Friday, 14 October 2011

Coleman Anecdote 16 William Jenkyn

The next case we present is one, amongst many others, of imprisonment and death - painful confinement issuing in death. Mr William Jenkyn [1613-1685] was maternal grandson to John Rogers, the proto-martyr in the Marian persecution. In the great storm that prevailed against the Nonconformists in James II's reign, on September 2, 1684, when he, with Mr [Edward] Reynolds [1599-1676], Mr J[ohn] Flavel [1627-1691] and Mr [Thomas] Keeling, was spending a day in prayer, with many of his friends, in a place where they thought themselves out of danger, the soldiers broke in upon them in the midst of the exercise. All the ministers made their escape except Mr Jenkyn. Mr Flavel was so near that he heard the insolence of the officers and soldiers to Mr Jenkyn when they had taken him, and observes in his diary that Mr Jenkyn might have escaped as well as himself, had it not been for a piece of vanity in a lady, whose long train hindered his going down the stairs, Mr Jenkyn, out of his too great civility, having let her pass before him.
Being taken before two aldermen, Sir James Edwards and Sir James Smith, they treated him very roughly, well knowing that it would be acceptable in the highest places in the land. Upon his refusing the Oxford oath, they committed him to Newgate, rejecting his offer of £40 fine which the law empowered them to take, though it was urged that the air of Newgate would infallibly suffocate him. He petitioned the King for a release, which was backed by an assurance from his physician that his life was in danger from his close confinement; but no other answer could be obtained but this, "Jenkyn shall be a prisoner as long as he lives." This was most rigorously adhered to. He was not suffered to go to baptize his daughter's child, though a considerable sum was offered for his liberty to do it, with security for his return. The keepers were ordered not to let him pray with any visitants; even when his daughter came to ask his blessing, he was not allowed to pray with her. He soon began, through this confinement, to decline in health, but continued all along in the utmost joy and comfort of soul. He said to one of his friends, "What a vast difference there is between this and my first imprisonment (alluding to his having formerly been sent to the Tower for being concerned in [Christopher] Love's plot); then I was full of doubts and fears, of grief and anguish, and well I might, for going out of God's way and my calling to meddle with things that did not belong to me. But now, when I was found in the way of my duty in my Master's business, though I suffer even unto bonds, yet I am comforted beyond measure. The Lord sheds abroad his love sensibly in my heart: I feel it, I have assurance of it." Turning to some who were weeping by him, he said, "Why weep ye for me? Christ lives; He is my Friend, a Friend born for adversity; a Friend that never dies. "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children." He died in Newgate, January 19th, 1685, aged 72, having been a prisoner there four months, where, as he said a little before he died, "a man might be as effectually murdered as at Tyburn."
A nobleman, having heard of his happy release, said to the King, "May it please your Majesty, Jenkyn has got his liberty." Upon which he asked with eagerness, "Ay, who gave it him?" The nobleman replied, "A greater than your Majesty, the King of kings." With which the King appeared greatly struck, and remained silent.

