‘She was told she would only be released if she promised not to disrupt further church services. She refused.’
Christine and I have lived at The Cross Keys Temperance Inn for the last twenty-three years. Until 1732 the building was a farmhouse called High Haygarth – the home, in 1654, of Gervase and Dorothy Benson. Gervase was one of the leaders of the Westmorland Seekers. In 1652 he met George Fox at Borrats Farm in Sedbergh and was convinced by him. Like many of the Seekers they became the early Quakers and Gervase was one of the group known as ‘The Valiant Sixty’. Dorothy became a vociferous Quaker, and strongly objected to being forced to attend the established church. It is recorded that ‘she had conversation with the incumbent’ – no doubt she was heckling the priest. This was not acceptable and she was sent to prison. The two nearest jails were Appleby and Lancaster but in those days Sedbergh was a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and so it was to York prison that Dorothy was sent. She was seven-months pregnant.
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