Margaret Fell was popularly known as the “mother of Quakerism.
She was born Margaret Askew in Lancashire, England. In 1632,
she married Thomas Fell, a barrister of who later became a judge
and a member of Parliament.
In 1652, Margaret was converted to Quakerism by the preaching
of George Fox, and her home, Swarthmoor Hall, became a center
of Quaker activity continuing after the death of Judge Fell in 1658.
She received and forwarded letters from roving missionaries and
wrote many epistles herself; she was frequently called upon
to intercede on behalf on Quaker leaders and missionaries in case
of persecution or arrest.
Margaret was imprisoned in Lancaster Castle from 1663 to 1668
for allowing Quaker Meetings to be held in her home. She defended
herself by saying that “as long as the Lord blessed her with a home,
she would worship him in it.” While in prison, she wrote religious
pamphlets and epistles. Perhaps her most famous work is
“Women’s Speaking Justified.” a scripture-based argument for
women’s ministry, and one of the major justifications for equal
rights for women in the 17th century.
She married George Fox in 1669. After her marriage, she was again
imprisoned for about a year. Margaret Fox spent most of the rest
of her life at Swarthmoor and continued to take an active part in
the affairs of the Society. She is often credited with helping to
institutionalize the Society of Friends. She died in 1701.