Howgill, Francis (DNB00)


HOWGILL, FRANCIS (1618–1669), quaker, was born at Todthorne, near Grayrigg, Westmoreland, in 1618. His father appears to have been a yeoman. Backhouse (Life of Francis Howgill) states he received a university education, and was for a short time a minister of the established church. After 'having seen the superstitions' thereof he joined first the independents and subsequently the anabaptists. He at one time preached at Colton, Lancashire, and about 1652 was minister of a congregation at or near Sedbergh in Yorkshire, where he tried to protect George Fox, who was preaching in the churchyard. On the next 'first-day,' Fox (Journal, 1765, p. 68) says, Howgill preached with John Audland in Firbank Chapel, Westmoreland. He appears to have formally joined the quakers early in the same year (1652), and was soon afterwards detained in Appleby prison on account of his religious opinions. Howgill became an active minister among the Friends, especially in the north of England. In 1653 he laboured in Cumberland, but visited London to intercede with the Protector, whom he tried unsuccessfully to persuade to become a quaker. With Anthony Pearson he commenced the first quaker meetings held in London, at a house in Watling Street. During 1654 Howgill was largely occupied in answering pamphlets against quakerism, but found time to visit Bristol, where the Friends were suffering persecution. The magistrates ordered him to leave; on his declining to comply, the quakers were attacked by the populace, and a warrant was issued for his arrest, but he managed to avoid it. He also attended the general meeting at Swannington in Leicestershire the same year. In 1655 he went with Borough to Ireland, where they preached in Dublin for three months unmolested; they then removed to Cork, when Henry Cromwell, lord deputy of Ireland, banished them from Ireland. Howgill's amiability enabled him, as a rule, to avoid persecution, and till 1663 he pursued arduous ministerial work, for the most part unhindered. But his strength failed, and in 1663 at Kendal he was summoned by the high constable for preaching, and on refusing to take the oath of allegiance was committed to Appleby gaol. At the ensuing assizes he was indicted for not taking the oath, and was allowed till the next assizes to answer the charge. As he declined to give a bond for good behaviour, he lay in prison till the assizes. In August 1664 he was convicted, was outlawed, and sentenced to the loss of his goods and perpetual imprisonment. He died on 20 Jan. 1668-9, after an imprisonment of about five years.

Howgill was married and had several children. The Mary Howgill who was imprisoned at various times in Lancashire in 1654-6 and in Devonshire in 1655 appears to have been his wife.

Howgill was a voluminous writer, and during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries his works were much valued by the quakers. The chief are: 1. 'The Standard of the Lord lifted up against the Kingdom of Satan,' 1653 (with Christopher Atkinson and others), 2. 'The Fiery darts of the Divel quenched; or something in answer to a Book called "A Second Beacon Fired,"'&c., 1654. 3.'The Inheritance of Jacob discovered after his Return out of Ægypt,' 1655 (published in Dutch in 1660). 4. 'A Lamentation for the Scattered Tribes,'&c., 1656. 5. 'Some of the Misteries of God's Kingdome declared,' &c., 1658. 6. 'The Papists' strength, Principles, and Doctrines, answered and confuted,' &c., 1658 (with George Fox); published in Latin 1659. 7. 'The Invisible Things of God brought to Light by the Revelation of the Eternal Spirit,' &c., 1659. 8. 'The Popish Inquisition newly erected in New-England,'&c., 1659. 9. 'The Heart of New-England Hardned through Wickedness,' &c., 1659. 10. 'The Deceiver of the Nations discovered and his Cruelty made manifest,' 1660. 11. 'Some Openings of the Womb of the Morning,' &c., 1661; republished in Dutch at Amsterdam in the same year. 12. 'The Glory of the True Church discovered, as it was in its Purity in the Primitive Time,'&c, 1661; reprinted in 1661, 1662, and 1663, and published in Dutch in 1670. 13. 'The Rock of Ages exalted above Rome's imagined Rock,' &c., 1662. 14. 'The Great Case of Tythes and forced Maintenance once more Revived,' &c., 1665. 16. 'The True Rule, Judge, and Guide of the True Church of God discovered,' &c., 1665. 16. 'Oaths no Gospel Ordinance but prohibited by Christ,'&c., 1666.

[John Bolton's Short Account of Francis Howgill; James Backhouse's Memoirs of Francis Howgill; Giles's Some Account … of Francis Howgill; Sewel's Hist.of the Rise, &c. Quakers, ed. 1834,i.69, 106,ii.13, 41, 73, 89; Besses Sufferings of the Quakers, i. 39,ii.11,21, 457; George Fox's Journal, ed. 1765, pp. 67, 68, 76, 110, 120, 301; Bickley's George Fox; Gough's Hist. of the Quakers; Joseph Smith's Catalogue of Friends' Books; Swarthmore MSS.]

A. C. B.