By Jonathan Harlow
Issue 19, Spring, 2009 pp.10-14.
In 1668, the King’s council was informed that George Bishop, ‘The Grand Ringleader (or Archbishop) of the Quakers had been buried in Bristol ‘attended by a more numerous company than ever I yet saw at any funeral’. If the title of ‘Archbishop’ was a play on his name, it was a barbed one: Quakers rejected all forms of priesthood. But Bishop was indeed famous, or infamous, as a Quaker leader, bracketed at times with George Fox. He had been especially active as a writer, and for some time maintained at Bristol the sort of secretariat and information centre for which his previous career had well qualified him. In this article, Jonothan Harlow reconstructs the story of the man who was entrusted with the responsibility of ‘discovering conspiracies against the Commonwealth’.
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