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(1550— 1641)



aoillron : FETTER LANE, E.G.

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Title-page. {Facsimile.) Date 1548.
See Vol. I., page 55.



(1550— 1641)



Hon. M.A. (Brown University), B.Litt. (Oxon.)



Cambridge :

at the University Press

Camfcritigc :





HERETOFORE, even the best histories of the Church
of England have been noticeably lacking in adequate
information relating to our subject, while the average history
written by Nonconformists is not unnaturally apt to be some-
what partial in its treatment. English Church history as a
whole, however, cannot be said to be satisfactorily studied,
unless the story of Dissent is fully and fairly presented. In
the past, it is true, English Church historians may have felt
that the record of organized separation from the Established
Church was not of sufficient interest or importance to justify
any detailed presentation. The modern student, however, who
wishes as far as possible to know all the facts of English Church
history, cannot be satisfied to remain largely in ignorance or
doubt as to the salient points of Dissenting history.

To the student who desires, in particular, to know more
of the story of early English Dissent, it is hoped that the
present work may prove useful. As here presented, it is
intended to be complete in itself for the period treated ; but
it is also designed as the first section of a larger treatise
for which the author has been making investigations for a
number of years. If completed as planned, the entire work
will contain, besides a continuation of the historical and critical
information to be found in these two volumes, an extended
bibliography of between two and three thousand items, which
has already been prepared as a supplement to Dr Henry
Martyn Dexter's " Collections toward a Bibliography of Con-
gregationalism ", but which will be chiefly concerned with the
literature of the English Anabaptists and Baptists before

viii Preface

On examination it will readily be seen that the present
publication is not intended as an exhaustive history of English
Dissent during even the period treated, but rather as an
introduction to the study of that history and its literature.
Furthermore the author has sought as much as possible to
limit himself to the discussion of points which have not been
previously treated, or which appear to have been handled with
insufficient care. Accordingly some subjects that ought at
least to be mentioned in a complete history will scarcely be
referred to here, because on them more or less adequate work
seems already to have been done.

In the following pages the author has also endeavoured to
follow the trend of primary evidence, irrespective of his own
preconceptions or of what has previously been written by others
on the subject. His ideal has been to rely on secondary
evidence as little as possible, and to amplify and correct the
studies of earlier writers (including his own previous writings),
in the belief that such further critical investigation was abso-
lutely necessary, if the subject was ever truly to be understood.
He therefore asks the reader to keep these necessary limitations
and this ideal in mind, and to give him a patient hearing.

The author does not doubt that mistakes will be found
in his work, but he has sought to make their number as few as
possible, and here and elsewhere to correct any errors of the
presence of which he has become aware. For any others which
may be found, he asks the reader's indulgence. In one instance
the title of a manuscript has been expanded without a state-
ment to that effect, viz., "The second parte of a Register",
mentioned on page 24. In a note on page 96 it is incorrectly
asserted that the patronage of the Rectory of Achurch belonged
to the Browne family at the time of Robert Browne's pre-
sentation. On the contrary Lord Burghley presented it to him,
but the main point made in the note remains unaltered. Again,
the death of Samuel Howe, or How, occurred in 1640, not in 1634
or 1635 as suggested on page 201. Definite evidence concerning
that event is given in section xxiii of volume li. Contrary to
what is said on pages 264-65 the Anabaptists' "Humble Suppli-
cation" to King James I evidently was printed in 1620. This

