George Fox of Mansfield
A few years ago we published a booklet entitled The History of the Quakers in Mansfield. Since then I have carried out more research and this is the appendix to that booklet.
Appendix to The History of Quakers In Mansfield Booklet
Since printing the booklet about the early Quakers in Mansfield, more research has revealed more detail about the very beginnings of the Quaker movement. By 1647 George Fox had arrived and settled, for a period of time, living in a cottage, mentioned and illustrated, in the booklet, in Chesterfield Road Mansfield.
He had a business, making and repairing boots and shoes. During this period he was trying to make sense of his religious feelings, and, the turmoil, of the people around him.
The civil war and the state of the religion, all created in him a different way that he thought about his future commitment to the world around him. He became convinced that there was a better way, where simply to approach God direct from ones own heart and soul without the intervention of a “professor”, vicar or priest, and also the equality of all human beings . These and other ideas became formulated, in this period of his life, in Mansfield.
“There is that of God in everyman”, he thought, and this early group were called Children Of Light, the name Quakers adopted later. There are references to these and other occurrences, of his growing convictions, in the Journal of George Fox. A particular incident occurring in the neighbouring village of Mansfield Woodhouse, he was put in the stocks by village people after trying to stand and talk to them at a service in the church. Various names began to appear, namely Timothy Garland, Robert Bingham, and of course, Elizabeth Hooton, all seeing in George Fox, a recognition, of his beliefs, and way of life. It appears that at this time other people as well met at the house of Timothy Garland in Mansfield, and Elizabeth Hooton’s house at Skegby, a close by village to Mansfield.
Because of the different approach to religion, not favouring place or professional, meetings began in the privacy of their own homes, namely Elizabeth’s house at Skegby, and became a Friends Meeting house until it was sold in 1800 to help fund a new Meeting House in Mansfield replacing a smaller house on the same site.
As Quakers were separated from the church, burials were carried out at the Quaker House at Skegby (39 recorded) from 1673 onward, from Skegby, Mansfield Woodhouse and Mansfield. It can be accepted that the Meeting House at Skegby was the first Meeting House, in use by the Quakers, still surviving, (no longer a meeting house).
Elizabeth Hooton, from the very beginning, held meetings in her house, and it was at an early meeting that those present were sitting in silence, waiting for God to make contact, George Fox came in, and it is believed that this was the beginning of the format of Meetings that continues to the present time.