Nayler, Or Naylor
NAYLER, or NAYLOR, JAMES ( 1 61 8-1 660), a Puritan fanatic, was born at Andersloe or Ardsley in Yorkshire, in 1618. When the civil war broke out in 1641 Nayler, who was then resident in the parish of Wakefield, joined the Parliamentary army, and served as quartermaster under Lambert. In 1651 he adopted Quakerism, and became a zealous advocate of the new principles both as a preacher and writer. Gradually his opinions became tinged with the wildest fanaticism, until he arrived at the seeming conviction that he was a new incarnation of Christ. He gathered around himself a small band of disciples, who followed him from place to place, paying him the homage due to one gifted with supernatural endowments. In October 1655 he, in imitation of Christ's procession into Jerusalem, entered Bristol on horseback riding single - " a rawboned nude figure, with lank hair reaching below his cheeks," - attended by seven followers, some on horseback, some on foot, he in silence and they singing " Hosanna ! Holy, holy ! Lord God of Sabaoth !" The procession passed on to the High Cross of Bristol, where Nayler and his followers were apprehended by the authorities. His trial occupied the second parliament of Cromwell for several days, and on December 16, 1656, he was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to be whipped from the Palace Yard to the Old Exchange, to be branded in the forehead, to have his tongue bored with a red-hot iron, to be whipped through the streets of Bristol, and to suffer imprisonment with hard labour for two years. These stern measures had the effect of convincing Nayler that his pretensions to supernatural powers were the result of delusion, and on May 26, 1657, he, after recantation, received his freedom. He was readmitted into the communion of the Quakers. In October 1660 Nayler set out to visit his long-forsaken family in Yorkshire, but died on the journey in Huntingdonshire.
A collected edition of the Tracts of Nayler appeared in 1716; a Relation of the Life, Conversion, Examination, Confession, and Sentence of James Nayler in 1657; a Memoir of the Life, Ministry, Trial, and Sufferings of James Nayler in 1719; and a Refutation, of some of the more Modern Misrepresentations of the Society of Friends commonly called Quakers, with a Life of James .2Vayler, by Joseph Gurney Bevan, in 1800.