Preface ix

point is at any rate asserted on the title-page of the edition
published in 1662, though not found in the "Supplication"
itself On page 275 the name Isabel Toppe should read Israel
Toppe (see Vol. il., pp. 248 and 257). On page 279 the author
of "The Personall Reigne of Christ vpon Earth", 1642, has been
given as John Archer, whose name appears in the work, but
it seems that his real name may have been Henry Archer.
Finally, I have recently discovered that Leonard Busher's last
book to which reference is also made on page 279 was written
in English and published in 1647, while he was still alive.
It bore on the title-page the words : " Priiited with priviledge
of the heauenly kinge Christ Jesus the Messiah and onely
son of the moste high God Matt: 28. 29. Gen 14. 18. 20.
Anno Domini Syons style 1663. Romes style 1647." James
Toppe's manuscript reply, of which the title has been given
on the same page and the text of which the present author
hopes soon to publish, was accordingly not ^vritten until
about 1648. That treatise is fortunately not imperfect.
Busher appears to have left Delft after printing his work, and
one naturally wonders if at that favourable time he may not
have returned to London, his native home. It should further
be stated here, that any rare manuscripts or books to which
reference is made in this work, but of which the present location
is for special reasons withheld, will all be included in a later
bibliographical volume, if adequate support can be secured, and
there be definitely located.

Brief allusion should also have been made in the Introduction
to the articles relating to various early English Dissenters in
"The Dictionary of National Biography", in Dr James Hastings'
" Encyclopaidia of Religion and Ethics ", and in the eleventh
edition of " The Encyclopaedia Britannica ". Some of these
articles have features of distinct value, but not a few invite
revision in later editions.

Since the Introduction went to press, a copy of the English
edition of Professor W. J. McGlothlin's " Baptist Confessions of
Faith" has come into the author's hands. Though the work
was only very recently published at Philadelphia, it has already
been found advisable to enlarge and thus improve it. Such a

a 5

X Preface

book has long been needed, and this undoubtedly contains
much useful information ; but in various respects it is as yet
disappointing, and as a whole can still hardly be said to com-
pare favourably with Professor Williston Walker's volume on
a similar subject, viz., "The Creeds and Platforms of Congre-
gationalism," New York, 1893.

Three other books have lately been published which require
mention in these pages. One of them is the Rev. William
Pierce's edition of " The Marprelate Tracts ", London, 1911, a
painstaking and thorough work in which, however, the text has
been unfortunately modernized. The second is the first volume
of Mr Henry W. Clark's " History of English Nonconformity
from Wiclif to the Close of the Nineteenth Century ", London,
1911. This volume covers the period from Wiclif to the
Restoration. In his prefatory Note (p. v) Mr Clark says that
what "has been here attempted is not so much the discovery and
presentation of fresh facts, but rather the bringing of the
recorded happenings into the light of one general principle to
be estimated and judged... the underlying idea is the testing of
events as to their success or failure in manifesting a changeless
spirit and ideal." Consequently, though Mr Clark has read
widely and with some discrimination, his book does not contain
such information as requires special mention here.

The third work to which reference should be made is the
Rev. Walter H. Burgess's " John Smith the Se-Baptist Thomas
Helwys and the first Baptist Church in England With fresh
Light upon the Pilgrim Fathers' Church", London, 1911.
This book, though a popular treatise, is of real historical value,
as well as written in a pleasing style. On account of its late
appearance and its subject-matter it requires rather extended

With some qualifications and corrections Mr Burgess's work
very well supplements a portion of the contents of the present
book, in which it was found unadvisable to insert such a
detailed presentation of the views and controversies of Smyth,
Helwys, and Murton. On pages 212-19 and 239-69 also the
early Anabaptist Confessions of Faith published respectively by
Helwys' and by Smyth's followers are wisely given in good part,

Preface xi

thus making their reproduction in the present treatise less

Mr Burgess's best services, perhaps, have been rendered on
what for convenience may be called the genealogical side of his
subject. Here he has achieved signal success. He gives a number
of fresh details concerning the University life and later career
in Lincoln of John Smyth (pp. 43-52), and various interesting
points relating to the ancestry, station in life, and education of
Thomas Helwys of Broxtowe Hall " overlooking Basford " in
Nottinghamshire (pp. 107-17). Last but not least he proves
that John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, was the son
of John and Ann Robinson of Sturton le Steeple, Nottingham-
shire, and had a brother William and a sister Mary ; and that
his wife, Bridget White, was the second daughter of Alexander
and Eleanor White likewise of Sturton, both of the families
represented being those of substantial yeomen (p. 317).

