Charles Thomas-Stanford.

Sussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 online

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deny your owne will, and submit yourselves to God's; deny
your reason, and submit to faith : Reason tells you there
are some things above reason and you cannot be so un-
reasonable as to make reason judge of those things which
are above reason: Remember that Master Chillingworth
did runne mad with reason, and so lost his reason and
religion both at once : he thought he might trust his reason
to the highest points; his reason was to be Judge, whether
or no there be a God? Whether that God wrote any Booke?
Whether the bookes usually received as Canonicall be the
bookes, the Scriptures of God? What is the sense of those
books? What Religion is best? What Church purest?"
The day of liberty of conscience was not yet: if either
faction used the phrase, it meant the triumph of its own


principles. At Oxford Chillingworth was as much out of
place as at Westminster. He learned there that there were
other sins as great as those of violence. 1 " Seeing," he
declared in a sermon preached before the Court, " publicans
and sinners on the one side, against scribes and pharisees
on the other; on the one side hypocrisy, on the other pro-
faneness; no honesty nor justice on the one side, and very
little piety on the other; on the one side horrible oaths,
curses and blasphemies, on the other pestilent lies, calumnies
and perjury; ... I profess that I cannot without trembling
consider what is likely to be the event of these distractions."
" How few," he said in another place, " of our ladies and
gentlewomen do or will understand that a voluptuous life
is damnable and prohibited unto them!" The men, too,
came in for their share of blame: " They that maintain the
King's righteous cause with the hazard of their lives and
fortunes, but by their oaths and curses, by their drunk-
enness and debauchery, by their irreligion and profane-
ness, fight more powerfully against their party than by all
other means they do or can fight for it, are not, I fear,
very well acquainted with any part of the Bible." The
London newspapers had hardly worse charges to bring
than this ; and after such a sermon the Court at Oxford
was no place for Chillingworth. He took refuge with
Hopton, the stout soldier, the lover of peace, the enemy of
all license and irregularity of life. 2

It happened, apparently by chance, that when Arundel
fell, Dr. Chillingworth's arch-enemy, Dr. Cheynell, was pre-
sent with Waller's army. He, too, was a native of Oxford,
the son of a physician ; he was a fellow of Merton College,
and in 1637 was appointed to the living of Marston St.
Lawrence, Northamptonshire. Being notorious for his
Calvinistic opinions he was plundered and driven out by
the King's troops in 1642; became a chaplain in the

1 Gardiner, Civil War, ch. xiv. 2 Ibid.


Parliamentary army, and a member of the Westminster
Assembly in 1643; from 1643 to 1660 he was the "in-
truded" rector of Petworth. In 1643 he published The
Rise, Growth, and Danger of Socinianisme, in which he
particularly attacked Chillingworth and endeavoured to
prove that "the Religion which hath been so violently
contended for (by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his
adherents) is not the true pure Protestant Religion, but an
Hotchpotch of Arminianisme, Socinianisme and Popery."

Cheynell wrote a very remarkable book, in which he re-
counted at length the somewhat extraordinary proceedings
which followed; partly, it seems, in order to refute the
accusation that Chillingworth was not well treated by his
captors, and partly in exultation over his own outrageous
proceedings at Chillingworth's funeral. 1 He states that he
came into Sussex to exercise his ministry among his
friends, in a place where there had been little of the power
of religion either known or practised. About the end of
November he travelled from London to Chichester, accord-
ing to his usual custom, to observe the monthly fast. He
was guarded by a convoy of sixteen soldiers who faced
about two hundred of the enemy, and put them to flight.
He arrived at Arundel on the 2ist of December, and re-
mained there until the castle was surrendered on 6th January.
Finding that Chillingworth was sick, he represented his
condition to Sir William Waller, who commended him to
the care of his chaplain, who laid him on his own bed and
supplied him with all necessaries which the place afforded.

1 Chillingworth i Novissima, or, The Sicknesse, Heresy, Death and
Buriall of William Chillingworth (In his own phrase) Clerk of Oxford,
and in the Conceit of his fellow Souldiers, the Queens Arch-Engineer,
and Grand-Intelligencer. Set forth in a A Letter to his Eminent and
learned Friends, a Relation of his Apprehension at Arundell, a Dis-
covery of his Errours in a Briefe Catechism, and a short Oration at
the Buriall of his Hereticall Book. By Francis Cheynell, late Fellow
of Merton Colledge. Published by Authority. London. Printed for
Samuel Gellibrand, at the Brazen Serpent in Pauls Church-yard, 1644.


