Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Dr Williams's Centre Conference

The Evangelical Library Conference on March 27 will not be the only one marking 1662 it seems.
The Dr Williams's Centre for Dissenting Studies has announced its Conference in 2012 as
1662 Revisited
It is on Saturday 26 May 2012. Details found here.
The eighth annual one-day conference of the Dr Williams's Centre for Dissenting Studies, a collaboration between the School of English and Drama, Queen Mary, University of London, and Dr Williams's Library.
To mark the 350th anniversary of the Restoration Settlement of Religion, the conference will explore its implications in four panels:
Religion: Stephen Taylor (Reading) and Kenneth Fincham (Kent); Mark Burden (Queen Mary); Cory Cotter (Virginia)
Politics: Mark Goldie (Cambridge); Paul Seaward (History of Parliament); Grant Tapsell (St Andrews)
Literature: Neil Keeble (Stirling); David Appleby (Nottingham); Michael Davies (Liverpool)
The Three Kingdoms and the Colonies: Alasdair Raffe (Durham); Owen Stanwood (Boston College); Robert Armstrong (Trinity College Dublin)

Note that the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches Congregational Studies Conference on Saturday March 17, 2012 is set to look at the same subject I understand.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Coleman Anecdote 12 John Shuttlewood

There was also a Mr [John] Shuttlewood [d 1689], a friend and fellow-sufferer of Mr Clarke (see previous blog), who became the first pastor of the Independent Churches at Welford and Creaton, Northamptonshire. In the year 1668, when he was uniting with some others in singing a psalm, one Mr B, with thirty or forty horsemen, with swords drawn and pistols loaded, came and seized him with many that were worshipping with him. Several of both sexes were beaten and driven into the field and there dismissed upon promising to appear the next day before a justice of the peace. Mr Shuttlewood was conveyed to Leicester jail, where he was a prisoner for some months. After the "Conventicle Act" passed, he was again seized by one Charles Gibbons, a notorious persecutor and profane swearer, taken by him from one justice of the peace to another, and warrants were issued to distrain upon him for £20, upon the owner of the house where he preached for £20, and 5s a-piece on others. At another time his house was entered when he was conducting divine service; a warrant was obtained to distrain upon him for £40, when seven of his milch cows were taken and sold. He was obliged frequently to change his abode, sometimes in Leicestershire, sometimes in Northamptonshire, to escape from his foes. When he met his people at Welford, one of the number was appointed to watch, while the rest were engaged in worship, so that when the informers were seen to approach, notice might be given to Mr Shuttlewood and his hearers, who escaped by the window into the fields. Sometimes they met in the pastures that surrounded the house at Selby, amidst the darkness and the damps of night. These were days of trial, when the reality of religious principle was tested and its power appeared. The constitution of Mr. Shuttlewood was greatly injured by the sufferings he endured, and also by his preaching at unseasonable hours and in unsuitable places.
[This man appears to have opened an academy for training ministers - see Neale]

Coleman Anecdote 11 Maidwell, Browning, Clarke

In the county of Northampton we have a Mr Thomas Maidwell [1609-1692] ejected from the Church at Kettering, and afterwards becoming the devoted successful pastor of the Independent Church formed in that place, much tried, like many of his brethren, by persecutions. One H Sawyer, Esq, a large landed proprietor in the parish, was a bitter enemy to the Nonconformists, and often tried to get Mr Maidwell into his power. He frequently escaped with difficulty, sometimes in disguise. It is said that he was once cast into prison. He was also banished from his home by the "Five Mile Act."
Mr Thomas Browning, ejected from Desborough, Northamptonshire, who became pastor of the Independent Church at Howell, in the same county, was for some time confined in Northampton jail for preaching the gospel; and in the records of the church it is stated, in 1664, "from this time dates a sore persecution and scattering that lay upon us, that we hardly got together, much less obtained church meetings."
In the adjoining county of Leicester we have a Mr Matthew Clarke ejected from the living of Narborough, who afterwards became the pastor of the Independent Churches at Market Harborough and Ashley, three times cast into Leicester jail for the crime of preaching the gospel, narrowly watched by some furious justices of the peace, though he often had the happiness to escape. He dwelt for a time in a lone house in Leicester Forest, and was driven from thence by the "Five Mile Act" to live at a greater distance from any place where he had preached.