Of the details found in Mr Burgess's book not already or
elsewhere mentioned in the present work, the following are
perhaps among the most important : viz., that a fifth copy of
John Smyth's " A Paterne of True Prayer ", London, 1605, has
recently been acquired by the British Museum (p. 54); that
Smyth was " town lecturer " at St Peter at Arches, Lincoln, and
is referred to as " clericus conscionator " before the beginning of
his troubles there (p. 62); that Geoffrey Helwys, '"Merchant
Taylor ' and alderman of the City of London ", was Thomas
Helwys' uncle, not his brother as suggested on page 256 of the
present volume (p. 289) ; that John Wilkinson was deceased by
1619 (p. 302) ; and that [John Murton], while a close prisoner
in Newgate, " having not the use of pen and ink ", wrote the
Anabaptists' " Humble Supj^lication " of 1620 " in milk, in
sheets of paper brought to him by the woman his keeper from
a friend in London as the stopples of his milk bottle ", which
were later read " by fire " by this friend, transcribed, and pre-
served (pp. 308-9).

With the historical views maintained in the introductory
and concluding chapters of Mr Burgess's book, and with a good
many minor details other than those mentioned above, the
present author finds himself unable to agree. The opinions

xii Preface

advanced in those chapters are in general the traditional ones
which have long been popular with writers of Dissenting
history, and with which any student is already more or less
familiar, only the influence of the early English Anabaptists is
here more highly rated than has hitherto been customary, —
and in the present writer's opinion somewhat exaggerated.

Naturally there are a number of minor inaccuracies in the
volume, such as every researcher in this field is likely to make
for years to come. Some of them need to be noticed here. On
page 157 Mr Burgess asserts his belief that " I.H.", the author
of " A Description of the Church of Christ ", 1610, was a
Familist. On the contrary there is practically no reason to
doubt that he was Joseph Hall, later Bishop of Norwich, who
was personally acquainted both with John Smyth and John
Robinson. On page 226, at the suggestion of the Rev.
Alexander Gordon, Mr Burgess gives a new reading for the
word hitherto usually read as " Fryelers " in the title of one
of Helwys' publications, taking it without question to be
" Fryesers ", i.e., according to his interpretation, Frisians. The
correct reading, however, is certainly " Fryelers ", for while an
imperfect letter is used for the " 1 ", it is not a broken " s ",
as a careful examination will plainly reveal. Furthermore,
"Fryelers" (" Free-willers ") is just the word required by the
contents of the work, while Frisians is as manifestly out of
place, to say nothing of the difficulty of finding the word
Frisians in this imaginary word "Fryesers". On page 318 it
is said that Henry Ainsworth's " A Seasonable Discourse or a
Censure upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists " " remained in
manuscript for some years,. . ." This was not the case. The work
was first printed in 1623 shortly after it was written, and the
title of this edition may be seen on page 267 of the present
volume. On page 322 Mr Burgess speaks of the exceptional
interest attaching to the Bodleian copy of Edmond Jessop's " A
Discovery of the Errors of the English Anabaptists ", 1623,
" because it has been profusely annotated with marginal notes
in a contemporary hand ", and supported by the purport of
some of these annotations ventures to express the view (p. 327)
that " in or about the year 1625 " " attention was being paid

Preface xiii

[by the English Anabaptists] to the more limited meaning of
the word ' baptize ' in the sense of * dip '." The present writer
has consulted this copy of Jessop's work, and does not hesitate
to say that practically all of the annotations therein contained
were written after 1640. The dating has largely to be deter-
mined by the style of writing employed and by the use of one
or two exceptional words which evidently began to be used
about 1650 or just after. It may be well to call attention also
to the fact that Mr Burgess has unfortunately incorporated in
his book some of the blunders which occur in Dr B. Evans'
" Early English Baptists ". For instance, on page 333 mention
is made of Cornelius Aresto (Cornelis Claesz. Anslo), on page

334 of Thos. Denys (" thomas elwijs " [Helwys]), and on page

335 of James Joppe (James Toppe). Further, a mistake has
clearly been made in associating this last name with that of a
" certain John Joope" who " was a member of Henoch Clapham's
Separatist Church... at Amsterdam in 1598" (p. 335 note 1).
But these are comparatively small blemishes in an otherwise
excellent book, which will be welcomed by students as well
as by the general reader.

