All posts by Anne Page

A New Edition of the Bunyan Church Book, 1656-1710

By Michael Davies, University of Liverpool

The purpose of this edition (currently in preparation, and forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2015) is to provide literary scholars and historians, as well as students and general readers, with a scholarly yet accessible annotated edition of A Booke Containing a Record of the Acts of a Congregation of Christ in and about Bedford: the manuscript record of the Bedford congregation’s life during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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Who the congregation’s members were, how they were received and disciplined, how they survived strife and harassment, and what defined their ecclesiological principles and practices are all revealed in fascinating detail by this remarkable document.  This edition will include the Church Book’s record of meetings from 1656, when they begin to be noted, to 1710, when an off-shoot congregation was formed out of the Bedford church and established – on good terms – at Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire.  During this period, John Bunyan famously served as the congregation’s preacher and pastor, witnessing significant crises and developments both within the Bedford church and for Restoration Nonconformity more generally.

Continue reading A New Edition of the Bunyan Church Book, 1656-1710

The Lucy Hutchinson Conference

Make sure you visit the website of the Centre for Early Modern Studies (University of Oxford) for details about the Lucy Hutchinson Conference, to be held at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, on Thursday 28 november 2013. You can register online until November 21st.

The new edition of Hutchinson’s collected works is supported by a website (with, among other things a bibliography of John Owen by Mark Burden) and a blog. The first volume, edited by Reid Barbour and David Norbrook was launched in February 2012 (see our Publications page).



“Lucy Hutchinson is well known to seventeenth-century historians and literary scholars as the author of Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, a classic biography which sets the momentous life of her husband, a committed Puritan, republican and regicide, against the wider backdrop of the English Civil War and Restoration. This work, and a compelling though fragmentary autobiography, have been more or less continually in print since their publication from manuscript in 1806. Only recently, however, has the scale and range of her interests been recognized.

Continue reading The Lucy Hutchinson Conference

The ‘presbyterianism’ of Richard Heyrick

By James Mawdesley, The University of Sheffield

N.B. References in brackets refer to The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly 1643-1652, ed. Chad van Dixhoorn (5 vols., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

I have recently been fortunate enough to have access to Chad van Dixhoorn’s new edition of the minutes of the Westminster Assembly, and it struck me how over the next few years, it will be interesting to see what use scholars make of the minutes, and what details lie within a primary source which had previously only been utilised in manuscript form by the most dedicated of researchers.

Manchester Cathedral (the former collegiate church), with Heyrick's memorial brass
Manchester Cathedral (the former collegiate church), with Heyrick’s memorial brass

The intention of this brief blog post is to highlight a small example of what details can be found within the minutes, and how the minutes might be used to adapt our understanding of the careers of individual clerics. Richard Heyrick had been appointed in 1635 as the warden of the Manchester collegiate church, and is well known as one of the leading lights of the classical presbyterian system which was established in Lancashire in 1646 (the year in which episcopacy was abolished). Within the Lancashire province, the Manchester classis (under Heyrick’s watch) continued to function until the summer of 1660, just after the restoration of Charles II to the throne. Though he did not participate in the Westminster Assembly to the same extent as his fellow member for Lancashire, Charles Herle (the rector of Winwick), he was nonetheless a relatively regular attendee of its debates. It was during these debates that Heyrick made two particularly interesting contributions.

Continue reading The ‘presbyterianism’ of Richard Heyrick

The Richard L. Greaves Award to Kathleen Lynch

On 15 August 2013, Kathleen Lynch received the award from David Gay, chairman of the  selection committee (2010-2013), for her monograph, Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone Worldpublished in 2012 by Oxford University Press. 


The Richard L. Greaves Award is presented triennially by the International John Bunyan Society for an outstanding book on the history, literature, thought, practices, and legacy of English Protestantism to 1700.

A special commendation went to Tim Cooper for his John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity (Ashgate, 2011).


CFP: Early Modern Women, Religion, and the Body

This is a CFP forwarded by Rachel Adcock (Loughborough) that might be of interest to those working on dissenting women:

22-23 July 2014, Loughborough University.

Plenary speakers: Professor Mary Fissell (Johns Hopkins) and Dr Katharine Hodgkin (University of East London). With public lecture by Alison Weir (evening of 22 July, Martin Hall Theatre): ‘“The Prince expected in due season”: The Queen’s First Duty’

This two-day conference will explore the response of early modern texts to the relationship between religion and female bodily health. Scholars have long observed that understandings of the flesh and the spirit were inextricably intertwined in the early modern period, and that women’s writings or writings about women often explored this complex relationship. For instance, how did early modern women understand pain, illness, and health in a religious framework, and was this different to the understanding of those around them? Did women believe that their bodies were sinful? And were male and female religious experiences different because they took place in different bodies? Continue reading CFP: Early Modern Women, Religion, and the Body

IJBS Conference: last days to register

Registration for the 7th Triennal Conference of the International John Bunyan Society (12-16 August 2013) will close on 31 July 2013. The theme this year is ‘John Bunyan : Conscience, History and Justice’ and Nigel Smith is hosting it in Princeton.

The exciting programme includes over 30 papers and plenaries by N. H. Keeble (Stirling), Laura Knoppers (Penn. State), Paul C. H. Lim (Vanderbilt) and Cynthia Wall (Virginia).

Click here for the provisional programme and visit the website of IJBS for more details.

A bit of publicity!, which we are using for this blog, was mentioned at the JISC Collections/OAPEN Foundation international conference at the British Library last week (on open access to HSS monographs). Plenary speaker Jean-Claude Guédon singled it out as one of the exciting tools for scholars to communicate about their respective research programmes and associate director of OpenEdition, Pierre Mounier, reminded us that their infrastructures are not just ‘for the French’. Indeed! We hope that colleagues around the world will take this opportunity to explore Hypotheses, as we think they’ve provided us with a wonderful solution for sharing our thoughts on British dissent.