Coleman Anecdote 10 William Wilson

A Mr William Wilson, ejected from a living in the county of Sussex [Billingshurst, he was apparently a Baptist], was greatly tried. He had been educated at Cambridge, but was prosecuted after his ejectment for teaching school and preaching. His two greatest enemies were a neighbouring justice and the parson that succeeded him in the parish. The justice threatened that he would have him, dead or alive, and make him rot in the jail. But it is observed that he himself went first to rot in the grave. The parson was so violent, that he directed the officers how to apprehend him, and vented his malice upon Mr Wilson's family after his death, though it was well known that his interest helped to bring him into the parish. But though several warrants were issued out against him, and several attempts were made to take him, God so preserved him, that he never fell into their hands, though he often very narrowly escaped. His usual refuge was the house of Dr Banks, a neighbouring Conformist minister, where he lay unsuspected. At length he was forced to give up his school; and then he purchased a small farm, which his wife and servants managed; but he held on preaching when he could get an auditory, at his own house, or elsewhere. His heart was so set upon ministerial service, that in his last illness nothing was more grievous to him than his being thereby taken off from his work. "When another ejected minister came to visit him, and asked him what he would have him pray for, he answered, "That God would either be pleased to restore him to his ministerial labours, or else receive him to glory." The latter of these requests was answered in the year 1670, when he was about forty years of age.

Baxter on Simeon Ash

In his autobiography Baxter writes about the nonconformist Simeon Ash as follows:

Good old Mr Simeon Ash was buried the very even of Bartholomew's Day and went seasonably to heaven at the very time he was to be cast out of the Church. He was one of our very oldest Nonconformists (of the old strain; for now [1662] conforming is quite another thing than before the wars): he was a Christian of the primitive simplicity; not made for controversy, nor inclined to disputes, but of a holy life and a cheerful mind, and of a fluent elegancy in prayer, full of matter and excellent words: his ordinary speech was holy and edifying: being confined much to his house by the gout, and having a good estate, and a very good wife, inclined to entertainments and liberality, his house was very much frequented by Ministers: he was always cheerful, without profuse laughter or liberty, or vain words: never troubled with doubtings of his interest in Christ; bat tasting the continual love of God, was much disposed to the communicating of it to others, and comforting dejected souls: his eminent sincerity made him exceedingly loved and honoured: insomuch as Mr Gataker, Mr Whittaker, and others of the most excellent divines of London, when they went to God, desired him to preach their funeral sermons. He was zealous for bringing in the king; having been chaplain to the Earl of Manchester in the wars, he fell under the obloquy of the Cromwellians for crossing their designs: he wrote to Colonel Sanders, Colonel Barton, and others in the army, when General Monk came in, to engage them for the king. Having preached his lecture in Cornhill, being heated, he took cold in the vestry, and thinking it would have proved but one of his old fits of the gout, he went to Highgate; but it turned to a fever. He died as he lived, in great consolation and cheerful exercise of faith, molested with no doubts or fears, discernible: exceeding glad of the company of his friendsand greatly encouraging all about him with his joyful expressions in respect of death and his approaching change; so that no man could seem to be more fearless of it. When he had at last lain speechless for some time, as soon as I came to him, gladness so excited his spirits that he spake joyfully and freely of his going to God to those about him. I stayed with him his last evening, till we had long expected his change (being Speechless all that day), and in the night he departed.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Baxter's Analysis

