governor of Barbadoes,” published in 1922 as part of The Authorized Declaration of the Faith of the Five Years Meeting of the Friends in America, ends with this sentence.

[39] 1694 edition corrects this citation to Rev. 22.18[-19].

[40] 1694 edition lessens this emphasis on “WORDS” by eliminating the spelling of it in all capitals, every place that “WORDS” is thus rendered in this paragraph.

[41] The harsh judgments threatened by the author of Revelation are omitted in “For the Governour”: “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book.

[42] 1694 edition preserves this wording, but 1831 and some internet editions omit the words “and Lye”. Fox’s use of “Slander and Lye” to refer to the charges of the Anglican ministers on Barbados reinforces a major theme of this unabridged document. Counting minor variations, it is one of the most often repeated phrases throughout the Letter and its “Addition.”

[43] 1694 and subsequent editions use the word “Negroes” instead of “Negars.”

[44] 1694 edition omits “and from”.

[45] 1694 edition omits “Egregious and”.

[46] Several passages of Scripture lay these requirements on persons in all conditions, but none lay them only on slaves. See, e.g., I Pet. 1:13; 2:17; etc.

[47] This passage exhibits a loose dependence on Eph. 6:5-9; Col.3:22-4:1; I Tim. 6:1-2; I Pet. 2:18.

[48] 1694 edition omits “nor put away their Wives, nor the Wives their Husbands, as they use frequently to do”.

[49] 1694 edition has “should” instead of “do”.

[50] 1694 edition omits “& thieves”.

[51] 1694 edition considerably shortens this Scripture quotation to “Chuse ye this day, whom ye will serve. – But as for me, and my House, we will serve the Lord.”

[52] 1694 edition renders the first part of this sentence as follows: “We do declare, that we do esteem it a Duty incumbent on us to Pray with and for, to Teach, Instruct,”.

[53] 1694 edition has “Negroes, Tawnies, Indians”. In the 1672 edition, Fox was clear that the word “Tawny” is to be taken as a synonym for “Indian:” Fox, To The Ministers, Teachers, and Priests, 5.

[54] 1831 edition adds “by him who comes to judge both quick and dead,” wording found in neither the 1672 nor 1694 editions.

[55] 1694 edition preserves this wording, but 1831 edition corrects it to “we say”.

[56] 1694 edition adds these words: “and admired in all them that believe in that day.”

[57] 1694 edition’s third and final paragraph ends here.

[58] No edition of Fox’s “Letter to the Governor of Barbados” since 1672 has included this “addition.”

[59] The interplay between “I say” and “we say” in these two paragraphs may point to joint composition of the epistle by Fox and his companions, but with a dominant role for Fox (presumably the “I” of the “I say.”)

[60] A “besom” is a broom.

[61] References in Fox’s published works to this rumor (and attempts to rebut it) apparently do not go back the dozen or so more years that he claims. In the second edition of his Some Principles of the elect people of God in scorn called Quakers, which appeared in 1671, he does mention “lying Priests and Professors” who allege “that we foame at the mouth, and that we bewitch men, and bind ribband about their Armes; which are altogether false and lies.” The first edition, which appeared in 1661, did not contain this passage. It may be that, until this rumor appeared in Barbados, he did not feel that he had to take it seriously enough to rebut it. In neither mention of the rumor does Fox identify the instigator of it by name.

[62] Justice Gervase Bennett first applied this name to Fox in derision. Fox criticized Bennett for making this description, but the new religious movement claimed numerous Biblical precedents for quaking in the Spirit, and soon Fox and his companions were wearing this derisive epithet as a badge of honor.

[63] “Pater Noster” is Latin for “Our Father,” i.e., the Lord’s Prayer.

[64] Page number should be [79].