Henry Martyn Dexter.

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queen issued a special proclamation - against them. Thus hunted
down, they hardly gained much popular circulation or influence.
But no doubt a copy here or there, well hidden and at safe hours
consulted, sowed its seeds of free thought to bring forth fruit in
other minds.

In 158G — on Nov. 19, apparently just two days^ before
poor BroNATie, on his humiliated way back to the Church of
England, was elected Master of the grammar-school of St.
Olave's, South wark — Henry Barrowe, already mentioned, well
born in Norfolk, a B. A., in 1.569-70, of Clare Hall, Cambridge,
and a member of Gray's Inn, London, in 1.576 ; who had fre-
quented her Majesty's Court and had led a wild life, but whose
mind had been fixed suddenly and convincingly upon religion ;
was arrested at the Clink Prison, in Southwark. He was visit-
ing John Greenwood, a B. A. of Corpus Christi. Cambridge, in
1580-81, who had been imprisoned for holding a private con-
venticle. Barrowe probably made this call chiefly as a friend, yet,
possibly, in part as a lawyer. But, once in the trap, the door
was shut behind him without other warrant than the expressed

1 Conrj. in Lit. 11(";-12^. 2 GrenviUe Coll. fol. 2-'5.

^ W'.addington {Hist. Paps. 1 ser. 40; Hidden Ch. 32) names Nov. 21, l.'iSfi, as
tlie date of Browne's tlectinn, and ajjaln {C<jng. Hist, i : 28) g-ives it as Nov. 21,
1"S9. A writer in Notes A- Querifs, May, lSr)4 [494], also says l.')S9. The prol)a^
bilities favor the earlier date. Barrowe's visit and arrest. {E.rams. of Hfnry Bar-
rowe, John Grenewood awl lohn I'enrie, 1593, 3) were on Sunday, Nov. 19, 15S6.


wish of the archbishop to have him apprehended as soon as

From this date these two men spent most of their time, usu-
ally together, in one or anotlier prison, until, on Apr. G, 1593

— a little more than two years after l^rowne had become rector
of Achurch-cum-Thorpe ^ — they were hanged, also together, at
Tyburn.^ During these less than seven years they wrote much ;
Barrowe, who obviously was the abler, principally taking the
lead. They were encompassed with difficulties, already ex-
plained. Yet they managed to increase the Separatist literature
of their time greatly, alike in bulk and in merit. ^Nlore than
1000 pages of their treatises can be counted, with more than
800 of which it seems certain that Barrowe chiefly had to do,
and of nearly half of which he appears to have been sole autlior

— without including the more than 275 pages of the Mar-pre-
late tracts, if Barrowe wrote them.

These two men must have studied Browne's books,^ or some
of them, and also his fate and that of liis church. They must
have consented to his fundamental principle, that any local com-
pany of Christian believers, joined together and to Christ l)y
mutual covenant, is a true church. But, deterred by the ill-
working of the experiment in Zealand, they had reacted from
Browne's doctrine of the equality of all believers in the control
of church affairs, and had turned to the Genevan plan to supply
its place. Tliat is, they held, with Browne, to the idea of the
local church, self-compj^^te and self-completed by its own action ;
but felt, with Cartwright, that its management might be en-
trusted most wisely to elders. In 1589 they contrived to have
printed at Dort a '• litle thyng of one shete of paper,'' * which.

^ Peterborough Rfgislers, Sept. 0, 1591.

* The pathetic story of these two men is told at some length in Cong, in Lit.

^ No reason to the contrary appears. Tliere is every probahility that tti<^y
studied all such works as came witliin reach; and as Browne seems (Bancroft.
Sermon at Paules Crosse, 7t>) to have written a treatise, perhaps never printed,
"against one Barowe," upbraiding him for his " presbyterie or eldermen," an i as
no other " Barowe " seems likely to have been addressed thus, the supposition
that the two men crossed swords in argument as to the eldership harmonizes all.
Clearly Barrowe accepted Browne's view of the clnirch itself.

* Deposition of Rob. Stokes, Egerton Paps. 175.


as the earliest qxias'i Congreg-ational creed ^ tliat has come down
to us ipsisslmis vci-his, deserves consideration as to the points
which have been raised. It defines a church thus : - —

This Church \_oiie church as tliere is one God, etc.] as it is vniver-
sallie vnderstood, conteyneth in it all the Elect of God that haue bin,
are, or shalbe : But being considered more partieularhe, as it is seen
in this present world, it consisteth of a companie and fellowship of
faithful and holie people gathered in the name of Chi'ist lesus, tlieir
only King, Priest, and Proi)liet. worshi})ping him aright, being peace-
ablie and quietlie governed by his Officers and lawes, keeping the
vnitie of faith in the bond of peace & love vnfained.

