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."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Puritanism from within...

This post is for those of you who have access to Early English Books Online (EEBO). Reading The Culture of English Puritanism (Durston and Eales, eds.) reminded me of a few resources for defining/describing puritanism. These three sources were written from within the puritan 'camp' during the seventeenth century. If you have access to EEBO, they may be worth a read.

The Plea of the Innocent (1602) by Josias Nichols
Nichols was a puritan minister in Kent during the reign of Elizabeth.

A Discourse Concerning Puritans (1641) by Henry Parker
This is useful (as Durston and Eales point out) because Parker identifies four streams that puritans themselves recognized within Puritanism.

The Character of an Old English Puritane or Non-Conformist (1646) by John Geree
Geree provides a glimpse of how puritans viewed themselves during the
tumultuous Civil War period.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New articles

Review of Heidi Nichols's Anne Bradstreet: The Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Puritan Poet
Sarah Grafton
Reformation21 (website)

For some, far too many school children and public leaders still believe in a Creator. With their creeds of intolerance now bestsellers, noted atheists decry the “flagrantly irrational” idea of a God-created universe. One such atheist, Sam Harris, laments the “failure of many brilliant attacks upon religion.” In his Letter to a Christian Nation, he stands dumfounded by Americans’ stubborn “muddling over God.”

Effective dialogue with this increasingly militant atheism calls for sturdy logic and apologetics to be sure. But sincere spiritual testimonies are valuable as well, not only to foil caricatures and hasty generalizations but to encourage us fellow irrationalists. Of particular worth, then, is a timely book on America’s first published poet—a woman who, far from muddling over God, wrote of her faith in vivid verse and prose. ... (Read the rest)

"Herbert Thorndike and the Covenant of Grace"
Michael McGiffert
Journal of Ecclesiastical History 58, No. 3 (July 07)

Herbert Thorndike's Of the covenant of grace (1659) was the largest and last substantial word on its subject from a priest of the seventeenth-century English Church. Recasting elements of practical divinity that are commonly associated with evangelical Puritanism, attacking the error of absolute and immediate predestination by decree and shifting stress from baptism to regeneration, Thorndike defended God's honour and majesty by affirming human freedom of choice in the ordo salutis and the moral life. His argument centred in a programme of reciprocal ‘helps’ that unites Arminian synergism with the early modern scholastic concept of scientia media, God's ‘middle knowledge’.

"Fasting, Piety, and Political Anxiety among French Reformed Protestants"
Raymond A. Mentzer
Church History 76, No. 2 (June 07)

Early Protestant theologians and ecclesiastical leaders were highly critical of the fasts which pervaded the medieval Christian world. Still, the tradition did not entirely disappear with the Reformation. The followers of John Calvin continued to hold public fasts, albeit in far more restrained fashion. In keeping with their theological understandings, liturgical fasting among Reformed congregations had a more transcendent quality than in the medieval church. When members of the Reformed Churches of France gathered at their temples to celebrate a fast, the focus was less the denial of sustenance to their human bodies than the spiritual nourishment of their souls through prayer, psalm singing, sermons and readings from Holy Writ. The occasion was always a “difficult matter of great importance,” typically a great calamity such as famine or pestilence, persecution or war. The status of French Protestants as members of a hard-pressed, frequently persecuted religious minority lent the fast special meaning within their community. French Reformed churches adapted fasting to the collective expression of their grave concerns in the political sphere. They employed it to demonstrate loyalty to the Catholic crown as well as to bring the faithful together when threatened by the royal government and Catholic Church. This ancient devotional ritual ultimately became a powerful instrument for shaping religious identity and fostering cohesion within a deeply anxious body of believers.

"Royal Ecclesiastical Supremacy and the Restoration Church"
Jacqueline Rose
Historical Research 80, Issue 209 (Aug 07)

The nature and extent of the royal supremacy over the Church of England proved contentious in Restoration England, especially when Charles II and James II sought to use their ecclesiastical prerogative to legitimate Nonconformist worship. Although the supremacy was a long-established institutional fact of the English church-state, it could be presented in diverse ways. This article outlines six versions of royal supremacy which were expressed, arguing that it was a contested and multiform entity which was manipulated by polemicists for their own purposes. Its location in the monarch alone, in crown-in-parliament, or in delegation to a lay vicegerent was unclear. Its character could be presented as purely jurisdictional or partly sacerdotal. The Declaration of Indulgence of 1672 led to the paradox of Nonconformists upholding the supremacy while the established church limited it. The political and religious insecurities of the Cabal era (1667–73) highlighted tensions and divergences which had been latent in concepts of the supremacy since its establishment under the Tudors. It is therefore vital to contextualize Restoration arguments in Reformation debates. Recognizing that ‘royal’ ‘supremacy’ was neither invariably monarchical nor inevitably absolute is significant for our understanding of the character of both the Restoration ecclesiastical polity and those who governed it.

"Atrocity, Codes of Conduct and the Irish in the British Civil Wars 1641–1653"
Micheál Ó Siochrú
Past and Present 195, No. 1 (May 07)

"Witchcraft, Politics, and Memory in Seventeenth Century England"
Malcolm Gaskill
The Historical Journal 50, No. 2 (June 07)

"Reading, the Godly, and Self-Writing in England, circa 1580–1720"
Andrew Cambers
Journal of British Studies 46, No. 4 (Oct 07)

"The Protestant Moment: Antipopery, the Revolution of 1688–1689, and the Making of an Anglo-American Empire"
Owen Stanwood
Journal of British Studies 46, No. 3 (Jul 07)


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