International John Bunyan Society Study Day

A Regional Day Conference of the International John Bunyan Society, organized in association with the University of Bedfordshire, Keele University, and Northumbria University will take place at Northumbria University, Newcastle, Monday 10 April 2017.

The theme is :

PRISONS AND PRISON WRITING IN EARLY MODERN BRITAIN

For more information and to download the CFP, please click here.

 

Obituary: Rev. Dr. Harold Worthley

Rev. Dr. Harold Worthley sadly passed this October. Dr. Worthley was director of the Congregational Library in Boston, Massachusetts for more than a quarter century.

He was also the first to inventory Massachusetts congregational church records. He was a forerunner, therefore, of our partner project, New England’s Hidden Histories, hosted by the Congregational Library in Boston, and our own Inventory of Puritan and Dissenting Church Records.

His work has been essential to students of colonial Massachusetts for decades. An obituary on Dr Worthley’s remarkable life can be found in the Boston Globe here.

 

InvenCaP Blog – Reformation Principles and the Puritan Church Books of the 1650s

By Mark Burden

Although they have been widely consulted by church historians and historians of religion, the role played by Puritan church records of the 1650s in the furtherance of personal, church, and national reformation has rarely been assessed. The following account has been compiled in response to a highly productive conference on the 1650s convened by Fiona McCall at the University of Portsmouth. The conference discussed, among many other matters, the nature and extent of Episcopalian and Puritan church records during the 1650s, the importance of the national surveys of religion undertaken by the Protectorate, and the need for an adequate catalogue of manuscripts and other material objects dating from the period. In response to that conversation, this post is intended to provide nothing more than a very preliminary sketch of the material available for studying the Puritan churches, and its potential uses for understanding the highly elastic concept of ‘reformation’ as it developed across the decade. As will be immediately evident, very substantial research needs to be carried out on these records before any wider conclusions may be drawn.

The Dissenting Experience Inventory of Puritan records indicates that there are approximately 70 surviving church books and registers containing material relating to the 1640s and 1650s. This figure is open to the usual caveats: it would be substantially smaller if all copy records were excluded, but would be substantially higher if it were possible to include every copy of every 1650s document located in nineteenth and twentieth-century church books. The materials contained in the church records already listed in the Inventory include church histories, chronological registers and alphabet books (births, baptisms, church membership, marriages, deaths, burials), family trees, covenants, confessions, rules, orders, acts, disciplinary cases, minutes of church meetings, minutes of regional assemblies, letters, testimonials, cases of conscience, propositions, queries, admissions, dismissals, and countless examples of marginalia and corrections. Most of these records can be categorised into four types: histories, registers, covenants and confessions, and minutes of meetings. Each of these genres contributed to the church’s sense of itself as a reformed collective, and each genre exposed the different pressures, whether external or internal, which emerged as an inevitable consequence of the congregation’s self-representation as a church of Christ.

Continue reading InvenCaP Blog – Reformation Principles and the Puritan Church Books of the 1650s

InvenCaP Blog – A Spur to Lukewarm Spirits: The ‘Proceedings Book of Meetings in East Devon, chiefly at Loughwood, 1653-1795’

By Rachel Adcock

On 14 February 1654 the Baptist church that would later meet regularly at Loughwood, East Devon, gathered at nearby Kilmington and recorded the first entry in what is now known and catalogued in the Devon Heritage Centre as a ‘proceedings book’. These earliest records reveal the gathered church’s immediate concerns: strengthening their local church community (which extended to Honiton and Ottery St Mary in the west, Colyton in the south, and Axminster to the east), and building links with other Baptist communities in Britain and Ireland. As indicated by the records, many members had expressed a ‘greivance’ that the church was without a pastor, and James Hitt, one of the congregation’s elders, was instructed to ‘draw upp an Epistle’ (DHCE 3700D/M/1, p. 7) to send to John Pendarves, a Particular Baptist minister who had successfully set up the Abingdon Association of Berkshire churches in 1652, and would continue to share millenarian views with many of the Baptists in the West Country region where he was born. It is not hard to see why the church wanted Pendarves as their minister: he was a popular, if controversial, preacher, shared a preoccupation with millenarianism with some of its leading members (of which more below), and had proven organisational abilities. Pendarves was to turn down the church’s request, visiting and corresponding the with church and their brethren at Lyme Regis but remaining in Abingdon until he died in 1656, but it remained clear to the members gathering at Kilmington that they needed to reform their practices: they concluded that they would follow 1 Corinthians 14:29 (‘Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge’) and thereby ‘try’ doctrine in the church, and cure the ‘deadness uppon the spirits of the membrs in generall’ by establishing an extra monthly fast day for ‘weighty causes laid before us by our Brethren of Ireland’ (DHCE 3700D/M/1, p. 7).

