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I suppose the world has heard of the famous Solomon Eagle, an enthusiast. He, though not infected at all but in his head, went about denouncing of judgment upon the city in a frightful manner, sometimes quite naked, and with a pan of burning charcoal on his head. What he said, or pretended, indeed I could not learn.
This event is corroborated in the 29 July 1667 entry of the Diary of Samuel Pepys (vol 13). Pepys confirms that the person described as such is a Quaker:
...a man, a Quaker, came naked through the [Westminster] Hall, only very civilly tied about the privates to avoid scandal, and with a chafing-dish of fire and brimstone burning upon his head... crying, "Repent! repent!"
Eccles as a Quaker was prosecuted numerous times during the Restoration for civil disobedience. He would worship with other Quakers, although the Conventicle Act 1664 declared that this was a dangerous and seditious activity. The statute defined it as a criminal offence if more than five persons, "over and besides those of the same household, if it be in a house where there is a family inhabiting, or if it be in a house, field or place where there is no family inhabiting" assembled together "under colour or pretence of any exercise of religion, in other manner than according to the liturgy and practice of the Church of England." In May 1665, Eccles was arrested in Southwark, though he probably lived in the middle of the City of London, and was put away in prison for two or three months – probably in the Clink on the South Bank.
Death and will
Few if any of his works are extant, for when he became a Quaker, he burned all his books and compositions so as to distance himself from church music. He believed that music was a sinful vanity, and initially sold his compositions and instruments, before taking them back and burning them to prevent the purchaser falling into sin. His repugnance for the organised church was reflected in the Quaker name for church buildings in his time: "steeple-houses".
Eccles is credited as the author of a tract, "A Musick-Lector", from 1667.
The British band Orange Goblin mention Solomon Eccles in their song "The Ballad of Solomon Eagle"
- Pulver, Jeffrey (1927). A Biographical Dictionary of Old English Music. Ayer Publishing. p. 162. ISBN 0833728679.
- Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year.
- Pepys, Samuel (1895). The diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume 13. Brainard. p. 41.
- Documents of the Christian Church, selected and edited by Henry Bettenson, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963, pp. 414–416.
- 22 Charles II, cap. 1 I: Statutes of the Realm, v. 648.
- Leachman, Caroline L. "Eccles, Solomon". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8438. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Quaker Heritage Press". Quaker Heritage Press: Online Texts. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
- Claus Bernet (2002). "Solomon Eccles". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). Vol. 20. Nordhausen: Bautz. cols. 424–427. ISBN 3-88309-091-3.