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JOHN CAMM: PROFILE OF A QUAKER MINISTER DURING THE INTERREGNUM By Craig W. Horle (Concluded) It appears that late in 1654, Camm's illness was beginning to take its toll on him.1 Unfortunately the situation in Bristol was deteriorating, as the ministers and magistrates of the city made representations to the government at Whitehall and Westminster that Camm and Audland "were disaffected persons to the government , who under the notion of Quakers and under that pretence were suspected to be carrying on some design against the government ," and that they attracted thousands to their meetings, including Royalists. Somewhat confusingly, they also complained that the safety of the garrison was endangered by those assemblies, but accused the officers of being sympathetic to the Quakers.2 Yet that type of complaint would invariably produce results from a government as unstable as the Protectorate. While waiting for such results, a plot was hatched among the apprentices of the city to draw up a petition calling on the mayor and aldermen to rid the city of the Quakers, and upon the anticipated refusal of those officials to countenance it, not having lawful authority, the apprentices would do it for them. However, even before the petition was finished the impetuous apprentices with others decided to take direct action.3 On 19 December, as Audland, Camm and another Friend were crossing over Bristol bridge to a meeting in Brislington in Somersetshire , some apprentices from Ralph Farmer's parish passed them, but upon reaching the other end "turned about and giving a sign, many other apprentices came forth, and other people . . . joined with them, who together fell violently on those innocent strangers, and assaulted, punched, pulled and hailed them back over the bridge again towards the High Cross." Some even yelled out to 1.John Audland to George Fox, early December 1654, Bristol [date and place are my own], in MS letters of J. Audland, pp. 7-8; John Camm to George Fox, mid December 1654, Bristol [date and place are my own], in Ibid., pp. 11-12. 2.The Cry of Blood and Herod, p. 12. 3.Ibid., p. 27. 4 Quaker History hang the Quakers. Fortunately, the beleaguered Quakers were rescued by a Friend who took them into his house, while the multitude remained outside threatening to break in. The riot alarmed the officers of the garrison "who by commission had command over the city, as well as over the Fort and Castle." Fearing a possible design against the Commonwealth under the pretense of ridring the town of Quakers, but acutely aware of the danger of military intervention, they went to the mayor and some of the aldermen who agreed to publish an order for the mob to disperse. By that time, the rioters had, in fact, drifted away, but had not been appeased.4 There was no trouble the next day when Camm and Audland, unruffled, again crossed the bridge for Brislington, but the absence of strife was due only to action by the officers of the garrison who had carried three ringleaders of the previous day's riot before the mayor and had produced witnesses to confirm their guilt. Unfortunately , some 1500 people gathered at the town hall and demanded the release of the three men and refused to disperse, despite a proclamation published by the mayor, aldermen and sheriffs calling on them to depart. Soon a guard of musketeers arrived to protect their officers, "yet neither master nor man would stir; nay, some masters persuaded some of the rioters to stay, and to stand their ground." Some apprentices were heard to say, when told the order to disperse was in the name of the Lord Protector: "what do you tell us of a Protector, tell us of King Charles." One apprentice boasted of their having 400 horsemen in the town ready for the King.5 Such comments, if truly spoken, strengthened the claim of Bristol Friends that many of the rioters were Royalists. Open insurrection appeared imminent, particularly as the crowd dared the soldiers to advance and defiantly waved hats at them, "not a constable at this time keeping the peace." Fortunately, the musketeers remained calm and after some hours the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 3-15
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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