P. 1
[Christopher Hill] the World Turned Upside Down R(Bookos.org)

[Christopher Hill] the World Turned Upside Down R(Bookos.org)

|Views: 61|Likes:
Published by shirii

More info:

Published by: shirii on Jun 23, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less






Christopher Hill was educatedat St Peter's School, York, andat
Balliol College, Oxford, andin1934was madeafellowof All
Souls College, Oxford. In 1936hebecamelecturer inmodern
history at University College, Cardiff and, twoyears later, fellow
andtutor inmodernhistory at Balliol. After war service, which
includedtwoyears intheRussiandepartment of theForeign
Office, hereturnedtoOxfordin1945. From1958until 1965hewas
university lecturer insixteenth- andseventeenth-century history,
andfrom1965to1978hewas Master of Balliol College. After
leavingBalliol hewas for twoyears aVisitingProfessor at the
OpenUniversity. Dr Hill, aFellowof theRoyal Historical Society
andof theBritishAcademy, has receivednumerous honorary
degrees fromBritishuniversities, as well as theHon. Dr. Sorbonne
His publications includeLeninandtheRussianRevolution; Purita-
nismandRevolution; SocietyandPuritanismin Pre-Revolutionary
England; Reformation toIndustrial Revolution; Volume2inthe
PenguinEconomic History of Britain; God's Englishman: Oliver
Cromwell andtheEnglishRevolution; TheWorldTurnedUpside
Down; MiltonandtheEnglishRevolution, whichwontheRoyal
Society of LiteratureAward; TheExperienceof Defeat: Miltonand
SomeContemporaries', ATurbulent. Seditious andFactious People:
JohnBunyanandhis Church, whichwonthe1989W. H. Smith
Literary Award and The English Bible and the Seventeenth-
CenturyRevolution, whichwas shortlistedfor the1993NCR Book
Award. Many of thesetitles arepublishedby Penguin. Dr Hill is
Christopher Hill

Radical Ideas Duringthe
Publishedby thePenguinGroup
PenguinBooks Ltd, 27Wrights Lane, LondonW85TZ, England
PenguinBooks USA Inc., 375HudsonStreet, NewYork, NewYork 10014, USA
PenguinBooks AustraliaLtd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia
PenguinBooks CanadaLtd, 10AlcornAvenue, Toronto, Ontario, CanadaM4V 3B2
PenguinBooks (NZ) Ltd, 182-190WairauRoad, Auckland10, NewZealand
PenguinBooks Ltd, RegisteredOffices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England
First publishedby MauriceTempleSmith1972
PublishedinPelicanBooks 1975
ReprintedinPeregrineBooks 1984
ReprintedinPenguinBooks 1991
Copyright ©Christopher Hill, 1972, 1975
All rights reserved
PrintedinEnglandby Clays Ltd, St Ives pic
Set inLinotypeTimes
Except intheUnitedStates of America, this book is soldsubject
totheconditionthat it shall not, by way of tradeor otherwise, belent,
re-sold, hiredout, or otherwisecirculatedwithout thepublisher's
prior consent inany formof bindingor cover other thanthat in
whichit is publishedandwithout asimilar conditionincludingthis
conditionbeingimposedonthesubsequent purchaser
Ingratitudeto Rodney for suggestingit, andto
B, A, D, without whosecooperationandunderstand-
ingthis book wouldnever havegot written.
Preface 9
Abbreviations 11
1 Introduction 13
2 TheParchment andtheFire 19
3 Masterless Men 39
4 Agitators andOfficers 57
5 TheNorthandWest 73
6 A Nationof Prophets 87
7 Levellers andTrueLevellers 107
8 SinandHell 151
9 Seekers andRanters 184
10Ranters andQuakers 231
11Samuel Fisher andtheBible 259
12JohnWarr andtheLaw 269
13TheIslandof Great Bedlam 277
14 Mechanic Preachers andthe
Mechanical Philosophy 287
15BaseImpudent Kisses 306
16LifeAgainst Death 324
17TheWorldRestored 344
18Conclusion 361
1 Hobbes andWinstanley: Reasonand
Politics 387
2 MiltonandBunyan: Dialoguewiththe
Radicals 395
Index 415
THERE arefewactivities morecooperativethanthewritingof
history. Theauthor puts his namebrashly onthetitle-pageand
thereviewers rightly attack himfor his errors andmisinterpre-
tations; but noneknows better thanhehowmuchhis whole
enterprisedepends ontheprecedinglabours of others. I should
liketo singleout threescholars to whomI ammost conscious
of indebtedness - Mr A. L. Morton, who has publishedtheonly
serious book ontheRanters, andwhosestudy of Blakein
relationto seventeenth-century radicals is equally important;
Dr G. F. Nuttall, whosemeticulous scholarshipranges over all
theobscureby-ways of seventeenth-century religious history;
andMr K. V. Thomas, whosemajestic ReligionandtheDecline
of Magic has madeus all re-think our ideas about seventeenth-
century England. I benefitedvery greatly fromsupervisingMr
Frank McGregor's thesis ontheRanters, andfromreading
Professor W. A. Cole's unpublisheddissertationontheQuakers
anddiscussingit withhim. Many moredebts arerecordedin
thefootnotes. Dr BernardCapp, Mr Peter Clark, Mrs K. R.
Firth, Dr A. M. Johnson, Dr R. C. RichardsonandProfessor
AustinWoolrychall allowedmeto readandquotefrom
material inadvanceof publication. Dr RobinClifton, Professor
G. H. George, Dr P. J. R. Phizackerley, Mrs JoanThirsk and
Professor C. M. Williams weregenerous inansweringquestions.
Professor Rodney Hiltonsavedmefrommany errors, anddid
what hecouldto makethebook morereadable. My colleagues
at Balliol allowedmeasabbatical termduringwhichmost of
thewritingwas done: I ammost grateful to themfor their
forbearanceandto theprotectivevigilanceof theCollegeSecre-
tary, Mrs Bridget Page. Especial thanks aredueto Miss Pat
Lloyd, who typedthewholebook andcorrectedmany of my
spellingmistakes. Shealso helpedgenerously andskilfully with
proof-reading. My wifealways comes last amongthoseto be
thankedandshouldalways comefirst.
15October 1971
Noteto thePenguin Edition
I amgrateful to many friends for suggestingcorrec-
tions andimprovements to thefirst editionof this
book, especially to Dr BernardCapp, Mr JohnDunn,
Mr Charles Hobday, Professor IvanRoots andMr
KeithThomas. I shouldhaveexplainedinmy original
Prefacethat seventeenth-century spellingandcapital-
izationhavebeenmodernizedinquotations. I havenot
alteredthegrammar when- for instance- Winstanley
uses aplural subject withasingular verb. Readers of
this book may beinterestedinTheLawof Freedom
andOther Writings, by GerrardWinstanley, published
as aPelicanClassic in1973.
Thefollowingabbreviations havebeenusedinthenotes:
A.H.R. Agricultural HistoryReview
Braithwaite W. C. Braithwaite, The First Periodof
C.J. Commons' Journals
C.S.P.D. Calendar of StatePapers (Domestic)
E.H.R. EnglishHistorical Review
Fenstanton Ed. E. B. Underhill, Records of theChurches of
Records Christ gatheredat Fenstanton, Warboys and
Hexham, 1644-1720(HanserdKnollys Soc.,
Ed. W. Haller andG. Davies, TheLeveller
Tracts, 1647-1653(ColumbiaU.P., 1944)
Historical Manuscripts Commission
C Hill, Intellectual Origins of theEnglishRevo-
lution(OxfordU.P., 1965)
Journal of ModernHistory
Past andPresent
C. Hill, PuritanismandRevolution(Panther edn)
Ed. G. H. Sabine, TheWorks of GerrardWin-
Stanley(Cornell U.P., 1941)
C. Hill, SocietyandPuritanisminpre-Revolu-
tionaryEngland(Panther edn)
Transactions of theRoyal Historical Society
University Press
Victoria CountyHistory
Ed. D. M. Wolfe, Leveller Manifestoes of the
Woodhouse Ed. A. S. P. Woodhouse, PuritanismandLiberty
H. andD.
P. andP.
S. andP.
TheLordpreserveththestrangers; herelieveththefather-
less andthewidow: but theway of thewickedheturneth
TheLordmakeththeearth... waste, andturnethit up-
sidedown... Andit shall be, as withthepeople, so with
thepriest; as withtheservant, so withhis master; as with
themaid, so withher mistress ... Theearthshall reel to
andfro likeadrunkard, andshall beremovedlikeacot-
tage... TheLordshall punishthehost of thehighones
•.. andthekings of theearthupontheearth.
Isaiahxxiv, 1-2,20-21
They cameto Thessalonica... andPaul... reasonedwith
themout of theScriptures ... Andsomeof thembelieved
... andof thechief womennot afew. But theJews which
believednot, movedwithenvy, took unto themcertain
lewdfellows of thebaser sort, andgatheredacompany,
andset all thecity onanuproar ... crying, Thesethat
haveturnedtheworldupsidedownarecomehither also.
TheActs of theApostles xvii, 1-6
It hathbeen.. . mineendeavour ... to giveunto
every limbandpart not only his dueproportion
but also his dueplace, andnot to set thehead
wherethefoot shouldbe, or thefoot wherethe
head. I may peradventureto many seemguilty
of that crimewhichwas laidagainst theApostle,
to turntheworldupsidedown, andto set that
inthebottomwhichothers makethetopof the
building, andto set that upontheroof which
others lay for afoundation.
henry denne, Grace, MercyandPeace(1645)
inFenstantonRecords, p. 422.
POPULAR revolt was for many centuries anessential featureof
theEnglishtradition, andthemiddledecades of theseventeenth
century sawthegreatest upheaval that has yet occurredin
Britain. Thepresent book does not attempt to tell againthe
story of howtheArmy of theLongParliament overcame
Charles I andhis supporters, executedtheKingandestablished
ashort-livedrepublic. Althoughtherewas considerablepopular
support for Parliament inthe1640s, thelong-termconsequences
of theRevolutionwereall to theadvantageof thegentry and
merchants, not of thelower fifty per cent of thepopulationon
whomI try to focus attention.
This book deals withwhat fromonepoint of viewaresub-
sidiary episodes andideas intheEnglishRevolution, the
attempts of various groups of thecommonpeopleto impose
their ownsolutions to theproblems of their time, inopposition
to thewishes of their betters who hadcalledtheminto political
action. Thereader who wishes to restorehis perspectivemight
withadvantagereadthevaluablebook recently publishedby
Professor DavidUnderdown: Pride's Purge (OxfordU.P.,
1971). This deals withalmost exactly thesameperiodas I do,
but fromanentirely different angle. His is theviewfromthe
top, fromWhitehall, minetheworm'seyeview. His index and
minecontaintotallydifferent listsof names.
Therevolt within theRevolutionwhichis my subject took
many forms, somebetter knownthanothers. Groups like
Levellers, Diggers andFifthMonarchists offerednewpolitical
solutions (andinthecaseof theDiggers, neweconomic solu-
tions too). Thevarious sects - Baptists, Quakers, Muggletonians
- offerednewreligious solutions. Other groups askedsceptical
questions about all theinstitutions andbeliefs of their society -
Seekers, Ranters, theDiggers too. Indeedit is perhaps mislead-
ingto differentiatetoo sharply betweenpolitics, religionand
general scepticism. Weknow, as aresult of hindsight, that some
groups - Baptists, Quakers - will surviveas religious sects and
that most of theothers will disappear. Inconsequenceweun-
consciously tendto imposetoo clear outlines ontheearly
history of Englishsects, to readback later beliefs into the1640s
and50s. Oneof theaims of this book will beto suggest that in
this periodthings weremuchmoreblurred. From, say, 1645to
1653, therewas agreat overturning, questioning, revaluing, of
everythinginEngland. Oldinstitutions, oldbeliefs, oldvalues
cameinquestion. Menmovedeasily fromonecritical groupto
another, andaQuaker of theearly 1650s hadfar morein
commonwithaLeveller, aDigger or aRanter thanwitha
modernmember of theSociety of Friends.
Our period begins when Parliament seemed to have
triumphedover theKing, andthegentry andmerchants who
hadsupportedtheParliamentary causeinthecivil war expected
to reconstruct theinstitutions of society as they wished, to
imposetheir values. If they hadnot beenimpededinthis, Eng-
landmight havepassedstraight to somethinglikethepolitical
settlement of 1688- Parliamentary sovereignty, limited
monarchy, imperialist foreignpolicy, aworldsafefor business-
mento makeprofits in. But insteadtherewas aperiodof
glorious flux andintellectual excitement, when, as Gerrard
Winstanley put it, 'theoldworld... is runninguplikeparch-
ment inthefire.'
Literally anythingseemedpossible; not only
werethevalues of theoldhierarchical society calledinquestion
1. Sabine, p. 252.
but also thenewvalues, theprotestant ethic itself. Only gradu-
ally was control re-establishedduringtheProtectorateof Oliver
Cromwell, leadingto arestorationof theruleof thegentry, and
thenof Kingandbishops in1660.
Therewere, wemay oversimplify, two revolutions inmid-
seventeenth-century England. Theonewhichsucceededestab-
lishedthesacredrights of property (abolitionof feudal tenures,
no arbitrary taxation), gavepolitical power to thepropertied
(sovereignty of Parliament andcommonlaw, abolitionof pre-
rogativecourts), andremovedall impediments to thetriumph
of theideology of themenof property - theprotestant ethic.
Therewas, however, another revolutionwhichnever happened,
thoughfromtimeto timeit threatened. This might haveestab-
lishedcommunal property, afar wider democracy inpolitical
andlegal institutions, might havedisestablishedthestatechurch
andrejectedtheprotestant ethic.
Theobject of thepresent book is to look at this revolt within
theRevolutionandthefascinating floodof radical ideas which
it threwup. History has to berewritteninevery generation, be-
causealthoughthepast does not changethepresent does; each
generationasks newquestions of thepast, andfinds newareas
of sympathy as it re-lives different aspects of theexperiences of
its predecessors. TheLevellers werebetter understoodas
political democracy establisheditself inlatenineteenth- and
early twentieth-century England; theDiggers havesomethingto
say to twentieth-century socialists. Nowthat theprotestant ethic
itself, thegreatest achievement of Europeanbourgeois society
inthesixteenthandseventeenthcenturies, is at last beingques-
tionedafter aruleof threeor four centuries, wecanstudy
withanewsympathy theDiggers, theRanters, andthemany
other daringthinkers who intheseventeenthcentury refusedto
Thehistorical narrative, themainoutlineof events, is given.
No amount of detailedworkingover theevidenceis goingto
changethefactual essentials of thestory. But theinterpretation
will vary withour attitudes, withour lives inthepresent. So
reinterpretationis not only possiblebut necessary. Just as
Professor Barracloughhas madeour generationawareof the
narrowprovincialismwhichdominates theoutlook of most
historians andurges us to extendour geographical areaof
study, so experienceof somethingapproachingdemocracy
makes us realizethat most of our history is writtenabout, and
fromthepoint of viewof, atiny fragment of thepopulation,
andmakes us want to extendindepthas well as inbreadth.
Eachgeneration, to put it another way, rescues anewarea
fromwhat its predecessors arrogantly andsnobbishly dis-
missedas 'thelunatic fringe'. Thanks to theadmirablework of
Messrs Lamont, ToonandCapp, wenowseemillenarianism
as anatural andrational product of theassumptions of this
society, sharedby JohnMiltonandSir Henry Vaneas well as
by Vavasor Powell andJohnRogers. Thanks to theadmirable
work of Dr Frances Yates, Professor Rattansi andMessrs
Webster andThomas, alchemy, astrology andnatural magic
similarly taketheir placeas reasonablesubjects for rational
menandwomento beinterestedin, fromSamuel Hartlibto
Sir Isaac Newton. So far only Mr A. L. MortonandMr Frank
McGregor havedemonstratedthat theRanters too must be
takenseriously, that they perhaps havesomethingto say to our
Historians, infact, wouldbewell-advisedto avoidtheloaded
phrase, lunatic fringe'. Lunacy, likebeauty, may beintheeye
of thebeholder. Therewerelunatics intheseventeenthcen-
tury, but modernpsychiatry is helpingus to understandthat
madness itself may beaformof protest against social norms,
andthat the'lunatic' may insomesensebesaner thanthe
society whichrejects him. Many writers who wereawarethat
their views wouldseemintolerably extremeto their respectable
contemporaries deliberately exaggeratedtheir eccentricities in
order to get ahearing- as, inrather adifferent way, George
Moreover, foolery hadhadasocial functioninmedieval
society. Therewas aconventionthat oncertainset occasions -
ShroveTuesday, theFeasts of Fools, All Fools Day andothers
- thesocial hierarchy andthesocial decencies couldbeturned
upsidedown. It was asafety-valve: social tensions werere-
2. Seech. 13below.
leasedby theoccasional bouleversement; thesocial order
seemedperhaps that muchmoretolerable.
What was newinthe
seventeenthcentury was theideathat theworldmight beper-
manentlyturnedupsidedown: that thedreamworldof the
Landof Cokayneor thekingdomof heavenmight beattain-
Duringthebrief years of extensiveliberty of thepress in
Englandit may havebeeneasier for eccentrics to get into print
thanever beforeor since. Before1641, andafter 1660, there
was astrict censorship. Intheinterveningyears of freedom, a
printingpress was arelatively cheapandportablepieceof
equipment. Publishinghadnot yet developedas acapitalist
industry. ThelateMiss Iris Morley notedthenatural harmony
whichexistedbetweenLeveller writers, printers andhawkers of
pamphlets, at atimewhenprintingwas asmall man's occupa-
Printers likeGeorgeCalvert werepreparedto runcon-
siderablerisks to get radical works published.
It may also have
beenthat inamarket floodedwithprintedmatter therewere
sales advantages incalculatedeccentricity. At least it is better
for thehistorianto err onthesideof lookingfor rational signi-
ficanceinany ideas whichthemenof theseventeenthcentury
took seriously. If wedismiss suchideas becausethey seem
irrational to us, wemay bedeprivingourselves of valuablein-
sights into thesociety, as Mr K. V. Thomas's Religionandthe
Declineof Magic has so brilliantly demonstrated. It is no longer
necessary to apologizetoo profusely for takingthecommon
peopleof thepast ontheir ownterms andtryingto understand
Historians areinterestedinideas not only becausethey in-
fluencesocieties, but becausethey reveal thesocieties which
giveriseto them. Hencethephilosophical truthof theideas is
irrelevant to thehistorian's purpose, thoughall of us haveour
preferences: thereader will no doubt soondiscover mine.
By studyingsomeof theless conventional ideas whichsur-
facedduringtheEnglishRevolutiontheobject of this book is
3. E. Welsford, TheFool (1935), ch. IX.
4.1. Morley, A ThousandLives (1954), p. 78.
5. Seepp. 372-3below.
to obtainadeeper insight into Englishsociety thantheevidence
permits either before1640or after 1660, whenthecensorship
ensuredthat really subversiveideas werenot published. Inso
far as theattempt is successful it may tell us somethingnot only
about Englishhistory inthis periodof uniqueliberty, but also
about themore'normal' periods whichprecededandfollowed
it - normal becauseweareagainignorant of what thecommon
peoplewerethinking. Wemay findthat theobscuremenand
womenwho figureinthis book, together withsomenot so
obscure, speak moredirectly to us thanCharles I or Pymor
General Monck, who appear as history-makers inthetext-
books. This wouldinitself beasatisfactorily upside-down
thought to comeaway with.
Enemies of thechurch... abusetheprecious
saints of Godwiththeseandother reproaches
... Oh, thesearethementhat wouldturnthe
worldupsidedown, that makethenationfull
of tumults anduproars, that work all thedis-
turbanceinchurchandstate. It is fit suchmen
andcongregations shouldbesuppressed, ... that
wemay havetruthandpeaceandgovernment
WILLIAMDELL, TheBuilding, Beauty, Teach-
ingandEstablishment of theTrulyChristianand
Spiritual Church(1646) inSeveral Sermons (1709)
p. 109.
I havetriedelsewhereto suggest that therewas agreater back-
groundof class hostility inEnglandbefore1640thanhistorians
havenormally recognized.
A Scottishobserver indeedcom-
mentedin1614onthe'bitter anddistrustful' attitudeof English
commonpeopletowards thegentry andnobility.
ments werereciprocated. Only members of thelandedruling
class wereallowedto carry weapons: 'themeaner sort of
peopleandservants' werenormally excludedfromservingin
themilitia, by aquitedeliberatepolicy.
tional circumstances of 1588military trainingwas extendedto
thewholesettledpopulation, therewerecomplaints fromHere-
1. TheMany-HeadedMonster inlateTudor andEarly Stuart Political
Thinking', inFromtheRenaissancetotheCounter-Reformation: Essays
inHonour of Garret Mattingly, ed. C. H. Carter (1968), pp. 296-324.
2. JohnBarclay, IconAnimorum(1614), Englishedby T.M[ay] (1631),
pp. 104-8.
3. L. Boynton, TheElizabethanMilitia, 1588-1638(1967), pp. 62, 108-
11, 119, 220-21, 249-50; TheEarl of Hertford's LieutenancyPapers,
1603-1612, ed. W. P. D. Murphy (WiltshireRecordSoc., 1969), p. 72.
fordshirethat onceservants weretrainedas soldiers they would
becomeunruly andunwillingto continueto servetheir masters
inproper subordination.
turies, as populationrapidly expanded, London, I shall suggest,
becametherefugeof 'masterless men' - thevictims of enclosure,
vagabonds, criminals - to anextent that alarmedcontempor-
Oneof thearguments advancedinpropagandafor
colonizingIrelandin1594was that 'thepeoplepoor andsedi-
tious, whichwereaburdento thecommonwealth, aredrawn
forth, whereby thematter of seditionis removedout of the
Thesameargument was oftenusedlater to advocate
exporting'therank multitude' to Virginia. Thejudicious
Hooker, arguingthat 'extraordinary motions of thespirit' could
bevery dangerous, suggestedthat this was especially truemthe
caseof 'menwhoseminds areof themselves as dry fuel, apt
beforehandunto tumults, seditions andbroils'. Suchmen, he
thought, wereto befoundamongthelower orders of society.
They werecertainly to befoundinNewcastle-upon-Tyne, where
wearetoldin1633that 'peopleof meancondition... areapt
to turnevery pretenceandcolour of grievanceinto uproar and
seditious mutiny'.
Not far belowthesurfaceof Stuart society, then, discontent
was rife. In1626asoldier hadthought of assassinatingthe
Dukeof Buckingham^andperhaps theKingtoo, so as to estab-
lisharepublic or put theKingof Bohemiaonthethrone.
Feltonactually didassassinateBuckinghamtwo years later, his
popularity was so great that other menpretendedthey were
Felton. Thedevil go withtheKingandall theproudpack of
4. C. Russell, TheCrisis of Parliaments (OxfordU.P., 1971), p. 244.
I amgrateful to Mr Russell for pointingout to methat thecounty con-
cernedwas Herefordshire, not Hertfordshireas misprintedinhis book.
5. Seepp. 40-1below.
6. D. B. Quinn, TheElizabethans andtheIrish(Cornell UP., 1966),
p. 157.
7. R. Hooker, Of theLaws of Ecclesiastical Polity(Everymanedn) II,
pp. 5-6.
8. R. Welford, Historyof NewcastleandGateshead(1884-7) III, pp.
315-16. Seepp. 78-9below.
9. C. Oman, Elizabethof Bohemia (1964), p. 294.
saidaYorkshirevillageblacksmithin1633. 'What care
This class antagonismwas exacerbatedby the financial hard-
ships of theyears from1620to 1650, whichProfessor Bowden
has describedas economically amongthemost terriblein
Thegovernment was heldto blamefor its
mismanagement of theeconomy andfor monopolies andother
fiscal devices of the1630s whichvisibly addedto thecost of
living. Lookingback at oneof theseschemes, apamphlet of
1649spokeof 'pillingandpollingthenationby oppression", and
asked, 'Howmany poor apple-womenandbroom-men, rag-
merchants andpeopleof all sorts, soldandpawnedtheir bed-
dingandtheir clothes' to buy themselves thefreedomof thenew
royal incorporationof thesuburbs of London? 'Andwhenall
was done, it provedacheat: thus was theking's coffers filled
That of courseis propaganda, not to betakentoo literally.
But therecanbeno doubt of thebloody-mindedness of other
ranks inthearmy whichCharles collectedto opposetheScottish
invasionof 1640. Thecommonpeople('menwithno shirts', a
disgruntledroyalist calledthem)
took anunusually active
shareinelections for thetwo Parliaments of 1640, ontheanti-
court side- oftenintroducinganelement of class hostility as
well. Thus inHighWycombeall four candidates for theShort
Parliament wereopponents of thecourt, but two of themrepre-
sentedthepopular party* against thelocal rulingoligarchy.
InEssex oneof 'therudevulgar people' threatenedto 'tear the
gentlemento pieces' if thepopular candidatewas not elected
for thecounty. At Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, bargemen,
10. Quotedby M. Ashley, LifeinStuart England(1964), pp. 21-2.
It. InJoanThirsk (ed.), TheAgrarianHistoryof EnglandandWales,
IV, C1500-1640) (CambridgeU.P., 1967), pp. 620-21.
12. Robert Wharton, A DeclarationtoGreat BritainandIreland,
shewingthedownfall of their Princes, andwhereforeit is comeupon
them(1649), p. 3.
13. Lowndes MSS. (H.M.C.), p. 549.
14. L. J. Ashford, TheHistoryof theBoroughof HighWycombe
(I960), pp. 133-4. I amgrateful to Dr A. M. Johnsonfor pointingout
to methat this electionwas for theShort, not theLongParliament.
labourers, shopkeepers - 'theordinary sort of townsmen', led
by 'acountry fellowinaplainandmeanhabit' - put uptheir
owncandidateagainst thelocal landlordwho hadcourt con-
nections - andwon.
Yet whentheLongParliament founditself facedby aking
who refusedto surrender to their demands, they wereforcedto
look for support outsidethecharmedcircleof therulingclass.
InLondoncrowds of demonstrators used'to flock unto West-
minster' inmoments of crisis. They were, 'most of them, men
of meanor amiddlequality themselves, havingno aldermen,
merchants or Common-Council menamongthem.:. They were
modest intheir apparel but not intheir language.' (Onewater-
manindeedtoldtheLordMayor inMay 1641that 'it was
Parliament timenow,' andthat 'theLordMayor was but their
slave'). Thepresent hatredof thecitizens was suchunto gentle-
men, especially courtiers, that fewdurst comeinto theCity, or
if they did, they weresureto receiveaffronts andbeabused.'
A royalist calledtheGrandRemonstranceof November 1641
'that appeal to thepeople',
andhewas quiteright: it was
printedanddistributedthroughout thecountry. All major
speeches by oppositionM.P.S werepublishedandwidely cir-
culated: wemay besurethey werereadanddiscussedin
taverns andale-houses. Carefully organizedpetitions of support
for Parliament pouredinfromthecounties from1641on-
wards : collectingsignatures for thesemust havebeenanovel
andvery effectiveway of drawingordinary peopleinto political
This backgroundof social insubordinationnaturally in-
fluencedmenof property whenthey hadto choosefor Kingor
Parliament ontheoutbreak of civil war. Theroyalismof Richard
Dowdeswell, agent to Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, Mrs
Prestwichtells us, stemmedfromaconcernfor social order, not
15. C.S.P.D., 1639-40, pp. 608-9; M. R. Freer, TheElectionof Great
Marlowin1640*, J.M.H., XIV, pp. 434-45.
16. WilliamLilly, Several Observations ontheLifeandDeathof King
Charles (1651) inSelect Tracts, ed. F. Maseres (1815) I, pp. 169-70; M.
James, Social Problems andPolicyduringthePuritanRevolution(1930),
p. 375.
17. [Bruno RyvesJ AngliaeRuina (1647), p. 176.
frompositiveloyalty to Kingor church. Thecountenances of
menareso altered', hewroteinOctober 1642, 'especially of the
meanandmiddlerank of men, that theturningof astrawwould
set awholecounty inaflameandoccasiontheplunderingof
any man's houseor goods.'
'Whenever necessity shall force
us to makeuseof themultitude,' Sir JohnPotts wroteto Sir
Simonds D'Ewes inAugust 1642, 'I do not promisemyself
safety.' So hewas still workingfor acompromisepeace.
war camebothPotts andD'Ewes chosethesideof Parliament,
but thelatter too reflectedthat 'all right andproperty, all meun
et tuum, must ceaseinacivil war, andweknownot what
advantagethemeaner sort also may taketo dividethespoils of
therichandnobleamongst them, who beginalready [1642] to
allegethat all beingof onemouldthereis no reasonthat some
shouldhaveso muchandothers so little'.
'What do youtell
meof birthanddescent?' criedaNorthamptonshiresectary in
July 1643. 'I hopewithinthis year to seenever agentlemanin
Thecivil-war years sawthebreakdownof churchcourts and
thecensorship; judges no longer went oncircuit. Theactual
fightingwas not very devastating, at least by comparisonwith
what was goingoninGermany at thesametime. But insome
areas lawandorder brokedowncompletely. InGloucestershire
royalists plunderedany clothier; menassumedthat 'theclothiers
throughthewholekingdomwererebels by their trade'.
tween1643and1645theVerneys inBuckinghamshirewere
collectingless thantenper cent of rents due.
18. M. Prestwich, Cranfield: Politics andProfits under theEarlyStuarts
(OxfordU.P., 1966), pp. 569,577.
19. D. Underdown, Pride's Purge, p. 60.
20. Quotedby P. Zagorin, TheCourt andtheCountry(1969), p. 323.
21. fRyves] AngliaeRuina, p. 96. ('Gentlemenshouldbeas rareas
whitebulls inNorfolk,* oneof Ket's rebels hadsaidnearly acentury
22. E. Warburton, PrinceRupert andtheCavaliers (1849), II, pp.
104-5; Beaufort MSS. (H.M.C.), p. 23, whichgives aneconomic ex-
planationof this social phenomenon, cf. EdwardHyde, Earl of Claren-
don, Historyof theRebellion, ed. W. D. Macray (OxfordUJP., 1888)
II, p. 464.
23. S. R. Gardiner, TheGreat Civil War (1891-3) III, p. 209.
Dowdeswell, also fromGloucestershire, complainedthat 'such
kindof peopleas thetenants aredo nowtakeno small liberty
over their betters. They that seeit not cannot believeit.'
Beforecivil war startedCharles I hadwarnedthesupporters
of Parliament of thedanger that *at last thecommonpeople'
may 'set upfor themselves, call parity andindependenceliberty,
... destroy all rights andproperties, all distinctions of families
TheScottishpoet Drummondhadthesamenight-
marethreeyears earlier, asking'whether thesegreat commo-
tions anddiscords may not dissolveinheliumservile, and
peasants, clowns, farmers, basepeopleall inarms, may not
swallowthenobles andgentry, invest their possessions, adhere
together by anewCovenant, andfollowour example.'
followour example': thegentry by encouragingrevolt inScot-
landandEnglandhadbrokenthechainof degree, disrupted
thelongacceptedhierarchy of subordination; they hadonly
themselves to blamefor what followed. Many observers feared
that thecommonpeople, thosebelowtherank of yeoman,
wouldset upfor themselves as athirdparty. This happenedin
1645, whengroups of countrymen(Clubmen) all over western
andsouthernEnglandtook uparms to opposeroyalists and
parliamentarians alike. They couldnot bedisperseduntil they
werefacedby theNewModel Army, withits regular pay and
strict discipline. Tinker Fox, theBirminghamblacksmithwho
hadledpopular forces against theroyalists intheearly years of
thewar, seemedto besettinghimself upas anindependent
thirdforceintheMidlands until theNewModel Army pushed
himtoo into thebackground.
TheNewModel, thecreationof whichhadbeenso fiercely
opposedby conservatives, seemedto havesavedthesocial
order: this no doubt was thecalculationof many M.P.S who
24. Preslwich, op. cit., p. 570.
25. Charles I's Answer to theNineteenPropositions, 18June1642.
26. W. Drummond, TheMagical Mirror (1639) quotedby D. Masson
inDrummondof Hawthornden(1873), p. 306.
27. J. W. Willis-Bund,
A Civil War Parliament Soldier: Tinker Fox',
AssociatedArchitectural Societies' Reports andPapers, XXV, pp. 373-
votedfor it. But theNewModel, as it was to declareproudly in
June1647, was 'no meremercenary Army'; it was thecommon
peopleinuniform, closer to their views thanto thoseof the
gentry or Parliament. Andthefreediscussionwhichwas per-
mittedinthis uniquearmy ledto afantastically rapiddevelop-
ment of political thinking.
Inadditionto, or expressing, theseclass tensions therewas a
traditionof plebeiananti-clericalismandirreligion. To go no
further back, theLollards carriedapopular versionof John
Wyclifs heresies into thesixteenthcentury. Professor A. G.
Dickens has shownhowLollardinfluencesurvivedinapopular
materialist scepticismwhichmakes one'feel appreciably nearer
to theageof Voltairethanis normal inthe16thcentury'.
carpenter in1491rejectedtransubstantiation, baptism, con-
fession, andsaidmenwouldnot bedamnedfor sin; in1512a
Wakefieldmansaid'that if acalf wereuponthealtar I would
rather worshipthat thanthe... holy sacrament ... Thedate
was past that Goddeterminedhimto beinformof bread.'
Theclergy, anearlier Lollardhaddeclared, wereworsethan
Judas, who soldChrist for thirty pence, whilepriests sold
masses for ahalfpenny.
Thecommons, saidanother, 'would
never bewell until they hadstrickenoff all thepriests' heads'.
Therewas asayinginthecountry,' anorthYorkshireman
pleadedin1542, 'that amanmight lift uphis heart andconfess
himself to GodAlmighty andneedednot to beconfessedat a
priest.' A shearmanof Dewsbury elaboratedonthis point: he
wouldnot confess his offences withawomanto apriest, 'for
thepriest wouldbeas ready withintwo or threedays
after to useher as he'.
Mr K. V. Thomas has collecteda
28. A. G. Dickens, Lollards andProtestants intheDioceseof York,
1509-1559(1959), p. 13.
29. ibid., pp. 9, 17. James Nayler, whomweshall frequently meet later,
was bornnear Wakefield. Seepp. 248-58below.
30. J. A. F. Thomson, TheLater Lollards (OxfordU.P., 1965), p. 247.
Thejibewas common: seeDickens, op. cit., p. 18.
31. Dickens, op. cit., pp. 12,47-8.
number of similar examples under Elizabethandthefirst two
Stuarts - denial of theresurrection, of theexistenceof God
(very commoninthedioceseof Exeter at theendof thesix-
teenthcentury) or thedevil; all things comeby nature. He
emphasizes howwrongit is to describeall suchfifteenth- and
early sixteenth-century expressions of irreligionas 'Lollardy',
andexpostulates withembarrassedhistorians who dismiss them
as theproducts of drunks or madmen.
Suchmentendedto becalledAnabaptists or Familists by
their enemies. Thesenames - familiar enoughonthecontinent
- werevery loosely appliedinEngland: most of our evidence
comes fromhostileaccounts inthechurchcourts.
tial doctrineof Anabaptismwas that infants shouldnot be
baptized. Acceptanceof baptism- receptioninto thechurch-
shouldbethevoluntary act of anadult. This clearly subverted
theconcept of anational churchto whichevery Englishman
andwomanbelonged: it envisagedinsteadtheformationof
voluntary congregations by thosewho believedthemselves to be
theelect. AnAnabaptist must logically object to payment of
tithes, thetenper cent of everyone's earnings which, intheory
at least, went to support theministers of thestatechurch. Many
Anabaptists refusedto swear oaths, sincethey objectedto a
religious ceremony beingusedfor secular judicial purposes;
others rejectedwar andmilitary service. Still morewerealleged
to carry egalitarianismto theextent of denyingaright to
privateproperty. Thenamecameto beusedinageneral pejora-
tivesenseto describethosewho werebelievedto opposethe
existingsocial andpolitical order.
Familists, members of theFamily of Love, canbedefineda
littlemoreprecisely. They werefollowers of Henry Niclaes,
borninMunster in1502, who taught that heavenandhell were
to befoundinthis world. Niclaes was allegedto havebeena
collaborator of Thomas Munzer ininsurrectionat Amster-
32. K. V. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic (1971), pp.
33. SeeC. Burrage, TheEarlyEnglishDissenters (CambridgeU.P.,
1912) 2vols, passim; H. F. M. Prescott, MaryTudor (1952), p. 108.
ThePuritandivineJohnKnewstubsaidof him: 'H.N.
turns religionupsidedown. Hebuildethheavenhereupon
earth; hemakethGodmanandmanGod/
Bacon, Familists believedthat menandwomenmight recapture
onearththestateof innocencewhichexistedbeforetheFall:
their enemies saidthey claimedto attaintheperfectionof
Christ. They heldtheir property incommon, believedthat all
things comeby nature, andthat only thespirit of Godwithin
thebeliever canproperly understandScripture.
They turned
theBibleinto allegories, eventheFall of Man, complained
Familismwas spreadinEnglandby Christo-
pher Vittels, anitinerant joiner of Dutchorigin. Inthe1570s
EnglishFamilists werenotedto bewayfaringtraders, or 'cow-
herds, clothiers andsuch-likemeanpeople
. They believedin
principlethat ministers shouldbeitinerants, liketheApostles.
They wereincreasingdaily by 1579, numerous inthediocese
of Ely in1584, also inEast AngliaandtheNorthof England.
They wereparticularly difficult for theecclesiastical authori-
ties to root out because- likemany Lollards beforethem-
they wereready to recant whencaught, but not to giveuptheir
opinions. TheFamily of theMount heldevenmoresubversive
views. They wereallegedto reject prayer, to deny theresurrec-
tionof thebody. They questionedwhether any heavenor hell
existedapart fromthis life: heavenwas whenmenlaughand
aremerry, hell was sorrow, grief andpain.
Familism, developingthelower-class scepticismof theLol-
lards, was ananti-clerical, layman's creed. Inthis it fittedthe
temper of Elizabethansociety, whenmembers of many congre-
34. D. B. Herict, 'AnabaptisminEnglandduringthe16thand17th
centuries', Transactions of theCongregational HistorySoc., XII, p. 271.
35. J. Knewstub, A Confutationof Monstrous andHorribleHeresies
taught byJET. N. (1579), quotedby R. M. Jones, Studies inMystical Re-
ligion(1909), p. 443.
36. Strype, Annals, II, pt i, p. 563; cf. C.SJP.D., 1648-9, p. 425.
37. Perkins, Works, III, p. 392; cf. my Antichrist inSeventeenth'-Century
England(OxfordU.P., 1971), pp. 142-3,145.
38. Strype, Annals, II, pt i, p. 487; pt ii, p. 289; ed. A. Peel, TheSeconde
Parteof a Register (1915) I, p. 230; J. Rogers, TheDisplayingof an
horriblesecte, sig. Kv.; cf. J. O. W. Haweis, Sketches of theReforma-
gations, increasinginwealthandself-confidence, weremoreand
morecritical of traditional clerical claims. Innumerous Eliza-
bethanparishes wherethereis no reasonto suspect anything
so subversiveas Familism, theminister was pushedonby his
congregationto reject theceremonies andvestments of the
For thebreachwithRomeandespecially the
radical measures of EdwardVFs reignhadopeneduphopes
of acontinuingreformationwhichwouldtotally overthrow
thecoercivemachinery of thestatechurch. TheElizabethan
settlement bitterly disappointedexpectations that aprotestant
churchwoulddiffer frompopery inthepower whichit allowed
to bishops andclergy. Theepiscopal hierarchy cameto be
seenas themainobstacleto radical reform. Puritanattacks on
this hierarchy aresometimes dismissedas propagandist exag-
gerations, thoughwhenever wecancheck their statements
they provesurprisingly reliable. But themost impressiveevi-
dencefor theunpopularity of bishops andclergy comes not
fromtheir opponents but fromtheir defenders.
Theopeningwords of BishopCooper's Admonitionto the
Peopleof England(1589) speak of 'theloathsomecontempt,
hatredanddisdainthat themost part of meninthesedays
bear ... towards theministers of thechurchof God'. Heattri-
butedsuchviews especially to thecommonpeople, who 'have
conceivedanheathenishcontempt of religionandadisdainful
loathingof theministers thereof'.
Theministers of the
world,' Archbishop Sandys confirmed, 'are becomecon-
temptibleintheeyes of thebasest sort of people.'
manwas presentedto thechurchcourts for sayingthat he
tionandElizabethanAgetakenfromthecontemporarypulpit (1844), p.
200; G. H. Williams, TheRadical Reformation(Philadelphia, 1962), pp.
479-84, 788-90; G. K. Hyland, A Centuryof Persecution(1920), pp. 102-
12, 332-3. Seep. 47belowfor Ely, 'that islandof errors andsec-
39. P. Collinson, TheElizabethanPuritanMovement (1967), pp. 92-7.
40. T. Cooper, AnAdmonitiontothePeopleof England, ed. E. Arber
(1895), pp. 9, 175; cf. pp. 102-3, 118-19, 139, 144-5, 148, 159. My
41. Quotedby L. Stone, TheCrisis of theAristocracy, 1558-1641(Ox-
fordU.P., 1965), p. 406; Collinson, op. cit., p. 147.
wouldrather trust athief thanapriest, alawyer or aWelsh-
If wemaintainthings that areestablished,' complained
RichardHooker, *wehave. •. to strivewithanumber of heavy
prejudices deeply rootedinthehearts of men, who think that
hereinweservethetimeandspeak infavour of thepresent
statebecausethereby weeither holdor seek preferment.*
Thomas Brightmanin1615confirmedthat hostility to thehier-
archy 'is nowfavouredmuchof thepeopleandmultitude'.
Werecall theoatmeal-maker who, ontrial beforetheHigh
CommissioninApril 1630, saidthat hewouldnever takeoff
his hat to bishops. 'But youwill to Privy Councillors,' hewas
urged. Thenas youarePrivy Councillors,' quothhe, T put off
my hat; but as youaretherags of thebeast, lo! I put it on
JoanHoby of Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire, saidfour
years later 'that shedidnot careapinnor afart for my Lord's
Graceof Canterbury . -. andshedidhopethat sheshouldlive
to seehimhanged'.
(Laudwas infact executedelevenyears
later, but wedo not knowwhether JoanHoby was still
Further evidenceof theunpopularity of thewholechurch
establishment is to befoundinthepopular iconoclasmwhich
brokeout whenever opportunity offered: inthelate1630s and
40s altar rails werepulleddown, altars desecrated, statues
ontombs destroyed, ecclesiastical documents burnt, pigs and
horses baptized. Ts it well doneof our soldiers,' askedThe
Souldiers Catechismeof 1644, 'to break downcrosses and
images wherethey meet withany?' Theanswer was, rather
shamefacedly, 'I confess that nothingought to bedoneina
42. F. W. X. Fincham, 'Notes fromtheEcclesiastical Court Records
at Somerset House', T.RHJ5., 4thSeries (1921), p. 136.
43. Hooker, Of theLaws of Ecclesiastical Polity(Everymanedn) I, p.
148; cf. I. Walton, TheUfe of Mr RichardHooker (1655) inLives
(World's Classics edn), p. 185.
44. Brightman, TheRevelationof St JohnIllustrated(4thedn, 1644),
p. 139. First published, posthumously, in1615; Brightmandiedin1607.
45. Ed. R. F. Williams, Court andTimes of Charles I (1848) II, p. 71.
46. LambethMS. 943, f. 721. Colnbrook will recur inour story. See
p. 127below.
tumultuous manner. But seeingGodhathput theswordof
reformationinto thesoldiers
hand, I think it is not amiss that
they shouldcancel anddemolishthosemonuments of super-
stitionandidolatry, especially seeingthemagistrateandthe
minister that shouldhavedoneit formerly neglectedit.'
early was thearmy rank andfileencouragedto usurpthefunc-
tions of minister andmagistrate.
In1641therewereninehundredpetitions against allegedly
'scandalous' ministers, onefromevery tenparishes intheland.
Sincethey camemainly fromtheSouthandEast, thepro-
portioninthoseareas is far higher. 'If themeanest andmost
vicious parishioner they hadcouldbebrought to prefer a
petitionto theHouseof Commons against his minister/
Clarendontells us, thelatter was sureto beprosecutedas
It was 'thevery dregs andscumof every parish'
who petitionedagainst 'theorthodox clergy', aroyalist pam-
phlet of 1643declared.
In1641, 'whenthegladtidings were
brought to Chelmsfordthat episcopacy was voteddownby
theHouseof Commons, all usual expressions of anexulting
joy wereused', and'bonfires werekindledinevery street'.
1642wefindsoldiers plunderingall ministers, royalist or Parlia-
mentarian, andtherewas muchrabblingof theroyalist clergy.
FromLondonitself thereis agreat deal of evidencefor un-
popularity of bishops andparishclergy inthe1640s.
All this
throws retrospectivelight ontherelationshipof churchand
commonpeoplebeforetheRevolution. It is amatter of the
advancingeducationandself-confidenceof congregations -
especially urbancongregations - at least as muchas of the
inadequacies of theclergy. Thereis scarceamanthat can
47. TheSouldiers Catechisme(1644), pp. 20-21.
48. Clarendon, Historyof theRebellion, I, p. 449.
49. [Anon.] A Letter fromMercurius Civicus toMercurius Rusticus
(1643) inSomers' Tracts (1748-51) V, p. 415; c£. J. Nalson, AnImpartial
Collection(1682) II, p. 760.
50. [RyvesJ AngliaeRuina, p. 26.
51. [W. Chestlin] PersecutioUndedma (1681), pp. 4, 6-7(first published
1648); E. L. Warner, TheLifeof JohnWarner, Bishopof Rochester
(1901), p. 33; P. Barwick, Lifeof Dr JohnBarwick, ed. G. F. Barwick
(1903), p. 177,
readEnglish,' grumbledThomas Adams, "scarceawomanthat
canmakeherself ready to church, but will presumeto teach
theminister, andeither wemust preachwhat youwill hear, or
youwill not hear what wepreach.'
Therewas further complaint of interferenceby church
courts intheprivatelives of ordinary menandwomen, to an
extent that wouldbethought quiteintolerabletoday. Looking
back in1653anex-officer intheParliamentary army who had
becomeaparsonsaidthat theLaudian'firebrands of statemade
thebishops odious to thegentry andcommonalty' of England
andScotland. Thepeoplealso generally disliked, their rigour
incitingthemto their courts for workingonholidays or marry-
ingwithout alicenceor uponagroundless suspicionof un-
chastity. Many suchpoor pretences, merely to drainthepeople's
purses, didtheir officers make.'
It was thus nothingnewwhenin1642theRev. Edmund
Calamy toldtheHouseof Commons that 'thepeoplecomplain
of their ministers, that they aredumbdogs, greedy dogs, which
cannever haveenough'.
They also complainedthat university-
educateddivines tendedto bemembers of therulingclass, 'full
of all outwardnecessaries'.
to 'thegreatest of theparish, who werenot always thebest, to
prescribewhat religionthey pleasedto parishioners'.
It was
'under pretenceof religion', Thomas Hobbes wrotein1651,
that 'thelower sort of citizens ... do challenge[liberty] to
WilliamTyndalein1528hadallegedthat thehierarchy of
his day saidto Kingandlords 'theseheretics wouldhaveus
downfirst, andthenyou, to makeof all common'.
52. T. Adams, Works (1629-30), p. 76.
53. E[dmund] H[all] A Scriptural DiscourseontheApostasieandthe
Antichrist (1653), sig. B 3v-B 4.
54. E. Calamy, Englands Looking-glasse(1642), p. 59.
55. E. How, TheSufficiencyof theSpirit's Teaching(8thedn, 1792),
p. 51andpassim. First publishedintheNetherlands in1639.
56. Ed. C. H. Firth, Ludlow's Memoirs (OxfordU.P., 1894), I, p. 367.
57. T. Hobbes, Philosophical Rudiments (1651) inEnglishWorks, ed.
Sir W. Molesworth(1839-45) II, p. 79.
58. Tyndale, Doctrinal Treatises (Parker Soc., 1848), p. 247.
ment was repeatedby theElizabethanbishopBancroft, and
becameacommonplace. Thetitlewhichbishops haveto their
saidRichardHooker withunusually crudedirectness,
'is as goodas thetitleof any sort of men' to their property; and
hewarnedthat by receptionof thePresbyteriandisciplinethe
worldmight be'cleanturnedupsidedown'.
It was abishop
who inthe1650s recordedJames I's famous epigramas 'No
bishop, no king, no nobility': Svhich, as yousee, hathfallen
out accordingto his prediction'.
Oliver Cromwell's first re-
cordedspeechintheLongParliament attackedtheviewthat
parity inthechurchmust necessarily leadto parity inthe
Most defenders of episcopacy inthedebates of 1641
basedtheir arguments onsocial rather thanreligious grounds.
Bothsides wereawareof therisks whichappealingto the
commonpeopleinvolved; but thesimplefact remainedthat
theroyalists couldnot bebeatenwithout armingandtaxing
ordinary people. ' "Thegenerality of thepeoplemust been-
gaged,'" theLeveller RichardOvertonimaginedtheParlia-
mentary leaders spying;' "andhowmust this bedone? Why,"
say they, "wemust associatewiththat part of theclergy that
arenowmadeunderlings.'" But '"wemust becareful the
supremepower fall not into thepeople's hands" \
was almost as cynical as that whenhedeclared'If menwould
say they took uparms for anythingbut religion, they might
bebeatenout of it by reason; out of that they never can, for
they will not believeyouwhatever yousay.' Francis Osborne
spokeof religion'inwhichthepoor claimno less ampleashare
thantherich; all beingnotedto fight withthegreater animosity
for theworldto come, theless they findthemselves possessed
of inthis'.
59. Hooker, Works (OxfordU.P., 1836) III. p. 402; TheLaws of
Ecclesiastical Polity(Everymanedn.), I, p. 132.
60. G. Goodman, TheCourt of KingJames I (1839) I, p. 421.
61. Ed. W. Notestein, Journal of Sir Simonds D'Ewes (YaleU.P., 1923),
p. 340.
62. Wolfe, pp. 118-19.
63. J. Selden, TableTalk(1847) pp. 196-7; F. Osborne, Political Re-
flections upontheGovernment of theTurks
inMiscellaneous Works
(1722) II, p. 238.
But weneednot doubt thesincerity of thegreat numbers
of preachers who proclaimedthat Parliament's causewas
God's, andthat - whatever Charles I's subjectiveintentions -
his government was objectively forwardingthecauseof the
RomanAntichrist. Theroyalists were'theantichristianparty'.
Suchpreachers drewonalongtradition. Foxe's Acts and
Monuments establishedapedigreefor protestantismamong
Lollardheretics andMarianmartyrs, andsuppliedevidence
for theideathat it is especially thepoor who standupagainst
Antichrist. SomeEnglishprotestants cameto seethemselves
as God's chosenpeople.
TheThirty Years War (1618-48) on
theEuropeancontinent lookedlikeadeath-grapplebetween
protestant andcatholic, andhadgivenwidespreadcredence
to theviewof aninfluential groupof Biblescholars, that the
endof theworldwas at hand.
It was natural for those
preachers who genuinely believedthat Charles I's government
was antichristianto seethecivil war as thebeginningof cata-
clysmic events andto call ontheir congregations to support
thecauseof Parliament. They encouragedexpectations that
Christ's kingdomwas at hand- expectations whichJohnMil-
tonamongmany others shared. What turnedout to beespeci-
ally dangerous was thewholly traditional view, repeatedby
many of thepreachers, that thecommonpeoplehadavery
special roleto play inthis crisis, that they weresomehowmore
chosenthantherichandthepowerful. Thevoicethat will
comeof Christ's reigningis liketo beginfromthosethat are
themultitude, that areso contemptibleespecially intheeyes
of Antichrist's spirits andtheprelacy.' Thewords arethose
of aperfectly respectableIndependent divine, by no means an
extremeradical, who believedthelast times wouldbeginin
Thereweremany similar sermons preached: the
64. Seemy Antichrist inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, pp. 78-88.
65. For therespectiveshares of FoxeandBrightmaninestablishing
this tradition, seetheOxfordD.Phil. thesis of Mrs K. R. Firth, The
Apocalyptic TraditioninEarly Protestant Historiography inEnglandand
Scotland, 1530-1655' (1971).
66. Seepp. 92-8below.
67. [Thomas Goodwin] A Glimpseof Sions Glory, inWoodhouse,
p. 234.
doctrinebecamealmost orthodox ontheParliamentary side.
A littleimaginationwill convey to us theeffect of this
prospect inconditions of economic andpolitical crisis, when
Parliament itself was callingthecommonpeopleto political
actionfor the first timeinhistory, whentheaccreditedpreachers
of God's wordnot only proclaimedthat themillenniumwas
approachingbut told'youthat areof themeaner rank, com-
that they wereto taketheleadinforwarding
Christ's cause.
All this at atimewhencensorshipandgovern-
ment control hadbrokendown, whenhitherto suppressedsects
wereableto meet openly, whenmechanic preachers couldex-
tendandelaborateontheteachingof their betters. Thevulgar
mind,' Sir EdwardDeringsaidin1642, is 'nowfondwith
imaginary hopes. What will theissuebe, whenhopes grow
still onhopes?'
Theprospect was enoughto bringSir Ed-
ward's ownbrief periodof radicalismto anend. A royalist
lookingback from1648notedthat 'heresy is always thefore-
runner of rebellion'. Hespokeof:
that fatal liberty of thesubject, whichtheprofanevulgar inthe
beginningof thesedisorders so passionately petitionedtheParlia-
ment to grant them, who intendingto savethemselves of their
blindfury, not only sufferedbut applaudedtheir violenceto their
neighbours; but likeunskilful conjurors they oftenraisedthose
spirits whichthey could[not] lay; for under cover of zeal to the
cause, thepoor levelledthe richof bothparties.. .
'All sortsof peopledreamedof anUtopiaandinfiniteliberty,
especiallyinmattersof religion,' another royalist confirmed
in thesameyear.
ThevoxpopuliysaidStephenMarshall inasermonpreached
beforetheHouseof Commons inDecember 1641, 'is that many
of thenobles, magistrates, knights andgentlemen, andpersons
of great quality, arearrant traitors andrebels against God.'
A Puritanminister couldhardly haveput it morestrongly
68. Woodhouse, loc. cit.
69. Sir E. Dering, A Collectionof Speeches (1642), p. 166.
70. Beaufort MSS. (H.M.C.), pp. 23,27-8.
71. [Chestlin] PersecutioUndecima, p. 8.
72. S. Marshall, ReformationandDesolation(1642), p. 45.
thanthat. It is not surprisingthat thehint was takenupby
many outsideParliament who wouldnot needto bereminded
that voxpopuli was'also voxdei. Nor indeedwas this class
emphasis new. As longago as the1620s that neglectedradical
thinker Thomas Scott had, inapamphlet calledVoxPopuli,
pointedto great landowners as of theSpanish, i.e. theanti-
christian, faction.
In1642preachers werequoting'When
AdamdelvedandEvespan, Who was thenthegentleman?*
So it was only adevelopment, not adaringinnovation, when
Christopher Feakein1646declaredthat therewas an'enmity
against Christ' inaristocracy andmonarchy.
Therewas thenalongtraditionof popular materialist scepti-
cismandanti-clericalism; therewas theFamilist traditionthat
Christ was withinevery believer; therewas thesectariantradi-
tionof oppositionto astatechurch, to thetithes whichpaid
for its ministers andto thepatronagesystemwhichensured
that its clergy wereappointedby therulingclass.
also themillenarianhopes built upby thePuritanpreachers.
It is hardly surprisingthat thebreakdownof censorshipand
theestablishment of effectivereligious tolerationlet loosea
floodof speculationthat hitherto hadonly beenmutteredin
secret. InEnglandas inSwitzerland'thelower sort of people
beingbredinanancient hatredagainst superiors', greedily em-
bracedthedoctrines of Anabaptism.
Anabaptists, William
Gougetoldhis shockedCity congregationinthe1620s, teach
that all arealikeandthat thereis no differencebetwixt masters
Intheearly 1640s attitudes towards thelower-class heresy
73. T. Scott, VoxPopuli (1620) sig. B2-B3v; TheSecondPart of Vox
Populi (1624), p. 16.
74. PortlandMSS. (H.M.C.) III, p. 86; cf. Sir Thomas Aston, Bart, A
Surveyof Presbitery(1641) sig. 14v.
75. T. Edwards, Gangraena, pt III (1646), pp. 147-8.
76. Seemy Economic Problems of theChurch(OxfordU.P., 1965)
passim, andMargaret James, "ThePolitical Importanceof theTithes
Controversy intheEnglishRevolution, 1640-1660', History, XXVI,
PP. 1-18.
77. R. Blome, TheFanatickHistory(1660), p. 5.
78. W. Gouge, Of Domestical! Duties (1626), pp. 331-2.
of Familismwerealmost thetest of radicalism. JohnMilton
defendedFamilists. TheLeveller WilliamWalwynaskedthe
enemies of theFamily of Love, 'What family areyouof, I
JohnHales of Etoncondescendingly observedthat
'sometimeor other those finenotions will takeintheworld'.
Hales was amember of Falkland's set at Great Tew, acol-
lectionof intellectuals who discussedliberal theories together
inthat depopulatedparish. But whilethey weretalking, Wal-
wynandhundreds likehimwerewalkingthestreets of Lon-
don, discussing, organizing, canvassingthe'finenotions' with
theintentionof makingthem'takeintheworld'. They came
near to turningit upsidedown- so near that themembers of
theGreat Tewcirclesupportedtheroyalists inthecivil war.
Thesects insistedthat ministers shouldbeelectedby the
congregationandpaidby thevoluntary contributions of its
members; many of themdeniedtheneedfor aseparateclergy
at all, andwouldhavehadagiftedlaymanpreachonSunday
whilst labouringwithhis hands theother six days of theweek.
They advocatedtolerationfor all protestant sects, rejecting
ecclesiastical censorshipandall forms of ecclesiastical juris-
dictioninfavour of acongregational disciplinewithno coercive
sanctionbehindit. They attachedlittleimportanceto many of
thetraditional sacraments of thechurch. Their programme
wouldhavedestroyedthenational church, leavingeachcongre-
gationresponsiblefor its ownaffairs withonly theloosest
contact betweencongregations; thechurchwouldno longer
havebeenableto mouldopinioninasinglepattern, to punish
'sin' or proscribe'heresy'. Therewouldhavebeenno control
over thethinkingof themiddleandlower classes.
Theattempt inthe1640s to replacechurchcourts by a
Presbyteriandisciplinary system- later describedas 'Egyptian
bondageto keepupandmaintaintheoppressionof tithes'
79. [Walwyn] ThePower of Love(1643) inHaller, Tracts onLibertyin
thePuritanRevolution, 1638-1647(ColumbiaU.P., 1933) II, p. 273;
for Miltonseep. 395below.
80. J. Aubrey, Brief Lives (OxfordU.P., 1898) I, p. 279. For Familism
seepp. 26-8above.
81. Ludlow, Memoirs, I, pp. 545-6.
ledto fiercehostility against what Lilburnecalled'thedevil
andtheclergy his agents', andalater pamphlet calledthe'black
guardof Satan'.
'Without apowerful compulsivepresbytery
inthechurch,' reflectedtheLeveller RichardOvertonin1646,
'acompulsivemastershipof aristocratical government over
thepeopleinthestatecouldnever longbemaintained.'
necks of thepeopleof theworld,' thought theRev. William
Dell in1653, 'havenever enduredso grievous ayokefrom
any tyrants as fromthedoctrineanddominationof the
Thedemandfor separationof churchandstatewas
ademandfor thesubordinationof theclergy, for anendto
their coerciveauthority. Inevitably, utterly inevitably, discus-
sions amongtheseparatist congregations spreadover fromre-
ligionto politics. Intheintoxicatingnewfreedomof theearly
1640s no holds werebarred.
Theallegations of royalist propagandists shouldalways be
usedwithcaution. But Bruno Ryves's account of theprinciples
heldby thelower classes of Chelmsfordat thebeginningof the
civil war bears sufficient resemblanceto ideas that developed
later to beworthsummarizing. Kings, theseplebeians thought,
areburdens. Therelationof master andservant has no ground
intheNewTestament; inChrist thereis neither bondnor free.
Ranks suchas thoseof thepeerageandgentry are'ethnical
andheathenishdistinctions'. Thereis no groundinnatureor
Scripturewhy onemanshouldhave£1000per annum, another
not £1. Thecommonpeoplehavebeenkept under blindness
andignorance, andhaveremainedservants andslaves to the
nobility andgentry. 'But Godhathnowopenedtheir eyes and
discoveredunto themtheir Christianliberty.' Gentlemenshould
bemadeto work for their living, or elseshouldnot eat. Learn-
inghas always beenanenemy to theGospel; it wereahappy
thingif therewereno universities, andall books except the
82. J. Lilburne, Londons LibertyinChains (1646), p. 42; [Anon], Light
ShininginBuckinghamshire(1648), p. 13, inSabine, p. 622. For this
pamphlet seealso p. 117below.
83. R. Overton, A Remonstranceof ManyThousandCitizens (1646),
p. 12, inHaller, Tracts onLiberty, III, p. 362.
84. Dell, Several Sermons andDiscourses (1709), p. 638.
Biblewereburnt. Any giftedmanmay bechosenby acongre-
gationas their minister.
Thepresentationis slanted; but ideas
very similar to thesewill recur inour story.
WhentheLeveller RichardOvertonwrote'I amconfident
that it must bethepoor, thesimpleaddmeanthings of this
earththat must confoundthemighty andstrong/ heseemed
only to berepeatingpreachers likeThomas Goodwin. But the
words occur inAnAppealefromthedegenerateRepresentative
BodytheCommons of England...to theBodyRepresented,
thefreepeopleingeneral (1647).
Overton's political appeal
was aimedespecially at thepeopleinarms intheNewModel
Army. At Putney inthesameyear representatives of therank
andfileclaimedthat since'thepoorer andmeaner of this
kingdom... havebeenthemeans of thepreservationof the
kingdom', 'thepoorest maninEngland' hadaright to choose
his owngovernment
In1649GerrardWinstanley sawthat
'thepoor must first bepickedout andhonouredinthis work,
for they beginto receivethewordof righteousness, but therich
generally areenemies to truefreedom'. Thepoor arethosein
whomtheblessinglies, for they first receivethegospel.'
againtheapparent continuity withthePuritanpreachers is de-
ceptive: for Winstanley 'thewordof righteousness', 'thegospel',
meant communism, subversionof theexistingsocial order.
'If youwouldfindtruemajesty indeed, go amongthepoor
despisedones of theearth... Thesegreat ones aretoo stately
houses for Christ to dwell in; hetakes uphis abodeina
manger, inandamongst thepoor inspirit anddespisedones
of theearth.'
85. [Ryves] AngliaeRuina, p. 27.
86. Wolfe, p. 188.
87. Woodhouse, pp. 55-7, 61, 69-71. Seep. 67belowfor thePutney
88. Sabine, pp. 337,181-2.
89. ibid., pp. 473-4. Seech. 7below.
Vagabonds ... whichdo nothingbut walk the
streets, wickedmen, tobehiredfor every man's
money todo any mischief, suchas wecommonly
call therascals andvery sink anddunghill knaves
of all towns anddties ... Intowhat country and
placesoever they come, they causeseditionand
Geneva Bible, marginal comment onActs xvii, 6
THE essenceof feudal society was thebondof loyalty and
dependencebetweenlordandman. Thesociety was hier-
archical instructure: somewerelords, others weretheir ser-
vants. 'Whosemanart thou?' demandedacharacter inoneof
Middleton's plays. Thereply, T amaservant, yet amasterless
man, sir,' at onceproducedtheincredulous retort, 'Howcan
that be?'
Theassumptions werethoseof arelatively static
agricultural society, withlocal loyalties andlocal controls: no
landandno manwithout alord. Reality never corresponded
to themodel, of course, andby thesixteenthcentury society
was becomingrelatively mobile: masterless menwereno
longer outlaws but existedinalarmingnumbers - 13,000,
mostly intheNorth, agovernment inquiry calculatedin1569;
30,000inLondonalone, it was guessedmorewildly in1602.
1. For theAuthorizedVersionof Acts xvii, 1-6seeepigraphonp. 12
above. TheretheGenevaBible's 'vagabonds' havebecome'lewdfellows
of thebaser sort'. Theobject of theGenevacomment is toturnthe
accusationof sedition, of subvertingthestateof theworld, away from
religious radicals andtoapply it tolower-class itinerants. Thesubverters
studiedinthis book wereoftenbothreligious radicals anditinerants.
2. T. Middleton, TheMayor of Queensborough, Act II, sceneiii. First
printed1661, thoughMiddletondiedin1627.
3. J. Strype, Annals of theReformation. . . duringQueenElizabeth's
happyreign(OxfordU.P., 1824) I, pt ii, p. 296; ed. W. Tlte, Diaryof
JohnManningham(CamdenSoc., 1868), p. 73.
Whatever their numbers suchmen- servants to nobody - were
anomalies, potential dissolvents of thesociety.
First, therewererogues, vagabonds andbeggars, roamingthe
countryside, sometimes insearchof employment, too often
mereunemployablerejects of asociety ineconomic transforma-
tion, whosepopulationwas expandingrapidly. Thenecessity
to economizeledlords to cut downtheir households; thequest
for profit ledto evictionof sometenants fromtheir holdings,
thebuyingout of others. Thefluctuationsof theearly capitalist
clothmarket brought wealthto afortunatefew, ruinto many.
Theinefficient andtheunlucky went to theroads. They caused
considerablepanic inrulingcircles duringthesixteenthcen-
tury, but they werenever aserious menaceto thesocial order.
Vagabonds attendedno church, belongedto no organized
social group. For this reasonit seemedalmost self-evident to
Calvinist theologians that they were'acursedgeneration'.
till 1644didlegislationinsist that rogues, vagabonds andbeg-
gars shouldbecompelledto attendchurchevery Sunday. Such
menwerealmost by definitionideologically unmotivated: they
couldsteal andplunder, but wereincapableof concertedrevolt.
Until the1640s thereseems to havebeenlittleconcerninthe
propertiedclasses to helpvagabonds. They presentedasecurity
problem, no more. Thereis plenty of evidenceof popular sym-
pathy for thedown-and-outs of society. Ordinary peoplewere
reluctant to call uponthefull penalties of thelawagainst them,
evenwhenthey stole. But it was not till therevolutionary
decades that weget pamphleteers arguingthat houses of cor-
rection, so far fromcuringbegging, weremorelikely to make
honest menvagabonds andbeggars by destroyingtheir reputa-
Secondly therewas London, whosepopulationmay havein-
creasedeight-foldbetween1500and1650. Londonwas for the
sixteenthcentury vagabondwhat thegreenwoodhadbeenfor
themedieval outlaw- ananonymous refuge. Therewas more
casual labour inLondonthananywhereelse, therewas more
charity, andtherewerebetter prospects for earningadishonest
4. P. andR., pp. 227-9; S. andP., p. 457.
5. e.g. Peter Chamberlen, ThePooreMans Advocate(1649), p. 47.
living. Inthelatesixteenthandearly seventeenthcenturies men
suddenly becameawareof theexistenceof acriminal under-
world. Its apparent novelty perhaps causedit to beover-
publicized: it was no doubt far less important thantheworld
of dock labour, watermen, buildinglabourers andjourneymen
of all sorts who hadno hopeof becomingmasters. (Non-
freeholders hadbeenexcludedfromskilledcrafts by theStatute
of Apprentices of 1563.) What matters for our purposes is the
existenceof alargepopulation, mostly livingvery near if not
belowthepoverty line,
littleinfluencedby religious or political
ideology but ready-madematerial for what beganinthelater
seventeenthcentury to becalled'themob'. Pymmay or may
not havecalledout suchsupport; forty years later Shaftesbury
almost certainly did. But 'themob" is basically non-political:
it couldbeusedby Presbyterians against theArmy in1647,
royalists in1660, by churchandkingmenunder Anne. It was,
intheprescient words of theGenevaBiblemargin, 'to behired
for every man's money to do any mischief'.
Its existencewas
always apotential threat, especially intimes of economic crisis.
A quitedifferent sort of masterless menweretheprotestant
sectaries. Thesehadas it werechosentheconditionof master-
lessness by optingout of thestatechurch, so closely modelled
onthehierarchical structureof society, so tightly controlledby
parsonandsquire. Sects werestrongest inthetowns, wherethey
createdhospitablecommunities for men, oftenimmigrants, who
aspiredto keepthemselves abovethelevel of casual labour and
pauperism: small craftsmen, apprentices, serious-mindedlabor-
ious men, all couldrecognizeeachother as theelect inagodless
world. As soonas they werefreeto functionlegally, thesects
6. Suchpopulations existedonasmaller scaleinother towns, but there
they couldmoreeasily becontrolledby rulingoligarchies withthesupport
of thelocal gentry.
7. Perhaps weshoulddifferentiatebetweenCity mobs andthefreer
populationof thesuburbs. Theinhabitants of Southwark calledonthe
Army to interveneinLondoninAugust andSeptember 1647, to over-
throwPresbyteriancontrol of theCity basedonsome'mob' support (B.
Whitelocke, Memorials of theEnglishAffairs [1682], pp. 263-5). Seepp.
8. Seeepigraphto this chapter.
organizedsocial services, poor relief etc., for their members:
they providedsocial insuranceinthis worldas well as inthe
Suchmenwerehighly motivated, andthey carriedto its
logical conclusiontheprincipleof individualismwhichrejects
all mediators betweenmanandGod. Fromthecircumstances
of their lifeinvast anonymous cities andtowns they had
escapedfromfeudal lordship. Thebondof their unity was a
commonacceptanceof thesovereignty of God, against whose
wishes no earthly loyalty couldbeweighed.
'Hewhichdwellethinheavenis mightier,' Archbishop
Grindal hadtoldthat 'mighty prince' QueenElizabeth.
Henry Slingsby in1628toldtheEarl of Huntingdonthat 'he
carednot for any lordinEngland, except theLordof Hosts'.
MartinMarprelatesuccinctly spokeof thosewho were'obedient
subjects to theQueenanddisobedient traitors to Godandthe
- thelast threewords givingthis remark extrabite,
lookingforwardto thetimewhenCharles I wouldbeexecuted
as atraitor to thecommonwealth. Intherevolutionary decades
theargument andtheconfidenceit gavedescendedthesocial
scale. Goda GoodMaster was thetitleof apamphlet published
by JohnGoodwinin1641. 'Hethat fears Godis freefromall
other fear; hefears not menof highdegree,' saidWilliamDell
'WehavechosentheLordGodAlmighty to beour
kingandprotector,' theDiggers toldFairfax inJune1649.
In1653aFenstantonfarmer was afraidhis landlordwould
turnhimout if hejoinedtheBaptists. Henry Dennetoldhim
'to trust God, andhewouldbeabetter landlordthanMr
'Benot afraidof man,' Margaret Fell urgedher
husbandinthesameyear. 'Greater is hethat is inyouthanhe
9. Thesects 'may well havefunctionedas ahome-from-homefor first
says Mr K. V. Thomas, op. cit., p. 153; cf. S.
andP., pp. 286-7, andpp. 373-6below.
10. J. Strype, Life... of ... EdmundGrindal (OxfordU.P., 1821),
p. 572.
11. Quotedby Stone, TheCrisis of theAristocracy, p. 265,
12. Marprelate, TheEpitome(1589), sig. E iv.
13. Dell, op. cit., p. 18.
14. Sabine, p. 284.
15. FenstantonRecords, p. 82.
that is intheworld.'
