Sara Byrnes, Brenna Deutchman, Rebecca Roberg and Alena Vazquez
The work of Barbara Blaugdone is an intimate portrait of the life of a Quaker preacher and writer toward the end of the 17th century. The Account depicts perfectly the life of a Quaker woman, beginning with the day she decided that it was her duty to take up the cross and advocate for her belief. Faced with prison, violence, pain, and persecution, in both England and Ireland, Blaugdone perseveres and records her success at adhering to the “Truth,” never faltering in her faith, and preaching to all, even unwilling ears. She often focuses on her reception by citizens and the violence inflicted upon her during imprisonment, yet offers up neither resentment nor a need for vindication.
As a preacher of the Quaker faith Blaugdone claimed her mission to be the will of God. An Account of the Travels Sufferings and Persecutions of Barbara Blaugdone describes her attempts to spread her beliefs to all: priest and congregation, Earl and Countess, Lord and servant, mayor and citizen, lawmen and criminals, and man and woman. It also depicts the prices she paid both physically and emotionally.
What makes this narrative of such interest is that it was created for no reason other than to outline her works for fellow Quakers, a fact that helps to ensure the factual basis in her words. This work also has undergone only one edition promising the text in its truest form, untouched by the motives or interpretations of others through time. Because she is a woman so greatly different from most of her period her narrative allows the reader to see how that dynamic affected her travels. It allows a view of Quakerism from the inside and a view of mainstream seventeenth-century culture from the outside—a unique and beneficial characteristic of the text. Finally, Blaugdone’s Account, originally written as encouragement for fellow Quakers, can also stand as an inspiration for any cause: be true to what you believe, and you can make a difference; be true to what you believe, and your message can live on to inspire others in future generations.