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George FoxGeorge Fox

founder of the Society of Friends

George Fox was born in Drayton-in-the-Clay (now Fenny Drayton), England, in July of 1624, and raised in the traditions of the Church of England.

Not satisified with the teachings of the Church of England, Fox left home at the age of 18 to seek spiritual enlightenment. In 1647, after experiencing a series of visions and voices from God, he began preaching to anyone who would listen, and soon began attracting followers. He founded the Society of Friends that same year, and by 1654 was spreading his message around the world.

Despite being imprisoned for his beliefs eight times between 1649 and 1675, Fox never deviated from his philosophy. And, despite he and his followers often enduring beatings by thugs and rowdies, his movement continued to grow, and he prepared the first pattern of organization for the Society of Friends in 1668.

In 1669, Fox married the most prominent female member of the movement, Margaret Fell, the widow of his friend and patron Thomas Fell.

George Fox died in London on January 13, 1691.

His Philosophy

Fox rejected all the formal trappings of "standard" religions, including paid ministers and large, fancy churches. He taught that the presence of the "Inner Light" in the individual should aid that person's conscience in guiding his faith and actions, and "services" centered around individual experiences rather than formal sermons and preaching.

History of the Friends

The first "formal" community of Friends was established around 1652, with Fox as its "leader." In 1654, Fox organized a team of about 60 men and women as a mission to southern England. He subsequently extended his preaching to Scotland (1657-58), Wales (1657), Ireland (1669), the West Indies and America (1671-73), the Netherlands (1677 and 1684), and Germany (1677). By 1660 Fox was issuing epistles to the Pope, the Turkish Sultan, and even the Emperor of China.

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The Robinson Library >> Religion and Mythology >> Christian Denominations >> Society of Friends (Quakers)

This page was last updated on January 12, 2017.