In his autobiography Baxter attempts an analysis of the way things stood after the Great Ejection. He speaks of
1. Conformists
1 Some conformed who had previously been known as Presbyterians as simply subscribed understanding it in their own sense. Baxter suggests considerations of family and poverty held sway with some. He adds that "most that I knew, when once they inclined to Conformity, did avoid the company of their brethren, and never asked them what their reasons were against Conformity."
2 Latitudinarians - (neo-)Platonists, Cartesians, many Arminian, some universalists. Some scholars some ambitious to rise.
3 Hearty conformists
(1) Some zealous for diocesan views and against the Nonconformists
(2) Some more sympathetic (privately) to Nonconformists
(3) The ignorant adn unlearned and the snesuous and scandalous
2. Nonconformists
1 Some few were for the old conformity, not covenanters nor happy about the civil wars yet unable to assent to all things now imposed
2 Men like Baxter himself, not strongly pro- or anti- episopal
3 Genuine Presbyterians
4 Independents. Mostly these, Baxter says, are like the moderate Presbyterians but some are more factious. He also mentions sects such as the Quakers and some Anabaptists who also fell foul of the new laws, of course.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Coleman Anecdote 09 John James

In the county of Nottingham lived a Mr John James, who was called to suffer great losses and long imprisonments. For seventeen months he was confined in Nottingham jail. He then petitioned Judge Atkins in the circuit, and was released. But some time after he was seized again, and clapped up in Newark jail, where he lay about six years, and could obtain no relief, unless he would promise to give over preaching, which he absolutely refused. His prison, indeed, here was made tolerably comfortable by the favour of the keeper, who suffered his friends to come to him, and gave him leave to preach amongst them, both in the prison and in other houses in the town. His confinement continued until the Indulgence in 1672. Afterwards, falling into the same sin of preaching, he was informed against, and warrants were granted to seize his goods, which was done with such rigour, that they left him not a stool to sit on. They broke open house, stable, and barns, and took away whatever they met with; and they did it in so furious a manner, as to fright three children into convulsions, and one of them, six years of age, died a night or two after. He lost to the value of nearly £500 in goods and cattle. His chief adversary, Justice Whaley, who had then an estate of £1500 per annum, died in prison for debt in London. Some time before his death he wrote a letter to Mr James, acknowledging his great crime in being an enemy to him, and owning that the hand of God was justly upon him for it.

Coleman Anecdote 08 Richard Worts

In the county of Norfolk we find a Mr R[ichard] Worts [d 1686], a worthy minister, a great sufferer for his Nonconformity. He was seized, and made a close prisoner at the time when the plague raged in London. With six more he was put into the castle, in a hole in the wall, where there was neither door, window, nor chimney. The hole had three wickets into the castle yard, one of which was of necessity open night and day, or they must have been suffocated with the steam of the charcoal. For five weeks the door below was kept continually locked, the hole being above 'forty steps high in a narrow passage in the wall. The keeper usually went away with the key ahout four o'clock, near a mile and a half from the head jailer's house, and returned not until about eight in the morning, during whose absence none could -come to them, whatever occasion there might be, and they were not permitted for five weeks so much as to come out into the yard. If a prisoner's wife came to see him, he was called down to the door, and .the keeper used to set his back against one side of the door, and his foot against the other, and in this manner the husband and wife might only see and rspeak with each other. After about two months' continuance here, they were removed to another prison. They were wonderfully preserved this year from the contagion of the plague, while the arrows of the Almighty fell very near them, on one side and another, there being only a lane between, so that they could see some that were shut up, and hear them cry for bread. In this trying situation they fled to their strong tower, the name of the Lord, where they found safety and peace. Some time after, a great man in power told the jailer he must forthwith carry them to the castle, and put up each in a place alone. The jailer answered, "It cannot be done, the castle is full, and I daily fear the plague should break out amongst them." "Then put them into a place together; what do I care if the plague be in it ?" was the reply. However, they were preserved in that filthy hole, at whose wickets came in the odious smell of the common yard of the felons. One of them, indeed, was almost suffocated by it, and the physician could give him no relief, so long as he was confined there. Mr Worts continued a prisoner seven years.

