By Tim Lambert
Her Early Life
Margaret Fell helped to found the Quakers. Margaret was born in Dalton in Furness in Lancashire in 1614 (the exact date is not known. Her father was John Askew, a well-off landowner. In 1632 Margaret married a barrister called Thomas Fell. Her husband later became a judge and an MP. Margaret and Thomas Fell had 8 children.
In 1652 George Fox visited the area. Margaret heard him preach and she was converted to Quakerism.
Afterward, Margaret wrote epistles and helped raise money for the Quakers. However her husband, Thomas Fell died in 1658. Worse, the Quakers faced persecution. Quakers do not swear oaths and an act of 1662 meant they could be imprisoned for refusing to swear an oath to the king. In 1664 Margaret was imprisoned for refusing to swear such an oath.
However, during her period of imprisonment, Margaret wrote tracts. In 1666 she wrote a pamphlet called ‘Women’s Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures’. Margaret was finally released in 1668. Then on 27 October 1669, she married George Fox.
However, in April 1670 she was again imprisoned for breaking the Conventicle Act of 1664 which made it illegal to attend a religious meeting not conducted according to The Book of Common Prayer. Margaret spent a year in prison. Then in January 1691, her husband died. Margaret Fell herself died on 23 April 1702.