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Quaker Studies

Abstract

Martha Simmonds (1624-1665) was an early Quaker whose spiritual journey involved preaching, travelling, becoming a devotee of James Naylor and participating in his re-enactment of Christ's entry into Jerusalem and its aftermath. This event has largely defined her place in history and little serious attention has been given to her writings This paper attempts to fill this lacuna by discussing spiritual writing within the context of her life and contemporary constructs of'signs' and suffering, both on a personal scale and within the wider context of the collective persecution of the early Quakers. It aims to re-assess the Bristol 'sign' and the role she played in it, as part of a serious mission with deeply theological meanings. It also aims at a positive critique of Martha Simmonds, as one of the most representative, vocal and ambitious Quaker women whose voices have, until recently, been unheard.

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