Two further notable discoveries relating to the early English
Dissenters have recently been made. For information regarding
them the author is indebted to the courtesy of the Rev. F. Ives
Cater of Oundle, to whom belongs the credit of having done
more than any other person to elucidate the later years of
Robert Browne's life. These most recent discoveries have been
made by the Rev. R. M. Serjeantson, M.A., F.S.A.^ who, it
seems, following suggestions made by Mr Cater has succeeded
in finding records relating to Browne's excommunication by
William Piers, Bishop of Peterborough, about December, 1631,
and also a nuncupative will of Browne's which was exhibited
and proved in April, 1634, and in which he speaks of "my
deare and loveinge wiefe Elizabeth Browne, who hath ever bine
a most faithfull and a good wiefe unto me ", — an entirely
unexpected and welcome statement. Thus we have at last
definite evidence of the fact and time of Browne's excommuni-
cation, and of his ultimate reconciliation with his wife.
1 In "A History of the Church of St Giles, Northampton", 1912, pp. 198-202.

xiv Preface

In the course of his studies the author has been greatly
indebted to many for courtesies shown him. In some instances
he has had exceptional opportunities for examining unique
treasures at first hand ; and he now extends his hearty thanks
to all those who have thus aided him. Among others he
would specially mention Principal George P. Gould, M.A., of
Regent's Park College, London ; Henry Guppy, M.A., Librarian
of the John Rylands Library, Manchester; Principal Sidney
W. Bowser, B.A., of the Midland Baptist College, Nottingham ;
Canon John Watson, Librarian of York Minster Library ;
Professor Dr S. Cramer of the Mennonite Archives, and the
assistants in the University Library, Amsterdam ; Francis
J. H. Jenkinson, M.A., Librarian of the University Library,
Cambridge; Falconer Madan, M.A., Sub-Librarian of the
Bodleian Library, Oxford; S. Wayland Kershaw, M.A., late
Librarian, and Rev. Claude Jenkins, M.A., present Librarian,
of Lambeth Palace Library; John A. Herbert, B.A., formerly
Superintendent of the Manuscript Reading Room in the
British Museum ; Dr G. K. Fortescue, Keeper of the Printed
Books in the British Museum ; and Sir Edward Maunde
Thompson, K.C.B., etc., late Director and Principal Librarian
of the British Museum.

Recently, through the kindness of Messrs Sotheby, Wilkin-
son and Hodge, the author has enjoyed the very exceptional
privilege of viewing and transcribing four printed leaves which
up to that time probably no modern student had seen, containing
the lost "Ten Counter Demands" of Thomas Drakes, concerning
which Dr Edward Arber has said (" The Story of the Pilgrim
Fathers", p. 242) that it "is apparently totally lost". The
discovery of this tract not only modifies Dr Arber's statement,
but also corrects an opinion expressed on pp. 191-2 of the
present work. The entire text of this long-lost writing is now
given, probably for the first time since its original publication
about 1618 or 1619, in the volume of documents.

Excluding minor improvements, omissions, and additions
(some of which have been made for the purpose of bringing the
book up to date), the material here presented was offered under
another title, in the autumn of 1908, as a dissertation for

Preface xv

the B.Litt. degree at Oxford University. To the examiners
appointed to report thereon, namely, Professor C. H. Firth and
Dr Frederick J, Powicke, the author desires to acknowledge his
indebtedness for various helpful criticisms and suggestions. To
the former of these he owes thanks also for encouragement given
by him as the author's supervisor for the B.Litt. course, as well
as for commending his work to the Cambridge University Press.
Finally, he Avishes to express to the Secretary and Syndics of
the Cambridge University Press his grateful appreciation of
their willingness to undertake the production of the book, and
of the attractive form they have given it; while for generous
assistance in bringing about an early publication, he has to
make further special acknowledgement to various persons, and
in particular to his friends Dr J. Vernon Bartlet and Henry
Guppy, M.A., and to Sir G. W. Macalpine.

