Quaker, James Nayler, convicted of blasphemy by Parliament and viciously punished

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Historical Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : .

James Nayler, originally a farmer in the West Riding of Yorkshire, served with the Parliamentarian army in the First Civil War, and in 1652 had a vision calling him to become a Quaker. Having joined a group in London in 1655, he soon became a prominent preacher, and was caught up in various heated doctrinal disputes. On a journey from London to Bristol in October 1656, Nayler and his friends formed a procession, in which he travelled on horseback, and then sang and laid clothes in front of him. This was seen by the authorities as a blasphemous attempt to recreate Christ's entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Nayler insisted the procession had merely been symbolic, but those dissatisfied with the levels of religious toleration permitted u…

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