Rigg, Ambrose (DNB00)

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RIGG or RIGGE, AMBROSE (1635?–1705), quaker, born at Brampton in Westmoreland about 1635, was educated at the free school, where he received religious impressions. About 1653, upon hearing George Fox preach, he became a quaker, and his parents renouncing him, he travelled at Easter 1655 on foot to London, preaching as he went. From London, he and his companion Thomas Robertson went to Rochester, where they were apprehended at a baptist meeting and sent to prison. After visiting other places in Kent, Rigg proceeded alone to Bristol, where he again met Robertson in the prison. In spite of continued persecution, they preached persistently in the southern counties. At Southampton Rigg was whipped by the common hangman, and was afterwards imprisoned there (Answer of God's Love, &c., p. 20).

Soon after the Restoration he was once more arrested on the road near Petersfield, Hampshire, and for refusing the oath of allegiance was sent to Winchester gaol. Sir Humphrey Bennett, writing to Secretary Nicholas on 15 Jan. following, says he is still detained there, ‘a pernicious fellow,’ whose books, containing passages he construes into treason, he forwards (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 474).

Rigg was released not long after; but in May 1662, when attending a meeting at Captain Thomas Luxford's house at Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, he was sent to Horsham gaol, ostensibly for refusing the oath of allegiance, but really through the instigation of Leonard Letchford, the ‘intruded’ vicar, with whom Rigg now carried on for some time a paper controversy. Rigg addressed on 16 Feb. 1663 a letter to the king, appealing against his imprisonment, as a free-born subject who had never borne arms against the king, and was ready to promise, though not to swear, faith and allegiance (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663–4, p. 50). The only result of this was the release of six of his fellow prisoners (ib.); Rigg himself continued in prison for seven years. While in gaol he married, on 6 Sept. 1664, Mary, daughter of Thomas Luxford, at whose house he was arrested. Letchford proceeded against his wife for tithes, and, putting in an execution, stripped the devoted couple of the bits of furniture and cooking pots which they had collected in their prison cell. On 12 May 1669 the warrant for his release came through the exertions of George Whitehead [q. v.]

Rigg then settled at Gatton Place, near Reigate, and commenced to board and teach twelve or fourteen lads in his house. This excited the fury of Robert Pepys, the vicar. Pepys prosecuted him in the exchequer for tithes, and in July 1676 indicted him at the sessions for absence from church. In September 1681 his cows, worth 32l., were taken for a debt of 2l., while his hops and his hay were seized at the suit of Letchford.

During his last years Rigg wrote numerous epistles and books, and acted as clerk to the Reigate monthly meeting. He was one of the twelve preachers at George Fox's funeral in 1690. He died at Reigate on 31 Jan. 1704–5, and was buried at Guildford on 4 Feb.

By his first wife, Mary Luxford (d. January 1689), Rigg had five children. He remarried, on 12 May 1690, Ann Bax of Capel, Surrey, by whom he had no children. By his will, dated 7 Oct. 1703, Rigg devises a legacy to his grandson Ambrose, son of his son Thomas.

Rigg's chief works, besides epistles, addresses, and testimonies, are: 1. ‘The Banner of God's Love and Ensign of Righteousness,’ London, 1657, 4to. 2. ‘Of Perfection, the Great Mystery of Antichrist unfolded by the rising of the Sun of Righteousnes,’ 1657, 4to (from Dorchester prison). 3. ‘Address to Parliament on the conduct of the Sussex priests, beginning ‘Oh, ye heads of the nation,’ &c., London, 1659, 4to. 4. ‘To the Hireling Priests in England,’ London, 1659. 5. ‘A Standard of Righteousness,’ London, 1663, 4to. 6. ‘The Good Old Way and Truth,’ &c., London, 1669, 4to (on tithes). 7. ‘A Brief and Serious Warning to such as are concerned,’ London, 1678, 8vo; reprinted, London, 1771, 8vo, and in vol. xii. of Evans's Friends' Library, Philadelphia, 1837, &c., 8vo. This is largely autobiographical. 8. ‘Testimony to True Christianity,’ London, 1703, 4to. 9. ‘A Scripture Catechism for Children,’ London, 1702, 18mo; reprinted London, 1772. A collection of his works, entitled ‘Constancy in the Truth,’ &c., was published London, 1710, 8vo.

[Brief and Serious Warning, with Rigg's autobiography, and his other works; Sewel's Hist. of the Rise, &c., i. 103, 120, 176, 421; Besse's Sufferings, i. 699, 702, 703, 707, 713, 715, 717; Marsh's Early Friends in Surrey and Sussex, pp. 63–71, 75, 81; Quakeriana, April 1895, article by the present writer; Sussex Archæol. Coll. xiii. 44, xvi. 73; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire, iii. 241; Letters of Early Friends, vol. vii. of Barclay's Select Ser. pp. 34, 208, 227, 249; Registers at Devonshire House, Bishopsgate; Will 38 Gee P. C. C. London.]

C. F. S.