Many Quakers have taken the consequences of holding to their principles, even when this meant breaking the law.In the early days many broke the law simply by being at worship. The 1664 Conventicle Act forbade religious gatherings for more than 5 people, except for Church of England services. In the twentieth century, many conscientious objectors were imprisoned for refusing to fight, and Quakers have been amongst those imprisoned for green and anti-nuclear campaigns.
It has been estimated that 15000 British Friends were persecuted for their faith in the period from the beginning of the Society in 1652 to the beginning of freedom of worship in 1687-9. This is about 1 in 3 of all Quakers of that time.The statistics are eloquent. In 1658 there were just 119 Quaker prisoners in all of England. In 1660, in just 2 months, 535 Friends from York and Yorkshire were imprisoned. 120 Friends, from one meeting in Gloucester, were arrested on a single day in 1661. Within a year of the 1664 Conventicle Act, a total of 2100 Quakers were arrested from just five London meetings.