In the north of England George Fox was very successful in his
pilgrimages recruiting people to the 'Children of Light'. A Welsh
convert, John ap John of Ruabon, returned to his native land
determined to spread the word. By bringing in well known English
Quakers he converted many Baptists, and in 1657 he toured Wales
with Fox himself preaching to thousands. Many were recruited
into new congregations, but Fox met with hostility also and he
was convinced that there were murderous plots being hatched against
him in Brecon.
Welsh Quakerism at this time was a militant creed, antagonistic
towards the established church and willing to confront its opponents.
Quakers would interrupt church services, refuse to pay tithes,or
doff their hats to their betters. This challenge
to secular authority brought them into direct conflict with the
authorities, and many were locked up. Puritans from other sects
resented their success and violent clashes were not infrequent.
Vavasor Powell took on leading Quakers in Radnorshire in public
The return of Anglican liturgy
The Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 re-established an Anglican
church which was anxious to resume a grip on the spiritual life
of the community. Anglican liturgy was re-introduced and Puritan
ministers were ejected.
The 1662 Act of Uniformity demanded that from then on
all parish incumbents should conform or be ejected. After years
of strife and division, the mass of the ordinary people of Wales
who felt no powerful religious calling were probably relieved
to get back to a settled pattern of familiar service and festival.
A series of Acts in the 1660s made independent worship in separate
congregations liable to severe penalty, and the Test Act
of 1673 disqualified Dissenters from public office. While the
Quakers of Montgomeryshire suffered greatly, small groups like
the Anabaptists of Llanafan Fawr managed
to struggle on. The possibility of worship outside the established
church had been raised, though, and the ground prepared for a
later period of nonconformity.
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