'Hethat is inyou*: Godhas been
democratized. Heis no longer merely thegreatest feudal over-
lord, akindof super-king. Heis inall his saints, but heis
almighty andgives themof his power.
Fourthamongour masterless menaretherural equivalents
of theLondonpoor - cottagers andsquatters oncommons,
wastes andinforests. Likeour first two categories, thesewere
victims of therapidexpansionof England's populationinthe
sixteenthcentury; sometimes thevictims, sometimes thebene-
ficiaries of theriseof newor thegrowthof oldindustries.
Unliketherelatively stableanddocilepopulations of open
arableareas, thesemen, cliff-hanginginsemi-legal insecurity,
oftenhadno lords to whomthey oweddependenceor from
whomthey couldhopefor protection. They might exist for long
enoughto establishaprecarious customary claimto continu-
ance. Labourers' cottages erectedwithinamileof any mineral
works, coal mines, quarries, etc., werenot regardedas coming
withinthestatuteof 1589whichprohibitedtheerectionof any
cottagewithout four acres of land.
Suchmenmight forma
useful sourceof additional labour. Clothiers, stocking-knitters,
iron-masters, coal-owners, all might haveuses for suchcasual
labourers, andso thelatter might winarelatively secureposi-
tionso longas themarket held. They wereliableto suffer from
large-scaleschemes for agricultural betterment - disafforesta-
tion, fendrainageandthelike. Meanwhilethey existed, inthe
interstices of society, but undoubtedly growinginnumbers by
Sylvanliberty is idealizedintheballads of RobinHood, in
Shakespeare's Forest of Ardenandinthewise'wildmen' who
appear inElizabethanandJacobeanpageants. This may relate
to contemporary migrationto forests insearchof security and
Freedomof tenurewas traditionally enjoyedin
16. Isobel Ross, Margaret Fell (1949), p. 119.
17. Robert Powell, A Treatiseof ... Courts Leet (1642), pp. 52-3.
18. Thirsk, AgrarianHistory, IV, pp. 38, 95-9; P. A. J. Pettit, The
Royal Forests of Northamptonshire(NorthamptonshireRecordSoc.,
1968), pp. 142-7,158,162-3,171.
19. R. H. Hilton, "TheOrigins of RobinHood', P. andP., 14; M. H.
forest clearances; fromat least thefourteenthcentury therehad
beennumbers of freecraftsmeninwoodlandareas, as well as
InMassinger's TheGuardian(licensed1633) the
bandits - ostensibly Neapolitan, but explicitly relatedto 'the
courteous Englishthieves' - wereoccupants of thewoods,
opposedto thekingandhis laws. They specializedinrobbing
thosewho groundthefaces of thepoor, enclosers of commons,
usurers foreclosingonland, 'builders of ironmills that grubup
forests withtimber trees for shipping,' cheatingshop-keepers
andvintners; but not rent-rackedfarmers, needy market folks,
labourers, carriers or women.
Firthnotedthesympathy for
'spiritedcrime' inthepopular ballads of theperiod;
it con-
tinuedat least till theeighteenthcentury.
TheForest of Ardengaveshelter to ashiftingpopulationof
blacksmiths andnailers as well as to Shakespeare's artless
countrymen; to Tinker Fox andhis partisans as well as to
Coventry Ranters. RichardBaxter refers to the'exceeding
populousness of thecountry' roundDudley (Worcestershire),
'wherethewoods andcommons areplantedwithnailers, scythe-
smiths andother iron-labourers, likeacontinuedvillage'.
'Amongweavers, tailors andsuch-like, thereis usually found
moreknowledgeandreligionthanamongthepoor enslaved
'Constant converseandtraffic withLondondoth
muchpromotecivility andpiety amongtradesmen.'
Fifthly, shadingoff fromour fourthcategory of masterless
men, was theitinerant tradingpopulation, frompedlars and
Keen, 'RobinHood- Peasant or Gentleman?
, ibid., 19; D. M. Bergeron,
EnglishCivic Pageantry(1971), esp. pp. 56,70-1,82.
20. Hilton, TheDeclineof Serfdom(Economic History Soc., 1969),
pp. 19-23; J. Birrell, 'Peasant CraftesmenintheMedieval Forest', AH.R.,
XVII, pp. 91-107.
21. P. Massinger, Plays (1897), pp. 469,487; cf. Englands Helicon, 1600
(1949), pp. 197-8.
22. C. H. Firth, Essays Historical andLiterary(OxfordU.P., 1938),
p. 25; cf. p. 358below.
23. Ed. M. Sylvester, ReliquiaeBaxterianae(1696) I, pp. 14,89; Baxter,
Poor Husbandman's Advocate, ed. F. J. Powicke(1926), pp. 26-7, written
1691; cf. V. H. T. Skipp, 'Economic andSocial ChangeintheForest of
Arden, 1530-1649', AMU., XVIII, Suppl., pp. 84-111.
carters to badgers, merchant middlemen. Thenumber of crafts-
meninvillages, inthosedays of restrictedmarkets, was vastly
greater thanit is today:
inbadtimes they wouldlook for
customers over awider area. Professor Everitt has suggested
that thesewayfarers, linkingheathandforest areas, may have
helpedto spreadradical religious views - as earlier Familists
hadbeenweavers, basket-makers, musicians, bottlemakers,
joiners, who livedby travellingfromplaceto place.
clothier collectingwool actedas liaisonmaninDudley's con-
spiracy. Anitinerant cobbler was theprincipal dispenser of the
* Propagandafor theabortiveOxfordshire
risingof 1596was madeby acarter andamiller 'travellingthe
ScottishCovenanters inthe1630s wereallegedto
haveusedtravellingmerchants 'to convey intelligenceandgain
aparty inEngland'. Thesamechargewas madeagainst theRye
Houseplotters in1683
Certainly thePrivy Council was
worriedabout carriers in1637-8.
GrowthandSpreadingof Haeresie, preachedbeforetheHouse
of Commons on10March1647, Thomas Hodges attributedto
'every ... vagrant itinerant huckster
suchheresies as denial of
theTrinity, of theauthority of theBible, of thehistoricity of
* Country inns andtaverns usedby itinerants werenoted
as centres for news anddiscussion. Inthecivil war, Professor
Everitt observes, troops werenormally billetedintheinns of
provincial towns.
24. cf. W. G. Hoskins, TheMidlandPeasant (1957), p. 204.
25. Everitt, inThirsk, AgrarianHistory, pp. 463, 562-3, 573; Strype,
Annals, II, pt i, p. 487.
25A. D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies (CambridgeUJP., 1965),
pp. 206-7; ed. E. Arber, AnIntroductorySketchtotheMarprelate
Controversy(1895), pp. 116,131.
26. CS.PJ>., 1595-7, pp. 343-4; cf. my ReformationtoIndustrial
Revolution(Penguinedn), pp. 93-100.
27. J. Nalson, AnImpartial Collection(1682), I, p. 285; ed. A.
Browning, Memoirs of Sir JohnReresby(1936), p. 309n.
28. PrivyCouncil Registers, 1637-8(facs., 1967), pp. 434,457, 521, 523.
28A. Hodges, op. cit., p. 55.
29. A. Everitt, ChangeintheProvinces intheSeventeenthCentury
(Leicester UP., 1969), p. 42.
Dr Thirsk andProfessor Everitt, to whomweareindebtedfor
areas ontheonehand, andchampaignarableontheother,
remindus that theformer was muchmoreextensiveinthe
sixteenthandseventeenthcenturies thanit is now, including
e.g. NorthEssex, theWeald, the'cheese' areaof Wiltshire, the
industrial parts of YorkshireandLancashire, as well as forests
likeSherwood, Arden, theNewForest, theNorthamptonshire
forests, andthehighlandzonegenerally. Professor Everitt dis-
tinguishes between'arelatively freeandmobilesociety inthe
heathandwoodparishes, andarelatively static andsubservient
oneintheparishes of thefieldenplains'.
(Just becausethey
were'relatively static', I say littleabout themass of simplehus-
bandmen. This wouldbewrongif I wereanalysingthesociety
as awhole, but seems inevitableinabook whoseemphasis is
onsocial andintellectual change. Thereader shouldremember
that husbandmeninfieldenparishes formedamajority of the
rural population.) Theheathandwoodlandareas wereoften
outsidetheparochial system, or their largeparishes wereleft
withonly adistant chapelry, so therewas freedomfromparson
as well as fromsquire: heremenmight, inWinstanley's words,
'liveout of sight or out of slavery'.
Insuchareas feudal ties
of subordinationhardly existed, andtherewas littleobstacleto
theintrusionof rural industry insearchof cheappart-time
labour. The'meanpeople' of thewoods, Aubrey tells us, 'live
lawless, nobody to governthem; they carefor nobody, having
no dependenceonanybody'. Thesewerealso theareas inwhich
therewas most peasant revolt intheearly seventeenthcentury
- WiltshireandtheForest of Dean, for instance.
Dr Thirsk andProfessor Everitt go onto suggest that
squatters inforest or pastoral regions, oftenfar fromany
church, werewideopento radical religious sects - or to witch-
craft. (Hostility to theclergy hadbeenastrikingelement in
30. Thirsk, AgrarianHistory, pp. 54, 111-12, 411-12, 435, 463and
passim; D. G. C. Allan, "TheRisingintheWest', Economic History
Review, SecondSer., V, pp. 76-85; G. R- Lewis, TheStannaries (Har-
vardU.P., 1924), pp. 174-5; cf. my ReformationtoIndustrial Revo-
lution, pp. 62-3,89. 30A. Sabine, p. 359.
) TheWealdwas 'that dark country which
is thereceptacleof all schismandrebellion' - aviewconfirmed
by Thomas Edwards. Thedensely populatedforests of North-
amptonshirewerecentres of rural puritanism, strangesects,
district of Wiltshire, thesceneof
violenceresultingfromdisafforestationintheearly seventeenth
century, was also anareaof poorly-paidpart-timeclothing
workers andof religious heresy.
Ely, Edwards's 'islandof
errors andsectaries
, hadlongbeenacentreof plebeian
irreverenceandresistance, downto thetimewhenOliver
Cromwell, 'Lordof theFens', encouragedthecommoners. Ely
becameaSeeker centreintheforties, whenit was for some
timeWilliamErbery's headquarters. IntheIsleof Axholme
theinhabitants weresaidto havebeenvirtual heathens till the
drainingof theFens; in1650-51they supportedtheLevellers
enthusiastically enough.
InCumberlandinthemid-fifties the
Quakers met 'inmultitudes anduponmoors'.
Professor Walzer has suggestedthat Puritaninsistenceon
inner disciplinewas unthinkablewithout theexperienceof
31. J. C. Holt, 'TheOrigins andAudienceof theBallads of Robin
Hood', P. andP., 18, p. 9.
31A. EdwardFairfax, Daemonologia(1621) (ed. W. Grainge, 1882),
pp. 34-5. Fairfax was uncleof theParliamentary general. Cf. the
enchantedforest inMilton's Comus.
32. Thirsk, AgrarianHistory, pp. 112, 251; Everitt, Changeinthe
Provinces intheSeventeenthCentury, pp. 22-3; TheCommunityof
Kent andtheGreat Rebellion(Leicester U.P., 1966), pp. 86, 225, 297;
'Nonconformity in Country Parishes', AH.R., XVIII, Suppl., pp.
178-99; Edwards, Gangraena, pt III, p. 98; Pettit, Royal Forests of
Northamptonshire, p. 173.
33. E. Kerridge, TheRevolts inWiltshireagainst Charles I', Wilt-
shireArchaeological andNatural HistoryMagazine, LVII (1958), pp.
66-71; V.CM. Wiltshire, IV, pp. 406-7, 412-14, 417, 427, 431-2.
34. K. V. Thomas, op. cit., pp. 162, 165; A. L. Morton, TheWorld
of theRanters (1970), p. 130; J. D. Hughes, "HieDrainageDisputes in
theIsleof Axholme', TheLincolnshireHistorian, II, pp. 13-34; cf.
pp. 26-8above, 122below, andfor Erbery seepp. 192-7below.
35. Ed. J. T. Rutt, TheParliamentaryDiaryof Thomas Burton
(1828), I, p. 170.
masterlessness. Their object was to findanewmaster inthem-
selves, arigidself-control shapinganewpersonality. Conver-
sion, sainthood, repression, collectivediscipline, weretheanswer
to theunsettledconditionof society, theway to createanew
order throughcreatingnewmen. Hecompares Jacobins and
Bolsheviks insimilar circumstances.
This runs parallel to the
contemporary voguefor gipsies, depictedby Cervantes as critics
of society, seenby theFrenchengraver Jacques Callot (1592-
1635), andby Englishpoets fromTheraggle-tagglegipsies*
to Wordsworth, as offeringafreer alternativeto theconstric-
tions of society. Thecomparisonis illuminatingandhelpful;
but Professor Walzer takes, I think, arather one-sidedview
of thephenomenonof masterlessness. What producedalarm
andanxiety insomewas anopportunity for others - thoughnot
anopportunity for climbingupthenormal social ladder. A
masterless manwas nobody's servant: this couldmeanfreedom
for thosewho prizedindependencemorethansecurity. Richard
Brome's A Joviall Crewcertainly idealizes thebeggars' lifein
seventeenthcentury England, whichmust havebeenanything
but romantic. Nevertheless, theformhis romanticizationtakes
is interesting. Thebeggars are
Theonly freemenof acommon-wealth;
Freeabovescot-free; that observeno law,
Obey no governor, useno religion,
But what they drawfromtheir ownancient custom
Or constitutethemselves, yet areno rebels.
Beneaththesurfacestability of rural England, then, thevast
placidopen fieldswhichcatchtheeye, was theseethingmobility
of forest squatters/itinerant craftsmenandbuildinglabourers,
unemployedmenandwomenseekingwork, strollingplayers,
36. M. Walzer, TheRevolutionof theSaints (HarvardU.P., 1965),
esp. pp. 308-16.
37. R. Brome, TheDramatic Works (1873) III, p. 376. Played1641,
first published1652. Therearesomerelevant comments onBromein
lan Donaldson's The World Upside-Down (Oxford U.P., 1970),
chapter 4. I amsorry I didnot readthis interestingbook beforewriting
my own.
minstrels andjugglers, pedlars andquack doctors, gipsies,
vagabonds, tramps: congregatedespecially inLondonandthe
bigcities, but also withfootholds wherever newly-squatted
areas escapedfromthemachinery of theparishor inold-
squattedareas wherelabour was hr demand. It was fromthis
underworldthat armies andships* crews wererecruited, that a
proportionat least of thesettlers of IrelandandtheNewWorld
werefound, menpreparedto rundesperaterisks inthehopeof
obtainingthesecurefreeholdland(andwithit, status) to which
they couldnever aspireinovercrowdedEngland. InEngland
mobility was takenfor granted, at least outsidethechampaign
agricultural areas. (This is, incidentally, another reasonfor
lookingsceptically at total populationfigures basedonsurviv-
ingrecords fromagricultural villages, by definitionmuchmore
stablethanthoseof thewoodlandareas. A family whichcan
bereconstituted, Mr Peter Clark suggests, is by this very fact
anuntypical family.
Theeternally unsuccessful quest by J.P.s to suppress un-
licensedale-houses was inpart aimedat controllingthesemobile
masses, whichmight containdisaffectedelements, separatists,
itinerant preachers. Givenafavourablespiritual environment,
itinerant craftsmencouldeasily becomeitinerant ministers,
undergroundbefore1640, openly inthefreedomof theforties.
Walter Cradock saidtherewereeight hundredsuchpreachers
inWales by 1648.
Itinerant preachers couldpromotethem-
selves to beingitinerant Messiahs. Apart fromanythingelse,
therewereeconomic advantages: WilliamFranklinandMary
Gadbury wereput upfor longperiods by their disciples.
was logical, if not unnaturally resented, for J.P.S to usethe
sameprocedures against suchMessiahs, Quaker missionaries
andBaptist tinkers as against vagabonds. TheVagrancy Act of
1656was directedagainst 'all wanderingpersons
; theQuakers
38. Ed. P. Clark andP. Slack, Crisis andOrder inEnglishTowns,
1500-1700(1971), p. 154; cf. A. Macfarlane, TheFamilyLifeof Ralph
Josselin(CambridgeU.P., 1970), pp. 89, 114, 205-6, who appears
equally sceptical.
39. W. Cradock, GladTidings (1648), p. 50.
40. N. Cohn, ThePursuit of theMillennium(1957), pp. 330-3; pp.
complainedthat it would'havetakenholdof Christ
Demographers might also pay moreattentionto thespiritual
autobiographies andjournals survivingfromthis period. These
confirmthefootlooseness of thesociety, theeasewithwhich
menuprootedthemselves andmanagedto livewhilst roaming
thecountryside, aloneor withaconsort. Money hadto be
earnedevery nowandthen, whichmight entail returningto a
stablebase, or settlingtemporarily inanareawherecasual
labour was indemand. Mrs Clarksonsometimes accompanied
her Ranter husbandonhis wanderings, sometimes waitedat
homelikeasailor's wife: Lawrencenever failedto sendher
money evenwhilegivinghis body to other ladies indistant
ports. WilliamFranklinusedto returnto Londonfromtimeto
timeinorder to earnmoney, leavingMary Gadbury inHamp-
shireto promotehis Messiahshipinhis absence
Thenurseries of beggars arecommons, as appears by fens and
forests,' it was saidin1607.
Of cottagers inRockingham
Forest anElizabethansurveyor said'so longas they may be
permittedto liveinsuchidleness upontheir stock of cattle,
they will bendthemselves to no kindof labour'. 'Common
of pasture... is a... maintainingof theidlers andbeggary of
thecottagers,' for it and'thegentleness that is shown... to the
bribers andstealers of woods andhedge-breakers without
punishment is theonly occasionof theresort of so many
naughty andidlepersons.'
Thepoor inNorthamptonshire
'dwell inwoods anddeserts andlivelikedrones, devotedto
41. Ed. N. Penney, Extracts fromStatePapers relatingtoFriends
(1913), p. 43; cf. E. Burrough, TheMemorableWorks of aSonof
Thunder andConsolation(1672), p. 500; Burton, ParliamentaryDiary
II, pp. 112-14.
42. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound (1660) inCohn, op. cit., p.
346; ibid., p. 332. For Clarksonseepp. 213-17, 316below.
42A. Ed. J. Hiirsk andJ. P. Cooper, Seventeenth-Century Economic
Documents (OxfordU.P., 1972), p. 107.
43. Thirsk, AgrarianHistory, pp. xxxxv, 11.
thievery, amongwhomarebredthevery spawnof vagabonds
. Disafforestationandenclosurewereneededto get
ridof the'multiplicity of beggars
IntheForest of Deanlived
•peopleof very lewdlives andconversations, leavingtheir own
andother countries andtakingtheplacefor ashelter as acloak
to their villanies
In1610James I suggestedthat theHouse
of Commons shouldtakeactionagainst themultitudes of cot-
tages onwastegrounds andcommons, especially forests, which
were'nurseries andreceptacles of thieves, rogues andbeggars
as well as against itinerant Scots accusedof eatingthecommons
'Mountainous grounds so-called
werenot 'properly heaths
because'fewof themhave... much
beggary onthem
Disafforestationandenclosurecouldthus beregardedas a
national duty, akindness indisguiseto theidlepoor, as well
as of moreimmediatebenefit to therichencloser. James I
thought drainingSedgmoor 'areligious work
many hundreds of acres of wasteandbarrenlands,
HartlibinSeptember 1649, 'andmany thousands of idlehands;
if boththesemight beimproved, Englandby God's blessing
wouldgrowto bearicher nationthanit nowis by far.
enclosure, it was arguedin1663, peoplewereaddedto the
manufacturingpopulationwho previously didnot increasethe
storeof thenationbut wastedit
But acottager enjoyed
44. Pettit, op. dt., p. 133.
45. C. E. Hart, TheFreeMiners of theForest of Dean(Gloucester,
1953), pp. 174-5.
46. E. R. Foster, Proceedings inParliament, 1610(YaleU.P., 1966)
II, pp. 280-1; cf. Commons Debates, 1621, ed. W. Notestein, F. H.
Relf, andH. Simpson(YaleU.P., 1935) II, p. 332, V, p. 113; W.
Notestein, TheHouseof Commons, 1604-1610(YaleU.P., 1971),
p. 243.
46A. Thomas Tenisonto Henry Oldenburg, 7November 1671, in
TheCorrespondenceof HenryOldenburg(ed. A. R. andM. B. Hall,
WisconsinU.P.), VIII (1971), p. 345.
47. QuotedinT. G. Barnes, Somerset, 1625-1640(1961), p. 151.
48. S. Hartlib, Londons CharitieStillingthePooreOrphans Cry,
quotedby Sabine, p. 14.
49. S. Fortrey, Englands Interest andImprovement (1663), pp. 19-
20; cf. AdamMoore, Breadfor thePoor (1653), p. 6.
greater freedominsomerespects thanaliving-inservant, who
hadto haveatestimonial fromhis employer beforehemight
changehis job.
A wage-earner who hadlost his common
rights wouldbemuchmoredependent onhis employer than
onewho hadnot Enclosure, AdamMoorearguedinits favour,
'will givethepoor aninterest intoiling, whomterror never yet
couldenureto travail'.
For all thesereasons thewell-to-do dislikedcottagers. The
'newbroodof upstart intruders
inunlawful cottages, no doubt
increasedwiththecivil war disorders, theuprootingof people
andthebreakdownof authority, wereoftenricher thanthe
honest, harmless, modest, painful husbandman
, andcertainly
less docile. Thepoor increaselike fleasandlice, andthesever-
minwill eat us upunless weenclose.
Surveyors were
notoriously hostileto cottagers, whichwas oneof thereasons
for theunpopularity of theprofession.
Mr Osbornenoteda
campaignby J.P.s against squatters, andadestructionof cot-
tages, especially inHertfordshire, Middlesex, Warwickshireand
Hampshireintheyears 1646-60.
It may havebeenevenmore
widespreadafter 1660.
Oneof thedivisivethings inthe1650s
was that theArmy wantedforests to besoldto pay their wages,
regardless of protests onbehalf of thepoor who knewthat
50. E. M. Trotter, SeventeenthCenturylife intheCountryParish
(1919), pp. 135-9.
51. A. Moore, Breadfor thePoor, p. 39; cf. p. 6.
52. Pseudomismus, Considerations concerningCommonFields and
Enclosure(1665); JohnMoore, TheCryingSinof Englandof not
caringfor thepoor (1653), p. 11. Moorewas quotingtheallegedre-
mark of anadvocateof enclosure, but 'Pseudomismus' didnot com-
plainthat hemisrepresented(op. cit., p. 25); cf. also Blith, The
EnglishImprover Improved(1652), PrefaceandAppendix.
53. J. Norden, TheSurveyors Dialogue(1618), pp. 8-11, 113-14; cf.
P. andR., p. 190; ed. R. D. Ratcliffe, TheChorieySurvey(Lancashire
andCheshireRecordSoc., vol. 33, 1896), p. 55seq.
54. B. Osborne, Justices of thePeace, 1361-1848(Shaftesbury, 1960),
pp. 120-4.
55. Seep. 349below.
56. P. andR., pp. 179, 190-3; Sabine, pp. 363-4, 638; D. A. Johnson
andD. G. Vaizey, StaffordshireandtheGreat Rebellion(Stoke-on-
Trent, 1964), pp. 26-7,66-7.
Therewerethus two completely opposedpolicies for dealing
withforests, commons andwastes. As populationgrew, as new
cottages wereerected, so timber was destroyed, commons were
over-stockedwithanimals, oftenby richmen, 'thenew(more
covetous) gentry
, who bought upcottages inorder to profit
by their right of commonage.
Suchmenhad'landof their
ownto keeptheminthewinter or whenthecommons areeaten
bare, andthepoor for want of suchwinter provisionhaveno
benefit at all
Yet for all this thelandwas not fertilized.
Despiteprohibitions, thevery poor scrapeddungfromthe
commons to useit as fuel.
Therearefewest poor wherethere
arefewest commons,
wroteSamuel Hartlib- not aheartless
As longago as the1530s Starkey hadsuggestedthat thepoor
shouldbesettledonnewholdings carvedout of thewaste.
Ontheother handtheroyal policy of disafforestationanden-
closure, or of drainingtheFens, as appliedbefore1640, in-
volveddisruptingaway of life, abrutal disregardfor the
rights of commoners; they andtheir childrenwereoftende-
privedof old-establishedplayingareas - to thedetriment,
traditionalists complained, of proficiency inshootingwiththe
A consequenceof thepolicy was to forcemento
soledependenceonwagelabour, whichmany regardedas
littlebetter thanslavery. (Think youthat wecanadviseour-
selves no better thanto turnoff our childrento foolish[sweat-
ing] trades?
) Employment wouldbeincreased, but thegap
betweenclasses wouldbewidened.
Thereis also evidenceof
stricter enforcement of thegamelaws inthe1630s, withseverer
57. A. Moore, op. dt., p. 32; Sabine, p. 506.
58. J. Smith, Englands Improvement Revived(1670), p. 18.
59. A. Moore, op. dt., p. 27.
60. S. Hartlib, Legacyof Husbandry(1655), p. 43.
61. Ed. K. M. Burton, A DialogueBetweenReginaldPoleand
Thomas Lupset (1948), pp. 140-1.
62. D. Brailsford, Sport andSociety(1969), p. 9; Boynton, The
ElizabethanMilitia, p. 68.
63. A. Moore, op. dt, p. 7; J. Thirsk, 'SeventeenthCentury Agricul-
tureandSocial Change', A.H.R., XVIII, Suppl., p. 169.
penalties, as thenumber of squatters andcottagers increased.
Naturally enough, therewas great popular hostility to schemes
for disafforestationandenclosurebefore1640; andwhenthese
schemes collapsedintheforties commoners everywherere-
sumedtheir rights. In1631theForest of Deanhadbeena
refugefor rioters against this royal policy inthemid-western
counties. InJuly 1640, boredconscript soldiers occupiedthem-
selves inpullingdown, fences inNeedwoodForest inStafford-
Duringthecivil war, forest laws brokedownandthere
was muchstealingof gameandtimber.
Theeconomic neces-
sity for improvingwastes andforests, thus bothincreasingthe
foodsupply andreleasinglabour, still seemedobvious to agri-
cultural writers of theforties andfifties. Theprincipal end' of
enclosureof forests, theCouncil of Statewas toldin1654, 'is
advantageto husbandry andtillage, to whichall commons are
Pamphleteers nowrealizedhowever that gestures
hadto bemadeinthedirectionof safeguardingtheinterests
of commoners, sincethough'thebetter part
closure, 'thegreater part
Therewerelegal problems affectingtherights of com-
moners. Lawyers heldthat theStatutes of MertonandWest-
minster II establishedthelord's right inthesoil of thewaste.
But astatuteof 1550protectedsmall cottagers buildingon
wastes andcommons. It was ajudicial decisionof 1605which
64. Penry Williams, TheActivity of theCouncil intheMarches
under theearly Stuarts', WelshHistoryReview, I, p. 141; W. Shep-
pard, Englands Balme(1656), pp. 201-2; Sabine, p. 612.
65. D. H. Pennington, 'StaffordshireinCivil War Politics*, North
StaffordshireJournal of FieldStudies, V, p. 15. Cf. Sir W. Davenant's
poem, 'HieCountess of Anglesey leadCaptiveby theRebels at the
Disforrestingof Pewsam', inShorter Poems (ed. A. M. Gibbs, Oxford
U.P., 1972), p. 125. This was in1623-4.
66. Pettit, Royal Forests, pp. 47-9,115,119,125.
67. CJS.P.D1654, pp. 71-2.
68. A. Moore, op. cit., esp. dedicationto theLords of Wastes and
Commons; Pseudomismus, op. cit., pp. 37-8; Lee, op. cit., pp. 27-9.
Cf. J. Thirsk, 'SeventeenthCentury AgricultureandSocial Change',
pp. 167-9.
69. Sir F. Pollock andF. W. Maitland, Historyof EnglishLaw
(CambridgeUJP., 1911) I, p. 627.
deniedthat inhabitants as suchhadcommonrights onthe
waste. TheDiggers, for instance, arguedthat no statutedeprived
thecommonpeopleof their rights inthecommonlands, 'but
only anancient custombredinthestrengthof kingly preroga-
Thepoor haveaninterest inthemalready/ saidPeter
Chamberlenof thecommons.
Yet this 'interest', whether or
not validinabstract law, couldnot beenforcedbefore1640.
Thoughthelawforbids suchenclosure' of commons, said
Thomas Adams, yet 'whenthey areonceditchedin, say the
lawwhat it will, I seeno throwingout.
But after 1640com-
moners wereableto reassert their rights by direct action. In
Lincolnshire, Miss Hipkinshowed, menopposingencroach-
ment onrights of commonemphasizedthefundamental lawof
thelandas thebasis of their claim- anemphasis whichcon-
nects themwiththeLevellers.
thewastehadtakenplaceby agreement, it establishednew
relationships, less protectedby custom, moreopento com-
petitivepressures thanwhat hadgonebefore- especially in
thedisturbedconditions of therevolutionary decades.
copyholdlands, Winstanley thought, 'areparcels hedgedinor
takenout of thecommonwastelandsincethe[Norman] Con-
Theradical agrarianprogrammewas defeatedwiththeLevel-
lers andDiggers. After 1649theRumpof theLongParliament
didnothingto encourageagrarianreform, despitecontinued
protests, as whenColonel JohnPyne, radical M.P. for Poole,
denounced'thetakingaway theright of thepoor intheir
commons'. Onthecontrary, acts werepassedfor fendrainage
70. Winstanley, A WatchwordtotheCityof LondonandtheArmy
(1649) inSabine, p. 322; R. Coster, A MiteCast intotheCommon
Treasury(1649), ibid., p. 656.
71. Chamberlen, ThePooreMane's Advocate, pp. 5-6.
72. T. Adams, Works, p. 54.
73. G. M. Hipkin, 'Social andEconomic Conditions inHolland
Divisionof Lincolnshire', Reports andPapers of theArchitectural
Societies of Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, NorthamptonshireandLeicester*
shire, XL (1930-1), p. 236.
74. R. H. Tawney, TheAgrarianProblemintheSixteenthCentury
(1912), p. 141.
75. Sabine, p. 387.
andto protect deer against poachers.
TheBarebones Parlia-
ment appears to havetakenno noticeof aschemefor national-
izingforests, fens andwastelands throughout England, and
lettingthemwithfirst offer to thepoor.
J.P.s restrictedthe
right to gather fuel fromthewaste.
Thebill introducedinto
Parliament in1656, commonly referredto as thelast legislative
attempt to prevent enclosure, actuallyproposedto regulatecom-
mons andcommonablelandso as to prevent depopulation
whilst improvingthewaste.
instability whichwouldfollowwhentheLordturnedtheworld
upsidedown, theimagewhichthe1611translators adopted
was 'theearth... shall beremovedlikeacottage'.
76. Underdown, op. cit., pp. 284. PyneprotectedQuakers andother
radicals (ibid., pp. 36, 317). Poolewas aRanter centre. But therewere
limits to Pyne's radicalism; heopposedLevellers andthosewho threw
downthefences of aroyalist endoser of theforest (ibid., p. 329).
77. Thirsk andCooper, Seventeenth-CenturyEconomic Documents,
pp. 135-40.
78. Ed. E. H. Bates Harbin, Somerset Quarter Sessions Records,
1646-1660(Somerset RecordSoc., 1912), p. 286.
79. A. H. Johnson, TheDisappearanceof theSmall Landowner
(OxfordU.P.,1907), p. 47.
80. Seep. 12above. TheGenevaversion, moreplausibly, had're-
Timemay come...
Whenlies aloneshall beadoredby
Thestrangewildfaithof its [Albion's] plebeian
Who sooner will believewhat soldiers preach
Thanwhat ev'nangels or apostles teach.
JOSEPH BEAUMONT, Psyche(1648), in Com-
pletePoems, ed. A. B. Grosart (Hildesheim,
1968) II, p. 67.
A COLLECTION of masterless menwhomI didnot consider
inthelast chapter - themost powerful, themost politically
motivated, but also theshortest-lived- was theNewModel
Army. Dr Thirsk andProfessor Everitt havespeculatedwhether
theheathandforest lands may not havesuppliedmost of the
troops of theParliamentarianarmies inthecivil war.
A group
of 'Moorlanders' ledby 'apersonof lowquality' borethe
brunt of theearly fightinginStaffordshire.
1642it was thosesturdy churls inthetwo forests of Pendle
andRossendale' who 'haveresolvedto fight it out'.
menof Holland, 'likethosetriedandnotorious foresters of
Dean' were'ever ready to riseagainst his Majesty's forces', it
was saidin1645; they ralliedagainst Charles II in1651.
Isleof Ely may well havebeenCromwell's mass recruiting
1. Thirsk, AgrarianHistory, pp. 435,562-3,573.
2. Ed. D. H. Pennington and I. A. Roots, TheCommittee at
Stafford, 1643-1645(Manchester U.P., 1957), p. Ixii.
3. E. Broxap, TheGreat Civil War inLancashire, 1642-1651(1910),
p. 60.
3A. Mercurius Auliciis, 13-20April 1645, p. 1546; A. Clark, Raglan
CastleandtheCivil War inMonmouthshire(Chepstow, 1953), pp. 26,
Therehadnever beenanythingliketheNewModel Army
before. Armies werenormally conscriptedfromgaols andthe
lowest sort of men. Not all NewModel soldiers werevolun-
teers, but theofficers andmost of thecavalry were. Very little
work has so far beendoneonthesocial compositionof the
Army, but it was probably, as many claimed, amorerepresenta-
tivecross-sectionof thepeopleof EnglandthantheHouseof
Commons was.
Thanks to freedomof organizationanddis-
cussiontheArmy becameahothouseof political ideas.
enforcedleisureafter thewar hadbeenwon, thethinkingof
therank andfiledevelopedapace. In1646someintheArmy
werecallingfor anupper limit to thelandedproperty that
anyonemight hold.
This was two years after GeorgeWither,
himself acaptainintheArmy, hadaskedwhy theroyalist
gentry shouldnot bemadepeasants by confiscationof their
estates - 'adegreeto whichhonest menareborn, andtoo good
for these, someof thembeingmadelords andknights for
attemptingto enslavefreemen
TheParliamentarianarmies werethesupremeexampleof
social mobility inour mobileperiod. They marchedbackwards
andforwards across thecountry, mixinguppopulations ina
way previously unknown. Chaplains in theNewModel
preachedto civiliancongregations as well as to soldiers. As
timeprogressed, anincreasingnumber of commonsoldiers
took uponthemselves preachingfunctions. All thesepreachers
hadmuchincommonwithitinerant mechanic preachers. Army
chaplains of theperiodincludedmany radicals who figurein
our story, likeHughPeter, JohnSaltmarsh, WilliamErbery,
Henry Pinnell, Thomas Collier andWilliam
4. WilliamSedgwick, A SecondViewof theArmy Remonstrance
(1649), pp. 5-7; [Anon.], TheArmies Vindicationof This Last Change
(1659), pp. 2-6.
5. ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, p. 53.
6. Seepp. 115-16below.
7. G. Wither, TheSpeechWithout Doore(1644), p. 5.
8. Webster's chaplaincy has beenquestioned, but hespecifically des-
scribedhimself as 'latechaplainintheArmy' as well as surgeonin
Col. Shuttleworth's regiment (W. S. Weeks, ClitheroeintheSeven-
teenthCentury, Clitheroe[n.d. 71928], p. 176).
Dell. Mr Peters Last Report of theEnglishWarres (1646) con-
tainedanumber of reformingproposals, andsuggestedthat the
Army shouldbeusedHo teachpeasants to understandliberty'.
Saltmarshheldthat 'theinterest of thepeopleinChrist's king-
domis not only aninterest of ... submission, but of consulta-
tion, of debating, counselling, prophesying, voting'.
Erbery reliedonthesupport of other ranks intheArmy ina
debateat Oxfordin1646, whenhearguedthat 'thosethat are
calledministers' hadno 'moreauthority to preachinpublic
thanprivateChristians who weregifted'.
Henry Pinnell in
December 1647defendedtheAgitators to Oliver Cromwell's
Thomas Collier was also associatedwiththeLevellers,
puttingforwardmost of their programmeinasermonof 1647
as 'this great interest of God'.
He, likeErbery, was infavour
of tolerationfor theJews.
Dell was reported, also at Oxford
in1646, as tellinghis congregation(composedmainly of
soldiers) 'thepower is inyou, thepeople; keepit, part not
withit'. Dell, likeCollier andErbery, thought theministers
of thestatechurchwereantichristian.
PresbyterianandIndependent preachers hadonly them-
selves to blameif theories of thesovereignty of thepeople
aroseintheArmy andinLondon. WilliamBridgepreachedthat
incaseaprinceshall neglect his trust, so as not to preservehis
subjects but to exposethemto violence, it is no usurpationin
themto look to themselves but anexerciseof that power
9. op. cit., p. 6.
10. Woodhouse, p. 184. Seep. 70below.
11. [F. Cheynell] An Account Givento theParliament by the
Ministers sent bythemtoOxford(1646[-71), pp. 13-18; cf. Edwards,
Gangraena, III, p. 250. For Erbery seepp. 192-7below.
12. H. Pinnell, A Wordof ProphecyconcerningTheParliament,
Generall andtheArmy(1648), pp. 2-17.
13. Woodhouse, pp. 390-6.
14. T. Collier, AnAnswer toa BookwrittenbyoneRichardSanders
(1652), p. 41; seep. 193below.
15. [Anon.] A Vindicationof certcdneCitizens (1646), pp. 6-9. The
versionof thesermonprintedby Dell does not containthephrase
quoted, but suggests that thepower of thespirit was inall thesaints;
cf. my Antichrist inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, pp. 97-8, 124.
whichwas always their own.
Suchideas hadseemedneces-
sary to persuadepeopleto support armedrebellion, andnot
all thosewho preachedthemexpectedthelower orders to take
themtoo seriously. 'I amfar fromthemonster of ademocracy,'
saidEdwardBowles, chaplainsuccessively to theEarl of Man-
chester, General of theEasternAssociation, andto Sir Thomas
Fairfax, Commander-in-Chief of theNewModel Army; 'that
whichI call to thepeoplefor is but aquick andregular motion
intheir ownsphere'.
But alas: thepeoplesawadoor opening
out of their ownsphere, andrushedthroughit. Thecommon
people, Winstanley claimed, are'part of thenation', andshould
haveequal rights withthegentry andclergy.
'It will never be
agoodworld,' Baxter oftenheardmensay, *whileknights
andgentlemenmakeus laws, that arechosenfor fear anddo
but oppress us, anddo not knowthepeople's sores. It will
never bewell withus till wehaveParliaments of countrymen
likeourselves, that knowour wants.'
This was not what
Parliament andthepreachers hadmeant whenthey madetheir
appeal to thepeoplein1641-3. 'Whenwementionthepeople,'
Marchamont Nedhamwrotewiththewisdomof 1652, *we
do not meantheconfusedpromiscuous body of thepeople.'
Parliament andPresbyterianministers werenaturally wor-
riedby thestateof affairs intheArmy, andfurious withthose
chaplains who seemedto beinflamingthelower classes just
whenthey neededquieteningdown. But worsewas to comewhen
inthespringof 1647Parliament triedto disbandpart of the
Army (without fully payingarrears of wages) andsendtherest
off to conquer Ireland. It hadnot evenpassedanact of in-
demnity to protect soldiers fromthelegal consequences of
actions committedunder orders intimeof war. 'Our fellow
16. W. Bridge, TheWoundedConscienceCured(1642), pp. 4-5,
17. E. Bowles, PledneEnglish(1643), pp. 25-6. I owethis reference
to thekindness of Professor C. M. Williams.
18. Sabine, pp. 371, 305.
19. Baxter, TheHolyCommonwealth(1659), p. 231.
20. Mercurius Politicus, 87, 29January-5February 1652, p. 1385;
TheCaseof theCommonwealth(1649), pp. 71, 69, 79. I owethis
referenceto thekindness of Mr I. McCalman.
soldiers suffer at every assizefor acts merely relatingto the
war/ declaredapamphlet of April 1647, giving fifteeninstances.
Menwereevencommittedfor speakingwords against the
Facedwiththis provocation, therank andfiletook matters
into their ownhands at theendof March1647, callingontheir
officers 'to go alongwithus inthis business, or at least to let
us quietly aloneinthis our design'.
Thetroops electedAgita-
tors, two for eachregiment, startingwiththecavalry. By the
middleof May, 'every foot soldier gavefour penceapiece'
towards theexpenses of ameeting, so they too wereorganized
by then. Thetroops worearedribbonontheir left arm, as a
symbol of solidarity till death.
'All or most of theofficers
sat still likeso many drones andsnakes,' wroteLilburnelater.
But after agooddeal of ditheringmost of theofficers followed
theleadof therank andfile, inorder 'to regulatethesoldiers'
proceedings andremoveas near as wecouldall occasionof
TheAgitators calledonFairfax to order ageneral
rendezvous, otherwise*we... shall benecessitated... to do
suchthings ourselves'. TheCouncil of War put it uponrecord
that it believedtheAgitators wouldinfact act if theGeneral
This was themoment at whichCornet Joyceand'aparty of
21. [Anon.] Apologieof theAgitators of Eight Regiments of Horse
(28April 1647); J. Rushworth, Historical Collections (1680), VI, p. 479;
ed. C. H. Firth, ClarkePapers (CamdenSoc.) I (1849), p. 7; ed. H.
Cary, Memorials of theGreat Civil War (1842) I, p. 234; C.J., V,
p. 345; Francis White, TheCopyof a Letter Sent toHis ExcellencySir
Thomas Fairfax(1647), p. 8.
22. [Anon.] AnApologieof theSoldiers toall their Commission
Officers (1647), quotedby Woodhouse, p. [21].
23. Rushworth, op. cit., VI, p. 485; [Anon.] The Red-Ribbond-
News fromtheArmy(27May 1647), p. 5.
24. Lilburne, Jonahs CryfromtheWhales Belly(1647), p. 14.
25. TheVindicationof theOfficers, inRushworth, op. dt., VI, p.
469; cf. ClarkePapers, I, p. xix: "Thoseresolutions to standfor free-
domandjusticebeganamongthesoldiers only'; Woodhouse, pp. 397,
437-8,453; Wolfe, p. 360.
26. Rushworth, op. cit., VI, p. 498; H. N. Brailsford, TheLevellers
andtheEnglishRevolution(1961), p. 96.
horsesent fromthecommitteeof troopers of theArmy',
seizedtheKingon3June, theday beforetherendezvous at
Newmarket. Oliver Cromwell knewinadvancethat Charles
was to besecured, but theinitiativefor thewholeoperation
seems to havecomefromtheAgitators. A week earlier Fairfax
hadstill beentryingvainly to prohibit meetings of thetroops.
TheKing's removal fromHolmby Houseby Joyceandhis men
hadno authorization: whenCharles demandedto seeJoyce's
commissionto removehim, hecouldonly point to thetroops
drawnupbehindhim. 'All commanded,' they hadrepliedthe
day beforewhenchallenged.
No general wouldhavesent a
merecornet incommandof fivehundredhorse: Fairfax
dispatchedacolonel to takechargeas soonas heheardwhat
hadhappened. MeanwhileJoycereported, 'Let theAgitators
knowoncemorewehavedonenothinginour ownname, but
what wehavedonehathbeeninthenameof thewholeArmy.'
As JoycerodewiththeKingto Newmarket, therendezvous
whichtheAgitators haddemandedwas takingplacethere. With
theAgitators intotal commandof thesituation, theEngage-
ment of 5June1647set upanArmy Council,
to consist of
thosegeneral officers of theArmy who haveconcurredwith
theArmy,... withtwo commissionofficers andtwo soldiers to
bechosenfromeachregiment'. Theofficers andsoldiers of the
Army committedthemselves 'not willingly [to] disbandnor
divide' without asatisfactionandsecurity that their grievances
Thetroops 'hooteddivers officers out of the
field, unhorsedsomeandrent their clothes andbeat them...
Officers at that timebeingonly admittedby mutual consent,
they couldhaveno power but what was betrustedto themby
27. Whitelocke, op. dt., p. 253.
28. Rushworth, op. dt., VI, p. 514.
29. ClarkePapers, I, p. 120; cf. A TrueImpartial Narrative(17June
1647), p. 3; Lilburne, AnImpeachment of HighTreasonagainst Oliver
Cromwell (1649), p. 54; Cary, op. dt., I, p. 224; Gardiner, Civil War,
III, p. 273; Whitelocke, op. dt., p. 253.
30. Woodhouse, p. 403.
31. Wolfe, pp. 243-6; cf. Fairfax, Short Memorials, inAnEnglish
Garner, ed. E. Arber (1895-7) VIII, pp. 569,572.
I havegiventhis account mostly inthewords of Agitators
or Levellers, not becausethey arenecessarily always accurate
but becausefor our purposes what matters is what menbelieved
to havehappened, theLeveller/Agitator myth. Brailsfordwas
quiteright whenhesaid, 'therehas beennothinglikethis spon-
taneous outbreak of democracy inany Englishor continental
army beforethis year of 1647, nor was thereanythinglikeit
thereafter till theWorkers' andSoldiers' Councils met in1917
Therank andfileorganizedthemselves frombe*
low, ledby theyeomancavalry regiments. Petitions were
drafted, someof themdealingwithpolitical as well as military
matters. Inthesummer of 1647theAgitators hadtheir own
printer, aLeveller, JohnHarris; at theheight of their influence
his becameanofficial Army press. AndtheArmy radicals
linkedupwiththeir civiliancounterparts. Petitions callingon
theArmy to givearadical political leadbeganto comeinfrom
hawkers andpedlars inLondon,
andfromthecounties. Cle-
ment Walker later suggestedthat thesepetitions against tithes,
enclosureandcopyhold fineswere'prompted' by theAgitators
'to encouragethemto sidewiththeArmy against all the
nobility, gentry andclergy of theland... andto destroy
monarchy itself: sinceit is impossiblefor any princeto bea
kingonly of beggars, tinkers andcobblers'.
Thus encouraged,
theArmy beganto advanceonLondon. It hadenteredona
courseof decisivepolitical action, andthoughit was nowunited
under thecommandof Fairfax andOliver Cromwell, theinitia-
tivefor this actionhadcomefromtherank andfile, inclose
contact withtheLondonLevellers. Theapprentices of London,
under Lilburne's influence, hadappointed'agitators' too.
32. Brailsford, op. cit., pp. 181, 410-12. Thewholeof Brailsford's
ch. X is relevant.
33. [Anon.] Londons Lawles Liberty. . . presentedtotheAdjutators
of theArmy(September 1647).
34. C. Walker, Historyof Independency(1661), I, p. 59. First pub-
35. G. Unwin, TheGilds andCompanies of London (1925), pp.
Thestory of theLevellers has oftenbeentold: I do not pro-
poseto repeat it. What I want to emphasizeis that weshould
not confineour attentionto theorganizedmovement andits
leaders, but shouldthink of somethingmuchvaster if more
inchoate. Wehaveto takescraps of informationas wefind
them. Thus, inAugust 1645, aroyalist newspaper criticizedthe
ParliamentarianMercurius Britanicus becauseit sided'withthe
rout andscumof people... to makethemweekly sport by
railingat all that's noble
. Mercurius Britanicus thought 'the
Army andthemeanmultitude
would'act further thansome
of our pretendingministers inreform
. Cavaliers wereanti-
patriotic social parasites, who didnot knowhonest labour.
Thenobility andgentry who havecontinuedmany generations
declaredtheastrologer WilliamLilly in1645
- asurebarometer; 'andaninferior sort of people... are
By August 1647apamphleteer couldwritethat
thenobility andgentry hadlost not only 'thepower andcom-
mandthey formerly heldover their tenants
but also therespect
of all, 'no maninthesedays valuinghis lordof whomheholds
his lands (his freerent beingpaid) morethananother man,
scarceanythingat all
So whenRichardOvertoninJuly 1647declaredhis confidence
that 'it must bethepoor, thesimpleandmeanthings of this
earththat must confoundthemighty andstrong
, hewas both
hadtakenover, seeingthelower classes as Christ's most out-
standingwarriors, andalso appealingdirectly to theother
ranks intheArmy against their officers.
Thegreat things
36. Mercurius Anti-Britanicus, 3(August 1645); Mercurius Britanicus,
17, 42, 63, 130(1645). I owethesereferences totheunpublishedthesis
of Mr IanMcCalman, A Study of theWritings of Marchamont Ned-
ham, 1620-1678, Journalist andMedical Writer.
37. W. Lilly, TheStarryMessenger (1645), p. 23; cf. AnAstrologicall
Prediction(1648), p. 17.
38. [B.?J Nicholson, TheLawyers Bane(1647), p. 5
39. Seep. 38above.
that havebeendonefor theParliament,' theLeveller William
Walwynagreed, 'havebeendoneby themeaner sort of men.*
'It was anunconscionablething,' Walwynwas reportedas say-
ingat about thesametime, to 'theindigent andpoorer sort of
people, ... that oneshouldhave£10,000, andanother more
deservinganduseful to thecommonwealthshouldnot be
TheLevellers inLondonaspiredto put themselves at the
headof 'themeaner sort of men'. They areoftencriticized
for anexcessively rational approachto politics, for neglecting
military force, but inthespringof 1647they establishedclose
contact withtheAgitators, andthey hadmany friends among
all ranks. At this stagesomeat least of themappreciatedthat
if they wereto bepolitically effectivethey must capturecontrol
of theArmy. Overton, for instance, saidinJuly 1647that the
Army is 'theonly formal andvisibleheadthat is left unto the
peoplefor protectionanddeliverance'.
'It is clearly evident,'
Lilburneaddedtwo months later, that 'thereis nowno power
executedinEnglandbut apower of force; ajust andmoral act
doneby atroopof horsebeingas goodlawas nowI cansee
executedby any judgeinEngland.'
Thereseems duringthe
summer of 1647to havebeensomefree-lancerecruitment to
theArmy of politically convincedradicals, notably by the
Leveller CaptainWilliamBray
Therewas athirdparty,'
Cromwell saidlater, 'littledreamedof, that was endeavouring
to haveno other power rulebut thesword.' Hereferredespe-
cially to Major White, whomD. M. Wolfecalls 'anunswerving
Walwynwas accusedin1649of havingsaidthat 'a
40. Walwins Wiles (1649) inH. andD., pp. 300, 302. Walwynsaid
that thestories against himwerecollectedin1646(Walwyns Just
Defence, 1649, inibid., p. 353).
41. Wolfe, p. 184.
42. Two Letters writ byLieut-Col. JohnLilburne... toCol. Henry
Marten(1647), p. 6.
43. JohnNaylier, lateQuarter-Master to CaptainBray, TheNew-
market Colonel (1649), pp. 4-11; Papers fromtheArmie(October
44. Ed. W. C. Abbott, Writings andSpeeches of Oliver Cromwell
(YaleU.P., 1937-1947), I, p. 507; Wolfe, p. 46.
very fewdiligent andvaliant spirits may turntheworldupside
down', thoughhedeniedit.
White, Agitator of Fairfax's ownregiment, was expelled
fromtheArmy Council on9September for maintainingthat
therewas 'nowno visibleauthority inthekingdombut the
power andforceof thesword
. This canhardly havebeena
merely personal view: it was sharedby CaptainBray. Rain-
borough, whomGardiner describedas theprincipal spokesman
of this thirdparty amongtheofficers, also expressedanxiety
intheArmy Council lest heshouldbe'kickedout'.
didnot concludethat anyact of forcewas thereforejustified
- adoctrineheldby thecruder HughPeter, whichgreatly
Whiteset his views out at lengthbefore
Fairfax bothin1647andjust over ayear later. TheKingand
his party beingconqueredby thesword,' Whitewrote, 'I believe
theswordmay justly removethepower fromhimandsettleit
inits original fountainnext under God- thepeople.' Heheld
that all laws madesincetheNormanConquest whichwerecon-
trary to equity shouldbeabolished, andtoldFairfax that his
authority derivedless fromParliament thanfromtheSolemn
Engagements of theArmy. Heobjectednot to Charles I as a
personbut to thekingly office. WilliamErbery went evenfur-
ther, andsuggestedinJanuary 1649that theArmy's authority
was as legitimateas wouldbethat of 'other followingrepre-
sentatives'. TheLevellers thought that thestatehadbroken
downinthecourseof thecivil war; until it was legitimately
refoundedastateof natureexistedinwhichtheswordwas the
only remainingauthority. But military forcecouldjustly be
usedonly to handpower back to thepeople. This was thepur-
poseof theAgreement of thePeople, theLevellers' newsocial
contract refoundingthestate, whichwas submittedto the
Army Council inOctober 1647.
44A. H. andD., pp. 301, 384.
45. Gardiner, op. dt.| III, pp. 363, 370; Woodhouse, p. 15. For
Bray seepp. 68-70below.
46. TheGrandPleaof Lieutenant-Colonel JohnUlburne (1647),
p. 19.
47. White, TheCopyof a Letter, pp. 7, 11-12; Gardiner, op. cit., IV,
pp. 302-3; Woodhouse, p. 174.
TheAgreement of thePeoplewas discussedby officers and
menat Putney inthedays after 28October. Thereis no need
to do morethanrefer thereader to thesefundamental debates
about thetheory of democracy. If theAgitators hadmanaged
to capturecontrol of theArmy, aLeveller theory of military
dictatorshipintheinterests of democracy wouldcertainly have
emerged: thelater Leveller repudiationof military violence
sprangfromtheir dislikeof thepurposes for whichthis vio-
lencewas used. But already duringthePutney Debates the
Agitators hadlost theinitiativethey hadso gloriously held
fromMarchto August. Agitators of fivecavalry regiment? had
beenrecalledby their constituents, under suspicionof having
beencorruptedby their officers; they werereplacedby new
representatives. It was thesenewAgitators who presentedthe
Agreement of thePeopleto theArmy Council.
Wedo not knowthefull story of thedebates intheArmy
Council. At onetimeagreement seemedto havebeenreached
onageneral rendezvous at whichtheAgitators intendedthe
Agreement of thePeopleto beacceptedby thewholeArmy.
TheAgreement hadbeenamendedso as to includeasubstantial
extensionof thefranchise- to all soldiers, andall others except
servants andbeggars. Thestateof naturewas to beended,
andtheEnglishcommonwealthrestoredas ademocracy. But
Cromwell andIretonmadeaperfectly-timedcounter-attack.
TheoldAgitators repudiatedthenewprogramme:
howthegenerals reassertedtheir authority. On8November
theAgitators weresent back to their regiments, theArmy Coun-
cil was adjournedfor over afortnight, andthegeneral rendez-
vous was replacedby threeseparateassemblies.
But nowthepatternof Junewas startlingly reversed. Then
therank andfilewereunitedandheldtheinitiative: the
Agitators seizedtheKing, andtheofficers hadto accept the
situationat thegeneral rendezvous at Newmarket as theonly
means of preservingtheunity of theArmy. Nowtherank and
filewerealready dividedandhadlost theinitiative, whenthe
shatteringnews camethat Charles I hadescapedfromArmy
48. Woodhouse, pp. 452-5; Brailsford, op. cit., pp. 288-9; Papers
fromtheArmie(October 1647).
captivity on11November. Theradicals hadbeenineffectively
discussingaseizureof theKingfor sometime, andit is possible
that theGrandees deliberately encouragedCharles's flight
Thethreat of anewcivil war loomed: Army unity hadto be
restored, but nowthis meant submissionof theradicals to the
generals. Thethreeseparaterendezvous wereheldinplaceof
thesingleoneonwhichtheAgitators hadpinnedtheir hopes.
Promises of arrears of pay weregiven, andvaguedeclarations
about political reforms. Fairfax threatenedto resignif this
was not accepted. *Youhavebeenfedwithpaper too long,
Agitators cried; 'yecancreatenewofficers,' theLeveller Wild-
But intheprevailingpolitical circumstances
nothingbut surrender was possible. Therewas abrief skirmish
whentwo regiments tried, against orders, to attendthefirst
partial rendezvous at CorkbushField, near Ware: thehighest
officer allowedto remainwiththemwas CaptainBray. There
was no visibleauthority intheKingdombut thegeneral,' Bray
was reportedas saying; and'thegeneral was not infallible'.
But disciplinewas swiftly asserted, andinsteadof theAgree-
ment of thePeoplebeingreadat theheadof eachregiment,
PrivateRichardArnoldwas shot at theheadof his. At another
partial rendezvous two days later, near Kingston, theregiments
not surprisingly expressed'aready complianceandsubjection*.
Bray was arrested, together withLt.-Col. WilliamEyres, Wil-
liamEverard, WilliamThompsonandothers.
So endedtheLeveller attempt to capturecontrol of theArmy.
Inretrospect it is clear that therecall andreplacement of the
Agitators of thefivecavalry regiments - doneapparently on
Lilburne's advice
- was goingmuchfaster thanthemajority
49. Gardiner, op. dt., IV, pp. 16-17.
50. Woodhouse, pp. 442,454.
51. R. L., TheJusticeof theArmyAgainst Evil-Doers Vindicated
(1649), pp. 1-4.
52. Whitelocke, op. cit., p. 280. Seepp. 69-70, 124, 284-6below
for Eyres, EverardandThompson. WilliamThompsonhadbeenin
troubleover apubbrawl inSeptember 1647, but this may havebeen
apretext for cashieringhim. Thesoldiers of his regiment stoodby
himtill after Ware(R. L., op. dt., pp. 7-9).
53. Lilburne, TheJuglers Discovered(1October 1647).
of therank andfilewerepreparedto follow. They werecon-
cernedmostly withwages andindemnity, androyalist senti-
ments werenot unknownamongthem('Who knows not that
theforces inpay will beat theKing's back, whenever hebe
warminhis throne? Didnot many regiments at Warecry
out for theKingandSir Thomas?') TheDeclarations of the
newAgitators showthemfairly consistently onthedefensive.
TheGeneral Council of theArmy met intermittently for the
next six weeks after Ware, but it hadlost its purpose, was
dominatedby theGrandees andfadedout at thebeginning
of theNewYear. Thereweremutinies inFebruary andSep-
tember 1648, ledby former Agitators. InApril Rich's regiment
reappointedAgitators, who petitionedfor theAgreement of
thePeople: they wereforcibly dispersedby their officers. By
judicious manoeuvringthegenerals retainedcontrol beforeand
duringthesecondcivil war. Inthesummer of 1648Henry
MartenandtheLeveller Lt-CoL WilliamEyres raiseda
regiment of cavalry volunteers 'for thepeople's freedomagainst
all tyrants whatsoever'. Therustics of Berkshire' andother
counties, 'thebasest andvilest of men', rushedto enlist: they
hopedto 'level all sorts of people, evenfromthehighest to
thelowest'. But oncethesecondcivil war hadbeenwonthis
privateforcewas incorporatedintheArmy andneutralized.
Inthe. political crisis whichfollowedthesecondcivil war,
leadingto Pride's Purgeandtheexecutionof theKing, Ireton
usedrank-and-filepetitions to achievehis ownpolitical ends;
theGrandees contemptuously exploitedandthencast aside
theLevellers, 'of whomthereis no fear', as Cromwell put it.
Someof theforms recommendedby theLevellers wereadopted
- arepublic, abolitionof theHouseof Lords - but noneof
thedemocratic content whichalone, intheLeveller view, could
havelegitimatedmilitary interventioninpolitics. TheLeveller
54. [Wildman] PutneyProjects (1647), p. 27; Letter fromtheAgita-
tors of theFiveRegiments of Horse(28October 1647); Letter from
theAgitators of theArmy(11November 1647); Woodhouse, p. 452.
55. Brailsford, op. cit., pp. 342-3; Underdown, op. cit., pp. 268,
56. Underdown, op. cit., pp. 118-19; Abbott, op. cit, I, p. 698.
leaders werearrested, theradical regiments provokedinto un-
sucessful mutiny, whichwas crushedat BurfordinMay 1649.
Army democracy was finished. So, effectively, werethe
A mythremained, andaseries of martyrs - RichardArnold,
shot at CorkbushField; Robert Lockier, shot on27April 1649,
whosefuneral inLondonwas oneof thegreatest political
demonstrations of theRevolution; Cornet Thompson, Cor-
porals ChurchandPerkins, shot at BurfordonIS May; William
Thompson, brother of theBurfordmartyr, killednear Welling-
boroughthreedays later. Bray was kept inprisonuntil 1651.
Welast hear of Agitators inMay 1649- until they reappear in
Therewerealso villains likeCromwell andIreton,
White, who seems to haveplayedatreacherous roleinnegotia-
tions at Burford, and'Judas Denne', oneof theleaders of the
rebellious regiments, who savedhis lifeby grovellingand
preachedasermonof repentanceto his fellow-prisoners inBur-
fordchurch. Weshall meet himagainas aBaptist minister.
Themythwas that of thepeople's army, whichhadpledged
itself never to disbandor divideuntil its democratic objectives
wereobtained, treacherously overcomeby Machiavelliangen-
erals who regardedit as amereprofessional military machine
whichthey usedto further their ownselfishaims andambi-
tions. Andinbetrayingthepeoplethegenerals hadalso be-
trayedGod. Theformer army chaplainJohnSaltmarshwrote
on28October 1647that *yeiavenot dischargedyourselves to
thepeopleinsuchthings as they justly expectedfromye... The
wisdomof the fleshhathdeceivedandenticed'.
A fewweeks
later herosefromhis deathbedandrodefromIlfordto Army
Headquarters at Windsor, inthedepthof winter, to tell Fair-
fax (withhis hat on) theLordhadnowforsakenthemand
wouldnot prosper them, becausethey hadforsakenhim, their
first principle'.
A great number of thecharacters inthis book
servedtheir apprenticeshipintheNewModel Army: William
57. [Anon.] A Modest Narrativeof Intelligence(5-12May 1649).
For 1659-60seepp. 346-7below.
58. Woodhouse, p. 438.
59. Rushworth, op. cit., VII, pp. 944-5.
Dell, WilliamErbery, JohnWebster, Henry Pinnell, Thomas
Collier as Army chaplains; JohnSpittlehousetheFifthMon-
archist, EverardtheDigger, Bauthumley, Clarkson, Coppeand
SalmontheRanters, James Nayler andWilliamDeusbury and
many other Quakers, probably JohnBunyan.
Thousands of
their followers must have* sharedsimilar experiences, similar
loyalties, similar hopes. Thesecommonmemories wouldremain
evenwhenCornet JoycehadbecomeaColonel andaland
speculator andSexby aconspirator intouchwithroyalists.
Theideathat theArmy representedthepeopleof England,
or morefrequently thepeopleof God|nEngland, was still
fromtimeto timeput forward;
but after 1649this nowex-
pressedtheviews of millenarians, not democrats. For thelatter,
political defeat was total andirreversible. Thegroundof the
latewar betweentheKingandyou[Parliament] was acontest
whether heor youshouldexercisethesupremepower over
us,' declaredaLeveller petitionaweek after therendezvous
at Ware; 'so it's vainto expect asettlement of peaceamongst
us until that point beclearly andjustly determined, that there
canbeno liberty inany nationwherethelaw-givingpower is
not solely inthepeopleor their representatives.' 'Is not all the
controversy, whoseslaves thepoor shall be?' askedtheLeveller
pamphlet, TheMournfull Cries of ManyThousandPoore
TradesmeninJanuary 1648.
Theexperiment of democratic
politics hadbeentried, inthemost favourablepossibleforum,
theArmy, that cross-sectionof politically-conscious menof
goodwill; andeventhereit hadfailed. It hadfailed, themyth
said, not becausetheideas werewrongbut becausethegenerals
weretoo wicked, theradical leaders too trusting, themass of
thosewhomthey aspiredto leadtoo littleimpressedwiththe
importanceof theissues. Sin, inseventeenth-century parlance,
was too powerful
60. Firth, Essays Historical andLiterary, p. 130.
61. T. Collier, A Vindicationof theArmy Remonstrance(n.d.,
?1649) sig. A 2, p. 26; W. Erbery, TheLordof Hosts: or, God
guardingtheCampof theSaints (1653) inTheTestimonyof William
Erbery(1658), pp. 25-42.
62. Wolfe, pp. 237,276.
This is iheessential backgroundto bear inmindwhenwe
consider later attempts to achievedemocratic political ob-
jectives - theDiggers by quiet infiltration, by contractingin, by
appeal to Oliver Cromwell; theFifthMonarchists, who expected
thedirect interventionof KingJesus inEnglishpolitics to bring
about theeffects whichdemocratic political methods hadfailed
to achieve; theSeekers andRanters, less directly political, but
deeply concerned, as weretheQuakers, withtheproblemof
'sin' andhowto escapefromits all-pervasiveness. What strikes
thehistorianis howmany political objectives all thesegroups
haveincommon- abolitionof tithes andastatechurch, reform
of thelaw, of theeducational system, hostility to class distinc-
tions. They differ profoundly inthemeans they advocatedto
achievethesecommonends as they thrasharoundinthecon-
finingpool of their society, fromwhich, inthelast resort, there
is no escape. 'Sin' is thereflectionintheminds of menof the
realities of this society.
TheArmy radicals hadonegreat achievement. It shall be
expressedinthewords of their enemy, Clement Walker:
They havecast all themysteries andsecrets of government ...
beforethevulgar (likepearls beforeswine), andhavetaught both
thesoldiery andpeopleto look so far intothemas to ravel back all
governments to thefirst principles of nature... They havemade
thepeoplethereby so curious andso arrogant that they will never
findhumility enoughto submit to acivil rule.
63. Walker, Historyof Independency, I, p. 140.
OthouNorthof England, who art countedas
desolateandbarren, andreckonedtheleast of
thenations, yet out of theedidthebranch
springandthestar arisewhichgives light unto
ail theregionroundabout.
EDWARD BURROUGH, To theCamp of the
LordinEngland(1655) inTheMemorableWorks
of aSonof Thunder andConsolation(1672) p.
THE familiar civil war divisionbetweenroyalist Northand
West, ParliamentarianSouthandEast, is also adivisionbe-
tweentherelatively backwardNorthandWest, andthe
economically advancedSouthandEast. TheNorthandWest
wereregardedby Parliamentarians as the'dark corners of the
, inwhichpreachingwas totally inadequate, despitethe
efforts of many Puritans to subsidizeit.
observedthat therewas 'scarceany minister insomewhole
shires, as inCumberland, Westmorland, Northumberlandand
especially inWales
Eighteenyears later Baxter arguedthat
'multitudes inEngland, andmoreinWales, Cornwall, Ireland,
theHighlands, arescarceableto talk reasonabout common
. Arethese, heasked, 'fit to havethesovereignpower,
to rulethecommonwealth?
Yet oneof theparadoxes of theperiodis that, of themost
1. Seemy 'Puritans and"thedark corners of theland"T.R.H.S.,
1963, pp. 77-102; 'PropagatingtheGospel', inHistorical Essays, 1600-
1750, ed. H. E. Bel* andR. L. Ollard(1963), pp. 35-59; S. andP., pp.
2. LordBrooke, A DiscourseopeningtheNatureof that Episco-
pate whichis exercisedinEngland(1641) inHaller, Tracts onLiberty,
II, p. 151.
3. Baxter, TheHolyCommonwealth, p. 90.
radical sectariangroups, theQuakers startedalmost exclusively
intheNorthof England, theBaptists werevery strongin
Wales. ThenewEnglishIndependency was overthrownby the
Welsh, saidErbery; 'baptizedchurches havethegreatest fall
fromthenorthernsaints bothinEnglandandWales ... John's
spirit is intheNorthof Englandandthespirit of Jesus rising
inNorthWales is for thefall of all thechurches intheSouth...
Thewhirlwindcomes fromtheNorth.'
Fromtheearly 1650s
therewas arapidexpansionof Particular Baptists inWales
andof Quakers all over theNorthof England. Thelight of
GodrisenintheNorth, Burroughsaid, discovers theabomina-
tionof England's teachers andworship, andshall not only
shinethroughout thenationbut 'shall spreadover kingdoms'.
Their enemies agreedinspeakingof 'theNorthernQuakers';
EphraimPagitt in1654saidtheQuakers were'madeupout of
thedregs of commonpeople' andwere'thickest set intheNorth
This opinionof freewill... dothincrease... inthese
northparts,' wrotePaul Hobsonin1655, referringespecially to
Earlier, HughPeter andothers hadnoticedthat the
Welshborder counties, HerefordshireandWorcestershire, were
'ripefor thegospel', andemissaries weresent fromGlamorgan
to Londonin1649askingfor preachers.
turnedsouthin1654they madegreat progress among'that
dark people' of thedark county of Cornwall, as well as in
4. TheTestimonyof WilliamErbery, p. 126; cf. pp. 135-7, 140; T.
Rees, Historyof Protestant NonconformityinWales (2ndedn, 1883),
p. 67.
5. B. R. White, TheOrganizationof theParticular Baptists, 1646-
1660', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, XVII, pp. 210-12.
6. Burrough, Works, p. 11; cf. sig. e3, andepigraphto this chapter;
cf. G. Fox, Mans ComingupfromtheNorth(1653).
7. [Anon.] A Brief Narrativeof theIrreligionof the Northern
Quakers (1653); E. Pagitt, Heresiography(5thedn, 1654), p. 136.
8. P. Hobson, FourteenQueries (1655) Preface; FenstantonRecords,
p. 352.
9. Mr Peters Last Report of theEnglishWarres (1646), p. 13; Rees,
Protestant NonconformityinWales, pp. 90-93; cf. D. Mathew, 'Wales
andEnglandintheearly 17thcentury*, Trans. Hon. Soc. of Cymmro-
dorion, 1955, p. 38.
Wales, andamongweavers generally, notably inGloucester-
Theparadox is increasedby thefact that suchPuritanminis-
ters as therewereintheNorthhadmostly beenclearedout by
Others hadfledfromtheir
parishes intheNorthandinWales duringthecivil war, when
royalist forces occupiedtheir areas. Erbery gives adifferent
reasonfor theabsenceof episcopally-ordainedministers inthe
NorthandinWales: 'they aregoneto fat parsonages from
whencemalignants havebeenthrownout'. Erbery prophesied
that 'thesaints shall buildthoseoldwasteplaces,... not men
who call themselves ministers, but thosewhomthepeopleshall
call ministers'.
Infact as early as 1646thesharpeyeof
Thomas Edwards notedthat 'emissaries out of thesectaries'
churches aresent to infect andpoison... Yorkshireandthose
northernparts,... Bristol andWales'. 'Sects beginto growfast
inthesenorthernparts, for want of asettlement indiscipline/
AnIndependent congregationwas already gatheredat Halifax.
Thomas Collier helpedto establishaBaptist congregationin
theTauntonarea. Army chaplains likeCollier hadaspecial
interest insuchwork. Edwards comments Truly 'tis asadthing
that inall thetowns andcities (for themost part) takenby
theParliament's forces, this shouldbethefruit of it, that errors
andheresies shouldaboundthere, andthat sectaries of all sorts
get places of profit andpower.'
Inthis strugglefor positions
of influencetheArmy was onthespot: Parliament andthe
Presbyterianclergy werefar away. It was invainthat Herbert
Palmer in1646urgedtheHouseof Commons to fill thede-
10. G. Fox, TheShort Journal (CambridgeUP., 1921), p. 42; M.
Coate, Cornwall intheGreat Civil War (OxfordU.P., 1933), pp.
347-8; Braithwaite, pp. 206-10, 232-40, 385; ed. B. B. Underhill, The
Records of theChurchmeetinginBroadmead, Bristol, 1640-1687
(HanserdKnollysSoc., 1847), pp. 515-17.
