Friday, October 5, 2007

Friday Fun/Tragedy: Riff-Raff Clergy in Essex, c.1586

Over at the Pyros' blog there's been a lot of talk lately about sub-standard church leaders. I thought this would be an appropriate way to show this is not a modern problem.

One of the chief complaints of the puritan movement, from its earliest days during the reign of Elizabeth I, was the dearth of worthy, 'learned' ministers. If the English church were to be truly reformed, they insisted, its officers must be pastoral figures, familiar with the Word of God and able to lead their flocks by its principles.

In 1586, a group of puritan ministers presented a list of grievances to Parliament, which included catalogs of unworthy clergy they had drawn up for several English counties. The following is a brief excerpt from that report, which can be read in full in The Seconde Parte of a Register, edited by Albert Peel (Cambridge, 1915; two volumes). This portion is in Vol. 2, pp. 162-63.
"How miserable the state of our Church is for want of a godlie learned ministrie thorow out this Realme, maie appeare by this brief of divers Countries and shires, gathered trulie out of the surveis made the last parliament, and partlie this, 2 of November, 1586 ...

... Preachers of a scandalous life in Essex.

Mr Ampleforth, v.[icar] of Much Badow hadde a childe by his owne sister, and it doth appeare to be true by his diverse examinations, and deposition taken as well before Justices of Peace as in the spirituall court before the high commisioners, as allso by keeping of the child in sundrie places at his charges; he is also suspected of poperie, sometime a popish priest, and he is one that doth falsifie the Scriptures.

Mr Goldringe, pa.[rish] of Laingdon Hills, he was convicted of fornication, a drunkard.

Mr Ocklei, pa. of Much Bursted, a gamster.

Mr Durdent, v. of Stebbing, a drunckard, and a gamster, and a verie grosse abuser of the Scripturs. Wit.[nesses], Mr Denham Mr Rogers [NB - that's this Mr Rogers] &c.

Mr Durden. pa. of Mashburie, a carelesse man, a gamster, an alehouse haunter, a companie keeper with drunckardes, and he himselfe sometimes druncke. Wit., Richard Renolds, John Argent &c.

Mr Cuckson, v. of Linsell, unable to preach, hee hath bene a pilferer, of scandalous life. Wit., Gabriell Jollie and Nathaniell Barnard.

Mr Wilkinson, v. of Stansted, Mount fitchet, a gamster.

Mr Fountaine of Much Bracksted, an alehouse haunter and gamester.

Mr Mason, pa. of Rawrey, had a childe by his maide, and is vehementlie suspected to have lived incontinentlie with others, and was brought for the same before a Justice of peace.

Mr Glascock, pa. of Willingdale Doe, sometime a popish priest, a grosse abuser of the Scripturs.

Mr Glibberie, v. of Halesteed, a verie ridiculous preacher.

Mr Buffin of Bulmer, an alehouse haunter, and convicted for drunkennes before a Justice of peace.

Mr Warener, v. of West Mercei, a drunkard and accused of incontinencie, ut supra.

Mr Ellis, pa. of Bowers, a dicer, a carder, a pot companion, a companie keeper of riotous persons, living verie offensivelie to all men."


Bridges said...

There is nothing new under the sun. Unfortunately that means that some ministers have always lived 'below reproach'. Thanks for the reminder that we need His grace to stand.

Chris Ross said...

Amen, brother. May we never be known as 'ridiculous preachers' or 'grosse abusers of the Scripturs' (except by infidels) :-).

davidcwelker said...

Very interesting blog, a great read. Found it searching Rich Mullins, I'll have to check back.

Susan A said...

I wonder what the 'verie ridiculous preacher' was saying or doing...


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