Lilburne, John

Lilburne, John a Quaker preacher, noted for his republicanism, was born of an old family in Durham County in 1618. In his early youth he was a clother. He entered the ministry after he had suffered greatly by prosecution for his opposition to the government. His intrepid defense of his rights as a free-born Englishman before the dreaded bar of the High-Church party gained for him the familiar appellation of "freeborn John." He was condemned to receive five hundred lashes at the cart-tail, and to stand in the pillory; but his spirit was only aroused by this disgraceful punishment. His name became the watchword of the party known as Levellers. During the Revolution he fought bravely against the king at Edge Hill and Marston Moor, where he led a regiment. Lilburne's chief fault was the want of a more statesmanlike spirit, so that he was continually sinking from the leading position he might have held, in virtue of his integrity and intrepidity, to that of a demagogue. He boldly accused Cromwell and Ireton of treason, and the former tried in vain to make him comprehend the real situation of affairs, and seems at last to have given him up in despair, and to have prosecuted him from necessity, while he valued his steady qualities and incorruptible nature. Reduced to quiescence under the iron hand of the protector, his political enthusiasm subsided into the religious, and the famous John Lilburne became a preacher among the Quakers. He died August 29, 1657. — Appleton's Cyclop. of Biography, page 497.

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