Vickris, Richard (DNB00)

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VICKRIS, RICHARD (d. 1700), quaker writer, the son of Robert Vickris, sheriff of Bristol in 1656, was born probably in that city about the middle of the seventeenth century. His grandfather, Richard Vickris, a native of Bewdley in Worcestershire, settled in Bristol, where he was sheriff in 1636, mayor in 1646, and master of the merchant venturers in 1648. Richard the elder was a convinced puritan and roundhead, subscribed to the maintenance of Sir William Waller's army, signed the order for the demolition of Bristol Castle (1655), and persecuted the quakers according to his lights. At the Restoration, however, he waited on Charles with the other Bristol deputies, bearing an address and a purse (500l.) of gold. He died in 1668, and his son Robert followed closely in his father's footsteps, being master of the venturers in 1669, and a city politician and persecutor of quakers.

Richard Vickris as a youth fell under the influence of the quakers, who were at the time rapidly multiplying in Bristol, and his father, to rid him of the contagion, sent him to France. There, however, his tendencies were only developed by the metaphysics which he learned from or in the school of Malebranche, the hierophant of the modified Cartesianism of Louis XIV. Malebranche's ‘Recherche de la Verité’ determined him to join the Society of Friends, and, having returned to England, he married a young quakeress named Bishop, and regularly attended meeting. In 1680 he was excommunicated, tried under the recusancy act of 35 Elizabeth, and, refusing either to retract or to conform, was sentenced to death. He was, however, reprieved through the energy of his wife and, it is probable, a word from Penn, a friend of the family, to the Duke of York, and he received a free pardon at the hands of Jeffreys in 1684. His father now received him with affection, and bequeathed him (his death took place a few days after his son's release) his estate and house at Chew Magna, Somerset. There Richard Vickris wrote several works in defence of the Friends, remarkable among the polemics of the day for their modesty and moderation of tone. He died in February 1700 at the Manor House, Chew Magna, where are still preserved portraits of his father and grandfather. His most important work was a small quarto, entitled ‘A Just Reprehension to J. Norris of Newton St. Loe for his unjust Reflection on the Quakers, in his Book entituled Reflections upon the Conduct of Human Life …’ (London, 1691, Brit. Mus.)

John Norris (‘of Bemerton’), who was the chief representative of Malebranche's views in England at this or indeed at any time, replied to the ‘Learned Quaker’ in the first of his ‘Two Treatises concerning the Divine Light’ (1692). Three other tracts by Vickris are enumerated in the ‘Catalogue of Friends' Books’ (ii. 842–3), but are not in the British Museum Library.

[Smith's Cat.; John Whiting's Catalogue, 1708, and Persecution Expos'd, 1715; Sewel's Hist. of the Quakers; Records of Bristol Corporation; note from W. George, esq.; materials kindly furnished by William Adlam, esq. of the Manor House, Chew Magna.]

T. S.