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Quaker Studies

Abstract

This study of Christopher Meidel, a Norwegian Quaker writer imprisoned both in England and on the Continent for his beliefs and actions, explores the life of a convert to Quakerism and his missionary zeal in the early eighteenth century. From Meidel's quite tempestuous career we receive insights into the issues Friends faced in Augustan England in adapting to life in a country whose inter-church relations were largely governed by the 1689 Toleration Act, and its insistence that recipients of toleration were to respect the rights of other religionists. In England and Wales, although not censured by Friends, Meidel's activities were nevertheless in contrast to the increasingly respectable nature of the Society. This study questions whether his provocative behaviour was a return to the testimony of the first Friends. On the Continent, Meidel was warmly welcomed in some towns and cities, but also seen in others as a potential troublemaker and consequently imprisoned. Only the intervention ofleading Friends and of Prince George ofDenmark saved him from a lengthy term of incarceration. Undaunted by his trials, Meidel continued his proselytising in the early eighteenth century, and his career offers a fascinating insight into the continuing determination of missionary Quakers and their commitment to their beliefs.

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