ELLWOOD, THOMAS: English Quaker, friend of Milton; b. at Crowell (15 m. e.s.e. of Oxford), Oxfordshire, Oct., 1639; d. at Hunger Hill, Amersham (25 m. e.s.e. of Oxford), Buckinghamshire, Mar. 1, 1714. He joined the Quakers in 1659, against his father's will, and subsequently suffered frequent arrest and imprisonment for his religious views. He is remembered chiefly in connection with Milton. For a few months in 1662 he was Latin reader to the blind poet in London; and in 1665 Milton lent him the manuscript of Paradise Lost. In returning the work Ellwood remarked, "Thou hast said much of ‘Paradise Lost,’ but what hast thou to say of ‘Paradise Found’?” Upon Milton's own admission Paradise Regained was a result of this remark. Ellwood was also a friend of William Penn, George Fox, and other Quaker leaders; and to him we are indebted for much information about the Quakers, as well as about Milton. Of his numerous works may be mentioned, An Alarm to the Priests (London, 1660); Forgery no Christianity (1674); The Foundation of Tithes Shaken (1678); Sacred History (2 pts., 1705-09); and his autobiography, under the title The History of the Life of Thomas Ellwood (1714; reprinted, Boston, 1877).
Bibliography: D. Masson, Life and Times of John Milton, 6 vols., London, 1859-80; Maria Webb, The Penns and the Penningtons of the 17th Century, ib. 1867; A. C. Bickley, George Fox and the Early Quakers, ib. 1884; DNB, xvii. 303-305 (contains full list of his works); his autobiography was republished in the original spelling, London, 1906.