John Bunyan at Bedford Gaol.details

[Picture: John Bunyan at Bedford Gaol.]
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John Bunyan at Bedford Gaol.

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John Bunyan was born at Elstow, near Bedford, in 1628. His parents were poor, and he received the merest rudiments of education. As a youth he became notorious for his profanity, but his vigorous nature underwent a great change, and after a severe mental struggle which he has described, he became connected with the Baptist Church at Bedford in his twenty-fifth year. The great natural talents of “the tinker preacher” were in great request in the neighbourhood during the Commonwealth, and only five months after the Restoration he was arrested just as he was about to commence a service at a small hamlet in Bedfordshire and was committed to Bedford gaol; being one of the earliest who thus suffered under the new order of things. He had been warned of the danger, but would take no steps to avoid it; and though friends offered to become bail he would not suffer them when he found that the bail would be estreated if he presumed again to preach. After the usual examination before the magistrates at Quarter Sessions, Bunyan was remitted to gaol for three months, at the expiration of which time he was to promise to desist from preaching and to attend church; but as he could not do this, he remained in prison for twelve years, notwithstanding repeated efforts made by his heroic wife and by numerous friends to procure his release. It is a singular fact that the release was at length obtained, on September 15, 1672, through the intervention of George Whitehead, a member of the Society of Friends.

As Bunyan could not pursue his usual trade of a tinker while in prison, he acquired the art of making staylaces, in order to contribute

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