When the other prisoners were sent to London, it was
evident that Chillingworth was not fit to take the journey,
and at Cheynell's request he was sent to Chichester. The
governor gave orders that he should not be handed over to
the Marshall, but delivered to the charge of a Lieutenant
Golledge. He was housed in the Bishop's palace, where he
had very courteous usage, and every accommodation requisite
for a sick man. Free passage was offered to any of his
friends who might wish to visit him.

But poor Chillingworth was dying, and perhaps his end
was hastened by the importunities of his enemy, moved, as
he asserted, not only by pity for his bodily condition, but
by concern for the welfare of his soul. Cheynell attributes
his death to his great depression. " I entreated him to
pluck up his spirits and not to yield to his disease; but I
perceived that though reason be stout when it encounters
with faith, yet reason is not so stout when it is to encounter
with affliction; and I cannot but observe that many a
Parliament-soldier hath been more cheerful in a prison,
than this discoursing engineer and learned captive was in
a palace." As one reason for this depression, Cheynell
alleges that Chillingworth was disliked and abused by most
of the officers in Arundel ; they looked upon him as an in-
truder into their councils of war, and (one of them whis-
pered) as the " Queen's intelligencer," who was set as a spy
over them and their proceedings. An officer had said that
they were bound to curse that little priest to the pit of hell,
for he had been the ruin of them all ; that he had so much
credit at Court, and the Court-Council so much influence
over their military Council, that they were over-awed and
durst not contradict Mr. Chillingworth, for fear their own
resolutions might succeed ill, and then his counsel be
esteemed the better; that Mr. Chillingworth was so con-
fident of his great wit and parts, that he conceived himself
able to manage martial affairs, in which he had no experi-
ence, by the strength of his own wit and reason. There


was evidently some inclination to make him a scape-

The poor man was not allowed to die in peace. "In
compassion to his soul " Cheynell dealt " freely and plainly "
with him, and told him that he had been very active in
fomenting those bloody wars against the Parliament and
Commonwealth of England, his natural country, and by
consequent against the very light of nature. Chillingworth
acknowledged that he had been active in the war, but that
he had ever followed the dictates of his conscience ; and
that if Cheynell would convince him that he was in error,
he would not find him obstinate. This was the occasion
for a series of discussions, in which the aggressive Puritan
seems to have browbeaten the dying man unmercifully.
Cheynell put to him that the difference was not between
the King and the Parliament, but between the Parliament
and the delinquents ; and indeed between the Queen and
the Parliament: that the King's visit to the House on
4th January 1642 was upon the Queen's errand, and that
the Queen was discontented because her bloody design
was not put in execution. Chillingworth replied that he
could not deny it, and would not excuse it. Much political
discussion of a somewhat futile character followed.

" My heart," says Cheynell, " was moved with compassion
towards him, and I gave him many visits after this first
visit; but I seldom found him in fit case to discourse, be-
cause his disease grew stronger and stronger, and he weaker
and weaker. When I found him pretty hearty one day, I
desired him to tell me, whether he conceived that a man
living and dying a Turk, Papist, or Socinian could be
saved. All the answer I could gain from him was, that he
did not absolve them, and would not condemn them. I was
much displeased with the answer upon divers reasons."

Chillingworth being much troubled with a sore throat,
which was "like to choak him," Cheynell rode over to
Arundel to fetch a doctor who had previously visited him,


but found that he had been called out of the town to attend
to Sir William Springate. During Cheynell's absence a
religious officer of Chichester garrison followed his suit to
Mr. Chillingworth, and entreated him to declare himself in
point of religion. This seems to have been the last straw,
and death came to relieve the poor man from his tormentors.
It is excusable to recall Sydney Smith's conception of the
most horrible of ends, to be preached to death by wild

