Thursday, 30 June 2016

William Dyer c 1632-1696

DYER, WILLIAM (c. 1632-1696). Nonconformist English minister. Little of Dyer's early life is known. He began his preaching career in Chesham, then accepted then accepted a call to minister at Cholesbury in Buckinghamshire. By 1662, he had vacated his pulpit, most likely in response to the Act of Uniformity. Dyer preached at St. Anne's, Aldersgate Street, London, in 1665, and the sermons, in which Dyer claimed the plague was God's punishment on London, were published under the title Christ's voice to London (1666). In later life, Dyer is thought to have been sympathetic to Quakers and may have converted to Quakerism. He is buried in a Quaker cemetery in Southwark. Dyer's writing has been compared stylistically to John Bunyan's and John Saltmarsh's.

This biographical piece from The A-Z of the Puritans is based on the following older piece
WILLIAM DYER, an eminent English Nonconformist divine, was born in 1636. He was successively minister of Cholesbury and Chesham, Buckinghamshire. He was one of the two thousand ministers who were ejected from the Establishment in the year 1662 - a year which shall be ever memorable in the history of nonconformity. After his ejectment he removed to London, where he resided during the time of the plague, meanwhile preaching and assisting in the good work, which afterwards resulted in the nonconforming party being more favourably dealt with by the State than it had previously been. During this year he preached the celebrated sermons called Christ's Voice to London, and the Great Day of God's Wrath, two powerful discourses on the pestilence then prevailing. Later in life, from conscientious motives, he became a member of the Society of Friends, with the principles of which he afterwards identified himself. After living a life of usefulness, and passing through many vicissitudes, he died in 1696, aged sixty years.
The reputation of Dyer as an author rests chiefly upon Christ's Famous Titles handled in divers Sermonsa and first published in 1663. He afterwards published a sequel to this work, entitled, A Golden Chain for Believers to hang about their necks which has maintained a popularity almost equal to that of the Famous Titles. He also wrote A Cabinet of Jewels; or, a Glimpse of Sion's Glory. The style and composition of our author resemble those of John Bunyan, although they must be acknowledged to be inferior to those of the author of the Pilgrim's Progress, being deficient in the beautiful simplicity distinguishing that work; but in intensity and sincerity they are equally excellent.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016


The number ejected is sometimes disputed. In my book I write

Estimates vary but it seems that, including those ejected before 1662 and some who jumped rather than waiting to be pushed, nearly two thousand ministers and others were silenced or ejected. There will always be some vagueness about the figure as some changed their minds. A G Matthews says that some 210 later conformed. A contemporary writer, John Walker, says of an Evan Griffiths of Oxwich in South Wales, who was ejected but then conformed, that he became as violent against dissenters as he had once been against royalists. Also, the ejection included not only ministers but also lecturers and even private tutors. Further, some such as Cornishman Francis Howell 1625-1679 present anomalies. Howell, “a man mighty in the scriptures” according to Calamy, was expelled both as Principal of Jesus College, Oxford in 1660 and as incumbent of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in North Wales in 1662.
In his Nonconformist Memorial Calamy deals with some 2,465 people altogether. Matthews and Watts say that the number unwilling to conform in 1662 was 2029, around 936* in England and 120 in Wales. Some 200 of these were university lecturers. Matthews points out that a further 129 were deprived at an uncertain date between 1660 and 1663 and with the ejections of 1660 as well, he gives a total of 1760 ministers (which is about 20% of the clergy) thrust out of the Church of England, silenced from preaching or teaching because they could no longer conform by law and so deprived of a livelihood.
Gerald Bray comments that “almost all of these were Puritans, and so the Act may be said to represent the expulsion of Puritanism from the national Church. "On the other hand, John Spurr points out that Puritans remained within the state church and others, like Quakers and General Baptists, were ejected. He quotes John Corbet 1620-1680, saying, " it is a palpable injury to burden us with the various parties with whom we are now herded by our ejection in the general state of dissenters."
* That figure I'm sure should be 1909