In another vohinie, a year Liter, they repeat this definition a lit-
tle more at length. As to the choice of officers, they say : —

Thus hath euerie one of the people Interest in the election and ordi-
nation of their officers, as also in the administration of their offices,
vpon transgression, offence, abuse, &c., having an especiall care vnto
the inviolable order of the Church, is aforesaid.

They add : —

The office of the Auncientes [elders] is expressed in their descrip-
tion : Tlieir especiall care must bee, to see the ordinaunces of God
truely taught and practized, aswel by the officers in dooing their duetie
vprightlie, as to see that the people obey willinglie and readily. It is
their duetie to see the Congregation holily and C[uietly ordered, and no
way disturbed, by the contentious . . . not taking away the libertie

1 A Tree Description ovt of the Word of God, of the Visible Church, 15S9, 1, 3, 5.
Dr. Dexter adds: '"An odd bit of liturary history is connected with this 'litle
thyng-.' It is excessivelv rare. I know of copies in Europe only in the British
Museum and at Lanibetli — eacti with the date 15S9 as finis. But Henoch Clap-
ham {Errour on the liiqht Hand, lOOS, 11) charges that Arthur Billet reprinted this
tract at Amsterdam, placing' at the top of the seventeenth pap;e a parayrajih whieli
Barrowe orig-inully had placed after the two paragraphs which there fullou it —
thus essentially softening the tone of the Creed as to excommunication and its
effects — yet retaining- the old date at the end. I never have seen this referred to
elsewhere. As reprinted by Wall {^lore Work for the Deane, 1G81) and by Ilan-
bury (18'50. i : 2S-;J4), the order is that whicli Clapham criticises. But Alison, in
his I'laine Confutation of this Creed, printe<l the year after the Dort original and
several years befoie the Amsterdam alleged rei-ssue, taking it up paragraph by
paragraph fnv answer, gives these three in the order in which Clapham asserts
that r.arrowe originally wrote them. This looks as if Clapham were correct,
and as if Wall and Ilaabury had rejirinted from the second edition, supposing it
to be the first, naturally misled by the false date at the end."

- A Collection ofortain Leitirs anil Conferences, Latebj Fussed Betwixt Certaine
Preachers ^y Tiro I'risoiiers in the Fleet, l.Jl'O, 4to, 07.


of the least, but vpholding the right of all, \viselie iudging of times and
circumstances. They must bee readie assistauntes to the Pastour and
Teachers, helping to beare their burden, but not intruding into their

In his able and elaborate work,^ Barrowe tries liard to har-
monize this power of the elders with the perfect liberty of every
private member : —

Who can doubt, but that every Christian hath Power and Authority
in due time and place (not disturbing Christ's holy order in his Church)
publickly to reproue any publick Transgression of any Member of the
Church, or of the whole Church ; as also to discouer and refute any
P^rror escaped or delivered in publick Doctrine : yet, this (as is said)
in due Time and Order, gluing leaue and place unto the Elders and
Prophets of the said Congregation first.

And, remembering that the average Christian then hardly
could be expected to know enough to deal orderly and soberly
in high matters, he says again : —

To this I Answer that they are to reprove no more than their as-
sured Knowledge leadeth them unto. If they transgress the limits . . .
then are they for so doing subiect to reproof and censure for abusing
their Liberty.

As to Browne's fundamental idea that the godly people must
reform the Church without waiting for the magistrate, when it
was charged upon him as a part of his teaching, Barrowe re-
plied : 2 —

We are to obey God rather then men, and if anie man be ignorant
let him be ignorant still ; We are not to stay from doing the Lord's
Commaundcment vp})on the pleasure or offence of anie.

Here we have l^rowne's contribution to the long and wide
controversy, the idea of local churches composed of " the for-
wardest," and independent of the State. And we have the

1 A Briefe Discoveric of the Fuhf Church, etc., 1590, 4to (ed. 1707), 240, 242.

* A^Collection of ccrtaine Sdaumhrous Articles giiuen out hif the Bis.thops against
suchftithfull Christians ns thei/ noir vniustli/ rleteyne in their Prisons toijenther n-ith
the ansurare of the saiile Prisoners therunto. Also the some of certaine conferenci s
had m the Flede, according to the Bisshops bloudie Mandate tcith Tuo Prisoners
there, lo90, 4to, 47.


