Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Joseph Besse on sufferings of the Quakers and others

In Joseph Besse's 1773 book we read (see Raymond Brown p 25)

By an Order of Sessions held at Shefford on the  8th of the Month called April this Year (1682?), Prosecutions were carried on afresh, especially in the Parish where Justice Reeling dwelt, whose Authority influenced inferior Officers to act beyond their Inclinations. From William Rogers, a Wheelwright, they took his working Tools, not for want of other Goods, but on purpose to disable him from working for his Livelihood. From a poor lame Maid, a Baptist, who earned her Bread by spinning and teaching Children, they took, by the Justice's Order, her spinning Wheel : He also forbad the Neighbours to send her their Children, saying, in his ignorant Zeal, She should not teach Children to be damned and when she had no Goods left to distrain, he threatened to send her to Bridewell. He not only caused the Goods of several poor People to be taken away, but threatened to punish their Neighbours for relieving them. The Priest of the Parish was of a like Disposition, for hearing of a Meeting in a distant Place, he by Threats constrained the Constable to go thither, and give Information to the Justice. And so intent was this Priest on a Part of the PFrey, that he went into the Yard of the aforesaid William Rogers, and cheapened some Wood, of which when the Owner told him the Price, he replied, "Let it alone till it be distrained and then I will have it for half the Value.

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