James Naylor

c.1617-1660. English Quaker. Born near Wakefield of yeoman stock, he joined the parliamentary army in 1642 and served under both Fairfax and Cromwell. By 1650 he was respected in the ranks as an able preacher. Returning home after the Battle of Dunbar, he took up farming and joined a Congregational church. When George Fox* visited his area, he was much impressed with the doctrine of the inner light and became a Quaker. Later he felt a call to the itinerant ministry and began this in Westmorland, a Quaker stronghold, but later moved southward. Often in prison and much occupied in preaching, traveling, and writing tracts, he seems to have been particularly attractive to women. In 1656 he allowed his followers to treat him as though he were the Messiah, making the Bristol authorities think he was reenacting Christ's entry into Jerusalem. He was arrested. His case aroused national interest and was discussed in Parliament. After being pilloried and whipped, he was eventually released. He returned to the Quakers, but died soon afterward.