Genevan idea of a session of elders, with whom is the power, the
church being the supporting body and the- eldership the energy
within which drives and guides. Individual members have
rights, but they must wait for the elders. AVhen it is asked
who are to judge whether those members transgress the limits
of their knowledge, and become liable to reproof, the answer is,
the eldei's. When it is inquired who is to administer in siich a
case, the answer again is, the elders. And, if members rebuke
the elders, and the question rise who shall decide whether in
such rebuke they have exceeded their liberty, the answer, still
and always, is, the elders.

In Barrowe's mind this hylirid scheme, substantially involv-
ing a Congregational church managed by a Presbyterian session,
solved all difficulties. It was Barrowism in distinction from
BrowTiism. The Congregationalism of it broke the deadlock of
Cartwright's failure to move towards reform, and the Presby-
terianism of it was expected to forefend that anarchy which had
ruined poor Bro'mie's experiment. They woidd reform by com-
panies, queen or no queen, wherever good people enough shoidd
be so minded. And in each company the pastor, teacher and
" Axmcientcs " would manage all things discreetly and success-
fully ; and the '• most humble, meek, obedient, faithfuU, and lov-
ing people, ... all bound to edifie one another, exhort, reprove,
& comfort one another lo\'ingly," ^ in sober-minded submissive-
ness would endorse what the elders had done, and the millennium
soon might be expected to dawn !

As early as 1587 or 1588 we find references to secret gather-
ings of Separatists in or near London, which may have had
some connection with tliese teachings of Barrowe and Green-
wood. But they were followed up so closely that their members
spent much time in prison. The scattered hints which remain
indicate that for three or four years a secret brotherhood ex-
isted, which admitted members ; which, on one occasion cer-
tainly, expelled a member ; and at whose instigation and for
whose use the •' Trve Description" was prepared in 1589 ; but
which was not fully officered, and therefore did not enjoy the
sacraments, until the early autumn of 1592. Then, according

^ Trve Descrip. 2.


to tlie deposition of Daniel Buck/ of Southwavk, Francis Jolin-
son was chosen pastor ; John Greenwood, apparently out of
prison temporarily, doctor, or teacher ; Christopher Bowman
and Nicholas Lee, deacons, and Daniel Studley and George
Kny veton, elders ; showing, as, indeed, seems clear from Green-
wood's participation, that this was a Barrowist church. Seven
infants were baptized and the Lord's Supper was administered,
so that the body at last became fully organized according to its

On Apr. 6 Barrowe and Greenwood suffered martyrdom and
Johnson was left in charge of the church. Doubtless he and his
little company took gTeat comfort, in spite of their limitations,
in their initial incarnation of what they believed the true theory
of a church. But their time was short. On Dec. 5 following,
Johnson was arrested, and, only a little later, the gTcat ma-
jority of the other members of the church were surprised at
their Sunday worship in the Islingion woods, and were hurried
to prison.-

It was not long, however, before the authorities saw that they
had gone too far. Tlie majority of the church soon were set free,
clearly in the expectation, if not with the pledge, that they
would emigrate. A few left for Holland before the end of 1593.
They tarried a while at Campen and at Xaarden,-^ but at last
they settled at Amsterdam. Here, before long, they came under
the ministry of Henry Ainsworth, who fdled a large place in
the history of English Separatism in Holland until his painful
death in 1622 or 1623. Francis Johnson and his brother
George were detained in prison until the spring of 1597. Pos-
sibly this delay was because Francis had offended the authorities,
as will be explained hereafter. In the autumn, however, they
reached Amsterdam and joined their comrades. The church was

1 Deposition of Wm. Clarke, Ilarl. J/<. 7042 : 110, 110, 117, etc., 14, IS, 399. See
also p. 4"21.

2 Barrowe's Platform. 54, 56. They were " unbalea [without bail] cijmitted."
They had " neyther meate, drinke, fyre, [nor] lodi;ing-." Their friends were not
allowed access to them. Husbands and wives were separated into different pris-
ons. Some had not a penny about tliem. All was '' contrary to all law, aequitie
and conscience." ^

^ T. Wliite, Discov.of Brownisme, 15. G. Johnson, Disc. 15. C. Lawne, Prophane
Sckisme, 27.


substantially together once more and was fully officered, Johnson
resmuing his pastorate and Ainsworth becouiing teacher. Here
the opening of the seventeenth century found them, but in cir-
cumstances painfully indigent and otherwise distressing.