C. B.


16 December 1911.





1. An Account of the printed Literature on the Subject (chiefly

modern and general) with Criticisms 1

2. Collections of printed Books and Manuscripts that should be

visited in the study of early English dissenting history (with
notes upon the strong points of each library) ... 22

3. Notes relating to the Contents of the following pages . . 26


The Anabaptists in England before 1612 . .... 41


The gradual Growth of Puritanism and its Contribution to the

Development of English Separatism until 1581 ... 68


Robert Browne and the Organization of the first English Congre-
gational Church 94

The Rise of the Barrowists 118

The Barrowists under the Leadership of Francis Johnson until 1597 136

The Barrowists on the Continent 155

xviii Contents



Certain obscure Barrowist and Separatist Congregations between

1688 and 1641 183

The Family of Love and the English Seekers 209


The first two English Anabaptist Congregations and their Leaders 221


The Congregation of English Anabaptists under the Leadership of

Thomas Helwys and John Murton 251


The English General, or Arminian, Anabaptists between 1624 and

1642 270

The Rise of the Independents 281


The History of Henry Jacob's Independent Puritan Congregation
in London ; and the Story of the Rise of the English Par-
ticular, or Calvinistic, Anabaptists 312

Appendix. A Critical Examination of the Gould Manuscript . 336

The Churches of New England until about 1641 . . . .357


An additional Note concerning the book entitled, "Truth's

Champion" 369


An additional Note relating to "A very plain and well grounded

Treatise concerning Baptisme" 370

Contents xix



The latest Discovery relating to John Wilkinson .... 370


The Will of Ann Robinson, Mother of John Robinson, Pastor of the

Pilgrim Fathers 376


Did any English General Anabaptist practise Immersion before

1641? .... 378


(chronologically arranged)

Title-page of John Veron's "An Holsome Antidotus"

[1548] Frontispiece

Separatist Covenant of Richard Fitz's Piivy Church

[1567-71 1] To face page 90

First page of Robert Browne's " A Trve and Short De-
claration" [15831] „ 180

First page of a Brownist Petition in MS. "touching

Mercie & vnitie" [1593?] „ 270

Title-page of George Johnson's "A discourse of some

troubles", 1603 „ 360


I. An account of the printed literature on the subject
(chiefly modern and general) with criticisms

It would be unnecessary and unduly tedious to give here
all the modern general works that refer to this subject or to
parts of it. Those who wish to become acquainted with an
approximately complete list of such books or pamphlets published
in England and America may consult Dr Henry Martyn Dexter's
bibliography at the end of his Congregationalism of the last
three hundred years as seen in its Literature, and the Rev.
T. G. Crippen's Bibliography of Congregational Church History^.
What is needed at present is not a mere bibliographical list,
but a selected bibliography, with such criticism of each work
as may serve to facilitate the researches of future students by
showing what books are really worth consulting, and what are

Now some of the works to which reference is here made
are, for our present purpose, of only slight importance. Such
are for the most part mentioned by title only. They were
generally produced in an uncritical period, or by writers none
too exact, who contented themselves with rewriting what others
had done before them, and with making but slight additions,
which sometimes had better have been omitted. Other works
are of such a popular nature as to contain little of special value
for a critical study of the subject. General English Church
histories have not been included in the list here given.

' Transactions of the Congregational Historical Society, for May 1905
(Vol. II., No. 2), and May 1906 (Vol. ii., No. 5).

B. 1

2 Early English Disse^iters

Two or three works concerning a portion of this field of
investigation were written at an early date. Such were Gov.
William Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation, and
Nathaniel Morton's New Englands Memoriall, Cambridge
[N.E.], 1669. In 1681 Bishop Stillingfleet published a small
quarto volume entitled, " The Unreasonableness of Separation :
or, An Impartiall Account of the History, Nature, and Pleas
of the Present Separation from the Communion of the Church
of England", etc. This was at least twice reprinted and is
a suggestive book.

It was not until 1700, however, that any general work of
importance appears to have been published in defence of the

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