Controversy pursued him to the grave. Some of his
enemies wished to deny him Christian burial. His friends
urged that being Chancellor of a Cathedral, he should be
buried in the Cathedral and in the chancel. A third and
middle course prevailed "to bury him in the cloisters,
among the old Shavelings, Monks and Priests, of whom he
had so good an opinion all his life." " There were," says
Cheynell, " all things which may any way appertain to the
civility of a funeral, though there was nothing which belongs
to the superstition of a funeral. His body was laid in a
convenient coffin, covered with a mourning-hearse cloth,
more seemly (as I conceive) than the usual covering, patched
up out of the mouldy relics of some moth-eaten copes. His
friends were entertained (according to their own desire)
with wine and cakes ; though that is, in my conceit, a turning
of the house of mourning into a house of banqueting. All
that offered themselves to carry his corpse out of pure
devotion, because they were men of his persuasion, had
every one of them (according to the custom of the countrey)
a branch of rosemary, a mourning ribband, and a pair of

At the grave was enacted the most surprising scene in
all this strange story. Cheynell appeared carrying in his
hand a copy of The Religion of Protestants. The author,
he said, " hath left that fantasy which he called his religion
upon record in his subtle book. He was not ashamed to
print and publish this destructive tenet, ' that there is no


necessity of Church or Scripture to make men faithful
men.' ... I shall undertake to bury his errors which are
published in this so much admired but unworthy book ; and
happy would it be for this kingdom if this book and all its
fellows could be so buried that they might never rise more,
unless it were to a confutation ; and happy would it have
been for the author if he had repented of those errors, that
they might never rise for his condemnation ; happy, thrice
happy will he be if his works do not follow him, if they
never rise with him nor against him."

Then suiting the action to the word, Cheynell flung the
hated volume into the grave. " Get thee gone then," he
said, " thou cursed booke, which has seduced so many
precious souls; get thee gone, thou corrupt rotten booke,
earth to earth, and dust to dust; get thee gone into the
place of rottennesse, that thou mayest rot with thy author,
and see corruption." Whereupon he went from the grave
to the pulpit, and preached on the text, " Let the dead
bury their dead, but go thou and preach the Kingdom of

He closes his account of the funeral in a passage of
biting eloquence: " I dare boldly say, that I have been more
sorrowfull for Mr. Chillingworth, and mercifull to him than
his friends at Oxford : his sicknesse and obstinacy cost me
many a prayer, and many a teare. I did heartily bewaile
the loss of such strong parts, and eminent gifts ; the losse
of so much learning and diligence. Never did I observe
more acutenesse and eloquence so exactly tempered in the
same person: Diabolus ab illo ornari cupiebat\ for he had
eloquence enough to set a faire varnish upon the foulest
designe. Howie ye firre trees, for a cedar is fallen; lament
ye sophisters for the master of sentences (shall I say) or
fallacies is vanished: wring your hands, and beat your
breasts, ye Antichristian Engineers, for your Arch-Engineer
is dead, and all his Engines buried with him. Ye daughters
of Oxford weep over Chillingworth, for he had a consider-


able and hopefull project how to clothe you and himselfe
in scarlet, and other delights. O how are the mighty fallen,
and the weapons, nay Engines, of warre perished!"

Mr. Gardiner is very lenient to Cheynell in respect of a
scene which has usually excited the indignation of modern
writers. 1 He urges in extenuation that Cheynell pro-
nounced no positive sentence of damnation upon the
heretic. Cheynell, he suggests, was not contending for the
mere chips of orthodoxy: he saw, and saw rightly, that
the contention between himself and Chillingworth involved
deeper issues than those of the Civil War. Behind the death-
bed of the divine who had lodged an appeal to human
reason, he descried, dimly in the distant future, the shadowy
forms of Voltaire and the commune of Paris.

To the present writer it appears from a careful perusal
of Chillingworthi Novissima that Cheynell was seriously
concerned neither for the bodily comfort, nor for the eternal
salvation, of his opponent; rather that he was filled with
the hateful arrogance of the bigot, with the conceit that the
secrets of Divine truth were open only to himself and his
fellows; and that the aim of his alternate coaxing and
bullying was to win the triumph of a recantation even from
the last dying gasp of his victim. That he failed to win it
accounts for the bitterness he exhibited in the unseemly
scene at the grave-side, and for the no less objectionable
tone of his unpleasant book.