These ten closing years of the sixteenth century, after the
printing at Dort of Barrowe's "■ Briefe Discoverie," gave birth to
scarcely any ideas which were new to the great controversy.
Kobert Harrison, Browne's friend, who nevertheless jjarted from
him at Middleberg and apparently remained there with a frac-
tion of the origiuai Norwich company until his death in, or
about, 1595, printed a small volume ■' which Brewster thought
worthy of being reprinted at Ley den in 1618. Harrison's pur-
pose was to give comfort and cheer to those remaining in Eng-
land. He was prompted, in part, by the fact that Browne had
just abandoned the enterprise, and he labors to show that the
" untoward example of any man," even one "of great credit and
estimation," whom " the Lord used also for a speciall instru-
ment unto many things," ought not to " quench our zeale."

He is strenuous as to the right of every church to establish
its own ministry, saying : —

Admit there be onely one church in a nation, and they want a
Pastor : must they seek over sea & land to get a minister ordained by
other ministers ? But what if there should be but only one apparant
to us in the world : shal that church for ever be deprived after they
haue once wanted a minister, for default of authority to cal & ordain
another ?

But as to the magistracy Harrison is behind Bro\vne, say-
ing : —

The civill ]^^a^■i^trates nuiy & ounlit also to strike with their sword,
every one wliicli being of the Church, shal openly transgresse against
the Lord's connnandeinents.

In 158G Ste})hen ]>redwell, apparently a London physician
of repute, printed an ■' Admonition " " to the new Separatists, fol-

^ A Little Treathe vppon thejirste Verse of the 122. Psalm. Stirriuij up unto carefuU
de.-iiriw! <'(• dutifull I'ibouring far true Church Gouerneinent, etc., 1583, lOmo (ed.
]818), 39, 40. (jCi, Ai^, 79.

* A Iktectinn of Edward Glover's Heretical Confection, etc. with an Admonition to
the followers of Glover and Browne, liJStJ, ItJiuo.


lowed, two years later, by a second attack ^ upon Browne. The
opinion has been expressed already that Browne in later life
was at least partially insane. This gains strong support from
Bredwell's second book. He assails Browne, largely on the
ground of his mental unsoundness, and, as he mast have had
special knowledge of such matters and talks as if he knows
Browne well, his testimony has weiglit. He speaks of the *' tem-
pest " of Browne's " disturbed and stormie affections ; " says that
he has been " bitten & torne " by Browne, "• as it were with a
mad dog ; " calls his pen " furious," and speaks of " the inward
mines and downefall of iudgement " in his case. He says,
"Browne is sound, his braine is sicke." Pie adds, "This
Trouhle-church Browne ... is (in a heauie, tliough iust iudge-
ment) compassed about with a strong delusion," and, " If he be
so mad that he vnderstandeth not practise to be workes, then is
he too mad to bee talked withall." His criticism upon one of
Browne's positions is, " AYhereunto if I shoulde answere hee was
madde, I sliould fauour him much, in mouing pitie for him :
and if it be not taken so, both friends and enemies, must needes
set a harder sentence vppon him." Finally, he declares, " And
thus (belike) because Browne is not yet so madde, as that
hee will suffer no clothes v]ion him, wee shoulde not beleeue
diuerse of his great f riendes, who say, he is madde, or out of his
wittes, whereby they seeke to excuse his dealings."

So far as he reasons against Browne's system. Bred well con-
demns it for teaching that " there may bee a true Church of
God without the Presbyterie," and insists that no man ought to
forsake the Lord's Supper on account of the presence of the un-
worthy ; that the Church of England is no more unsound than
divers churches from which no separation is advised ; and that
discipline is not essential to a church.

In the summer of 1590, Cartwright, then ^Master of the Hos-
pital at Warwick, wrote to his sister-in-law, to persuade her
against Brownism. The original letter,^ in the British Museum,

^ The Rasing of the Foundations of Brovvnisme, etc., 15SS, 4to, 60, xiii, 05, 112, 72,
13, 97, ii.

* A Letter against Brownisme : to his sister-in-law, Mrs. Anne Stubbes. Harl. Ms.
1581, 4.


shows how the controversy looked to a master-mind thoroughly-
familiar with the subject, and prepossessed towards Presbyteri-
anism. He boldly controverts the main premise of the Sepa-
ratists thus : —

As a wief that hath broken her faith is not forthwith out of accompt
of a wife, untille, she beinge convinced [convicted] tliereof, be for
that cause divorced from her husband. So tlie Church notwithstand-
ing her spiritual adultery, is not unchurched neither ceases to be
reputed a church untill such tynie as the Lord, taking away the min-
istring of the word from her, and the administration of the Sacra-
ment, hath, as it were, by bill of divorce disabled her.