11. R. Marchant, TheChurchunder theLaw(CambridgeU.P.,
1969), ch. 2and4, pp. 195-203,230.
12. [F. Cheynell] AnAccount GiventotheParliament, p. 34.
13. Edwards, Gangraena(1646), I, pp. 123, 125, 216; II, p. 122; III,
pp. 41, 52-3; Underdown, op. cit, p. 14; cf. my 'Propagatingthe
Gosper, p. 55, andp. 49above.
sertedpulpits intheNorth: 'Churches... will beyour strongest
castles, if youfurnishthemwithministers.' But, as heruefully
pointedout, inagreement withErbery, larger maintenancewas
necessary to persuade'spiritual commanders' to fight theLord's
Oneof Mercurius Politicus*s corres-
pondents was still sayinginNovember 1650that preachers in
theNorth'woulddo as muchgoodserviceto thestateas a
regiment of soldiers inashire'.
It was to remedy this defect that theCommissions for Propa-
gatingtheGospel intheNorthandinWales wereset up. But
theitinerant propagators wereoftenunordainedmechanics,
andthewholeatmosphereof theoperationwas too radical to
beacceptableto thePresbyterianclergy or thegentry. Theob-
ject, Clement Walker said, was to preachanti-monarchical
seditious doctrineto thepeople(suitableto that they call the
present government), to raisetherascal multitudeandschis-
matical rabbleagainst all menof best quality inthekingdom,
to drawtheminto associations andcombinations withone
another inevery county andwiththeArmy, against all lords,
gentry, ministers, lawyers, richandpeaceablemen'.
Ashley Cooper observedin1654that hehadpassedthrough
Wales andfound'churches all unsupplied, except afewgrocers
or suchpersons that haveformerly servedfor two years'.
Professor Stonesuggests, moreover, that therewerefar fewer
small privateschools, runby clergymen, intheNorthandWest
thanintheSouthandEast, whichmust initself havewidened
thecultural gapbetweenthetwo regions.
to look for other explanations thantheinfluenceof southern
Puritanismfor thesuddenburgeoningof radical religious ideas
14. H. Palmer, TheDutyandHonour of ChurchRestorers (1646),
pp. 42-7.
15. Mercurius Politicus, 23(7-14November 1650), pp. 331-2. I owe
this referenceto Mr McCalman; cf. R. Howell, NewcastleuponTyne
andthePuritanRevolution(OxfordU.P., 1967), pp. 218-22.
16. C. Walker, Historyof Independency, Part II, p. 156.
17. K. H. D. Haley, TheFirst Earl of Shaftesbury(OxfordU.P.,
1968), p. 97.
18. Stone, TheEducational Revolution*, P. andP., 28, p. 47.
intheoutlyingareas of theNorth, West andSouth-west of
England, andinWales. Traditional southernEnglishmiddle-
class Puritanismof thePresbyterianvariety hadaholdonly
inisolatedareas of theNorth(Lancashire, Newcastle, theWest
Riding) andhardly at all inWales, except for theareaof Harley
border. HereSir Thomas's "plantingof godly ministers and
thenbackingthemwithhis authority madereligionfamous in
his littlecorner of theworld'.
But this absenceof traditional
Presbyterianismdoes not meanthat therewereno popular
religious movements intheseparts, still less that therewereno
traditions of popular revolt.
Professor Dickens andMr Thomsonhavedemonstratedthe
existenceof apowerful Lollardtradition,, especially intheWest
Ridingof Yorkshire. Professor Barbour has pointedout that
theQuakers wereinitially strongest inareas whichcontributed
thepopular element to thePilgrimageof Gracein1536-7. The
RobinHoodballads wereof northernprovenance.
weresaidto havebeenstrongintheNorth, andtherewerethe
Grindletonians intheWest RidingwhomI shall beconsidering
inamoment: they may bridgethegapbetweenFamilismand
But wehear of suchgroups only by accident,
whenthey get into trouble, as withthegroupof Antinomians
whichmet secretly inprivatehouses inBarnstapleintheearly
1620s. This groupwas drawnfromservingmenandwomen
andother members of thelower classes.
What wemay call
theEnglishMiddleWest was thesceneof anti-enclosurerisings
at theendof the1620s - Dorset, Gloucestershire, Worcester-
shire, Shropshire, Wiltshire. This was also theareaof theClub-
manmovement in1645. Clarendontestifies to theexistenceof
support for theParliamentary causeamongthecommonpeople
of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, CheshireandNorth
19. W. Notestein, EnglishFolk(1938), p. 275.
20. Dickens, Lollards andProtestants in the Dioceseof York,
passim; Thomson, The Later Lollards, passim; H. Barbour, The
Quakers inPuritanEngland(YaleU.P., 1964), p. 86. Seepp. 25, 46-7
21. Seepp. 81-5below.
22. J. F. Chanter, TheLifeandTimes of MartinBlake(1910), p. 52.
Wales, theForest of Deanandthesouth-westerncounties.
Thereis plenty of confirmationfromother sources.
distant Carlislethe'rascal rout
triedto seizethetownfor
Parliament in1643and'set beggars onhorseback'.
All theseconsiderations may helpto explainwhy theNew
Model Army, 'havingmarchedupanddownthekingdom, to
do thework of Godandthestate,... met withmany Christians
who havemuchgospel-light... insuchplaces wheretherehath
beenno gospel-ministry'.
Dr Richardson, themost learned
authority onPuritanisminLancashireandCheshire, notes that
it was strongest inmarket towns andinpastoral areas, as Dr
Thirsk wouldhaveanticipated. Healso observedthat where
before1642Puritanismhadgrownuparoundaparticular in-
cumbent or townlecturer, it increasingly involvedthelaity,
who oftenprovedmuchmoreradical thantheir ministers; often
indeedsuchPuritanismdevelopedinananti-clerical direction.
Similarly inthemany largeparishes, thecurates intheout-
lyingchapelries became financiallydependent ontheir congre-
gations. Heretoo thelaity tendedto pushtheminaradical
Traditional middle-class PresbyterianPuritanismnever took
deepholdintheNorth, still less inWales andsouth-western
England. IntheNorththerewerepockets of Puritanisminthe
pastoral-industrial districts of easternLancashireandtheWest
Ridingof Yorkshire, as well as intheareaaroundNewcastle.
Intheseparts thecongregationoftentook thelead; wecansee
howthis might developinto 'mechanic preaching', separatism,
as soonas liberty of consciencewas established. Thedefeat of
23. Clarendon, Historyof theRebellion, II, pp. 461, 464, 470-72;
III, pp. 80,129-30; V, p. 472.
24. P. andR., pp. 21-3, 207-8; ed. C. Hill andE. Dell, TheGood
OldCause(1949), pp. 239,249-54,278-9.
25. I. Tullie, A Narrativeof theSiegeof Carlisle, inCarlisleTracts,
ed. S. Jefferson(1840), pp. 1-3.
26. Dell, Several Sermons, p. 79.
27. R. C. Richardson, Puritanismin North-westernEngland: a
Regional Studyof theDioceseof Chester to 1642(1972), passim.
28. Professor Underdowncomments onthedisproportionateincidence
of political radicalismamongmembers of theLongParliament from
Yorkshire, DurhamandNorthumberland(op. cit., pp. 228-9).
theroyalist armies inthecivil war, thebankruptcy of thetra-
ditional clergy, createdanevengreater spiritual voidthanin
themoretraditional Puritancentres of theSouthandEast.
Yet theperiodwas oneof muchgreater prosperity inthepasture
andfarmingareas. Blithin1652singledout 'thewoodlandparts
inWorcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire,
Wales-wardandNorth-ward' for their improvedpasturefarm-
ingcombinedwithindustry. This prosperity is confirmedby a
shift of populationto theNorthandWest of England, by the
rebuildingof peasant houses instone, intheNorth, South-west,
TheQuakers, whoseoriginal leaders werealmost exclusively
northernyeomenandcraftsmen, camefromthis background.
LancashireQuakers includedformer victims andopponents
of oppressiveroyalist landlords, who hadgainedexperienceof
cooperativeactioninresistingincreases inrents, labour-services
Levellers wereactiveinLancashire
throughout 1649.
But suchmencouldalso drawonpre-
existingundergroundtraditions whichweresuddenly enabled
to flourishafter Parliament's victory. WhenGeorgeFox rode
into theNorthin1651hefoundcongregations of Seekers or
'shatteredBaptists' waitingfor himeverywhereamongtheyeo-
menfarmers of theYorkshiredales, theLancashireandCum-
berlandpastoral-industrial areas. By 1656Quakerism'began
to spreadmightily' inthesouth-westerncounties of England.
InWales andtheMarches it was theParticular Baptists who
initially filledthespiritual gap, thoughinsomeparts they were
29. Thirsk, AgrarianHistory, pp. 757-60, 789; '17thcentury agriculture
andsocial change
, pp. 170-76; my ReformationtoIndustrial Revolution,
p. 138.
30. B. G. Blackwood, TheLancashireCavaliers andtheir Tenants',
Transactions of theHistorical Soc. of LancashireandCheshire, vol. 117;
'AgrarianUnrest andtheEarly LancashireQuakers', Journal of the
Friends' Historical Soc., LI, pp. 72-6.1havehadtheadvantageof reading
Mr Blackwood's OxfordB.Litt. Thesis, Social andReligious Aspects of
theHistoryof Lancashire, 1635-1655.
31. TheModerate, 22-9May, 1649; CS.PJ)., 1649-50, p. 385. 1owe
the first referenceto Mr Blackwood's Thesis.
32. G. Fox, Journal (1902), I, p. 301.
supersededby Quakers.
TheFifthMonarchists never had
muchinfluenceintheNorth, andonly superficially inWales,
thoughthey werestronger inDevonandCornwall. Mr Capp
suggests that FifthMonarchismwas aspecifically urbanmove-
ment: hefoundlittleconnectionbetweenFifthMonarchy and
forest areas beforethe1670s.
It seems to havebeenmainly
inresponseto this radical challengethat thetraditional clergy
intheoutlyingregions joinedinthemovement ledby Richard
Baxter to buildupvoluntary county associations of ministers,
Thosethat comeout of theNortharethegreatest pests of
thenation,' saidtheM.P. for Southwark in1656; 'theDiggers
Samuel Highlandwas thinkingprimarily about
James Nayler andtheQuakers, andhewas wrongabout most
of theDiggers, so far as weknow. But hewas right about their
leadingtheorist, GerrardWinstanley, borninWigan; andhe
might, hadhetakenthetrouble, haveaddedtheRanter Law*
renceClarkson, borninPreston; theYorkshiremenJohnSalt-
marsh (describedin 1648as 'nowthechief Familist in
), JohnWebster andHenry Jessey; theNorthumbrian
JohnLilburne. Hadheextendedhis coverageto Wales andthe
WelshBorder hemight haveaddedVavasor Powell, Morgan
Lloyd, Walter Cradock, WilliamErbery; JohnBidle, Socinian,
fromGloucestershire; Thomas HarrisonandHenry Danvers,
FifthMonarchists fromStaffordshire; theLeveller William
WalwynfromWorcestershire; HughPeter andJohnCarew
Eventhat is not thewholestory of thecultural impact of
theNorthandWest uponthemoreadvancedSouthandEast.
33. White, TheOrganizationof theParticular Baptists, 1646-1660', pp.
209-13; cf. C. E. Whiting, Studies inEnglishPuritanismfromtheRestora-
tiontotheRevolution(1931), pp. 98,117,255.
34. B. Capp, TheFifthMonarchyMen: a StudyinSeventeenth-century
Millenarianism(1972), pp. 76-7,79,206-7.
35. Seemy 'PropagatingtheGosper, p. 56; Howell, Newcastleupon
Tyne, pp. 245-7; V.CJH., Cumberland, II, pp. 94-5.
36. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, p. 155.
37. S. Rutherford, A Surveyof theSpiritualI Antichrist (1648), p. 194.
For SaltmarshseeA. L. Morton, TheWorldof theRanters, pp. 45-69.
Who arethegreatest metaphysical poets? JohnDonneis
separatedby at least onegenerationfromtheWelshforebear
who sent his younger sonto Londonto beapprenticed.
GeorgeHerbert andHenry VaughanareWelshmen, Marvell
aYorkshireman, Crashawsonof one; Trahernecamefromthe
Welshmarches. Inthesecondrank wemay addLordHerbert
of Cherbury, JohnDavies of Hereford. Inigo Jones was of
Welshdescent Turningto the fieldof mathematics andscience,
andespecially that twilight worldof alchemy andmagic which
historians aremoreandmorecomingto recognizeas of crucial
importanceintheorigins of modernscience, wefindRobert
Recorde, JohnDee, Robert Fludd, MatthewGwynne, Edmund
Gunter, Thomas VaughanandEdwardSomerset, Marquis of
Worcester, all Welshor of Welshdescent;
of Lancashire, WilliamTurner of Northumberland, Henry
Briggs andHenry Power of Halifax, theTowneley groupof
scientists just over theborder inLancashire, who carriedbaro-
meters upGeorgeFox's PendleHill.
It wouldbeinteresting
to makeaserious study of thecultural consequences of the
unionof Great Britain, begunby Henry VII andVIII, extended
by James I, completedby theNewModel Army.
Grindletonianismis theonly Englishsect whichtakes its name
fromaplacerather thanapersonor aset of beliefs,
* and
thereis significanceinthis. For althoughRoger Brearley, curate
at Grindletonfrom1615to 1622, is very important inthe
history of themovement, it probably antedates himandcer-
tainly survivedhim. ThePenninevalleys andClevelanddales,
extendingfromBradfordto theextremenorth-west of York-
38. R. C. Bald, JohnDonne(OxfordU.P., 1970), p. 22.
39.1.OJE.R., p. 65.
40. C. Webster, 'Henry Power's Experimental Philosophy*, Ambix, XV,
pp. 157-9; 'RichardTowneley, theTowneley GroupandSeventeenth-
Century Science*, Transactions of theHistorical Soc. of Lancashireand
Cheshire, vol. 118, pp. 51-76. WeshouldaddJohnWebster again.
40^. Mr Charles Hobday,however,reminds meof thePlymouthBrethren.
shire, providedsaferefuges for religious unorthodoxy. Famil-
ismprobably got aholdhereinElizabeth's reign, andinterest
init extendedover most of thearea. DuringBrearley's curacy,
'many go to Grindleton[fromGiggleswick, sevenmiles away]
andneglect their ownparishchurch'. Brearley oftenpreached
outsidehis ownparish. By 1627opinions 'tendingto thesect
calledGrindletonians' weredetectedwithinafewmiles of
Brearley movedto Kildwick in1622, tenmiles east
of Grindleton. Heleft thediocesealtogether in1631, but in
1634JohnWebster becamecurateof Kildwick, only afew
miles fromJohnLambert's residenceat Kirby Malham. Web-
ster was introublewiththechurchcourts as aGrindletonian
about 1635.
Hequotes Brearley inhis ExamenAcademi-
Inthe1650s hewas aschoolmaster at Clitheroe, just
across theLancashireborder, andpreachedoccasionally at
What is interestingabout Grindletonis theshare
of thecongregationinthemakingof theheresy - recallingDr
Richardson's observations about congregations forcingthepace
inLancashire. A traditional independenceis suggestedby the
agreement of 1587betweenfreeholders andcopyholders of
Grindletonto encloseanddivideacommon
Therewas no
resident rector or vicar, only thecurate, presumably hiredby
thecongregationandthereforelikely to holdviews acceptable
to them. In1617fifty charges weredrawnupagainst Roger
Brearley andhis congregation. Someof themseemmuchmore
radical thantheviews whichthecuratepublishedinhis ser-
mons, or thanareto befoundinwritings printedafter his
death. It is probablethat they represent developments madeby
lay members of his congregation; in1627at least threelaymen
41. R. Marchant, ThePuritans andtheChurchCourts intheDioceseof
York(1960), pp. 40-41,46.
42. ibid, pp. 40-41,127-8. Webster dedicatedhis ExamenAcademiarum
to Lambert in1654. Seepp. 58above, 84, 196belowfor Webster.
43. Op. cit., p. 91.
44. W. S. Weeks, ClitheroeintheSeventeenthCentury(Clitheroe, n.d.,
71928), p. 176.
45. Ed. R. H. Tawney andE. Power, Tudor Economic Documents
(1953), I, pp. 81-4.
wereinvolvedinfurther accusations, includingthat of holding
Amongthefifty charges of 1617werethefollowingbeliefs:
(1) amotionrisingfromthespirit is moreto berestedinthanthe
Worditself; (2) it is asinto believetheWord... without amotion
of thespirit; (3) thechildof Godinthepower of gracedothper-
formevery duty so well, that to ask pardonfor failinginmatter or
manner is asin; (7) theChristianassuredcannever commit agross
sin; (14) asoul sanctifiedmust so aimat God's glory, as hemust
never think of salvation; (33) amanhavingthespirit may read,
pray or preachwithout any other callingwhatsoever; (38) neither
thepreacher nor they pray for theKing... They knownot whether
hebeelectedor not; (46) they cannot havemorejoy inheaven
thanthey haveinthis lifeby thespirit
Brearley himself speaks of masteringsin, whichsets believers
free fromhell anddeath.
Belief inthepriority of thespirit over theletter of theBible,
denial of thesignificanceof ordination, thepossibility of living
without sinandattainingheaveninthis life- weshall often
meet suchviews again.Theyrepresentedagravechallengeto tra-
ditional Calvinism, whichcouldbevery dauntinginmoments of
depression. In1622, whenThomas Shepardwas about seventeen
years oldandindeepdespair, he'heardof Grindleton' andasked
himself 'whether that glorious estateof perfectionmight not
bethetruth?' andwhether thepreachers whosedoctrines had
so frightenedhim*werenot all legal men, andtheir books
A suddenconversionsavedhimfor Calvinism, andhe
went onto beasuccessful minister inNewEngland. But
Governor Winthropattributedtheheresies of Mistress Anne
Hutchinsonto Grindletoniandoctrines.
CalvinandtheEternal Decrees wereunder attack fromall
46. Marchant, op, cit., p. 47; Thomas Sippell, Zur Vorgeschichtedes
Qudkertums (Giessen, 1920), pp. 24-30.
47. Sippell, op. cit., pp. 50^-55.
48. 'Autobiography of Thomas Shepard', Publications of theColonial
Soc. of Massachusetts, XXVII (1927-30), pp. 362-3.
49. G. F. Nuttall, TheHolySpirit inPuritanFaithandExperience(Ox-
ford, 1946), pp. 178-80.
sides faEngland, thevoices of theGrindletonianFamilists'
werelistened to again- especially bythe laity. JohnWebster
was closely associatedwiththeWelshmanWilliamErbery;
Robert Towne, curateof various parishes inwest Yorkshire
andeast Lancashire fromthe 1630s to 1664, had beenaccused
of Grindletonianismin1640
Roger Williams called the
Quaker leaders JohnCammandFrancis Howgill Grindle-
tomans, thoughthey areusually spokenof as Seekers; wehave
adescriptionbyThomas Bancroft (1657) of his ownconversion
fromtheGrindletonians to theQuakers."
Finally, thoughI suggestedthat Brearley's owncongregation
may haveoutstrippedhim, hehimself points forwardto the
1640s and50s. What couldbemorerelevant thanhis only good
poem, Self civil wart
Untomyself I domyself betray...
Myself agrees not withmyself ajot...
trust myself, andI myself distrust...
I cannot live, withnor without myself.
Therewehavethe'doubleheart' of Brearley's fellowYork-
shireman, Andrew Marvell, whichis central to thewholeof
metaphysical poetry; linkedwiththespiritual turmoil anddis-
satisfactionwhichpreparedso many congregations of Seekers
inYorkshire, Lancashire, CumberlandandWestmorlandfor
themessageof GeorgeFox andJames Nayler. Inasimilar
way JohnWebster was to link theGrindletoniandistrust of an
educatedandordainedclergy withanadvancedprogrammefor

m o f
higher education. Grindleton, lyingat thefoot
of PendleHill, GeorgeFox's Mount of Vision,
50. Pagitt, Heresiography(1654), p. 87. For adefinitionof theEternal
Decrees seep. 17
51. Seep. 216below.
52. Sippell, op. cit.,
. 49; ed. G. F. Nuttall, EarlyQuaker Letters from
theSwanhmore Sf
. to 1660(dupBcated, 1952), p. 229.
P o e ms
' P- 94, in^Bundleof Soul convincing ...and
54R M J ^
w1thm °
> MysticismandDemocracyintheEnglishCommon-
ment fromtS
S ee
P- 57abovefor support for Parlia-
haveamoreprominent placeonmaps of seventeenth-century
Englandthanis usually accordedto it
Historians of sciencedistinguishbetween'internal' and'ex-
ternal' causes of advanceinscientific knowledge; betweenthe
logical development of structures of ideas ontheonehand,
andresponseto social pressures andtechnical needs onthe
other. Bothclearly areimportant inthehistory of science. I
attempt inthis book to look at theexternal andinternal causes
of theflorescenceof radical ideas of all kinds inthedecade
after theendof theEnglishcivil war.
Inchapters 3, 4and5I havestressedthesocial background
- theisolationandfreedomwhichpermittedradical ideas to
developamongsomecommunities inwoodlandandpasture
areas; themobilesociety of early capitalism, servicedby
itinerant merchants, craftsmen, pedlars; thecrowds of master-
less men, vagabonds andurbanpoor, who no longer fittedinto
thecategories of ahierarchical agrariansociety. Thegreat
shake-upof thecivil war suddenly andremarkably increased
social andphysical mobility. TheNewModel Army itself can
beregardedas abody of masterless menonthemove. Just as
- givenreligious freedom- itinerant craftsmenandmerchants
couldbecomeitinerant ministers, so theNewModel Army -
themainprotagonist inthefight for religious liberty - con-
tainedmechanic preachers andgatheredchurches. It linkedup
thehitherto obscureradical groups scatteredupanddownthe
kingdom, andgavethemnewconfidence, especially inthelonely
NorthandWest. It was also itself anoutstandingexampleof
social mobility.
TheNewModel was thematchwhichfiredthegunpowder.
But oncetheconflagrationstarted, therewas plenty of com-
bustiblematerial lyingaround. To appreciatethis wemust
look at thedevelopment of radical andheretical ideas inEng-
land, somereligious, others secular; someinheritedfromthe
Lollards, someimportedfromthecontinent, all modifiedin
therapidly changingsociety of sixteenth- andearly seventeenth-
century England. Chapter 2attemptedto survey someof these
traditions; chapters 6, 7and8pick out others. Inthehectic
andexhilaratingfreedomof the1640s and50s all theseelements
werecast into ameltingpot fromwhichunprecedentednew
compounds wereto emerge.
[I wroteGangraenaJ out of theprideandvanity
of my ownmind, out of disdainthat plainun-
learnedmenshouldseek for knowledgeany
other way thanas they weredirectedby us that
arelearned; out of basefear, if they shouldfall
toteachoneanother, that weshould... lose
our dominationinbeingsolejudges of doctrine
anddiscipline, whereby our predecessors have
over-ruledstates andkingdoms: or lastly that we
shouldloseour profits andplenteous mainten-
anceby tithes ... All this I sawcomingwith
that liberty whichplainmentook totry andex-
amineall things ...
WILLIAM WALWYN, A Predictionof Mr Ed-
wards His ConversionandRecantation(1646) in
Hallo:, Tracts onLiberty, III, p. 343.
MOST menandwomeninseventeenth-century Britainstill
livedinaworldof magic, inwhichGodandthedevil inter-
veneddaily, aworldof witches, fairies andcharms. If they
failed, theroyal touchwouldcurescrofula. AriseEvans, born
in1607inMerionethshire, saidit was usual for thieves to go
to cunningmenor astrologers to findout whether they would
behangedor not.
Most villages hadtheir 'cunningman
, their
whitewitch: they werecheaper thandoctors or lawyers. If we
think about theworldinwhichmenlived, it is easy to seewhy
miraculous interventions indaily lifeweretakenfor granted.
acts of
God' arerarer thanintheseventeenthcentury. Universal in-
surance, includingsocial insurance, better medical services and
especially anaesthetics, no plague, houses madeof bricks and
thereforefar less inflammable, winter feedfor cattle, so that
1. A. Evans, TheBloudyVisionof JohnFarley(1653), p. 39.
springis no longer starvationtime- all this has transformed
ordinary existence. Thetraditional insecurity of medieval life
hadbeenintensifiedby thenewinsecurity of thecapitalist
market. Nation-wideslumps likethat intheclothingindustry
duringthe1620s ledto intensifiedcompetition; thenewatti-
tudes - 'amanmay do what hewill withhis own', and'the
devil takethehindmost
- disruptedthelow-level social security
of themedieval village. Dr MacfarlaneandMr Thomas have
arguedthat persecutionof witches increasedinthesixteenth
andseventeenthcenturies as menblamedthevictims of their
anti-social actions rather thanblamingthemselves.
Dr Thomas Beard, Oliver Cromwell's schoolmaster and
friend, contributedto avast literaturedescribingGod's provi-
dences against Sabbathbreakers andother sinners, whenthe
Almighty interveneddirectly anddrastically to manifest his
disapproval of somehumanaction. Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir
Francis Bacon, Sir KenelmDigby andmany other futureFel-
lows of theRoyal Society, believedinsympathetic magic: that
bleedingcouldbestoppedat adistanceby applyingto the
weaponahandkerchief dippedinthebloodof theinjured
party: JohnLockebelievedinit too.
Wecannot separatethe
early history of sciencefromthehistory of magic, cannot give
prizes to goodrationalists as against badmagicians, astrologers,
alchemists. Tnthosedark times,' saidJohnAubrey of thedays
beforethecivil war, 'astrologer, mathematicianandconjuror
Giordano Bruno, JohnDee,
JohnKepler, Tycho Brahewereall magi. JohnWilkins, future
secretary of theRoyal Society, in1648still quotedDeeand
Fluddas authorities on'mathematical magic'. If anElizabethan
wantedgold, hecouldraidtheSpanishMain, or hecould
practisealchemy: Sir Walter Raleghtriedtheone, JohnDee
theother: Sir WilliamCecil investedinboth.
2. A. Macfarlane, Witchcraft inTudor andStuart England(1970), pp.
201-6, 244-52; TheFamilyLifeof RalphJosselin(CambridgeU.P.,
1970), pp. 176-7, 193; Thomas, op. cit., esp. pp. 638-40. Seep. 330
3. 7.0.E.R., p. 149.
4. Aubrey, Brief Lives, I, p. 27.
It is truethat inthelongrunprotestantismworkedagainst
all magic, black or white, against charms, spells, incantations
andlovepotions. Countless sermons denouncingtransubstantia-
tionhelpedto produceamaterialist andsceptical attitudeto-
wards themiracleof themass: miracles generally werepushed
back into thepast. But it was alongtimebeforethesethings
affectedordinary menandwomen. Meanwhilecunningmen
took over many of thejobs previously performedby Roman
Catholic priests andneglectedby their successors. TheDukeof
Buckingham, favouriteof James andCharles I, hadhis
astrologer, Dr Lambe: serious politicians sought astrological
advice- Oliver Cromwell, Whitelocke, RichardOverton.
PuritandivineJohnPrestontook astrology seriously;
Ashmole, F.R.S., practisedit. It is significant that therewas a
Society of Astrologers inLondonmorethanadecadebefore
therewas aRoyal Society. At thepopular level, 'themaliceof
theclergy' couldno longer prevent thepublicationof astro-
logical books after 1640as it haddonebefore,
andthey ap-
pearedinabundant profusion, together withanumber of
prophecies, oldandnew. Almanacs becameat oncemore
numerous, morepolemical andpropagandist, andappealedto
awider public at twopenceatime. They also becamemore
profitable, as almanac-makers took sides inthecivil war: 1800
copies of WilliamLilly's Prophecyof theWhiteKingsold
withinthreedays of publicationin1644.
Astrological almanacs
soldevenbetter thantheBible; they wereallegedby many
contemporaries to havedonegreater harmto theroyal cause
It is only fromour modernvantagepoint
that wecanseparatewhat is 'rational' inseventeenth-century
sciencefromwhat is not. Wemust not allowthis wisdomafter
theevent to makeus condescendingabout beliefs heldby men
5. Thomas, op. cit., esp. ch. 9.
6. S. Clarke, Lives of Thirty-two EnglishDivines (1677), p. 76.
7. Ed. C. H. Josten, Elias Ashmole. 1617-1692(OxfordU.P., 1966), I,
pp. 21-2.
8. H. F. Fletcher, TheIntellectual Development of JohnMilton(Illinois
U.P.), II (1961), p. 557; H. Rusche, 'Merlini Anglici : Astrology andPro-
pagandafrom1644to 1651%E.H.R., LXXX, pp. 322-33.
9. Thomas, op. cit., pp. 294, 343.
likeBacon, BoyleandNewton. Only inthecourseof thecen-
tury didthelaws of naturehardenandcongeal; meanwhile
scientists wereof all menthemost anxious to demonstratethat
scienceproves theexistenceof God.
TheEnglish, wroteFuller inthemid-seventeenthcentury,
aresaidalways to carry 'anoldprophecy about withthemin
their pockets, whichthey canproduceat pleasureto promote
their designs, thoughoft mistakenintheapplicationof such
equivocatingpredictions'. BishopHacket agreedthat 'weEng-
lishareobservedto betoo credulous of vainprophecies such
as arefathereduponMerlinandno better authors'.
prophecies of Merlin, Mother Shiptonandmany others prob-
ably circulatedfar morethanwehaveevidenceto demonstrate.
FifthMonarchists inthe1650s citedthemas well as theSibylline
prophecies, Nostradamus, Paracelsus andastrologers.
Lilly specializedinapplyingoldpredictions to thecircum-
stances of therevolutionary decades. His Prophecyof theWhite
Kingelaboratedonapredictionattributedto Merlin.
repeatedprophecies of 'arestraint onmonarchical power', his
call, onstrictly astrological grounds, for Charles I andtheOx-
fordParliament to returnto Westminster, his repeatedpredic-
tions of defeat andaviolent endfor theKing, may have
contributedto bringabout theseeffects.
It was afortunate
coincidencefor Lilly that his prophecy of disaster for Charles
was publishedontheday of theBattleof Naseby. 'His writings
havekept upthespirits of thesoldiery, thehonest peopleof
this realm, andmany of us Parliament men,' saidanM.P. in
Threeyears earlier Parliament hadvotedhimagift of
£50andapensionof £100per annum. Lilly, AriseEvans wrote
in1655, 'knows nothing, nor ever didknowanything, but as the
10. Seech. 14below.
11. T. Fuller, ChurchHistoryof Great Britain(1655), II, p. 396; J.
Hacket, ScriniaReserata (1692), II, p. 226.
12. Ed. P. Toon, Puritans, theMillenniumandtheFutureof Israel
(Cambridge, 1970),p. 111.
13. W. Lilly, A Collectionof Ancient andModernProphecies (1645).
14. Lilly, Prophetical Merlin(1644), p. 24; Supernatural Sights and
Apparitions (1644), sig. Av, A 2.
15. Rusche, op. cit., pp. 325,332.
Parliament directedhimto write
But thenEvans was arival,
andless successful, prophet. Lilly must havedonemuchto
make, or keep, astrology acceptableto theradicals. Hehim-
self had, or wroteas thoughhehad, stronganti-clerical and
anti-aristocratic convictions, speakingupin1644for theyeo-
menof Englandandfor theprivatesoldiers.
His enthusiasm
ledhimin1652to predict 'acessationof all taxes, andall things
governedby love'.
TheReformation, for all its hostility to magic, hadstimulated
thespirit of prophecy. Theabolitionof mediators, thestress
ontheindividual conscience, left Godspeakingdirect to his
elect. It was incumbent onthemto makepublic his message.
AndGodwas no respecter of persons: hespoketo JohnKnox
rather thanto Mary Queenof Scots. Knox himself thanked
Godfor his gift of prophecy, whichestablishedhis [Knox's]
bona fides.
Thecommonman, Luther, CalvinandKnox
showed, couldremakehistory if kings andprinces didnot.
InEnglandtherevolutionary decades gavewidepublicity to
what was almost anewprofession- theprophet, whether as
interpreter of thestars, or of traditional popular myths, or of
theBible. It is thereforevery important for us to graspthe
roleof prophecies inpopular psychology. 'Dreams andpro-
phecies do thus muchgood,' Seldenobserved; 'they makea
manto go onwithboldness uponadanger or amistress. If he
obtains, heattributes muchto them; if hemiscarries, hethinks
no moreof them, or is no morethought of himself.'
too inhis history of thecivil war notedthat prophecy was
'many times theprincipal causeof theevent foretold'.
Leff has suggestedthat theappeal to theBibleas history or
prophecy was oneof themost momentous developments of
16. A. Evans, TheVoiceof KingCharts (1655), p. 41.
17. Lilly, Supernatural Sights andApparitions, pp. 47-8; A Prophecy
of theWhiteKing, p. 6; TheStarryMessenger (1645), p. 23; AnAstro-
logical Predictionof theOccurrences inEngland(1648), p. 17.
18. Lilly, Annus Tenebrosus (1652), p. 40.
19. J. Ridley, JohnKnox(OxfordU.P., 1968), pp. 409, 451, 519.
20. Selden, TableTalk(1847), p. 185.
21. Hobbes, EnglishWorks, VI, p. 399; cf. T. Sprat, Historyof the
Royal Society(1667), pp. 364-5, quotedonp. 355below.
thelater MiddleAges. Eschatological prophecy becameamajor
part of protestant controversial literature, aidedespecially by
theinventionof printing.
Protestant scholarshipexposedmany Catholic .superstitions,
andpopularizedthevernacular Bible. Similarly, protestant study
of theprophetical books of theBiblewas intendedto put the
scienceof prophecy onarational basis. Other prophecies, unless
positively assistedby devils,
always fooledthosewho trusted
them: Birnamwooddidcometo Dunsinaneinamost unfair
Theinventionof printing, by puttingprophecies on
permanent record, perhaps helpedto exposetheir ambiguities
Thefeelingof freedomwhichrelianceonsuch
prophecies hadgivenwas illusory. But theBible, if properly
understood, really wouldliberatemenfromdestiny, frompre-
destination. By understandingandcooperatingwithGod's pur-
poses menbelievedthey couldescapefromtheblindforces
whichseemedto ruletheir world, fromtimeitself; they could
It was inascientific spirit that scholars approachedBiblical
prophecy. It was thejobof mathematicians andchronologers,
likeNapier, Brightman, Mede, Ussher andNewton. Suchmen
believedinthepossibility of establishingascienceof prophecy,
just as Hobbes believedinthepossibility of establishinga
scienceof politics. Bothhopes provedunrealizable: neither is
thereforeto bedespised. By themid-seventeenthcentury acon-
census seemedto havebeenreached, indicatingtheadvent of
remarkableevents inthemid-1650s: thefall of Antichrist,
perhaps thesecondcomingandthemillennium. This underlay
22. G. Leff, TheMythology of aTrueChurch', Papers presentedto
theP. andP. ConferenceonPopular Religion, July 1966, pp. 6-10.
23. This is suggestedby Sir Francis Hubert, Poems, ed. B. Mellor
(HongKongU.P., 1961), pp. 83-4.
24. cf. Peele's Edward/, inwhichLlewellynis, inavery similar way,
fooledby aprophecy (ed. A. Dyce, Dramatic andPoetical Works of
Robert GreeneandGeorgePeele, 1861, p. 410).
25. E. L. Eisenstein, HieAdvent of PrintingandtheProblems of the
Renaissance', P. andP., 45, pp. 78-9.
26. Seemy God's Englishman: Oliver Cromwell andtheEnglishRevo-
lution(1970), p. 223.
theconfident energy, theUtopianenthusiasm, of thePuritan
preachers intheearly 1640s. Withwhat subsequently seemed
to themnaiveoptimism, they calledthecommonmanto fight
theLord's battles against Antichrist
Baconandothers urgedscientists to study thetechniques of
craftsmen, their mysteries, handedonverbally frommaster
to apprentice. Theideathat therewas asecret traditional wis-
dom, Egyptianor Hermetic, to bewrungfromnature, died
very hard. Fromthetimeof theGnostics therehadbeena
similar traditionthat thereweresecret meanings behind- the
sacredtext of theScriptures, knownonly to theinitiates, to
scholars. Ordinary Bible-readers inthesixteenthandseven-
teenthcenturies wantedto democratizethesemysteries; to
abolish mumbo-jumbo men, whether priests, lawyers or
They believed, ongoodprotestant authority, that
anyonecouldunderstandGod's Wordif hestudiedit care-
fully enough, andif thegraceof Godwas inhim. Andthenthe
Biblecouldbemadeto reveal thekey to events of his owntime.
Bibles werenot expensiveas book prices thenwent. Josselin
mentions 3s. 2d. as thepricein1649; later it was 2s.
GenevaBiblewas publishedinpocketableeditions, so that
mencouldstudy it intheprivacy of their homes, or couldpro-
duceit inachurchor anale-houseto knock downanargument
withatext. Mencomingto theBiblewithno historical sense
but withthehighest expectations foundinit amessageof
direct contemporary relevance. TakeayoungWelshmanlike
AriseEvans, who cameto Londonin1629. Hetells us howhis
attitudetowards theBiblechangedinthedecadebeforethe
Revolution. 'AforeI lookedupontheScriptureas ahistory
of things that passedinother countries, pertainingto other
persons; but nowI lookeduponit as amystery to beopened
at this time, belongingalso to us.'
This attitudemust have
27. Seemy Antichrist inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, passim. For
Hobbes seeAppendix I below.
28. cf. pp. 296-300below.
29. Macfarlane, Josselin, p. 24; cf. J. Bunyan, Works, ed. G. OflEor
(1860), III, p. 711; Mercwrius Politicus, No. 34, 1656, p. 7366.
30. A. Evans, AnEccho totheVoiceof Heaven(1653), p. 17.
beensharedby many of thevictims of economic andpolitical
crisis who turnedto theBiblefor guidanceinthoseperplexing
years. The1640s and 50s wereindeedthegreat ageof
'mechanick preachers' - laymenlikeBunyaninterpretingthe
Bibleaccordingto their untutoredlights withall theconfidence
andexcitement of anewdiscovery. 'I amas thePaul of this
time/ Evans exclaimed; 'hewas amechanic, atent-maker, Acts
'Poor, illiterate, mechanic men,' saidWil-
liamDell of theApostles, 'turnedtheworldupsidedown.'
TheBiblewas theacceptedsourceof all trueknowledge.
Everybody citedits texts to proveanargument, includingmen
likeHobbes andWinstanley, who illustratedfromtheBible
conclusions at whichthey hadarrivedby rational means. The
differenceinthecaseof simpler menlikeAriseEvans is that
they believedtheBibleto bedivinely inspired, andappliedits
texts directly to problems of their ownworldandtime, withno
ideaof thedifficulties of translation, nor of thehistorical un-
derstandingrequired. So AriseEvans thought that Revelation
8and11gaveanaccount of thecivil war, that chapters 8and
9of Amos set downall that cameto pass sincethebeginning
of theLongParliament. InAmos 9.1thelintel at thedoor,
whichis to besmittenthat theposts may shake, must refer to
Speaker Lenthall.
But theseuntrainedminds includeda
GeorgeFox andaJohnBunyan. They weregrapplingwith
theproblems of their society, problems whichcalledurgently
for solution, andthey wereusingthebest tools they knewof.
MoresolidPuritandivines hadcitedtheBibleagainst bishops,
against persecution, against tithes. TheEvanses studiedit very
carefully, if less skilfully andmoreselectively, inorder to
understandandso beableto control what was goingto
If weaddto this theFamilist belief takenover by the
31. W. Y. Undall, JohnBunyan, Mechanick Preacher (NewYork,
1964), passim; A. Evans, TheBloudyVisionof JohnFarley, sig. A 8.
32. Dell, Several Sermons, p. 144: cf. Dell, Power fromonHigh(1645),
p. 18.1owethis referenceto Mr Charles Webstar.
33. A. Evans, A VoicefromHeaventotheCommon-Wealthof Eng-
land(1652), pp. 27, 33,45.
Quakers, that only thespirit of Godwithinthebeliever can
properly understandtheScriptures, weget anintensesenseof
theimmediatepersonal relevanceof theBible's message. Men
cameto knowtheBibleso well that their relationshipto it was
almost passive. InGraceAboundingtexts arehurledat Bun-
yan's headlikethunderbolts of God. TheBiblespokedirect,
outsidehistory, to menwho believedpassionately that theday
of theLordwas imminent: they only understoodwhat the
Lordmeant. Theappeal to thepast, to documents (whether the
Bibleor MagnaCarta), becomes acriticismof existinginstitu-
tions, of certaintypes of rule. If they do not conformto the
sacredtext, they areto berejected. Priests andscholars would
havelikedto keepinterpretationof theBiblethemonopoly
of aneducatedelite, as it hadbeeninthedays beforethever-
nacular Bibleexisted. Theradical reply was to assert thepossi-
bility of any individual receivingthespirit, theinner experience
whichenabledhimto understandGod's Wordas well as, better
than, merescholars who lackedthis inner grace. Luther, who
inventedthepriesthoodof all believers, hadbeenableto beat
thetheologians at their owngame. But for seventeenth-century
Englishradicals thereligionof theheart was theanswer to
thepretensions of theacademic divinity of ruling-class univer-
Emphasis onprivateinterpretationwas not however mere
absoluteindividualism. Thecongregationwas theplacein
whichinterpretations weretestedandapproved. GeorgeFox s
tripto theNorthof Englandin1651was overwhelmingly suc-
cessful becausehis messagewas acceptableto pre-existing
congregations of Seekers or Grindletonians. Thecongregation
guaranteedthevalidity of theinterpretationfor thegivensocial
unit, was acheck onindividualist absurdities.
Any careful readingof theBiblegives riseto thoughts about
theendof theworld. Inthehighly-chargedatmosphereof the
1640s, many peopleexpectedit inthenear future. This, as Mr
Lamont has shown, was not aviewpeculiar to theradicals. It
was held, amongothers, by KingJames, Sir Walter Ralegh
34. cf. pp. 371-2below.
Themost of thechief divines,'
theScot Robert BailliereportedfromLondonin1645, 'not only
Independents but others, ... areexpress Chiliasts.' As soonas
thecensorshipbrokedown, Foxe's Bookof Martyrs, which
Laudhadforbiddento bereprinted, circulatedagain; English
translations andpopular summaries of theworks of Napier,
Brightman, MedeandAlstedwerepublished, all seemingto
underpintheUtopianhopes of less scholarly readers of the
Preachers ontheParliamentary sidecalledonordinary
peopleto fight for God's cause, andgot ultimately rather more
enthusiasmthanthey bargainedfor. But millenarianismexisted
at bothlevels: wemust seetheeccentricities of popular Fifth
Monarchists inthe1650s against this scholarly background,
whichledMiltonto speak of Christ as 'shortly-expectedKing'.
It is difficult to exaggeratetheextent andstrengthof mil-
lenarianexpectations amongordinary peopleinthe1640s and
early 50s: I havetriedto givetheevidenceelsewhere.
affectedLevellers likeLt.-Col. JohnJubbes, Major Francis
WhiteandCaptainWilliamBray no less thanapoet like
GeorgeWither. Mr Toonsuggests that theseexpectations
reachedtheir zenithinthelate1640s: theFifthMonarchist
movement markedadecline.
To many mentheexecutionof Charles I in1649seemedto
makesenseonly as clearingtheway for KingJesus, as the
preludeto greater international events. JohnSpittlehousein
1650warnedRometo 'bewareof Nol Cromwell's army, lest
HughPeter cometo preachinPeter's chair'. Inthesameyear
AriseEvans hadavisioninwhichhewent throughFranceto
35. W. Lamont, GodlyRule(1969) passim; P. andR., p. 313; Ralegh,
Historyof theWorld(1820), I, p. 204; W. Chillingworth, Works (Oxford
U.P., 1838), IU, p. 300; cf. pp. 369-82.
36. R. Baillie, Letters andJournals (1775), II, p. 156. A translationof
JosephMede's TheKeyof theRevelationwas publishedin1643, by order
of acommitteeof theHouseof Commons, withPrefaceby theProlocutor
of theWestminster Assembly of Divines. Thetranslationwas madeby
anM.P. (seemy Antichrist inSeventeenthCenturyEngland, p. 28.)
37. Milton, CompleteProseWorks (Yaleedn), I, p. 616.
38. Seemy Antichrist inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, passim.
39. P. Toon, op. cit, p. 218.
Rome, where'avoicecameto mesaying, So far as thouart
come, so far shall Cromwell come'.
A Bristol Baptist in1654,
hearingthat two Frenchmenhadbeenimprisonedfor fore-
tellingtheendof theworldfor 1656, was worriedbecausehe
was not preparedfor that event.
RalphJosselinwas readingmillenariantracts, oneof which
suggestedthat Oliver Cromwell wouldconquer theTurk and
thePope. Hewas continually thinkinganddreamingabout the
millennium. Henotedinbis Diary that menexpectedtheworld
to endin1655or 1656, thoughhedidnot sharethebelief. This
generationshall not pass,' declaredJohnTillinghast in1654,
until themillenniumhas arrived.
in1658that 'thejudgment day is at hand'.
Dr Capphas shownthat thestrengthof theFifthMonarchist
movement inthefifties was amongclothworkers andother
craftsmen. Hestresses their class consciousness, their hostility
to aristocracy. JohnRogers attacked'naughty nobles' and'pro-
Their programmewas inmany
points similar to that of theLevellers, attackingtithingpriests
andlawyers as well as therich. It seems to havebeentheir
associations withtheclothingindustry rather thantheir study
of theBiblewhichmadethemfavour war against theNether-
lands andpeacewithSpain. Dr Nuttall andothers believethat
thespreadof Quakerismwouldhavebeenimpossibleinthe
1650s without theantecedent millenarianexcitement, of which
theFifthMonarchist movement was only part.
Withhis usual
goodsenseGeorgeFox rebukedaQuaker who set aspecific
andvery imminent datefor theday of judgment.
But Quakers,
likeFifthMonarchists, helpedto fill thevacuumleft by the
executionof Charles I. They believedthat Christ hadcometo
40. J. Spittlehouse, RomeRidn'dbyWhitehall (1650), p. 339; A. Evans,
AnEccho totheVoicefromHeaven[n.d., ?1653], p. 115.
41. Underhill, ChurchmeetinginBroadmead, Bristol, p. 60.
42. Macfarlane, Josselin, pp. 23-4, 185, 189-91; J. Tillinghast, Genera-
tion-work, Part III (1654), pp. 73, 156, 226-49. Tillinghast diedin1655
43. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 722.
44. Quotedby B. S. Capp, inToon, op. cit., p. 73; cf. p. 127below.
45. Nuttall, TheWelshSaints, 1640-1660(Cardiff, 1957), pp. 46, 70-71.
46. Braithwaite, p. 147. See~p. 245below.
reigninall men. It was amorerepublicananddemocratic even
if less directly political doctrine.
Religious tolerationis thegreatest of all evils, thought Thomas
Edwards in1646. It will bringinfirst scepticismindoctrineand
looseness of life, thenatheism. If atolerationbegranted, all
preachingwill not keepheresies out. 'No manknows where
thesesectaries will stopor stay, or to what principles they will
keep.' Later hewrotetheconsideredwords: 'Weareinafar
worseconditionthanwhentheenemy was intheheight of his
success andvictories at thetakingof Bristol, or ever sincethe
Parliament began.'
Wearenowperhaps inapositionto see
why hefelt so strongly.
'Religionis theonly firmfoundationof all power,' Charles
I hadsaid. Thechurchandstatedo mutually support andgive
assistanceto eachother,' wroteBishopGoodman. Thestate
pays them[theclergy], andthus they havedependenceupon
thestate,' as HughPeter morebrutally put it.
of astatechurchwas not merely to guidemento heaven: it
was also to keeptheminsubordinationhereonearth. Different
societies, different churches: but to want no statechurchat all
seemedto traditionalists adenial of all goodorder.
ThoseM.P.s who in1641haddefendedtheestablished
churchas thebuttress of theexistingsocial order hadbeen
provedcorrect. Ecclesiastical authority, thefunctioningof
churchcourts, hadutterly brokendown; theattempt to replace
themby aPresbyteriandisciplinary systemenjoyedavery
limitedsuccess. Thelower orders werefreer thanthey hadever
been- freefromprosecutionfor 'sin', freeto assembleard
discuss intheir owncongregations, free(if they wishedto be)
fromthesupervisionandcontrol of auniversity-educatedmin-
istry, freeto choosetheir ownlay preachers, mechanics likethe
47. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 153-4, 187-9; III, pp. 261-2, 267.
48. Ed. Sir C. Petrie, Letters of Charles I (1935), pp. 200-206; G. Good-
man, TheCourt of KingJames, 1839), I, p. 421; H. Peter, GoodWorkfor
a GoodMagistrate(1651), p. 11.
rest of thecongregation. Theattack ontithes, commonto all
theradicals, underminedthewholeconcept of astatechurch,
sinceif parishioners couldnot belegally compelledto pay
tithes therewouldbeno 'livings' for theclergy to occupy, no
impropriatedtithes for thegentry to collect intheforty per
cent of livings whichwerelay fees. Disestablishment of the
churchwoulddeprivethegentry of another property right -
theright of presentationto aliving, aright for whichthey or
their ancestors hadpaidhardcashandwhichgavethemuseful
opportunities of providingfor ayounger sonor apoor relation.
If therewereno ready-madelivings for theclergy, thenwhat
wouldhappento theuniversities, whosemainfunctionwas
trainingministers andwhoseownfinances dependedlargely
If ministers weredependent onthevoluntary contributions
of their congregations, as was madeexplicit by thechurch
covenant inIndependent churches, they wouldalso haveto
reflect thetheological andpolitical outlook of thesecongrega-
tions, andso thechurchas anorganfor imposingandmain-
tainingasingleconsistent outlook wouldceaseto exist. Inthe
evenmoredemocratic churches of Baptists andother sectaries,
thedistinctionbetweenclergy andlaity ceasedto exist.
'Mechanick preachers', labouringsix days aweek, wouldcost
their congregations nothing, andwouldbecloser to theviews
of their hearers inurbancongregations andinmany pastoral-
industrial areas. TheBaptist principleof adult baptismmeant
that eachindividual must chooseor bechosenby acongrega-
tionafter hewas grownup: it too disruptedthevery ideaof a
national church. 'Oncegiveover christeningthewholeparish
infancy,' wroteSamuel Fisher inhis Baptist days, 'andthen
farewell that parishposturewhichthePopeset upinall
Christendomsomesix hundredyears ago, yeathendownfalls
theparochial-church-steeple-house, priesthood, pay andall.
Amen, so beit'.
WilliamDell, NewModel Army chaplain, arguedin1645
49. cf. Dell, Several Sermons, pp. 264-6,273-4.
50. S. Fisher, Christianismus Redivivus (1655), p. 201. For Fisher see
ch. 11below.
and1646that 'unity is Christian, uniformity antichristian'; that
no magistrates may forbidpreachingof thegospel by gifted
laymen; that 'thevariety of forms intheworldis thebeauty
of theworld'.
HetoldM.P.S to their faces that it was not
Parliament's jobto reformthechurch: that was for members
of congregations, amongwhom'apoor plaincountryman, by
thespirit whichhehathreceived, is better ableto judgeof
truthanderror touchingthethings of Godthanthegreatest
philosopher, scholar or doctor intheworldthat is destituteof
In1641Sir EdwardDering'startedwithwonder and
anger' when'aboldmechanical' said'I hopeyour worshipis
too wiseto believethat whichyoucall your creed.'
It took
Thereis overwhelmingcontemporary evidencethat the
strengthof thesectaries lay withwhat Lilburnecalled'thebase
andobscurefellows of theworld'.
Their contributionto the
theory andpracticeof religious tolerationhas oftenbeen
I amconcernedhereprincipally withthepolitical
andsocial overtones whichnecessarily hungaroundtheques-
tioninthe1640s. If liberty begrantedto sectaries, Thomas
CasehadtoldtheHouseof Commons inMay 1647,
they may ingoodtimecometo knowalso ... that it is their birth-
right to befreefromthepower of Parliaments and... of kings, and
to takeuparms against bothwhenthey shall not voteandact
accordingto their humours. Liberty of conscience, falsely so called,
may ingoodtimeimproveitself intoliberty of estates andliberty
of houses andliberty of wives.
Thewords 'heretics' and'schismatics' are'but nicknames for
51. Dell, op. cit., pp. 20,26-7,33-5,60,64.
52. ibid, p. 142. It is hardly surprisingthat theHouseof Commons
didnot invitehimto print this sermon. Heprintedit nevertheless.
53. Quotedby JohnForster, Historical andBiographical Essays (1858)
I, p. 34.
54. Lilbume, Comeout of her mypeople(Amsterdam, 1639), p. 19.
55. Seeesp. W. K. Jordan, Historyof Religious TolerationinEngland
(4vols., 1932-40); Woodhouse, Wolfe, andHaller, LibertyandReforma-
tioninthePuritanRevolution(ColumbiaU.P., 1955), passim.
56. T. Case, Spiritual Whordomediscoveredina sermonbeforethe
Houseof Commons (1647), P- 34.
any that opposetyrants andoppressors
, saidapamphlet of
Thepoint was oftenmadeinoneway
or another. Oneof thethreethings PhilipHenry didnot like
about 'theIndependent way' was that they pluck upthehedge
of parishorder'.
Winstanley equatednot only astatechurch
but also theIndependent congregations themselves withprivate
property: 'all your particular churches areliketheenclosures
of land, whichhedges insometo beheirs of lifeandhedges
out others'.
Another familiar economic analogy, usedby Miltonin
was betweenfreedomof tradeandreligious
toleration- freetradingof truth
Roger Williams's famous
comparisonbetweenthechurchor company of worshippers
and'acorporation, society or company of East Indiaor Turkey
was criticizedby Dell as insufficiently radical, since
thetrueChurch, unlike'theSociety of Mercers or Drapers or
cannot beknownby 'thehelpof any outwardsense
Being'thefreest society under heaven
thechurchmust of
coursechooseits ownofficers, andnot havethemthrust upon
it, as inparishchurches.
To theargument that individual interpretationof theScrip-
tures andcongregational autonomy wouldleadto religious
anarchy, radicals retortedthat theinner light is one, andcan
berecognizedby thechildrenof thelight. Areopagitica assumes
that, givenfreedomof debate, all men's reasonmust naturally
leadthem, sooner or later, to recognizethesametruths. This
is thekindof viewlikely to appeal to menwhoseeconomic
lifedemands freedomof tradefrommonopolies. It didnot
seemso self-evident to thebigCity merchants who read
Gangraena or TheHolyCommonwealth.
57. [Anon.] ThePoore-Mans admonitionuntoall thePlainPeopleof
London, quotedby D. W. Petegorsky, Left-WingDemocracyintheEng-
lishCivil War (1940), p. 113.
58. Ed. M. H. Lee, Diaries andLetters of PhilipHenry(1882), p. 277.
59. Sabine, pp. 445-6; cf. p. 132below.
60. [Anon.] TheAncient Bounds, or Libertyof Conscience(1645) in
Woodhouse, p. 258.
61. Roger Williams, TheBloudyTenent of Persecution(Hanserd
Knollys Soc., 1848), p. 46.
62. Dell, op. cit., pp. 185,246.
Thehatredof theestablishedclergy whichwenotedearlier
didnot ceasewiththedisappearanceof bishops andchurch
courts, despitethetriumphant cry of apamphleteer in1641:
'no morepryinginto people's actions'.
In1646atrooper in
Northamptonshire'laidhis handonhis swordandsaid'This
swordshouldnever belaiddown, nor many thousands more,
whilst therewas apriest left inEngland."' Inthefollowing
April troopers inSuffolk weresayingthey wouldnever dis-
band'till wehavecut all thepriests' throats'.
earlier, whenagroupof Presbyterianministers visitedtheNew
Model Army at Oxford, 'themultitudeof soldiers inaviolent
manner calleduponus to proveour calling,... whether those
that arecalledministers hadany moreauthority to preachin
public thanprivateChristians whichweregifted'. Thesoldiers
weresupportedinthis by WilliamErbery, who hadhimself
renouncedthetitleof minister - thoughnot, Francis Cheynell
sourly alleged, thepay andsalary. Thevery nameof Presbytery
is hateful to thepeople,' declaredtheIndependent JohnGood-
win. But already Erbery haddeniedthat theIndependent
churches weretruechurches,
andameretwo years later Wal-
wynwas writingthat theIndependent clergy 'pray, preach, and
do all for money; andwithout it they do nothing'. His opposi-
tion, infact, likeLilburne's, extendedto 'all thesepretended
churches of God, either Independent or Anabaptistical'.
IntheLeveller Petitionof March1647andintheThird
Agreement of thePeople(May 1649) tithes wereto beabolished,
andnot replacedby any systemof compulsory maintenance;
parishioners wereto havecompleteliberty to choosesuchmin-
isters as themselves shouldapprove.
At least onecritic of the
63. Seepp. 28-32above.
64. [Anon.] TheSpiritual Courts Epitomized(1641), p. 1.
65. Edwards, Gangraena, III, p. 173; PortlandMSS. (H.M.C.), III,
p. 156.
66. [Francis Cheynell] AnAccount GiventotheParliament bythe
Ministers sent bythemtoOxford(1646[-7]), pp. 13, 18; J. G., Inde-
pendencyGods Verity(1647), inWoodhouse, p. 186.
67. [Walwyn] TheVanitieof thePresent Churches (1649), inH. andD.
pp. 257, 263-4; Lilburne, Legal Fundamental Liberties (1649), p. 39.
68. Wolfe, pp. 140,405,408.
radicals suggestedthat their incitement to refusepayment of
tithes 'is oneof thechiefest inducements that the... sectaries
haveto encouragethesilly peopleandto poisonthemwith
their other errors'.
'Clergymenandlawyers arethechiefest
oppressors intheland', Erbery declared. 'Our preachers of the
gospel takeupthefifthor fourthpart of men's lands and
labours.' 'Howmany menaremadepoor by makingafew
ministers rich?' Thereareno trueministers inthechurch:
themagistrateis theonly trueminister now. Nor indeedis
thereany neednowof churches or ministers: anyonemay
It was agreat triumphfor theradicals when, inthe
flushof excitement after thevictory of Dunbar, Army pressure
succeededinabolishingtheobligationonevery Englishmanto
attendhis parishchurcheachSunday.
Professor Jordanfoundstrongevidenceof 'dark hostility
to clerical leadership' inthis period, andsuggests that thepoorer
andnormally less articulateclasses of society weremoretolerant
thantheir betters.
'By theendof thefirst revolutionary
decade,' wroteMr Maclear, 'amilitant anti-clericalismwas
takenas axiomatic inthepopular outlook.'
'As for thesemen
calledministers inthis nation,' declaredtheQuaker Edward
Burrough, 'theway of their settingupandsendingforth, and
theway of their maintenance,... they arethegreatest andmost
woeful oppressioninthenation. Theearthis oppressedby
them, theinhabitants groanunder them.'
tude, therabble, RichardBaxter recognized, was hostileto
ministers andto religion. It confirmedhis lowviewof the
'Thepeoplearebrethrenandsaints inChrist's church,' said
69. E. Pagitt, Heresiography(1654), p. 146.
70. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 42, 53, 90-91, 306-7. This last hadbeenthe
viewof theGrindletonians: seep. 83above.
71. Underdown, op. cit., p. 275.
72. Jordan, Historyof Religious TolerationinEngland, IV, pp. 320-21,
330, 351, 360.
73. J. F. Maclear, 'Popular Anti-clericalisminthePuritanRevolution',
Journal of theHistoryof Ideas, XVI, p. 452.
74. Burrough, Works, pp. 515-16.
75. Baxter, TheHolyCommonwealth, pp. 92-4,226-9.
JohnSaltmarsh; inthestatechurchthey were'parishioners and
Winstanley agreedthat 'theBeast will haveawhole
parish, awholekingdom, andso theworldto behis church'.
Ministers are'very fountains of atheismandantichristianism,*
saidJohnSpittlehousefiveyears later.
Erbery andDell openedthedoor wideto theQuaker assertion
that it was antichristianfor 'suchas aremenof learningand
havebeenat theuniversity andhavetongues' to 'bemasters
andbear ruleinevery parish, andnoneshall reproveor contra-
dict what they say inpublic'.
'Reproveor contradict what they say inpublic.' Oneof the
essentials of thesectarianpositionwas that thesermonshould
befollowedby discussion: that worshipwas not amatter of
passively hearingtheWordpreachedby alearnedminister, but
participationby thecongregationafter agiftedmember had
openedupasubject for discussion. JohnRobinson, pastor to
thePilgrimFathers intheNetherlands, saidthat after public
ministry theelders shouldexhort anyonewho hadagift of
speakingto theedificationof hearers to makeuseof it.
1634JohnCottonincludedintheorder of public worshipin
thechurchof Bostonprophesyingby giftedmembers of the
congregationanddiscussionof questions addressedto themin-
Meaningful discussionhadhardly beenpossibleinthe
pre-1640parishchurch, withtheparsonsafely incontrol, pro-
tectedby thetraditional ritual andceremony, withsquireand
76. J. Saltmarsh, TheSmokeintheTemple(1646), sig. xx 5.
77. Winstanley, TheBreakingof theDayof God(1648), p. 58.
78. J. Spittlehouse, TheFirst Addresses (1653), p. 13.
79. J. Nayler, TheoldSerpents Voice, or Antichrist discovered[n.d.,
71656], p. 5; cf. R[ichard] F[arnsworth] AnEaster-Reckoning: ... thedif-
ferenceof theMinistryof Christ andth? Ministryof theworldor of
Antichrist (1656), passim.
80. J. Robinson, ThePeoples Pleafor theExerciseof Prophecie(1618),
inWorks (1851), III, pp. 290-98, 305-6, 325-35.
81. J. Cotton, TheTrueConstitutionof a Particular VisibleChurch
ProvedbyScripture(1642), quotedby L. Ziff, TheCareer of JohnCotton
(PrincetonU.P., 1962), p. 185. Thewordprophesyingreminds us of those
exercises intheElizabethanchurchto whichtheQueentook suchstrong
exceptionthat shesuspendedArchbishopGrindal. Her fear was of par-
ticipationby thelaity. Howprescient shewas!
churchwardens to enforcedecency andorder. Things werequite
different inagatheredchurch, non-hierarchical instructure
andsocial composition, withanelectedminister who might him-
self beamechanic, withno ritual, no squireor churchwardens.
Inconditions of social upheaval likethoseof the1640s, with
thesquireperhaps absent fromtheparish, withirreverent
soldiers intheneighbourhoodfortifyingthelower classes
against rulingoligarchies andtheparson- inthesecircum-
stances it might bepossiblefor aparishioner or anintruder to
intervenewithaneffectivecontributionof his own. Prophesy-
ing, saidWilliamDell, was a'notablemeans to keeperror out
of thechurch'. Onemanpreachingmay err andbeleft un-
corrected; but whentheright of prophesyingis allowedto the
wholechurch, 'theminister canno sooner vent any error but
thereis somebeliever or other ... ready to convinceit by the
Wordof God'.
IntheBaptist churches discussionwas institutionalized. Mrs
Attaway usedto call for objections after her sermons, 'for it
was their customto giveliberty inthat kind'. Henry Dennehad
asimilar practice. At theBell Alley Baptist churchpublic de-
bates wereheldat whichall might voicetheir opinions.
was aruleamongtheGeneral Baptists 'that it shall belawful
for any personto improvetheir gifts inthepresenceof the
congregation'. In1648theGeneral Baptist EdwardBarber was
invitedby theparishioners of St Benet Fink, London, to come
to theparishchurchandaddto what theminister (Edmund
Calamy) shouldsay, or contradict himif erroneous.
Knollys created'several riots andtumults' by goingaround
churches andspeakingafter thesermon.
theirritationthis practicemight causewhen, as timewent on,
theparsonhimself becamethemaintarget of itinerant inter-
82. Dell, op. cit., pp. 273-5.
83. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 116-19,126.
84. Barclay, TheInner Lifeof theReligious Societies of theCommon-
wealth(1876), pp. 296, 290.
85. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 97-8. Ranters werealso accusedof
interruptingchurchservices (Mercurius Politicus, Nos. 245and246, 1654,
pp. 5142,5164).
rupters, professionally skilledhecklers, denouncinghis self-
righteousness andhis greedintakingtithes.
Disruptingservices hadbeenmadeasecular offenceby an
Act of Parliament inMary's reign, 'by whichthepriests of
Englandtill thelast Parliament wereguarded'.
always claimedalegal right to speak after thesermonwas
over. Thus inJuly 1653GeorgeFox sat throughasermonat
Booth, Cumberland, but whentheminister haddone
I begantospeak tohim... andhebegantoopposeme. I toldhim
his glass [hour-glass] was gone, his timewas out; theplacewas as
freefor meas for him; andheaccusedmethat I hadbrokenthe
lawinspeakingtohiminhis timeinthemorning, andI toldhim
hehadbrokenthelawinspeakinginmy time.
This continueduntil theLord's Day Act of 1656(cap. 15)
strengthenedthelawagainst intruders.
86- Extracts fromStatePapers relatingtoFriends, p. 41- aQuaker
petitionof 1658. Seenote88below.
87. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 160, 184-5; Barclay, Inner Life, pp. 281-7.
88. This was theAct of Parliament referredto innote86above. Quakers
werenormally prosecuted, for causingdisturbances, under this Act or
under theVagrancy Act of 1656. Therewas no special legislationagainst
thanbefore1660(StatePapers relatingtoFriends, p. 345).
All menhavestoodfor freedom,... andthose
of thericher sort of youthat seeit areashamed
andafraidto ownit, becauseit comes clothedin
aclownishgarment... Freedomis themanthat
will turntheworldupsidedown, thereforeno
wonder hehathenemies ... Truefreedomlies in
thecommunity inspirit andcommunity inthe
earthly treasury, andthis is Christ thetrueman-
childspreadabroadinthecreation, restoringall
things unto himself.
G. WINSTANLEY, A Watch-WordtotheCityof
London(1649), Sabine, pp. 316-17.
THE years from1620to 1650werebad;
the1640s weremuch
theworst decadeof theperiod. Ontopof thedisruptioncaused
by thecivil war cameaseries of disastrous harvests. Between
1647and1650foodprices rosesteeply abovethepre-war level;
money wages laggedbadly behind, andthecost of livingrose
Taxationwas unprecedentedly heavy, andPym's
newtax, theexcise, fell especially severely onarticles of popu-
lar consumptionlikebeer andtobacco. Theseweretheyears
whensales of church, crownandroyalists
lands werebreaking
traditional landlord/tenant relations, whilst disbandedsoldiers
weretryingto pick upalivingagain. Thecity of York's special
fundfor theassistanceof lamesoldiers was doubledin1649
becauseof increasedcalls uponit.
Wildmantells us
inJanuary 1648, 'didgather introops of ten, twenty, thirty,
intheroads andseizeduponcornas it was carryingto market,
1. Seep. 21above.
2. W. G. Hoskins, 'Harvest Fluctuations andEnglishEconomic History,
1620-1759', A. H. R., XVI, pp. 15-31; cf. Underdown, op. cit., pp.
3. V.CMYork, p. 172.
anddividedit amongthemselves beforetheowners' faces, tell-
ingthemthey couldnot starve.' 'Necessity dissolves all laws
andgovernment, andhunger will break throughstonewalls,'
TheMournfull Cries of ManyThousandPooreTradesmen
warnedParliament andtheArmy inthesamemonth.
commonvoteof thegiddy multitude,' apamphleteer admitted
inOctober 1648, wouldbefor theKingif it wereallowedto
express itself freely.
Rents hadrisenso much, cavalry troopers
inNorthumberlandcomplainedinDecember 1648, that copy-
holders hadto hirethemselves out as wage-labourers or shep-
Theeconomic andpolitical situationintheearly months of
1649was particularly explosive. Levellers andArmy radicals
felt that they hadbeenfooledinthenegotiations whichled
upto thetrial andexecutionof theKinginJanuary; andthat
theIndependent Grandees hadtakenover republicanreforms
fromtheir programmewithout makingany real concessions
to their democratic content. Theabysmal harvest of 1648led
to widespreadhunger andunemployment, especially among
disbandedsoldiers. InMarch1649thepoor of Londonwere
beingsuppliedwithfreecornandcoal. OnApril 3Peter
Chamberlenannouncedthat many werestarvingfor want of
bread: hefearedthey wouldproceedto direct actionunless
somethingwas donefor them.
Severnvalley, seizingGorn. Whilst foodprices reachedfamine
levels, theLevellers demandedre-electionof Agitators and
recall of theGeneral Council of theArmy. 'Wewerebefore
ruledby King, Lords andCommons, nowby aGeneral, a
Court Martial andHouseof Commons; andwepray you
what is thedifference?'
At theendof MarchLilburne, Over-
ton, WalwynandPrincewerearrested. A Leveller pamphlet,
4. Wolfe, pp. 71,278.
5. [Anon.] Scdus Populi Solus Rex, quotedby Brailsford, op. cit., pp.
345-6; cf. Wildman, quotedonp. 69above.
6. [Anon.] TheHumbleRepresentationof theDesires of theSoldiers
andOfficers of theRegiment of Horsefor theCountyof Northumber-
land. Seep. 118belowfor this pamphlet.
7. Chamberlen, ThePooreMans Advocate, p. 2.
8. Underdown, op. cit., p. 281; Wolfe, p. 371.
MoreLight ShininginBuckinghamshire, appealedto the
soldiers 'to standeveryoneinhis place, to opposeall tyranny
whatsoever', particularly that of lawyers, enclosinglords of
manors andtheArmy Grandees who haverejectedsocial
reformandhavedonenothingfor thepoor.
Next monthmutinies brokeout intheArmy whenmenwho
refusedto volunteer for serviceinIrelandweredemobilized
without payment of arrears - exactly what haddriventhe
Army to revolt two years earlier, thoughthenwiththeacqui-
escenceof thegenerals. InMay moreserious revolts brokeout
amongtroops inOxfordshire, Wiltshireand^Buckinghamshire,
andtherewererumours of civiliansupport fromtheSouth-
west, theoldClubmanarea. Cromwell andFairfax, actingwith
great vigour anddetermination, overwhelmingly defeatedthe
mutinous regiments at Burfordon14May. Theperiodof crisis
for themilitary regimewas over. Frightenedconservatives
ralliedto its support, as thelesser evil. OxfordUniversity and
theCity of Londonhastenedto honour Fairfax andCrom-
well. Thesermonpreachedonthelatter occasionappropriately
denouncedthosewho aspiredto removetheir neighbour's land-
Leveller conspiracies continued, soonto bejoinedby
FifthMonarchist plots: but noneof themofferedaserious
threat to theregimeso longas therepeatedly purgedArmy
remainedsecurely under thecontrol of its generals.
Nevertheless, theearly months of 1649hadbeenaterrifying
timefor themenof property. It was for sometimenot so
obvious to contemporaries as it is to us that thedefeat at
Burfordhadbeenfinal anddecisive. As lateas November 1649
RalphJosselintells us that menfearedto travel becauseof
danger fromrobbers, andtherichevenfelt insecureintheir
ownhouses. Poor people, headdedthefollowingmonth, *were
never moreregardless of Godthannowadays'.
This was the
backgroundagainst whichnot only theLevellers but also Peter
Chamberlen, JohnCook, HughPeter andvery many others
9. Sabine, pp. 627-40. Seep. 117below.
10. Petegorsky, op. cit., p. 160.
11. Ed. E. Hockliffe, Diaryof theRev. RalphJosseUn, 1616-1683(Cam-
denSoc., XV, 1908), p. 70.
calledfor drastic social reformonbehalf of thepoor. It was
also thebackgroundto theactivities of theRanter Abiezer
Coppe, andto theDigger or TrueLeveller movement.
