Barbara Blaugdone was born in England in 1609. Her journal entitled An Account OF THE TRAVELS; Sufferings & Persecutions was published in 1691. It is an autobiographical work where she relates her personal and perilous adventures, as a testimony of what she endured when she traveled both in England and Ireland to spread the word of God as a female Quaker preacher. Her journal began with the day she decided that it was her duty to take up the cross and advocate for her belief. Her account is a good example of the courage and independence which characterised female Quakers in the mid of the 17th century England. Barbara Blaugdone died in 1704 at a very old age. To what extent can we say that An Account OF THE TRAVELS Sufferings & Persecutions is a testimony of a female Quakers' courage and determination to convert people to her faith thus confronting the harshness and intolerance of the 17th century English society? Our study will be divided into two parts; firstly we will focus on women and Quakerism in the 17th century. Then we will analyse Barbara Blaugdone's devotion to Quakerism through her travels.
[...] But in her An Account OF THE TRAVELS Sufferings& Persecutions, Barbara Blaugdone did not consider herself as God's weaker vessel but as his fit vessel: I soon took up the Cross and came into the Obedience, and the Lord cleansed me by his Power, and made me a fit Vessel for his Use”.(p2) In her journal, Barbara Blaugdone by criticising the traditional established Church of England gives one of the most important aspects of Quakers' doctrine that made this sect different from the others: men of Corrupt Minds did pervert the Scriptures, by putting their own Imaginations, and Conceiving, and Apprehensions upon it, and so deceived the People: but holy men of God spake the Scriptures, and gave them forth a they were Inspired by the Holy Ghost, and they are of no private Interpretation Here, she is denouncing the Uniformity Act of 1662 which sought to restore the dominance of the Church of England by establishing a set form of worship. [...]
[...] Her determination is very impressive indeed, knowing all the sufferings she had to go through and the risks she had to take, but as she reminds it in her narrative, her journal is also meant to inform future Quaker prophets and prophetesses on what they would have to face: speak my experience and Dealings of the Lord with me, in my travels and passings through my spiritual journey, for the benefit of those Travel rightly after.” Moreover, they don't have to dread persecutions because God never abandoned her and helped her to cope with pain: I have written these Things that Friends may be encouraged, and go in the Faith, in the Work of the Lord: For many have been the Tryals, Tribulations and Afflictions which I have passed through, but the Lord hath delivered me out of them (P13) Her travel narrative can thus be considered not only as an encouragement but as a reassuring comment on the fact that whatever happened, whatever prices she paid both physically and mentally, God was there to protect or help her. [...]
[...] As we go through An Account OF THE TRAVELS, Sufferings & Persecutions we are struck by her constant moving from place to place and the fact that she did most travels on foot as she mentions it when she take leave of the Mayor of Bediford: I went homeward, and then he took his Horse and came and followed me, for there was some tenderness in him; and he would have had me Rid behind him, But I found that when any Body which he knew did meet us, then he would draw back and lag behind, and as soon as they were gone, he would come up to me again; so therefore I would not ride behind him, but he rode three or four Miles with me ( This example underlines the fact that travelling was very slow, long and tiring without mentioning the dangers it included, knowing that many people made their living of stealing from travellers and female Quakers were easy preys for bandits and robbers. [...]
[...] Quakers were one of the most important religious sects who, with their doctrines led women to break gender norms not only by allowing them to preach but also by putting them on an equal footing as men. In fact, Quakers believed that any one could receive a direct call from God, be this person male or female. As a matter of fact, the majority of travelling ministers in the seventeenth century were women who enjoyed the opportunities of preaching, both privately and publicly. [...]
[...] Instead, he ran away, whimpering and Barbara explains this event by stating that: Power of Lord smote the Dog, so that he whined, and ran in crying, and very lame; so that I saw clearly the Hand of the Lord in it for my Preservation Furthermore, on her way to England she succeeded to calm down the storm at sea, thus preserving all the passengers' lives. Barbara Blaugdone's prophecies had great effects on the people she met. After having talked to a Deputy from Dublin about her religious convictions, he becomes and Melancholy” and refuses to go neither to “bowls nor no pastime at all”. [...]
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