This year, 1590, was fruitful of treatises on church govern-
ment. Of nearly thirty perhaps half were aimed at the Sepa-
ratists. One,^ by Dr. R. Alison, is a review of the little tract
by Barrowe and Greenwood before noted, seeking to neutralize
its force. A second is by George Gifford, already mentioned,
who seeks to fasten upon the Brownists an odious name ^ out of
the past, while pul)llshing to the world " some of their heresies,
and frantike opinions." He also is emphatic in connecting
Barrowe and Greenwood directly with Browne himself, no doubt
expressing the common judgment. This was replied to at once
by Greenwood,''^ and in the same year Gilford answered ^ him.
In the next year Barrowe and Greenwood together replied ^ to
Gilford's last. This reply is the small quarto already mentioned
as having been burned, excepting two co])ies, by Francis John-
son before it could be circulated, and reprinted by him at his
own expense in 1G05. Gilford seems to have obtained a copy,
and, although conceding that the book had been '■' intercepted,"
thought it worth a short notice.'' Only a few points of this dis-
cussion need be noted.

^ A Plaine Confutation of a Treatise of Brovvnisine, Published by some of that Fac-
tion, Entituled A Dtscription . . of the Visible Church, etc., 1590, 4to. See p. 201, n. 1.

^ A Short Treatise against the Donatists of England, whome we call Brownists, etc.,
irm, 4to.

' An Ayiswer to Geo. Gijford's Pretended Defence of Read Prayers and Devised
Leitouryies, etc., I'lUO. 4to.

■• A Plaine Declaration that our Brownists be full Donatists. . . . Also a replie to
Master Greenwood touching read prayer, etc., 1590, 4to.

* A Plaine Refutation of M. Gijjhrds Booke, etc., 1590, 4to.

* A Short Rej/ly vnto the last printed boolcs of Ilniry Barrow and John Green-
wood, the chiffe ringltaders of our Donatists in England, etc., 1591, 4to.


Barrowe and Greenwood deny any connection with the Biown-
ists,^ and define their o\ra position as between the practically
popular government of the Brownists and the obviously aristo-
cratic government of the Presbyterians, arguing that both the
elders and the people have voices in church action. They also
vindicate the right, and assert the duty, to form separate churches
in needf id circumstances, thus : —

The Church in this estate consisting only of private men, ought to erect
this ministerie and governement : ells should they also cease and never
be had againe ^^ou the earth : and so should there neuer be any estab-
lished Cliurch, ministrie, Sacraments etc, agayne in this world.

And, as to waiting for the civil authorities to undertake church
reform, they say : —

For tliis, we alleadged the examples and practize of the Ajiostles. who
then had bene guiltie of the same disobedience & rebellion, if Princes
in this busines had bene to be stayed for, or their restrainte had bene
a sufficient let [hindrance] : yea that persecution and the crosse of
Christ were vtterly aboHshed, if the Church and faithful! were not to
proceede in their duties, vntill Princes giue leave. We she'vwed also,
that the obedience and practice of Gods vviU was no disobedience or
prejudice to the Prince.

In 1596, while probably the majority — at any rate, the pas-
tor and elders who, by their theory, constituted the most impor-
tant portion — of the Amsterdam church remained imprisoned
in London, there was printed, presmnably at Amsterdam, a lit-
tle quarto,^ of twenty -two pages, describing their position with

> Plainc r.ff. 1S4. 76. 7S, ]9S.

^ A Trve Confession of the Faith and Humble Acknorvledqment of the Alegeance,
which wee hir Maienties Sulijects, falseli/ called Bruvvnists. doo hould towards God,
and yeild to hir Majestic and all other that are ouir vs in the Lord. Set down in
Articles or Positions, for the better ^- more easie understanding of those that shall read
yt: And published for the cleering of our seines from those vnchristian slanders of
heresie, schisnie, pri/de, obstinacie. disloyaltie. sedicion, ^-c. vrhich by our ndwr-
sarifs are in all places given, out against vs, IWG, 4to, iii, v. Unquestionably tlie
result of much conference between the two separated portions of the church.
G. Johnson ( Disc. 10) says : " The church for ">. or G. yeares practised as the Pastor,
elders and brethren, beinff in prison at London, wrote Jiiito them." See also a state-
ment by F. Johnson (Inqnirie and An'ncer of Thus. White, his Discoverie. *'>4) as to
correspondence. Clearly the Cotfession was the result of such consultation. The
documents were sent back and forth by messengers.


some precision. It begins with a toiieliing preface, referring,
with details, to their long and bitter persecution.

Their motives are to testify to " the rufull estate of our poore
Contrymen," and to condemn the " barbaroivs crueltie " of the
hierarchy, e- g- : —

24. soules have perished in their prisons, with In the Cittle of Lon-

Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe England and Holland of the Pilgrims → online text (page 21 of 65)