OneSunday inMarchor April 1649thecongregationof the
parishchurchof Walton-on-Thames was startledto seethe
churchinvadedby agroupof six soldiers after Master Faucet
hadpreachedhis sermon. Thesoldiers, inaseries of symbolical
gestures andamidscenes of someexcitement, announcedthat
theSabbath, tithes, ministers, magistrates andtheBiblewere
all abolished.
OnSunday 1April - quitepossibly thesame
Sunday - agroupof poor men(describedas labourers ina
legal actionthreemonths later)
collectedonSt George's Hill
inthesameparishandbeganto digthewastelandthere. It
was asymbolic assumptionof ownershipof thecommonlands.
It was afurther symbolic rejectionof conventional pieties,
which* may link upwiththesoldiers' demonstrationinthe
parishchurch, that thediggingbeganonaSunday.
theDiggers followedupthesoldiers' demonstrationinWalton
Churchby 'gettingupagreat burdenof thorns andbriars ...
into thepulpit of thechurchat Waltonto stopout thepar-
Thenumbers of theDiggers soonroseto twenty or
thirty. They inviteall to comeinandhelpthem,' anobserver
noted, 'andpromisethemmeat, drink andclothes. ... They
giveout, they will befour or fivethousandwithintendays
It is fearedthey havesomedesigninhand.'
Consider for amoment theareaaffected. St George's Hill
was just outsideLondon, withineasy reachof any poor man
therewho might beinterestedinthecolony. It lay ontheedge
of Windsor Great Forest, wherein1641'scores andhundreds
12. Seepp. 210-13below.
13. Walker, Historyof Independency, Part II, pp. 152-3. Seepp.
14. Petegorsky, op. cit., p. 172.
15. cf. S.andP., p. 213.
16. TheKingdomes Faithfull andImpartiall Scout, 20-27April 1649,
quotedby Petegorsky, op. dt., p. 164. Hiorns andbriars symbolized'the
wisdomandpower of selfishflesh' (Sabine, p. 237) whichWinstanley's
17. ClarkePapers, III, p. 211.
set upontheKing's deer'.
It was unpromisingagricultural
land, theimprover Walter Blithsniffed("thousands of places
morecapableof improvement thanthis
. Winstanley agreed
that it was 'inviewof flesh... very barren'.
) Kingston, the
nearest town, to whichtheDiggers weretakenfor trial by the
local landlords, was agreat cornmarket. It hadalong-standing
radical tradition. In1588it hadbeentheseat of MartinMar-
prelate's secret printingpress.
Thetownlecturer at that time
was thePuritanJohnUdall, sentencedto deathin1590. He
clearly hadastrongfollowing. AnartisanfromKingstontold
BishopBancroft that theprayer Thy kingdomcome' was a
petition'that wemight havepastors, doctors, elders anddea-
cons inevery parish, andso begovernedby sucheldershipas
Christ's holy disciplinedothrequire' - thefull Presbyterian
system, infact. Another burgess of Kingstonhopedto pull the
non-preachingclergy 'out of thechurchby theears'.
This radical traditioncontinued. In1628it was inKingston
that Buckingham's assassin, Felton, was welcomedby anold
womanwiththewords 'Godbless thee, littleDavid!'
years later ArchbishopLaud's visitor foundKingstona'very
factious town
It hadaPuritanvicar, andfrom1642aPuri-
tanlecturer as well. Kingston, coveringthesouthernapproaches
to London, withits bridgeacross theThames, was astra-
tegically significant centre. Charles sent troops to guardthe
Surrey magazinethereat thetimeof his attemptedarrest of the
FiveMembers. Kingstonwas thesceneof many civil war
skirmishes, andafter theParliamentarians took over thearea
18. MS. Harley 164f. 96v. I owethis referenceto thekindness of Pro-
fessor C. M. Williams.
19. W. Blith, TheEnglishImprover Improved(1652), sig. C 3; cf.
V.C.H., Surrey, III, p. 467, andSabine, p. 260.
20. E. Arber, AnIntroductorySketchtotheMartinMarprelateCon-
troversy(1895), pp. 81, 95; Collinson, TheElizabethanPuritanMove-
ment, p. 492. Whenthepress was drivenfromKingstontheprinters withr
drewto Fawsley inNorthamptonshire, twenty-oddmiles fromWelling-
borough, for whichseep. 125below.
21. Collinson, op. cit., pp. 353, 389.
22. D. Masson, Lifeof JohnMilton, I (1875), p. 150. cf. p. 20above.
23. CJSJP.D1635, p. xliv.
it was theseat of thecounty committee. WhentheArmy ad-
vancedonLondoninJuly 1647Fairfax sent Rainboroughover
theThames at Kingstonto link upwithArmy supporters in
radical Southwark. Thewholeregionwas anArmy centrefrom
that timeonwards. TheArmy Council met at Kingstonon
18August 1647to drawupaDeclarationsupportingtheAgita-
tor's demandfor apurgeof Parliament.
Theareacontinuedto beradical after theejectionof the
Diggers. In1653it was aKingstonjury whichfoundLord
Chandos guilty of manslaughter (inaduel), notwithstanding
his claimto privilegeof peerage: hewas sentencedto beburnt
Next year James Nayler toldFox therewas a
constant Quaker meetingthere.
In1657theQuaker Edward
Burroughoccupiedhis leisuretimeinKingstongaol by com-
putingthesumtotal paidintithes inEnglandandIrelandat
£li millionayear.
GeorgeFox frequently residedat King-
stoninlater life.
This was theareato whichGerrardWinstanley came, not
later than1643. Theson(probably) of aWiganmercer with
Puritansympathies, GerrardWinstanley cameto Londonas
aclothingapprenticein1630, andset upfor himself in1637.
But it was theworst possibletime; by 1643Winstanley had
been'beatenout of bothestateandtrade
. In1649hewas
describedas of Walton-on-Thames. Hereheherdedcows,
apparently as ahiredlabourer, andwrotereligious pamphlets,
until hehadavisioninatrancetellinghimto publishit
abroadthat theearthshouldbemadeacommontreasury of
livelihoodto wholemankind, without respect of persons'.
Landowners inthearearoundSt George's Hill weremore
24. H. Cary, Memorials of theCivil War, I, p. 120; PortlandMSS.
(H.M.C.), I, p. 480; Gardiner, Great CMWar, HI, p. 350; Wolfe, p. 208;
Abbott, op. cit., I, pp. 496, 561.
25. PortlandMSS., Ill, p. 201; C. H. Firth, TheHouseof Lords in
theCivil War (1910), p. 233.
26. Barclay, Inner Life, p. 343; ed. N. Penney, TheFirst Publishers of
Truth(1907), p. 167; J. Besse, AnAbstract of theSufferings of . -.
Quakers (1733), I, pp. 252-4.
27. Burrough, Works, p. 234.
28. Sabine, p. 315; cf. pp. 129-30below.
disturbedby thediggingthantheCouncil of Stateor General
Fairfax, who hadaseries of amicableconversations with
Winstanley - despitethelatter's refusal to removehis hat to a
'fellow-creature'. Nor does Oliver Cromwell seemto havebeen
unduly alarmedwhen'anorthernprophetess' warnedhim, a
propos theDiggers, that 'if provisionbenot madefor them
poor commoners, Englandwill havenewtroubles'.
But Par-
sonPiatt andother lords of manors inSurrey organizedraids
onthecolony andaneconomic boycott: they harassedthe
Diggers withlegal actions. 'If theDigger's causewas good,'
anofficer of theKingstoncourt said, 'hewouldpick out sucha
jury as shouldoverthrowhim.' Oneof thecases chargingthe
Diggers withriot ledto atechnical argument about their com-
mitment whichgot into thelaw-books. Serjeant Wilde, who
always seems to havedonehis best for radicals, arguedthat
they shouldhavebeendischargedbecausetheSheriff was not
present at thefindingof theriot Thecourt bailedbut didnot
Evenafter theDiggers movedto Cobham
Heathafewmiles away theraids continued, andby April
1650thecolony hadbeenforcibly dispersed, huts andfurniture
burnt, theDiggers chasedaway fromthearea. It was abrief
episodeinEnglishhistory, involvingperhaps afewscoremen
andtheir families: weknowthenames of seventy-threeof
But historians arebecomingawarethat it was not quiteso
isolatedanoccurrenceas. usedto bethought. TheDiggers
calledthemselves TrueLevellers, anamewhichhadbeenused
by LawrenceClarkson, later theRanter, in1647.
first Digger manifesto, publishedontheday onwhichRobert
Lockier was sentencedto death, was entitledTheTrueLevellers
29. A Modest Narrative, 28April 1649, quotedby Abbott, op. dt, II,
p. 58. Thejournalist who reportedthemddent wrongly thought the
Diggers hadalready left their newplantation'.
30. W. Style, Reports (1658), pp. 166, 360; Sabine, pp. 20-21, 360,432.
31. L. Clarkson, A General Charge(1647). Seepp. 213-14below.
StandardAdvanced. TheLevellers werenever aunited, dis-
ciplinedparty or movement, as historians findto their cost
whenthey try to definetheir doctrines withany precision. 'We
wereanhetefogeneal body,' saidHenry Denne, 'consistingof
parts very diversefromoneanother, settleduponprinciples
inconsistent withoneanother.'
InLondontheremust have
beenlargenumbers of Leveller sympathizers who never clearly
associatedthemselves withall their views. It has recently been
that LilburneandWildmanledamoderate, con-
stitutional wingof theLevellers andthat therewas amore
radical wingintheArmy andamongtheLondonpopulace,
withwhichWalwynandOvertonmay havesympathized. The
'physical forceLevellers' likeMajor WhiteandCaptainBray,
also seemto havebeenpolitically
moreradical thanLilburneandWildman.
This wingwas less concernedwithconstitutional issues, more
witheconomics, withdefendingthepoor against therich, the
commonpeopleagainst great men- whichonesuspects were
thechief issues intheminds of thepoorer classes inthelate
1640s. Its spokesmenmay also havereflectedagrariancom-
munist ideas whichhadlongcirculatedinEngland, reinforced
by Anabaptist theories whichtheThirty-nineArticles of the
Churchof Englandfiercely denounced. TheFamily of Love
andtheFamily of theMount hadkept suchideas aliveinthe
Elizabethanunderworld: bothSpenser andShakespearehad
clearly heardcommunist propaganda.
So hadBishopCooper,
thoughostensibly heis writingabout 1381:
32. H. Denne, TheLevellers DesigneDiscovered(1649), p. 8, quotedby
R. Howell andD. E. Brewster, 'ReconsideringtheLevellers', P. andP.,
46, p. 69. Denne's remark seems infact to havebeenmadeabout theNew
Model Army rather thanabout theLevellers.
33. By theSoviet historian, Professor M. A. Barg, Lower-class Popular
Movements intheEnglishBourgeois Revolutionof the17thcentury
(Moscow, 1967), inRussian.
34. Seepp. 66-9above.
35. E. Spenser, TheFairieQueen, Book II, canto 9, stanza13; Book
IV, canto 1, stanza28; Book V, canto 2, stanzas 35-52; canto 11, stanzas
57-9; W. Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act II, sceneiii; HenryVI, Part II,
Act IV, passim. For evidenceof thecontinuity of this tradition, see
my TheMany-HeadedMonster', pp. 297-303.
At thebeginning(say they), whenGodhad first madetheworld,
all menwerealike, therewas no principality, thenwas no bondage
or villeinage: that grewafterwards by violenceandcruelty. There-
forewhy shouldweliveinthis miserableslavery under thoseproud
lords andcrafty lawyers, etc?
It is difficult to believethat thegoodbishopinventedthose
sentiments, whichheused, rather dishonestly, as anargument
for suppressingPresbyterians.
Likeso many other undergroundideas, communist theories
surfacedinthefreedomof the1640s. Thomas Edwards noted
in1646, as the153rderror of thesectaries, theviewthat 'all
theearthis thesaints
, andthereought to beacommunity of
goods, andthesaints shouldshareinthelands andestates of
'Meumet tuumsaid Peter Cham-
berlenin1647, 'dividetheworldinto factions, into atoms; and
till theworldreturnto its first simplicity or ... to aChristian
Utopia,... covetousness will betheroot of all evil
As early
as 1646wehear of demands intheArmy for anagrarian
A schemesettinganupper limit of onehundredmarks
ayear to theproperty whichany landowner shouldpossess
hadbeenput forward, probably by theCommonwealth's Party,
inoneof EdwardVI's Parliaments, thoughof courseunsuc-
InOctober 1647soldiers weredemandingthat no
duke, marquis or earl shouldhavemorethan£2000ayear,
andthat theincomeof other classes shouldbeproportionately
Theagrarianlawwas to bemadefamous by
James Harrington's advocacy of it inOceana (1656), from
whichmany other thinkers adoptedtheidea. But Harrington
was only summingupatradition.
Theauthor of Tyranipocrit Discovered, ananonymous pam-
36. T. Cooper, AnAdmonitiontothePeopleof England, 1589, ed.
E. Arber (1895), p. 118; cf. pp. 144-5,148,159,168-9.
37. Edwards, Gangraena, I, p. 34; II, pp. 150-51; III, p. 16.
38. P. Chamberlen, A VoiceinRhama (1647), pp. 49-59.
39. Ed. J. A. F. Bekkers, Correspondenceof JohnMorris withJohannes
deLaet (Assen, 1970), pp. 122,149; cf. p. 58above.
40. W. K. Jordan, EdwardVI: theYoungKing(1968), p. 433.
41. Gardiner, Great Civil War, III, p. 370.
phlet printedintheNetherlands inAugust 1649, attackedthe
government of theEnglishCommonwealthfor not having
established'anequality of goods andlands', as Oodandnature
wouldhave, andfor taking'no careto educateall men's chil-
drenalike.' EchoingSir Thomas More, theauthor denounced
therichthieves' who 'makeacombinationandcall it alaw,
to hangapoor manif hedo steal, whenthey havewrongfully
takenfromhimall his maintenance'. They makethemselves
thieves by Act of Parliament' Theproperty of therichshould
besharedamongthepoor, andredividedat least onceayear.
To giveunto every manwithdiscretionso near as may bean
equal shareof earthly goods,' Tyranipocrit continued, is con-
sonant to thelawof Godandnature. But equality of goods
andlands is also desirable'that so young, strongandableper-
sons might labour, andold, weak andimpotent persons might
TheRanter Abiezer Coppeinthesameyear saidthat
'it's but yet alittlewhileandthestrongest, yeatheseemingly
purest property, whichmay mostly pleadprivilegeandpre-
rogativefromScriptureandcarnal reason, shall beconfounded
andplaguedinto community anduniversality'.
tenant WilliamJacksonwas introublefor holding, among
many other enormities, 'community of all things', including,
apparently, wives.
InthePutney Debates of 1647RainboroughandSexby made
demands for manhoodsuffragewhichseemto conflict withthe
moremoderateproposals of thecivilianLevellers, Wildman
andPetty, who wouldhaveexcludedpaupers andservants from
thevote. Theradical wingof theLevellers flourishednot only
inLondonandtheArmy, Professor Bargsuggests, but also in
thecountry districts, wheretraditions of popular revolt no
doubt still survived. JohnLilburne's favouritephrase to
describehis supporters, 'clubs andcloutedshoon', occurred
42. [Anon.] Tyranipocrit Discovered(Rotterdam, 1649) inBritish
Pamphleteers, I, ed. G. Orwell andR. Reynolds (1948), pp. 84-6, 96, 108.
43. A. Coppe, A FieryFlyingRoll, Part II (1649), inN. Cohn, The
Pursuit of theMillennium(1957), p. 372. For Coppeseepp. 210-13
44. C. H. Firth, Cromwell*s Army(1902), p. 408. Seepp. 209, 318
inNorfolk duringKet's Revolt of 1549, inLeicester in1586,
andinShakespeare's HenryVI.
Fuller in1655relatedthe
movement to theRevolt of 1381: all thepeasants thenwere
'pureLevellers', their leaders teachingthat 'no gentry was jure
divino, andall equal by nature'.
Thenames 'Leveller' and
'Digger' hadbeenusedof participants intheMidlands Revolt
of 1607. InBuckinghamshire, county of forests andindustry,
therewere'tumultuous proceedings' in1647-9to throwdown
enclosures. RalphVerney, scionof adepopulatingfamily,
'fearedthey might beresolvedto put downall theenclosures in
England'. Levellers wereforemost inincitingtheBucking-
InDecember 1648, be-
foreWinstanley hadannouncedhis communism, alocal group
of Levellers producedapamphlet calledLight Shiningin
Buckinghamshire, whichcalledfor equality of property. 'All
menbeingalikeprivilegedby birth, so all menwereto enjoy
thecreatures alikewithout property onemorethanthe
Thesequel to this pamphlet, MoreLight ShininginBucking-
hamshire, appearedon30March, two days beforedigging
startedonSt George's Hill. Similar ideas werearisingsimul-
taneously, that is to say, inmoreor less sophisticatedforms, in
various parts of thecountry. Winstanley may havebeeninflu-
encedby theBuckinghamshirepamphlets, andsomehistorians
havesuggestedthat hehadahandindraftingthem, sincehe
livedonly afewmiles fromtheBuckinghamshireborder. But
their vigorous, rudely boisterous andbellicosestyleis hardly
Winstanley's; themaintarget of Light ShininginBucking-
hamshireis monarchy, not Winstanley's moregeneralized
'kingly power'. MoreLight ShininginBuckinghamshireis also
45. K. V. Thomas, op. cit., pp. 403,407; cf. Brailsford, op. dt., pp. 239,
265, andmy 'TheMany-HeadedMonster', p. 300.
46. Fuller, ChurchHistoryof Britain(1842), I, p. 451.
47. Verney Correspondence, citedby A. M. Johnson, Buckinghamshire
1640-1660: a studyincountyPolitics (unpublishedWelshM.A. Thesis,
1965), pp. 16, 261-3; cf. Memoirs of theVerneyFamilyintheSeventeenth
Century, ed. F. P. andM. M. Vemey (1892-9), III, p. 221.
48. Sabine, p. 611.
moredirectly political thanWinstanley usually is, appealing
specifically to theArmy.
Whatever is thecasewiththeBuck-
inghamshirepamphlets, Winstanley couldhardly havebeen
associatedwiththeHumbleRepresentationof theDesires of
theSoldiers andOfficers intheRegiment of Horsefor the
Countyof Northumberland, whichexpressedanalogous ideas,
also at thebeginningof December 1648.
WeshouldseetheDigger colony onSt George's Hill as
merely oneparticularly well-documentedexampleof atrend
whichwas repeatedinmany other places. Early newspaper
accounts of theDiggers invariably treatedthemas adherents
of theLevellers.
A pamphlet publishedinJune1649reprinted
extracts fromWinstanley's Letter to theLordGeneral andcom-
plainedthat this paper was beingdistributedby enemies who
wereobstructingtherelief of Irelandandhaddeceivedeven
many honest men. If their efforts succeeded, 'weshall beem-
broiledinanarchy andsubjectedto strangers andforeigners'.
Another pamphlet of thesameyear, 'publishedby authority',
quotedbothWinstanley's NewLawof Righteousness andLight
ShininginBuckinghamshireas Leveller pamphlets, inorder to
showthat theLevellers wereopposedto religionandpro-
Thus unofficial 'Leveller' thought andactionwent agood
deal further thantheconstitutionalist leaders, andraisedthe
property issueinways that thelatter foundembarrassing. Only
this canexplainIreton's determinationinthePutney Debates
to convict theLeveller spokesmenof communism, despitetheir
indignant denials. Hegot theminto considerabledifficulties
by stressingthe'natural right' basis of their arguments about
thefranchise: GerrardWinstanley was to buildhis communist
theories onnatural rights, andthey werealso usedby the
authors of Light ShininginBuckinghamshire. This wouldalso
49. Seep. 108above.
50. Quotedby Petegorsky, op. cit., p. 139. Notetheorder - soldiers first,
officers following.
51. Petegorsky, op. cit., pp. 165,170.
52. [Anon.] TheKingof Scots Declaration(1649).
53. [Anon.] TheDiscoverer (1649), pp. 9-15.
explainLilburne's excessiveconcernfromFebruary 1648on-
wards to disavowcommunist theories - longbeforetheDigger
movement hadappeared- as well as his repudiationof 'the
erroneous tenets of thepoor Diggers at GeorgeHill
TheLeveller petitionof 11September 1648repudiated
any ideaof abolishingproperty, levellingestates or makingall
common, thoughit declaredinfavour of layingopenrecent
enclosures of fens andother commons, or of enclosingthem
chiefly for thebenefit of thepoor.
A Leveller manifesto of
14April 1649, whendigginghadbeengoingonfor afortnight
onSt George's Hill, also assertedthat theLevellers them-
selves 'never hadit inour thoughts to level men's estates, it
beingtheutmost of our aimthat... every manwithas much
security as may beenjoy his property'.
Overton's call inJuly
1647for areturnof enclosedlands to communal usewas quite
Official Leveller pronouncements failedevento
takeaclear anddecisivestandinfavour of security of tenure
for copyholders andagainst enclosure- until after thedefeat
of 1649. It was intheArmy that inApril 1648theabolition
of basetenures was advocatedso as to establishanindependent
peasantry, 'that by this means persons disaffectedto thewel-
fareandfreedomof thenationmay bepreventedfromdrawing
mento awar against themselves by virtueof anaweupon
themby suchdependent tenures'.
54. Lilburne, A Whipfor thePresent Houseof Lords (February, 1647-
8); H. andD., p. 449. TheCongregational Societies of Londonin1647,
JohnCook andHenry Parker in1648, also foundit necessary to dissoci-
atethemselves fromtheories of communism(A DeclarationbyCongrega-
tional Societies inandabout theCityof London, November 1647;
Petegorsky, op. cit., p. 150).
55. Wolfe, p. 288.
56. Quotedby Petegorsky, op. cit., pp. 161-2.
57. Wolfe, pp. 194-5. TheCaseof theArmieinOctober 1647calledfor
restorationto the'ancient public useandserviceof thepoor* of 'all the
ancient rights anddonations belongingto thepoor, nowembezzledand
convertedto other uses, as enclosedcommons, almshouses, etc.* (H. and
D., p. 113): repeatedby JohnCoates, 'apresent member of thenavy', in
A Glasseof Truth(1649), p. 27.
58. A PetitionfromtheAgitators of Colonel Richs Regiment (1648),
p. 5.
Walwynwas accusedof saying, 'It wouldnever bewell
until all things werecommon, and... thentherewouldbeno
thieves, no covetous persons, no deceivingandabusingof one
another, andso no needof government.' Walwynnever very
decisively repudiatedthis charge, thoughit was oftenrepeated.
That heis aLeveller andwouldhaveall things common,' Wal-
wynsneered, seemedamoreserious accusationto his Inde-
pendent andclerical enemies thanthat hewas anunbeliever.
BothWalwynand Overton rejected atrocity propaganda
levelledagainst theMiinster Anabaptists, allegedly communists.
(That lyingstory of that injuredpeople... theAnabaptists of
Miinster'; 'Who writ thehistories of theAnabaptists but their
UnlikeLilburne, theLeveller newspaper TheModeratelaid
considerablestress onagrarianreform. It printedTheTrue
Levellers StandardAdvanced, without hostilecomment. The
Moderatestoodmoreconsistently for religious toleration, and
was moresteadily radical inits standonthefranchise: on
boththeseissues theofficial Leveller leaders wereready on
occasionto compromise.
(TheModerate's pronouncement
that property is 'theoriginal causeof any sinbetweenparty
andparty', andof 'most sins against theheavenly deity', aroused
thefury of theEarl of Leicester inthelatesummer of 1649.
Thenoblelordthought that suchsentiments shouldnot beper-
mittedinany Christianstate: whichtells us agooddeal about
what suchmenthought thefunctionof Christianity was.
) In
1653, after theconstitutionalist leaders haddisappeared, and
59. H. andD., pp. 302-3; Wolfe, p. 178.
60. H. andD., p. 374; Haller, Tracts onLiberty, II, p. 275; cf. p. 230.
Overtonmay refer to theanonymous Short Historyof theAnabaptists of
HighandLowGermany(1642), whichmadethestatistically improbable
statement that 'therewas not onewomanof 14years of agebut was
violated' duringthecommuneof Minister (p. 25). Walwyncertainly had
readit (Haller, op. cit., Ill, p. 100).
61. TheModerate, 41, 17-24April 1649, pp. 409, 416-21, 424, quoted
by J. Frank, TheBeginnings of theEnglishNewspaper, 1620-1660
(HarvardU.P., 1961), p. 179; Howell andBrewster, op. cit., pp. 75-86.
62. Ed. R. W. Blencowe, SydneyPapers (1825), pp. 78,94.
theLevellers wereanundergroundconspiratorial group, the
final Agreement of thePeoplefirmly calledfor theabolitionof
all basetenures.
All this wouldseemto support Professor Barg's suggestion
that theDiggers onSt George's Hill wereonly thevisibletip
of theicebergof TrueLevellerism, that Winstanley spokefor
thosewhomthe'constitutional' Levellers wouldhavedisfran-
chised- servants, labourers, paupers, theeconomically un-
Winstanley describedhimself as a'servant', thoughmany
of theDiggers werehouseholders, bornintheparish. Opposi-
tionto thediggingcame, Winstanley tells us, apart fromthe
gentry andparsons, 'only fromoneor two covetous free-
holders, ... who call theenclosures their ownland'.
It is
interestingthat ontheeveof their suppressiontheLevellers
werebeginningto winsupport fromtheNorthandWest, the
former royalist areas, fromCornishtin-miners to Northum-
brianfarmers, fromBristol, Hull, York, Somerset, Lancashire.
This may indeedhavebeenareasonfor their suppression.
TheLevellers sent out emissaries, anofficial pamphlet tells us,
'to raisetheservant against themaster, thetenant against his
landlord, thebuyer against theseller, theborrower against the
lender, thepoor against therich'.
Sincethis pamphlet deliber-
ately confuses Levellers andDiggers, weareleft wondering
whether thesewereLeveller or Digger emissaries.
This explanationwouldalso helpto account for theeasewith
whichtheLevellers weredividedandsuppressedafter 1649.
Lilburneandthosewho thought likehimdifferedfromthe
Independent Grandees only indegree, sincebothassumedthe
immutability of existingproperty relationships. Professor Mac-
pherson^as already insistedthat Leveller political theory looks
63. This hadbeensuggestedby DonM. WolfeinMiltoninthePuritan
Revolution(NewYork, 1941), p. 324.
64. Sabine, pp. 282, 348,393,434.
65. Brailsford, op. cit., pp. 355-6; C.5.P.D., 1649-50, p. 385.
66. [Anon.] TheDiscoverer (1649), pp. 9-15.
67. Seepp. 126-8below.
forwardto that of Locke.
TheGrandees stoletheLevellers'
republicanclothes intheearly months of 1649, andthecon-
stitutional Levellers hadno basis onwhichto appeal to the
peasant majority of the population. After Burford had
destroyedtheir political hopes, individual members of theparty
took upthecauseof someof thevictims of enclosure, especially
inthepastureareas, e.g. intheIsleof AxholmeandHatfield
but by thenit was too latefor themto becomeleaders
of aspecifically anti-landlordparty. They simply strengthened
thedemagogic arguments of Oliver Cromwell, who lumped
Levellers andTrueLevellers together as 'adespicableandcon-
temptiblegenerationof men', 'persons differinglittlefrom
beasts'. 'Didnot thelevellingprincipletendto reducingall
to anequality, ... to makethetenant as liberal afortuneas
thelandlord? ... apleasingvoiceto all poor men, andtruly
not unwelcometo all badmen.'
Eventheregiments whichrevoltedinSalisbury inMay
1649hadto insist that 'levellingyour estates' was no part of
their object.
ThemillenarianclergymanNathanael Homes
WilliamHartley complainedin
1651that sectaries werebrandedas Tompson's party, Level-
lers'. ThewordLeveller is atermof abusecast uponmany a
personfor holdingforthof righteous principles.' Yet evenhe
felt hehadto go out of his way to disavowcommunism.
Blithin1653also foundit prudent to reject 'theLevellingprin-
cipleof parity or equality, ... unless they bringus to thenew
James Harringtonspokeof 'robbers or Level-
68. C. B. Macpherson, ThePolitical Theoryof PossessiveIndividualism
(OxfordU.P., 1962), pp. 154-9. Professor Macpherson's critics havesug-
gestedthat hedepicts theLevellers as altogether too monolithic inoutlook.
Professor Barg's explanationcouldserveto reconcilethetwo positions.
69. J. D. Hughes, "TheDrainageDisputes intheIsleof Axholme', The
LincolnshireHistorian, II, pp. 13-34.
70. Abbott, op. cit., Ill, pp. 184,435-6.
71. Theunanimous declarationof Colonel Scroops andCommissary-
General Iretons Regiments (1649).
72. N. Homes, A SermonPreachedBefore... Thomas Foote(1650),
p. 32; cf. pp. 240-41below.
73. W. Hartley, ThePrerogativePassingBell (1651), pp. 9-10.
74. Blith, TheEnglishImprover Improved, sig. C 3.
Roger Crabobservedthat JohntheBaptist wouldhave
beendespisedif hehadcalledhimself Leveller,
Their lack of consistency inrelationto thepoor peasant
majority of thepopulationhelps to explaintheapparently un-
principledreadiness of menlikeLilburne, Sexby andWildman
to conspirewithroyalists against theIndependent republic.
TheTrueLevellers remainedconvincedandconsistent re-
publicans, sincemonarchy for themwas merely thechief cap-
tainof thearmy of landlordism: theCommonwealthwas the
lesser evil, offeringsomehopeof further advanceinaradical
'Godmademen,' as theauthor of Tyranipocrit Dis-
coveredput it, 'andthedevil madekings.
Theconstitutional Levellers, then, werenot infundamental
disagreement withthetypeof society that was beingset upby
theEnglishRevolution. They acceptedthesanctity of private
property, andtheir desireto extenddemocracy was withinthe
limits of acapitalist society. Thepresent book concentrates on
thoseof theEnglishradicals who inoneway or another called
inquestiontheinstitutions andideology of that society, and
so theconstitutional Levellers play asmaller part inmy story
thantheir historical importancewouldsuggest. Onemust in-
sist, to restorethebalance, that theconstitutional Levellers
wereavery radical left wingof therevolutionary party. Some
of thosewho loomlarger inthis book weremuchless intellec-
tually consistent andprincipledthantheLevellers: their re-
jectionof capitalismwas oftenbackward-looking, negativeand
unrealistic. Thegroupof whomthis is least true, I shall argue,
was theTrueLevellers. It is important to seetheminthis his-
torical perspective.
75. J. Harrington, Works (1737), p. 166; cf. pp. 264-5,502.
76. R. Crab, TheEnglishHermit (1655), inHarleianMiscellany(1744-
6), IV, p. 462. Seealso p. 377below.
77. Winstanley, Englands Spirit Unfoulded(1650), ed. G. E. Aylmer, in
P. andP., 40, pp. 3-15. Not inSabine; cf. p. 341below.
78. Orwell andReynolds, op. cit., p. 56.
Intheyears 1649-50Winstanley issuedaseries of pamphlets,
appealingto various sections of thepopulation, andsomeat
least seemto havebornefruit. Other Digger colonies appeared
at WellingboroughinNorthamptonshire, Cox Hall inKent,
Iver inBuckinghamshire, Barnet inHertfordchire, Enfieldin
Middlesex, DunstableinBedfordshire, BosworthinLeicester-
shire, andat unknownplaces inGloucestershireandNotting-
Not enoughlocal work has yet beendoneonmost
of theseplaces, but weknowsomethingabout Wellingborough.
It hadalong-standingPuritantradition, thelivingbeingin
thepresentationof theBrookefamily.
Its lower orders got
badly out of handin1642-3. Threeyears later Edwards re-
portedthat troopers werepreachingthere.
InMay 1649, after
theLeveller defeat at Burford, WilliamThompsonmadefor
Wellingborough, but was caught andkilledjust outsidethe
79. Sabinesays Cox Hill, fivemiles north-west of Dover, but if therewas
aDigger community inKent onewouldexpect it to beinor near the
Weald. Onepossibility is Cox Heath, near Linton, ontheroadfromMaid-
stoneto theWeald. Cox Heathwas not encloseduntil thenineteenth
century; cricket was playedtherein1646. Another possibility is Cock Hill,
betweenMaidstoneandChatham, doseto aradical Brownist groupat
Boxley, anditself later knownfor its robbers andpoachers. (I amindebted
to Mr andMrs Peter Clark for this suggestion.) It may evenbeworth
consideringwhether Kent is not aslip, or amisprint, for Essex, where
Coggeshall was awell-knownradical centre, oftenspelt Cox Hall inthe
seventeenthcentury. TheIver pamphlet's referenceto Cox Hall, Kent, may
havebeencopiedfromWinstanley's onementionof Cox Hall inAn
Appealetoall Englishmen(Sabine, p. 411). Thestrongest argument for
Kent is thepamphlet mentionedonp. 126below, but this is not con-
80. Thomas, 'Another Digger Broadside', P. andP., 40, p. 59. The
commonlands at Dunstablehadbeennotedby Walter Blithas ripefor
improvement (TheEnglishImprover, 1649, pp. 90-91).
81. Strype, Lifeof Whitgift (OxfordU.P., 1822), II, p. 11; S. Palmer,
TheNonconformists' Memorial (1775), II, p. 235; A. G. Mathews, Calamy
Revised(OxfordU.P., 1934), pp. 11-12.
82. Edwards, Gangraena, I, p. 215; II, p. 173; [Ryves] AngUaeRuina,
pp. 51-7.
Tenmonths later theWellingboroughDiggers produceda
Declarationwhichtells us very precisely what sort of people
supportedtheir movement. Therewere1169persons inreceipt
of alms intheparish. Tradewas decayed, therewas no work;
'richmen's hearts arehardened, they will not giveus if webeg
at their doors. If westeal, thelawwill endour lives, divers
of thepoor arestarvedto deathalready, andit werebetter for
us that arelivingto dieby theswordthanby thefamine.' So
they, liketheSurrey Diggers, hadbegunto 'digup, manure
shank'. They saidthey hadhadmuchencouragement: 'those
that wefindmost against us aresuchas havebeenconstant
enemies to theParliament's causefromfirst to last'. But this
colony seems to havebeensuppressedat thesametimeas that
It is hardly surprisingthat Wellingboroughwas
oneof theearliest places outsidetheNorthinwhichQuaker-
ismwas preached. Therewerehysterical fits intheparish
churchin16S4, andWellingboroughremainedaQuaker centre
fromthat year onwards.
But either thesewerevery Ranter-
likeQuakers, or therewereRanters inWellingboroughas
well. In1657Francis Ellingtonwas indictedunder theBlas-
phemy Act for saying'confoundedbetheeandthy God, and
I trampletheeandthy Godunder my feet'. Thelanguageis
Quaker, andEllingtonappears inBesse's Sufferings of the
Quakers', but thesentiment seems moreRanter thanQuaker.
It has beensuggestedthat theunknownDigger colony in
Gloucestershiremay havebeenat Slimbridge, wherein1631,
duringthecivil war, andagainin1650, 'rudemultitudes' were
'levellingenclosures'. Thewasteof Slimbridge, JohnSmythof
Nibley hadsaidin1639, couldyield£1500ayear but was not
83. Sabine, pp. 649-51; C.S.PJ)., 1650, p. 106.
84. W. Deusbury, TheDiscoveryOf thegreat enmityof theSerpent
against theseedof theWoman(1655), pp. 9-10; TrueProphedeof the
MightyDayof theLord(1655); First Publishers of Truth, pp. 194,197-9;
Sufferings of theQuakers, I, pp. 176-9, 186-7, 190-91; Fox, Journal, I,
p. 250; Barclay, Inner Life, p. 313; Braithwaite, p. 174.
85. Ed. JoanWake, NorthamptonshireQuarter Sessions Records, 1630
and1657-8(NorthamptonshireRecordSoc., 1924), p. 136; Sufferings of
theQuakers, I, pp. 446-8; cf. pp. 228,239-40below.
worthone-fifthof that sumnow. Onthecontrary, it draws
'many poor peoplefromother places' andburdens thetown-
shipwith 'beggarly cottages ... and alehouses and idle
Thecolony at Iver, likethat at Wellingborough, produced
apamphlet of its own, inMay 1650, fiercer andmoredesperate
thanthoseproducedbeforethesuppressions inSurrey and
TheIver Diggers may havehadahand
inthetwo Light ShininginBuckinghamshirepamphlets andA
Declarationof theWei-AffectedintheCountyof Buckingham-
shire, whichsprangfromameetingof Levellers at Aylesbury
inthefirst week of May 1649, ontheeveof thedefeat at
FromKent in1653cametheanonymous pamphlet
No Agelikeunto this Age, inwhichDigger influenceis clear.
Enfield, amanor purchasedby thethirdEarl of Essex, had
beenthesceneof riots inJune1649, andwas to beagainin
1659ontheenclosureof EnfieldChase. This ledto thepubli-
cationby WilliamCovell of aschemefor settingupcollective
farms onEnfieldChase, whichagainowedagooddeal to
Digger influence.
Enfieldtoo becameaQuaker centre.
Inthespringof 1650, as money andfoodranshort onCob-
hamHeath, two emissaries weresent out by thecolony witha
letter signedby Winstanley andtwenty-oneother Diggers ask-
ingfor financial help. They went backwards andforwards
throughtheHomeCounties andtheMidlands, visitingexisting
colonies andgroups of sympathizers. Thecounties covered
wereBuckinghamshire, Surrey, Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Bed-
fordshire, Berkshire, Huntingdonshire, Northamptonshire. The
86. D. G. C. Allan, 'TheRisingintheWest, 1628-1631', Economic
HistoryReview, SecondSeries, V, pp. 82, 84; CS.P.D., 1650, p. 218; J.
Smyth, A Descriptionof theHundredof Berkely(1785), p. 328. But then
Smythsighednostalgically for thegoodolddays of villeinage(ibid., p. 43).
87. K. V. Thomas, 'Another Digger Broadside'.
88. Seep. 117above.
89. V. F. Snow, EssextheRebel (NebraskaU.P., 1970), p. 198; J. M.
Patrick, 'WilliamCovell andthetroubles at Enfieldin1659; asequel to
theDigger movement', Universityof TorontoQuarterly, XIV (1944-5),
pp. 45-57. Colonel Joycewas amongtheintendingpurchasers at Enfield.
Seepp. 345-6below.
90. Fox, Journal, II, p. 396, andpassim.
thirty-four places namedincludedthecolonies at Dunstable
andWellingborough, Hounslow- aheath, wheretogether with
Newmarket andHampsteadtheDiggers hadplannedacolony
- Colnbrook andHarrow-on-the-Hill, withwhichWinstanley
may havehadsomeconnection.
They went to Fenstanton
andWarboys, whereBaptist churches hadbeenfoundedby
Henry Denne, theLeveller leader at Burfordwho recantedto
avoidbeingshot. TheWarboys churchbook recordednot only
theDiggers' activities inSurrey but also that therewas 'apeople
calledLevellers inthesetimes, of whomoneGeorgeFoster
declares himself to beaprophet', sayingthat therichwould
sharetheir wealthwiththepoor.
TheDigger emissaries also passednear Pirton, Hertford-
91. Sabine, pp. 440-41; Petegorsky, op. cit., p. 163. Dunstableand
Wycombe(also visited) wereparishes inwhichtheFeoffees for Impropria-
tions hadbought patronage; thecuratewhomthey presentedto Dunstable
subsequently emigratedto NewEngland(I. M. Calder, Activities of the
PuritanFactionof theChurchof England, 1625-1633, 1957, esp. pp. 45,
47, 56).
92. For Colnbrook, seeThomas, 'Another Digger Broadside', pp. 59-60.
InSeptember 1647theLeveller WilliamThompson, subsequently killed
near Wellingborough, was introubleat Colnbrook (seepp. 29, 68above).
ConnectionwithHarrowdepends onacurious story whichMorrison
Davidsonattributedto theRev. Thomas Hancock of Harrow, to whose
'profoundknowledgeof thecommonwealth* Berens also paidtribute. This
says that in1652Winstanley 'startedout fromHarrow-on-the-Hill; got as
far as Nottingham, wherehewas "runin" by themyrmidons of "lawand
order", anddisappears' (M. Davidson, TheWisdomof Winstanley, 1904,
p. 25; L. H. Berens, TheDigger Movement intheDays of theCommon-
wealtht, 1906, p. 148)- Thetalewouldfit thesummer of 1650better than
1652. Hancock, aLaudiansocialist (cf. his ThePuritans andtheTithes,
1905), may havehadaccess to somesourcenowmissing. Confirmationis
suggestedby theexistenceof aDigger colony inNottinghamshire, andby
theallegationthat Winstanley invadedtheparishof Fenny Drayton(the
birthplaceof GeorgeFox) at about this timeandhaddiscussions with
theminister there, Nathaniel Stephens (Stephens, A PlaineandEasie
Calculationof .. . theNameof theBeast, 1656, pp. 267-71; D.N.B.,
Stephens).. Stephens tells us that his pamphlet was 'finishedcertainyears
ago' (p. 295).
93. Fenstanton Records, p. 269. ThenameWarboys suggests awooded
district. Therehadbeenfamous witches at Warboys in1593. For Foster see
pp. 223-4below.
shire, whereHenry Dennehadbeencuratefor tenyears start-
ingabout 1633, andto whichWinstanley was to retreat inthe
autumnof 16S0withagroupof Diggers who hiredthemselves
to Lady Eleanor Davies.
So fromNottinghamshireand
Northamptonshireto GloucestershireandKent, Digger influ-
encespreadall over southernandcentral England. They had
someinfluenceinintensifyingill-feelingbetweenlandlords and
tenants, it has beensuggested; they may havecontributedto
the class consciousness of Fifth Monarchists and early
Quakers. They must havehadagreat deal to do withthe'shat-
of Baptist andIndependent churches fromwhichulti-
mately theQuakers wereto benefit.
It has beenpointedout
that muchof theevidencefor early Quaker history fromthose
midlandcounties inwhichtherewereDigger settlements or
Digger sympathizers was suppressedor ignoredwhenthe
Quaker First Publishers of Truthwas compiled. Mr Hudson
speculates that this may havebeento removetraces of Digger
influence, andthat Winstanley may havebeenonpreaching
tours throughtheMidlands intheforties, makingcontacts
whichtheDiggers of St George's Hill later pickedup.
Thus if weseetheNewModel Army as ashort-livedschool
of political democracy, commons, wastes andforests were
longer-lastingthoughless intensiveschools ineconomic de-
mocracy. Winstanley thought that fromahalf to two-thirds
of Englandwas not properly cultivated. One-thirdof England
was barrenwaste, whichlords of manors wouldnot permit the
94. FenstantonRecords, p. v; P. Hardacre, 'GerrardWinstanley in
1650', HuntingtonLibraryQuarterly, XXII, pp. 345-9. Lady Eleanor, an
eccentric personality who regardedherself as aprophetess, deserves more
spacethanshecanbegivenhere. SeeT. Spencer, 'TheHistory of an
UnfortunateLady', HarvardStudies andNotes inPhilologyandLitera-
ture, X, pp. 43-59, andp. 278below.
95. ThePerfect Diurnall, 1-8April 1650, quotedby Tindall, John
Bunyan, MechanickPreacher, p. 255; FenstantonRecords, pp. 269-71.
For FifthMonarchists seepp. 95-8above.
96. W. S. Hudson, 'GerrardWinstanley andtheEarly Quakers', Church
History, XII, pp. 191-4.
poor to cultivate.
'If thewastelandof Englandweremanured
by her children, it wouldbecomeinafewyears therichest,
thestrongest and[most] flourishinglandintheworld'; the
priceof cornwouldfall to Is. abushel or less (it was thenmore
like6s. or 7s.).
Anincreaseinthecultivatedarea, theDigger
poet Robert Coster added, wouldbringdownthepriceof
landandtherewiththecost of living.
Thecustomby which
lords of manors claimedproperty rights inthecommons, and
so couldprevent their cultivationto theadvantageof the
poor, arguedWinstanley, shouldhavebeenabolisliedby the
overthrowof kingly power.
Communal cultivationcould
allowfor capital investment inimprovements without sacrific-
ingtheinterests of commoners. Therewas landenoughto main-
taintentimes thepresent population, abolishbeggingand
crime, andmakeEngland'first of thenations
This was theprogrammewhichWinstanley conceivedinthe
cruel winter of 1648-9. It seemedto himso novel andso im-
portant that heattributedit to adivinecommand. Thevision
whichhehadinatrancetoldhimto declareabroadthemes-
sage: 'Work together; eat breadtogether.' 'Hethat works for
another, either for wages or to pay himrent, works un-
righteously ... but they that areresolvedto work andeat to-
gether, makingtheearthacommontreasury, dothjoinhands
withChrist to lift upthecreationfrombondage, andrestores
all things fromthecurse/ After declaringthis messageboth
verbally andinprint, Winstanley decidedhemust 'go forth
anddeclareit inmy action' by organizing'us that arecalled
commonpeopleto manureandwork uponthecommon
97. Sabine, pp. 200, 304, 356; Thomas, 'Another Digger Broadside',
p. 58.
98. Sabine, pp. 408, 414; Hoskins, 'Harvest Fluctuations inEnglish
Economic History, 1620-1759', p. 29.
99. R. Coster, A MiteCast intotheCommonTreasury(1649) inSabine,
p. 657.
100. Sabine, pp. 307-8, 322-3; cf. p. 420. Seepp. 54-5above.
101. ibid., pp. 414, 507; cf. E. G., Wast Lands Improvement [n.d.,
71653], pp. 1-7.
102. Sabine, pp. 190, 194, 262. For visions seep. 292below.
Winstanley's conclusion, that communal cultivationof the
commons was thecrucial question, thestarting-point from
whichcommonpeopleall over Englandcouldbuildupan
equal community, was absolutely right. 'ThewholeDigger
movement,' Mr Thomas has written, 'canbeplausibly regarded
as theculminationof acentury of unauthorizedencroachment
upontheforests andwastes by squatters andlocal commoners,
pushedonby landshortageandpressureof population' - and,
Mrs Thirsk adds, by lack of employment for casual labour in
thedepressionof 1648-9.
Winstanley hadarrivedat theone
possibledemocratic solutionwhichwas not merely backward-
looking, as all other radical proposals duringtherevolutionary
decades - anagrarianlaw, partibleinheritance, stablecopy-
holds - tendedto be. Theeconomic arguments against those
who merely defendedcommoners' traditional rights inthe
wastewereoverwhelming. England's growingpopulationcould
befedonly by moreintensivecultivation, by bringingmarginal
landunder theplough. Enclosureby menwithcapital, brutally
disregardingtherights of commoners, didat least do thejob;
inthelongrun, its advocates rightly claimed, it createdmore
employment. But intheshort runit disruptedaway of life,
causingintensemisery; andtheemployment whichit didulti-
mately createwas not of asort to attract freecommoners.
Collectivecultivationof thewasteby thepoor couldhave
hadtheadvantages of large-scalecultivation, planneddevelop-
ment, useof fertilizers, etc. It couldhavefedtheexpanding
Englishpopulationwithout disruptingthetraditional way of
lifeto anythingliketheextent that infact happened. The
Diggers sowedtheir landwithcarrots, parsnips andbeans -
crops of thesort whichwereto transformEnglishagriculture
intheseventeenthcentury by makingit possibleto keepcattle
alivethroughout thewinter inorder to fertilizetheland.
'Manuring' is thecrucial wordinWinstanley's programme.
(Truereligionandundefiledis to let every onequietly have
earthto manure.') Winstanley hadgot asolutionto his own
103. Thomas, 'Another Digger Broadside', p. 58; Thirsk, 'Seventeenth
century agricultureandeconomic change', p. 166.
104. E. Kerridge, TheAgriadtural Revolution(1967), ch. VII andVIII.
paradox: 'thebondagethepoor complainof, that they are
kept poor by their brethreninalandwherethereis so much
plenty for everyone, if covetousness andpridedidnot ruleas
kinginonebrother over another'.
Thegently andparsons aroundSt George's Hill appreci-
atedthat theDiggers weredoingsomethingdifferent inkind
fromthetraditional squattingof cottagers. Evencommunal
cultivationof theearth, ParsonPiatt assuredWinstanley, was
less intolerablethancuttingtimber that grewonthecom-
mon. Squattingandcultivatingtheearthcouldbedeemedto
bedoneby courtesy of thelordof thesoil; but cuttingwood
against his wishes was adirect assertionof aproperty right
whichcouldnot beoverlooked. Andindeedit was intendedby
theDiggers 'to beastock for ourselves andour poor brethren
throughthelandof England, ... to provideus breadto eat
till thefruit of our labours intheearthbringforthincrease\
TheDiggers hadorderedthelords of themanor to stopcut-
our commonwoods andtrees ... for your private
use.' It was intended, as all theDiggers' actions were, to bea
symbolic challengeas well as aneconomically necessary step.
By 1650theDiggers hadaddedademandfor confiscated
church, crownandroyalists' landto beturnedover to the
poor. InTheLawof FreedomWinstanley further suggested
that thelandsales authorizedby Parliament shouldberepudi-
ated, andthat all lands confiscatedat thedissolutionof the
monasteries acentury earlier shouldbeaddedto theCom-
Theselast two proposals wouldbite
deepinto existingproperty relations. Thedanger fromthe
Diggers was that they calledonthepoor to organizethem-
selves for practical action. A series of collectivecommunities,
if they hadlasted, wouldhaveovercomethedispersionof
forces whichbedevilledtheLevellers: they wouldhavebeen
for theTrueLevellers what theNewModel Army might have
beenfor theLevellers; andthey couldhaveextendedall over
Collectivemanuringof thecommonlands was areligious
105. Sabine, pp. 428, 558. 106. ibid., pp. 433,272-4.
107. ibid., pp. 363,557-8,560.
act for theDiggers; for ParsonLee'ahedgeinthefieldis as
necessary inits kindas government inthechurchor common-
wealth'. Religion, liberty, property andgovernment were
closely linkedfor bothsides inthedispute. Thevery nameof
reformation' [of thechurch], Leeadded, 'is as muchexploded
by thevulgar as enclosure; thosesacredordinances of magis-
tracy andministry... arenowbecomeoffensiveto thelevelling
For Winstanley Jesus Christ was theHeadLeveller.
stanley's thought incorporates many Leveller ideas: it goes
beyondthem, beyondthevisionof thesmall proprietor, inits
hostility to privateproperty as such.
Inthebeginningof timethegreat creator, Reason, madetheearth
to beacommontreasury, to preservebeasts, birds, fishes andman,
thelordthat was to governthis creation... Not onewordwas
spokeninthebeginningthat onebranchof mankindshouldrule
over another ... But ... selfishimaginations ... didset upone
manto teachandruleover another. Andthereby ... manwas
brought intobondage, andbecameagreater slaveto suchof his
ownkindthanthebeasts of thefieldwereto him. Andhereupon
theearth... was hedgedintoenclosures by theteachers andrulers,
andtheothers weremade... slaves. Andthat earththat is within
this creationmadeacommonstorehousefor all, is bought andsold
andkept inthehands of afew, whereby thegreat Creator is mightily
dishonoured, as if hewerearespecter of persons, delightinginthe
comfortablelivelihood of someandrejoicinginthemiserable
poverty andstraits of others. Fromthebeginningit was not so ...
Winstanley toldlords of manors that
thepower of enclosinglandandowningproperty was brought into
thecreationby your ancestors by thesword; whichfirst didmur-
der their fellowcreatures, men, andafter plunder or steal away
their land, andleft this landsuccessively to you, their children.
Andtherefore, thoughyoudidnot kill or thieve, yet youholdthat
108. Lee, A Vindicationof regulatedEnclosure, pp. 27-8; cf. p. 101
109. Sabine, pp. 390-91,454,471.
cursedthinginyour handby thepower of thesword; andso you
justify thewickeddeeds of your fathers, andthat sinof your fathers
shall bevisitedupontheheadof youandyour childrento thethird
andfourthgeneration, andlonger too, till your bloody andthieving
power berootedout of theland
Winstanley extendedtheLeveller justificationof political
democracy to economic democracy:
Thepoorest manhathas trueatitleandjust right to thelandas
therichest man... Truefreedomlies inthefreeenjoyment of the
If thecommonpeoplehaveno morefreedominEngland
but only to liveamongtheir elder brothers andwork for themfor
hire, what freedomthenhavethey inEnglandmorethanwecan
haveinTurkey or France?
Winstanley transcendedtheLeveller theory of theNorman
Yoke, that all weneedis to get back to thelaws of thefree
Anglo-Saxons. Thebest laws that Englandhath,' hedeclared,
'areyokes andmanacles, tyingonesort of peopleto another.'
'All laws that arenot groundeduponequity andreason, not
givingauniversal freedomto all but respectingpersons, ought
... to becut off withtheKing's head.'
But England's rulers
hadnot completedtheRevolution:
Whilethis kingly power reignedinonemancalledCharles* all
sorts of peoplecomplainedof oppression... Thereuponyouthat
werethegentry, whenyouwereassembledinParliament, you
calleduponthepoor commonpeopleto comeandhelpyou... That
topboughis loppedoff thetreeof tyranny, andthekingly power in
that oneparticular is cast out. But alas, oppressionis agreat tree
still, andkeeps off thesunof freedomfromthepoor commons still
Kingly power, clergy, lawyers, andbuyingandsellingwereall
linked: 'if onetruly fall, all must fall'.
Winstanley must havebeenexpressingtheopinions of many
disappointedradicals whenhewrotein1652:
110. ibid., pp. 251-2,269.
111. ibid., pp. 321, 519-20, 288.
112. ibid., pp. 303, 390. For theNormanYoke, cf. P. andR., pp.
113. Sabine, pp. 357, 381-2; cf. pp. 484-6.
Therefore, youArmy of England's Commonwealth, look to it! The
enemy couldnot beat youinthefield, but they may betoo hard
for youby policy incounsel if youdo not stick closeto seecommon
freedomestablished. For if so bethat kingly authority beset up
inyour laws again, KingCharles hathconqueredyouandyour
posterity by policy, andwonthefieldof you, thoughyouseem-
ingly havecut off his head.
TheDiggers' aim, hehadtoldFairfax in1649, was 'not to
removetheNormanYokeonly' andrestoreSaxonlaws. 'No,
that is not it'; but to restore'thepurelawof righteousness be-
In1652, two years after thecollapseof theDigger colony
at Cobham, Winstanley publishedTheLawof Freedomina
Platform, adraft constitutionfor acommunist commonwealth.
All menhavestoodfor freedom,' hehadwrittenearlier; 'and
nowthecommonenemy is goneyouareall likemeninamist,
seekingfor freedomandknownot wherenor what it is.' Win-
stanley couldtell them. Truefreedomlies whereamanreceives
his nourishment andpreservation, that is intheuseof the
earth... A manhadbetter haveno body thanto haveno
foodfor it.' Truehumandignity wouldbepossibleonly when
communal ownershipwas established, andbuyingandselling
of landandlabour ceased.
It is impossibleto summarizeThe
Lawof Freedom: thereader must look at it for himself. Its
significancelies not only inthegeneral conception, remark-
ableenoughat that date, but also inthedetail withwhichit
is workedout. TheLawof Freedomseems to havebeenin-
tendedas a'possibilist' document, dedicatedto Oliver Crom-
well inthehopethat hewouldimplement it. Howelsein1652
couldit havebeenrealized? This may account for someap-
parent compromises, but onthewholeit is astraightforward
statement of Winstanley's ideals as modifiedby his experience
at St George's Hill.
Mr Dell pertinently pointedout someyears ago that Win-
114. Sabine, pp. 573-4.
115. ibid., p. 292; cf. p. 259, andp. 145below.
116. Sabine, pp. 316, 519-20, 595-6; cf. pp. 191-2andepigraphto this
Stanley gives two pictures of communist society.
canbededucedfromhis critical oppositionto theevils of his
owntimes. Hedepictedby contrast ananarchist society. Magis-
trates andlawyers wouldbe. superfluous whentherewas no
buyingor selling, just as aprofessional clergy wouldbecome
unnecessary inasociety whereany mechanic is freeto
Winstanley thenexpectedthestate, inMarxist phrase,
to wither away immediately. 'What needhaveweof imprison-
ment, whippingor hanginglaws to bringoneanother into
bondage?* Only covetousness madetheft asin. Executioneven
for murder woulditself bemurder: only Godwho gives life
may takeit away.
But after thecollapseof theDigger
colony, whenWinstanley cameto draft aconstitutionfor his
newsociety, heincludedlaws becauseherealizedthat 'offences
may arisefromthespirit of unreasonableignorance'. But
prisons wereabolished, andheinsistedthat all lawmust be
corrective, not punitive.
Heemphasizednowthat anarmy
wouldbeneededto 'restrict anddestroy all who endeavour to
keepupor bringinkingly bondageagain', to protect thecom-
munity against 'therudeness of thepeople', andto enforce
thelaws; but this army was to beapopular militia, which
wouldnot obey any Parliament not representativeof the
people. Liberty is securedby aright of popular resistance.
Winstanley's experiencewith'rudefreeholders' at St George's
Hill, andperhaps withRanters amonghis ownranks,
taught himthat somecompromises might berequired. Henow
foresawthat alonger process of educationandadaptation
wouldbenecessary thanhehadoriginally envisaged. Hepro-
posedto havemagistrates, electedannually andresponsible
to 'their masters, thepeople, who chosethem'. Theseofficials
shouldincludeplanners ('Overseers'). Duringatransitional
117. E. Dell, 'GerrardWinstanley andtheDiggers', TheModern
Quarterly, IV, pp. 138-9.
118. Sabine, pp. 282, 512; cf. Walwyn, quotedonpp. 270-71below.
119. Sabine, pp. 283,471-2,512, 380,197.
120. ibid., pp. 515, 527, 535-9, 562, 571-6.
121. ibid., pp. 539-40,552-3,572-3.
122. Seepp. 230,319below.
periodsuchofficers might receivepay andmaintenanceallow-
ances, inorder to ensurethat poor menserved. Thelaws for
thepreservationof thecommonwealthwereenforcedby pen-
alties, includingdeprivationof civil rights andforcedlabour.
They extendedevento thedeathpenalty for murder, buying
andselling, rape, or followingthetradeof lawyer or parson.
In1649Winstanley hadwrittenthat 'all punishments that areto
beinflicted... areonly suchas to maketheoffender ... to
liveinthecommunity of therighteous lawof loveonewith
another'. Hehadthenpostulatedforcedlabour as apunish-
ment for idleness, anoffencewhichheassociatedwiththe
gentry rather thanwiththepoor.
Inhis ideal common-
wealththerewouldbeno lawyers, andprisons wouldbe
abolished; accusedpersons wouldappear onparole(thebreak-
ingof whichwas another offencepunishableby death).
SinceWinstanley envisagedno forcibleexpropriation, there
was boundto beatime-lagduringwhichpersuasionwas used
against 'thespirit of unreasonableignorance', 'thespirit of
No doubt for this reasonthefranchisewas ex-
tendedto all males except supporters of Charles I andthose
who hadbeentoo hasty to buy andsell commonwealthlands
- whichthey wereto restore. Officials neednot bechurch
members, i.e. universal tolerationwas instituted. Marriagewas
to beacivil ceremony, for lovenot money. Parliament, chosen
annually, wouldbethehighest court of equity intheland,
overseeingall other courts andofficials.
Winstanley, likeHarrington, attachedgreat political im-
portanceto property inland. Althoughcommunal cultivation
seemedto himtheprincipal remedy for England's ills, heby
no means ignoredother aspects of economic life. His list of
industries inTheLawof Freedomillustrates theextent to
whichinseventeenth-century Englandvirtually all industry
was amatter of collectingandprocessingnatural products.
123. Sabine, pp. 553-4, 591-9. Rapeincurredthedeathpenalty because
it takes away thefreedomof thebody.
124. ibid., pp. 193,197-8,432.
125. ibid., pp. 515,552.
126. ibid., pp. 536-42,556-7,599.
Winstanley criticizedtheway inwhichtolls inmarket towns
pillagedthecountry peoplewho usedthem.
This would
endwhenbuyingandsellingwereabolished. Winstanley had
thought out his problemsufficiently to appreciatethat there
wouldhaveto beastatemonopoly for foreigntrade, oneof
thefirst things theSoviet government establishedafter taking
over power in1917.
Abolitionof wagelabour hadas aneces-
sary corollary thepreservationof apprenticeship. Ingeneral
Winstanley thought thesystemof government inLondoncom-
panies Very rational andwell ordered', providedofficials were
Educationnaturally seemedto Winstanley of thegreatest
importance. It was to continueuntil amanwas 'acquainted
withall arts andlanguages'. Quiteexceptionally for the
seventeenthcentury, it was to beuniversal (for bothsexes) and
equal: therewereto beno specializedscholars living'merely
uponthelabours of other men', whose'showof knowledge
rests inreadingor contemplatingor hearingothers speak'.
Childrenshouldbetrained'intrades andsomebodily em-
ployment, as well as inlearninglanguages or history'.
wouldlearnmusic andto read, sew, knit andspin. Experi-
ment andinventionwereto beencouragedandrewarded.
Hitherto 'fear of want andcareto pay rent to taskmasters
hathhinderedmany rareinventions'. 'Kingly power hath
crushedthespirit of knowledge, andwouldnot suffer it to rise
upinits beauty andfullness.'
Inventions wereto bepubli-
cizedthroughthetwo Postmasters who wereto beelectedin
eachparish- officers uniqueto Winstanley, so far as I know.
They wouldcollect andreport statistical informationabout the
healthandwelfareof their communities, andwouldpublicize
important informationfromother parts of thecountry re-
portedto themfromregional centres. Theideamay owesome-
127. Sabine, pp. 578-9, 526; cf. theattack ontownoligarchies inLight
ShininginBuckinghamshire(ibid., p. 620).
128. Sabine, pp. 564,571, 580,595.
129. ibid., pp. 541, 548-9; cf. pp. 190-91, 194-6, 261-2,423.
130. Walwynalso favouredapolytechnic education(H. andD., p. 336).
131. Sabine, pp. 576-80.
thingto Hartlib's Officeof Addresses, but its statistical
approachlinks it withthat political arithmetic whichWilliam
Petty was to makeso influential inEnglandinthelater seven-
teenthcentury. ThePostmasters wouldthus at oncemake
knownany newinventionor discovery. This was oneof the
many ways inwhichWinstanley's communist organizationof
society wouldbreak downinternal barriers to national unity.
Tradesecrets wouldbeabolished. So thecommonwealthwould
beassistedto flourishinpeaceandplenty, andothers would
bestirredup'to employ their reasonandindustry' inemula-
tion, not merely inorder to increaseproduction, as amodern
economist wouldinsist, but 'to thebeauty of our common-
wealth', as Winstanley put it, inwords of whichWilliamBlake
or Herbert Marcusemight haveapproved.
Winstanley spokefor 'thepoor despisedones of theearth',
andit was thesewho formedhis colony at St George's Hill.
But hethought interms of society as awhole, of humanity as
awhole. 'Alas! youpoor blindearthmoles,' hecriedto 'lords
of manors andNormangentry', 'youstriveto takeaway my
livelihood, andtheliberty of this poor weak framemy body of
flesh, whichis my houseI dwell infor atime; but I striveto
cast downyour kingdomof darkness, andto openhell gates,
andto break thedevil's bonds asunder wherewithyouare
tied, that youmy enemies may liveinpeace; andthat is all the
harmI wouldhaveyouto have.'
TheRanter Abiezer Coppe
thought therewas 'amost glorious design' intheoverthrowof
property: 'equality, community anduniversal loveshall bein
request, to theutter confoundingof abominablepride, murder,
hypocrisy, tyranny andoppression.'
Similarly Winstanley
wheresoever thereis apeople... unitedby commoncommunity
of livelihoodintooneness, it will becomethestrongest landinthe
132. Sabine, pp. 570-71. Thepoint was notedby that sensitivescholar
Margaret James, Social Problems andPolicyduringthePuritanRevolu-
tion, p. 305.
133. Sabine, p. 473.
134. ibid., p. 333.
135. InCohn, ThePursuit of theMillennium, p. 372.
world; for thenthey will beas onemanto defendtheir inheritance
... Whereas ontheother side, pleadingfor property andsingle
interest divides thepeopleof alandandthewholeworldintopar-
ties, andis thecauseof all wars andbloodshedandcontention
everywhere... But whenoncetheearthbecomes acommontrea-
sury again, as it must, ... thenthis enmity of all lands will cease,
andnoneshall dareto seek dominionover others, neither shall any
dareto kill another, nor desiremoreof theearththananother.
Thesub-titleof TheLawof Freedomwas TrueMagistracy
Restored. 'So longas weownlandlords' we'hinder thework
of restoration,' whichis salvation.
Fromhis earliest pam-
phlets Winstanley hadarguedthat reasonpervades thewhole
universeand'dwells inevery creature, but supremely inman'.
'If yousubject your fleshto this mighty governor, thespirit of
righteousness withinyourselves, hewill bringyouinto com-
munity withthewholeglobe.' Then'youhavecommunity with
himwho is theFather of all things'. Thespirit withintheflesh
is Jesus Christ.'
InDecember 1649Winstanley wrotea
prefaceto acollectededitionof his theological pamphlets,
whichappearedin1650. This contains asalutary reminder that
hedidnot reject thesewritings, thoughhis thought hadinmany
respects passedbeyondthem. Heattributedhis later ideas to
'thesamepower' as hadcarriedhimforthinhis first pam-
But thematerialistic sideof Winstanley's pantheism
becomes moreexplicit inthelater, morepolitical, writings.
Thewholecreation... is theclothingof God.' TheFather
is theuniversal power that hathspreadhimself in. thewhole
globe; theSonis thesamepower drawninto andappearingin
onesingleperson, makingthat personsubject to onespirit and
to knowhimthat dwells everywhere.' All mencanbecome
sons inthis sense, andattainto this knowledge. This is the
136. Sabine, pp. 262,253-4.
137. ibid., pp. 152,157,169,186-7,243,260,290,534.
138. Winstanley, TheSaints Paradice[n.d., 71648] sigB, E; pp. 54-7.
139. Winstanley, Several Pieces gatheredintooneVolume(1650),
Introduction. InManchester FreeReferenceLibrary.
excellency of thework, whenamanshall bemadeto seeChrist
inother creatures as well as inhimself.
'Christ or thespreading
power of light is drawingtheknowledgeof himself as helies
inall things into theclear experienceof man.
This was an
argument for completeMiltonic freedomof enterpriseinteach-
Giventhis spirit of Christ within, manneeds
no other preachers than'theobjects of thecreation
, thematerial
This ideaof Godas immanent withinthewhole
material creationcompares very interestingly withTraherne's
later development of thesametheme. InWinstanley, evenmore
thaninTraherne, it is connectedwitharespect for natural
scienceas themeans of becomingacquaintedwithGod
s works.
Winstanley seems to comenear ananticipationof Spinoza's
principle: 'themoreweunderstandindividual things, themore
But this may havebeenanapplication
of theParacelsanmagical belief that 'theinvisiblethings of
God... areseen... inhis works,'
whichappears, cautiously,
inRalegh's Historyof theWorld.
Winstanley hadno usefor traditional religion. His anti-
clericalismwas muchmoredrastic, surer andmoresystematic
thanthat of any other writer duringtheRevolution- and
thereweremany anti-clericals amongthem. 'What is" the
reason,' Winstanley asked, 'that most peopleareso ignorant of
their freedoms, andso fewfit to bechosencommonwealth's
officers? Because,
hereplied, 'theoldkingly clergy ... are
continually distillingtheir blindprinciples into thepeople, and
do thereby nurseupignoranceinthem.' Many of themhad
taught that Charles I was theLord's Anointed.
lay claimto heavenafter they aredead, andyet they require
their heaveninthis worldtoo, andgrumblemightily against the
140. Sabine, pp. 164-71, 451; cf. pp. 112, 130-32, 251,445-6, 508-9.
141. ibid., pp. 224-5.
142. B. Spinoza, Ethics, Part V. PropositionXXIV, quotedby S.
Hampshire, Spinoza (Penguinedn), p. 169; cf. pp. 413-14below.
143. Thomas Tymme, dedicationto his translationof J. Duchesne's The
Practiceof Chymicall andHermeticail Physicke(1605), quotedby A. G.
Debus, TheEnglishParacelsians (1965), pp. 88-90; cf. pp. 287-92below.
144. PierreLefranc, Sir Walter Ralegh, Ecrivain(Paris, 1968), pp. 462-4.
145. Sabine, pp. 544,331.
peoplethat will not givethemalargetemporal maintenance.
Andyet they tell thepoor peoplethat they must becontent with
their poverty, andthey shall havetheir heavenhereafter. But
why may not wehaveour heavenhere(that is, acomfortableliveli-
hoodintheearth) andheavenhereafter too, as well as you? ...
Whilemenaregazingupto heaven, imaginingafter ahappiness
or fearingahell after they aredead, their eyes areput out, that
they seenot what is their birthrights, andwhat is to bedoneby
themhereonearthwhilethey areliving.
A traditional Christian, who 'thinks Godis intheheavens
abovetheskies, andso prays to that Godwhichheimagines
to bethereandeverywhere,... worships his ownimagination,
whichis thedevil'.
'Your Saviour must beapower within
you, to deliver youfromthat bondagewithin; theoutward
Christ or theoutwardGodarebut menSaviours.'
himself cameto usethewordReasoninpreferenceto God,
'becauseI havebeenheldunder darkness by that word, as I see
many peopleare.' Wemust becareful 'lest wedishonour the
Lordinmakinghimtheauthor of thecreatures' misery,' as
hell-firepreachers do.
Winstanley spokeof their Godinterms
whichcamenear to WilliamBlake's Nobodaddy - unless we
areto supposeheheldacompletely Manicheandualism, which
is unlikely. Winstanley told'priests andzealous professors' that
they worshippedthedevil.
Hespokeof theGodDevil'. The
outwardChrist, or theoutwardGod... sometimes proves
Hetoldhis opponents inKingstoncourt that 'that
Godwhomyouserve, andwhichdidentitleyoulords, knights,
gentlemenandlandlords, is covetousness.'
This Godgave
146. Sabine, pp. 409,569.
147. ibid., pp. 107-8; cf. TheSaints Paradice, sig. A-B andp. 55;
Sabine, p. 456.
148. ibid., p. 496.
149. ibid., pp. 105,219-20.
150. ibid., p. 168; cf. pp. 383,476.
151. ibid., pp. 222,496.
152. ibid., p. 332; cf. pp. 137, 197, 327, 437, andK. V. Hiomas,
'Another Digger Broadside', p. 61- 'their Godcovetousness, theGodof
this world'. This is anargument for supposingeither that Winstanley had
ahandinwritingthis pamphlet or that it was writtenby someoneclosely
associatedwithhim; cf. thereferenceto Cainonthesamepage.
menaclaimto privateproperty inland. He'appointedthe
peopleto pay tithes to theclergy*.
It is this God-Devil that
thestatechurchworships. 'Wewill neither cometo churchnor
servetheir God.'
