Meidel, Christopher (DNB00)


MEIDEL, CHRISTOPHER (fl. 1687–1708), quaker, a Norwegian by birth, was educated at Copenhagen. He came to England about 1683 as chaplain to Prince George of Denmark (Bevan), and was appointed minister of the Danish congregation in Wellclose Square, Ratcliffe, in 1687. He was soon troubled in his conscience by the fact that he ‘administered the sacrament to persons who were no way bettered thereby,’ and consequently he relinquished the charge. About 1696, he began preaching to an independent congregation in Nightingale Lane, East Smithfield, but after holding the post for some years he grew confirmed in his doubts, and eventually joined the quakers (Bevan says about 1699). At the time, he was living at Stratford, and supported his family by manual labour. On 24 Feb. 1701, Meidel took part in a notable dispute at Green's Coffee-house, Finch Lane, between Benjamin Keach [q. v.], a baptist, and Richard Claridge [q. v.] In November he accompanied Claridge on a series of meetings in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. In September 1705, they attended the burial of a quakeress, which took place in Barking churchyard (by direction of her son), and they protested that she, being unbaptised, or excommunicate, had no need of ceremonies. Meidel addressed a large crowd over her grave, but the vicar's son thrust him out of the churchyard. He again spoke to many hundreds ‘by the sign-post of the Anchor and Crow.’ The same year Meidel issued ‘An Address to my Neighbours and others in and about Stratford, near Bow, Essex, assembled to dance on the 1st of the 3rd month, called Mayday.’

Meidel was soon afterwards imprisoned. On 4 July 1706 he wrote from Chelmsford gaol ‘An Address to the Danish and Norwegian Lutheran Church in London.’ This is printed in a Danish translation by himself in his Danish rendering of W. Dell's ‘Treatise on Baptism,’ London, 1706. An English version appeared in ‘The Irish Friend.’ In it he gives his reasons for joining the society, and takes affectionate leave of his former congregation.

Meidel became a quaker minister, and about 1708 visited Friedrickstadt and other towns in Holstein, where the Friends were suffering persecution. In travelling through France he was arrested, detained at Pont and St. Lys, and finally carried to Paris. There he was brought through the streets chained to other prisoners, and preached repentance to the people standing by, who freely offered him money, which he refused. On 22 Aug. 1708 he wrote to William Sewel [q. v.] from the Grand Châtelet, asking for money to be remitted.

Meidel seems to have died abroad, as the registers at Devonshire House contain no record of his death.

Besides the above translations, Meidel also published both French and Danish versions of Penn's ‘Key Opening a Way … to Discern the Difference,’ &c., in 1701 and 1705 respectively. Of his Danish translation of Barclay's ‘Apology,’ the Meeting for Sufferings, in a minute, 11 Jan. 1717, ordered five hundred copies to be printed. The earliest edition known is 1738. It was reprinted at Stavanger, 1848. ‘Directions to collect matter for a general History of the Progress of Truth in our Age,’ fol., 1706, and ‘A Preface to the Reader,’ inserted in the third part of ‘Piety Promoted, in a collection of the dying sayings of many of the people called quakers,’ by John Tomkins [q. v.], 1706, 12mo, are also by Meidel.

[Piety Promoted, pt. x. 2nd edit. by J. G. Bevan, 1811, pp. iii–vii.; Journal of Thomas Story, Newcastle, 1747, p. 496; The Irish Friend, Belfast, 1837, No. 5, ii. 36; Smith's Cat. i. 184, ii. 172.]

C. F. S.