‘Deadness’ in spirit, manifesting itself in neglect of office and attendance, was to become a particular focus in the church’s efforts to strengthen and reform their church: in the following September, they more formally set out the ‘p[ar]ticular evills’ they wanted to address, which included ‘gen[er]all lukwarmenesse which hath seized the spiritts of many of us’ (DHCE 3700D/M/1, p. 11), ‘want of love to, and care of each othr in the Lord’, neglect of scripture, ‘sinfull complyance yt is with ye world’, the ‘greate neglect’ of assembling together, and ‘greate backwardnesse’ in charitable activities. For the rest of the decade, the church gathering at Loughwood would use their ‘proceedings book’ to record the measures taken to address attendance, charitable activities (members of the church continued to raise money for their meeting house – still in existence, picture below – and for members facing particular economic trials), and the substance of meetings, but it may also be understood as a way of formalising and demarcating this godly community in difficult times.

Continue reading InvenCaP Blog – A Spur to Lukewarm Spirits: The ‘Proceedings Book of Meetings in East Devon, chiefly at Loughwood, 1653-1795’

Kristianna Polder – Matrimony in the True Church

Readers will be interested to learn of the following book published last year: Kristianna Polder, Matrimony in the True Church: The Seventeenth-Century Quaker Marriage Approbation Discipline (Routledge, 2015).

Matrimony in the True Church: The Seventeenth-Century Quaker Marriage Approbation Discipline (Hardback) book coverPublisher’s note: ‘Like many other denominations, seventeenth-century Quakers were keen to ensure that members married within their own religious community. In order to properly understand the ramification of such a policy, this book explores the early Quaker marriage approbation process and discipline as demonstrated through the works and marriage of the movement’s leaders, George Fox and Margaret Fell. The book begins with an introduction that briefly summarises the historical context of the early Quaker movement, the ministry of Fox and Fell, and importance they laid upon the marriage approbation discipline. The remainder of the book is divided into three broad chapters. Chapter one examines the practical aspects of the early Quaker marriage approbation discipline, including a summary of seventeenth-century courtship and marriage practice, and an analysis of early Quaker Meeting Minutes. Chapter two then looks at the theological foundations of the marriage approbation process, and the Quaker emphasis on ’Good Order’ and their desire to return to the primitive Christianity of the apostolic church. Chapter three examines the marriage between Fox and Fell, which they presented as a testimony of the union of Christ and his Church. Their married life is analysed through their correspondence to discover whether or not the marriage did indeed exemplify the spiritual gravity originally bestowed upon it by Fox, Fell and some in the Quaker community. Through this close investigation of Quaker marriage approbation, the book offers fascinating insights into early modern English society, attitudes to gender and the early Quakers’ self-perception of themselves as the one and only True Church.’

Mark Goldie – Roger Morrice and the Puritan Whigs

Mark Goldie’s monograph, adapted from his edition of the Entring Book of Roger Morrice (but with a new introduction and bibliography), will be an invaluable resource for scholars working on the Restoration period.

Roger Morrice and the Puritan WhigsPublisher’s note:Roger Morrice and the Puritan Whigs explains a movement, illuminates the world of its emblematic representative, and explores one of the most remarkable documents of the seventeenth century. Morrice’s Entring Book was supremely well-informed, passionately committed, and relentlessly opinionated. Chronicling the years 1677 to 1691, nearly a million words in length, it is the fullest surviving record of the tumultuous final years of the Stuart regime, from the Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis to the Glorious Revolution. Morrice was a Puritan clergyman turned confidential reporter for leading Whig politicians, a barometer of opinion, for whom reliable information was vital for public action. Just twenty years after Pepys’s Diary, the Entring Book depicts a darker England, gripped by a new crisis of ‘popery and arbitrary government’. Mark Goldie’s deeply considered book examines the fortunes of Puritanism in the later Stuart age. It offers a story of disillusion and diminuendo, of struggles for survival in the face of intolerance, and of self-understanding among those who hoped to transform England through ‘Godly rule’. Yet the book also tells a countervailing story of revitalized and transformed Puritanism. Puritans worked through parliament, the royal court, and the households of gentry, merchants, lawyers, and clergy. Setting out to galvanize civil society, they mobilized public opinion, organized electorates, and deployed the arts of journalism, influence, and persuasion.’