Coleman Anecdote 15 Bristol

In the published records of the Broadmead church, in the city of Bristol, we see the spirit of their persecutors, the sufferings undergone, and the contrivances to which they resorted to elude their adversaries. "In the year 1664, at a week-day meeting, a guard of musketeers was sent to take them into custody; but having been apprised of their coming, and the darkness of the night proving favourable, they withdrew into an underground cellar, which had a communication with Baldwin Street, and so they escaped, and left their persecutors disappointed.
"Soon after, on a Lord's day, the mayor and aldermen, with their officers, broke open Mr [Thomas] Ellis's house at the back door, and came in. But while these housebreakers were effecting an entrance, Mr Ellis contrived to hide a garret door, by placing a large cupboard before it, and by that means sent away most of the men. Still, many necessarily remained behind, of whom the mayor and Sir John sent 31 to Bridewell for a month, preparatory to ultimate banishment.
"In November, 1665, a troop of horse were sent to the city to suppress the conventicles, and very abusive they were at all the meetings they could discover.
''The first Lord's day after the 10th of April, when the 'Conventicle Act' first came into operation, the informers were on the alert, and because the church could gain no information of their intended plan of proceeding, they closed their meeting-house door. The informers immediately fetched constables, broke open the door, went in, and took down the names of those whom they knew, who were in consequence brought before the magistrate and convicted. But persecution sharpened their invention. The next Lord's day they broke a large hole in a high wall, which enabled them to hear the preacher in the next house, without being present with him. Yet the bishop's informers went again, and not recognising such a nice distinction, took down the names, and some of them were again taken before the mayor and convicted.
"The scene was also enacted on the third Lord's day, and on the fourth the mayor went himself, with his officers and several of the aldermen; but finding these means to be utterly ineffectual, they resorted to another expedient. On the Saturday evening they raised the trained bands, some of whom, to prevent the church from meeting, nailed up the doors, and put locks upon them. Being thus ejected by force and power, they met in the public lanes and highways."
At another time, when all their ministers were removed - one dead, three imprisoned, and their deaths apprehended - the bishop's men and Helliar, a lawyer, being in hot pursuit and woefully successful, so that the extinction of the churches seemed almost inevitable, the members proved themselves men of the right stamp. They animated each other's hearts, and, notwithstanding all their discouragements, so far from forsaking the assembling of themselves together, they clung with greater tenacity to a privilege difficult of attainment, and exercised all their ingenuity to accomplish with impunity this one desire of their hearts.
When they could again meet in their place of worship, in order to disappoint spies who might be present as hearers, and yet not to exclude strangers who might attend without any evil design, they contrived that a curtain should be hung all across, the space behind it being so arranged as to accommodate the preacher and his confidential friends. Consequently, if there were spies present, they could not see the preacher so as to give any certain information against him; and lest any should intrude behind the curtain, some of the members were especially appointed to prevent all from this whom they did not know to be the friends of Christ and his cause. When the time was come for commencing this curtain was drawn close, and the stairs completely filled with female friends. Sentinels were also appointed without, who, on seeing the approach of the informers, passed the word with telegraphic despatch and secrecy; the preacher sat down, the curtain was undrawn, the whole room exposed to view, and the people began simultaneously to sing a psalm. To prevent confusion, the psalm which was to be sung on the entrance of the informers was previously annoiinced; and to avoid the inconvenience of reading it, all brought their Bibles and read for themselves. By these means when the mayor came he was disappointed, they were all singing, and whom to take up for preaching he could not tell. When the informers were gone] the singing ceased, the curtain was drawn, and the preacher resumed his discourse until they returned, which they sometimes did three times during one meeting. Then again the preacher retired, the curtain was drawn aside, and singing resumed as before. "This," they say, "was our constant practice in Olive's mayoralty, and we were in a good measure edified, and our enemies often disappointed." Laus Deo.
One of their ministers, Mr [Thomas] Hardcastle [1636-1678], ejected from a living in Yorkshire, had been imprisoned eight months in York Castle, from thence conveyed to Chester Castle, where he was detained a close prisoner fifteen months more. For preaching Christ in London he was again apprehended, and continued a prisoner six months. Twice also at Bristol did he pay this penalty for Christ and a good conscience, each imprisonment lasting six months; "still preaching," say the records, "as soon as ever he came forth, and so continued till his death."

