Soon Fox and other Friends, the ‘Publishers of Truth’, travelled all over the country to preach. Many early adherents came from Seeker communities from the North of England. These Christians, disillusioned with mainstream religious practice, responded to George Fox’s ideas. There was a constant threat of persecution. But Judge Fell, though never a Friend himself, did a lot to protect them until he died in 1658.
In 1669, Fox married leading Friend Margaret Fell, by then a widow. His ministry expanded and he undertook tours of North America.
In 1660 the King accused Quakers and other dissidents of plotting against him. Fox responded with the first formulation of the Peace Testimony. This stressed the commitment to nonviolence. Even so, in 1664, Fox was imprisoned for over two years. As a prisoner, he was taken from Lancaster Castle to York via Buckhaw Brow. This is the nearest he came to Settle.
While in prison, he wrote a journal, covering his life so far, and kept it up until he died. He made plans to organise the growing Society of Friends. He created a framework of local, monthly and yearly meetings which continues to today.
By now, there were many Friends in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast of North America. In August 1671, after attending the first London Yearly Meeting, Fox set sail with 12 for Barbados. The Barbadian economy was slave-based, and some Friends were slave-owners. Fox protested at the poor treatment of slaves and campaigned for their release. Fox continued to preach in the UK and across North America.
After the 1675 Yearly Meeting, unwell, and tired, he made a slow coach journey north to Swarthmoor Hall. He spent the next two years there, the longest time he was ever at home. He rested some of the time but was also very busy with his journal and other writing. He never went north again, but Margaret came south when she could.