Time has brought its revenge. Not only have the writ-
ings of Chillingworth survived until our own day, but the
principles for which he stood are dominant in the modern
world. If Cheynell is remembered at all, it is for the viru-
lence with which he opposed them.

Chillingworth sleeps in his cathedral cloister; Cheynell
in the little old church of Preston, near Brighton, to which
parish he retired at the Restoration. A simple slab on the

1 Civil War, ch. xiv.


floor of the nave is the monument of the fiery divine who
through those stormy years ruled the diocese with a
stronger hand than any bishop's. Like many another, he
lived long enough to see the setting up again of all that he
had made it his life's work to destroy.

Poor Dr. Chillingworth was not the only victim of the
unhealthy condition of Arundel Castle. It seems indeed
that the conquerors suffered quite as severely as had the
garrison. Many died of a fever, probably typhus, the most
notable being Sir William Springate, or Springet, of
Ringmer, nephew of Sir Thomas Springate of Broyle
Place, who had been appointed joint-governor with Colonel
Morley. His widow has left some exceedingly interesting
letters written in 1680, for the information of her grandson
as to his Springet ancestry. 1 This lady was Mary, daughter
of Sir John Preva, Knt., 2 who brought her husband a dower
of 1,600. After his death she married Isaac Penington,
son of Sir Isaac Penington, Lord Mayor of London in the
first year of the war a vigorous and determined Puritan
who secured the organization of the City for the interests of
the Parliament. The son went further, and to the indigna-
tion of his father, joined the Quakers in 1657, and was
imprisoned in 1660 for refusing the oath of allegiance. His
wife followed her husband's religious course with enthusiasm,
and although she writes with full appreciation of her first
husband's strict Puritanism, she quietly laments his not
having embraced the whole truth, as she conceived that
she knew it later. Her daughter Gulielma married the

1 S. A. C., v, 67. These letters were printed in 1821, and later
appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1851, edited by Hep-
worth Dixon, who was apparently not aware of their previous publi-

2 Sir John Preva, Knt., Colonel in the service of the United Provinces
under the Prince of Orange, married Anne Fagg, one of the co-heirs
of Edward Fagg, of Ewell, near Feversham in the County of Kent, Esq.
See inscription on monument to Sir William Springett, Knt., in
Ringmer Church.


celebrated William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and to
their eldest son Springet Penn the letters above mentioned
were addressed by his grandmother. They present an un-
rivalled picture of an aspect of the times not very commonly
appreciated the life of a country gentleman of good degree,
a soldier and sportsman, " an artist in shooting and fishing
and making of lines and ordering of baits and things for
that purpose " who was yet a Puritan of the strictest in
up-bringing and practice, and spent his whole fortune for
the service of the Parliament. Incidentally we get a glimpse
of the trouble of the times, the almost insuperable difficulties
of travel, the desolation at Arundel after the siege. From
such a source a somewhat lengthy quotation does not seem
out of place.

" A Letter from me [M. P.] to my dear grandchild Springet
Penn, written about the year 1680, and left to be
delivered to him at my decease.

" DEAR CHILD, Thou bearing the name of thy worthy
grandfather Springet, I felt one day the thing I desired
was answered, which was the keeping up his name and
memory, not in the vain way of the world, who preserve
their name for the glory of a family, but in regard that he
left no son his name might not be forgotten. . . .

" Well, dear child, I will give thee some account of him.
Thy dear mother's father was of religious parents; his
father, thy great-grandfather (though a lawyer) was re-
ligious and strict, in those things wherein the administra-
tion of that time consisted, zealous against popery, scrupled
putting his money to use, and was of a sober conversation,
and in the exercise of what (in the dim light of that day)
was accounted holy duties. He died of a consumption,
leaving thy great-grandmother with two sons and with
child of a daughter. She was married to him about three
years, and left a widow about twenty-two or twenty-three.