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Nathaniel Heywood's House

Nathaniel Heywood's House Chapel Street Ormskirk 2005

Coleman Anecdote 14 Philip Henry

The name of Philip Henry (1631-1696) carries with it all that is pious, peaceful, and benevolent, yet towards him we find the spirit of bitter persecution arises. He was emphatically one of the "quiet of the land" acting with the greatest caution, anxious to avoid offence, though continually influenced by a spirit of supreme regard to God, and ready for every duty to which he believed his Master called him. Yet he was subject, with others with whom he was associated, to great oppression and trial, especially on the following occasion, the circumstances of which are particularly narrated in the memoirs of his life. At the beginning of the year 1681, a great drought prevailed in the land; it was generally apprehended that a famine would ensue. Many of the pious part of the people thought it was time to seek the Lord, who giveth rain in its season. In the neighbourhood in which Mr Henry resided, some desired to have a day set apart for fasting and prayer on this account. Suitable services were to be held at the house of a certain individual in Hodnet parish, Shropshire, June 14. Mr Henry, on being invited to attend and give his assistance, inquired how they stood with the neighbouring justices, and the reply was "well enough."
The drought continuing in extremity, some that had not been in the habit of attending such meetings were present, under the apprehension they had of a threatened judgment. Mr Edward Bury (1616-1700), of Bolas, well known by several useful books that he had published, prayed. Mr Henry prayed, and then preached on Psalm lxvi. 18 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Hence the doctrine was, that iniquity regarded in the heart will certainly spoil the success of prayer. When he was in the midst of his sermon, closely applying this truth, Sir Thomas Vernon and Charles Mainwaring, Esq, two justices of the peace for Shropshire, with several others of their retinue, came suddenly upon them, disturbed them, set guards upon the house door, came in themselves, severely rallied all they knew, reflected upon the late honourable "House of Commons," and upon the vote they passedconcerning the unreasonableness of putting the laws in execution against Protestant Dissenters, as if in so voting they had gone beyond their sphere, as they did who took away the life of King Charles I. They diverted themselves with very abusive and unbecoming talk, swearing, and cursing, and reviling bitterly. On being told that the occasion of the meeting was to turn away the anger of God from us in the present drought, they showed their ignorance and impiety by answering that such meetings as these were the occasion of God's anger. "While they were thus entertaining themselves, their clerk took the names of those who were present, in all about one hundred and fifty, and so dismissed them for the present.
Mr Henry noted, in the account he kept of this event, that "the justices came to this good work from the alehouse at Prees Heath, about two miles off, to which, and to the bowling-green adjoining, they, with other justices, gentlemen, and clergymen of the neighbourhood, had long before obliged themselves to come every Tuesday during the summer under a penalty of twelve pence a time if they were absent, and there to spend the day in drinking and bowling, which was thought to be as much more to the dishonour of God and the scandal of the Christian profession as cursing, and swearing, and drunkenness are worse than praying, and singing psalms, and hearing the Word of God."
It is supposed the justices knew of the meeting before, and might have prevented it by the least intimation; but they were determined to take the opportunity of making sport for themselves, and giving trouble to their neighbours.
After the feat done, they returned to the alehouse, and made themselves and their companions merry with calling over the names they had taken, making their remarks as they saw cause, and recounting the particulars of the exploit.
There was one of the company whose wife happened to be present at the meeting, and her name was taken down among the rest, with which they upbraided him. But he answered, that "she had been better employed than he was; and if Mr Henry might be permitted to preach in the church, he would go a great many miles to hear him." Tor which saying he was forthwith expelled their company, and was never more to show his face at that bowling-green. To which he replied, "that if they had so ordered long ago, it would have been a great deal better for him and his family."
Two days after they met again at Hodnet, where, upon the oath of two witnesses, who, it was supposed, were sent on purpose to inform, they signed and sealed two records of conviction. By one record they convicted the master of the house and fined him £20, and £5 more as constable of the town for that year, and with him all the persons whose names they had taken down, and fined them 5s., and issued warrants accordingly.
By another record they convicted the two ministers, Mr Bury and Mr Henry. The Act makes it only punishable to preach and to teach in any such conventicles, and yet they fined Mr Bury £20, though he only prayed, and did not speak one word either in the way of preaching or teaching, not so much as, "Let us pray." However, they said praying was teaching, and right or wrong he must be fined; though his great piety, peaceableness, and usefulness, besides his deep poverty, might have pleaded for him against so palpable a piece of injustice. They took £7 off from him, and laid it upon others; and for the remaining £13, he being utterly unable to pay, they took from him by distress the bed which he lay upon, with blankets and rug; also another feather bed, nineteen pairs of sheets, most of them new, of which he could not prevail to have so much as one pair returned for him to lie in. Also books to the value of £5, besides brass and pewter. And though he was at this time perfectly innocent of that heinous crime of preaching and teaching with which he was charged, yet he had no way to right himself but by appealing to the justices themselves in quarter-sessions, who would be sure to confirm their own decrees. So the good man sat down with his loss, and "took joyfully the spoiling of his goods, knowing in himself that he had in heaven a better and a more enduring substance."
But Mr Henry being the greatest criminal, and having done the most mischief, must needs be animadverted upon accordingly, and therefore he was fined £40. It was much pressed upon him to pay the fine, which might prevent loss to himself, and trouble to the justices. But he was not willing to do it, partly because he would give no encouragement to such prosecutions, nor voluntarily reward the informers for what he thought they rather deserved punishment; and partly because he thought himself wronged in the doubling of the fine. Whereupon his goods were distrained upon and taken away. But their warrant not giving them authority to break open doors, nor their watchfulness getting them an opportunity toenter the house, they carried away about 33 cart-loads of goods out of doors - corn cut upon the ground, hay, coals, etc - which made a great noise in the country, and raised the indignation of many against the decrees which prescribed this grievous ness ; while Mr Henry bore it with his usual evenness and serenity of mind, not at all moved or disturbed by it. He did not boast of his sufferings, or make any great matter of them, but would often say, "Alas! this is nothing to what others suffer, nor to what we ourselves may suffer before we die." And yet he rejoiced and blest God, that it was not for debt or evil doing that his goods were carried away; and "while it is for well doing that we suffer," he said, " they cannot harm us."

