The Beginnings of Quakerism

By William C. Braithwaite | Go to book overview
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THE chief documentary source for early Quaker history consists of the collections of letters and other papers, at Devonshire House, known as the Swarthmore Papers. The main collection (vols. i.-vii.) contains about 1400 original documents, which seem to have been preserved with other similar papers at Swarthmore Hall till the sale of the estate in 1759. Avery large number of them are endorsed in George Fox's handwriting, and have evidently been carefully looked through by him, and the Annals of travels and sufferings for the years 1655, 1656, and 1657, which are contained in the Cambridge Journal, ii. pp. 325-338, are almost entirely based on these letters. There can be little doubt that they are the historical material referred to by Fox in the Testamentary extract printed as a motto to the present history, and also described in the following further passages from his Testamentary directions:

All the passages of Friends and their travels from the beginning of the spreading of Truth, both in England, Scotland and Ireland and other places beyond the seas, I have them in manuscript among my papers, here at London and at Swarthmore and some of them it's like may be found in Robt. Widders' books of epistles and letters, and some of them may be found in a book that Elizabeth Bland hath of her mother's, and R[ichard] Richardson hath abundance of copies of my papers and letters of passages at the Chamber to beyond the seas, and in England and to the kings--some of them Mark took from me, and besides others that lie in the little drawer under the table: and all them that are mine must be joined to my epistles and papers, and the others which are history and passages [are] to be joined to them, which are to make a history of passages of the spreading of Truth, which will be a brave thing, and Thomas Lower hath many brave epistles and papers of mine, which may come in with the rest, and besides [there are] many epistles and papers which I writ in the counties and never kept copies of, which it's like they may easily be had out of their books from every Quarterly Meeting both in


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