Winstanley's rejectionof thedeity who justifies theruleof
menof property, inwhoseimagehehas beencreated, could
hardly havebeenmorecomplete. To theaccusationthat his
beliefs 'will destroy all government andall our ministry and
religion,' Winstanley repliedcoolly: 'It is very true.' InThe
Lawof Freedomheadvancedpsychological explanations for
belief inapersonal Godandangels, inlocal places of glory and
Thephilosophy whichstartedwithavisionseems
to haveendedas akindof piaterialist pantheism, inwhichGod
or abstract Reasoncanbeknownonly inmanor nature; and
manis moreimportant thanabstractions.
Winstanley pushedthis tendency to its logical conclusion.
Withanodbothtowards themagical traditionandtowards
experimental science, hewrote:
To knowthesecrets of natureis to knowtheworks of God...
Andindeedif youwouldknowspiritual things, it is to knowhow
thespirit or power of wisdomandlife, causingmotionor growth,
dwells withinandgoverns boththeseveral bodies of thestars and
planets intheheavens above; andtheseveral bodies of theearth
below, as grass, plants, fishes, beasts, birds andmankind. For to
reachGodbeyondthecreation, or to knowwhat hewill beto a
manafter themanis dead, if any otherwisethanto scatter him
intohis essences of fire, water, earthandair of whichheis com-
pounded, is aknowledgebeyondthelineor capacity of manto
attainto whilehelives inhis compoundedbody.
Oneof themost astonishingof themany astonishingthings
about Winstanley is his mythological useof Biblical material.
153. Sabine, pp. 385, 532. HereWinstanley is clearly speakingof the
Godof theOldTestament; cf. p. 569.
154. Sabine, p. 434. cf. L. Clarkson, A SingleEye(1650), Sig. A lv.
155. ibid., pp. 567-9,471. Seepp. 181-2below.
156. ibid., p. 565; cf R. 0[verton], ManWhollyMortal (2ndedn, 1655),
pp. 23-4.
Thereareof courseprecedents: theFamily of Lovewas
accusedof turningtheBibleinto allegories, especially thestory
of theFall.
So didmany Ranters. JosephSalmontaught that
thetrueChristianwas not hewho believedthehistorical truth
of theBible, 'but hethat by thepower of thespirit believes all
this history to beverifiedinthemystery;... thehistory is Christ
for us, themystery is Christ inus'.
Abiezer Coppeinanearly
pamphlet employedtheimagery of theSongof Songs to depict
anerotic unionbetweenChrist themaleandmanthefemale.
Hagar andIshmael, SarahandIsaac, wereallegories, Erbery
insisted, 'thoughsuchpersons were'.
TheQuakers were
accusedof turning'all things into allegories, or aChrist within
They mythologized, for example, thestory of the
resurrectionto suchanextent that they wereoftenbelievedto
haveclaimedto raisefromthedeadwhenthey only meant that
they hadeffectedaconversion.
Themental habit was medieval. Calvintoo taught that God
spoketo thecapacity of his audience. But it was onethingfor
theclergy to allegorizeaLatintext whosesacredness was
acceptedonall sides; it was quiteanother for mechanic laymen
to put their ownallegorical constructions onavernacular text
availablefor all to read, andto do this against thebackground
of acritical protestant Biblical scholarship, inconditions of
freeandunfettereddiscussionwhichallowedpopular attitudes
freerein, andinanatmospherechargedwithmillenarianex-
Insomeways Winstanley looks forwardnot only to Milton
but also to Vico andBlake. His critical attitudetowards the
157. Perkins, Works (1617-18) III, p. 392; H. Oapham, Errour onthe
Right Hand(1608), p. 46.
158. Salmon, Anti-Christ inMan(1647), p. 27.
159. [Coppe] SomeSweet Sips of someSpirituall Wine(1649), pp.
10-11andpassim; cf. RichardCoppin, quotedonp. 221below.
160. W. E., TheMadMans Plea(1653), p. 1; Bauthumley, quotedon
p. 220below.
161. J. Canne, TruthwithTime(1656) sig. B 3.
162. G. F. Nuttall, James Nayler: A FreshApproach(Journal of the
Friends' Historical Soc., Supplement 26), pp. 14—15.
text of theScriptureis very clear. Henotedthecontradictions
whichWalwynandClarksonalso saw: theBiblesuggestedthe
existenceof menbeforeAdam, for instance. But Winstanley
usedthis not merely negatively, to discredit theBiblical narra-
tive; but to insist that thestory of AdamandEvemust betaken
metaphorically, not literally.
By implicationWinstanley de-
niedtheinspirationof theBible, as Ranters, Clement Writer
andtheQuaker Samuel Fisher did.
Winstanley was infact
not really interestedinthehistorical truthor otherwiseof the
Bible: 'Whether thereweresuchoutwardthings or no, it
matters not much.' 'ThewholeScriptures arebut areport of
spiritual mysteries, heldforthto theeyeof fleshinwords, but
to beseeninthesubstantial matter of themby theeyeof the
spirit.' TheBibleshouldbeusedto illustratetruths of which
onewas already convinced: Winstanley was preparedto use
Acts 4.32to justify community of property.
TheVirginBirthwas anallegory;
so was theresurrection.
'Christ lyinginthegrave, likeacornof wheat buriedunder the
clods of earthfor atime, andChrist risingupfromthe
powers of your flesh, abovethat corruptionandabovethose
clouds, treadingthecurseunder his feet, is to beseenwithin';
Winstanley appears to reject any other resurrectionor ascen-
Theresurrectionof thedeadoccurs duringour lives on
earth: theday of judgment has already begunandsomeare
already livinginthekingdomof heaven.
Thecastingout of
covetousness andtheestablishment of aclassless society will
be'anewheavenandanewearth'. Evenmoreremarkably, all
theprophecies of theOldandNewTestaments regardingthe
callingof theJews andtherestorationof Israel refer to 'this
163. Sabine, p. 210; cf. Walwyn, inH. andD., p. 298. Belief ina
worldbeforeAdamwas attributedto ElizabethanFamilists by John
Rogers (TheDisplayingof theFamilyof Love, 1578), andto Thomas
Hariot, Ralegh's protfg6, by Thomas Nashe(Works, ed. R. B. McKerrow,
I, p. 171).
164. Seepp. 259-68below.
165. Sabine, pp. 462,116,128-9, 204; cf. p. 536.
166. ibid., p. 480.
167. ibid., pp. 113-17, 173, 215; cf. TheSaints Paradice, pp. 21, 82-3.
168. Sabine, pp. 229-31,234-5; cf. pp. 463,484.
work of makingtheearthacommontreasury.'
liberty andpeace. Thesecondcomingis 'therisingupof Christ
insons anddaughters'; theworshipof any other Christ but the
Christ withinmanmust thencease.
Thestory of theGardenof EdenWinstanley treatedas an
idletaleunless takenallegorically. 'Thepublic preachers have
cheatedthewholeworldby tellingus of asinglemancalled
Adamthat killedus all by eatingasinglefruit, calledanapple':
infact 'youarethemanandwomanthat hatheatenthefor-
biddenfruit'; Adamsymbolizes thepower of covetousness in
every man.
Theapplethat thefirst maneats is ... the
objects of thecreation.' 'Wemay seeAdamevery day before
our eyes walkingupanddownthestreet.' Thesymbolismof
thegardenhas almost as great asignificancefor Winstanley as
for Marvell or Milton. Edenis mankind.
InEdenis fought
out theconflict betweenReasonontheonehandandcovetous
imaginationontheother. This innocency or plain-heartedness
inmanwas not anestate6,000years ago only but every branch
of mankindpasses throughit ... This is thefieldor heaven
whereinMichael andtheDragon fightsthegreat battleof God
Almighty.' Andthis conflict still goes on. Thereis no manor
womanneeds go to Romenor to hell belowground, as some
talk, to findthePope, Devil, Beast or power of darkness;
neither to go upinto heavenabovetheskies to findChrist the
wordof life. For boththesepowers areto befelt withinaman,
fightingagainst eachother.'
This poetic concernwithspiritual meaningrather thanwith
historical truthenabledWinstanley to blendthemythof the
Fall withthemythof theNormanConquest: 'thelast en-
slavingconquest whichtheenemy got over Israel was the
Normanover England.'
Equally allegorical is Winstanley's
useof thestories of CainandAbel, of EsauandJacob: the
169. Sabine, pp. 184,260.
170. ibid., pp. 262,161-4,264; cf. p. 148below.
171. ibid., pp. 203, 210-18; cf. pp. 446, 457; TheSaints Paradice, pp.
172. ibid., pp. 176,120,457-9; cf. p. 251.
173. ibid., pp. 480-81,176.
174. ibid., p. 259; cf. pp. 133-4above.
younger brother beingthe'poor oppressed', theelder brother
'Cainis still aliveinall thegreat land-
lords', saidoneof theDigger pamphlets whichWinstanley
probably didnot write.
But 'theearthis my birthright,' says
Winstanley's younger brother: Godis no respecter of persons.
To this theelder brother replies, likemany seventeenth-century
clerics, by quotingScripture. But 'thoughthis Jacobbevery
low, yet his timeis nowcome'; hewill supplant Esau, and
'takes bothbirthright andblessingfromhim'.
Useof the
mythof thetwo brothers deserves further study. 'Esauis the
endingof theoldworld,' saidapamphlet whichcirculatedin
Norfolk inFebruary 1649. 'Thereignof Jacob, of thesaints ...
begins thenewworld.'
TheRanter Abiezer Coppelinked
'thebloodof therighteous Abel' with'thebloodof thelast
Levellers that wereshot to death'.
GeorgeFox usedthe
'Cain's brood,' wroteBunyan, were'lords and
rulers', while'Abel andhis generationhavetheir necks under
Dr Thirsk has shownhowactual weretheproblems of
younger brothers inseventeenth-century England.
tionto primogeniturewas perhaps morewidespreadandmore
significant thanhistorians haveappreciated. It was sharedby
theLevellers, HughPeter, James Harrington, WilliamShep-
175. Sabine, pp. 288-9; cf. pp. 253, 256, 323, 425, 490, 673-5.
176. Thomas, 'Another Digger Broadside', p. 61.
177. Sabine, pp. 149, 173, 176-9, 569; cf. pp. 189, 206, 228, 480. Win-
stanley does not emphasizethepoint that intheBibleJacobblackmailed
his elder brother intosellinghis birthright for amess of pottage.
178. CertainQueries PresentedbyManyChristianPeople(1649) in
Woodhouse, p. 244.
179. Coppe, TheFieryFlyingRoll, Part I, pp. 1-5.
180. Fox, TheLambs Officer (1659), p. 19.
181. Bunyan, Works, II, p. 445; cf. Morton, op. dt., p. 139, who per-
ceptively links CoppeandBunyan. For JacobandEsauseealso G.
Smith, Englands Pressures, Or, ThePeoples Complaint (1645), pp.
4-5; R. Coppin, DivineTeachings, Part II (1653), p. 52; W. Sprigge, A
Modest Pleafor anEqual Commonwealth(1659), p. 54; for Cainand
Abel seeSir H. Vane, TheRetiredMans Meditations (1655), p. 173.
182. J. Thirsk, 'Younger Sons intheSeventeenthCentury', History,
L1V, pp. 358-77.
pard, Champianus Northtonus (1655), Robert Wiseman(1656),
WilliamCovell, WilliamSpriggeandtheanonymous author
of Chaos (1659). Abolitionof primogeniture, inorder to de-
stroy 'themonopolies of elder brethren*, was oneof theobjec-
tives of Venner's FifthMonarchist revolt in1661.
converts fromlandedfamilies after 1662weremostly younger
sons anddaughters
- thosemost opposedto paternal
authority to whomtheroughegalitarianismof northern
yeomenwouldmost appeal. But theradicals gavethelegend
deeper mythological overtones. For menof property, however
small their share, a birthright signifiedinheritancefrom
ancestors; property was equivalent to freebornstatus. Some,
likeJohnBunyan, might betemptedto sell their birthright.
Inheritancewas thebackboneof seventeenth-century society.
It was thebasis of Ireton's defenceof property, of theLevellers'
demandfor therights of freebornEnglishmen. Thedoctrineof
original sinassumes transmissionof guilt fromAdamto all men
living, just as thenotionof anoriginal contract assumedthat
meninthestateof naturecouldbindtheir posterity for all
Winstanley took over andtransformedother popular beliefs.
Themythof theEverlastingGospel goes back at least to
Joachimof Fioreinthetwelfthcentury. This dividedhuman
history into threeages: that of theFather, fromtheFall to the
deathof Christ, theageof theLaw; followedby that of the
Son, theageof theGospel; thethirdage, theageof theSpirit,
was always thepresent age, inwhichtheHoly Spirit was coming
into thehearts of all mento freethemfromexistingforms and
183. D. Veafl, ThePopular Movement for LawReforminEngland,
1640-1660(OxfordU.P., 1970), pp. 217-19; Itiirsk, 'Younger Sons', pp.
369-71; Covell, A DeclarationuntotheParliament (1659), p. 17; [Anon.]
A Door of Hope(1661).
184. R. T. Vann, 'QuakerismandtheSocial StructureintheInter-
regnum', P. andP., 43, p. 91.
185. Bunyan, Works, I, pp. 22-4, 34-5; II, pp. 442-52; cf. J. Lindsay,
JohnBunyan(1937) ch. 9, andA. L. Morton, "TheWorldof Jonathan
Swift', MarxismTo-day, December 1967, p. 369- Swift ontheIrish
peasantry sellingitself.
186. Sabine, p. 530. Seepp. 155-8below.
ordinances. It was aheretical doctrine, for it not only rejected
theauthority of theinstitutionalizedchurch, but it put thespirit
withinmanabovetheletter of Scripture. This doctrinehad
beentakenover by theFamilists andJacobBoehme; it was
widespreadintheEnglandof the1640s.
Winstanley, by aremarkableimaginativefeat, transmuted
this apocalyptic visioninto atheory of rationalismanddemoc-
racy. Thekey lies inhis equationof GodwithReason, and
Reasonwiththelawof theuniverse. Inthethirdage, nowbe-
ginning, 'theLordhimself, who is theEternal Gospel, doth
manifest himself to ruleinthefleshof sons anddaughters'.
Their hearts will beretunedto theReasonwhichpervades the
cosmos, to 'that spiritual power that guides all men's reasoning
inright order to aright end'. Every mansubject to Reason's
lawbecomes aSonof God. Heno longer 'looks uponaGod
andaruler without him, as thebeast of thefielddoes'; his
ruler is within, whether it becalledconscienceor loveor
Reason. This is Christ's secondcoming, after which'theminis-
trationof Christ inonesinglepersonis to besilent anddraw
back' beforetherighteousness andwisdominevery person.
A similar transvaluationtook placewiththemythof Anti-
christ. Orthodox divines sawthePopeas Antichrist. More
radical Puritans cameto regardbishops andindeedthewhole
Churchof Englandas antichristian, andthecivil war as a
187. Mr Mortonfoundthedoctrineof theEverlastingGospel inthe
writings of Crisp, Saltmarsh, Collier andCoppe(TheMatter of Britain,
1966, p. 103). Wemay addHenry Denne(Edwards, Gangraena, I, p.
23); JohnWarr (Administrations Civil andSpiritual, 1648, pp. 23, 42-
seepp. 272-4below); Major-General Harrison(C. H. Simpkinson,
Thomas Harrison, 1905, p. 132); WilliamDell (Several Sermons, pp. 26-7);
Isaac Penington(Works, 3rdedn, 1784, III, pp. 494-500) andGeorge
Fox (TheLambs Officer, 1659, p. 13). Thomas Edwards identifiedthe
EverlastingGospel withthedoctrineof universal salvation(Gangraena,
I, p. 22); cf. Blake, TheEverlastingGospel andpp. 389-91below.
188. Sabine, pp. 100, 105, 122, 162-3, 169, 198, 453, 458. 'Light I take
to bethat purespirit inmanwhichwecall Reason, whichdiscusseth
things right andreflecteth, whichwecall conscience* (Light Shiningin
Buckinghamshire, inSabine, p. 611, echoingWinstanley's Truth lifting
upits Head.) This approaches theideathat Godwill ultimately abdicate
(seeW. Empson, Milton's God, 1961, pp. 130-46).
crusadefor Christ against Antichrist. Winstanley againpushed
this farther still, seeingproperty itself as antichristian, em-
bodiedincovetousness or self-love.
tivity is expiring,' hethought; but thecivil war hadnot com-
pletedAntichrist's overthrow. Therewas still aconflict of 'Beast
against Beast, covetousness andprideagainst covetousness and
That government that gives liberty to thegentry to
haveall theearth, andshuts out thepoor commons fromen-
joyingany part, ... is thegovernment of imaginary, self-seek-
ingAntichrist,' andmust berootedout. Winstanley hopedthat
Englandwouldbethefirst country to fall off from'that Beast,
kingly property'.
Sincetheexternal worldis themanifestationof Winstanley's
God, our senses areto bevaluedbecauseby themweknowthis
world. Manmust liveinhimself, not out of himself; inhis five
senses, not inempty imaginations, books or hearsay doctrines.
ThenGodwalks anddelights himself inhis garden, mankind.
WeknowGodby thesenses, 'intheclear-sightedexperienceof
onesinglecreature, man, by seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling,
Whenthefivesenses act intheir ownlight, this is
'thestateof simpleplainheartedness or innocency.' Whenman
places his goodinoutwardobjects, imagination'corrupts the
fivesenses' andthis leads to aHobbist stateof nature, astate
of competitionborderingonwar. Man findsno happiness here:
only when'theselfish, imaginary, covetous, murderingpower'
has beencast out does Godbecome'all inall, thealonekingin
that livingsoul or earth, or the fivelivingsenses'.
passionately assertedtheearthly natureof this Paradiseof the
senses: 'Ohyehearsay preachers, deceivenot thepeopleany
longer by tellingthemthat this glory shall not beknownand
seentill thebody is laidinthedust. I tell you, this great mystery
is begunto appear, andit must beseenby thematerial eyes of
189. Sabine, pp. 385,203; cf. pp. 248,270, 334,383.
190. ibid., pp. 230,297; cf. p. 457.
191. ibid., pp. 385, 395, 472; cf. pp. 613, 631, 636-7. Seemy Antichrist
inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, pp. 116-18.
192. Sabine, pp. 458-9,452; cf. pp. 454,468,477-8.
193. ibid., p. 165; cf. p. 251.
194. ibid., pp. 455,485-6; cf. p. 399andAppendix I below.
theflesh: andthose fivesenses that is inmanshall partakeof
this glory.' 'All outwardglory that is at adistancefromthefive
senses ... is of atransient nature; andso is theheaventhat
your preachers tell youof.' Heavenis hereinthis world. Win-
stanley madethepoint withhis accustomedepigrammatic
vigour by callingon'proudpriests' to 'leaveoff their trade' and
'stoopunto our God.'
Hewas literally tryingto bringthem
downto earth, to Godinman. Thelast lineof theDiggers'
songcalledfor: 'Glory here, Diggers all!'
But if Godis
everywhere, if matter is God, thentherecanbeno difference
betweenthesacredandthesecular: pantheismleads to secu-
195. Sabine, pp. 169-70,227,145. My italics.
196. Ed. Firth, ClarkePapers, II, p. 224.
Sinandtransgressionis finished... Beno longer
so horridly, hellishly, impudently, arrogantly
wicked, as tojudgewhat is sin, what not.
ABIEZER COPPE, A FieryFlyingRoll, Part I
(1649), p. 7.
MOST religions andmost peoples havealegendsimilar to that
of theGardenof Eden, Arcadia, theGoldenAge. Therewas a
stateof happiness andinnocenceinthepast, but this has now
beenlost, andmankindis at themercy of anuncontrollable
fate. Manis fundamentally sinful, andwhatever sacramental
means may exist to reconcileGodto him, this reconciliation
cannever becompleteonearth. Weareto expect our happiness
inanafter-life. Inall thegreat religions intheir primetheafter-
lifeis areflectionof society inthis world: afewareinastate
of bliss, thevast majority inastateof torment - althoughthe
positions might bereversedafter death. Someheretical move-
ments claimedsalvationfor all men, or at least for all members
of agivencommunity; but this conceptionnever wonaccept-
anceby any establishedchurchso longas it heldits monopoly
position; inEuropethat is to say until well after theReforma-
Inanunequal agricultural society, withprimitivetechniques,
wheremenwereat themercy of natureandstarvedif the
harvest failed; whereplagues andwarfaremadelifeuncertain,
it was easy to seefamines andepidemics as punishments for
humanwickedness. As longas thelevel of techniquewas too
lowto liberatemenfromnature, so longwerethey prepared
to accept their helplessness beforeaGodwho was as unpre-
dictableas theweather. Sin, likepoverty andsocial inferiority,
was inherited. Magic, analternativesystem'attemptingto
control nature, still playedalargepart inthelives of the
commonpeople, andit was usedby thepriesthood, by those
who performedthemiracleof themass. Menconscious of their
helplessness, their frustration, couldeasily beconvincedthat
they weresinful. Becausethey weresinful they weredis-
couragedfromtryingto remedy their situation. If they con-
fessedto apriest andpaidtheappropriatefees, they couldbe
absolvedandset freefromtheir sins - until thenext time.
Themedieval churchhadevolvedaworkablesystemof social
control, aidedby theuseful inventionof Purgatory.
But it
over-reacheditself inthesaleof indulgences, remissionof the
penalties of sinfor cashdown. For this commercialization
of salvationwas recognizedas anabuseby those- merchants
andartisans especially - whosemastery of moreadvanced
techniques andgrowingwealthwas givingthemgreater confi-
denceintheir ability to standontheir ownfeet. Suchmen,
whosewealthno doubt initially promptedthesaleof in-
dulgences, formedanimportant part of thepopular backing
for Luther whenhemadehis protest against thepractice.
Inprotestantismthesenseof sinwas internalized. Priestly
mediators werediscardedbecauseeachbeliever hadapriest
inhis ownconscience: outwardpenanceandabsolutionwere
replacedby inwardpenitence. This set somemenfreefrom
theterrors of sin. Theelect werethosewho felt withinthem-
selves thepower of God. Godspokedirect to their consciences,
without mediationof priests or sacraments. Luther's doctrine
of thepriesthoodof all believers destroyedtheoldhierarchical
framework of thechurch, andset menfaceto facewithGod.
Protestantismemphasizes that somemenarepredestinedto
salvation, others to damnation. But it is wrongto stress only
thepredestinarianaspect of protestantism: for thepractical
purposes of livinginsociety, its importanceis as adoctrineof
thefreedomof theelect, who by divinegracearesingledout
fromthemass of humanity. Most men, likeanimals andthe
wholeinanimatecreation, aresubject to andhelpless before
theforces of natureandsociety - famine, pestilence, death.
1. E. Troeltsch, TheSocial Teachingof theChristianChurches, trans.
O. Wyon(1931), I, p. 234; II, p. 922.
They aresunk insin. Theelect alonearefree, sinceto them
theforces whichgoverntheworldarenot blind. Theelect
understandandcooperatewithGod's purposes, andthis sense
of intimacy withtheruler of theuniversegives aconfidence,
aninner assurance, whichmay enablethemto prosper inthis
worldas well as to inherit thenext.
It does not givethemtheexaggerated, unfeelingself-
confidenceof fatalism: tensions, doubts, always remain. Only
Godknows his elect. Oneman's liberationmay beanother
man's despair.
But thetensions themselves, inappropriatecir-
cumstances, may produceamoral energy, adeterminationto
proveoneself. Thetheory of justificationby faithhelpedmen
to livebecauseof theinner hopeit gave. It is arelativelydemo-
cratic theory: theelect formaspiritual aristocracy, which
bears no relationto theworldly aristocracy of birth. Thetheory
gaveaselect groupof theunprivilegedthirdestatesufficient
courage, convictionandsenseof unity witheachother to be
ableto forcetheir way towards religious andpolitical free-
domby means of atightly disciplinedorganization. Necessarily
only aselect grouphavetheeconomic status, theeducation,
theleisure, to master this theology; only aminority canbe
free; only aminority aretheelect. They differentiatethem-
selves themoresharply fromtheremainingmass of theun-
privilegedthirdestate(as well as fromthegodless rulingclass)
inthat they arewell awarethat their senseof divinegraceis
all that does distinguishthem. It makes themhuman, as
distinct fromanimals andtheunregenerate. It involves atrans-
valuationof values: for self-respect hadbeenthesinof Lucifer
andPrometheus. Tawney was referringespecially to Calvinism
whenhespokeof 'thecentral paradox of religious ethics - that
only thosearenervedwiththecourageneededto turnthe
worldupsidedownwho areconvincedthat already, inahigher
sense, it is disposedfor thebest by aPower of whichthey
Thespiritual experienceof conversion, for aprotestant in
2. Seepp. 171-4below.
2A. R. H. Tawney, ReligionandtheRiseof Capitalism(Penguinedn.),
p. 109.
our period, was abreak-throughto anewlifeof freedom. His
burdenrolledoff his back, andheacquiredasenseof dignity,
of confidenceinhimself as anindividual. Thomas Hooker put
it well whenhewrote: 'Soundcontritionandbrokenness of
heart brings astrangeandasuddenalterationinto theworld,
varies thepriceandvalueof things andpersons beyondimag-
ination, turns theworldupsidedown, makes thethings appear
as they be.' 'Suchjudgenot by outwardappearance, as it is the
guiseof menof corrupt minds, but uponexperience, that they
havefoundandfelt intheir ownhearts.'
senseof strengthtoo throughoneness withacommunity of
like-mindedpeople. The'collectivismspirit of early Calvinism
has oftenbeennoted. Thesamesenseof commoninterests
andbeliefs inspiredtheearly sectariancongregations.
This doublesenseof power - individual self-confidenceand
strengththroughunity - producedthat remarkableliberation
of energy whichis typical of Calvinismandthesects during
our period. Menfelt free: freefromhell, freefrompriests,
freefromfear of worldly authorities, freefromtheblindforces
of nature, freefrommagic. Thefreedommight beillusory:
aninner psychological self-deception. Or it might correspond
to outer reality, inthat it was likely to befelt by menwho
wereeconomically independent. But evenanillusory freedom
might giveamanthepower to winreal freedom, just as
mimetic magic didhelpprimitivemanto growhis crops.
But conversionitself, theleapforwardfromaworldof
consciousness of necessity to aworldof consciousness of free-
dom, this must comeas somethingarbitrary andexternal. One
couldno morewishoneself into astateof gracethanonecould
wishoneself into ahigher social class. It was God's intervention
inastatic universe, themiraclewithout whichoneremained
amongtheinert mass of thereprobate, without whichfree-
domwas impossible.
Protestantism, as ashrewdcommentator puts it, retained
medieval sinwithout themedieval insurancepolicy - confes-
sionandabsolution. Menemancipatedthemselves frompriests,
3. T. Hooker, TheApplicationof Redemption(1659), p. 557. Written
but not fromtheterrors of sin, fromthepriest internalizedin
their ownconsciences.
Only very strongcharacters, or thevery
fortunate, couldstandthestrain. Unmodified, it was adoctrine
moreappropriateto crisis conditions of strugglethanto normal
livinginastablesociety. Andit left aproblemof social con-
trol. Protestant doctrines emphasizedtheseparationof the
elect fromtheunregeneratemass. Confessionandabsolution
wereabolishedbecausetheelect weretheir ownpriests;
priestly mediators coulddo no goodto theunregenerateeither.
But what thenwas to becomeof theunregeneratemajority of
society? Protestant doctrineheavily emphasizedthesocial con-
sequences of theFall of Man.
If Adam's Fall hadnot brought sininto theworld, men
wouldhavebeenequal, property wouldhavebeenheldincom-
mon. But sincetheFall, covetousness, pride, anger andall
theother sins havebeentransmittedto his posterity. Themass
of mankindis irretrievably damned: asmall minority is pre-
destinedto eternal life. A coercivestateis oneconsequenceof
theFall, necessary to prevent sinful menfromdestroyingone
another. Privateproperty is likewiseaconsequenceof sin; but
sinceit inevitably exists, it must bedefendedagainst thegreedy
lusts of theunpropertied, who must beheldinsubordination.
TheTudor statetook over many of thefunctions of the
medieval church. Thesetraditional doctrines hadnot gone
unchallenged. TheThirty-nineArticles of theChurchof
Englandrely heavily onoriginal sinto defendproperty and
theauthority of magistrates against Anabaptists.
So longas churchandstatewereone, theFall was vital to
politics. For if theindividual canset uphis conscienceagainst
priest andchurch, by thesametokenhecanset himself up
against thegovernment withwhichthechurchis so intimately
associated. Luther said:
Theungodly out of theGospel do seek only acarnal freedom,
4. J. Marlowe. ThePuritanTraditioninEnglishLife(1956), pp. 130-31.
Thepoint was originally madeby Marx (SelectedEssays, translatedby
H. J. Staining, 1926, p. 27).
5. cf. TheReformationof theEcclesiastical Laws, ed. E. Cardwell (Ox-
fordU.P., 1850), pp. 11,14-16,328.
andbecomeworsethereby; thereforenot theGospel but theLaw
belongethto them... TheGospel is likeafresh, mildandcool air
intheextremeheat of summer, that is, asolaceandcomfort inthe
anguishof theconscience. But... theterrifyingof theconscience
must proceedfromthepreachingof theLaw, to theendwemay
knowthat wehaveoffendedagainst theLaws of God.
Hereis adual standardinreligious teaching: Gospel for the
godly, Lawfor theungodly; andfor thelater Luther 'the
multitude' weretheungodly.
Thedualismwas all themorenecessary becausesixteenth-
century protestantismwas inonesensearevolutionary creed.
'HereI stand, so helpmeGod, I canno other.' Whether Luther
actually usedthewords or not, they express thespirit of his
actions. Heandthosewho felt withhimwouldfight or suffer
to thedeathrather thansubmit to thetyranny of thePope
or apopishsecular power. But protestantismwas not ademo-
cratic creed. It proclaimedChristianliberty, liberty for the
elect. Calvinturnedthedualisminto asystem, whichonthe
onehandproducedabetter fightingmachinethanLutheran-
ism, andontheother abetter disciplinary regimefor the
lower orders. Solomon, Calvinwrote, 'exhorts thepoor to
patient endurance, seeingthat thosewho arediscontentedwith
their lot endeavour to shakeoff aburdenwhichGodhathim-
Hehas imposedit onthembecausethey are
sinful. Evenslavery, for theCalvinist WilliamPerkins, 'is in-
deedagainst thelawof entirenatureas it was beforethe
Fall; but against thelawof corruptednaturesincetheFall, it
is not'.
Thegodly, Calvinhadtaught, may use'theaidof
themagistratefor thepreservationof their goods, or, from
zeal for thepublic interest, ... call for thepunishment of the
wickedandpestilential man, whomthey knownothingwill
reformbut death*.
6. Selections fromtheTableTalkof MartinLuther, trans. Captain
Henry Belt (1892), pp. 136-7.
7. J. Calvin, TheInstitutes of theChristianReligion, trans. H. Beveridge
(1949) I, p. 178.
8. Perkins, Works, III, p. 698.
9. Calvin, Institutes, II, p. 667.
Thesecommonplaces weresharedby all except radical pro-
testants. RichardHooker acceptedthemno less thandidCal-
EnglishandScottishPresbyterians anticipatedHobbes
inteachingthat it was thefunctionof civil government to
restrainthedepravity natural to all men. Henry Parker, a
political associateof thePresbyterians andatheoretical pre-
decessor of Hobbes, wrotein1642that 'manbeingdepraved
by theFall of Adamgrewso untameanduncivil acreaturethat
thelawof Godwritteninhis breast was not sufficient to
restrainhimfrommischief or to makehimsociable'.
enemy Sir Robert Filmer assertedthat 'anatural freedomof
mankindcannot besupposedwithout adenial of thecreation
of Adam', andso 'thebringinginof atheism'. Filmer argued
indeedthat political power existedbeforetheFall of Man.
Verbal expressions might vary, but nobody deniedthewicked-
ness of themultitudeuntil themultitudebeganto speak for
itself - andthenthepropertiedwereall themoreconvinced
of theneedfor repression. Lawprotects property, JohnPym
declaredin1641. 'If youtakeaway thelaw, all things will
fall into aconfusion, every manwill becomealawto him-
self, whichinthedepravedconditionof humannaturemust
needs producemany great enormities.'
For theconservative, themaninpossession, theFall was
somethingwhichcouldnot beundone. It hadpermanently
affectedhumannature. To attempt to ignorethesinfulness
of manwas to fly inthefaceof facts. Hesawevil as some-
thinginternal, lurkingintheheart of every man: not as an
external product of society. Sinwas aninheritedcharacteristic,
transmittedby thesexual act. Theideathat it is just to visit
thesins of thefathers uponall succeedinggenerations is part
of theprimitivecomplex of ideas whichproducedtheblood
feud, andis well suitedto asociety basedoninheritedstatus.
This climateof opinionmadepossiblethe(to us) oddassump-
10. Hooker, TheLaws of Ecclesiastical Polity(Everymanedn), I, p. 188.
11. [H. Parker] Observations uponsomeof his majesties lateAnswers
andExpresses, inHaller, Tracts onLiberty, II, p. 179.
12. PatriarchaandOther Political Works of Sir Robert Filmer, ed. P.
Laslett (Oxford, 1949), pp. 289-90.
13. J. Rushworth, Trial of Strafford(1680), p. 662. My italics.
tions of early political theorists, that heirs areto all eternity
boundby contracts madeby their remoteancestors. Sir John
Davies justifiedGodto menby theparallel of disinheritingnot
only anerringsonbut also his (presumably) innocent posterity,
andby theprivileges woninthepast by acorporation.
heritedsinwas theobverseof thedivinehereditary right of
monarchs. Thereis no damnedmerit about salvation. Men
wereredeemedonly by theimputedrighteousness of Christ,
replacingall other mediators. But sucharguments weretwo-
edged: Levellers andothers claimedthat all freebornEnglish-
menhadabirthright, inherited fromtheir Anglo-Saxon
predecessors, of whichit was wrongto deprivethem.
Inasociety inwhichcontract was becomingmoreim-
portant thanstatus, suchstress oninheritancewas beginning
to look old-fashioned- as inFilmer's political theory. Hobbes
andLockeusedtheframework of thesocial contract, but their
arguments do not dependinany way onits havingoccurred
inhistorical fact. Puritantheology intheearly seventeenth
century was reactingto thenewsocial environment withthe
covenant theology of Perkins andhis successors: Godcon-
tractedsalvationwithhis elect inahighly legalistic manner.
This hadonevery oddconsequence. Inthecovenant theology
Adam(andChrist) becamerepresentativefigures, inwhom
thestateof all humanity is summedup: public persons. Weno
longer suffer becauseweareAdam's heirs, but becauseAdam
was our representative. Christ's imputedrighteousness does not
wholly comefromwithout but is wonfor us by our representa-
This openedwider doors thanthecovenant theologians
imagined. WilliamErbery was to suggest that theNewModel
Army was 'theArmy of God, as public persons andnot for
aparticular interest'.
Theproblemof social control was solvedinamakeshift
14. Sir JohnDavies,
NosceTeipsum', inSilver Poets of theSixteenth
Century, ed. G. Bullitt (Everymanedn.), pp. 368-9.
15. Perry Miller, TheNewEnglandMind: theseventeenthcentury(New
York, 1939), 401-8.
16. T. Goodwin, Works (Edinburgh, 1861-3), H, pp. 130-33; A Bur-
gesse, TheDoctrineof Original Sin(1659), pp. 2, 38-9,46,165.
17. Erbery, Testimony, p. 25; cf. Milton, quotedonp. 402below.
way inTudor Englandby retainingchurchcourts whichim-
posedpenalties for 'sin'. They continuedto bedenouncedby
radical protestants as mereagencies for raisingmoney. The
Presbyterianwingamongtheclergy wishedto abolishthem
altogether, andreplacethemby adisciplinary systemwhich
wouldhavegivengreatly increasedpower to themselves.
Thedefeat of thePresbyterianmovement withintheChurch
of Englandinthe1590s creatednewproblems. ThePuritan
clergy laidever-increasingstress onpreaching, onmoral con-
duct, onbuildingupaconvincedbody of lay opinion. As Stuart
governments camemoreandmoreunder Arminianinfluence,
so theconsolidationof aparty of Puritanlaymenbecamein-
creasingly important. As sacramentalismrevivedwithinthe
church, thePuritans wonsupport frommany laymenwhose
motives wereanti-clerical rather thantheological; andwho in
the1640s foundPresbyterianclericalismno less distasteful
thanArminian. But for thetimebeingthealliancewas solid.
Therewereindeedinherent contradictions incombininga
theology whichstressedthat theelect wereaminority with
amoral preachingdesignedto reachall men. All theorthodox
wouldhaveagreedwithWilliamCrashaw's dictum: The
greater part generally is theworst part.'
Thomas Hooker in
1632could'speak it by experiencethat themeaner sort of
people, it is incrediblewhat ignoranceis amongthem'.
kins andother Puritantheologians solvedthis by teachingthat
Godwouldaccept thewill for thedeed; that althoughwe
cannot saveourselves by our efforts, nevertheless apassionate
desireto besavedwas strongpresumptiveevidencethat one
was infact amongtheelect. 'TheLordaccepteththeaffection
andtheendeavour for thethingdone.*
'Hewho desires to
berighteous, is righteous,
declaredJohnDowname; 'hethat
wouldrepent, dothrepent ... If therebeawillingmindit is
'Desireof assurance, andcomplaint of thewant
18. W. Crashaw, A SermonPreachedinLondon(1610), sig. F. 2.
19. T. Hooker, TheSovles Preparationfor Christ (1632), p. 70.
20. Perkins, Works, II, p. 44. But contrast ibid., II, p. 537. Seealso
V. Kiernan, 'Puritans andthePoor', P. andP., 3, pp. 45-53.
21. J. Downame, ChristianWarfare(1604), p. 120.
of assurance,* Sir Simonds D'Ewes thought in1641, amount
to 'assuranceitself'.
This meant that anyonewho took the
problemof his salvationseriously couldhavesomereasonable
confidencethat hewas saved. Theeliteweretheelect.
Whencivil war came, theappeal for mass support hadto be
evenmoredirect, evenless discriminating. Anyonewho would
fight against Antichrist was welcome. Howfar preachers
allowedthemselves to beawareof theprofoundcontradiction
intheir positionwedo not know. Many of themcalledthe
commonpeopleinto political action, holdingout millennial
hopes especially to thepoor andsimple. Yet no Calvinist could
logically haveany confidenceindemocracy: his religionwas
for theelect, by definitionaminority. Thomas Goodwin, who
appealedto the'vulgar multitude', still knewit was 'acertain
signof anunregenerateestate, to becarriedthus alongwith
thestream, andto bemouldedto thesameprinciples the
generality of most menare'.
To call ontheungodly masses
to fight against Antichrist was perhaps no moreillogical than
appealingto aDukeof Northumberlandor Buckingham, an
Earl of Leicester or Essex, to reformthechurch. But it was
moredangerous. It stakedeverythingontheclergy retaining
control, that is to say retainingthesupport of thosesections of
thelaity who matteredinpolitics. They wouldhavehaddiffi-
culty enoughwiththeErastians intheLongParliament; with
theriseof theNewModel Army they lost control altogether.
So longas thefieldof debatewas circumscribedby afunc-
tioningstatechurch, afunctioningpatronagesystem, andan
effectivecensorship, theclergy andtheir Parliamentarianallies
weresecure. But onceall thesehadbeenbrokendown, once
thecommonpeoplehadtastedtheforbiddendelights of liberty,
what then? They wouldcertainly not welcometheestablish-
ment of aserious disciplinary system, enforcingasternmoral
code- Presbyterianscorpions for episcopal whips. Church
courts before1640hadbeenirritating, but lax andinefficient
Thosetoo poor to beworth finingnormally escaped. But Pres-
22. Ed. J. O. Halliwell, TheAutobiographyandCorrespondenceof Sir
Simonds D'Ewes (1845) II, p. 278.
23. T. Goodwin, Works, II, p. 29; cf. p. 33above.
byteriandisciplinemeant adifferent sort of business: it would
takeseriously theimpositionof acodeof moral behaviour
onthegodless multitude. This must not only havereinforced
anti-clericalismamongthelower classes but also havestimu-
latedthat antinomianrejectionof thebondageof themoral
lawwhichwithsomeRanters becamearejectionof all tra-
ditional moral restraints.
Presbyterianministers wouldhave
carriedthecourageof their convictions to thepoint of persecu-
tion. So wouldthemajority intheLongParliament, indeed
inany Houseof Commons electedonaproperty franchise,
whether in1640, 1654, 1656, 1660or 1661. But from1647it
was theArmy, not Parliament, still less thePresbyterianclergy,
who decided.
Radical protestants had long waited to complete the
Reformation, whichthey regardedas havinggot stuck half-
way intheElizabethansettlement. They wantedto abolish
churchcourts andall vestiges of priestly control. Sinwas no
longer to betheconcernof courts, spiritual or secular. It was
theinternal problemof eachbeliever. Inso far as therewas
to beany social control, it was to beexerciseddemocratically,
over their ownmembers, by congregations of theself-selected
elect. Their penalties wouldbepurely spiritual. Theungodly
wouldbeleft to thecivil magistrateto keepinorder.
But of coursematters wouldnot stopthere, as sixteenth-
century history shouldhavetaught theradicals amongthe
clergy. Protestantismbeganby lookinglikeagreat liberation
of thehumanspirit. But withinadecadeof Luther's protest
hewas facedby apeasant revolt whichattackedproperty and
social subordination, as Luther understoodthem, altogether;
andwithinanother decadetheAnabaptists of Miinster rose
against thewholeexistingsocial order. Printinghadmade
protestantismpossiblebecauseit facilitatedtherapidspread
of popular theology amongtheliterate, especially intowns.
WheretheLollardBiblecirculatedintens of copies, Tyndale's
NewTestament circulatedinhundreds andtheGenevaBible
inthousands. But printingalso ruinedprotestantismas asingle
24. Seechs. 9and15below. I amindebtedto discussions withMr A. L.
Mortononthis point; cf. 5. andP., p. 474, andreferences therecited.
coherent creedbecausethereadingof books is evenless pos-
sibleto control thanthereadingof manuscripts. Thepocketable
GenevaBiblecouldbeprivately digestedandprivately inter-
preted. Oncethemasses of thepopulationwerecalledinto
political activity, whether insixteenth-century Germany or
seventeenth-century England, somewereboundto demand
salvationfor themselves. TheGermanandDutchAnabaptists
failedintheir attempt to stormheaven. They werebludgeoned
back into submission, inthis worldandthenext. Their ap-
pearancewas for Luther andCalvinclear proof of theinherent
wickedness of themass of fallenhumanity. Luther, dependent
as hebecameonGermansecular princes, reactedby denying
to theindividual conscienceany right of criticismor interfer-
enceinthesphereof secular government; Calvin, who was the
government of Geneva, emphasizedtheneedfor discipline, the
impositionfromaboveof arigidcodeof conduct.
As ordinary peopleformedtheir owncongregations inthe
sixteen-forties, freefromtraditional clerical control, they dis-
cussedall aspects of theology andpolitics inthelight of the
Bible. Many likeMiltonproclaimedthat theelect couldbe
freefromall restraints, includingthemarriagebond: coercion
was to beappliedonly to theunregenerate. Thus thenumbers
andidentity of theelect becameapressingpolitical problem.
InthePutney Debates onthefranchisethis questionwas
directly relevant. As lower-class sectaries becameconvinced
that they wereelect, antinomianism, Calvinism's lower-class
alter ego, raisedits head. In1549aLondontradesmanhad
saidthat amanregeneratecouldnot sin.
Insensibly this ledonto askingwhether thedamnationof the
majority of mankindwas clearly statedintheBible, or whether
theNewTestament might not offer salvationto all. What in-
deedis sin? Is Godits author? Or is it apurely subjective
concept? Areall things pureto thepure? Miltonsuggested
25. G. Burnet, Historyof theReformation(1825), HI, p. 46.
that 'thegreatest burdenintheworldis superstition... of
imaginary andscarecrowsins'.
Suchquestions ledonto the
social functionof sin. GeorgeChapman's Bussy d'Ambois
hadsuggestedthat it was 'thesly charms Of thewitchPolicy'
that exaggeratedthehorror of sin, makingit 'amonster Kept
only to showmenfor servilemoney'.
Chapmanwas aproteg6
of Ralegh's; andit was possibly inRalegh's circlethat verses
circulatedtowards theendof Elizabeth's reignsuggestingthat
God, theafter-life, heavenandhell wereall 'merefictions', 'only
bugbears'. Religionwas 'of itself afable', deliberately invented
to 'keepthebaser sort infear' whenprivateproperty, the
family andthestatewereestablished.
If sinwas aninvention, what thenjustifiedprivateproperty,
thedivisionof society into classes, thestatewhichprotected
property? Nobody couldstopsuchquestions beinggenerally
discussedinthe1640s. Winstanley reversedthetraditional for-
mula: it was not theFall that causedproperty, but property
that causedtheFall. 'Whenself-lovebeganto ariseinthe
earth, thenmanbeganto fall.'
quarrel about theearth, andsomewouldhaveall andshut
out others, forcingthemto beservants; this was man's fall.'
Statepower, armies, laws andthemachinery of 'justice', prisons,
thegallows, all exist to protect theproperty whichtherich
havestolenfromthepoor. Exploitation, not labour, is the
curse. Wemust abolishwagelabour if weareto restorepre-
lapsarianfreedom. Buyingandselling, andthelaws that regu-
latethemarket, arepart of theFall. Inaremarkablepassage
Winstanley suggestedthat thedoctrineof electionwas amir-
ror of theunequal social order: 'kingly government ... hath
madetheelectionandrejectionof brethrenfromtheir birth
to their death, or frometernity to eternity'.
Sideby sidewithprotestantism, thecult of magic, so popu-
26. Milton, CompleteProseWorks (Yaleedn) II, p. 28.
27. Chapman, Comedies andTragedies (1873) II, p. 39.
28. BathMSS. (H.M.C.), II, pp. 52-3; cf. pp. 167, 174-5below. The
lines quotedcomeinfact fromthetragedy Selimus
attributedto Robert
Greene. I owethis point to thekindness of Mr Charles Hobday.
29. Sabine, p. 381; cf. pp. 253-62,452,489-94.
30. ibid., pp. 156-9, 190-99, 305, 323, 423-4, 464, 491, 530; cf. p. 276.
lar inthesixteenthandearly seventeenthcenturies, hadalso
offeredman, throughmastery of thesecrets of nature, libera-
tionfromtheconsequences of theFall. This liberationwas
for initiates only, as protestant gracewas for theelect only;
but therewereno theoretical limitations onthosewho might
sharethemysteries. Francis Baconinheritedsomethingof this
traditionas well as protestantism. For thoughBaconaccepted
aFall of Man, herejectedthefull Calvinist doctrineof human
depravity. Hesharedthehopeof alchemists andmagical
writers, that theabundanceof Edenmight berecreatedon
earth, inBacon's caseby experiment, mechanical skill, andin-
tensecooperativeeffort Sinfor himwas largely theproduct
of ignoranceandpoverty. Labour, thecurseof fallenman,
might bethemeans whereby hewouldriseagain. George
Hakewill heldsimilar views.
Thepopularizationof Bacon's ideas after 1640thus helped
to get ridof theshadowthat haddoggedhumanity for so many
centuries: theshadowof original sin. What alchemy andCal-
vinismhadincommonwas that salvationcamefromwithout,
fromthephilosopher's stoneor thegraceof God. Baconex-
tractedfromthemagical-alchemical traditionthenovel idea
that mencouldhelpthemselves - mankind, not merely favoured
individuals. This together withthedramatic events of theEng-
lishRevolutionhelpedto transformthebackwardlook to a
goldenage, aParadiseLost, into ahopefor abetter lifehere
onearth, attainableby humaneffort. Bacon's discipleComenius
hoped'to restoremanto thelost imageof God, i.e. to thelost
perfectionof thefreewill, whichconsists inthechoiceof good
andtherepudiationof evil'. Comenius wantedmento 'turn
over thelivingbook of theworldinsteadof deadpapers'. Ina
freecommonwealth, hethought, thereought to beno kings.
In1641hewas invitedto Englandby agroupof supporters
of Parliament who hopedfor adrastic reformof theEnglish
educational system.
31.1.O£Jt., pp. 89-91,200.
32. Ed. I. A. Poldauf, Selections fromtheWorks of J. A. Comenius
(Prague, 1964), pp. 98-9; Comenius, Naturall Philosophic Reformedby
DivineLight (1651), sig. a6, A 2v. Seepp. 288, 300below.
So by the1640s thereweremany convergingtrends of
thought whichopposedtheorthodox andtraditional dogmas
of original sin. 'By natureareall alikefreemenborn,' declared
theanonymous VoxPlebis in1646, 'andaresincemadefreein
graceby Christ' - anearly linkingof freegraceto thedoc-
trines of political liberty. This pamphlet ignoredtheFall alto-
So didLilburne.
A petitionof September 1648,
allegedto havebeensignedby forty thousandmen, thought
that thedistinctions of kings andlords were'thedevices of
men', andof no use, 'Godhavingmadeall alike'.
Thecorruptness of man's unsanctifiednature' was usedby
Col. JohnPyneto justify Pride's Purge.
This corruption
seemedto theLevellers especially obvious bothintheoldrul-
ingclass andinthose(likePynehimself) who hadrisento
leadingpositions duringtheRevolution: awider suffrage, an-
nual elections andthefundamentals of theAgreement of the
Peoplewereintendedto preserverulers fromthetendency of
power to corrupt This was aremarkablereversal of hitherto
orthodox conclusions about government drawnfromtheFall
- that themass of mankind, beingwicked, couldberestrained
only by thelawandthemagistrate. Thetacit assumptionwas
always that laws havebeendraftedby, andmagistrates are,
godly men. Theprocess of legislationduringtheRevolution
was carriedontoo muchinpublic for suchviews to carry con-
viction. Overtonindeedbrushedthewholetheological approach
to politics asidewhenhesaidthat what matteredto his neigh-
bour was 'not howgreat asinner 1am, but howfaithful and
real to theCommonwealth'.
'It is anhardthing,' Wildman
observed, for any man'by thelight of natureto conceivehow
therecanbeany sincommitted; andthereforethemagistrate
cannot easily determinewhat sins areagainst thelight of
33. op. cit., p. 4. Variously attributedto Henry Marten, RichardOver-
34. Lilburne, TheFree-mans FreedomVindicated(1646), pp. 11-12.
35. Wolfe, p. 282.
36. Underdown, op. cit., p. 178.
37. H. andD., p. 231.
nature, andwhat not
Thesewerevery far-reachingargu-
ments indeed.
TheFamily of LoveandtheGrindletonians
hadtaught that
prelapsarianperfectioncouldbeattainedinthis life. But
beforethe1640s suchdoctrines hadbeenkept underground.
Nownothingcouldbesuppressed. Plebeianmaterialist scepti-
cismandanti-clericalismcouldexpress themselves freely, and
fusedwiththeological antinomianism. Theresult was arejec-
tionof clerical control of religious andmoral life, andarejec-
tion of thewhole concept of sin thegreat deterrent
Perfectibility was publicly taught andprinted, by Henry Denne
andothers whomEdwards records.
1amonethat do truly
andheartily loveall mankind, it beingtheunfeigneddesire
of my soul that all menmight besaved,' WalwynassuredEd-
wards in1646.
Winstanley in1648declaredthesalvationof
all mankind. To deny Christ to becomeinthefleshof the
saints was to deny theresurrection.
that thesubjects of electionandreprobationwerenot persons
but thegoodandevil qualities inmen. In1655oneof thedoc-
trines hehadto repudiatewas 'that all menwhatsoever should
besaved'; but hegot his ownback by addingthat theclergy
'liveby tellingmenof their sins'.
Theauthor of Tyranipocrit
Discoveredbelievedthat all menhadthegraceto besavedif
they only lookedfor Godwithinthem. To seek Godelsewhere
is invain.
TheSocinianJohnBidledeniedoriginal sinand
thedoctrineof eternal torment. Whenhegot into troublefor
this, Levellers spokeupfor him.
tionof theRacovianCatechismwas orderedby Parliament to
38. Woodhouse, p. 161.
39. Seepp. 81-5above.
40. Edwards, Gangraena, I, p. 23.
41. Haller, Tracts onLiberty, II, p. 322; cf. H. andD., p. 361.
42. Winstanley, TheMysterieof God(1648), pp. 17, 35-6, 56-8; The
Breakingof theDayof God, p. 35. Seep. 178below.
43. Coppin, DivineTeachings (1653), Part II, pp. 50-51. First published
1649; Truths Testimony(1655), pp. 21, 31. Seepp. 220-23below. Law-
renceClarksonalso preacheduniversal salvation: seepp. 213-17below.
44. InOrwell andReynolds, op. cit., passim, esp. p. 82.
45. H. andD., p. 175*
beburnt. Next year aLifeof Socinus was published, andJohn
Owenwas commissionedby theCouncil of Stateto refute
Socinianism. Thereis not acity, atown, scarceavillage
whereinsomeof this poisonis not pouredforth,' Owende-
hebecameaRanter. Ranters, likethepassagefromGreene's
Selimus, thought sinhadbeeninventedby priests andrulers to
47 €
If theelect arechosenfromall
eternity,' Roger Crabasked, 'what do priests takeour money
GeorgeFox, who in1648was renewed'to thestateof
Adam, whichhewas inbeforehefell', thought God's light was
ineveryone, really everyone.
So theoligarchy of gracewas
Conservatives ralliedto thedefenceof sin. Samuel Purchas
hadsaidthat at theFall manpassedfromfreeholdto vil-
If this was to bereversed, what claimmight not free
menmake? It was no longer amerecommonplacewhenin
July 1643theWestminster Assembly of Divines remindedPar-
liament of 'thebrutal ignoranceandpalpabledarkness possess-
ingthegreatest part of thepeopleinall parts of thekingdom'.
Weshouldnot of coursetakearemark likethat too literally:
what seemedbrutal ignoranceto aPresbyteriandivinemight
beahealthy scepticismabout theEternal Decrees.
But the
temporary triumphof Calvinismandtheestablishment of Pres-
byterianismforcedmorepeople(includingsomeof 'thebrutally
ignorant' themselves) to definetheir attitudes towards 'brutal
ignorance'. 'Removeoncetheshakingof theserods [theDeca-
logue] over their heads,' declaredapamphlet of 1647, 'then
46. HarleianMiscellany, VII, pp. 213-21; J. Owen, Works (1850-53)
XII, pp. 3, 164; cf. X, p. 561; H. J. McLachlan, SocinianisminSeven-
teenth-CenturyEngland(OxfordU.P., 1951), ch. 10.
47. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound, passim; [Anon.] TheRouting
of theRanters (1650), p. 2. Seepp. 162-3above.
48. R. Crab, Dagons-Downfall (1657), p. 12.
49. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 28, 34.
50. Quotedby Perry Miller, ErrandintotheWilderness (HarvardU.P.,
1956), p. 116.
51. Rushworth, Historical Collections, V, p. 345.
52. Seep. 170below.
weopenafloodgateto all licentious liberty.'
Walwynwas toldin1649, 'uponany rational andscriptural
groundexpect acomplete, full, absoluteandperfect freedom
fromall kindof pressures andgrievances intheland; surely
anatural andcompletefreedomfromall sorrows andtroubles
was fit for manonly beforehehadsinned, andnot since; let
themlook for their portioninthis lifethat knowno better,
andtheir kingdominthis worldthat believeno other: to what
endarethegraces of faith, patienceandself-denial vouch-
safedunto us?
BishopGoodmanagreed: 'If Paradisewereto
bereplantedonearth, Godhadnever expelledman[from]
Thesocial functionof sincouldhardly bemore
clearly expressed. TheDiggers weretoldin1649that they con-
fusedcauseandeffect. 'As menfell beforethecursecame, so
must it followthat (beforetheearth) manshouldberestored
to thefirst estateinAdam, andproperty is but theconsequent
effect of the first offence.'
Thomas Fuller inhis ChurchHistoryis writingof 1254, but
clearly thinkingof four centuries later:
Many activespirits, whoseminds wereabovetheir means, offended
that others beneaththem(as they thought) inmerit wereabove
theminemployment, cavilledat many errors intheKing's govern-
ment, beingstate-Donatists, maintainingtheperfectionof aCom-
monwealthmight andought to beattained. A thingeasy inthe
theory, impossibleinthepractice, to conformtheactions of men's
corruptednatures to theexact ideas inmen's imaginations.
'All this stir of therepublicans,' saidRichardBaker, 'is but to
maketheseedof theSerpent to bethesovereignrulers of the
Inthis hysterical pamphlet, writtenduringthetroubled
53. [Anon.] SineQua Non(1647), p. 2, quotedby G. Huehns, Anti-
nomianisminEnglishHistory(1951), p. 80.
54. H. andD., p. 312.
55. G. Goodman, TheTwo Great Mysteries of ChristianReligion
(1653), p. 90.
56. ThePerfect WeeklyAccount, 18-25July 1649, p. 582; Petegorsky
op. cit., p. 172.
57. T. Fuller, ChurchHistoryof Britain(1655), II, pp. 65-6.
58. Baxter, TheHolyCommonwealth, p. 92.
year 1659-60, Baxter withtheutmost naivet6equates thegodly
andthepropertiedclass, theungodly andthelower orders. This
was 'to terrify themwithhell fire', as Henry Denneput it.
is difficult not to sympathizewithFox's snort of indignation:
'all professions [i.e. sects] stoodinabeastly spirit andnature,
pleadingfor sinandthebody of sinandimperfection, as long
as they lived'. Thepreachers 'roar upfor sinintheir pulpits'. 'It
was all their works to pleadfor it.'
Their tradeis for money to declareagainst sin,' wrote
Samuel Fisher, who always manages to put thecommonplace
inanengagingly original way, 'yet they must preachit upand
talk for it alittletoo, anddo their work not too hastily, all at
once, lest therebeno morework for themerelongto do, but
suchas they werenever bredupto liveby.'
our money andspent our labour infollowingthem,' wroteFox
of suchpreachers, 'andnowthey havegottenour money, they
hopewewill not look for perfection... whileweareupon
earth, onthis sideof thegrave, for wemust carry abody of
sinabout us ... Ohdeceivers!'
'If all theQuakers and
Ranters intheworld,' was ineffect Bunyan's retort, 'werebut
under theguilt of onesinful thought, it wouldmakethemto
cry out withCain, "My punishment is greater thanI can
Convictionof sinwas theanswer to theinner light:
theright to excludefromthesacraments thelast priestly control
left inreformedEngland. But intheendCoppe's words, quoted
as epigraphto this chapter, turnedout to bepremature. Social
pressures ensuredthat sinsurvived.
59. Denne, Grace, MercyandPeace(1645) inFenstantonRecords, p.
60. Quotedby G. F. Nuttall, TheWelshSaints, 1640-1660, p. 59. Nay-
ler spokein1654of thepreachers pleadingfor sin(G. F. andJ. N.,
Several Papers, 1654, p. 25). Alexander Parker in1656appliedthephrase
to Vavasor Powell (A Testimonyof God, quotedby Nuttall, loc. cit.). It
61. S. Fisher, TheTestimonyof TruthExalted(1679), p. 650.
62. Fox, Epistles (1662) $222, quotedby R. B. Schlatter, TheSocial
Ideas of Religious Leaders (OxfordU.P., 1940), p. 242.
63. Bunyan, Works, II, p. 150.
If sinandtheFall werequestioned, nothingwas sacred, not
evenGod's Eternal Decrees, not evenhell itself. Prynne's de-
finitionof theformer will do for our purposes:
Godfromall eternity hath... predestinatedunto life, not all men,
... but only acertainselect number; ... others hehatheternally
andperpetually reprobatedunto death... Thesole... causeof
reprobation... is themerefreewill andpleasureof God, not the
pre-vision, thepre-considerationof any actual sin, infidelity or final
impenitency inthepersons rejected.
Thereis nothingthemajority of us who areso rejectedcando
about it, however hardwetry.
Someacceptedthis doctrine, andhopedthey werethemselves
amongtheelect. Others acceptedit, andwerecast into despair
becausethey thought themselves damned. Theprotestant aboli-
tionof Purgatory left aneternity of bliss or aneternity of tor-
ment as theonly alternatives facingeachindividual. Together
withtheabolitionof guardianangels, mediatingsaints, charms
andother protectiveecclesiastical magic, this hadtheeffect of
imposingavery great strainonthosewho acceptedthedoctrine
Thesimpler sort,' Bullinger observedinthemid-
sixteenthcentury, 'aregreatly temptedandexceedingly troubled
withthequestionof election. For thedevil goethabout to
throwinto their minds thehateof God, as thoughheenvied
us our salvation, andhadappointedandordainedus to
It hardly neededthedevil, onewouldhavethought.
Predestination, Helwys agreedin1611, 'makes somedespair, as
thinkingthereis no gracefor themandthat Godhathdecreed
their destruction. Andit makes others deeply careless, holding
that if Godhavedecreedthey shall besavedthenthey shall be
64. W. Prynne, Anti-Arminianism(1630), pp. 72-5, inWoodhouse, pp.
65. D. P. Walker, TheDeclineof Hell (Chicago U P., 1964), p. 59;
K. V. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, pp. 472, 479, 491-503.
66. H. Bullinger, Decades (Parker Soc., 1849-52) IV, p. 187.
saved, andif Godhathdecreedthey shall bedamnedthey shall
Religious melancholy anddespair, leadingto visions of the
devil, werefamiliar to theElizabethans andto Carolinedoctors,
andwereanatomizedby Robert Burton.
Wehear muchof
thesefeelings inreligious biographies andautobiographies of
thetime, but only becauseinsuchcases despair is normally
followedby conversion. A fewexamples: Thomas Shepard
around1622was indanger of fallinginto theGrindletonian
heresy of perfectibility as arefugefromdespair.
Kiffinwas indespair about 1632, until hewas convertedby
Our evidenceincreases as therevolutionary
crisis deepened. TheFifthMonarchist JohnRogers was infear
of hell, doubtedtheexistenceof God, hadthoughts of suicide;
JohnSaltmarshhadtemptations to suicidebefore1645, and
was rescuedby conversionto thedoctrineof freegrace.
SarahWright was inthegraveof deepdespair for four years
Godhaddesertedhim: his physicianrecommendedblood-
Isaac Peningtontheyounger about 1649was 'broken
anddashedto pieces inmy religion... inacongregational
way'; 'everythingis darkness, death, emptiness, vanity, alie,'
67. Quotedby A. C. Underwood, A Historyof theEnglishBaptists
(1947), p. 134.
68. L. Babb, TheElizabethanMalady(Michigan, 1951) esp. pp. 51-2;
H. C. White, EnglishDevotional Literature, 1600-1640(University of
WisconsinStudies inLanguageandLiterature, 29, 1931), pp. 54-5; K. V.
Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, pp. 474-5, 521; R. Burton,
Anatomyof Melancholy, passim.
69. Seep. 83above.
70. W. Orme, RemarkablePassages intheLifeof WilliamKiffin(1823),
pp. 10-11.
71. E. Rogers, LifeandOpinions of a FifthMonarchyMan(1867), pp.
72. J. Saltmarsh, FreeGrace(10thedn, 1709), pp. 47-S. First pub-
73. H. Jessey, TheExceedingRiches of GraceAdornedbytheSpirit
of Grace(1647), p. 27.
74. [Anon.] Pseudochristus (1650), p. 6. For Franklinseepp. 316-17
AnnaTrapnel, indespair andwiththoughts
of suicide, was temptedby 'thoseFamilistical rantingtenets'.
TheRanters Abiezer CoppeandJacobBauthumley claimed
to havegonethroughasimilar periodof desperation.
Inthe1650s Mrs RichardBaxter haddoubts of thelifeto
comeandof thetruthof Scripture: her husbandhadex-
periencedsimilar doubts earlier.
Thomas Trahernewent
throughaperiodof general scepticisminthe1650s, including
doubts about theBible.
ThefutureQuakers WilliamDeus-
bury andEdwardBurroughwerestruck withterror at one
stage, thoughin1654Burroughwas very unsympathetic to
Mistress JaneTurner of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who hadques-
tionedtheexistenceof Godinher despair.
JohnCrook was
indespair inthe1650s, againwithtemptations to suicide, until
hewas convertedby accidentally hearingWilliamDeusbury
Johnstonof Waristonin1654was discussingtempta-
tionto atheismandsuicide.
InNewEngland Michael
Wigglesworthwas havingdoubts about theScriptureat about
JohnRogers of Cornwall, somesaid, com-
mittedsuicidein1652onHelwys's principle: 'if hewas born
to bedamned, heshouldbedamned; if to besaved, heshould
Walwynwas allegedto havedrivenawomanto
75.1. Penington, A Voiceout of theThickDarkness (1650), pp. 19-20;
L. V. Hodgkin, Gulielma: Wifeof WilliamPerm(1947), p. 32.
76. [A. Trapnel] TheCryof a Stone(1654), pp. 8-10.
77. Cohn, ThePursuit of theMillennium, p. 358; J. Bauthumley, The
Light andDarkSides of God(1650), pp. 46-8.
78. Ed. J. T. Wilkinson, RichardBaxter andMargaret Charlton(1928),
p. 128; ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, pp. 21-2.
79. G. I. Wade, Thomas Traherne(PrincetonU.P., 1944), pp. 43-6.
80. W. Deusbury, TheDiscoveryof thegreat enmityof theSerpent
against theseedof theWoman(1655), pp. 17-18; Burrough, Works, pp.
14-15, 49; cf. JaneTurner, ChoiceExperiences (1653), pp. 27-9.
81. A Short Historyof theLifeof JohnCrook, inTheodor Sippell,
Werdendes Quakertum(Stuttgart, 1937), p. 238.
82. Ed. D. H. Fleming, Diaryof Sir ArchibaldJohnstonof Wariston
(ScottishHistory Soc., 1911-40) II, pp. 259-60.
83. Ed. E. S. Morgan, TheDiaryof Michael Wigglesworth, 1653-
1657(NewYork, 1965), pp. 49, 54,59.
84. TheWeeklyIntelligencer, 18March1652, quotedby Jordan, op.
cit., IV, p. 256.
suicideby 'poisoningher judgment touchingthetruthof the
GerrardWinstanley in1648observedthat poverty might lead
to despair.
Mr Thomas suggests that religious despair as well
as poverty may havedrivensomeof thevictims of Matthew
Hopkins thewitchfinder in1645to turnto thedevil for help.
Preachingupthepower of thedevil might backfire, Hopkins's
colleagueJohnStearnesuggested. Thedevil hathmadeuseof
[such-likespeeches] to persuadethemto witchery'; 'they coven-
ant withthedevil to freethemof hell-torment'
Monarchist JohnRogers was temptedto resort to magic, nec-
romancy andastrology as remedies against extremepoverty
Inthe1650s Thomas Goodwinpreachedmuchto
encouragethosetemptedto despair:
theauthor of Tyrani-
pocrit Discoveredattackedthedoctrineof predestinationbe-
causeit ledto thequintessenceof hell, I meandespair'.
1652Winstanley analysedwithsomesubtlety theway inwhich
'this doctrineof aGod, aDevil, aheavenandhell, salvation
anddamnationafter amanis dead', couldleadeither to des-
pair andsuicideor to acceptanceof thedominanceof priests.
Thomas Hobbes indignantly denouncedPresbyterianministers
who 'brought youngmeninto despair andto think themselves
damnedbecausethey couldnot (whichno mancan, andis con-
trary to theconstitutionof nature) beholdabeautiful object
without delight'
So mencameto questionnot only theEternal Decrees but
eventheexistenceof God. Many of Lodowick Muggleton's
acquaintanceabout 1650'didsay intheir hearts andtongues
both, that thereis no Godbut natureonly'. 'I didnot so much
85. H. andD., pp. 298-9.
86. Winstanley, TheSaints Paradice, pp. 32-4.
87. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, p. 521; J. Stearne, A
ConfirmationandDiscoveryof WitchCraft (1648), p. 59.
88. E. Rogers, op. cit., p. 19.
89. T. Goodwin, Works, III, pp. 315-40; IV, p. 208; VI, pp. 157,
90. Orwell andReynolds, op. cit., p. 89.
91. Sabine, pp. 567-70.
92. Hobbes, EnglishWorks, VI, pp. 195-6.
mindto besaved,
headdedabout his owndesperation, 'as I
didto escapebeingdamned. For I thought, if I couldbut lie
still inearthfor ever, it wouldbeas well withmeas if I werein
eternal happiness ... I carednot for heavenso I might not go
to hell.
Wecanhereseesomethingof theliberatingeffect
whichOverton's Mans Mortallitiemust havehadin1643. The
doctrinewas not new: it was knownto Lollards inthefifteenth
century, to Anabaptists inthesixteenth. Inthe1590s in
England, Ralegh's protegeThomas Hariot hadquestioned
theimmortality of thesoul andsuggestedthat therehad
beenmenbeforeAdam; theworldmight beeternal.
acceptedthedoctrineof soul-sleeping. Wecansensetoo from
Muggleton's account howvery boringthetraditional ideaof
heavenseemed, howmuchless attractivethanhell was terrify-
ing. This too wouldpreparemento accept either theideaof a
material heavenonearthinanimminent millennium, or the
ideathat heavenandhell wereinternal states of mind.
JohnBunyanintheearly 1650s was terrifiedby thoughts of
hell, andwishedthat hemight beadevil to torment others.
But healso askedhimself Vhether therewas intruthaGodor
Christ or no? Andwhether theholy Scriptures werenot rather
afableandcunningstory?' - 'writtenby somepoliticians,
addedin1658, 'onpurposeto makepoor ignorant peopleto
submit to somereligionandgovernment.' 'Howcanyoutell
but that theTurks hadas goodScriptures to provetheir
Mahomet theSaviour?
Many tens of thousands lackedknow-
ledgeof theright way to heaven, Bunyanreflected: howif all
our faith, andChrist andtheScriptures, 'shouldbebut athink-
so too?
Hewas temptedto believetherewas no suchthingas
theday of judgment, that sinwas no suchgrievous thing. As
thoughall that was not enough, Bunyanhadmany evenworse
thoughts 'whichat this timeI may not or darenot utter
93. L. Muggleton, TheActs of theWitnesses (1764), pp. 18, 24-36; cf.
p. 62. First published1699. Cf. TheJournal of RichardNorwood, ed.
W. F. CravenandW. B. Hayward(NewYork, 1956), p. 64.
94. RichardHarvey, A Theological Discourseof theLambof God
(1590). I owethis referenceto Professor D. B. Quinn.
95. Bunyan, Works, I, pp. 8-9, 13-19, 22-6, 34-5; HI, p. 715; cf. pp.
GeorgeFox, who was also temptedto despair onvarious
occasions in1646and1647, thought before1649that 'all things
comeby nature
. In1651another Quaker toldFox that 'there
was never suchathing' as 'aChrist that diedat Jerusalem'.
Popular heresies intheMiddleAges hadquestionedthe
existenceof hell, or conversely hadqueriedthejustness of an
omnipotent Godwho createdmillions of menandwomenin
order to torment themeternally.
The1552Articles of the
Churchof Englandcondemnedthebelief that hell was only
temporary, andthat all menwouldbesavedat thelast (This
articlewas droppedin1562.) TheFamily of Lovebelievedthat
heavenandhell areintheworldamongus; theFamily of the
Mount that heavenis whenwelaugh, hell whenweareinpain
or sorrow.
QueenElizabethin1585went out of her way to
denouncethosewho saidtherewas no hell but atorment of
A shoemaker of Sherbornein1593quotedmenin
his locality (whichwas also Sir Walter Ralegh's) who saidthat
hell was poverty inthis world.