More Baxter

"And now," Baxter continues " came in the great inundation of calamities, which in many streams, overwhelmed thousands of godly Christians together with their pastors. ... (1) Hundreds of able ministers with their wives and children had neither house nor bread; for many of them had not past thirty or forty pounds per annum apiece, and most but sixty or eighty pounds per annum, and few had any considerable estates of their own. (2) The people's poverty was so great, that they were not able much to relieve their ministers. (3) The jealousy of the state and the malice of their enemies were so great, that people that were willing durst not be known to give to their ejected pastors, lest it should be said that they maintained schism, or were making collections for some plot or insurrection. (4) The hearts of the people were much grieved for the loss of their pastors. (5) Many places had such set over them in their steads, as they could not with conscience or comfort commit the conduct of their souls to: and they were forced to own all these"... receiving the sacrament in the several parishes whether they would or not. (6) Those that did not this were to be excommunicated, and then to have a writ sued out against them de excommunicato capiendo, to lay them in the jail, and seize on their estates." Baxter lengthens out this catalogue of evils by enumerating the many divisions among ministers and among Christians which the great controversy of the time occasioned, the murmuring and complaining of the people against the government; and he concludes with the remark that "by all these sins, these murmurings, and these violations of the interest of the church and the cause of Christ, the land was prepared for that further inundation of calamities, by war and plague, and scarcity, which hath since brought it near to desolation."

Baxter on that day

"When the Act of Uniformity was passed," says Richard Baxter in his autobiography, "it gave no longer time than till Bartholomew's day, Aug. 24, 1662, and then they must be all cast out. This fatal day called to remembrance the French massacre, when, on the same day, thirty or forty thousand Protestants perished by Roman religious zeal and charity. I had no place of my own; but I preached twice a week, by request, in other men's congregations, at Milk Street and Blackfriars. The last sermon that I preached in public was on May 25. The reasons why I gave over sooner than most others were, because lawyers did interpret a doubtful clause in the act, as ending the liberty of lecturers at that time; because I would let authority soon know that I intended to obey in all that was lawful; because I would let all ministers in England understand in time, whether I intended to conform or not; for, had I staid to the last day, some would have conformed the sooner, from a supposition that I intended it. These, with other reasons, moved me to cease three months before Bartholomew's day, which many censured for a while, but, afterwards, better saw the reasons of it."

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Coleman Anecdote 07 Timothy Sacheverel

Of Mr Timothy Sacheverel, who was ejected from Tarrant Hinton, in Dorsetshire, great uncle to the notorious Doctor Sacheverel, we are informed, that between the Restoration and Bartholomew-day, he was put down in a list that contained the names of several that were to be sent to prison; but Sir Gerard Naper, being in the chair at the sessions, and having a respect for him, refused to set his hand to the commitment, and so they all escaped for that time. Soon after Bartholomew-day he was cited to the Spiritual Court at Blandford, whither many people came in hope of something like a public disputation - at least, expecting to hear him very severely reprimanded; but the Chancellor told him he did not send for him to dispute with him, knowing him to be a person of great worth, temper, and learning, but only desired him to weigh all matters calmly and without prejudice, and then left him to do as God should direct him; whereupon, as soon as he had in form admonished him, he was dismissed. But such was the hostility to the worship of the Nonconformists in any way, that not long after several troopers of the militia rushed suddenly into his house one morning, while he was at prayer with his family. One of them came and held a pistol at his back, commanding him, in the king's name, immediately to stand up, but he still continued praying. However, he soon concluded, and, with great presence of mind, asked the trooper "How he durst thus pretend in the king's name to interrupt him, while he and his family were presenting their petitions to the King of kings?"

Coleman Anecdote 06 Joseph Allen

Mr Joseph Allen, the ejected minister of Taunton, was, on May 26th, 1663, committed to Ilchester jail for singing psalms in his own house, and preaching to his family, others being present. Here he continued a year, but upon his enlargement, returned again to his work, which he followed with unwearied diligence. But in the next year he was committed a second time to jail, with several other ministers, and forty private persons, where he contracted such distempers and weaknesses, as brought him to his grave before he was thirty-six years of age. He was an awakening, lively preacher, zealous and successful in his Master's work, and of a peaceable and quiet spirit.