She was an excellent woman and had a great regard to the
well-being of her children, both in the inward and outward
condition, and that she might the better bring up her
children lived a retired life, refused marriage (though fre-
quently well offered, as I have heard her say). She suffered
pretty hard things from his two brothers, Sir Thomas
Springet and a brother-in-law, who were his executors,
through their jealousy that she being so very young a
widow would marry. They refused her the education of
her children, and put her upon suing for it, which she
obtained with charge, and some years' suit. . . . She spent
her time very ingeniously, and in a bountiful manner be-
stowed great part of her jointure yearly upon the poor, and
in physic and chirurgery. She had about twelve score
pounds a-year jointure, and with it she kept a brace of
geldings, a man and a maid servant. (She boarded at her
only brother's, Sir Edward Partridge's.) She kept several
poor women constantly employed in simpling for her in
summer and in winter, procuring such things as she had
use of in physic and chirurgery, and for eyes, having
eminent judgment in all these, and admirable success,
which made her famous and sought to out of several
countries by the greatest persons and by the low ones.
She was daily employing her servants in making oils,
salves, balsams, drawing spirits, distilling of waters, mak-
ing syrups, conserves of many kinds, purges, pills and
lozenges. . . .

" She kept an Independent minister in her house, and
gave liberty to people to come twice a week to her house
to hear him preach. She was a most tender and affection-
ate mother to thy grandfather, and always shewed great
kindness to me ; indeed she was very honourable in coun-
selling her son not to marry for an estate, and put by
many great offers of persons with thousands, urging him to
consider what would make him happy in a choice. She
propounded my marriage to him because we were bred


together of children, I nine years old and he twelve, when
we first came to live together. . . .

" Now to come to thy grandfather ; she having, as I
said, educated him and the rest of her children in the fear
of the Lord, according to the knowledge given in that day,
and took great care in placing him both at school and
university, she sent him to Cambridge (as being accounted
more sober than Oxford) and placed him in a Puritan
college called Katherine's Hall, where was a very sober
tender master of the house, and a grave sober tutor; as
also she appointed one Ellis, who was accounted a Puritan,
she having brought him up in his youth, and got the pre-
ferment of a Fellow in that college. Thy grandfather
coming from Cambridge young, was placed at the Inns of
Court, but he being religiously inclined, stayed not long
there, but came into Kent, where his mother was, and he
heard one Wilson, who had been suspended for not con-
forming to the bishops (for about three years) ; he was an
extraordinary man in his day. Thy grandfather declined
bishops and common prayer very early. When he was
between twenty and twenty-one we married, and without
a ring, and many of their formal dark words left out (upon
his ordering it) he being so zealous against common prayer
and such like things. . . . When he had a child he refused
the midwife to say her formal prayer, and prayed himself,
and gave thanks to the Lord in a very sweet melted way,
which caused great amazement. He never went to the
parish church, but went many miles to this aforementioned
Wilson. Nor would he go to prayers in the house, but
prayed morning and evening with me and his servants in
our chambers, which wrought great discontent in the
family (we boarded with his uncle Sir Edward Part-
ridge). . . .

" In his zeal against dark formality and the superstitions
of the times, he having taken the Scotch Covenant against
all popery and popish innovations, as also the English



Engagement, when his child was about a month old, he
had a commission sent him to be a colonel of a regiment of
foot, when the fight was at Edge-Hill, and he raised with-
out beat of drum eight hundred men, most of them pro-
fessors and professors' sons, near six score volunteers of his
own company, himself going a volunteer and took no pay.
He afterwards was made a deputy lieutenant of Kent, in
which employment he was zealous and diligent for the
cause. . . .

" He went upon several services with his regiment, as at
the taking of the Lord Craven's house in Surrey, when
several of his own company of volunteers, men's sons of
substance, were of the forlorn hope. He was also at the
fight at Newbury, where he was in imminent danger, a
bullet hitting him but had lost its force to enter. He lay
some nights in the field, there being neither time nor con-
veniency to fetch his tent, which he had with him. He lay
in the Lord Roberts's l coach. They had scarcity of salt,
and so would not venture upon eating flesh, but lived some
days upon candied green citron and biscuit. He was in
several other engagements. Then he carried his regiment
back into Kent. . . .

" Not long after his own native county, Sussex, was in
danger of spoil by the Cavalier party, who had taken
Arundel town, and fortified the town and castle; Sir

Online LibraryCharles Thomas-StanfordSussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 → online text (page 10 of 30)