chapter  7
Last Days: 1901–1979
Pages 16

There are at least three good reasons why the final 78 years of the Muggletonian history should not be compressed into a short chapter called ‘Last Days’. First, seventy-eight years add up to an awful lot of last days. Second, if there is logic in closing the chapter with the Last Muggletonian’s death, there is none in beginning it with Queen Victoria’s. Muggletonians did not notice kings or queens, whether for or against them. The bad things they had to say about Charles II were left in manuscript. The only good they had to say about a ruler in print was Reeve on Cromwell, and Muggleton made sure that it did not stay in print. Third, the ‘last days’ concept imposes a false elegiac tone. In the epigraph quoted above, Mr Noakes knows in 1934 that the sect is shrinking dangerously and that the end cannot be far off. Mr Noakes was not oppressed by his insights: Muggletonians lived with both of these truths for much of their history. There are precedents in scripture to draw upon: we are coming near to ‘the days of Noah’. He could not have foreseen that his son would be Noah. Nor perhaps could he: E.P. Thompson – the only historian personally to know Philip Noakes – noted how touchingly he would go on referring to ‘we’ when there was only himself left.1