George Fox, Founder of the Society of Friends

13 January -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of any Saint, page 513

George Fox was born at Fenny Drayton in Leicestershire in 1624, the son of a weaver, and was himself apprenticed to a shoe-maker. He became something of a wayfarer from 1643 for about three years, loosening all ties with his family and friends. The 'Inner Light of the Living Christ' became his watchword in 1646 and he began to preach that the truth could only be found through the Inner Voice speaking directly to each soul. His society of 'The Friends of Truth' was formed at about this time, clearly a protest against the authoritarianism of the Presbyterian system, and many believers joined. Because of welcoming God into the soul often whilst in a state of trance, which caused much body movement, Gervase Bennet nicknamed them the Quakers in 1650; although meant as a term of abuse, it quickly became a name they themselves adopted. Fox spent several spells in gaol because of his determination to preach where he would and what he willed; he also made many missionary journeys around England, on the continent and to North America and the West Indies. He had a charismatic personality combined with excellent organisational abilities, which proved a solid foundation for ensuring the continuance of his beliefs and practices. He died on this day in 1691.