Coleman Anecdote 13 Nathaniel Heywood

As a further illustration of the state of things, we may present a case from another part of the country. Mr N Heywood (1633-1677), ejected from Ormskirk, in Lancashire, where he had been a laborious and successful minister of the gospel, preached privately after his ejectment as he had opportunity - usually twice on Lord's-day, and sometimes repeatedly on week days, ordering his labours in several parts of the parish, both in the day and in the night. Nay, in times of great danger, he hath preached at one house the beginning of the night, and then gone two miles on foot over mosses, and preached towards morning to another company at another house. On the Lord's day, December 20,1674, there came three men while Mr Heywood was in prayer before sermon, and when he had ended, one of them came up to the pulpit and said, "Sir, you are our prisoner, come down and go along with us." Mr Heywood desired he might be suffered to preach, and promised then to submit. But the wretch held a pistol to his head, and with dreadful curses and threatenings ordered him down. However, persons of character espoused his cause, so that he was kept from prison and his goods from being distrained; but his spirit was overwhelmed with grief on account of his people, whom he loved as if they had been his children.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Nonconformity Timeline

This useful timeline can be found here at The Dr Williams Centre for Dissenting Studies site

  • 1660 Act for Restoring Ministers
  • An Act for the confirming and restoring of Ministers [12 Car. II, c. 17]
  • 1661 Corporation Act
  • An Act for the well-governing and regulating of Corporations [13 Car. II, stat. 2, c. 1]
  • 1662 Act of Uniformity - An Act for the Uniformity of Public Prayers and Administration of Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies, and for establishing the Form of making, ordaining and consecrating Bishops, Priests and Deacons in the Church of England [14 Car. II, c. 4]
  • 1664 First Conventicle Act - An Act to prevent and suppress seditious Conventicles [16 Car. II, c. 4]
  • 1665 Five Mile Act - An Act for restraining Non-conformists from inhabiting in Corporations [17 Car. II, c. 2]
  • 1669 Second Conventicle Act - An Act to prevent and suppress seditious Conventicles [22 Car. II, c. 1]
  • 1673 Test Act - An Act for preventing dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants [25 Car. II, c. 2]
  • 1678 Second Test Act - An Act for the more effectual preserving the King’s Person and Government, by disabling Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament [30 Car. II, stat. 2, c. 1]
  • 1689 Toleration Act - An Act for exempting Their Majesties Protestant Subjects, dissenting from the Church of England, from the Penalties of certain Laws [1 Gul. & Mar., c. 18]
  • 1698 Blasphemy Act - An Act for the more Effectual Suppressing of Blasphemy and Profaneness [9& 10 Wm III, c.32]
  • 1711 Occasional Conformity Act - An Act for preserving the Protestant Religion, by better securing the Church of England as by Law established [10 Anne, c. 6]
  • 1714 Schism Act - An Act to prevent the growth of Schism, and for the further security of the churches of England and Ireland, as by law established [13 Anne, c. 7]
  • 1719 Act for the Repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts - An Act for strengthening the Protestant Interest in these Kingdoms [5 Geo. I, c. 4]
  • 1779 Protestant Dissenters' Relief Act - An Act for the further Relief of Protestant Dissenting Ministers and Schoolmasters [19 Geo. III, c. 44]
  • 1812 Places of Religious Worship Act -An Act to repeal certain Acts, and amend other Acts relating to Religious Worship and Assemblies, and Persons teaching or preaching therein [52 Geo. III, c.155]
  • 1813 Unitarian Relief Act - The Doctrine of the Trinity Act [53 Geo. III, c. 160]
  • 1826 founding of the University of London (its name was changed to University College London in 1836)
  • 1828 Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts - An Act for repealing so much of several Acts as imposes the Necessity of receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper as a Qualification for certain Offices and Employments [9 Geo. IV, c. 17]
  • 1832 Reform Act - An Act to amend the representation of the people in England and Wales. Its formal short title and citation is the Representation of the People Act 1832 [2 & 3 Wm. IV, c. 45]
  • 1834 University Admission Bill
  • 1835 Municipal Reform Act - Municipal Corporations Act 1835 [5 & 6 Wm. IV, c. 76]
  • 1836 Founding of the University of London (established as an examining body to award degrees)
  • 1854 Oxford University Act - An Act to make further Provision for the good Government and Extension of the University of Oxford, of the Colleges therein [1854 CHAPTER 81 17 and 18 Vict.]
  • 1856 Cambridge University Act
  • An Act to make further Provision for the good Government and Extension of the University of Cambridge, of the Colleges therein [1856 CHAPTER 88 19 and 20 Vict.]
  • 1871 Universities Tests Act - An Act to alter the law respecting Religious Tests in the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham, and in the Halls and Colleges of those Universities [1871 CHAPTER 26 34 and 35 Vict.]
David L. Wykes