George Fox (1624-91) is generally regarded as the founder of Quakerism. He was born at Fenny Drayton in Leicestershire, the son of a weaver, and trained to be a shoemaker. He came to believe that every person has an inner light to guide them, which he called "that of God". Fox saw that each person has infinite value, and that there is no need for priests and churches. He set up a structure of local and regional meetings amongst his followers, which persists to this day.
Fox stood in Fenny Drayton church and challenged the priest with his radical ideas, the first of many such challenges. The idea that people would not need to pay tithes (financial contributions to the church) brought him into direct conflict with the authorities.
Fox climbed Pendle Hill in Lancashire in 1652 and saw that his role was to found a new movement. His teachings took hold, and his followers increased rapidly in number, among them Margaret Fell.
Inevitably, the authorities pushed back against Fox's radical ideas. At Boston, Quaker Mary Dyer was hanged.
Quakers including James Nayler were tortured and imprisoned for their beliefs. Nayler, an early leader of the movement, was held in Bristol jail.
The idea of "that of God" in each person led to the idea that people had equal value. There was equal participation in Quaker meetings, including by women.
Women participated equally in the Quaker movement, and in turn were equally persecuted by the authorities.
The Quaker principles or testimonies shown here are on the wall outside Nelson Friends Meeting House, in both English and Te Reo Māori.