John Roberts, alias Hayward, was ‘the ringleader of the Quakers in this country’, and a magistrate said of him in 1660 that ‘if [he was] not suppress’d all [i.e. the Restoration] will signify nothing’.2 He was born about 1620, the son of a yeoman-freeholder, fought under Cromwell in the 1640s, married c. 1649, fathered six/children ‘in the time of Oliver’ (of whom three survived to maturity), and died in 1683.3

He is first mentioned in the Quaker records of persecution as one of nine men ‘committed to Prison at Gloucester…for Meeting together to worship God’ at Cirencester and Tetbury’ on ‘the 1st of the 4th Month [July] 1660’.4

Later the same year he was one of five Quaker leaders arrested at a Meeting at Cirencester, ‘to which came the Deputy Lieutenant of the County with a party of Horse and Foot, who entered the Meeting with Swords and Pistols in Hand, and commanded five persons to go with them to the King’s Commissioners. They were tendred…the Oath of Allegiance and for refusal to take it sent them to Prison’. These raids began a systematic sweep of Gloucestershire’s major