The Richard L. Greaves Prize 2016 – won by Alec Ryrie

CoverThe Richard L. Greaves Prize was established in 2004 in honour of the memory of the first president of the International John Bunyan Society and is awarded every three years for an outstanding book-length work of scholarship devoted to the history, literature, thought, practices and legacy of Anglophone Protestantism to 1700. Many congratulations to Alec Ryrie, who won the 2016 prize for his monograph Being Protestant in Reformation Britain (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Publisher’s note: ‘Beginning from the surprisingly urgent, multifaceted emotions of Protestantism, Ryrie explores practices of prayer, of family and public worship, and of reading and writing, tracking them through the life course from childhood through conversion and vocation to the deathbed. He examines what Protestant piety drew from its Catholic predecessors and contemporaries, and grounds that piety in material realities such as posture, food and tears. This perspective shows us what it meant to be Protestant in the British Reformations: a meeting of intensity (a religion which sought authentic feeling above all, and which dreaded hypocrisy and hard-heartedness) with dynamism (a progressive religion, relentlessly pursuing sanctification and dreading idleness). That combination, for good or ill, gave the Protestant experience its particular quality of restless, creative zeal.’

Conference – ‘The Rethinking of Religious Belief’

The 2017 conference of the International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH) will take place at the American University in Bulgaria, 30 May – 1 June 2017. The conference is titled ‘The Rethinking of Religious Belief in the Making of Modernity’. Keynote speakers include Wayne Hudson, Michael Hunter, Jonathan Israel, and Lyndal Roper. Proposals for 20-minute individual papers are welcome. Proposals for panels, consisting of three 20-minute papers, are also welcome. Paper and panel proposals are welcome both from ISIH members and scholars who are not members of the Society. The language of the conference is English: all speakers are supposed to deliver their papers in English. Papers and panels may concentrate on any period, region, tradition or discipline relevant to the conference theme. For further details on how to apply through the onine submission form, please visit the conference page on the ISIH website.

QMUL CRLE Seminar – Veronica O’Mara – ‘Saints’ Lives for East Anglian Nuns: From C15 to C18′

All are welcome to this third seminar of the Centre for Religion and Literature in English at Queen Mary University of London:

Time: Wednesday 6 July 2016, 5.15-6.45pm
Place: Lock-Keeper’s Cottage Graduate Centre, Westfield Way, Queen Mary University of London, E1 4NS

Dr Veronica O’Mara (Hull), ‘Saints’ Lives for East Anglian Nuns: From the Medieval Period to the Eighteenth Century’

This paper will focus on a collection of twenty-two Middle English saints’ lives from the end of the fifteenth century that are currently being edited by Virginia Blanton (University of Missouri-Kansas City) and Veronica O’Mara (University of Hull). These lives, all but two of which concern women, are a complex mixture of native English and international saints whose sources may be partly identified. They survive in a single manuscript that was owned in the eighteenth century by a recusant family in Norfolk, a family that sent its daughters to be professed on the continent in the post-Dissolution period. This unique collection, which may be associated with a range of East Anglian convents and was at one time owned by a member of the royal family, provides links between medieval Catholic England and eighteenth-century England, between Norfolk and the capital, between Europe and England.

International John Bunyan Society Conference – 6-9 July 2016

CFP posterThis is a reminder that the Eighth Triennual Conference of the International John Bunyan Society, ‘Voicing Dissent in the Long Reformation’, is taking place 6-9 July 2016 at Aix-Marseille University and La Baume Conference Centre. Further details of the conference are available on the International John Bunyan Society website, where copies of the programme may also be found.