A good man is hard to find: Joseph Jones on the many faces of George Fox

‘There are a lot of people who have tried to get to know George Fox.’

‘Each of us makes only a personal engagement with our founder.’ | Photo: collage picture credits at bottom of page

He believed he should ‘be as a stranger unto all’, but there are a lot of people who have tried to get to know George Fox. Given the wide range of conclusions they’ve reached about him, however, it seems that he was probably successful. Was his messaging, as Henry Cadbury had it, ‘often dull and repetitious’; or was Rufus Jones right to call it ‘powerful’? Was he the ‘graceful’ and ‘courteous’ man described by Thomas Ellwood – ‘civil beyond all forms of breeding’ according to William Penn? Those on the receiving end of one of his many ‘denunciations’ may not have thought so. Was he a practical man of action, after earthly change, or more concerned with the heavenly realm and the Inner Light? All these things can be true, of course, looked at from a particular angle. Context always matters. We might recoil from a man shouting down his opponents in an argument, until we learn he was doing it in defence of the view that a woman had a soul of her own.

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