Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Adventures of John Toldervy

The Strange Spiritual Experiences


John Toldervy

as disputed between himself and James Nayler

in a pamphlet debate of 1656

When John Toldervy converted to Quakerism (shortly after the movement reached London in 1654), his experience of divine guidance soon became bizarre. After he recovered his sanity he eventually left the Quakers and published an account of his experiences. This work, The Foot out of the Snare, was generally perceived as an anti-Quaker publication, partly because it carried a brief recommendation by eight ministers of the established church. James Nayler therefore wrote a Quaker answer in Foot yet in the Snare, to which Toldervy wrote a quick retort in The Snare Broken. Later Toldervy decided he should clarify that Quakerism was not to blame for his experiences, and wrote the more conciliatory The Naked Truth Laid Open, which may be an attempt to gain reacceptance among Quakers. A further reply to Toldervy's first pamphlet is included in George Fox's The Great Mystery.

Toldervy's experiences were blamed on the influence of an evil spirit; today they might be given a psychiatric explanation. Whatever their cause, some readers may find parts of them strangely familiar. It is worth noting that early Quakers tried to distinguish this type of spirit from the Light of Christ.

See the introduction to the Bunyan-Burrough debate for an explanation of how to follow the cross-links among these documents.

John Toldervy, The Foot out of the Snare

James Nayler, Foot yet in the Snare

John Toldervy, The Snare Broken

John Toldervy, The Naked Truth Laid Open

George Fox, The Great Mystery [excerpt]

Last modified 2/13/2007.