Early-modern dissent and visual culture

As Michael, Joel and I are little by little filling up the pages of this blog, we realize how little suitable material there seems to be out there to use to illustrate it. Of course, portraits of ministers are not exactly lacking, nor are manuscript pages that institutions would allow us to use for academic purposes, or engravings of later chapels, but we’re not making huge progress with early material, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, with crowd scenes.

David Wykes has dug out the wonderful title-page of The Pathway to Eternal Life: Being the Last Sermon of that Eminent Divine Mr T. Williams, that he has kindly allowed us to reproduce here (see our ‘Events’ section, it’s been trimmed as we’re using it for publicity material for our forthcoming conference). Collage (London Metropolitan Archives) has a good engraving of the inside of Salters’ Hall (1720), which you might well want to check out if you don’t know it already; it’s n°6311 in their collection.

The French ‘Quaqueresse qui préche’ was apparently engraved by Bernard Picart around c.1723 and is in the public domain.

AssemblyOfQuakersI know I should probably know more about this picture and yet I don’t! Can anybody out there help us  with early-modern representations of dissent? We’d particularly like to change the default header that you can see above. Do you know anything that could be suitable and is there any work being conducted in the field, perhaps by art historians?

As talking about pictures makes me think of dissenting architecture, I’ve added a link in the relevant section to the Historic Chapel Trust. This is not a charity I know, but some of their restoration projects are gorgeous. I love browsing through the volumes of Christopher Stell’s Inventory and I’m just sorry such labours of love are hardly available outside major research libraries.

Why ‘Dissenting Experience’?

This research blog is dedicated to all aspects of early-modern dissent in Britain, from c. 1500 to c. 1800. Our main interest lies in the history, literature, culture and heritage of the so-called ‘gathered Churches’ (Congregationalists and Baptists), but also of the Presbyterians, as well as Quakers and sects.

Our aim is three-fold : (a) to provide a source of information for students and scholars on all aspects of dissenting studies : calls for papers, conferences, information on research projects, news from libraries and archives, activities of learned societies, new books and major articles…(b) to provide a forum where to discuss new findings and sources, methodology, and the future of the discipline, which includes jobs, research grants, and Visiting Fellowships, internet resources and links (c) to centralise information about doctoral theses in progress and to provide a space where graduate students can learn about each other’s projects.

The blog is based on a collaboration between students, scholars, but also members of the general public sharing our interest in early-modern dissent, who are willing to provide information and participate in the development and promotion of dissenting studies.

Please feel free to contact us, share your news, add comments to our posts, and don’t forget to “register your interest”. We are particularly keen to hear from graduate students, archivists and librarians.

Dissenting Experience

Ce carnet est dédié à l’histoire, la littérature et la culture des mouvements religieux dissidents, en Grande-Bretagne, dans une période s’étendant du seizième au dix-huitième siècle.

Les sociétés anglo-saxonnes furent profondément marquées par un phénomène à la fois religieux, politique et culturel, qu’on désigne aujourd’hui couramment par le terme anglais dissent, mais dont la dénomination instable indique d’emblée qu’on se situe sur le terrain des représentations et des constructions historiques : les dissidents étaient aussi appelés puritains, non-conformistes, radicaux, évangélistes, séparatistes, schismatiques, enthousiastes, rebelles, ou encore hérétiques.

Ce courant comprend des mouvements extrêmement variés (et l’objectif de ce carnet sera de rendre compte de cette diversité) qu’on peut cependant regrouper en deux grandes familles :
– les séparatistes (baptistes, quakers…), qui souhaitaient rompre avec les institutions politico-religieuses du royaume pour fonder des congrégations autonomes appelées « sectes » ;
– des puritains plus modérés (presbytériens, congrégationalistes…) qui coopérèrent plus volontiers, selon les périodes, avec l’Église nationale.
Théologiquement, les dissidents incarnent un spectre théologique large, allant du calvinisme des presbytériens à la Lumière Intérieure des quakers en passant par l’arminianisme de certains baptistes.

En position de marginalité, en Grande-Bretagne, jusqu’au XIXe siècle, les dissidents firent face à des périodes de répression particulièrement sévères et à la privation de leurs droits civils. Aujourd’hui, leurs descendants se retrouvent dans des Églises dites évangéliques et constituent parfois de puissants lobbies ; ils pratiquent le culte dans mega Churches, ou, au contraire, en contexte domestique, dans des house Churches, en milieu urbain, comme en milieu rural. Ils sont associés à un fort prosélytisme, un protestantisme de conversion, et des règles de vie strictes. Ces évangélistes sont héritiers des plus grands prédicateurs des XVIe et XVIIe siècles, mais également des plus grands auteurs et poètes britanniques : John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge ou encore Robert Southey étaient tous dissidents.

Ce carnet est le premier espace interdisciplinaire instaurant un dialogue entre les spécialistes d’histoire et de civilisation, de théologie et de littérature. Il se concentre (a) sur la période moderne entre Renaissance et Lumières (b) sur une aire géographique particulière : les îles Britanniques. Il sera rédigé en anglais.

Il a été pensé dans une optique d’ouverture internationale :
(a) le carnet sera tenu par une chercheuse française et deux chercheurs britanniques, dont deux enseignants-chercheurs et un post-doctorant, assistant de recherche ;
(b) le carnet s’appuie sur un réseau informel de chercheurs et jeunes chercheurs spécialistes de la discipline et sa demande de création est le fruit de leur réflexion.