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Introduction to George Fox

An introduction to George Fox
George Fox was born in Leicestershire in 1624, and grew up in the village of Fenny Drayton, just off the major trade route of Watling Street. The combination of the distance from the cathedral town of Lichfield and the proximity to so many itinerant traders led, some belief, to Fox growing up in a religiously radicalised atmosphere. The local Purefoy family who installed the minister had clear Puritan leanings, and their choice of Nathaniel Stephens was certainly due to his theological preferences. George Fox’s father, Christopher Fox, known as “Righteous Christer”, was a church warden and a man of some wealth. When he died, Fox inherited enough, together with a further legacy, to have a private income for the rest of his life.
Fox said of his mother, Mary Lago, that she was of the “stock of martyrs”. Perhaps some of her ancestors had been executed by the Catholic Queen Mary in the previous century. Fox had lengthy discussions with Nathaniel Stephens, and Stephens admired his sharp mind, although ultimately turned against him, perhaps partly through frustration as Fox became more and more certain of his own rightness. Fox was apprenticed to a leather maker and sheep farmer, and gained a reputation for fair dealing on his master’s behalf in the wool markets. Fox enjoyed his time as a shepherd, and later likened his experience to that of the many shepherds found in the Scriptures.
He enjoyed the solitude and the mobility, both of which would remain key aspects of his life from then on. However, at a time when religion was the most significant question for most people, Fox’s religious questions were pressing. And in 1643, aged 19, he gave up his apprenticeship and left home and began to travel in search of answers. This was the time of the English Civil War. Fox spent time at the Parliamentary army camps, where some of the most radical religious ideas were circulating, as well as a year with a Baptist uncle in London. Still, he found no one who could adequately guide his spiritual quest.
Depressed about where he’d find any kind of help and isolated spiritually, in 1647, age 23, he had a transforming experience which was to change his life and would begin the start of what became the Quaker movement.

George Fox (1624 – 1690) from Leicestershire founded the Quaker movement. Watch this short video which describes Fox’s upbringing and early life prior to 1647 when he had a transforming spiritual experience.

Feel free to post if there is anything that surprises you or if you have found out other things about Fox’s upbringing that you think would help others in their learning.

How radical was his message?

How did it conflict with the Christianity of the time?

You may find Timeline of Key Events, short biographies of the Key People and contextual notes and FAQs helpful.

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Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers

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