Withgreater sophistication,
Marlowe, another dependent of Ralegh's, madeMephistophilis
Hell hathno limits, nor is circumscribed
Inoneself place: for whereweareis helL
Milton's Satanrepeatedthesentiment
It is clear fromEdward's Gangraena that as soonas the
censorshipcollapsedmany awkwardquestions beganto be
asked. Mrs Attaway andothers declaredthat 'it couldnot stand
withthegoodness of Godto damnhis owncreatures eternally'.
Mentaught that Christ diedfor all, that all menandwomen
96. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 4,22,26; Braithwaite, p. 45.
97. G. C. Coulton, FourscoreYears (CambridgeU.P., 1945), p. 340.
98. Strype, Annals, II, part i, p. 563; J[ohn] Rfogers] TheDisplaying
of anhorriblesecte(1578), sig. K.
99. Sir J. E. Neale, ElizabethI andher Parliaments, 1584-1601(1957),
p. 70.
100. Lefranc, Sir Walter Ralegh, p. 381.
101. Marlowewas also allegedto havesaidthat Moses was but a
juggler (ed. G. B. Harrison, WillobieHis Avisa, 1594, 1926, p. 210);
cf. Giovanni inJohnFord
Tis PityShe's a Whore(published1633)
who thought hell or heavenwas adream(Act V, scene5).
shall bereconciledandsaved. Others deniedtheexistenceof
hell andthedevil, questionedtheimmortality of thesoul.
Thenewastronomy, morefreely popularizedinalmanacs after
1640, causedspeculationabout theexact locationof heaven
JohnBoggis of Great YarmouthaskedinJanuary
1646, 'Whereis your God, inheavenor inearth, aloft or below,
or dothhesit intheclouds, or wheredothhesit withhis arse?'
Others saidGodwas as muchinhell as inheaven.
preachers, another pamphlet declaredin1647, saidthat all the
heaventhereis, is hereonearth; andthat it was antichristian
to deny theredemptionof thewholecreation: therewas no
original sin.
A number of Henry Niclaes's Familist books
werereprintedinEnglishtranslations inthe1640s. So werethe
works of JacobBoehme, who taught that every mancarries
heavenandhell withhiminthis world, andhadprophesied
that thelily wouldbloomintheNorth.
Godwas inall believers, andpreferredthespirit inthemto
theletter of theBible. Heinfluencedmany of thecharacters
who appear inthis book - Erbery, Webster, Lilly, Muggleton
andPordage, for instance.
RichardBaxter linkedBoehme
GeorgeFox's protector, JudgeHotham,
wrotealifeof Boehme, andhis brother Charles whomFox also
knew, was Boehme's translator. Samuel Heringin1653urged
Parliament to set asidetwo colleges for theteachingof
Boehme's doctrines.
102. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 27, 35, 116-19, 218; II, pp. 8, 50-51;
III, pp. 10,26, 35-8,110.
103. LO£Jt.
pp. 50-51.
104. Edwards, Gangraena, II, p. 163, III, p. 251. 'Arse* is my insertion
whereEdwards coyly leaves ablank.
105. [Anon.] A Discoveryof theMost Dangerous andDamnableTenets
that havebeenspreadwithinthis fewyeeres (1647) singlesheet.
106. J. Boehme, SixTheosophic Points, 1620(AnnArbor Paperback,
1958), p. 98; R. M.^Jones, MysticismandDemocracy, p. 135.
107. Seepp. 192, 225below; Lilly, Astrological Predictions (1654), p.
25; Astrological Judgments . .. for theYear 1655, sig. B 7.
108. ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, p. 77.
109. Ed. J. Nickolls, Original Letters andPapers of StateAddressedto
Oliver Cromwell (1743), p. 99. Blakespeaks enthusiastically of Boehme
(PoetryandProse, Nonesuchedn, p. 201).
WilliamWalwynwas saidto havedeclaredthat hell was
nothingbut thebadconscienceof evil meninthis life. Could
Godbeso cruel as to torment amanfor ever 'for alittletime
of sinninginthis world?'
GerrardWinstanley deniedthe
existenceof eternal punishment, of any local heavenor hell,
or devil.
So, it was alleged, didJohnBidle, WilliamErbery,
Peter Sterry, Thomas Tany, GeorgeFoster, John Reeve,
Robert NorwoodandSir Henry Vane.
So didThomas
Hobbes in1651.
So didRanters andQuakers.
deniedthat Godhad'concludedthecondemnationof some
persons beforethey comeinto theworld'.
1653was attackingthose'deists' who disbelieveineternal
punishment andtalk only of God's goodness; in1655hewas
defendinganeternal hell against thosewho believedthat death
meant annihilation.
Francis Osbornein1656reflectedthat
onceimplicit faithinthecreedauthoritatively establishedby a
statechurchwas abandoned, 'theunbiassedrabble... emanci-
patedout of thefetters their former creedconfinedthemto,'
wouldquestiontheexistenceof heavenandhell no less than
theDivineRight of Kings of whichthePuritanclergy had
taught themto besceptical.
Belief intheexistenceof hell was oneof thestrongest props
110. Waiwins Wiles, inH. andD., pp. 296-7. TheBaptist Samuel
Richardsonaskedthesamequestionin1660(A Discourseof theTorments
of Hell).
111. Winstanley, TheMysterieof God, p. 56; TheBreakingof theDay
of God, p. 110; TheSaints Paradice, pp. 85-7, 97-8, 101-5; Sabine, pp.
112. D. P. Walker, TheDeclineof Hell, pp. 104-5; McLachlan,
SocinianisminSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, pp. 186, 201-2; G. Foster,
The Sounding of theLast Trumpet (1650), pp. 52-3: Reeve, A
Transcendent Spiritual Treatise(1651), pp. 4-5, 38, 82-3; TheFormof
anExcommunicationmadebyMr SidrachSympson... against Captain
Robert Norwood(1651), pp. 2-3; G. Burnet, Historyof MyOwnTime
(OxfordU.P., 1897), I, p. 285.
113. T. Hobbes, Leviathan(Penguinedn), pp. 646,661.
114. Seech.9below.
115. J. Nayler, LovetotheLost (2ndedn, 1656), p. 32.
116. J. Owen, Works, X, pp. 538-9; XII, pp. 581-7.
117. F. Osborne, Advicetoa Son(1656) inMiscellaneous Works
(1722), I, pp. 98-9..
of religious persecution: temporal sufferingwas insignificant
besideaneternity of torment. Hell also seemed, if not to justify,
at least to put inperspectivethecruelty of thelaw- what
Bunyancalled'thosepetty judgments amor3men, as putting
inthestocks, whippingor burninginthehand'.
thegreater tolerancewhichProfessor Jordannotedinthelower
classes was accompaniedby agreater scepticismabout the
eternal pains of hell. Many of theeducatedwho werethem-
selves doubtful about hell thought it anecessary fictionto keep
thelower orders induesubordination. TheFifthMonarchists,
Mr D. P. Walker points out, couldspeak out frankly against
hell becausethey hadno alarms about thecollapseof society if
thedeterrent of eternal punishment was removed: they be-
lievedtraditional society was goingto collapseanyway.
stanley, Ranters andearly Quakers hadvirtually emancipated
themselves fromthebelief altogether.
Winstanley andCoppinbelievedthat all mankindshall be
savedat thelast, for it does not makesenseto believeinan
omnipotent andbeneficent Godwho will torment his creatures
to all eternity.
This doctrinewas oneof many strands leading
to that declineof belief inhell whichMr Walker has shownto
havetakenplaceintheseventeenthcentury. I believehowever
that heemphasizes insufficiently thecontributionof intellectual
radicals to this emergenceof amorepalatablemorality. Win-
stanley carriedhis theological principles to alogical conclu-
sionby insistingthat theFall was not apre-social event, but
that thecorruptions of apropertiedsociety re-enact theFall in
eachindividual as hegrows up. God(i.e. Reason) redeems men
fromtheonly truehell, thehell they havecreatedfor each
other onearth. Winstanley appears to leaveopenthequestion
of theexistenceof any other hell: hemerely says that nobody
knows or canknowanythingabout it, least of all thepreachers
118. Bunyan, Works, II, p. 127; cf. my Reformationto Industrial Revo-
lution, pp. 43,204-6.
119. Walker, Declineof Hell, pp. 183, 262-3; cf. pp. 96-7above.
120. Winstanley, TheMysterieof God, passim; TheSaints Paradice, pp.
133-4; Sabine, pp. 381,454. Seepp. 166-7above. Theological universalism
plays no very great part inWinstanley's thought after 1648; hehadad-
who emphasizeit so much. It exists inmenbecauseof theevil
organizationof society; andtheimageis thenusedto perpetu-
atethat society by thosewho benefit fromit. InA Letter to the
LordFairfaxWinstanley equatedheavenwithmankind
anideaof whichBlakemight haveapproved.
Theviewthat thereis no Godbut all things comeby nature,
whichattractedGeorgeFox inthe1640s andwas familiar to
Muggletonandhis circleintheearly 1650s,
was made
specific by LawrenceClarkson, JacobBauthumley andother
InWinstanley andJosephSalmonit took amore
pantheistic form. Thebody of Christ/ Winstanley wrote, 'is
wheretheFather is, intheearth, purifyingtheearth; andhis
spirit is enteredinto thewholecreation, whichis theheavenly
glory wheretheFather dwells.' Christ returnedto theFather
'as abucket of water first takenout of theseaandstanding
alonefor atimeis afterwards pouredinto theseaagainand
becomes onewiththesea'.
JosephSalmonthought that 'God
is that pureandperfect beinginwhomweall are, moveand
live; that secret blood, breathandlife, that silently courseth
throughthehiddenveins andclosearteries of thewholecrea-
Thecontent of thedoctrineof either Winstanley or
Salmonwas equally destructiveof any personal God.
Religious tolerationhadindeedproducedresults whichcon-
firmedthegloomy predictions of Thomas Edwards. TheBlas-
phemy Ordinanceof May 1648, imposingthedeathpenalty on
Mortalists or thosewho deniedtheTrinity or that theScriptures
werethewordof God, provedunenforceable. Walter Charle-
tonin1652saidthat thepresent ageinEnglandhadproduced
moreswarms of 'atheistical monsters' thanany ageor nation.
121. Sabine, p. 290.
122. Seepp. 173-5above.
123. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound, p. 32; cf. Humphrey Ellis,
Pseudochristus (1650), p. 37: Henry Dixon, oneof the"destroyingangels'
who acceptedWilliamFranklinas theMessiah. Seech. 9below.
124. Sabine, pp. 114,117; cf. pp. 215-17.
125. Salmon, Heights inDepths (1651), pp. 37-S.
126. Quotedby D. Bush, EnglishLiteratureintheEarlier Seventeenth
Century(OxfordU.P., 2ndedn, 1962), p. 339.
This multiplicity of religions' among'thegiddy multitude/
Robert Boylethought inthesameyear, 'will endinnoneat
all* 127_
disaster hespent muchof therest of his lifetryingto
prevent Denial of theexistenceof Godor hell, Fuller andthe
author of TheWholeDutyof Managreed, resultedfromthe
diversity andconfusionof theRevolution, fromliberty of the
press andtheproliferationof sects.
lies blasphemedonevery stall,' wroteFrancis Osbornein
Hehadbeenregardedas ablasphemer himself, andby
1659his ownrespect for themagistratewas probably greater
thanhis respect for God. Stillingfleet, lookingback fromthe
safety of 1662, saidthat many hadcometo 'account it apiece
of gentility to despisereligion, andapieceof reasonto be
'It becameacommontopic of discourse,' Burnet
confirmed, 'to treat all mysteries inreligionas thecontrivances
of priests to bringtheworldinto ablindsubmissionto them.'
Priestcraft, headmitted, was afashionabletarget.
If religion
is indeedatrade, reflectedtheauthor of TheWholeDutyof
Man,' 'twas surethought (... inall ages but this) avery useful
one'. This widely popularizedauthor must havedonemuchto
restorebelief inthesocial necessity of hell.
Onereactionto thetext-swappingof Puritandivines, andto
subversiveclaims to inspiration, was thescepticismof Thomas
Hobbes. Anyonewho was convincedby Leviathanwouldno
longer findit possibleto look to theBiblealonefor answers to
political problems, andwouldfindreligious persecutionas
irrational as resistanceinthenameof conscience. I suspect it
was theinfluenceof Hobbes rather thanof religious radicals
whichcausedM.P.S to laughat excessiverelianceonBiblical
127. Quotedby Underdown, op. cit., p. 330.
128. T. Fuller, TheHolyState(CambridgeU.P., 1831), pp. 257-63; The
Works of the... Author of TheWholeDutyof Man(1704) II, pp.
129. Quotedby Bush, op. cit., p. 339.
130. EdwardStillingfleet, Origines Sacrae(1662) sig. Av; cf. b2v.
131. Burnet, Historyof MyOwnTime(OxfordU.P., 1823), IV, p. 378;
cf. p. 412below.
132. op. dt., II, p. 169,1, p. 269.
texts in1657;
they wouldhardly havedoneso eventenyears
Another thingthat emergedfromthewidespreaddiscussion
of conversion, religious melancholy anddespair, was some
understanding of thepsychology of religious experience.
WilliamWalwynwrotein1643that 'many of youmay, through
senseof sinandof wrathduefor sin, walk inavery disconso-
latecondition: fears andterrors may aboundinyou'. But
thesefears areunnecessary, for Christ diedfor all men. Six
years later hehadcometo appreciatethat 'extremefastingand
continuanceinprayer (beyondwhat their bodies couldbear)
might makemenseevisions, hear voices andprophesy.
stanley recognisedthat thedevils andfearful shapes whicha
manthinks hesees 'arisefromtheanguishof his tormenting
consciencewithin', andreflect his ownpassions anddesires.
Evenmoreremarkableis Winstanley's analysis inTheLaw
of Freedom:
Many times whenawiseunderstandingheart is assaultedwiththis
doctrineof aGod, adevil, aheavenandahell, salvationanddam-
nation, after amanis dead, his spirit beingnot strongly grounded
intheknowledgeof thecreation, nor inthetemper of his own
heart, hestrives andstretches his brains to findout thedepthof
that doctrineandcannot attainto it; for indeedit is not knowledge
but imagination: andso by poringandpuzzlinghimself init, loses
that wisdomhehadandbecomes distractedandmad; andif the
passionof joy predominate, thenheis merry andsings andlaughs,
andis ripeintheexpressionof his words, andwill speak strange
things: but all by imagination. But if thepassionof sorrowpre-
dominate, thenheis heavy andsad, cryingout heis damned, God
hathforsakenhimandhemust go to hell whenhedies, hecannot
makehis callingandelectionsure. Andinthat distemper many
times amandothhang, kill or drownhimself: so that this divining
doctrine, whichyoucall spiritual andheavenly things, torments
peoplealways whenthey areweak, sickly andunder any distem-
133. Johnstonof Wariston, Diary, III, p. 71.
134. Haller, Tracts onLiberty, II, pp. 288-91; H. andD., pp. 259-60.
135. Sabine, p. 218.
136. ibid., p. 568; cf. p. 142above.
Winstanley hadmovedfar inthethreeyears sinceGodspoke
to himinatrance.
I havetriedto suggest themany trends of thought whichled
mento questiontraditional dogmas about original sinand
about hell. As thelower classes wereset freeto discuss what
theywereinterestedin, thesocial functionof sinandhell was
increasingly emphasized. But it was easier to demolishthanto
reconstruct - to suggest that wickedpoliticians hadinvented
sin, or that sinwas theproduct of acompetitivesociety, than
to agreeonhowto organizeasociety inwhichsinwas no
longer aplausibleconcept. Mencouldgivepsychological ex-
planations for belief inhell, couldexposethecrudemorality of
thecarrot andthestick, andposelogical problems about the
beneficenceandomnipotenceof God. But again, without com-
pleterevolution, it was easier to internalizehell thanto abolish
Inthewidespreaddespair andatheismof thelate1640s and
early 50s wecansensetheimpact of therevolutionary crisis on
thecertainties of traditional Calvinism. Acceptedsocial cate-
gories andhierarchies wereupset bothinthis worldandthe
next. Theprotestant principleof thepriesthoodof all believers,
carriedto its extremelimit intheinner light, together with
scholarly protestant textual criticism, destroyedtheauthority of
theBible. But what shouldtakeits place? 'All comes by nature*
is not acreedfor thosewho wishto turntheworldupsidedown.
Until menhadworkedout amuchstronger senseof history,
of evolution, atheismcouldonly beanegative, epicureancreed
inastatic universe. Atheists couldhardly work for atrans-
formationof society: for therevolutionaries Godwas the
principleof change. If they lost belief inGod, what remained?
This is what madeMiltoninsist onhumanfreedomandres-
ponsibility, inhis desperateattempt to assert eternal providence
andjustify theways of Godto men.
Thebackwardness of
history andnatural sciencemadeit impossibleto break through
137. SeeAppendix 2below.
to atheory of evolutioninwhichGodwouldbecomeanun-
necessary hypothesis.
Intheseventeenthcentury atheismwas normally apose, a
revolt, rather thanaphilosophical system, whether professed
by aristocratic rakes or Ranter rank andfile.
For thelatter
it justifiedpolitical passivity, thewithdrawal under persecu-
tionwhichtheQuakers rejectedbecauseof their stronger re-
ligious convictions. Thehistorical insights of Marvell, Harring-
ton, Hobbes, Clarendon, significant thoughthey were, remained
undevelopeduntil theScottishschool pickedthemupinthe
Winstanley, who amongtheradicals
camenearest to asenseof evolution, also camenearest to build-
ingupamaterialismwhichwas neither totally static nor sus-
ceptibleof only cyclical transformation. For himtheabolition
of privateproperty wouldcauseafundamental revolution, and
scienceandinventionwouldcontinueto keepsociety inmotion.
It wouldhavebeenmoredifficult for sinandhell to survivein
Winstanley's commonwealth.
Nevertheless, thereis, it seems to me, great interest inthe
attempts of theradicals to abolishexternal constraints infavour
of aninternal, self-imposedmorality, amorality whosesanc-
tions shouldbehumanandthis-worldly. Wecanrecognize
themas beinginthemodernworld. But not wholly. However
radical theconclusions, however heretical their theology,
their escape-routefromtheology was theological - evenWin-
stanley's. This paradox will beoneof themainthemes of the
138. P. andR., pp. 93-6; I.O£.R., pp. 181-5.
139. Seep. 361below.
They prateof God; believeit, fellow-creatures,
There's no suchbugbear; all was madeby Nature.
Weknowall cameof nothing, andshall pass
Intothesameconditiononceit was,
By Nature's power; andthat they grossly lie
That say there's hopeof immortality.
Let thembut tell us what asoul is, then
Wewill adheretothesemadbrain-sick men.
A Ranter Christmas carol, inTheArraignment
andTryali, withaDeclarationof theRanters
(1650) p. 6.
FAMILISM, SO oftenaccusedof begettingSeekers andRanters,
hadacontinuous undergroundexistencefromElizabeth's reign.
In1590therewas aFamilist cobbler inManchester, suspected
of havingmorethanonewife.
In1623JohnEtherington, a
boxmaker of London, was accusedof Familismfor saying
repentancemust precederemission of sins, andthat the
Sabbathwas of no force: every day shouldbeaSabbath.
RichardLane, aLondontailor, saidin1631that perfectionmay
beattainedinthis life.
Seventeenyears later Samuel Ruther-
fordaccusedJohnSaltmarshof Familism, for denyingthe
Sabbathamongother enormities; andsaidthat Familists teach
that anacademic educationis no helptowards understanding
theScriptures, aviewwhichWilliamDell andmany other
1. Fuller, ChurchHistory(1655) IV, p. 53; WilliamPenn's Prefaceto
Fox's Journal (I, p. xxv).
2.1owethis informationtoDr R. C. Richardson.
3. JohnEtherington, TheDefenceof JohnEtheringtonagainst Steven
Dernson(1641), pp. 9-10. Etheringtonsaidhewas preventedfrompub-
lishingthis pamphlet earlier: hewroteit apparenUy inthelatetwenties
or early thirties (ibid., pp. 46,62).
4. S. R. Gardiner, Reports of Cases intheCourts of Star Chamber and
HighCommission(CamdenSoc., 1886), pp. 188-94.
radicals also held.
From1646onwards books by Henry Niclaes
andmany other Familist andantinomianwriters werebeing
Mr Thomas has pointedout interestingconnections of
FamilismwithHermetic alchemy andwithastrology inthe
seventeenthcentury, especially inJohnEverard(1575-c. 1650).
Everardwas aperpetual heretic, frequently inprisonunder
James I (who saidhis nameshouldbe'Never-out'). Hewas
finedunder Laudfor Familism, AntinomianismandAna-
baptism. EverardtranslatedHermes Trismegistus andmany
works of mystical theology, including'that cursedbook', Theo-
logia Germanica* Hethought Godwas inmanandnature,
locatedheavenandhell inthehearts of men, andallegorized
theBible. Thedeadletter is not theWord, but Christ is the
Word,' hesaid. Stickingintheletter' has been'thebaneof all
growthinreligion,' thecauseof controversies andpersecu-
tion. God's kingdomis come, andhis will done, 'whenChrist is
comeinto thy flesh.' Miracles havenot ceased, 'but our eyes are
blindedandwecannot seethem.' Everardwas warmly praised
by JohnWebster.
Everards preachingwas aimedespecially at
'beggarly fellows', thosewho were'mean, poor anddespisedby
theworld'; suchwere'morewelcometo himthanso many
princes andpotentates.'
Yet hewas for alongtimeanAngli-
canclergyman. His friendRoger Brearley, theGrindletonian,
It wouldbeinterestingto knowmore
about thelinks betweenthem.
5. S. Rutherford, A Surveyof theSpirituall Antichrist (1648), pp. 45,
6. In1641ahostileDescriptionof theSect calledtheFamilieof Love
7. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, pp. 270-71, 375; Muggle-
ton, Acts of theWitnesses, p. 53. Seepp. 289-90below.
8. C.S.P.D., 1648-9, p. 176. Thewords arethoseof Dr JohnLambe,
Deanof theCourt of Arches andoneof Laud's most activesupporters.
9. Everard, TheGospel TreasuryOpened(2ndedn, 1659), I, p. 221; II,
pp. 103, 254, 340, sig. b. 3; cf. p. 457. First published1653. cf. Haller,
TheRiseof Puritanism(ColumbiaU.P., 1938), pp. 207-12; P. andR.,
p. 149.
10. Everard, Gospel Treasury, I, sig. a.
11. Seepp. 81-5above.
Therewereindeedtendencies evenamongorthodox Puritans
whichpointedinthesamedirection; freegracecameforthby
PrestonandSibbes, saidErbery.
'Thespiritual man,' said
RichardSibbes, 'judgethall things, yet hehimself is judgedof
no man... All earthly things hecommands ... by thespirit of
Christ inhimherules over all.'
Tf Godbeafather, andwe
arebrethren, it is alevellingword,' declaredSibbes; thoughthe
ideathat justificationwas never lost was 'anerror crept in
amongsomeof themeaner, ignorant sort of people.'
Prestontaught that theelect knowbytheir ownexperiencethat
theBibleis trueandwhat Godis: 'as heis describedinthe
Scriptures suchhavethey foundhimto beto themselves.'
Boltondeclaredthat 'theworldlingis awrongful usurper of the
riches, honour andpreferments of this life; ... thesaint, whilst
hecontinues inthis world, is arightful owner andpossessor of
Tobias Crispheldthat 'sinis finished'. 'If you
befreemenof Christ, youmay esteemall thecurses of thelaw
as no moreconcerningyouthanthelaws of Englandconcern
Spain.' A believer cannot commit anunpardonablesin: his
conscienceis Christ. 'To becalledalibertineis themost
glorious titleunder heaven.'
Allegorical writingof this sort was harmless enoughintime
of social peace, thoughtheecclesiastical authorities werenever
happy about it. It becamedangerous intherevolutionary
atmosphereof the1640s whensomeof thelower classes began
to takeit literally. Thedoctrines wereagainharmless when
12. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 67-8.
13. R. Sibbes, Beames of DivineLight (1639), pp. 231-3, quotedby C.
H. andK. George, TheProtestant Mindof theEnglishReformation
(PrincetonU.P., 1961), p. 99.
14. Sibbes Works (Edinburgh, 1862-4) II, p. 311, VI, p. 458; cf. p. 558.
15. Preston, LifeEternal (4thedn, 1634), p. 34; cf. P. andR., p. 272.
16. R. Bolton, Workes (1631-41) IV, p. 25, quotedby theGeorges, op.
cit., pp. 99-100.
17. T. Crisp, Christ AloneExaltedinSeventeeneSermons (1643), pp.
87, 156-9; cf. pp. 276-7; CompleteWorks (1832) I, p. 122, 130-33, 224-6;
cf. pp. 137, 178-9, II, pp. 137, 173-4, 267. The1646editionof Christ
AloneExaltedcontains aPrefaceby theAntinomianHenry Pinnell.
Erbery praisedCrisp('Testimony, p. 68); Oarksonhadheardandread
him(TheLost SheepFound, p. 9).
taught by Thomas Traherne or quietist post-restoration
Quakers. But inbetween, as theRevolutionseemedto open
upinfinitepossibilities, theglowingembers flashedflame.
InDecember 1643Robert Baillieobservedthat theInde-
pendent party was growing, 'but theAnabaptists more, andthe
Antinomians most.' Henotedthat they wereespecially strong
InBrownist congregations, hereportedwith
horror, 'to themeanest servant they givepower to admonish,
reprove, rebukeandto separatefromthewholechurch.' If the
majority inacongregationshouldexcommunicatetheir pastor,
no synodor other external authority coulddo anythingabout
it. Givingsuchapower of excommunicationto every uncon-
trolledcongregation, heobservedominously, 'drivethto uni-
versal grace'.
Fromthis timeonwards weget plentiful evidence
of theemergenceof awholenumber of opinions whichwere
later to beassociatedwiththeRanters.
Thomas Edwards reportedmany sectaries who saidChrist
diedfor all, andabricklayer of Hackney who saidthat Christ
was not God, or alternatively that hehimself was as muchGod
as Christ was. A Rochester manwho associatedwithBaptists
saidthat Jesus Christ was abastard; so didJaneStrattonof
Southwark. Edwards's error number eight was 'right reasonis
theruleof faith... Weareto believetheScriptures andthe
doctrines of theTrinity, incarnation, resurrection, so far as
weseethemagreeableto reason, andno further.' 'Godloves
his childrenas well sinningas praying.' Somesectaries hold
they cannot sin, but if they sin, Christ sins inthem.
JohnTrappreporteda'femaleAntinomian, who whenher
mistress chargedher for stealingher linens' replied, 'It was not
I, but sinthat dwellethinme.'
'Every creatureinthefirst
estateof creationwas God' (it is Edwards reportingagain), 'and
every creatureis God, every creaturethat hathlifeandbreath
18. Baillie, Letters andJournals, I, pp. 408,437.
19. Baillie, A DissuasivefromtheErrours of theTime(2ndimpression,
1645-6), pp. 26,167.
20. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 19, 26, 35-6, 110-13, 213; II, pp. 2-3.
21. J. Trapp, CommentaryontheNewTestament (Evansville, Indiana,
1958), p. 501. First published1647.
beinganefflux fromGod, andshall returninto Godagain, be
swallowedupinhimas adropis intheocean/ Further errors
twenty-fiveandtwenty-six in1646were"that Godis inour
fleshas muchas inChrist's flesh', and'that all shall besavedat
last/ Mrs Attaway andWilliamJenny heldthemselves as free
fromsinas Christ was whenhewas inthe flesh, thoughEdwards
regardedthemas livinginadultery. They believedinthemor-
tality of thesoul, andthat therewas no hell but what was inthe
conscience. A Londonlady declaredthat murder, adultery,
theft, wereno sins.
Sectaries believethat if amanwere
strongly movedto sin, after prayingrepeatedly, thenheshould
do it, saidapamphlet of 1648disapprovingly.
So therewas abreakdownof confidenceinestablishedforms
of religion, pretty widespread, but conspicuously prevalent in
LondonandtheArmy, especially amongtheyoung. Historians
havediscoveredthat amongmembers of theLongParliament
andof theroyal civil servicetheaverageageof thosewho ad-
heredto theKinginthecivil war was lower thanthat of those
who adheredto Parliament.
For this therewerespecial reasons.
Inthe1630s, whenParliament never met, up-and-comingyoung
gentlemenhadto look to thecourt for acareer. It was among
thosewhoseopinions andattitudes hadbeenformedby the
1620s that steady adherents of Parliament werefound. But it
was very different amongthepopulationat large, at least in
LondonandtheHomeCounties. Theradicals, not unexpec-
tedly, camefromtheyounger generationof thosewho hadno
aspirations to anofficial career.
22. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 21, 116-19; II, p. 8; III, pp. 10, 26-7,
23. [Anon.] A trueandperfect Pictureof our present Reformation
(1648), p. 13. Suchideas werenot necessarily plebeianby origin. The
fashionableInns of Court poets under thefirst two Stuart kings had
madeacult of adultery andpromiscuity, equatingmarriageanden-
closure, sentimentally regrettingalost GoldenAge(JohnCarey, The
OvidianLoveElegy inEngland, unpublishedOxfordDJPhil. Thesis,
1960, esp. pp. 199, 376, 386-7,419-21).
24. D. BruntonandD. H. Pennington, Members of theLongParlia-
ment (1954), pp. 15-16; G. E. Aylmer, TheKing's Servants (1961), pp.
Thomas Edwards againandagainemphasizes that it was
'many youngyouths andwenches' who 'all of thempreach
universal redemption'.
Baxter saidthat 'theremnant of the
oldseparatists andAnabaptists inLondon' was small andin-
considerableintheyears 1640-42; but 'they wereenoughto stir
uptheyounger andunexperiencedsort of religious people' and
apprentices. WilliamDell in1646foundthat theyoung, 'as
beingmost freefromtheforms of theformer age, andfromthe
doctrines andtraditions of men,' weremost opento convic-
JohnCrook as aLondonapprenticemet withacompany
of youngmento pray andtalk about thethings of God, much
as JohnLilburnehaddoneearlier.
Anthony Pearsontells us
that apprentices andyoungpeoplejoinedtheRanters; Baxter
that Quakers emptiedthechurches of Anabaptists andsepara-
tists, of 'theyoung, unsettled.'
Wethink of refusal of 'hat
honour' andtheuseof 'thou' by Quakers as gestures of social
protest, andso they were. But they also markedarefusal of
deferencefromtheyoungto theold, fromsons to fathers. No
onewho has readThomas Ellwood's vividaccount of his
strugglewithhis father
candoubt that diefiercest andmost
anguishedbattles werethosewagedwithinthehome, between
thegenerations. This aspect of theriseof Quakerismingentry
families perhaps deserves further consideration.
Thesoldiers who madethedemonstrationinWalton-on-
Thames parishchurchquotedabovewerepresumably young
men. They abolished(i) theSabbathas unnecessary, Jewishand
merely ceremonial; (ii) tithes as Jewishandceremonial, agreat
burdento thesaints of Godandadiscouragement of industry
andtillage; (iii) ministers as antichristianandof no longer use
nowChrist himself descends into thehearts of his saints; (iv)
magistrates as useless nowthat Christ himself is inpurity of
25. Edwards, Gangraena
I, pp. 121,124andpassim; III, p. 99.
26. ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, p. 26; Dell, Several Sermons, p. 79.
27. A Short Historyof theLifeof JohnCrook, inSippell, Werdendes
Quakertum, p. 238. For LilburneseeP. Gregg, Free-BornJohn(1961),
p. 47.
28. Barclay, Inner Life, p. 331; seep. 238below.
29. Seep. 247below.
spirit comeamongst us andhatherectedthekingdomof saints
upontheearth; (v) theBible, as beggarly rudiments, milk for
babes; for nowChrist is inglory amongst us andimparts a
fuller measureof his spirit to his saints thantheBiblecan
Robert Abbot in1651struck amodernnotewhenhe
denounced'many monstrous youngmenandwomen, so dis-
orderly intheir courses andso disguisedintheir attires that all
ages ... cannot givethelikeprecedents. Howdo youngwomen
rejoiceinbaringtheir nakedness!'
(Nakedness is arelative
concept: onecritic of theBaptists expressedpious horror
when, at abaptism, 'thenakedness of oneof thewomen...
was seenaboveher knees'. 'For this,' headdedwithrelish,
'thereweremany witnesses.'
Thepreachers of freegrace- Saltmarsh, Erbery, Dell and
others - aimedto liberatemenandwomenfromtheformalism,
thelegal calculations of covenant theologians, andfromthe
despair to whichpredestinariantheology reducedmany who
doubtedtheir salvation. Inthehands of menandwomen
simpler andless theologically sophisticated, especially inthis
timeof revolutionary crisis, their teachings wereeasily pushed
over into Antinomianism, asenseof liberationfromall bonds
andrestraints of lawandmorality. WhenThomas Collier told
theArmy at theendof September 1647that 'Godas truly
manifests himself inthefleshof all his [saints] as hedidin
hemust haveknownthat many of therank andfile
listeningto himwouldbelievethemselves to besaints.
Giventhenthis breakdownof confidenceontheonehand,
andtheprevalent millenarianenthusiasmontheother, it is
hardly surprisingthat menandwomen, facedwithanun-
precedentedfreedomof choice, passedrapidly fromsect to
sect, tryingall things, findingall of themwanting. Againand
againinspiritual autobiographies of thetimewereadof men
30. Walker, Historyof Independency, Part II, pp. 152-3. Seep. 110
31. R. Abbot, TheYoungMans Warning-piece, sig. A 3v-4; cf. the
well-knownpassageabout thewickedness of theyounginTheContinuar
tionof thelifeof EdwardEarl of Clarendon(1759) II, pp. 39-41.
32. WilliamGrigge, TheQuakers Jesus (1658), p. 47.
33. InWoodhouse, pp. 390-96.
who passedthroughPresbyterianism, Independency andAna-
baptistry beforeendingas Seekers (Webster andClement
), as Ranters (Salmon, Coppin, Coppe, Clarksonand
Francis Freeman
) or as Quakers (Deusbury, Howgill and
Thomas Taylor
). Controversies over churchgovernment or
over baptism- infant, adult, self-, by dippingor not at all -
split congregations, producedendless conscientious scruples,
endless bickerings. All theleadingprotagonists seemedequally
certain, all appearedto havebackingfromBiblical texts or
fromtheauthority of thespirit within. Many concludedby
questioningthevalueof all ordinances, of all outwardforms,
of all churches even.
Sincetheendof theworldwas probably
near anyway, aresignedwithdrawal fromsectariancontro-
versy was onesolution, arejectionof all sects, of all organized
worship. SuchmenwerecalledSeekers - Walwyn, thoughhe
Roger Williams,
JohnSaltmarsh, John
Milton, possibly Oliver Cromwell himself. Edwards calledLaw-
Many of thesemenhadconnections
withtheradicals, andwerebitterly disappointedwiththefailure
of theArmy to bringabout ademocratic society inandafter
1647. Whatever their disillusionment, thegenerationof the
34. R. M. Jones, MysticismandDemocracyintheEnglishCommon•
wealth(HarvardU.P., 1932), pp. 87-8; Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 81-2.
I amnot surethat 'Seeker* is the right wordfor Writer.
35. J. Salmon, A rout, a rout (1649), pp. £-13; R. Coppin, Truths Testi-
mony(1655), pp. 10-15; A. L. Morton, TheWorldof theRanters, pp.
116-19, Cohn, ThePursuit of theMillennium, p. 353; F. Freeman, Light
VanquishingDarknesse(1650), pp. 5-6. Clarksonwent onto becomea
Muggletonian. CoppindeniedbeingaRanter, but it is difficult to know
howelseto describehim.
36. W. Deusbury, TheDiscoveryof thegreat enmityof theSerpent
against theseedof theWoman(1655) passim; Francis Howgill, TheIn-
heritanceof JacobDiscovered(1655) passim; T. Sippell, Zur Vorgescfuchte
des Quakertums (Giessen, 1920), p. 47.
37. C. Burrage, TheRestorationof Immersionby theEnglishAna-
baptists andBaptists (1640-1700)' AmericanJournal of Theology, January
1912, esp. p. 76.
38. Edwards, Gangraena, I, p. 128; Haller, Tracts onLiberty, III, p.
39. Burrage, EarlyEnglishDissenters, I, p. 367.
40. Edwards, Gangraena, II, pp. 7-8.
1640s was carriedalongby millenarianenthusiasm. But what
of their successors, intheflat andunexcitingworldof the
1650s? 'Whenpeoplesawdiversity of sects inany place,' wrote
RichardBaxter, 'it greatly hinderedtheir conversion.
•wouldbeof no religionat all*.
WilliamErbery was describedin1646as 'thechampionof the
Hehadbeenejectedfromhis livinginCardiff in
1638for refusingto readtheBook of Sports. Hewas acon-
vincedsupporter of Parliament duringthecivil war, achap-
lainintheNewModel Army. Charles I, Erbery thought, had
preferred'nonebut therich, his friends andfavourites, a
company of fools andflatterers, thoughtheoppressedpeeled
nationwas ready to perish'
As anArmy chaplainErbery led
other ranks incriticismof Presbyterianministers, tithes and
persecution. He quoted Boehmewithapproval.
preacheduniversal redemption, Edwards tells us, anddenied
thedivinity of Christ, as well as declaringthat any layman
may preach.
Heproclaimedthat 'thefullness of theGodhead
shall bemanifestedinthefleshof thesaints', as inChrist's
flesh. Christ 'is still sufferingtill heshall riseinus'. Menthere-
foreshould'sit still, insubmissionandsilence, waitingfor the
Lordto comeandreveal himself to them'. 'Andat last, yea
withinalittle, weshall beledforthout of this confusionand
Babylon, whereweyet are, not clearly knowingtruthnor
error, day nor night: but intheeveningthereshall belight'
His Presbyterianenemies accusedhimof claimingthat the
saints haveamoreglorious power thanChrist ... anddo
greater works thanever Christ did*. Erbery moremodestly
41. ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, p. 87.
42. [Anon.] A PublikeConferenceBetwixt theSixPresbyterianMin-
isters, AndSomeIndependent Commanders, Heldat Oxford(1646), p. 3.
43. Erbery, Testimony, p. 209.
44. ibid., p. 333.
45. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 77-8, 109-10, III, pp. 89-92, 250. John
Webster, also anadmirer of Boehme, confirms that "theTrinity was not
perfectly owned
by Erbery (Testimony, p. 264; cf. pp. 278-9).
sawhimself 'bewildernessedas awayfaringman, seeingno
way of manonearth, nor beatenpathto leadhim. Let him
look upwardandwithinat once, andahighway, theway is
foundinChrist inus, Godinour flesh'. Thesaints shall judge
Godappearinginthemshall punishkings of the
earthupontheearth. Andthesesaints wereof thelower classes.
'Godcomes reigningandridingonanass, that is revealing
himself inmajesty andglory inthebasest of men.' Kings, lords
anddukes 'all proceededfromacarnal pedigree'.
'It was, as weconceived, hightimeto call Mr Erbery to an
account,' reportedthePresbyterianministers sent downto
Oxfordto investigatetheArmy. Erbery, they said, was aSocin-
ian, preachingdamnabledoctrineandblasphemous errors. He
stirredup'themultitudeof soldiers' against thePresbyterian
ministers. 'All well-groundedpolicy for theaffairs of this life
is groundeduponreligion," and'theChristianreligioncannot
beupheldwithout aChristianministry'.
InJanuary 1648Erbery calledontheArmy to destroy the
power of theKingandrectify popular grievances. Heobjected
to theofficers' versionof theAgreement of thePeoplebecause
it establishedastatechurchanddidnot extendtolerationto
Jews, thoughheapprovedof most of it
TheArmy, Erbery
thought, hadadoubleright to act inpolitics. KingandParlia-
ment *werethetwo powers who kept thepeopleof theLord
andthepeopleof thelandfromtheir expectedandpromised
TheArmy 'hadthecall of thekingdom, petition-
ingby several counties andthecommoncry of all theop-
pressedintheland'. It acted'intheimmediatepower of God
... for all saints, yeafor all menalso'. 'Godinthesaints shall
46. [F. Cheynell?] Truth Triumphing over Errour andHeresie
(1646[-7]), p. 5; Erbery, Nor Truthnor Error (1646[-7]>, pp. 2, 4, 8,
16-17, 20-21; cf. Testimony, p. 22; [Cheynell] AnAccount Giventothe
Parliament bytheMinisters sent bythemtoOxford(1646[-7j), pp. 13,
47. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 24,40,207.
48. [Cheynell] AnAccount GiventotheParliament, pp. 13, 22, 38, 50.
49. Woodhouse, pp. 169-74; cf. Erbery's Testimony, pp. 26, 333-4, and
AnAccount GiventotheParliament, p. 35, for Erbery's toleranceto
Jews andTurks - thoughnot to papists.
50. Erbery, Testimony, p. 205.
appear as thesaviour of all men/ 'No oppressor shall pass
throughthemany more.' Theday of Godhas begun, though
thesaints havebeenandarestill inconfusion.' 'For afew
days wecannot bear withthewant of kings andrulers, but
after many days' menwill no longer miss them. Thesaints
drewback whenthey shouldhavegoneon. TheArmy was at
its best whenit acted. 'But as for all their public speakings,
their Declarations, Protestations, Remonstrances, 'tis not worth
Erbery still waitedto see'Godinthearmy of saints, wasting
all oppressingpowers intheland... Godwill do it inhis time,
... not only destroy Antichrist within... but all worldly oppres-
sors by themouthof thesword.*
InJuly 1652Erbery wrote
urgingOliver Cromwell to relievethepoor, as well as attack-
ingtithes andlawyers' fees.
Headvocatedsteeper taxationof
'richcitizens, rackinglandlords ... andmighty moneyedmen',
to form'atreasury for thepoor'. Thegreat designthat God
hathto do this day is to undo ... themighty ones of theearth,
... that theoutwardandinwardmanmay havedeliveranceat
'Howmany menaremadepoor by makingafewmin-
isters rich?' 'Othat thepoor might havetheir arrears out of
theunreasonablegainof thegospel priests,' who 'takeupthe
fifthor fourthpart of men's lands andlabours'. Theburden
of tithes nowinEnglandis worsethanunder popery or in
popishcountries. Therewereno trueministers any longer.
'Godinthelast days will first appear ... not inministers at all
but inthemagistrate, bothcivil andmartial.'
John Saltmarsh had spoken of 'the apostacy of the
InErbery's thinkingthis apostacy hadprevailed
for 'many hundreds of years'. 'Whenkingdoms cameto be
Christian, thenkingdoms beganto bechurches; yea, churches
cameto bekingdoms, andnational churches began. Thenalso
51. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 25, 30,40-42,73.
52. Ed. J. Nickolls, Original Letters andPapers of StateAddressedto
Oliver Cromwell (1743), pp. 88-9.
53. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 75,59.
54. ibid., pp. 53,90-91.
55. Saltmarsh, Sparkles of Glory(1648), pp. 215-17.
Antichrist cameto begreat.' Popery, prelacy, presbytery had
beenthethreeBeasts; but thestatechurchof theCommon-
wealthwas no better. It was thelast Beast or church-state. In
'our landintheselast days themystery of iniquity hathbeen
most manifest.
Inthedepthof his disillusionErbery declared
that 'themystery of Antichrist... is manifestedinevery saint,
inevery particular church'. 'Thegreatest work that Godhath
to do withyouthis day, is to makeyouseeyouaredead.'
'Godis goingout anddepartingfromall thepreachingof
men, that menmay givethemselves wholly to public acts of
loveto oneanother, andto all mankind; thereforeall religious
forms shall fall, that thepower of righteousness may riseand
appear inall.'
'To besolitary andwalk alone,' Erbery concluded, 'is a
wilderness condition, whichwithGodis themost comfortable
state... Inthat apostacy wenoware, wecannot company
withmen, no not withsaints, inspiritual worshipbut weshall
commit spiritual whoredomwiththem.'
wickedness of thepeopleof Godwill first appear ... to all the
world'. For havingbeen'set inpower', 'every manmay see
theshame' if they 'proveoppressors, as former powers have
been'. Inpower the'seemingsaints' must inevitably becor-
rupted. Incivil government they werefar superior to their
predecessors. 'But as for spiritual graces, howsoonhavethey
witheredinthewisest? GoodmeninParliament, whencome
to power howweak werethey? Whenwas theSelf-Denying
Ordinancekept?' 'Godly menintheoldandnewmodelled
Army ... their tears areall driedup, as witheredgrass ... The
flower is afiner thingthancommongrass, but falls sooner.'
Godhas apeopleto call intheir room. Thepeopleof God
turnwickedmen, that wickedmenmay turnto bethepeople
of God.' Thelords andnobles of oldcoulddo better with
it [power], becausegentlemenborn; but whenso muchmoney
comes into thehands of poor saints, ohhowthey holdit and
hugit andhunger after it, as dogs do after dry bones!' 'In
56. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 80,231-3,268-9,336.
57. ibid., p. 73.
58. ibid., p. 100.
saints by callingshall theapostacy andfallingaway befirst
revealedto thefull.'
But Erbery managedto avoidself-righteousness. 'Howoften
didmy desireto berichmakemeinfear to bepoor,' head-
mitted; until he finallygaveuphis public stipendfromtithes.
Thelifeof thepeopleof God, andminealso, is so unlike
Christ that I haveoftenwished... to go away frommyself
andfrommy people.' But 'they aremineandI amtheirs'. By
1654hehaddecidedthat, as against theFifthMonarchists,
thepeopleof Godshouldnot meddleat all withstatematters.
Christ's kingdomis not of this world. 'Yousay that theworst
of menspeak well of thepresent government; andis it not
well? andafair way for peaceandlove?'
Godareinpresent power (as 'twas never before).' God'hath
stainedtheprideof all glory, andtheglory of all flesh, tumbling
theearthupsidedownandtossingto andfro thegovernment
thereof, that nothingbut confusionhathappeared. What cer-
tainty thencanbeexpectedinsuchchanges? What order in
confusion? Yea, what truth, whenGodis makingmana
This attitudeof resignationafter thefailureof theBare-
bones Parliament inDecember 1653madeJohnWebster feel
hehadto defendErbery against thechargeof fallingoff and
compliance. Erbery knew, Webster said, 'that it was thewis-
domas well as theobedienceof thesaints to maketheir cap-
tivity as comfortableas they could; but to shakeoff theyoke
beforetheseasoncamewas to rebel against theLord'. Erbery
seems infact to havebeenpreparedto accept Cromwell as
Erbery, saidWebster, 'was rather apresser forward
but heseems to haveabandonedhopeof
apolitical solutioninhis lifetime. 'It may beother generations
may seetheglory talkedto beinthelast times, but weare
59. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 87,167,171-9.
60. ibid., pp. 52-3. Seep. 102above.
61. ibid., pp. 182-6; cf. pp. 232,247-8.
62. ibid., p. 191.
63. ibid., sig. (a) 2, pp. 209-10.
64. ibid., pp. 260,265.
cut off for our parts; our childrenmay possess it, but for our
parts wehaveno hopes to enjoy it, or inthis lifeto beraised
out of our graves.
TheEnglishchurches 'do liveinBabylon.
Andtherenot they only, but all thescatteredsaints this day
do dwell, andI also withthemwaitingfor deliverance.'
Erbery diedin1654, almost his last publishedwords being
'I havebeenever entireto theinterest of this common-
His epitaphwas not unfittingly writtenby oneof his
Somearedeadthat seemalive,
But Erbery's worthshall still survive.
Erbery was oftenaccusedof being'aloosepersonor aRanter',
of havingarantingspirit;
hewas also alleged- likethe
Ranters - to bedevious, coveringhimself by doublemean-
Erbery deniedtheaccusationof Ranterism, but not
always wholeheartedly. Hespokeof 'theholiness andrighteous-
ness intruthflowingfromthepower of Godinus, whichby
theworldhathbeennicknamedwithPuritanism, andinsome
nowRanting', thoughherefusedto justify 'thoseprofane
peoplecalledRanters', who blasphemed, cursed, whored,
openly rejoicingintheir wickedness.
Headmittedthat he
'was commonly judgedby goodmenas oneof thoseowning
this principleandpractisingtheir ways', that 'I cry upthe
profaneas most holy, andthesaints of Godto betheonly
Ranters; that ... I holdfellowshipwithdivers prodigiously
profaneandscandalous, ... blasphemously counterfeitingthe
65. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 232,337-8.
66. ibid., p. 338.
67. J. L., A Small MiteinMemoryof thelatedeceased... Mr. William
Erbery(1654) title-page.
68. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 47,259.
69. Christopher Fowler, DaemoniumMeridianum, Satanat Noon, or
AntichristianBlasphemies (1655), pp. 29, 132; cf. Erbery, Nor Truthnor
Error, pp. 1-2.
70. Erbery, Testimony, p. 312.
sacraments of theLord's supper.' Hedeniedsayingthat the
Ranters werethebest saints: his point hadbeenthat the
self-styledsaints wereworsethanRanters, lustingafter the
wisdom, power, glory andhonour of this present world. At
least Ranters werehonest about it. These, it may be, liewith
awomanonceamonth, but thosemen, havingtheir eyes full
of adultery, ... do liewithtwenty womenbetweenPaul's and
This perhaps throws somelight onErbery's
oddremark, quotedabove, that 'wickedmenmay turnto be
thepeopleof God'.
Tis true, uncasingformal righteousness
Whichdecks itself instrictest letter-dress,
Thoudidst someways prefer theopensinner,
Opposingcoarseoffenders to thefiner.
So JohnWebster, notingthat by 'someweaker spirits' Erbery's
doctrineconcerning"therestitutionof all things, theliberty of
thecreation, ... thesaints' oneness inChrist withGod' was
misunderstoodor ledto practices whichErbery regretted. We
canI think readagooddeal betweenthesedefensivelines.
Eveninprint Erbery was oftenvery rudeandcoarsely jocular
about what others might regardas sacredsubjects. Hethought
that holy communionshouldbeafull meal, withlots of drink.
'Why do they not say their prayers beforeapipeof tobacco?
It is clear that Erbery was very muchat homeintheworld
of taverns andtobacco inwhichmany of thesects usedto
meet. 'Religionis nowbecomethecommondiscourseandtable-
talk inevery tavernandale-house,' menwerecomplainingas
early as 1641.
'Ale-houses generally are... themeetingplaces
of malignants andsectaries,' apreacher toldtheHouseof
Commons inJuly 1646.
Levellers usedto meet intaverns:
71. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 312-16, 331; cf. pp. 124, 176.
72. ibid., p. 176, quotedonp. 195above.
73. ibid., pp. 260, 266,195-8,275-6.
74. [Anon.] Religions Enemies (1641), p. 6. Attributedto JohnTaylor
74a. Henry Wilkinson, Miranda, Stupenda (1646), p. 26.
Nicholas Culpeper strove'to makehimself famous intaverns
andale-houses'; Baptist messengers met ininns, andBaptist
services weretheoccasionof pipe-smoking.
'Eat of Christ,
therefore, thetreeof life, at supper, anddrink his blood, and
makeyoumerry,' wroteJohnEachard, aSuffolk parsonwho
spokeupfor thecommonsoldiers in1645.
Winstanley agreed
that holy communionwas not asacrament but eatingand
drinkinginany house, 'inloveandsweet communionwithone
Thomas Edwards reported'anantinomianpreacher
inLondon', who 'onafast day saidit was better for Christians
to bedrinkinginanale-house, or to beinawhore-house, than
to bekeepingfasts legally'. Another sectary arguedthat
drunkenness was no sin, but 'ahelpto seeChrist thebetter
by'. Hewas astaunchParliamentarian, asequestrator inSomer-
Theanalogy of moderndrug-takingshouldenableus to
understandthat - inadditionto theelement of communal
love-feast insuchgatherings - theuseof tobacco andalcohol
was intendedto heightenspiritual vision. Someyears later
themillenarianJohnMasonwas excessively addictedto smok-
ing, and'generally whilehesmokedhewas inakindof
(Tobacco was still anovel andrather naughty stimu-
lant, thoughby 1640it hadrisento first placeamongLondon's
75. JohnHeydon, A NewMethodof RosieCrucianphysick(1658), p.
49; ed. B. R. White, AssociationRecords of theParticular Baptists of
England, Wales andIrelandto 1660, Part I, SouthWales andtheMid-
lands (Baptist Historical Soc., 1971), p. 37; ed. Nuttall, EarlyQuaker
Letters fromSwarthmoreMSS. to 1660, pp. 258-9. cf. V. L. Pearl, Lon-
donandtheOutbreakof thePuritanRevolution(OxfordU.P., 1961), pp.
233-4, for useof taverns for political purposes.
76. J. Eachard, TheAxeagainst SinandError (1646) sig. (a)v. In
GoodNewes for all ChristianSouldiers (1645) hehadansweredtheques-
tion'Shouldnot afaithful soldier becontent withhis wages?' 'Yes, saith
thesoldier, if hecouldget it' (p. 31).
77. Sabine, pp. 141-3; cf. Edwards, Gangraena, III, p. 25(Giles Ran-
78. Edwards, Gangraena, II, p. 146, III. p. 107; D. Underdown, Somer-
set intheCivil War andInterregnum(NewtonAbbot, 1973), p. 146.
79. H. Maurice, AnImpartial Account of Mr JohnMasonof Water
Stratford(1695), p. 52.
) InNewEnglandCaptainUnderbill toldGovernor
Winthrop'theSpirit hadsent into himthewitness of free
grace, whilehewas inthemoderateenjoyment of thecreature
Was it inatavern, or at areligious meeting,
that CaptainFreemandeclaredthat hesawGodinthetable-
Or that thetrooper withan
interest incomparativereligionasserted, 'If I shouldworship
thesunor themoon, or that pewter pot onthetable, nobody
has anythingto do withit'?
WhensomeRanters wantedto
get their ownback ontheprophets ReeveandMuggleton, who
haddamnedthemto all eternity, theinducement they offered
'threeof themost desperate, atheistical' of their number 'to
cursethemandtheLordJesus Christ their God' was thepro-
miseof 'agooddinner of pork'.
WilliamDell in1653mocked
aphraseusedby SidrachSympson, 'arts andtongues arethe
cups inwhichGoddrinks to us' as 'savouringof theRanters'
religion; as if Godwas thefamiliar companionof theclergy,
andsometimes drank to theminacupof Hebrew, sometimes
inacupof Greek.. .'
At oneRanter meetingof whichwehavea(hostile) report,
themixedcompany met at atavern, sangblasphemous songs
to thewell-knowntunes of metrical psalms andpartook of a
communal feast. Oneof themtoreoff apieceof beef, saying
This is thefleshof Christ, takeandeat.' Another threwacup
of aleinto thechimney corner, sayingThereis thebloodof
Clarksoncalledatavernthehouseof God; sack
was divinity.
EvenaPuritanenemy expresses what is almost
80. Ed. W. E. Minchinton, TheGrowthof EnglishOverseas Tradein
theSeventeenthCentury(1969), p. 21. Ontobacco seeHenick's poems,
'TheTobacconist' andTheCensure* (iPoetical Works, ed. L. C. Martin,
OxfordU.P., 1956, pp. 424-7).
81R. M. Jones, Studies inMystical Religion, p. 474.
82. F. Freeman, Light VanquishingDarknesse(1650), p. 3; cf. p. 201
83. Quotedby Masson, Lifeof Milton, III, p. 525.
84. Muggleton, Acts of theWitnesses, pp. 56-7.
85. Dell, Several Sermons, p. 607.
86. [Anon.] StrangeNewes FromtheOld-bayley(1651), pp. 2-3.
87. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound, pp. 28-9.
agrudgingadmirationfor thehighspirits of theRanters'
dionysiac orgies: 'they arethemerriest of all devils for ex-
temporelascivious songs, ... for healths, music, downright
bawdry anddancing'.
Oneof theaccusations against Captain
Francis Freemanwas that hesangbawdy songs.
Bunyansaidtheideas of theQuakers werenot muchbetter
thanthoseof Ranters, 'only theRanters hadmadethemthread-
bareat anale-house'.
Ranters met at avictuallinghousekept
by oneof their number intheMinories, Muggletontells us;
they also met at theDavidandHarpinMoor Lane, inthe
parishof St Giles, Cripplegate, kept by thehusbandof Mary
Middleton, oneof LawrenceClarkson's mistresses
'hadsomekindof meetings,' Fox says, 'but they took tobacco
anddrank aleintheir meetings, andweregrownlight and
loose'. They 'sungandwhistledanddanced'.
Ranters talkedtoo much:
this is indeedonecontemporary
meaningof theverb'to rant'. Bunyan's comment may haveits
bearingonQuaker silence. Yet Fox understoodtheRanters'
point. When'aforward, boldlad' offeredhimapipe, saying,
'Come, all is ours,' Fox (who was no smoker) 'took his pipeand
put it to my mouth, andgaveit to himagainto stophim, lest
his rudetongueshouldsay I hadnot unity withthecreation.
'My spirit dwells withGod,' saidAbiezer Coppe, 'sups with
him, inhim, feeds onhim, withhim, inhim. My humanity
shall dwell with, supwith, eat withhumanity; andwhy not
(for aneed) withpublicans andharlots?
'Unity withthecreation', tobacco 'agoodcreature', parody-
ingholy communion: weshouldnever fail to look for sym-
bolisminwhat appear theextravagant gestures of seventeenth-
century radicals. Ranter advocacy of blasphemy, it has been
88. E. Pagitt, Heresiography(5thedn, 1654), p. 144.
89. Freeman, Light VanquishingDarknesse, p. 19.
90. Bunyan, Works, II, pp. 182-3.
91. Muggleton, Acts of theWitnesses, p. 5; TheRoutingof theRanters,
p. 4.
92. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 85, 199,212.
93. Bunyan, Works, 1, p. 85.
94. Braithwaite, p. 85.
95. Coppe, A FieryFlyingRoll, Part II, pp. 18-19
well said, was asymbolic expressionof freedomfrommoral
Abiezer Coppewas allegedononeoccasionto
haveswornfor anhour onendinthepulpit: 'apox of God
takeall your prayers'.
Anobsessivedesireto swear hadpos-
sessedhiminearly life, but heresistedit for twenty-sevenyears.
Thenhemadeupfor lost time. Hewouldrather, hedeclared,
'hear amighty angel (inman) swearingafull-mouthedoath'
thanhear anorthodox minister preach. 'Onehint more: there's
swearingignorantly, i'thdark, andthere's swearingi'thlight,
EvenJosephSalmon, fromthemystical and
quietist wingof theRanters, was also inthehabit of using
'many desperateoaths'.
Great tensions must liebehindthis attitudeto swearing,
whether intheindulgenceof Coppeafter 1646, or inhis earlier
repressionof thedesireto swear, whichtheQuakers followed.
Bunyanreveals similar tensions inGraceAbounding. Swear-
ingwas anact of defiance, bothof Godandof middle-class
society, of thePuritanethic. 'Many think to swear is gentleman-
like,' as Bunyanput it.
Courtiers andmembers of theupper
class couldget away withswearing: royalists inthecivil war
wereknownto their opponents as 'Dammees'.
For thelower
classes swearingwas expensive: werecall the'debauchedsea-
man' who after beingfinedat therateof 6d. for anoathput
2s. 6d. onthetableandhadhis money's worth.
useof oaths was aproclamationof their equality withthe
greatest, just as Puritanoppositionto vainswearingwas a
criticismof aristocratic andplebeianirreligion.
But lower-
96. I owethis to Mr J. F. McGregor's OxfordB.Litt. Thesis, The
Ranters: A Study of theFreeSpirit inEnglishSectarianReligion, 1648-
97. [Anon.] TheRanters Ranting(1650), p. 5.
98. Coppe, A FieryFlyingRoll, Part I, ch. 2.
99. Leyborne-PophamMSS. (H.M.C.), p. 57; cf. pp. 217-19below.
100. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 601; cf. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 47, 198.
101. S. andP., pp. 405-6.
102. Ed. J. Spedding, R. L. Ellis andD. D. Heath, TheWorks of
Francis Bacon(1870-74), VII, p. 185. Wrongly attributedto Bacon.
103. cf. Trotsky onBolshevik oppositionto 'theswearingof masters
andslaves' inthenameof humandignity (Isaac Deutscher, TheProphet
Unarmed, 1959, pp. 165-6).
class andRanter swearingwas also arevolt against theim-
positionof Puritanmiddle-class standards, interferingwiththe
simplepleasures of thepoor for ideological reasons. Bibliolatry
ledto aphobiaabout swearing; rejectionof theBiblemadeit
possibleagain, andwithit areleaseof therepressions which
gavethePuritanmiddleclass their moral energy.
Mr A. L. Morton, who knows moreabout theRanters than
anyoneelse, suggests that migratory craftsmen, freedby the
temporary breakdownof thesettlement systemduringthe
Revolution, menwho were'unattachedandpreparedto break
withtradition', may havefurnishedmuchsupport for the
Weshouldbear inmindthewholemobileitinerant
population, evictedcottagers, whether peasants or craftsmen,
slowly gravitatingto thebigcities andtherefindingthemselves
outsiders, sometimes formingthemselves into religious groups
whichrapidly becamemoreandmoreradical. It is very diffi-
cult to definewhat 'theRanters' believed, as opposedto indi-
viduals who arecalledRanters. Thesameis trueto alesser
extent of Levellers or early Quakers; but theLevellers didissue
programmatic statements, andthepamphlets of Fox andNayler
canbeacceptedas authoritativefor theQuakers. Thereis no
recognizedleader or theoreticianof theRanters, andit is ex-
tremely doubtful whether thereever was aRanter organization.
As so ofteninthehistory of radical movements, thename
cameinto existenceas atermof abuse.
Therearevery widediscrepancies betweenthetheology of
menlikeSalmonandBauthumley, ontheonehand, andthe
licentious practices of whichrank-and-fileRanterswereaccused,
thoughtheideas of LawrenceClarksonperhaps helpto bridge
thegap. Thesameis also trueof theearly Quakers, whom
contemporaries longtendedto lumptogether withRanters.
Therearetwo possibleexplanations for this last fact, andit is
difficult to knowwhichshouldweighmoreheavily withus.
Ontheonehandthereis theunreasoninghostility of conser-
104. Morton, TheWorldof theRanters, p. 90.
vativecritics, who believedthat Ranter andQuaker ideas must
leadto licentiousness andthereforeassumedthat they did; on
theother handthereis thelikelihoodthat many early rank-and-
fileQuakers hadinfact not entirely shakenthemselves free
fromRanter ideas andpractices.
Nevertheless, for abrief periodbetween1649and1651there
was agroupwhichcontemporaries calledRanters, about which
they felt ableto makegeneralizations. (I excludeeccentric
individuals likeJohnRobins andThomas Tany, who were
sometimes calledRanters: it is very difficult to extract any
coherent principles fromtheir expressedviews.
) Wehear of
Ranters, as of FifthMonarchists, after theexecutionof Charles
I andthedefeat of theLevellers: boththeseevents no doubt
relateto theoriginof thetwo groups. 'All theworldnowis in
theRantinghumour,' it was saidin1651.
Let us look at
somefirst-handwitnesses. Ranters boast muchof freedom, said
adivinepreachingbeforetheSociety of Astrologers in1650,
andsay that Godis not only inthings divinebut also inthings
diabolical. HeequatedthemwiththeFamily of Love.
Southwark physicianin1652defendedthemagainst time-
servingsaints becauseof their favourableattitudetowards the
JohnReeveascribedto Ranters 'apretendeduni-
versal loveto thewholecreation'. For atimehewas attracted
by their 'imaginationof theeternal salvationof all mankind,
thoughthey livedanddiedunder thepower of all manner of
Bunyanintheearly fifties foundsomeRanter books held
105. Seepp. 181-2below; cf. [Anon.], All theProceedings of the
Sessions of thePeaceholdenat Westminster the20thdayof June, 1651,
pp. 3-9.
106. S. S[heppard] TheJoviall Crew, or TheDevill turnedRanter
(1651) Prologue.
107. Robert GeU, A SermontouchingGod's Government of theWorld
byAngels (1650), pp. 39-40.
108. Ed. H. E. Rollins, Cavalier andPuritan(NewYork U.P., 1923),
pp. 320-24.
109. Reeve, A Transcendent Spiritual Treatise(1711), AnEpistle
to aQuaker, p. 2; pp. 1, 5-6. First published1651; cf. Muggleton's Acts
of theWitnesses, pp. 53-7.
'highly inesteemby several oldprofessors'. Oneof his intimate
companions 'turnedamost devilishRanter, andgavehimself
upto all manner of filthiness'. Hedeniedtheexistenceof God
or angels, andlaughedat exhortations to sobriety. Other per-
sons, formerly strict inreligion, wereswept away by Ranters:
they wouldcondemnBunyanas legal anddark, 'pretendingthat
they only hadattainedto perfectionthat coulddo what they
wouldandnot sin' - adoctrinewhichBunyanfoundvery
seductive, 'I beingbut ayoungman'. Hewas especially tempted
to believetherewas no judgment or resurrection, andtherefore
that sinwas no suchgrievous thing- theconclusionthat 'atheists
andRanters do useto helpthemselves withal,' turningthegrace
of Godinto wantonness. Bunyan's answer to Ranters became
theorthodox one: they lackedaconvictionof sin.
saidSamuel Fisher inhis Baptist period, despisetheordinances
of Christ and'runbeyondthebounds of modesty andall good
manners'. 'Therabbleof theruder sort of Ranters ... are
willingly ignorant, becauseof thetediousness of that thought
to them, that thereis any morecomingof Christ at all.' Some
deny theexistenceof Christ: others claimto beChrist or
GeorgeFox in1649met Ranters who saidthey were
Thereis no Creator Godbut everythingcomes by
nature, they weresaidto believe.
EphraimPagitt thought 'theRanter is moreopenandless
sour' thanaQuaker.
Ranters set upthelight of natureunder
thenameof Christ inman, declaredRichardBaxter. Withthe
spiritual prideof ungroundednovices inreligion, they believed
that Godregards not theactions of theoutwardman, but of
theheart: that to thepureall things arepure- whichthey took
as licensinghideous blasphemy andcontinuous whoredom.
Fortunately thehorridvillainies of this sect speedily extin-
110. Bunyan, Works, I, pp. 11, 25-6; III, p. 724; cf. I, pp. 49-50, 210,
217, 454; II, pp. 150, 182-3, 214, 664; III, pp. 383, 385, 724.
111. S. Fisher, Christianismus Redivivus (1655), pp. 466-7, 482, 492,
112. Fox, Journal, I, p. 47.
113. [Anon.] TheArraignment andTryall, witha Declarationof the
Ranters (1650), p. 6.
114. Pagitt, Heresiography(1654), pp. 143-4.
guishedit, andreflecteddiscredit onall other sects.
Holland, ahostilebut not obviously unfair witness, says Ranters
call GodReason(as GerrardWinstanley haddone). Oneof
themsaidthat if therewas any Godat all, hehimself was one.
Godis ineveryoneandevery livingthing, saidJacobBauth-
umley: 'manandbeast, fishandfowl, andevery greenthing,
fromthehighest cedar to theivy onthewall'. 'Hedoes not
exist outsidethecreatures.'
Godis in'this dog, this tobacco
pipe, heis meandI amhim';
heis in'dog, cat, chair, stool'.
Theonly nametheRanters appearedto accept for themselves
collectively was 'My oneflesh'. This andtheir salutationof
fellowcreature' wereintendedto emphasizeunity, withman-
kindandwiththewholecreation. ('Fellowcreature' was a
phraseof Winstanley's.
) Abiezer CoppeandJosephSalmon,
likeWinstanley, hadavisionof this unity of all createdthings.
Their materialistic pantheismis adenial of thedualismwhich
separates Godaloft inheavenfromsinful menonearth; which
offers pieinthesky only whenyoudie. Godis not aGreat
Taskmaster: heis amember of thecommunity of my oneflesh,
onematter. Theworldis not avaleof tears to beendured,
expectingour rewardhereafter. Ranters insistedthat matter is
good, becausewelivehereandnow.
To Ranters as to Winstanley, Christ's comingmeant 'his
cominginto menby his spirit'. Whenhehas so comeinto men's
hearts, they no longer need'suchlower helps fromoutward
administrations' as preaching, communion, study of theBible,
(That was writtenby Samuel Fisher inhis Baptist period:
115. ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, pp. 76-7.
116. J. Holland, TheSmokeof thebottomles pit (1650[-1]), p. 2; J.
Bauthumley, TheLight andDarkSides of God(1650), p. 4.
117. EdwardHide, A Wonder, yet no Wonder (1651), pp. 35-41. Hide
was anopponent of theRanters, yet so far as wecancheck himheseems
to present their views withtolerablefairness.
118. L. Muggleton, TheActs of theWitnesses, p. 56.
119. Winstanley, TheSaints Paradice, p. 123; cf. pp. 113above, and
120. [Coppe] SomeSweet Sips of someSpirituall Wine
p. 60and
passim; Salmon, Heights inDepths, pp. 37-8.
121. S. Fisher, BabyBaptismmeer Babyism(1653), pp. 511-12. For
Fisher seech11below.
onewonders howfar hewouldhavedisagreedwhenhebecame
aQuaker.) For Ranters Christ inus is far moreimportant than
thehistorical Christ who diedat Jerusalem, and'all thecom-
mandments of God, bothintheOldandNewTestaments, are
thefruits of thecurse*. Sinceall menarenowfreedof thecurse,
they arealso freefromthecommandments; our will is God's
Therearemany stories of Ranters lightingacandleto
look for their sins inbroaddaylight; 'but therewerenone,'
saidtheRanter inonesuchstory, 'andthat whichthey thought
so great, unto himwas so small that hecouldnot seeit.'
Theexistenceof evil was asubject to whichRanters paida
gooddeal of attention: simplebelievers foundtheir arguments
difficult to answer.
If Godis omnipotent, someRanters asked,
why does hepermit evil? Others deniedthat therewas any
suchthingas sin; if therewas, it must bepart of God's plan.
Theday of judgment is either 'aninventedthing', 'abugbear
to keepmeninawe', or it hadbegunalready. Therewas no life
after death: 'evenas astreamfromtheoceanwas distinct in
itself whileit was astream, but whenreturnedto theoceanwas
thereinswallowedandbecameonewiththeocean: so thespirit
of manwhilst inthebody was distinct fromGod, but when
deathcameit returnedto God, andso becameonewithGod,
yeaGoditself.' That was LawrenceClarkson, who addedthat
hewould'knownothingafter this my beingwas dissolved'.
Godhas becomeasynonymfor thenatural world. To seeGod
inthebook of thecreatures was a'familistical rantingtenet'
whichAnnaTrapnel was gladshehadavoidedinher despair
Anextremeformof this doctrineattributedto Ranters was
122. J. Holland, op. cit., pp. 2-6; cf. R. Coppin, DivineTeachings (2nd
edn, 1653), pp. 9-10.
123. Cohn, op. cit., p. 329. Seep. 306below.
124. cf. Fox, Journal I, p. 231; II, p. 7.
125. Peter Sterry, A Discourseof theFreedomof theWill (1675), p. 156.
126. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound, p. 28; Holland, loc. cit.; cf.
Coppin, Truths Testimony, p. 31.
127. [AnnaTrapnell] TheCryof a Stone(1654), pp. 8-10. Seep. 172
that 'thosearemost perfect... whichdo commit thegreatest
sins withleast remorse'.
Clarksoncamevery near this, writ-
ing, 'till I actedthat so-calledsinI couldnot predominateover
sin'. But nowWhatsoever I act is ... inrelationto ... that
Eternity inme... So longas theact was inGod... it was as
holy as God'. This, heinsisted, covers 'thoseacts by theecalled
swearing, drunkenness, adultery andtheft, etc.'
