George Fox was born in Drayton-in-the-Clay, Leicestershire, England, the son of Puritan parents. Little is known of his early life, apart from what he wrote in his journal: "In my very young years, I had a gravity and stayedness of mind and spirit not usual in young children. Insomuch that, when I saw old men behave lightly and wantonly toward each other, I had a dislike thereof raise in my heart, and I said within myself, `If ever I come to be a man, surely I shall not do so, nor be so wan- ton.'"
At the age of 19, he gained deep, personal assurance of his salvation and began to travel as an itinerant preacher, seeking a return to the simple practices of the New Testament. He abhorred technical theology, and preached a faith borne of experience, freshly fed and guided by the im- mediate presence of the Holy Spirit.
Fox was persecuted almost daily, yet his power of en- durance was phenomenal. He was beaten with dogwhips, knocked down with fists and stones, brutally struck with pikestaves, hard beset by mobs, incarcerated eight times in the pestilential jails, prisons, castles and dungeons--yet he went straightforward with his mission as though he had dis- covered some fresh courage which made him impervious to man's inhumanity.
He undertook as far as possible to let the new life in Christ take its own free course of development in his min- istry. He shunned rigid forms and static systems, and for that reason he refused to head a new sect or to start a new denomination, or to begin a new church. He would not build an organization of any kind. His followers at first called them- selves "Children of the Light," and later adopted the name "The Society (or Fellowship) of Friends."
Fox preached and traveled for 40 years throughout England, Scotland, Holland, and America. His life demon- strated the truth of his famous saying, "One man raised by God's power to stand and live in the same spirit the apostle and prophets were in, can shake the country for ten miles around."