TheBlasphemy Act of 9August 1650was aimedespecially
against theRanters' denial of 'thenecessity of civil andmoral
righteousness amongmen,' whichtended'to thedissolutionof
all humansociety*. It denouncedanyonewho maintainedhim-
or herself to beGod, or equal withGod; or that acts of
adultery, drunkenness, swearing, theft, etc. werenot inthem-
selves shameful, wickedandsinful, or that thereis no such
thingas sin'but as amanor womanjudgeththereof'. The
penalty was six months' imprisonment for thefirst offence,
banishment for thesecond, thedeathof afelonif theoffender
refusedto depart or returned. Judges operatingthis Act seemto
havestretchedit very muchinorder to apply it only to those
who genuinely taught that therewas no differencebetweenright
andwrong. They refusedto allowJ.P.S, clergy andjuries to
extendit to thesincereif unorthodox religious opinions of a
Ranter (or near-Ranter) likeRichardCoppin
or aQuaker
'Blasphemers' wereless well treatedintheArmy.
SalmonandLawrenceClarksonbothleft theArmy in1649,
JacobBauthumley inMarch1650.
Worst treatment of all
seems to havebeenmetedout by theEnglishauthorities in
Scotland, whereOliver Cromwell toldawomanRanter, wifeof
128. Hide, op. cit., pp. 36-8.
129. Clarkson, A SingleEye, inCohn, op. cit., pp. 350-53.
130. Seehis ownaccount of thevery sympathetic attitudeof Chief
BaronWilde, Serjeant Green, JudgeHuttonandSerjeant Glynnein
1651-4Truths Testimony, pp. 31-71, 85-8). Major-General Kelsey was
muchtougher in1655(seep. 222below).
131. W. Deusbury, TrueProphedeof theMightyDayof theLord
(1655), pp. 5-15: JudgeHaleandJudgeWindhamvery sympathetic.
132. A. L. Morton, TheWorldof theRanters, p. 104.
133.1owethis informationtoMr McGregor's B.Litt. Thesis.
alieutenant, that 'shewas so vileacreatureas hethought her
unworthy to live*.
A year earlier Lieutenant WilliamJackson
was accused, amongother things, of believingGodto bethe
author of sin, andthat he(Jackson) was as perfect thenas he
ever shouldbe.
In1656, inDumfriesshire, 'Alexander Agnew,
commonly called"Jock of BroadScotland", was condemnedto
behangedfor denyingthat Christ was God, that theHoly
Ghost existed, that amanhas asoul or thereis aheavenor a
hell, or that theScriptures arethewordof God. Hedidnot
believethat hewas asinner or that prayer hadany efficacy.
Hehadnothingto do withGod, Jock said; Godwas very
greedy. 'Henever receivedanythingfromGodbut fromnature.'
Hewas accusedof broadcastingtheseviews 'to theentangling,
deludingandseducing of thecommonpeople'.
Heseems to
havebeenanearly martyr of popular rationalism.
But theRanters werenot by naturemartyrs. LikeLollards
andFamilists beforethem, they usually recantedwhencalled
uponto do so, thoughsometimes, likeCoppe, very deviously.
Indeed, if thereis no immortality, thesatisfactions of martyr-
domareless obvious: resistanceto thedeathwouldcall for a
deeper andmoreconsistently workedout ideology thanmost
Ranters had. Therevolutionary movement, moreover, was in
declinebeforetheRanters appearedonthescene. Marian
martyrs chosedeathwheretheir Lollardpredecessors would
haverecanted, because(amongother things) theadvances of
EdwardVI's reignhadgivenatremendous boost to their
morale. But fromthe1650s, apart fromacourageous and
already committedmanlikeJohnBidletheSocinian,
thosewho passionately believedthat Christ's kingdomwas not
134. Mercurius PoMcus, 23May-5June165L I owethis reference
to Mr McGregor's Thesis.
135. Firth, Cromwell's Army, p. 408; cf. pp. 288-9, 400. William
Franklin's discipleHenry Dixonheldsimilar views (H. Ellis, Pseudo-
christus, 1650, pp. 32, 37); cf. TheArraignment andTryall, witha
Declarationof theRanters, p. 6; Theauraujohnhis Theous Ori (1651),
p. 35.
136. Mercurius PoliHcus, 3July 1656, No. 316, pp. 7064-6.
137. Seepp. 212-13below.
138. Seep. 166above.
of this worldhadthecourageto resist unto death. Oneof the
most important reasons for thesurvival of theQuakers was
their stoutness under persecutiononwhicheventheir enemies
Coppewas anOxfordundergraduatefromWarwick. After
actingas preacher to anArmy garrison, hebecameleader of
thedrinking, smoking, swearingRanters in1649, at theageof
thirty. Inthat year hepublishedSomeSweet Sips of some
Spirituall Wine, followedby his two FieryFlyingRolls, a
powerful pieceof writing, inaprosestyleunlikeanythingelse
Coppe's messagewas deliveredfrom'my most excellent
majesty andeternal glory (inme) ... who amuniversal love,
andwhoseserviceis perfect freedomandpurelibertinism'. It
was that sinandtransgressionis finishedandended. God,
'that mighty Leveller', would'overturn, overturn, overturn
After bishops, kings andlords, it was theturnof the'surviving
great ones' to succumbto theLevellers. 'Honour, nobility,
gentility, property, superfluity, etc.' hadbeen'thefather of
hellish, horridpride,... yeathecauseof all thebloodthat hath
ever beenshed, fromthebloodof therighteous Abel to the
bloodof thelast Levellers that wereshot to death'. TheLevellers
diedmartyrs for their Godandtheir country: their bloodcries
for vengeance. Now'theneck of horridpride' must bechopped
off at oneblow, that 'parity, equality, community' might estab-
lish'universal love, universal peace, andperfect freedom'. 'The
very shadowof levelling, sword levelling, man levelling,
frightedyou(andwho ... canblameyou, becauseit shook
your kingdom?) but nowthesubstantiality of levellingis
Coppe disavowed both 'sword-levelling' and 'digging-
Thebetrayal of theLevellers hadproducedagreat
disillusioninhim. But his pacifismwas different fromthat which
139. SeeReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, pp. 436-7.
140. Coppe, A FieryFlyingRoll, I, pp. 1-5,11.
Quakers werelater to profess. 'Not by sword; we(holily) scorn
to fight for anything; wehadas lief bedeaddrunk every day
of theweek, andliewithwhores i'thmarket place; andaccount
themas goodactions as takingthepoor abusedenslavedplough-
man's money fromhim... for killingof men.' Thedoleful cries
of poor prisoners,
"Bread, bread, breadfor theLord's sake"
piercemineears andheart, I canno longer forbear.* Therulers
must 'bowbeforethesepoor, nasty, lousy, raggedwretches'
andset themfree. 'Hidenot thyself fromthineown flesh, from
acripple, arogue, abeggar,... awhoremonger, athief, etc.,
he's thineownflesh.'
It is worthquotingat somelength, to giveanideaof Coppe's
highly personal style:
Thouhast many bags of money, andbeholdI (theLord) comeas
athief inthenight, withmy sworddrawninmy hand, andlikea
thief as I am- I say deliver your purse, deliver sirrah! deliver or
ril cut thy throat
I say (oncemore) deliver, deliver my money... to rogues, thieves,
whores andcutpurses, who arefleshof thy flesh, andevery whit
as goodas thyself inmineeye, who areready to starveinplaguy
gaols andnasty dungeons ...
Theplagueof Godis inyour purses, barns, houses, horses, mur-
rainwill takeyour hogs (Oyefat swineof theearth) who shall
shortly go to theknifeandbehungupintheroof, except
Didyounot seemy hand, this last year, stretchedout?
Youdidnot see.
My handis stretchedout still
Your goldandsilver, thoughyoucan't seeit, is cankered...
Therust of your silver, I say* shall eat your fleshas it were
HaveALL THINGS common, or elsetheplagueof Godwill rot
andconsumeall that youhave.
Coppedescribedhowintheopenstreets hedemonstrated
against coaches andhundreds of menandwomenof greater
rank, 'gnashingwithmy teethat someof them,... fallingdown
flat uponthegroundbeforerogues, beggars, cripples'. 'Howl,
141. Coppe, I, pp. 1-5; Cohn, op. dt., pp. 362-3.
142. Cohn, op. cit., p. 365.
howl, yenobles, howl honourable, howl yerichmenfor the
miseries that arecominguponyou... We'll eat our bread
together insingleness of heart, we'll break breadfromhouse
to house.' 'Thetruecommunionamongst menis to haveall
things commonandto call nothingonehathone's own.'
In1650theFieryFlyingRolls werecondemnedby Parlia-
ment to bepublicly burnt, as containing'many horridblas-
phemies'. Thetwo Acts of 10May and9August 1650,' Coppe
tells us, *wereput out becauseof me.' Coppehimself was ex-
aminedby Parliament's Committeeof Examinations, andcom-
mittedto Newgate. InJanuary heissuedapartial recantation,
andinMay afuller one. Eventhis is pretty qualified. Coppe
complainedthat many errors havebeenwrongly attributedto
him. Heassertedtheexistenceof sin, but took careto emphasize
that therewere'littlethieves andgreat thieves ... littlemur-
derers andgreat murderers. All aresinners. Sinners all. What
then? Arewebetter thanthey? No, inno wise.'
theexistenceof God, anddeniedthat manwas God. But man
is apartaker of thedivinenature, andGodcancommandany-
thing, andso canfreemenfromhis owncommandments. 'God
forbids killing, but tells Abrahamto slay his son; adultery, but
tells Hoseato takeawifeof whoredoms.' Hetautologically
denounced'thecommunity whichis sinful,' but addedthat 'if
fleshof my fleshbeready to perish,... if I havebreadit shall
or shouldbehis'.
Coppeagreedthat adultery, fornication
anduncleanness weresins, but emphasizedthat thosethat cry
out against adultery or uncleanness inothers weregreatly guilty
of heart-adultery. Thesins hechoseto stress werepride,
covetousness, hypocrisy, oppression, tyranny, unmercifulness,
Thelayingof nets, traps andsnares for thefeet of our neighbours
is asin, whether menimagineit to beso or no; andso is thenot
undoingof heavy burdens, thenot lettingtheoppressedgo free,
143. Coppe, A FieryFlyingRoll, Part II, pp. 18-19, 21; Cohn, op. cit.,
pp. 368, 372.
144. Copps Returntothewayes of Truth(1651), p. 4.
145. ibid., pp. 8-9,14,24-5.
thenot healingevery yoke, andthenot dealingof breadto the
hungry [etc., etc.],... whether menimagineit to benoor no.
No wonder not all his contemporaries wereimpressedby his
Coppeand'agreat company of Ranters' cameto
seeGeorgeFox inprisonin1655: agooddeal of drink and
tobacco was consumed, to Fox's annoyance, andsomefamiliar
Ranter tenets werevented.
After therestorationCoppe
changedhis nameandpractisedphysic. Hesometimes preached,
but whenhediedin1672hewas buriedintheparishchurch
of Barnes inSurrey. InA Character of a trueChristian, pub-
lishedposthumously, Coppestill assertedthat 'evil andgood
theLorddothbless'. But of himself hesaid:
Wholly he's resigned
Unto theunconfined...
Whenself is swept away andgone
Hesays andlives, God's will bedone.
In1650theRanters wereknownas Coppinites or Claxton-
Thereis theless needto writeat lengthonLawrence
Clarkson(or Claxton) sinceMr A. L. Morton's admirable
Bornat Preston, brought upamongLancashirePuri-
tans, heservedintheNewModel Army.
itinerant preacher, heldalivingat Pulhamfor ashort timetill
hewas turnedout for preachinguniversal salvation. Hewas
thensuccessively aBaptist and(under theinfluenceof Erbery)
146. Copps Returntothewayes of Truth, pp. 19-21.
147. J. Tickell, TheBottomles Pit SmoakinginFamilisme(1652)
148. Fox, Journal, I, p. 212.
149. A. Coppe, A Character of a trueChristian(1680), singlesheet
150. [Anon.] TheRoutingof theRanters, sig. A 2.
151. Morton, TheWorldof theRanters, pp. 115-42.
152. Clarkson's first publicationwas dedicatedto theMayor, Alder-
menandinhabitants of Preston(TruthReleasedfromPrison, toIts For-
mer Libertie, 1646), as Winstanley haddedicatedhis to his beloved
countrymenof Lancashire(TheMysterieof God, 1648).
aSeeker, "preachingfor monies' ineachfaith. In1647hepub-
lishedanear-Leveller pamphlet of somepower, A Generdll
Chargeor Impeachment of HighTreason, inthenameof
JusticeEquity, against theCommunalityof England. This
seems to imitateOverton's controversial style, thoughit was
not so well done. It was 'publishedfor theredemption... of
thelong-lost freedomof thefreebornsubjects of England'. 'We
darenot contradict,' Clarkson's Commonalty naively saidof
Parliament, because'they areour lords, our patrons andim-
propriators.' If wedo, 'they will opposeus, imprisonus, beggar
Who aretheoppressors but thenobility andgentry [asks Ex-
periencedReason], andwho areoppressed, if not theyeoman,
thefarmer, thetradesmanandthelike? ... Haveyounot chosen
oppressors to redeemyoufromoppression? ... It is naturally in-
bredinthemajor part of thenobility andgentry ... to judgethe
poor but fools, andthemselves wise, andthereforewhenyouthe
commonalty callethaParliament they areconfident suchmust be
chosenthat arethenoblest andrichest ... Your slavery is their
liberty, your poverty is their prosperity ... Peaceis their ruin,...
by war they areenriched... Peaceis their war, peaceis their
Taxes robthepoor to pay therich, andmenthat haveno more
religionthanahorseact as censors of other men's writings.
As so oftenwiththeradicals, Clarksonwas fiercelyhostileto
theclerical professionwhichhehadso recently quitted.
Thousands better thanyour parishpriests havesalutedthe
gallows. It is morecommendableto takeapurseby thehighway
thancompel any of theparishto maintainsuchthat seek their
ruin, whosedoctrineis poisonableto their consciences.'
Inhis Ranter periodClarksonheldthat Godwas inall living
things andinall matter. Therewas no external heavenor hell,
no resurrectionof thebody: 'that placecalledheavenwould
becomeahell to thebody.' 'I really believedno Moses, Prophets,
Christ or Apostles.' All power andall acts, hethought, arefrom
God, andthereforethereis no act whatsoever that is sinful
153. Clarkson, A Generall Charge, pp. 10-14,17-18,27.
beforeGod, includingthecrucifixionof Christ
really didteachthat
thereis no suchact as drunkenness, adultery andtheft inGod. . •
Sinhathits conceptiononly intheimagination... What act so-
ever is doneby theeinlight andlove, is light andlovely, though
it bethat act calledadultery ... No matter what Scripture, saints
or churches say, if that withintheedo not condemnthee, thou
shalt not becondemned.
This sounds very shocking, but it is worthremindingourselves
that Luther hadpreachedWhatsoever thoushalt observeupon
liberty andof love, is godly; but if thouobserveanythingof
necessity, it is ungodly.
'If anadultery couldbecommitted
inthefaith, it wouldno longer beasin.'
saidthat 'all external things [are] subject to our liberty, pro-
videdthenatureof that liberty approves itself to our minds
as beforeGod'. Theconsciences of believers may riseabove
theLaw, andmay forget thewholerighteousness of theLaw.'
Calvinhedgedsuchphrases about withsafeguards; but wecan
seehoweasily his doctrinetoppledover into Antinomianism.
Sir Thomas Overbury was consciously caricaturingwhenhe
describedhis Precisianas onewho 'will not stick to commit
fornicationor adultery so it bedoneinthefear of God'.
But it was very near theknuckle. All that was neededwas
assuranceof election, of Christ withinyou.
'Supposeabeliever commit adultery andmurder,' mused
Tobias Crisp; still he'cannot commit thosesins that cangive
occasionto himto suspect that if hecomepresently to Christ,
hewouldcast himoff'. Crispinsertedmany qualifications,
but herecognizedhimself that 'theenemies of thegospel will
154. Clarkson, A SingleEye, sig. A 1verso, pp. 7-8, 13, 15-16; The
Lost SheepFound, p. 33.
155. Clarkson, A SingleEye, p. 8-12,16.
156. M. Luther, Thirty-four Sermons (trans. WilliamGace, 1747), p.
281; H. Haydn, TheCounter-Renaissance(NewYork, 1950), p. 485.
157. Calvin, TheInstitutes of theChristianReligion, II, pp. 135, 683.
158. Ed. E. F. Rimbault, TheMiscellaneous Works ...of Sir Thomas
Overbury(1890), p. 102. Overbury diedin1613andhis Characters were
makeanevil construction
of his doctrine.
Another inter-
mediary betweenLuther andtheradicals of theRevolution
was Robert Towne, curateof various places intheWest
Ridingof YorkshireandinLancashire, who inJuly 1640
hadto disclaimbeingaGrindletonian. If men'believesin,
deathandthecurseto beabolished', hewrote, 'they are
abolished. They that believeonChrist areno sinners.' This
passageis sandwichedbetweentwo quotations fromLuther,
andTownegoes onto ask 'Arewefor this Familists?' Then
Luther is aFamilist. To faiththereis no sin, nor any unclean
Clarksondevelopedthis considerably further. 'Nonecanbe
freefromsintill inpurity it beactedas no sin, for I judged
that pureto mewhichto adark understandingwas impure:
for to thepureall things, yeaall acts werepure.' 'So that see
what I can, act what I will, all is but onemost sweet and
lovely ... Without act, no life; without life, no perfection.'
Clarksonwas already practisingwhat hepreached, escaping
fromone'maidof pretty knowledge, who withmy doctrine
was affected', givinghis body to other womenwhilst being
'careful for moneys for my wife', travellingthecountry with
Mrs Star, andresistingtheopportunity when'Dr Paget's maid
strippedherself nakedandskipped' at aRanters' meeting.
In1650Clarksonwas arrestedandexamined. As ona
previous occasionhestoodonhis rights as 'afreebornsubject'
andrefusedto answer incriminatingquestions. Hewas sen-
tencedto banishment, but thesentencewas not carriedout,
andhewas releasedamonthlater. This lenient treatment pre-
sumably means that herecantedmoreeasily thanCoppe:
henceforthwehear no moreof Clarksonas 'theCaptainof
theRant'. Heremainedacloseassociateof Major William
159. Crisp, CompleteWorks (1832), I, pp. 224-6; cf. Christ AloneEx-
alted(1648), III, p. 326.
160. R. Towne, TheAssertionof Grace(n.d. - ? before1648), p. 73;
Townewas attackedinSamuel Rutherford's A Modest Surveyof the
Secrets of Antinomianism(1648), p. 25.
161. Cohn, op. cit., pp. 345-6, 353; Morton, op. cit., pp. 131, 135. For
Winstanley's measuredandfriendly scepticismabout Clarkson's 'single
eye' seeSabine, pp. 477-8,485-6.
Rainborough, brother of themorefamous Colonel Thomas
Rainborough. WilliambecameaRanter.
After aperiod
as anastrologer, andmagician, Clarksonwas convertedby
JohnReeve, another ex-Ranter, to what was later called
Muggletonianism. In1659Clarksonrebuked'rantingdevils'
who continuedto say that Godwas theauthor of evil andthat
'for themsinis no sin'.
JosephSalmonappears to havebeenanofficer intheArmy.
His first pamphlet, Anti-Christ inMan, was publishedin1647.
Inthis, likeErbery, hedeclaredthat 'thespirit of Antichrist...
is inall of us'. Thouneedest not go to Rome, Canterbury or
Westminster, but thoumayst findthat Antichrist inthee, deny-
ingJesus Christ to becomeinthy flesh.' 'Thy heart is that
templeof Godwherethis great Whoresitteth.' TheWhore
appearedinprayer, infasting, inall outwardordinances and
forms of worship.
At atimewhenAntichrist was variously
identifiedwiththePopeor theroyalists, but was normally a
real personor groupof persons, this must haveseemedvery
strangeandsubversivedoctrine. For SalmontheBiblical nar-
ratives wereto betakenas allegories of what went onwithin
Thouart thereforeto expect Jesus to comc to
judgment inthee, andtheendof theworldto beinthee' and
inthis life. 'This last day, this spiritual appearanceof Christ
inmenandwomen, is thevery originof all thesecommotions
that areamongst us ... becausethelast day dawns, andthe
star of glory is risenmoreinonethaninanother.' 'Theking-
domof Godis come.'
In1649hepublishedA rout, a rout. This was 'intended
especially to my fellowsoldiers, thoseof theinferior rank and
quality'. Hehadvery littlefromtheLordto declareto the
162. Morton, op. dt., pp. 98, 107,133.
163. Clarkson, Lookabout you(1659), pp. 92-3.
164. Salmon, Anti-Christ in Man, sig. A. 2v, pp. 10-16, 34
165. cf. pp. 143above, 261-8below.
166. Salmon, op. dt., pp. 47-53,58.
generals as yet. They were, hethought, 'therodof God... In
this day of theLord's wrathyoustrikethroughking, gentry
andnobility; they all fall beforeyou'. But themotives of the
Army leaders werenot disinterested: they werereally aiming
only at self-preservation. TheLord'will erelongcast his rod
into thefireof burninganddestruction. It will beasweet de-
struction,' saidSalmonwithsomerelish: 'wait for it.'
swordsolvednothing: thosewho fear to lay downtheir swords
lest they shouldlosetheir liberties 'areshut upinadarkness;
... youfear theworld, andthey areafraidof you'. But soon
'thewholeedificeof this swordly power shall beannihilated.
TheLordwill diewithit, init (or rather out of it andfrom
it), andinthis deathhewill destroy morethanyouhavedone
all your lives' time.' Apart fromRichardCoppin, this is the
only referenceI havecomeacross duringthis periodto the
deathof God.
Salmontoo was arrestedintheround-upof Ranters in1650,
preachingto crowds inthestreet fromhis prisoninCoventry.
Hewas accusedof decryingall forms whatsoever, by allegoriz-
For all his mystical quietism, it appears
that hetoo sworemany desperateoaths.
Hewas releasedin
1650onpromiseof writingarecantation. This was Heights in
Depths andDepths inHeights, publishedinthefollowingyear.
Salmonnowsharedthegeneral disillusion.
Theworldtravails perpetually, every oneis swollenfull, bigwith
particularity of interest,. •. labouringto bringforthsomeonething,
someanother, andall bringforthnothingbut windandconfusion
... Thereis aset timefor every purposeunder heaven; vanity hath
its timealso ... It may beI amnowcastingstones against thewind
(that is but vanity) ... I havelivedto seeanendto all perfec-
167. Salmon, A rout, a rout, pp. 4-5,15-16,21.
168. ibid., pp. 9-13. Seep. 221below. But cf. Clarkson, A SingleEye,
sig. A 1verso.
169. A Perfect Diurnall, 1-8April 1650, p. 175; Walter Rosewell, The
Serpents SubtiltyDiscovered(1656), p. 1.
170. Leyborne-PophamMSS. (H.M.C.), p57.
171. Salmon, Heights inDepths andDepths inHeights, Preface, p. 7.
HehadaHobbist visionof 'thewholeworldconsuminginthe
fireof envy oneagainst another', fromwhichquietismwas
theonly escape. 'I amnowat rest inthesilent deeps of eternity,
sunk into theabyss of silence, and(havingshot this perilous
gulf) amsafely arrivedinto thebosomof love, thelandof
rest... My great desire(andthat whereinI most delight) is to
seeandsay nothing.'
Heemigratedto Barbados, wherein
1682he(or someoneelseof thesamename, describedas a
shoemaker) was introublefor tryingto organizeanAnabaptist
JacobBauthumley was aLeicestershireshoemaker, andwas
still servingintheArmy whenhepublishedTheLight and
DarkSides of GodinNovember 1650. This book was con-
demnedas blasphemous, andBauthumley was boredthrough
thetongue. Headvancedthepantheistic viewalready familiar
amongRanters. 'Not theleast flower or herbinthefieldbut
thereis thedivinebeingby whichit is that whichit is; and
as that departs out of it, so it comes to nothing, andso it is to-
day clothedby God, andtomorrowcast into theoven.' 'All
thecreatures intheworld... arebut oneentirebeing.' 'Nothing
that partakes of thedivinenature, or is of God, but is God.'
Godcannot loveonemanmorethananother: all arealiketo
him. God'as really andsubstantially dwells inthefleshof
other menandcreatures as well as inthemanChrist'. Where
Goddwells is 'all theheavenI look ever to enjoy'.
properly thedark sideof God, whichis amereprivationof
light.' 'Godis no moreprovokedby sinto wraththanheis
alluredto blessingby my holiness.' Godis 'glorifiedinsin'. The
reasonwhy wecall somemenwickedandsomegodly is not
anythingintheman, but as thedivinebeingappears more
gloriously inthem... Accordingto thecounsel of his will,
172. Salmon, Heights inDepths andDepths inHeights, p. 28.
173. R. S. Dunn, Sugar andStaves (1973), p. 103. I oweSalmon's
emigrationto Mr McGregor's Thesis.
174. Bauthumley, TheLight andDarkSides of God, pp. 4, 14.
they didno morethat crucifiedChrist, thanthey that didem-
Hell andthedevil arewithinus: otherwisewemust imagine
ahell inGod. Thereis no hell hereafter. Thedevil is not a
person, theresurrectionis spiritual andinward, not of the
fleshhereafter. TheBiblespeaks to us inlanguagewecanun-
derstand: thestories of CainandAbel, Isaac andIshmael,
JacobandEsauareallegories, not literal truths. Weshould
not beguidedby theBiblebut by themindof Godwithinus.
It is indeedsinful to performanactionauthorizedby theBible
if wearepersuadedinour ownspirit that weshouldnot do
it. Many of thesepositions weresharedby Milton.
ley's was aquietist formof Ranterism, thoughhetoo shocked
GeorgeFox by participatinginscenes of singing, whistling
anddancing; but Bauthumley endedas arespectablecitizen
of his nativeLeicester, library-keeper andserjeant-at-mace.
RichardCoppindeniedbeingaRanter, but his DivineTeach-
ings, publishedinSeptember 1649, was influential amongRan-
ters; andit is difficult to think of any label whichwould
describehimbetter. Hewas calledasuccessor to JosephSalmon.
DivineTeachings was commendedby theLeveller newspaper
TheModerateas *anexcellent book'.
Coppinwas aclergy-
manof theestablishedchurchuntil 1648, after whichdatehe
becameanitinerant preacher of universal salvation.
Godis all inone, andso is ineveryone,' hewroteinDivine
Teachings. Thesameall whichis inme, is inthee; thesame
Godwhichdwells inonedwells inanother, eveninall; andin
thesamefullness as heis inone, heis ineveryone.' God's elect
areno longer anoligarchy: protestant doctrineis carriedto
175. Bauthumley, pp. 33,36, 39.
176. ibid., pp. 14, 28-31, 45-9, 52, 57, 71-84. Seep. 264, Appendix 2
177. Morton, op. dt., pp. 96-7.
178. Rosewell, TheSerpents SubtiltyDiscovered, pp. 1, 16; Morton,
op. dt, p. 98.
themost extremedemocratic conclusions. WeandtheScrip-
ture,' wroteCoppin, 'aregraves inwhichthis glorious Godlies
deadandburied'; throughhis resurrectioninus wecometo
aright knowledgeof him, ourselves andthem. Godis both
teacher andlearner.
Godis inall believers; thereis no heaven
andhell except inman's ownconscience. Godis inhell as well
as inheaven. Believers today haveafuller revelationthan
prophets andapostles. Godnowreveals himself inthepoor
not only poor as touchingtheworld, but poor andignorant inthe
things of God... Thefleshof man... needs to haveno greater tor-
ment to devour it, thanthelight of God's majesty appearingand
dwellingintheheart of thecreature... Goddwells inus, as ina
cloudof darkness ... If this seed, whichis Godhimself,. is not
apprehendedby us to beriseninus, thendarkness prevails over
our wills and... breaks theunity of all things, andbreeds ... no-
thingbut trouble, distrust andconfusion. Thus youmay seethat
our troublearises fromour not seeingGodto beriseninus ...
This is amarvellous thingindeedto all that knowit not; but ex-
periencegoes beyondall things.
Godcannot beangry withthepersonof any mancreatedby
him. His judgments arecast 'not uponus, but uponsininus,
to its destructionandour salvation'. Thenewmansinneth
Coppintreatedthestories of theFall andtheDay of Judg-
ment as allegories. 'Whenamanis converted, that is thelast
Therewas no resurrectionof 'this earthly body'. In
aphrasewhichanticipates Milton's 'A Paradisewithinthee,
happier far', Coppinwrotethat mancouldreturnto 'amore
excellent state' thantheParadisehehadlost, throughthe
birthof Christ'
Thosewho couldnot admit 'all sinand
179. Coppin, DivineTeachings (2ndedn, 1653), pp. 8, 10; Man's
RighteousnesseExamined(1652), pp. 9-11; cf. p. 218above.
180. DivineTeachings, pp. 3, 8-9, 23-4, 75-6, 92-101,107; TheExalta-
tionof All Things inChrist (1649), pp. 1,33-7,46.
181. JohnOsborne, TheWorldtoCome... also... a Conference
betweenhimandRichardCoppinof Westwdl <1651), p. 68.
182. Coppin, A Blowat theSerpent (1656), pp. 87-8; A Man-Child
Born(1654), p. 1; TheExaltationof All Things, pp. 17-18.
transgressionto befinished' striveto retainakingdomfor
thedevil andthemselves.
Coppinclaimedthat 'whatsoever
I didspeak or write, it was ... my ownexperienceintheLord'.
Hehadno usefor theestablishedchurch. 'What is thechurch
but thetownhouse, inwhichthepriest, thetownservant, is to
do thetown's work, for whichhereceives thetown's wages?'
Fortunately 'theantichristianlawof compellingmento church*
was no longer inforce, sincetheact of 1650abolishedcom-
pulsory Sunday churchattendance. Theclergy however still
'liveby tellingpeopleof their sins'. 'But inthekingdomof
Christ, whichis afreekingdom, thereis no ... sinunpardoned.'
Thetorments of hell, Coppinsaidinsomewhat papistical
fashion, werenot external; their effect was purgatory.
In1655Coppinwas arrestedby Major-General Kelsey after
aseries of sermons inRochester cathedral inwhichthe
preacher madeclear thedemocratic consequences of his doc-
trine: 'No mancanbeassuredof his salvation, except hesee
thesamesalvationinthesameSaviour for all menas well as
for himself, whichis to lovehis neighbour as himself.'
sucharguments Coppinwoundhimself 'into thebosoms of (a
many-headedmonster) therudemultitude'. Hewas accusedof
relyingon'aparty of soldiers andothers that wouldhave
tumultedandmutiniedfor him'. Heandhis supporters were
'churchandstateLevellers'. Hegot six months injail and
Major-General Kelsey recommendedthat thetroops shouldbe
removedfromcontact withthetaintedtownsmen.
remainedimpenitent: 'I will delight myself withtheworst of
menas well as withthebest.' Themanifestationof Christ with-
183. Coppin, Man's RighteousnesseExamined, p. 9-10, 18; cf. Saul
Smittenfor not SmitingAmalek(1653), p. 18; cf. Coppe, quotedonp.
184. Coppin, Truths Testimony(1655), pp. 15,20-21, 81; A Blowat the
Serpent, p. 18. Coppinwas infact accusedof playingtheCatholic and
Jesuit game, but by allegorizingtheScriptures andso showingthat they
areno safeguide(Rosewell, TheSerpents SubtiltyDiscovered, p. 16).
185. A Blowat theSerpent, p. 52.
186. ThurloeStatePapers (1742), IV, p. 486; Rosewell, op. tit., sig. A 3,
pp. 14-15; Morton, op. tit., p. 98.
inhim, hefelt, increasedpari passuwithmen's persecutionof
GeorgeFoster does not fit neatly into thecategory of either
Leveller or Ranter. Herepresents what was probably alarge
groupof menandwomenwho movedfromtheoneto the
other, never wholly masteringthephilosophy of either. (The
Levellers wereabranchthat sproutedforthof theRanters,'
thoughthis canhardly betruechronologi-
cally unless wethink of apre-existingbody of opinionfrom
whichLevellers andRanters emerged.) TheWarboys Baptists
thought of Foster as aprophet of theLevellers, who announced
'that thetimewas thenthat Godwouldloveall men, andrich
menshouldcast their goldandsilver about thestreets'.
This was avery degenerateversionof theteachingof either
constitutional Levellers or TrueLevellers, thoughit may come
closer to popular sentiment thanthemoresophisticatedtheories
whichimpress posterity.
Foster hadavisioninwhichhesawamanonawhitehorse
'cuttingdownall menandwomenthat hemet withthat were
higher thanthemiddlesort, andraisedupthosethat werelower
thanthemiddlesort, andmadethemall equal; andcriedout,
"Equality, equality, equality" ... I, theLordof Hosts have
donethis ... I will... makethelowandpoor equal withthe
rich'. TheLeveller martyrs Lockier andThompsonwouldnow
beavenged, thoughtheinstrument of God's vengeance, in
Foster's view, seems rather unexpectedly to havebeenGeneral
Fairfax. GoU *will makethosethat haveriches givethemto
themthat havenone'. And'thereshall beno power andno
lawbesides CtodV
187. Coppin, CruxChristi (1657), pp. 52,57.
188. Muggleton, A TrueInterpretationof All theChief Texts .. .of the
wholeBookof theRevelationof St. John(1665), p. 106.
189. FenstantonRecords, p. 269.
190. Foster, TheSoundingof theLast Trumpet (1650), pp. 17-18, 42,
46, 50-52; cf. CaptainFrancis Freeman, Light VanquishingDarknesse
(1650), pp. 56-7.
God, that mighty Leveller', will root upall powers, whether
kings or parliaments, andwill makeall common. Thewhole
earthshall beatreasurefor all andnot for some. 'Andif any
say, "Why do they takeaway my goods?"' theanswer will
be'"Wehaveneedof them, andwe, inthenameof our
Creator, takethemfor to makeuseof them" ... Andwhat will
yousay to this, Oyougreat menthat haveabundance? ...
Thesaints, evenpoor despisedsectaries, shall seeandknow
that all things aretheirs.' 'Self-loveshall cease... andthere
will beno complaininginour streets, as thereis now, crying
out for "Bread, bread, for theLord's sake."' 'I pass this sen-
tenceonyou, Orichmen, that I will utterly destroy you,' and
themeaner sort will berestoredfromtheslavery andbondage
inwhichtherichhavekept them. Aninternational revolution
wouldfollow, leadingto thegatheringof theJews inItaly in
1651, thedestructionof PopeandGreat Turk by 1656, and
theestablishment everywhereof aclassless society.
Foster anticipatedtheverdict that has probably already
formeditself inthereader's mind. 'Let not thenotionof mad-
ness possess your spirits,' hewrote, 'as for youto think that I
ammad; but rather that it is thepleasureof theFather to turn
theworldupsidedown, andso to makeuseof meas hedidof
his sonJesus Christ,' who 'diddo things contrary to thecustom
of theworldinthosedays.' AndFoster signedhimself with
theRanter formula, 'oneof your fellow-creatures'.
It wouldbeniceto knowmoreabout JohnPordageinthe
periodinwhichhetells us that 'notions of Ranterism... were
everywherefrequently discoursedof'.
Pordagewas theson
of aLondonmerchant, curateat Readingintheearly 1640s,
191. Foster, ThePouringForthof theSeventhandLast Viall (1650),
sig. A 3, pp. 7, 11-12, 15, 26, 64-6. Thereseemto beseveral verbal
reminiscences of Winstanley inFoster's writings.
192. ibid., sig. A 2, sig. a. For 'fellow-creatures' seeTheArraignment
andTryall with aDeclaration of theRanters, p. 6.
193. J. Pordage, InnocenceappearingThroughthedarkMists of Pre-
tendedGuilt (1655), p. 25.
rector of Bradfieldnot later than1647- oneof therichest liv-
ings inthecounty. Hewas later knownas adiscipleof Jacob
BoehmeandaPhiladelphian. Whenhewas introubleinBerk-
shirein1655hewas accusedof sometraditional Ranter views
- of denyingthehistorical Christ andbelievingthat Godwas
inevery man; of saying'it was aweakness to betroubledfor
sins'; andthat marriagewas avery wickedthing; of beinga
But hewas also accusedof sayingthat therewould
soonbeno Parliament, magistrateor government inEngland;
that thesaints wouldtakeover theestates of thewickedfor
themselves, andthewickedshouldbetheir slaves, that he
caredno morefor thehigher powers thanfor thedust beneath
his feet.
Hewas also involvedinguilt by association. He
knewErbery. Hekept openhouseat Bradfield, andavery
remarkablecollectionof menseemto havetakenadvantage
of this to stay withhimfor longperiods. Amongthesewere
WilliamEverardtheDigger (or Robert EverardtheAgita-
Abiezer CoppeandThomas Tany (Theaureaujohn). 'The
chief personof his family communion,' RichardBaxter tells
us of Pordage, was 'agentlemanandstudent of All Souls in
Oxford', who was 'muchagainst property, andagainst relations
of magistrates, subjects, husbands, wives, masters, servants,
PordagedefendedAbiezer Coppe, andexpressedap-
proval of Coppin's writings. InPordagehimself 'that inward
spiritual eye, whichhathbeenlockedupandshut by theFall'
was 'openedinanextraordinary way'. It revealedto himthat
'thereweretwo invisibleprinciples ... two spiritual worlds
extendingandpenetratingthroughout this wholevisiblecrea-
Pordagewas allegedto beafollower of Thomas Tany, who
194. Pordage, op. cit., pp. 2, 19, 24, 71, 102; Nuttall, James Nayler, p.
5; D. Hirst,
TheRiddleof JohnPordage*, BoehmeSoc. Quarterly, I, 6
(1953-4), p. 6.
195. P. andR., p. 316.
196. Seepp. 284-6below.
197ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, pp. 77-8. Dr Nuttall identifies this man
as Thomas Bromley (James Nayler, pp. 3-6).
198. Christopher Fowler, DaemoniumMeridianum, pp. 60-61; Pordage,
opcit., p. 73.
*hathbeenquestionedfor holdingdangerous andunsound
opinions, as that thereis no hell, andthelike'.
Tany, who
adoptedthenameof Theaureaujohnat divinecommandon
23November 1649, was probably, as heingenuously con-
fessed, mad;
but his madness took somevery radical forms.
Hebelievedthat Godwas ineverything, andthat mancould
not losehis salvation. Hethought nevertheless that all religion
was 'alie, acheat, adeceit, for thereis but onetruth, and
that is love\
In1651hehadbeenindictedof blasphemous
words, together withCaptainRobert Norwood.
ber 1654Tany burnt theBibleinSt George's Fields 'because
thepeoplesay it is theWordof God, andit is not'.
thought that 'our lands beingfreedfromtheNormansubjec-
tion', inconsequenceof Parliament's victory inthecivil war,
"wemay lawfully claimour lands andinheritanceinthecom-
monwealth'; commonlands shouldreturnto thecommon
Tany hadsomeassociationwithJohnRobins and
withtheMuggletonians, by whomhewas denounced.
Thomas Webbe, of anoldWiltshireclothingfamily, was rector
of Langley Burhill. Hewas allegedto haveobtainedtheliving
199. Fowler, op. cit., pp. 32, 41, 53-5; Pordage, op. cit., pp. 9, 11-12.
200. T. Tani, TheNations Right inMagna Charta discussedwiththe
thingCalledParliament (1650[-1]), p. 8. Seep. 282below.
201. Theauraujohnhis Theous Apokolipekal (1651), pp. 5, 35; Theauro-
iohnHighPriest totheJewes his DisputivechallengetotheUniversities
of OxfordandCambridge(1651[-2]), p. 5.
202. Style, Reports, p. 312; cf. p. 177above. Theous Ori
pp. 69-78; cf.
ThauRamTanjah(1654) andTheauraujohnhis Aurora (1655) Epistle
203. AriseEvans, To theMost HighandMightyPrinceCharles II. ..
AnEpistle(1660), p. 51; Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, p. cxxvi.
204. Theaurojohn... his Disputivechallenge, p. 8.
205. Muggleton, A TrueInterpretationof theEleventhChapter of the
Revelationof St. John(1751), p. 180: first published1662; A TrueInter-
pretationof All theChief Texts ... of thewholeBookof theRevelation
of St. John(1665), p. 128; TheActs of theWitnesses, pp. 20-21, 44. See
also P. andR., pp. 84, 141-2, 316; my Antichrist inSeventeenth-Century
England, pp. 115,176.
onpromisingnot to accept tithes fromhis parishioners; and
to haveexpressedfromthepulpit ahopethat hewouldlive
longenoughto see'no suchthingas aparsonageor minister
inEngland'. Hemadesomevery disparagingremarks about
preachingingeneral, andhis owninparticular. A grouparound
himwas allegedto haveformeda'Babel of profaneness and
community' intheearly fifties. Webbespokeupfor Lilburne
andagainst Parliament duringthetrial of theLeveller leader
in1649; hepraisedCoppe, andin1650exchangedfriendly
letters with Joseph Salmon. The latter used a phrase
worthy of Blake: 'theLordgrant wemay knowtheworthof
hell, that wemay for ever scornheaven' - aphrasewhich
EphraimPagitt thought worthquoting.
put ontrial for adultery, thenliableto thedeathsentence, but
was acquitted, to thefury of local respectabilities. Hewas
allegedto havesaid'there's no heavenbut women, nor no hell
savemarriage'. Another witness assertedthat Webbeclaimed
to 'liveaboveordinances, andthat it was lawful for himto lie
withany woman'. Heenjoyedmusic andmixeddancing, wore
longshaggy hair andthought Moses was aconjuror. His
enemies, who werecountedamongtheenemies of theLevellers,
got himejectedby theCommitteefor PlunderedMinisters in
September. 'OSirrah, youknowthelaw, do you?' hewas told.
'Youareoneof Lilburne's faction, youshall bebanished.'
Thegeography of Ranterismhas not yet beenfinally settled.
Mr Mortonplaces themmainly intowns, intheNorthMid-
lands (Coventry, Leicestershire, Derbyshire- especially the
Peak District, Nottinghamshire); inCleveland, theWest Rid-
ing, Holderness, Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmorland, Corn-
Wemay addHuntingdonshire, Gloucestershire, Wilt-
206. E. Stokes, Esq., TheWiltshireRant (1652), esp. pp. 12-14, 47, 56;
V.C.H., Wiltshire, III, p. 102; Pagitt, Heresiography(1654), p. 144.
207. Stokes, op. cit., pp. 4, 12-13, 21-2, 43, 53, 61, 66. Marlowehad
thought Moses aconjurer (p. 175above). Seealso p. 283below.
208. Morton, op. cit., p. 111.
shire, PooleandWells, 'theseat of theoldRanters, Garment
InWellingborough, centreof support for first
Diggers andlater Quakers, therewereclearly Ranter influences
SincetheRanters were, so far as weknow, never organized,
it is difficult to ascertainwhat becameof their rank andfile
after theleaders hadbeenpickedoff in1650and1651. There
areslight indications. InLacock, Wiltshire, in1656, William
no Godor power rulingabovetheplanets, no Christ but thesun
that shines uponus; ... if theScriptures werea-makingagainthen
TomLampireof Melkshamwouldmakeas goodScriptures as the
Bible. Therewas neither heavennor hell except inaman's con-
science, for if hehadagoodfortuneanddidlivewell, that was
heaven; andif helivedpoor andmiserable, that was hell, for then
hewoulddielikeacowor ahorse.
Thomas Hibbordof thesamevillagesaid'Godwas inall
things; whatever sins hedidcommit, Godwas theauthor of
themall, andactedtheminhim. Hewouldsell all religions
for ajugof beer.'
This groupof Ranters may well have
beenconnected withthat aroundThomas Webbe. Some
Quakers associatedtheMuggletonians withRanters, no doubt
becauseof ReeveandClarkson.
Records havealso beenpreservedof discussions inthe
1650s betweenofficers of theBaptist churchat Fenstantonnear
Ely - avillagewhichtheDigger emissaries visitedin1650
209. [T. Collier] A Looking-Glassefor theQuakers, p. 16; for Joshua
Garment, discipleof JohnRobins and'prophet of themost highGod',
seeGarment's TheHebrews Deliveranceat hand(1651). See. also Nuttall,
EarlyQuaker Letters, p. 150; V.CMWiltshire, III, p. 102; A. R. Bayley,
TheGreat Civil War inDorset (Taunton, 1908), pp. 344-5; Thomas,
ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, p. 126.
210. Seep. 125above.
211. Ed. B. H. Cunnington, Records of theCountyof Wilts: being
extracts fromtheQuarter Sessions Great Rolls of theSeventeenthCentury
(Devizes, 1932), p. 231.
212. Muggleton, TheNeckof theQuakers Broken(1663), pp. 66-7;
seep. 217above.
213. Sabine, p. 441. Seep. 127above.
- andmembers who pickedupRanter views, thoughsometimes
they shadeoff into Quakerism. Rank-and-filemembers of the
churchwereexcommunicatedfor claiming'somemanifesta-
tions of theSpirit abovetheScriptures' (1651), for saying'the
Scripturewas but adeadletter
, andthat Godwas thecause
of evil actions. JohnandElizabethOfHey *weregrownto per-
fection', regardingtheApostles as 'imperfect creatures'. There
was no sin, they added. EdwardMayleandhis wife'didnot
desireto beinsuchbondage' as to observe'outward, cere-
monial andcarnal ordinances' (1652).
In1653Mrs Robert
Kent 'spakemany things whichsavouredof Rantism', claim-
ingthat shedidthewill of Godinall things. Mrs Paul Wayt
seemedno doubt whether therewereever suchpersons as the
VirginMary or Jesus Christ. 'Sheknewit was truthaccording
to ihehistory, but not accordingto themystery.' Fordam, a
tanner, thought it was no sinif amanshouldsteal his horse
'believingthat hehadright unto himequal withhim'. Mrs
WilliamAustin'lookedupontheScriptures as nothing, she
trampledthemunder her feet'. Shehad'as lief bewiththe
devil as withGod' - or withher Baptist interlocutor, sheadded.
'Hethat dieduponthecross at Jerusalem? Heis nothingto
me; I do not carefor him.' JohnHarvey 'was inthat condition
that hecouldnot sin'. Heandothers refusedto arguewith
theBaptist emissaries who lackedtheir experiences, but 'we
wouldnot believehis fancy whichhecalledexperience'.
EdmundHickhorngill, who lapsedfromtheHexhamchurch
to becomeaQuaker, soonattainedto 'abetter andhigher
dispensation'. 'Hepropounds no other ruleto himself but
his reason, whichif amansinnot against, heshall behappy
So weseeradical religionpassinginto rationalism.
GerrardWinstanley appears to havehadsometroublein
his Digger colony withRanters who joinedthecommunity
They attachedtoo muchimportance
to 'meat, drink, pleasureandwomen'; lack of work 'inflames
214. FenstantonRecords, pp. 2,8, 33-4.
215. ibid., pp. 73-9,88-93.
216. ibid., pp. 330-31.
217. Sabine, p. 364.
their hearts to quarrelling, killing, burninghouses or corn'*
Sexual promiscuity brokethepeaceinfamilies andledto idle-
ness, to aHippy-likeexistencefor whichothers hadto pay
by labour. It also ledto venereal disease, theincidenceof which
inEnglandhadpresumably increasedinthewakeof armies
andcampfollowers. Andthehigh-flownRanter generalizations
confusedthesimpler members of thecommunity. Winstanley
felt hehadto vindicatetheDiggers, who werethemselves
slanderedas Ranters: hedisclaimed'excessivecommunity of
women'. But hewas careful to add, evenwhiledenouncing
Ranter ideas, 'Let nonego about to suppress that ranting
power by their punishinghand... If thouwilt needs bepunish-
ing, thenseethoubewithout sinthyself.
It may havebeen
this experiencewithRanters whichconvincedWinstanley of
theneedto havelaws andrules inhis ideal community, and
punishments to deal withtheidleandtheignorant, theunruly
218. Sabine, pp. 399-403; cf. England* Spirit Unfoulded, ed. G. E.
Aylmer, P. andP., 40, pp. 14-15.
219. Sabine, pp. 526-7,535-6,539. Seep. 135above.
Thesethings gavethem[theQuakers] arough
who thought themturners of theworldupside
down, as indeedinsomesensethey were, but in
no other thanthat whereinPaul was so charged,
viz. tobringthings back totheir primitiveand
right order again.
w. PENN, PrefacetoGeorgeFox's Journal, I,
THE object of this chapter is not to writeahistory of the
early Quaker movement. Muchwork has beendoneonthis
sinceBraithwaite's admirableTheFirst Periodof Quakerism.
Inevitably any historianwritingabout theQuaker movement
is dazzledby thepersonality of GeorgeFox, whosegreat
Journal must beaprincipal source. By 1694theQuaker move-
ment was clearly Fox's movement. But inthe1650s this was
not clear. Yet Fox's Journal is naturally writtenwithagood
deal of hindsight, andevents andpersonalities 'of the1650s
havecertainly beenmodified, whether by Fox himself or by
his editors, inthelight of later experience. This is not to sug-
gest anythinglikedeliberatedistortion: simply that thestory
looks different whenyouknow, or think youknow, howit
ended: whenyour object inwritingis not merely to produce
acorrect recordbut to edify andconfirmintheir faithpeople
livingat theendof thestory, for whomthebeginningmeant
little, was already legendary.
Thus inFox's Journal James Nayler plays apart only
slightly greater thanthat of Trotsky inofficial Soviet histories
of theRussianRevolution. Yet inthe1650s many regarded
Nayler as the'chief leader', the'headQuaker inEngland'.
1. Pagitt, Heresiography(1654), pp. 135-6(shouldbe137-8, wrongly
'Hewrites all their books,' Colonel Cooper toldtheHouseof
Commons inDecember 1656. 'Cut off this fellowandyouwill
destroy thesect,' Mr Bondagreed.
Suchopinions wereper-
haps incorrect evenwhenthey wereuttered: but that they
wereexpressedshows that Fox was by no means clearly the
soleleader of theQuakers inthe1650s. I do not want to elevate
Nayler against Fox, or to suggest that Nayler ledaRanter
wingof theQuakers - thoughrivalries of personality as well
as of principlearesuggestedby thefamous occasionwhenFox
refusedto let Nayler kiss his faceor hand, andofferedhis
foot instead.
I want rather to suggest that thewholeearly
Quaker movement was far closer to theRanters inspirit than
its leaders later likedto recall, after they hadspent many weary
hours differentiatingthemselves fromRanters andex-Ranters.
It is perhaps ahelpfor us to look at early Quakers incon-
nectionwiththat worldof theRanters inwhichQuakerism
grewup, rather thanthroughthespectacles of therespectable
Quakers of thelater seventeenthcentury.
ReadingFox's Journal oneat oncebecomes awareof agap
betweentheevents describedandtheapparent reasons for
them. Whydidsuchvast crowds gather to hear Fox? Why
andhowwereso many convinced? Why werepriests, some
magistrates, andsomeof the'rabble' so enraged? Answers to
thesequestions do not emergefromthestory as Fox tells it
His preachingseems to consist mainly of pious exhortations
hardly likely to beunacceptableto any Puritans. Wehaveto
go back to thepamphlet literatureof the1650s to discover
what all thefuss was about.
Not indeedthat thereis any great theological novelty or
interest inFox's works of the1650s, any morethaninthe
Journal. Heinterrupts churchservices; hedenounces. Hepro-
claims thedoctrineof thespirit within, whichwas already wide-
spread. Fox in1648'foundnonethat couldbear to betoldthat
numberedinoriginal); [T. Collier] A Looking-Glassefor theQuakers
(1657), p. 17; ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, p. 77.
2. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, p. 98.
3. Braithwaite, TheSecondPeriodof Quakerism(1919), p. 250.
4. cf. Nuttall, James Nayler, passim.
shouldcometo ... that righteousness andtheholiness
ht Adamwas inbeforehefell*. Wecanwell believethat this
asa great revelation to himandto someof his hearers: but
neither this doctrine, his claimto betheSonof God, nor his
belief that Christ diedfor all men, werenew, as wehaveseen.
One mayconjecture that Fox's 'great openings concerningthe
things writtenintheRevelations' meant moreto himandto
hisaudience whenhedeclaredthemthanwhenhe wroteup
Theragecausedby early Quakers was, onesus-
pects, moredueto their refusal of hat honour, their 'thouing'
andtheir attacks onsteeple-houses andhirelingpriests than
to any original ideas of Fox's. Many of his early pamphlets
aretrivial - e.g. TheVials of theWrathof Godupontheseat
of theManof Sinaremostly directedagainst football and
Fox is at his best inTheLambs Officer of 1659,
anextremely powerful Joyceanmonologueof denunciation,
repetitive, almost liturgical, circlingaroundoneor two re-
current phrases - 'Cometo thebar of judgment' - andinsistent
questions - 'Didnot theWhore'of Romegiveyouthename
of vicars ... andparsons andcurates? ... set upyour schools
andcolleges ... whereby youaremadeministers?' 'Guilty or
not guilty?'
It wouldmakeamagnificent broadcast if recited
by agoodactor. It may besignificant that it was published
inayear of political crisis, thelast year of hopefor the
Theonly explanationof popular hostility to theQuakers in
theearly 1650s that weget intheJournal is political: Quakers
(GerrardWinstanley inMay
1648makes it clear that theword'Roundhead' was usedespeci-
ally against thepolitical radicals.
1, PP
34> 3 6 ;
2 8 ; S h o r t J o u r n d
p p
7 FZ^TTr* P
r e s u ma b l
t h e
: seep. 254below.
8Fox' j °
0 f f i c e r
>>PP- 3, 9-10andpassim.
Politics. ' ' '
' ^ PP-
~8belowfor theQuakers and
B r e a I d n g o i t h e D a y o f
' * *
A 2 v
9 3 ; T h e
mockedat as aRoundheadeveninhis pre-Quaker days.
But thereis littleevidenceintheJournal of any hostility from
thecommonpeopleonother thanpolitical grounds unless they
wereincitedby alocal parson. It was different of coursewith
thegentry, who canhardly haveappreciatedFox's apostrophe
in1653: 'Oyegreat menandrichmenof theearth! Weep
andhowl for your misery that is coming... Thefireis kindled,
theday of theLordis appearing, aday of howling... All the
loftiness of menmust belaidlow.'
Most of thegentry in
theNorthof Englandimy anyway bedeemedto havehad
royalist sympathies. TheTJorthwas under military occupation
in1651-3. Therehadbeenareas of support for Parliament, in
theWest Ridingandineast Lancashire; but theregionas a
wholewas still smartingunder defeat. TheCommitteefor the
Propagationof theGospel intheNorthparts, set upin1650,
was anattempt at political re-educationunder military super-
vision. InWales theCommitteefor thePropagationof the
Gospel became
thereal government of Wales'.
informationabout theCommitteeintheNorth, but un-
doubtedly it too hadthestrongsupport of themilitary authori-
ties inthoseconqueredcounties.
Quakers thenenteredtheareaas awingof thegovernment
party intheyears 1651-3, enjoyingtheprotectionof themili-
tary authorities,
andof theoccasional local gentlemanof
radical inclinations.
They hadsometimes themoreenthusi-
astic support of Army rank andfile. Just as thebishops before
1633hadallowedPuritanpreachers intheNorthwho would
not havebeentoleratedintheSouth, so thosewho administered
theNorth(or Wales) couldnot affordto alienateQuaker mis-
sionaries, many of whomwereex-NewModel Army soldiers,
still supporters of Parliament against theKing. Fox hadbeen
10. Burrough, Works, p. 14.
11. Fox, Gospel-TruthDemonstrated(1706), p. 6.
12. Ed. A. H. Dodd, Historyof Wrexham(1957), p. 148.
13. Braithwaite, pp. 122, 169; Fox, Journal, I, pp. 81-3, 98, 106, 111,
14. Fox, Journal, I, passim- Hotham, Fell, Pearson, Robinson, Benson;
cf. Underdown, op. cit., pp. 36-7, 317, 321.
Inprisonfor nearly ayear at Derby in1650, but intheNorth,
as wecanseefromhis Journal itself, heenjoyedagooddeal
of protectionintheyears 1651-2. EvenhostileJ.P.S (of whom
thereweremany) hadto proceedcautiously against him. Per-
secutionbegan, spasmodically, fromtheendof 1652, when
thedissolutionof theRumpappearedimminent, andagain
after April 1653, whenthegentry may havefelt they weregiven
afreehand, Fox was imprisonedat Carlisle. But thenthe
relatively radical Barebones Parliament met: aletter fromit
got Fox releasedandhis jailor put inhis placeinthedungeon.
InWales too J.P.S protectedQuakers as alesser evil thanpapists
or pagans.
It was theQuakers themselves who alienatedtheclergy,
someof whomintheNorthseeminitially to havebeensym-
pathetic. Indiscriminateattacks onhirelings, tithes andthe
sanctity of ecclesiastical buildings madeit impossiblefor any
priest to support themandcontinueto holdhis living. Inthe
longrun, it may be, thehostility of theintrudedPuritanmin-
isters didtheQuakers no harminpublic opinionintheNorth
or inWales; but intheshort runtheclergy seemeasily to
havebeenableto raisemobs against them- as Round-
In1654Fox was arrestedonsuspicionof plottingagainst
thegovernment, but hewas well receivedby Oliver Cromwell.
Thosewho wishedill to Quakers werethosewho resented
Army rule; their views werestrongly representedintheParlia-
ment of 1656, as weseefromthedebates about lames Nayler.
Dark hints weredroppedthat thespreadof theQuakers had
beendueto official encouragement, indeedthat Quakers were
to befoundinthegovernment itself.
But by that timethe
Quaker campaignto conquer theSouthandEast of England
hadbeenunder way for two years, andtheir rapidexpansion
didindeedgivemenof property causefor alarm, makethem
15. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 174,178-9.
16. Braithwaite, pp. 208-9.
17. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, pp. 70, 96. Skippon, Nayler's main
Army opponent, hadbeenregardedas Parliament's manintheArmy
apprehensiveof 'someLevellingdesign' underlyingtheby then
well organizedQuaker movement
Thefeet that Quakers
weresaidto havereclaimed'suchas neither magistratenor
minister ever speak to'
might seemreassuringafter Quaker
pacifismwas firmly establishedandknownto beacceptedby
all members of thesect. But that was far frombeingthe
caseinthemid-1650s. Theremark does however giveus an
ideaof theclass to whichQuakers appealed.
Fromthemid-1650s Quakers increasingly definedtheir be-
liefs, defensively, by negatives. They do not deny theexistence
of Godor ahistorical Christ,<tff heavenor hell. They do not
believethat all canattainperfectiononearth. They arenot
against theauthority of magistrates or parents. Thereis little
enoughintheir publishedworks (or inFox's Journal) to tell
us why suchdefences werenecessary. But they tell us some-
thingimportant about theambiencefromwhichtheQuakers
came, or, perhaps moreaccurately, about theambienceinthe
SouthandEast whichtheNorthernQuakers foundwhenthey
invadedit after 1652. A diarist inCheshire, for instance, tells
us in1655that theQuakers 'deniedtheTrinity; ... deniedthe
Scriptures to betheWordof God; they saidthat they hadno
Fromthis point of viewJudgeHothamandDr Robert
Gell were right intheir famous assertions 'hadnot theQuakers
come, theRanters hadover-runthenation'.
This of course
implies adifferencebetweenQuakers andRanters, anda
greater acceptability of theformer to therulingclass, whichI
shall discuss later: but theQuakers couldhardly havepre-
ventedRanters fromover-runningthecountry unless their
18. cf. pp. 240-41below.
19. [H. Stubbe] Light Shiningout of Darknes (1659), p. 88.
20. Ed. J. Hall, Memorials of theCivil War inCheshire(Lancashire
andCheshireRecordSoc., 1889), pp. 229-30.
21. Fox, Journal, I, p. 95; W. Penn, Judas andtheJews (1673), p. 31;
cf. Hairy Marten's unpublishedpamphlet, JusticeWould-beethat made
himself a Ranter last weekinoppositiontothosehecalls Quakers (see
Appendix to Professor C. M. Williams's unpublishedOxfordD.Phil.
Thesis, ThePolitical Career of Henry Marten, withspecial referenceto
theorigins of republicanismintheLongParliament). Seepp. 257, 376-7
doctrines hadinitially beennear enoughto Ranterismto ab-
sorbmany Ranters.
Thomas Collier in1657assertedthat 'any that knowthe
principles of theRanters
may easily recognizethat Quaker
doctrines areidentical. Bothwouldhave'no Christ but within;
no Scriptureto bearule; no ordinances, no lawbut their lusts,
no heavennor glory but here, no sinbut what menfanciedto
beso, no condemnationfor sinbut intheconsciences of
ignorant ones'. Only Quakers 'smoothit over withanoutward
austerecarriagebeforemen,, but withinarefull of filthiness' -
andhegaveNayler as anexample.
This passagewas echoed
almost wordfor wordby bothBunyanandBaxter, though
Bunyanimproves thelast phraseto 'only theRanters had
madethem[thesedoctrines] threadbareat anale-house, and
theQuakers haveset anewgloss uponthemby anoutward
legal holiness'.
Bunyanlists Quaker beliefs intheearly fifties:
(1) TheBibleis not theWordof God; (2) every maninthe
worldhas thespirit of Christ; (3) theJesus Christ who was
crucified1600years ago didnot satisfy divinejusticefor the
sins of thepeople; (4) Christ's fleshandbloodis withinthe
saints; (5) therewill beno resurrectionof thebody; (6) the
resurrectionhas already takenplacewithingoodmen; (7)
thecrucifiedJesus didnot ascendabovethestarry heavens, (8)
andshall not comeagainat thelast day as manto judgeall
nations. Onanother occasionBunyanlumpedRanters and
Quakers together incondemnationbecausebothpermitted
Clarkson, lookingback from1660, hadno
doubt that theearly Quakers sharedhis beliefs about God,
thedevil andtheresurrection: 'only they hadarighteousness
of thelawwhichI hadnot'.
Fox himself in1654witnessedthat Ranters 'hadapurecon-
vincement', but they had'fledthecross' andturnedthegrace
of Godinto wantonness. Heemphasizedespecially drunken-
22. [T. Collier] A Looking-Glassefor theQuakers, p. 7.
23. Bunyan, Works, II, pp. 182-3; ReliquiaeBaxterianae
I, p. 77; cf.
Pagitt, Heresiography(5thedn, 1654), pp. 143-4.
24. Bunyan, Works, I, p. 21, II, p. 664.
25. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound, p. 33.
ness, swearing, and'sportingyourselves intheday-time*.
hadashort way withRanters, who inhis viewbowedand
scrapedtoo much, weretoo 'complimentaF. 'Repent, thouswine
was his reply to acivil greetingfromoneof them,
followedby areferenceto theoldRanters inSodom*.
wonders howfar theQuaker denial of hat honour may have
beenfortifiedby oppositionto Ranter practice. Anthony Pear-
sonsaidinthesameyear 1654that 'somewhat arejoinedto
theRanters arepretty people*, but they contain'so many rude
savageapprentices andyoungpeople... that nothingbut the
power of theLordcanchainthem*.
TheQuaker James Par-
nell in1655admittedthat Quakers wereaccusedto beone
withRanters. 'Someof themhavetastedof theloveof God,
andgraceof God, andhavehadappearanceof God*; but they
haveturnedthegraceof Godinto wantonness, and'havede-
ceivedmany withtheir alluringspeeches*. Their lascivious ways
bringdiscredit onthetruthof God.
Nayler, without naming
theRanters, saiddisapprovingly that 'thegreatest profession
nowset upby many is to maketheredemptionof Christ a
cover for all licentiousness and fleshlyliberty, andsay they are
to that endredeemed*.
EdwardBurrough, who seems himself to havehadRanter
leanings at onetime, in1656admittedthat Ranters "have
scornedself-righteousness*; their househadoncebeenthe
houseof prayer, thoughnowit has become'thedenof robbers',
cultivatingfalsepeace, falseliberty andloveandfleshly joy.
Fox himself tells us of many Ranter groups whichultimately
becameQuakers - inCleveland, Nottinghamshire, Leicester-
shire, Sussex, Reading.
26. Fox, A WordfromtheLord(1654), p. 13; cf. JohnAudland, The
Innocent Deliveredout of theSnare(1658), pp. 13-14.
27. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 87,212; Short Journal, p. 8.
28. A. E. Wallis, 'Anthony Pearson(1626-1666)', Journal of theFriendY
Historical Soc.
LI, p. 85. ' *
29. James Parnell, A Shieldof theTruth(1655), p. 39.
30. J. Nayler, LovetotheLost (2ndedn, 165©, p. 48.
31. Burrough, A Trumpet of theLordSoundedout of Sion(165©, pp.
26-8; Works, pp. 15,108,138,279-80,746.
32. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 85,195,199-200,230-3L
Inpart, no doubt, enemies of theQuakers wereanxious to
associatethemwithRanters hi order to discredit them:
'Quakerismis becomethecommonsink of themall' - Ana-
baptists, Antinomians, Socinians, Familists, Libertines, etc.
But therecouldbegenuineconfusion. InPoole, Dorset, andin
Wiltshire, former Levellers wereallegedto havebecomeRan-
TheGrandJury of GloucestershireinAugust 1655peti-
tionedagainst 'Ranters, Levellers andatheists, under thename
of Quakers'.
Christopher Atkinsonwas acceptedas aQuaker
until in1655hefell 'into too muchfamiliarity andconversa-
tionwithsomewomen-kind, especially suchas (it seemed)
weresomewhat inclinedto aspirit of Ranterism. Hegrewloose
and... committedlewdness withaservant-maid.'
Mary Todd,
aLondonlady who at ameeting'pulledupall her clothes above
her middle, exposingher nakedness to all intheroom', was
disownedby Quakers, who saidshewas aRanter: but theact
of disavowal suggests that they felt someresponsibility for
Thomas Laucock, who clappedhis hands uponhis heart
andsaidheavenis 'withinme, withinme!' - was heaRanter
or aQuaker? His question, What is Christ - threeor four story
highabovesky?' - sounds Ranterish, but his interlocutor
claimedto havegot similar if less dramatic replies fromGeorge
Fox andJames Parnell.
Wemay also perhaps assumethat
Thomas Peacock was wrongly accusedof beingaQuaker. He
saidhecouldnot sin, deniedtheexistenceof thedevil, and
asked'Dost thoubelieveonthat thief that was hangedat
But what groupcouldsuchmenbelongto by the
33. JonathanClapham, A Full DiscoveryandConfutationOf thewicked
anddamnableDoctrines of theQuakers (1656), p. 62.
34. Stokes, TheWiltshireRant, pp. 12-13, 61, 66; Bayley, TheGreat
Civil War inDorset, p. 344.
35. Ed. Nuttall, EarlyQuaker Letters fromtheSwarthmoreMSS. to
1660, p. 150.
36. TheFirst Publishers of Truth, p. 261.
37. S. Fisher, TheTestimonyof TruthExalted, pp. 91-2.
38. WilliamJeffery, TheDeceivedanddeceivingQuakers discovered
(1656), pp. 29,41,55.
39. WilliamGrigge, TheQuakers Jesus (1658), pp. 51-2; Fox, Journal,
I, PP. 69-70.
late1650s? They wereexcommunicatedby theBaptists.
account in1659of 'thedevil's changinghis devicefromranting
to quaking' may correctly describethecourseof many indi-
viduals. As lateas 1668Fox was insistingthat somepeople
calledQuakers werereally Ranters
Similarly theQuakers must haveabsorbedmany ex-Levellers,
includingJohnLilburne. Lilburne's acceptanceof Quakerism
in1655, incidentally, was avery different act for theex-
revolutionary thanif hehadbeenconvincedafte^l660. A
hostilepamphlet of 1653saidthat theNorthernQuakers 'teach
thedoctrineof levellingprivately to their disciples'. Theleaders
were'downright Levellers', only concealingtheir views from
fear of suppression
That neednot betakentoo seriously,
but therearemany suchcomments. Fuller madeseveral identi-
fications whenhespokeof amanwho was 'too richandknow-
ingto beaLeveller, anAnabaptist or aQuaker'.
1656anM.P. describedQuakers as 'all Levellers, against mag-
istracy andproperty'.
Fox saidof theLevellers in1654:
'Youhadaflashinyour mind, asimplicity,' but their minds
'runinto theearthandsmotheredit, andso get upinto pre-
They wouldhavehadunity andfellowship'before
lifewas raisedupinyou': so their aspirations witheredand
werecondemnedinthelight of trueunity andtruefellow-
Thespreadof Quakerism, emptyingthechurches of Ana-
baptists andseparatists, witnessedbothto thedefeat of the
political Levellers andto thecontinuedexistenceandindeed
extensionof radical ideas. Themultitudestill 'muchincline
40. Seep. 229above.
41. [Anon.] FollyandMadness madeManifest (1659), pp. 1-3; Fox,
Journal, II, p. 96; cf. Whiting, Studies inEnglishPuritanism, p. 173.
42. F. H., A Brief Relationof theIrreligionof theNorthernQuakers
(1653), p. 10. TheQuakers also 'holdthat all things ought to becom-
mon'. TheRev. JohnWardtells us that several Levellers settledInto
Quakers (seehis Diary, ed. C. Severn, 1839, p. 141); cf. A. Parker, A
Discoveryof Satans WUes (1657), p. 39.
43. Fuller, Historyof theUniversityof Cambridge(1840), p. 680.
44. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, p. 169; cf. pp. 24-5, 49, 128.
45. Fox, A WordfromtheLord(1654), p. 13.
to 'apopular parity, alevellinganarchy* in1650.
As lateas
1662Samuel Fisher was havingto defendQuakerismagainst
accusations of this rudeandlevellinghumour
It was well
after theevent that Thomas Comber suggestedthat theQuakers
Thefirst official declarationof absolutepacifisminall circum-
stances was madeby theQuakers inJanuary 1661, after a
number of Friends hadbeenarrestedintheaftermathof
Venner's unsuccessful FifthMonarchist revolt. It was intended
especially to protect Quakers against charges of sedition, but
it also marks thebeginningof anabsoluterefusal to accept
civil or military office.
Many Quaker leaders wereex-soldiers
- James Nayler, WilliamDeusbury, RichardHubberthorne,
John Whitehead, Edward Billing, John Crook, Thomas
Symonds, GeorgeFox theYounger and others.
Quakers hadbeendismissedfromtheArmy inthe1650s for
disciplinary reasons.
but others seemnot to havefoundmili-
46. N. Homes, A SermonPreachedBeforethe... LordMayor (1650),
p. 32.
47. Fisher, TheTestimonyof TruthExalted, pp. 48-9.
48. T. Comber, Christianityno Enthusiasm(1678), pp. 90-92, 181. See
p. 236above.
49. Theopeningparagraphs of this sectionoweagreat deal to discus-
sionof theQuakers withProfessor W. A. Cole.
50. Deusbury, Discoveryof thegreat Enmityof theSerpent (1655),
p. 16; Fox, Journal, I, pp. 129,256,287; AnAccount of theConvincement
...of ... RichardDavies (1928), p. 30; Sufferings of theQuakers, I, pp.
273-4, 285, 310, 445, 490; I. Grubb, QuakerismandIndustrybefore
1800(1930), p. 100; Brailsford, op. cit., p. 639; Barbour, TheQuakers in
PuritanEngland, p. 89; O. C. Watkins, ThePuritanExperience(1972), p.
51. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 189, 409; Short Journal, p. 53; ThurioeState
Papers, VI, p. 241; ed. C. H. Firth, ScotlandandtheProtectorate(Scot-
tishHistory Soc., 1899), pp. 350-51; T. Wright andJ. Rutty, A History
of ... Quakers inIreland(1811), p. 105; StatePapers relatingtoFriends,
p. 116; [Anon.] 'GeorgeWatkinsonof Scotton(d. 1670),' Journal of the
Friends' Historical Soc., L, p. 69.
tary serviceincompatiblewiththeir principles.
Quakers also
continuedto serveintheNavy.
Fox himself was offeredacommissionin1651. IntheJournal
hetells us that herefusedit onpacifist grounds, but in1657
heurged'theinferior officers andsoldiers' of theArmy onto
conquer Rome.
After 1658hewas morecautious,
but as
lateas January 1660aleadingsouthWelshQuaker askedFox
whether Quakers werefreeto serveintheArmy.
It is at least
possiblethat his refusal in1651sprangfrompolitical objec-
tions to thegovernment of theCommonwealthrather than
frompacifist principle. BurroughandHowgill werenot paci-
fists in1655, andtheformer andHubberthorneadvocatedthe
useof forcein1659. Burroughthought theArmy didmuch
gooduntil it turnedto self-seeking.
In1659, whenthepolitical
situationwas moreto their liking, someQuakers re-enlistedin
Indeed, as lateas 1685afewQuakers aresaidto
haveturnedout for Monmouth's rebellion.
Nor didQuakers inthe1650s abstainfrompolitical activity.
Their earliest pronouncement includedademandfor annual
Quakers weresuggestedas J.P.s, andsomemay
actually haveserved.
In1659they resumedpolitical activity,
52. ThurloeStatePapers, IV, pp. 508, 642; VI, p. 162; Leyborne-
PophamMSS. (H.M.C.), pp. 157, 168; Firth, ScotlandandthePro-
tectorate, pp. 362-3; Cole, 'TheQuakers andtheEnglishRevolution',
P. andP., 10, pp, 46, 53; G. B. Burnet, Quakers inScotland(1952), p.
141; R. Howell, NewcastleuponTyneandthePuritanRevolution, p.
261; Barbour, op. cit., pp. 221-2.
53. F. R. Harris, Lifeof EdwardMontagu(1912), I, p. 175.
54. M. R. Brailsford, A Quaker fromCromwell's Army(1917), pp.
23-5; Barbour, op. dt., pp. 192, 196; Braithwaite, p. 440; Nuttall, The
HolySpirit, pp. 131-2,164.
55. cf. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 426,448,450.
56. Ed. Nuttall, EarlyQuaker Letters, p. 273.
57. Burrough, Works, pp. 537-40; Barbour, op. dt., p. 40.
58. BathMSS. (H.M.C.) II, p. 134; ed. Cir G. F. Warner, Nicholas
Papers (CamdenSoc.) IV (1920), p. 265; Barbour, op. dt., pp. 221-2;
Braithwaite, p. 480; Leyborne-PophamMSS, p. 161; V. A. Rowe, Sir
HenryVanetheYounger (1970), p. 223.
59. Whiting, Studies inEnglishPuritanism, p. 181.
60. Cole, "TheQuakers andtheEnglishRevolution*, p. 42.
61. Leyborne-PophamMSS. (H.M.C.), p. 141; Burton, Parliamentary
organizingpetitions, etc.
TheWestminster Quaker, Edward
Billing, publishedatract containingthirty-oneproposals for
political action, most of themdrawnfromLeveller pro-
grammes. Hehadhopedto get his pamphlet endorsedby the
Society of Friends beforepublication. They didnot agree, but
at least hehadthought it possible. Suchquestions werestill
Thepublishedopinions of Quakers gaveplenty of grounds
for regardingthemas political radicals inthe1650s. Edward
Burrough, whomProfessor Coleregards as thepolitical spokes-
manof theQuakers inthe1650s rather thanFox, took it for
grantedthat Friends hadsupportedParliament inthecivil
Nayler, Howgill andFox madesimilar assumptions.
Ontheeveof therestorationNayler andFox spokeout against
monarchy almost as courageously as Milton. 'What adirty,
nasty thingit wouldhavebeen,
Fox toldtheCouncil of
Officers in1659, 'to haveheardtalk of aHouseof Lords among
All Quakers werepretty severeintheir references to
priests of theestablishedchurch. 'Your downfall is near at
they weretoldin 1653.
Their religion
, Edward
Burghall notedof Quakers inhis Diary in1655, 'consists chiefly
incensuringothers andrailinguponthem, especially minis-
Diary, IV, pp. 357, 440-46; cf. Whiting, op. cit, p. 184; StatePapers
relatingtoFriends, pp. 6, 31-2; Braithwaite, p. 313; Fox, Journal, I, pp.
62. Cole, TheQuakers andtheEnglishRevolution
, pp. 46-7; Barbour,
op. cit., pp. 199-206.
63. Brailsford, op. cit., pp. 639-41.
64. Burrough, A Trumpet of theLordSoundedout of Sion(1656), pp.
9-10; Works, pp. 671-3.
65. A Collectionof SundryBooks, Epistles andPapers writtenbyJames
Nayler (1716) I, p. 187; Fox, Several Papers GivenForth(1660), pp. 1-18;
Journal, I, pp. 290, 292; F. Howgill, OneWarningmore(1660), pp. 4-7,
66. F. G., To theCouncil of Officers of theArmie[n.d.,? 1659]. I owe
theattributionto Fox to Professor Cole; cf. G. P. Gooch, TheHistoryof
EnglishDemocratic Ideas intheSeventeenthCentury(CambridgeU.P.,
1898), pp. 276-81.
67. Thomas Aldamandother Quakers, A Brief DiscoveryOf a three-
foldestateof Antichrist (1653), pp. 4-5; cf. pp. 7-8.
Burroughcalledpriests "thefountains of all wickedness
aboundinginthenations'. Their tithes robbedthepoor, being
paidnot only out of theland'but out of men's labours there-
for'. No tradesmanhadtheir trick of compellingpeopleto buy
their wares; without tithes they must either begor work or
worsefor alivelihood'.
Anthony Pearsonadvocatedhelping
thepoor by abolishingtithes, as therichhadbeenhelpedby
theabolitionof theCourt of Wards. Theburdenof tithes, he
argued, madethecost of improvingthewastetoo great for
ordinary peopleto beableto afford, to thedetriment of the
national economy.
'Theearthis theLord's andthefullness thereof,' wrote
Nicholsonin1653. 'Hehathgivenit to thesons of menin
general, andnot to afewlofty ones whichlordit over their
Burroughin1659denouncedall 'earthly lordship
andtyranny andoppression,... by whichcreatures havebeen
exaltedandset uponeaboveanother, tramplingunder foot and
'Godis against you,' Nayler told'covetous
cruel oppressors who grindthefaces of thepoor andneedy'.
Howgill prophesiedwoeto 'youlofty ones of theearth, who
havegottenmuchof thecreationinto your hands ... andare
becomelords of your brethren'.
Fox proposedthat 'all the
great houses, abbeys, steeple-houses andWhitehall' shouldbe
turnedinto alms-houses, that monastic andglebelands should
beusedto support thepoor, andthat manorial fines shouldbe
turnedover to them.
Hetoo prophesiedwoeto therichin
68. Ed. J. Hall, Memorials of theCivil War inCheshire, p. 229.
69. Burrough, Works, sig. c 2, pp. 157,233.
70. A. Pearson, TheGreat Caseof Tithes (1732), pp. 60, 66. First pub-
71. B. Nicholson, A Blast fromtheLord(1653) quotedby J. F. Mao-
lear, 'QuakerismandtheEndof theInterregnum', ChurchHistory, XIX,
p. 245.
72. Burrough, Works, p. 500; StatePapers relatingto Friends, p. 42.
73. Nayler, WisdomfromBeneath(1653); Howgill, A WoetoMagis-
trates (1654) quotedby P. S. Belasco, AuthorityinChurchandState
(1928), pp. 77-8; cf. Fox, Mans ComingupfromtheNorth.
74. Fox, To theParliament of theCommon-wealthof England(1659),
pp. 5,8-9.
theday of theLordnowappearing.
Themighty day of the
Lordis nowappearing/ JohnAudlandrepeatedto Bristol in
A Quaker inFurness hadforetoldtheday of judgment
for 1December 1652- thoughFox warily rebukedhimfor
his rashprecision. Samuel Fisher retainedsomethingof this
apocalyptic senseof thenearness of God's comingevenafter
Contemporaries couldat least beforgivenfor associating
suchthreats withradical political action. "Thetimewill come,'
declaredanother Quaker pamphlet of 1654, that as withthe
servant, so withthemaster; andas withthemistress, so with
It was easy to suspect Quakers (likemorris dancers
fromtheNorth) of "somelevellingdesign
assembledonmoors intheir thousands, oblivious of any pro-
hibitionby magistrates, it was not altogether surprisingthat
M.P.s thought they would'overrunall, bothministers andmag-
'Weareapeopleaccusedto raiseupanewwar,'
admittedFox in1654, thoughhedeniedboththis chargeand
theaccusationthat Quakers ownedno magistracy.
never plot or murmur against magistrates, Nayler said; never-
theless, magistrates arenot to beobeyedwhenthey command
that whichGodforbids; and'hethat is aself-lover, or proud,
or covetous, or respects gifts or rewards
or persons, 'cannot
rulefor God
If this was intendedto bereassuringit probably
failedof its purpose.
Burroughadmittedthat theQuaker preacher is considered'a
sower of sedition, or asubverter of thelaws, aturner of the
worldupsidedown, apestilent fellow
Hehimself usedvery
75. Fox, Gospel-Truth, p. 6; cf. pp. 27,105, 129, 219. Fox's words are
echoedinananonymous Quaker pamphlet of 1655: To all that would
KnowtheWaytotheKingdom, p. 9.
76. Audland, TheInnocent Deliveredout of theSnare(1658), p. 33.
77. Braithwaite, p. 147; Fisher, Testimony, pp. 554, 580-83, 588-92.
78. [Anon.] TheGlorieof theLordArising(1654), p. 9.
79. Audland, TheInnocent Deliveredout of theSnare
p. 6.
80. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, pp. 170-71; Braithwaite, pp. 169,
268; ThurioeStatePapers, III, pp. 94,118.
81. Fox, Several Papers (1654), pp. 7,9-10.
82. Nayler, LovetotheLost (2ndedn, 1656), pp. 26-7.
83. Burrough, A Wordof Reproof (1659), pp. 71-7.
alarmingmilitary metaphors about thecomingof Christ We
may understandthat for Quakers Christ's comingwas internal,
not thephysical descent whichFifthMonarchists werepredict-
ingat precisely this time: but againthis was not so obvious
to contemporaries whenBurroughaddressedhimself To the
Campof theLordinEngland*
Thecampof Christ andthe
campof Antichrist hadbeenusedby Puritanministers to
describethetwo sides intheEnglishcivil war.
It is hardly
surprisingthat sometook Burroughliterally whenin1654he
announcedthat 'the fireis to bekindled,... andtheproudand
all that do wickedly shall beas stubble... Theswordof the
Lordis ... put into thehands of themwhichis hatedand
despisedby therulers andofficers, whichis scornfully called
Quakers, but they shall conquer by theswordof theLord.*
Theaureaujohn, who drewhis swordinthelobby of theHouse
of Commons inDecember 1654, andwho symbolically burnt
theBiblebecauseit deceivedthepeople, was believedto bea
Quaker. This was no doubt amistake, but it was sharedby
BulstrodeWhitelocke, later not unsympathetic to Quakers him-
self. AndrewSmithof Forfar, who stabbedQuartermaster Far-
ley duringdivineserviceontheSabbath, may not havebeen
aQuaker either, but his principleof action- 'Jesus Christ
commandedhimso to do' - was similar to that whichled
Nayler inhis entry to Bristol. Henry Cromwell in1655thought
'our most considerableenemy now' was theQuakers, whose
principles seemedto himincompatibleeither withcivil govern-
ment or withthedisciplineof anarmy. Two years later Colonel
Daniel equatedthe'principles of quaking' with'theLevellers'
strain', andalso regardedthemas subversiveof military dis-
Evenwhat seems to us theinnocent eccentricity of refusing
to removethehat inthepresenceof social superiors, or to use
84. Burrough, Works, pp. 64-7(1655), 538(1659); A Trumpet of the
LordSoundedout of Sion(1656), p. 37.
85. Seemy Antichrist inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, pp. 78-88.
86. Burrough, Works, p. 11.
87. Firth, ScotlandandtheProtectorate, pp. 381, 362-3; ThurloeState
Papers, IV, p. 508; cf. pp. 122,210,222,240above.
thesecondpersonplural to them, confirmedconservativecon-
temporaries intheir suspicions. Theformer was along-standing
gestureof popular social protest, practisednot only by Marian
martyrs but also by theseditious Hacket, Coppinger and
by JohnLilburneonmany famous occa-
sions, by Winstanley andEverardinthepresenceof Fairfax
in1649. Wehaveonly to readThomas Ellwood's auto-
biography to graspthefury it couldcauseinanormal gentle-
manwhenhis sonclaimedto sharetheheadof thehousehold's
exclusiveprivilegeof wearinghis hat whenothers went un-
ThegentleFuller wrotein1655:
Wemaintainthat Thoufromsuperiors to inferiors is proper, as
asignof command; fromequals to equals is passable, as anoteof
familiarity; but frominferiors to superiors, if proceeding from
ignorance, hathasmack of clownishness; if fromaffectation, atang
of contempt... Suchwho nowquarrel at thehonour will hereafter
questionthewealthof others. Suchas nowaccusethemfor ambi-
tionfor beinghigher, will hereafter condemnthemfor covetousness,
for beingbroader thanothers; yea, andproduceScripturetoo,
proper andpregnant enoughfor their purposeas abusedby their
Unless they arerepressed, 'suchas nowintroduceThouand
Theewill (if they can) expel MineandThine, dissolvingall
property into confusion'.
(The'clownish' Thouseems to have
beennormal usageamongnortherncountrymen).
superiors ... justifiedfromScripture' rananitemintheindex
of ananti-Quaker tract publishedin1656.
This gestureof social protest recurredintheFrenchRevolu-
88. Strype, Annals IV, p. 97.
89. TheHistoryof theUfeof Thomas EUwood(1906), p. 60and
passim. First published1714; cf. Fox, Gospel-Truth, p. 27.
90. Ftiller, ChurchHistory, III, Dedicationto Book VIII.
91. Barbour, op. dt, pp. 74, 164-5. A balladof 1583tells us of John
Lewis, who was burnt for denyingthedivinity of Christ andwho 'did
thoueachwight thewhich/Withhimhadany talk', 'despisingreverence
To princeor any state' (ed. H. E. Rollins, OldEnglishBallads, 1553-
1625, CambridgeU.P., 1920, p. 56). I owethis referenceto Mr Charles
92. J. Clapham, A Full Discovery, p. 81.
tion. TLechapeauest lesignedeFaffranchissement,
BarrifereinMay 1789, arguingthat theThirdEstateshould
remaincoveredintheroyal presence. Democrats shouldnever
doff their hats or bowto social superiors, declaredSanial in
Annates Patriotiques threeyears later. 'By saying"Thou*
oneanother, wecompletethecollapseof theoldsystemof
insolenceandtyranny,* Chalier toldtheConventionin1793.
Thespokesmanof political radicalism, inadditionto Edward
Burrough, was James Nayler, who has beendescribedas the
culminationof theRanter tendency inQuakerism.
all menof onemouldandonebloodto dwell onthefaceof
theearth,' Nayler wrotein1654inadenunciationof therich.
'Who couldhavebelieved,
heaskedinthesameyear, 'that
Englandwouldhavebrought forthno better fruits thanthese,
nowafter suchdeliveranceas no nationelsecanwitness?
Nayler madeno secret of his continuingsupport for theParlia-
mentary cause, whichhehadservedinthefieldfor eight or
nineyears, 'countingnothingtoo dear to bringthegovern-
ment into your [Oliver Cromwell's] hands (for theliberty of
In1659Nayler was still callingontheLong
Parliament to 'set freetheoppressedpeople
. Thesimple-
supporters of Parliament, who hadbeendrawninby
'fair pretences
werebeginning'to leaveyouandreturnhome,
as mendisappointedof their expectation
Ellwood, who was convincedby hearingEdwardBurrough
andJames Nayler defending'theuniversal freegraceof God
to all mankind
, tells us that 'what droppedfromJ.N. hadthe
greater forceuponme, becausehelookedbut likeaplain
93. Ed. A. Soboul, 1789, Van1delaliberty(Paris, 1939), p. 81; G. V.
Plekhanov, Art andSocial Life(1953), p. 160.
94. R. M. Jones, Studies inMystical Religion, p. 479; cf. Nuttall, James
Nayler, passim.
95. J. N., A FewWords (1654), pp. 21-2.
96. G. Fox andJ. Nayler, Several Papers, p. 23.
97. Nayler, A Collectionof SundryBooks, I, p. 187, II, pp. 755-6;
cf. II, pp. 591-6.
simplecountryman, havingtheappearanceof ahusbandman
or ashepherd(whereas E.B. lookedlikeascholar, whichmade
his argument theless remarkable).
Nayler, inaphrasewhich
Fox oftenusedlater, spokein1654of ministers "who plead
for sin
." 'No man,
heasserted, 'canbeaminister of Christ,
nor preachhimtruly, but who preachethperfection, andthat
is theendof his ministry.
Nonecancometo Christ but he
who comes to perfection.
In1656Nayler tauntedthePres-
byterianclergy withstill hankeringafter power. 'Was not this
it youtalkedon, twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years since? Yet
nowfurther off fromit thanever.
'Andthus he[thedevil]
makes youmost afraidof freedom.
Theevents followingNayler
s symbolic entry into Bristol in
1656, ridingonadonkey andwithwomen(includingErbery's
widow- or daughter) strewingpalms beforehim, arewell
known. Why was so muchfuss made? Therehadbeenearlier
Messiahs - WilliamFranklin,
AriseEvans, who toldthe
Deputy Recorder of Londonthat hewas theLordhis God,
Theaureaujohn, Kingof theJews; Mary Gadbury was the
Spouseof Christ, JoanRobins andMary Adams believedthey
wereabout' to givebirthto Jesus Christ. They werecompara-
tively leniently dealt withby local magistrates: ashort prison
sentence, perhaps awhippingfor thewomen. But M.P.S spent
six weeks denouncingNayler withhysterical frenzy; many de-
mandedsentenceof deathandNayler was ultimately flogged
andbrandedwithabrutality fromwhichhenever recovered.
Theexplanationmust bethat noneof theothers seemedso
dangerous. Most wereholy imbeciles, WilliamFranklina
fraud. But Nayler was aleader of anorganizedmovement
which, fromits baseintheNorth, hadswept withfrightening
98. Ellwood, life, pp. 18-19. For freegraceseeNayler, Lovetothe
Lost, p. 32.
99. Fox andNayler, Several Papers, p. 25.
100. Nayler, A SecondAnswer toThomas Moore(1655), p. 29; Love
totheLost, pp. 22-3.
101. Nayler, A SalutationtotheSeedof God(3rdedn, 1656), pp. 7-8.
102. Seep. 316below..
103. A. Evans, AnEccho totheVoicefromHeaven(1652[-3]), pp.
rapidity over thesoutherncounties. It was amovement whose
aims wereobscure, but whichcertainly took over many of the
aims of theLevellers, andwas recruitingformer Levellers and
Ranters. Bristol was thesecondcity of thekingdom, wherethe
Quakers hadmany followers. Aboveall, M.P.S wereanxious
to finishonceandfor all withthepolicy of religious toleration
which, intheir view, hadbeenthebaneof Englandfor a
decade. Thegovernment of theProtectorate, satisfactorily con-
servativeinmany ways, was still intheir viewwoefully un-
soundinthis respect. Thefact that its relativetoleranceresulted
fromits dependenceontheArmy only heightenedtheoffence.
So conservatives inParliament seizedtheoccasionto put
thewholeQuaker movement inthedock, andthegovernment's
religious policy too. Thehysteriaof M.P.s' contributions to
thedebateshows howfrightenedthey hadbeen, howdelighted
they wereto seizetheopportunity for counter-attack. Andthe
conservatives wontheir showdownwiththegovernment. Nay-
ler was tortured, to discouragetheothers. Cromwell queried
theauthority for Parliament's actionagainst Nayler,
ultimately hemadepolitical useof theNayler caseto
manoeuvretheArmy into acceptingParliament's Petitionand
Advice, aconstitutionwhichestablishedsomethinglikethe
traditional monarchy andstatechurch, anddrastically limited
theareaof religious toleration.
It was apartingof theways for theQuaker movement as
well as for theEnglishRevolutionas awhole. As early as 1653
thestory that Nayler hadbeenwiththeLevellers at Burford
was beingdenied.
It was moredifficult to deny asymbolic
connection: 'part of theArmy that fell at Burfordwas your
figure', oneof Nayler's followers was toldby her husband. The
Nayler casewas atragedy for theQuaker movement, already
sufferingdivisions causedby the'ProudQuakers' from1654
onwards andthesurvivingstrengthof Ranters intheNorth
Nayler's casestrengthenedthearguments for more
104. Theirony of datinghis letter to Parliament onChristmas Day
canhardly haveescapedhim.
105. G. F., Sauls Errant toDamascus (1653), p. 30.
106. Braithwaite, pp. 255,128.
discipline, morelawandorder intheQuaker movement, argu-
ments whichGeorgeFox no doubt foundtemperamentally
congenial. In16S7Burroughwas warningQuakers to beware
of theRanter spirit. Samuel Fisher spokeof Nayler's offence
as revealing'that oldspirit of theRanters, whichmakes head
against thelight of Christ condemningfilthiness inevery con-
Nayler himself inthedepthof his humiliationrejectedthe
support of 'many wildspirits, Ranters andsuchlike*, who
refusedto accept thehostileverdict of Friends. Youhavebelied
theLord, Nayler toldtheseRanters in1659, andsaidthat 'sin
andrighteousness is all oneto God
, whommany Ranters
openly deny. Their 'light answers* and'mockings' 'havemade
heavy theburdenof themeek andlowly, against whomyou
Nayler's experience, andstill morehis re-
pentance, helpedto restoreasenseof sinto theQuaker move-
ment. Nayler hadbelievedthat it was possiblefor amanto
achieveChrist's perfectionandperformChrist's works: his
entry into Bristol was madeinthat spirit But after his terrible
punishment hewas convincedthat hehadbeeninerror, that
'themotions of sindidstill work fromtheoldgroundand
So herebukedhis Ranter defenders:
do not say, All things arelawful, all things arepure, etc.; andso
sit downandsay youareredeemedandhaveright to all; but first
pass throughall things, oneafter another, as thelight learnethyou;
andwithatruemeasureseeif youbefromunder thepower of any.
Whenyouhaveprovedthis throughout all things, andfoundyour
freedom, thenyoumay say, All things arelawful, andknowwhat
is expedient, andwhat edifies yourselves andothers andtherest to
reignover, without bondagethereto.
Nayler hadtheright to say that, arrivedat throughhis great
sufferingandshame. ('I foundit alone, beingforsaken. I have
107. Burrough, Works, p. 208; Fisher, Testimony, p. 621.
108. Nayler, A Collectionof SundryBooks, I, pp. xlii, liii; II, pp.
109. Nayler, What thePossessionof theLivingFaithis (1659) quoted
by Nuttall, James Nayler, p. 17; cf. pp. 7-9, andpassim.
110. Nayler, A Collectionof SundryBooks, II, p. 689; cf. p. 694.
fellowshiptherewiththemwho livedindens anddesolate
places intheearth/)
But thosephrases, 'what is expedient',
*what edifies', closedthedoor onmuchthat hadbeencour-
ageous andlife-givingintheearly Quaker movement. Heresy
andschismwereendemic amongQuakers for therest of the
century. Theenormous problemof discipliningthis amorphous
movement fell principally to GeorgeFox. For all protestant
churches theappeal to conscience, to theinner voice, conflicted
withthenecessity of organizationanddisciplineif thechurch
was to survive. Luther's rejectionof his ownprinciples when
quotedagainst himwas only thefirst of many examples. If I
amright insupposingthat Quakers drewtheir rank andfile
largely fromRanter andSeeker groupings, thentheir problem
was to imposedisciplineonthemost individualist of all non-
conformists. It cost Fox muchheart-searchingandenmity be-
Thesaints of Godmay beperfectly freedfromsininthis
lifeso as no moreto commit it,' Burroughhadsaid; andI
quotedFox himself earlier onthepreachers who 'pleadfor
But gradually theneedto drawlines betweenthem-
selves andRanters, andto eliminateRanters withintheir own
ill-definedranks, ledQuakers to placemoreemphasis onhuman
sinfulness, evenamongFriends. Hieabsoluteindividualism
of theappeal to Christ withinevery manhadto becurbed.
Quakers ceasedto performmiracles, andthebook of miracles
whichGeorgeFox hadcarefully collectedas evidenceof the
truthof Quaker doctrinewas suppressed.
As Messianic hopes
faded, so attitudes towards society andthestatehadto be
defined. It seems to havebeentheapproachof therestoration
that decidedFox infavour of pacifismandnon-participation
His turnwitnesses to acceptanceof thefact that
theKingdomof Godis not cominginthenear future. So long
111. Nayler, II, p. 696.
112. Burrough, Works, p. 541; cf. p. 441. Seepp. 169, 249above.
113. Ed. H. J. Cadbury, GeorgeFox's 'Bookof Miracles' (Cambridge
U.P., 1948), p. ix, andpassim.
114. J. F. Maclear, 'QuakerismandtheEndof theInterregnum', pp.
as that hadappearedto beontheagenda, political attitudes
hadnecessarily to remainfluid. But nowtheproblemis one
of therelationshipof theSociety of Friends, asect (for all its
uniquefeatures) likeany other sect, to theworldinwhichit
has to continueto exist. For this Ranterismwas not enough.
WilliamPennwroteof theRanter wingamongQuakers:
They wouldhavehadevery manindependent, that as hehadthe
principleinhimself, heshouldonly standandfall to that, andno-
body else; andthoughthemeasureof light andgracemight differ,
yet thenatureof it was thesame; andbeingso, they struck at the
spiritual unity whichapeopleguidedby thesameprincipleare
naturally ledinto... Someweakly mistook goodorder inthegov-
ernment of churchaffairs for disciplineinworship, andthat it was
so pressedor recommendedby him[Fox] andother brethren.
Andthey wereready to reflect thesamethings that Dissenters
hadvery reasonably objecteduponthenational churches, that
havecoercively pressedconformity to their respectivecreeds and
Pennsaidthat it was aRanter error to supposethat Christ's
fulfillingof thelawfor us dischargedus of all obligationand
duty requiredby thelaw, as it was aRanter error to suppose
that all things amandidweregoodif hewas persuadedthey
Thelater Quaker problemwas to winagreement onob-
jectivestandards of goodandbad, lawful andsinful. Andthis,
Pennarguedinalmost Hobbist vein, necessitatedchurch
'power' of somekind. Otherwise'farewell to all christianchurch
order anddiscipline', whichwouldbe'aninlet to Ranterism
andso to atheism'.
That seems pretty fairly to statethe
dilemmaof ahighly individualistic religionwhichgrewupin
amillenary atmosphereandwas at first organizationally influ-
encedmainly by adesireto hinder hindrances to spiritual free-
dom. But nowit hadto facetheproblemof continuingto exist
inanuncongenial worldthat was hereto stay. That necessitated
115. Pom, Prefaceto Fox's Journal, I, pp. xlix, xxv.
116. Penn, TheSpirit of Alexander theCoppersmithlatelyrevived
(1673), pp. 8-9.
disciplineandorganization, amoreregular preachingministry.
No longer, inWilliamPenn's words, couldmenafford'to wait
for amotionof thespirit for everything'.
Pennwas aman
withalargeprivateincome, thesonof anadmiral, afriendof
James II. Themanwho aboveall madethe'adjustment to the
state', who theologizedtheQuakers' returnto sin,
was Robert
Barclay, sonof anoldScottishlandedfamily relatedto the
Stuarts, who was also to beseenat James II's court. Inaddi-
tionto his famous Apology(Englishtranslation1678) Barclay
publishedanattack onTheAnarchyof theRanters andother
Libertines in1676.
A wholeseries of splits withintheQuaker movement
occurred. Inthe1650s thereweretheProudQuakers, who
showedclear rantingtendencies. They usedprofanelanguage,
werelax inconduct; someof themwerefootball players and
wrestlers. Their leader, RiceJones of Nottingham, set upan
After therestorationJohnPerrot hadadirect
commandfromGodthat hats shouldbewornduringprayer.
Andindeedif Christ inmancouldnot doff his hat to his earthly
father, why shouldheto his Father inheaven? Ranters had
kept their hats onduringprayer: so didNayler intheBristol
period. But Perrot went onto deny all humanarrangements
for worship, evenmeetingat statedtimes andplaces. Fox said
that Perrot preached'therottenprinciples of theoldRanters',
andassociatedhimwithNayler, many of whoseformer parti-
sans supportedPerrot. EdwardBurroughalso straddledthe
gapbetweenRanters andQuakers. Hemay originally have
hadRanter sympathies; at onetimeheworkedclosely with
Perrot, andheretainedconfidenceinhimlonger thanany
other Quaker leader.
117. Penn, A Brief Examination(1681), pp. 2-3.
118. R. M. Jones, inBraithwaite, SecondPeriodof Quakerism, pp.
xlii-xlvi. Seepp. 351, 370-71below.
119. Braithwaite, SecondPeriod, pp. 45-6.
120. Fox, Journal, I, p. 519; Braithwaite, SecondPeriod, pp. 233-42.
Perrot wait to Barbados in1662, wherehelinkedupwithRobert Rich,
oneof Nayler's supporters whomorthodox Quakers haddenouncedas
aRanter. Perrot hadbeenprecededby JosephSalmon(K. L. Carroll,
JohnPerrot, Supplement No. 33toJournal of theFriends' Historical
Fox's reply was to tightentheorganizationof government
intheSociety of Friends, andthis inits turnledto theStory-
Wilkinsonseparationinthe1670s. Thedissidents opposed
subordinationof theindividual light withinto thesenseof
themeeting, andobjectedto thehierarchical structure- a
national church! - of women's meetings, monthly andquar-
terly meetings. They spokeof courts, sessions, synods, Popes,
bishops, edicts andcanons, andrejectedonprinciplethecon-
demnationof individual Quakers by any ohurchmeeting. The
Story-Wilkinsonseparationwas joined, wearetold, by 'agreat
many of thelooser sort', 'somelibertinespirits', who, inPenn's
words, 'treaddownyour hedgeunder thespecious pretenceof
beingleft to thelight within'. Theseparatists felt that thenew
organizationwas 'aninfringement uponindividual liberty', that
it deniedthecontinuingpresenceof Christ withinall be-
Insuchtrivia, if they aretrivia, didtheRanter
element inQuakerismperish. A royalist poet commented:
TheQuaker who before
Didrant anddidroar
Great thrift nowwill tell yeon.
But theroyalist was unimpressedby thechange, or at themercy
of his rhyme, for heconcluded'But it tends to rebellion'.
Ranterismwas better at destructionthanconstruction. In
1650it was by listeningto theerrors of 'Diggers, Levellers and
Ranters', that Baptist churches inHuntingdonshireandelse-
wherewere'shaken' and'brokenup'.
it was meetings that hadbeen'shattered' under Ranter influ-
Soc., 1970, passim); cf. p. 219above. Barbados as centreof lower-class
radicalismmight beworthinvestigating. In1643therewere'divers sects
of familists' among'thoseof meanquality' ontheisland(C. Briden-
baugh, VexedandTroubledEnglishmen, OxfordUP., 1967, p. 432).
121. Fox, Journal, II, pp. 347n., 424; First Publishers of Truth, pp.
256,267-9; Braithwaite, SecondPeriod, ch. XI andp. 307.
122. Westminster Drollery(1674), inChoyceDrollery, 1656, ed. J. W.
Ebsworth(Boston, Lincolnshire, 1876), p. 191.
123. FenstantonRecords, p. 270.
encethat turnedto theQuakers.
Thecommunal senseof the
Quaker meetingwas later fittedinto thedisciplineof something
very likeanational church. It was not acompulsivediscipline,
as Fox, PennandBarclay repeatedly emphasized; but thedif-
ferencehadto beexplainedagainandagainto thosewho did
not likeit. It meant anendto theabsoluteindividualismin
whichthespirit of GodledeachFriendindependently.
Fox's positionis logical, oncetheworldandsinareaccepted.
Sincepart of thestrengthof theinner light, of conscience, is its
ability to changewithachangingintellectual climate, it is not
surprisingthat intheEnglandof Charles II theQuaker con-
sensus camedownonthesideof discipline, organization, com-
monsense. Theeccentricities of Quakerismwerequietly
dropped. Somewereso hallowedby timeandGeorgeFox's
ownpersonality - likehat honour, 'thou' andgrey homespun
- that they werepreservedas intriguingmuseumpieces, aparty
badgeor test of loyalty, longafter they hadlost their first signi-
ficance. But goingnakedfor asign, miracles andtheother
individualist exuberances of early Quakers andRanters dis-
appearedas theinner light adapteditself to thestandards
of this commercial worldwhereyeaandnay helpedoneto
It is as pointless to condemnthis as asell-out as to
praiseits realism: it was simply theconsequenceof theorgan-
izedsurvival of agroupwhichhadfailedto turntheworld
So Fox intheJournal was not suppressingthepast, not de-
liberately rewritinghistory. His inner voicewas tellinghim
different things inthe1680s fromwhat it hadtoldhimand
James Nayler thirty years earlier. Andsincethevoiceof Christ
is one, to all menandat all times, it must havesaidthesame
thenas it saidinthe1680s.
James Nayler becameablack
shadowlyingacross memory. Therelationof Quakers to Ran-
124. Fox, Journal, I. p. 85.
125. Seepp. 370-8below.
126. cf. pp. 370-5below.
127. 'As if thelight wereinconsistent withitself, or admittedof unity
under ... contrary practices intheonefamily andflock of God': the
words arePenn's, thesubject theStory-Wilkinsonseparation(Braith-
waite, SecondPeriod, p. 307); cf. Carroll, JohnPerrot, pp. 58-9, 92.
ters is complex, andwemay do Fox aninjusticeby usingthe
Journal against himat too early adate. But it wouldbeniceto
knowwhat element of after-wisdomis containedinFox's
description, his gratifieddescription, of howat oneandthe
same meetinginYorkshirein1654hestoppedthemouths of
Ranters andconvertedtheLady Montague.
Seeninthis light, thefamous remark of Hothamto Fox in
1652may look rather different fromtheinterpretationusually
put onit. Quakers preventedthenationbeingoverrunby
Ranters, saidtheJustice; without Quakers 'all thejustices in
thenationcouldnot havestoppedit withall their laws, because
(saidhe) they wouldhavesaidas wesaidanddoneas wecom-
manded, andyet havekept their ownprinciplestill. But this
principleof truth, saidhe, overthrows their principle, andthe
root andgroundthereof.'
Assumingit is correctly reported
(perhaps quitealargeassumption), this is not asimplestate-
ment like'MethodismsavedEnglandfromaFrenchRevolu-
tion.' J.P.s couldnever havedestroyedRanterismbecause
Ranters wouldcompromise, recant, andyet remainof the
sameopinionstill; but theQuakers' principleledthemto bear
witness inpublic, andso to befar less dangerous. For if they
wereto survive, their public witness forcedonthemtheorgan-
izationwhichdestroyedtheRanter element intheir faith.
Oneof themany Ranter characteristics of thefollowers of
Story andWilkinsonwas readiness to fleefrompersecution.
Andyet, evenafter Fox haddied, his wifeMargaret, inher
movingtestimony concerninghim, recalledthat onthesecond
day of her acquaintancewithhimFox declared'Youwill say
that Christ saiththis, andtheapostles say this; but what canst
thousay?' 'It cut meto theheart,' Margaret Fox recalled; 'I
sawclearly wewereall wrong. So I sat downinmy pewagain
andcriedbitterly.' He'openedus abook that wehadnever read
128. Fox, Journal, I, p. 195. It is fair to addthat Nayler also hada
followingamongupper-class ladies (Nuttall, James Nayler, pp. 11-13).
Many of his humbler femalefollowers transferredtheir support to Perrot
(Carroll, op. cit., pp. 50,86).
129. Fox, Journal, I, p. 95. Seep. 236above.
130. Seepp. 376-8below.
in, nor indeedhadnever heardit was our duty to readinit, to
wit thelight of Christ inour consciences'.
visualizethe28-year-oldshepherdinthechurch, his hair pro-
vocatively long,
askingthesimplequestionthat put his
congregationaboveChrist andtheapostles. Or consider his
other this-worldly questions, askedin1659. Will any 'believe
that youareChristians that will mar theworkmanshipof
God? ... Didnot Christ cometo ... savemen's lives andnot
destroy them?'
Quaker perfectionismmay inthecentury
after 1660havedegeneratedinto 'ashallowhumanism' under
Fox's influence.
But therewereworsecreeds intheseven-
teenthcentury thanhumanism.
131. Fox, Journal, II, p. 512; I. Ross, Margaret Fell (1949), p. 11. She
couldhaveheardof it if shehadreadWinstanley: seep. 140above.
132. Fox, Journal, I, p. 268. Nayler too hadlonghair - inorder to
look likeChrist, M.P.S hintedinDecember 1656(Burton, Parliamentary
Diary, I, p. 153). Fox was reticent about thereasonfor wearinghis hair
long; cf. Thomas Webbe(p. 227above). Perrot offendedFox by growing
abeardlikeNayler's. Contemporaries suggestedthat they wereboth
imitatingChrist's appearance(Carroll, op. cit., pp. 59-60).
133. Fox, TheLambs Officer, p. 21.
134. Nuttall, James Nayler, p. 20.
Thebeliever is theonly book inwhichGodnow
writes his NewTestament
WILLIAM DELL, TheTrial of Spirits (1653),
quotedby R. M. Jones, MysticismandDemo-
cracy, p. 104.
SAMUEL FISHER, sonof ahatter at Northampton, was
educatedat Trinity CollegeandthePuritanNewInnHall, Ox-
ford. Althoughalecturer inKent inthe1630s, heunderwent
Presbyterianordinationin1643, but resignedhis livingwhen
hebecameaBaptist. As pastor to acongregationinAshford
hemaintainedhimself by farming. In1654hebecameaQuaker.
Hediedof theplaguein1665.
Inhis Baptist periodFisher publishedalengthy defenceof
dippingas against sprinkling. Hecalledsprinklers Rantizers
(§avT/fco, I sprinkle), whichno doubt seemedquiteagood
jokethen: it enabledhimto depict Baptists as occupyinga
middlepositionbetween'theRantizer andtheRanter, theone
hereticizingintheexcess by addinganewthing, theother in
defect by owningnothing
Herebuked'therabbleof theruder
sort of Ranters andungodly scoffers', someof whomdeny
'that therewas any Christ'. 'What littlereasontheRanter had,'
hecomplained, 'to redeemhimself fromthat bondagewhich
hedeems to beintheobservation' of ordinances 'beforethe
timeappointed, muchmoreto runbeyondthebounds of
modesty andall goodmanners also, as not all but many if not
themost of thesedo, first or last, who despiseany of theordin-
ances of theLordJesus.'
TheRakeshamRanter ... regards
neither Godnor devil, andreckons onall Christ's command-
1. S. Fisher, Christianismus Redivivus, ChristendomBothunchrist'ned
andnew-christ'ned(1655), pp. 269, 293, 307-9, 491, 525.
2. ibid., pp. 466,482.
ments as not wortharush... SomeRanters arenot ashamed
to say that they areChrist andGod, andthereis no other God
thanthey andwhat's inthem.'
Fisher clearly took pains with
his style, whichhas somethingof Rabelais andsomethingof
MartinMarprelateinit - buffooningandalliterative. Heuses
abbreviations, e.g. PPP for Pope, Prelates, Presbyters (or some-
times Priests), andcalledonthelatter to 'depart fromthat
papistical postureof parishchurches andpastoral relationto
suchas arenot sheep'.
Heemployedthesamealliterativepopular stylefromtime
to timeafter his conversionto Quakerism, referringto 'the
teachers andtextmentangledintheir owntalkings about their
'Wedo not affirmChrist himself to beinall men; ...
nevertheless all... havesomemeasureor other of his light.'
Heavenis neither only abovenor only belowthefirmament: it
is 'inevery humble, brokenandcontritespirit'. Thesaints may
attainto astateof perfectionandfreedomfromsininthis
Godwill saveall that aretruly willinginhis way to be
savedfromtheir sins by him. Christ cameintentionally to save
all men; if all menarenot savedit is throughtheir owndefault.
Thelight of natureequals grace, 'God's lawor light inthe
conscienceof all men.'
'Areyenot ashamed,' heaskedde-
fenders of theEternal Decrees, 'thus to engross thegraceof
God... amongyourselves andafewlikeyour sinningselves?
... For theelect arevery fewwithyou.' 'Areyenot ashamed
to makeGodnot only tyrannical but hypocritical andas dis-
semblingas yourselves?' If akingoffers pardonto 1000men
onterms which999of themcouldnot perform, it is not mercy
inhimto pardonthethousandth. This makes God'amerciless
tyrant andarrant hypocrite' - as thoughheofferedmeat to a
manlockedinthestocks, saying' "Why wilt thoustarve, thou
3. S. Fisher, pp. 492,513.
4. ibid., pp. 527,627andpassim.
5. An Additional Appendix to theBook EntitidedRusticus Ad
Academicos (1660) tide-page; TheTestimonyof TruthExalted(1679), pp.
6. ibid., p. 783; cf. pp. 206-7above.
7. ibid., pp. 851,711.
8. ibid., pp. 36-8,132; cf. pp. 653,680.
self-murderingman? Cometo me, andhereis meat for thee.. .
But if thouwilt not comeI will knock thy brains out."' Or
likeonewho says 'hetruly desires to makemehis heir,... con-
ditionally I will takeajourney to themaninthemoonfirst,
to get it confirmedthere;... but if I refuseto go thither hewill
kill me
Most of this is traditional Quaker doctrine, though
expressedwithFisher's peculiar homely humour. Moreinter-
estingis Fisher's applicationof thedoctrineto Biblical criti-
Amongmany possibleapproaches to theBible, two standout
amongtheradicals. Onewas to useits stories as myths, to
whicheachcouldgivehis ownsense, asensethat neednot con-
sider theoriginal meaningof thetext - rather as Baconused
classical myths inTheWisdomof theAncients. Winstanley em-
ployedthis method, as didsomeRanters andsomeQuakers.
Thomas Edwards's twenty-ninthError was 'Wedidlook
for great matters fromonecrucifiedat Jerusalem1600years
ago, but that does us no good; it must beaChrist formedin
Winstanley amongothers contrastedthehistorical Christ
withtheChrist within: thedistinctionbetweenthehistory'
and'themystery' was madeby JohnEverardandby Ranters
likeSalmonandCoppe, as well as by AriseEvans andRanter-
'A chief oneof theArmy,' Erbery tells
us, 'wouldonceusually say that the fleshof Christ andtheletter
of Scripturewerethetwo great idols of Antichrist.'
Another approachdeniedtheinfallibility of theBible, or
submittedit to closetextual criticism. Winstanley sharedthis
approachtoo. Heseverely criticizedthosewho basedtheir be-
lief merely ontheletter of theBible. Therearegoodrules in
theScripture,' hewrotecondescendingly, 'if they wereobeyed
9. ibid., pp. 625-39,643.
10. Edwards, Gangraena, I, p. 21.
11. Everard, TheGospel TreasuryOpened(2ndedn, 1659), p. 232;
Sabine, pp. 212-13, 496; cf. pp. 93, 143, 229aboveandp. 334below.
12. Erbery, Testimony, p. 84.
But hewouldnot maketheBiblehis main
sourcefor acodeof conduct. Oneof Winstanley's chief com-
plaints against theclergy was that they claimedamonopoly of
interpretingtheBible, andsuppressedthefreespirit inthe
uneducated. 'Yousay youhavethejust copies of their writings;
youdo not knowbut as your fathers havetoldyou, whichmay
beas well falseas trueif youhaveno better groundthantradi-
tion.' Whichtranslationis thetruest? Therearejnany. Dif-
ferent sects, different truths. 'Andthus youleadthepeople
likehorses by thenoses, andrideuponthemat your pleasure
... HowcantheseScriptures becalledtheeverlastinggospel,
seeingit is torninpieces daily amongst yourselves, by various
translations, inferences andconclusions.
Thespirit inmen
today is abovethegospel, heconcluded. TheScriptures were
not appointedfor aruleto theworldto walk by without the
spirit... For this is to walk by theeyes of other men.
Winstanley praisedthosewho 'becomelikeunto wise-hearted
, that 'believenothingbut what they seereasonfor
Ranters weresaidto holdthat theBibleTiathbeenthecause
of all our misery anddivisions, ... of all thebloodthat hath
- aviewthat Bunyan's Mr Badmanre-
Therewill never bepeace, someRanters said, till all
Bibles areburned- as soldiers didinWinstanley's parishchurch
in1649, as Thomas Tany andsomefollowers of Perrot did. The
Bible, Ranters declared, was not directedat Englandor any
churchor maninEngland- whichsuggests amorerational
historic approachto Biblical studies thanwas commoninthe
This approachmight bebolsteredby
Biblical scholarship. Thus Walwynwas allegedto havesaid
that theScriptureis so plainly anddirectly contradictory to
itself' that hedidnot believeit to betheWordof God.
13. Sabine, pp. 224,289,509.
14. ibid., pp. 99-102,122-8,523; cf. pp. 455-6.
15. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 646. Bunyanhimself at onetimethought
theScriptures only 'adeadletter, alittleink andpaper' (ibid., Ill, p.
16. Holland, op. cit., pp. 2-6; Carroll, op. cit., p. 85. For Walton-on
Thames andTany seepp. 110,189-90,225-6above.
17. H. andD., p. 298.
renceClarksonfound'so muchcontradiction' intheBiblethat
'I hadno faithinit at all, no morethanahistory'. Therewere
menbeforeAdam, andtheworldwouldcontinueto exist ex-
To AndrewWyke, amechanic of Colchester andhis
lady friend, who went to visit CoppeinprisoninCoventry, 'the
Scriptures ... wereno morethanaballad'.
theplagueof England,' aBristol grocer said. 'A pack of lies,'
declaredJohnWilkinsonof Leicester.
Bauthumley, who
allegorizedtheBible, concludedthat it is no better thanany
books by goodmen.
Henry Oldenburgquotes many examples
of fundamental criticisms of theBiblical narrativecurrent in
Englandin1656: 'thewholestory of thecreationseems to
havebeencomposedinorder to introducetheSabbath... from
motives of merely political prudence... Moses concoctedthe
Half-way betweenmythologizingtheBibleandrejectingit
as aguidingdocument was selectiveinterpretation. Eachsect
andcongregationpractisedthis to agreater or lesser extent.
As Dr Capppoints out,
FifthMonarchists ignoredsomein-
convenient texts intheBible, by mutual agreement. Oneof
many objections to academic scholars, to yniversity-trained
priests (thoughnot onethat was oftenexpressed), was their
ability to remindmenof texts it was not convenient to remem-
ber, whichweredifficult to fit into theagreedsynthesis.
Accuratescholarship, knowledgeof thetotal Bible, couldbe
constricting. Mechanick students of theBibleweremore
creative, moreboldly innovating, becausethey wereselectivein
their approach, moreresponsiveto problems of their own
18. Clarkson, A SingleEye, p. 16; TheLost SheepFound, pp. 32-3; cf.
Holland, loc. cit., andpp. 144,175-6above.
19. Leyborne-PophamMSS. (H.M.C.), pp. 57, 59; cf. Edwards, Gan-
graena, III, p. 10.
20. Braithwaite, p. 170; R. Farnsworth, TheRanters Principles and
Deceits Discovered(1655), p. 19.
21. Bauthumley, TheLight andDarkSides of God, pp. 71-84.
22. Ed. A. R. andM. B. Hall, TheCorrespondenceof HenryOlden-
burg, 1,1641-1662(WisconsinU.P., 1965), pp. 89-91.
23. Capp, TheFifthMonarchyMen, p. 166.
MiltonandHenry Parker bothraisedthis to atheory, the
theory that theBiblemust besubordinatedto humancon-
venience. It 'ought to beso inproportionas may bewielded
andmanagedby thelifeof manwithout penninghimupfrom
theduties of humansociety'. Or as Parker put it, Veought
to bevery tender howweseek to reconcilethat to God's law
whichwecannot reconcileto man's equity, or howwemake
Godtheauthor of that constitutionwhichmanreaps incon-
'No ordinance,' saidMilton, 'humanor from
heaven, canbindagainst thegoodof man.' Thegeneral end
of every ordinance... is thegoodof man; yea, his temporal
goodnot excluded.'
Thereis agrandeur about this arrogancewhichreminds us
of Perrot refusingto doff his hat to theAlmighty.
It was
based, as so oftenwithMilton, onsoundscholarship. For the
text of theBibleis so distortedandcorruptedthat wecannot
rely onit as aguide: wecantrust nothingbut our ownreason
inderivingjudgments. Our reasonpossesses anillumination
superior to Scripture.
Miltonwas gladto findthat ideas at
whichhearrivedby searchinghis ownconsciencecouldbe
foundintheBible; but they hadgreater authority for him
becausethey wereinhis consciencethanbecausethey werein
theBible. Similarly JacobBauthumley didnot 'expect to be
taught by Bibles or books, but by God'. TheBiblewithout is
but ashadowof that Biblewhichis within', thoughhethought
either candeceiveus.
JohnEverardsaidthat 'letter learning'
or 'university knowledge' was inferior to thereligious experience
of thosewho 'knowJesus Christ andtheScriptures experi-
mentally rather thangrammatically, literally or academically'.
TheScriptures, Winstanley argued, shouldbeusedto illus-
tratetruths of whichoneis already convinced. A mansubject
24. [H. Parker] Jus Populi (1644), p. 57.
25. Milton, CompleteProse, I, p. 699, II, pp. 8, 588, 623.
26. Seepp. 254-8above. For other links betweenMiltonandthe
radicals seeAppendix 2below.
27. Milton, Treatiseof ChristianDoctrine, Book I, ch. 30.
28. Bauthumley, op. cit., pp. 76-7.
29. Quotedby C. Webster, 'EnglishMedical Reformers of thePuritan
Revolution', Ambix, XIV, pp. 26-7.
to Reason'needs not that any manshouldteachhim
theLordopenedinme/ Fox put it, 'I afterwards foundwas
to theBible. That whichmay beknownof Godis
manifest withinpeople,' hedeclaredin1658; 'thouneedest no
manto teachthee.
TheBibleis not themost perfect ruleof
faithandlifeto thesaints, EdwardBurroughagreed.
At a
less scholarly level weseethesameprocess at work inthe
Records of theChurches of Christ gatheredat Fenstanton,
Warboys andHexham. Therewehear menandwomenre-
jectingtheBible, or parts of it whichthey do not like, inthe
nameof aspirit withinthem. They areineffect applyingMil-
ton's test of theconvenienceof meninsociety, but they could
always beout-quoted(thoughnot convinced) by thegreater
knowledgeshownby theBaptist organizers.
In1657theWorcester clothier Clement Writer attemptedto
sumupthis approachinhis Fides Divina. Hearguedthat the
Biblecouldnot beinfalliblebecauseof its many errors of
transcriptionandtranslation, andbecausetherewas no agree-
ment about whichbooks wereinspiredandwhichnot. 'No
testimony that is fallibleandliableto error canpossibly be
TheScripturereports themiracles; can
themiracles reportedby theScriptureconfirmthat report?'
Writer repeatedly claimedto be'destituteof school-learning
andhumanarts andsciences
. 'I shall not say that humanlearn-
ingis aspecial limbof that Beast, but I will say that Antichrist
shall never attainto that his advancement but by thespecial
assistanceandmeans of humanlearning.
Hewroteneither for
thelearnednor for 'thecareless vulgar
, but for 'themiddle
sort andplain-heartedpeople
. Hebelievedthat 'if any divine
right remains nowinEngland, it is inthepeopleof England
But his outlook by themid-1650s was as pessimistic as Erbery's.
Wecanno more'call back thelight of theglorious gospel
30. Sabine, p. 251; seep. 143above.
31. Fox, Journal, I, p. 36; Gospel-Truth, pp. 131,138; Burrough, Works,
p. 541.
32. Seepp. 228-9above, p. 375below.
33. Fides Divina, passim; TheJus Divinumof Presbyterianism(2nd
edn, enlarged, 1655), pp. 66-9; AnApologetical Narration(2ndedn, 1658),
pp. 62,78.
whenit is withdrawnby God, as nowapparently it is
apostasy. 'This Babylonishdarkness ... is liketo continue/
Our duty is thereforeto tolerateoneanother, to pray andto
Baxter regardedWriter as aninfidel.
Thescholarly underpinningof this positionwas donemore
effectively by Samuel Fisher inhis TheRustics Alarmto the
Rabbies of 1660. Holdingthat thespirit is far moreimportant
thantheletter of theBible, Fisher asks howreliableis the
existingtext? It is silly to call it theWordof God. Thereis no
evidenceof divineauthority for thepresent canonof theNew
Testament. TheApocryphais at least as reliableintext, andas
likely to bedivinely inspired, as many of thebooks of the
Bible: many books of bothTestaments havebeenlost. Would
Godallowthis to happento divinely inspiredtexts?
Nor will
it do to say that theuniversal receptionof thepresent canon
guarantees divineinspiration: what about theKoran, 'the
public possessionof many generations andinactual authority
amongmenas astandardthroughout thewholeworldof
EvenJohnOwenadmits that transcribers havemadeanum-
ber of small mistakes: what guaranteehavewethat they did
not occasionally corrupt thetext inmorethantrifles?
withproblems of Hebrewpoints, thenumerous different trans-
criptions andtranslations andnowprinters
errors inaddition,
theBibleis a'hugeheapof uncertainties
. Fisher quotes Owen
to theeffect that 'whenthefoundationof faithis utter uncer-
tainty, thenthefaithcanbe... no morethanmerefancy and
. But so is faithbasedontheassumptionthat the
Bibleas wenowhaveit is theWordof God. It is rather, Fisher
saidinwords whichanticipateSpinoza, 'abulk of hetero-
geneous writings, compiledtogether by mentakingwhat they
34. Writer, AnApologetical Narration, pp. 75, 80, 11; Appendix and
Supplement, pp. 8-9.
35. ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, p. 116.
36. Fisher, Testimony, pp. 14,51-2,272-97.
37. Werecall that Bunyanhadsimilar doubts. (Seep. 174above.)
A translationof theKoranhadbeenpublishedinEnglandin1649, which
no doubt explains thesuddenawareness.
38. Fisher, Testimony, pp. 384, 389.
couldfindof theseveral sorts of writings that aretherein, and
... crowdingtheminto acanon, or standardfor thetrial of all
spirits, doctrines, truths; andby themalone'.
Hencecontroversies over thetext of theBiblebetweenpro-
testants andcatholics, andhorriblewars of religion. Protestants
thought 'all wouldbeunity itself amongthem' oncethey turned
fromtraditions of thechurchto thetext of theBible: but
amongthereformedclergy theBibleincreases rather than
diminishes strife. 'Dark minds divinginto theScripturedivine
lies enoughout of it to set wholecountries onfire.' The
letter infact 'is too weak anengineto set to rights what's out
of order'. Till menturnto thelight andWordwithin' there
will beno peace.
Fisher's is aremarkablework of popular Biblical criticism,
basedonreal scholarship. Its effect is to demotetheBiblefrom
its central positionintheprotestant schemeof things, to make
it abook likeany other. After acentury duringwhichmen
haddiedto bringtheWordof Godinthevernacular to the
commonpeople, duringwhichthemainstimulus to popular
educationinprotestant countries hadbeenthedesireto equip
ordinary , laymento readtheScriptures, hereis Fisher coolly
sayingthat thereareenoughBibles for anyonewho canread
andhas money to buy them. TheBibleis readtoo muchand
heardtoo often.
Themartyrs wouldhavebeenshockedto
seeprotestantismcometo that: their persecutors wouldsmile
ironically. For Fisher's book marks theendof anepoch, the
epochof protestant Bibliolatry. Diversity of sects, eachwith
its owninterpretationof theBible, haddissolvedprotestant
unity: Fisher virtually abandonedany hopeof unity of in-
terpretation, andso of any external unity. It is theendof the
authority of theBook; but by no means areturnto theauthority
of tradition. It is simply theendof authority.
Fisher, whilst admittingthat thereis no agreement onin-
terpretationevenamongthosewho havethelight, bravely
counters by assertingthat thefact that mendisagreeabout
39. ibid., pp. 396,400,403,420,435.
40. ibid., pp. 440-41.
41. ibid., p. 555.
measurements does not meanthat thereis no suchthingas a
yard. His yardis infact no moreandno less thanrenaissance
scholarly standards of textual criticismappliedto theBible.
What is important is that Fisher wroteinthevernacular, ina
racy, popular style; andthat no onecouldaccusehimof being
aninfidel. His work remainedaQuaker textbook for more
thanacentury. It is difficult to over-estimateits significancein
this period. Inthewhiteheat of controversy inthe1640s and
SOs theinner light couldreplacetheBiblewithout shattering
thefoundations. But afterwards, all passionspent, God's king-
domhavingfailedto come, Fisher's approachto theBible,
recollectedintranquillity, inapathy, inevitably ledto scepti-
cism. Theappeal to the'light within', alight whichsomeeven
of theheathenphilosophers had,
thenbecamevery difficult
to differentiateinpracticefromsimplehumanreason. When
Vanbrugh's Lady BrutecounteredtheNewTestament com-
mandto returngoodfor evil by saying'that may beamistake
who knows howmuchsheowedto Clement
Writer andSamuel Fisher? After therevolutionary decades,
after Winstanley, Hobbes, Writer andFisher, theBiblewould
never bethesameagain. But to university divines, Fisher, like
WilliamDell, must haveseemedto becommittingtreasonto
theclerical caste, by usingtheapparatus of scholarshipto ex-
posethescholarly mysteries to public obloquy: therabbis par-
ticularly dislikedbeingalarmedby rustics. Fisher deserves
greater recognitionas aprecursor of theEnglishenlighten-
ment thanhehas yet received.
42. Fisher, p. 701-4.
43. Sir JohnVanbrugh, TheProvoWdWife, Act I, scenei. Seepp.
Law... is but thedeclarativewill of conquerors,
howthey will havetheir subjects to beruled.
WINSTANLEY, FireintheBush(1650), inSabine,
p. 464.
IT was clearer to Winstanley thanto most radicals ihat the
stateandits legal institutions existedinorder to holdthelower
classes inplace. I havequotedelsewhereevidenceto support
his view.
InChancery no less thanat commonlawrank
counted: thewordof agentlemanof goodstandingwouldbe
acceptedagainst that of amaidservant evenif supportedby
another witness.
Whenafelony or murder is committed/ ob-
servedFrancis Osborne, thenext poor houses areordinarily
Many of theNewModel Army thought reformof
thelawwas oneof thethings they hadfought thecivil war
They wantedthemysteries of themumbo-jumbo men
madeavailableinthevernacular, they wantedlegal proceed-
ings andwritings inEnglish, not Latinor lawFrench; they
wantedlocal courts andtrials by laymen, electedJ.P.S, acodi-
fiedlaw, no lawyers andno fees.
Thelaws of kings,' Win-
stanley wrote, 'havebeenalways madeagainst suchactions
1. Seemy Centuryof Revolution(SphereBooks), pp. 48-9, 157-8; 5.
andP., pp. 373-5; ReformationtoIndustrial Revolution, pp. 48-59;
"TheMany-HeadedMonster', pp. 302-3.
2. W. J. Jones, TheElizabethanCourt of Chancery(OxfordU.P.,
1967), p. 321; cf. pp. 382,461-2.
3. Osborne, A Miscellanyof SundryEssays (1659), p. 35, inMiscd-
laneous Works (1722), I.
4. Veall, op. cit., p. 73; J. Jones, TheJudges Judgedout of thdr awn
Mouths (1650), pp. 93-4.
5. Veall, op. dt., passim: I.OJ2.R., pp. 69, 259-65; H. andD., pp. 82,
109-10; cf. S. Butler, Characters andPassages fromNotebooks, ed. A. R.
Waller (CambridgeU.P., 1908), pp. 74-5.
as thecommonpeopleweremost inclinableto, onpurposeto
ensnaretheminto their sessions andcourts; that thelawyers
andclergy, who weretheking's supporters, might get money
thereby andliveinfullness by other men's labours.' 'Thelaw
is thefox, poor menarethegeese; hepulls off their feathers
andfeeds uponthem.'
'Clergymenandcommonlawyers are
thechiefest oppressors' intheland, Erbery agreed; prisoners
andthepoor 'arethechief amongtheoppressed'.
Francis Howgill thought theonly useof 'thelawas it nowis'
was 'for theenvious manwho hathmuchmoney to revenge
himself uponhis poor neighbours'.
'thegreat andheavy oppressions of thelaw', theenrichment of
lawyers at theexpenseof thepoor, for whom'theremedy is
worsethanthedisease'. HeandFox, likeWinstanley, de-
nouncedthedeathpenalty for theft.
GeorgeFox theYounger subsumedthis into ageneral atti-
tudetowards thestate:
therichcovetous oppressingmen, who oppresseththepoor, they
havetheonly power to chooselawmakers, andthey will chooseto
besuresuchas will upholdthemintheir oppression; andthepoor
manthat is oppressed, thoughhehadno power allowedhimto
choose, yet hemust besubject to thelaws whichthey makewho
arehis oppressors, or elseheis accountedarebel
EvenOliver Cromwell, as lateas 1650, said'thelawas it is now
constitutedserves only to maintainthelawyers andto en-
couragetherichto oppress thepoor'.
Wecouldquoteendlessly. But intheupside-downworld,
wherethereis no property, therewill be'no needof judges'.
Takeacobbler fromhis seat, or abutcher fromhis shop, or
any other tradesmanthat is anhonest andjust man, andlet him
6. Sabine, pp. 589,468; cf. pp. 276,557-9.
7. Erbery, Testimony, p. 42.
8. Howgill, A WoetoMagistrates (1654) quotedby Belasco, op. cit.,
p. 95.
9. Burrough, Works, p. 500; Belasco, op. cit., pp. 94-5; StatePapers
relatingto Friends, pp. 39-44- apetitionof 1658. SeealsoFox, Journal,
I, p. 54; Sabine, p. 201.
10. G. Fox, A FewPlainWords (1659), p. 2.
11. Ludlow, Memoirs, I, p. 246.
hear thecaseanddeterminethesame, andthenbetakehimself
to his work again.'
Thereis no needof them[lawyers], for
thereis to beno buyingandselling; neither any needto ex-
poundlaws, for thebareletter of thelawshall bebothjudge
JohnRogers, JohnSpittlehouseandPeter Cham-
berlencalledforjudges to beelected.
Thenearest theradicals couldhopeto get to this ideal inthe
oldworldwas by elevatingthejury abovethejudges.
'Mechanics, bredupilliterately to handicrafts', couldjudgeas
well as lawyers trainedinthehandicraft of writing,
just as
they couldpreachas well as university-educateddivines.
Lawyers aretheNormanarmy of Antichrist's laity, declared
JohnRogers, as priests areAntichrist's clergy.
Henry Mar-
ten, commandinganirregular regiment of plebeians under the
banner For thePeople, toldajury inthesummer of 1648to
keepontheir hats inthepresenceof thejudge, inorder to show
that they werechief judges inthecourt.
'A damnableblas-
phemous heresy,' JudgeJermynsignificantly calledit whenLil-
Levellers, Diggers, andQuakers
refusedto pay lawyers' fees, insistingondefendingthemselves,
oftenwithvery goodeffect GeorgeFox, who likeLilburne
knewagooddeal of law, likeLilburneaddressedhimself to
thejury, not thejudge. HerepeatedtheLeveller andFifth
Monarchist demandthat all thelawshouldbe'drawnupina
littleshort volume, andall therest burnt'.
TheQuakers Wil-
liamPennandWilliamMeadweredefendants inBushell's Case
in1670, whichmadehistory by establishingtheright of thejury
to returnaverdict withwhichthejudgedisagreed.
12. Walwins Wiles (1649), inH. andD., p. 303.
13. Winstanley, TheLawof Freedom(1652), inSabine, p. 512.
14. Capp, op. cit., p. 160.
15. J. Jones, TheJurors Judges of LawandFact (1650), pp. 49-76.
Jones was defendingLilburne. But seeVeall, op. cit., p. 156, who suggests
that thewealthy andthepoor wantedthejury systemto berestricted:
andthat it was die'middlesort' who wantedit extended.
16. E. Rogers, op. cit., pp. 87-8.
17. TheTryai of Lieutenant-Colonel JohnLilburne(2ndedn, 1710),
p. 108n.; cf. pp. 106-7, andBrailsford, op. dt, p. 342.
18. P. Gregg, Free-BornJohn(1961), p. 299.
19. Fox, Several Papers GivenForth(1660), pp. 32-3.
Despitethestrengthof thecasefor legal reform, despitethe
efforts bothof theRump's committeefor reformof thelaw
andof theBarebones Parliament, thereformers failed. 'Pro-
perty is littleif liberty beencroachedon,' saidCharles Cocke,
opposinglawreformin1656; 'andliberty littleif property be
Thewords wouldhaveappealedto Iretonand
to Baxter: thesentiment commendeditself to themenof pro-
perty. 'Andso, as theswordpulls downkingly power withone
hand, theking's oldlawbuilds upmonarchy againwiththe
other,' saidWinstanley. Theoldlaws cannot look withany
other facethanthey did: thoughthey bewashedwithCom-
monwealth's water, their countenanceis still withered.'
Lawyers supportedfirst theoffer of thecrownto Cromwell,
thentherestorationof Charles II. Thelawremainedtin-
reformedtill thenineteenthcentury.
But theradicals certainly hadthebest of theargument. Most
interestingof themall is JohnWarr. Heis knownto historians
as alegal writer who advocatedfundamental reforms of the
law. 'Whenthepoor andoppressedwant right, they meet with
law... Many times thevery lawis thebadgeof our oppres-
sion, its proper intentionbeingto enslavethepeople.' With-
out fundamental reformof thelawthepeoplecannot befree:
'anequal andspeedy distributionof right ought to bethe
abstract andepitomeof all laws'. Whenthelawwas inaknown
language, as beforetheNormanConquest, amanmight be
his ownadvocate.
But this reformingtract was basedonadeeper andless well-
knownphilosophy, of whichhints peepthroughevenhere. 'At
thefoundationof governments justicewas inmenbeforeit
cameto beinlaws.' But now'lust by theadoptionof greatness
20. C. G. Cocke, Englands Compleat LawJudgeandLawyer (165©
Introductionandp. 20.
21. Sabine, pp. 508, 587; cf. my God's Englishman, p. 141.
22. J. Warr, TheCorruptionandDeficiencyof theLaws of England
(1649) inHarleianMiscellany(1744-6) III, pp. 240,245-7.
isenacted law... Laws uponlaws do bridlethepeople... An
usurper reigns, andfreedomis proscribedlikeanexile, living
only intheunderstandings of somefewmen.
manStands inno moreneedof this 'mereweb, afrothy and
contentious way of law, ... thanthetender-heartedChristian'
stands inneedof Thomas Aquinas 'to resolvehiminhis
doubts'. Thenotionof fundamental lawis no suchidol as
menmakeit' (e.g. theLevellers). 'For what, I pray you, is
fundamental lawbut suchcustoms as areof theeldest date
andlongest continuance? ... Themorefundamental alawis,
themoredifficult, not theless necessary, to bereformed.' 'But
yet theminds of menarethegreat wheels of things; thence
comechanges andalterations intheworld; teemingfreedom
exerts andputs forthitself.' Thelawcanbe'reducedto its
original state, whichis theprotectionof thepoor against the
A sketchof Warr's underlyingphilosophy hadbeenpublished
theprecedingyear inAdministrations Civil andSpiritual This
is aremarkableapplicationto legal thinkingof theradical
protestant emphasis onthereligionof theheart: it is legal
theory basedontheinner light. Warr sees history as adia-
lectical interactionbetweentwo forces, Equity (Reason) and
Form(UseandCustom), thereligionof principles andthere-
ligionof ceremonies. (Equity is of coursenot usedinthelegal
sense: Warr thought theCourt of Chancery was first erected
'merely to eludetheletter of thelaw, whichthoughdefective
yet hadsomecertainty; and, under apretenceof conscience, to
devolveall causes uponmerewill, swayedby corrupt in-
) Warr sharedthegeneral prejudices of theradicals in
religious matters, thoughheexpressedtheminhis ownway.
Thedistinctionof theclergy andlaity cameupunder thepro-
tectionof Form... Clerical and fleshlyinterests may bemain-
tainedinaPresbyteral as well as aPapal way', andindeedin
anIndependent way. Lawreformis part of ageneral spiritual
revolution. As Equity gradually prevails over Form, worldly
interests fall. Thetimeof restitutionor redemptionof prin-
23. ibid., pp. 240-43,248. 24. ibid., p. 246,
ciples fromthat thick darkness whereinthey havelainis that
whichthesaints longafter andcount it their honour to be
employedin, ... theredemptionof theworldfromits civil
This darkness, however, exists withinmen: it con-
sists of ignoranceof Equity andacceptanceof anideology of
Form. Outwardyokes arebut badges of our inwarddark-
Inthis cosmic battleof theprinciples, for Warr, Godis on
Reason's side, thoughFormtries to creepunder theprotection
of Reason. What Warr wants to do is
only to freetheclear understandingfromthebondageof theForm
andto raiseit upto Equity, whichis thesubstanceitself. For
thoughthedark understandingmay berestrainedor guided, yet
theprincipledmanhathhis freedomwithinhimself, andwalking
inthelight of Equity andReason(truly so called) knows no bounds
but his own, evenEquity.
InEnglandthelawis ameans by whichtherichoppress
thepoor: inso far as Reasonaccepts this, it is guilty of dis-
obedienceandrebellion. (Somedisobedienceis morelawful
thansubjection, as intheRevolt of theNetherlands against
Spain, or of Parliament against Charles I: but this is not the
casehere.) Thedestructionof theworld, or thepresent state
of things, will beagreat loss to some, but amighty advantage
to theworldingeneral, whenEquity shall beadvancedinits
perfect height (theclear imageof Godintheworld).
This will
beasufficient compensationfor all our sufferings, losses, blood-
shed. 'You'll say, this principleoverthrows all order, magis-
tracy, government, andlets loosethereins to all licentiousness,
andmakes theworldanheap?
All suchprejudices must be
removed. TheForms of theworldhaveonly 'acounterfeit
order,... whichbrings fleshlyease
; but Goddelights to over-
throwthis order andto set uphis own'confusion
, whichin-
deedis thebest order. Thedeathof Form'may well becalled
aresurrectionof thedead
25. Warr, Administrations Civil andSpiritual (1648), pp. 3-5, 34.
26. ibid., pp. 6-10.
27. ibid., pp. 6-15,36.
ThedistinctionbetweenFormandReason, Precedent and
Equity, LawandGrace, runs throughseventeenth-century
radical thought, thoughWarr makes exceptionally clear sense
of it. TheArmyDeclarationof 14June1647distinguishedbe-
tweentheletter and'theequitablesense' of laws. Theofficer is
but theFormor letter of theArmy, saidRichardOvertonin
TheHuntingof theFoxes: theequitableor essential part is
'It matters not what theforms be, so weattain
theends of government,' wroteMercurius Politicus ontheeve
of theexpulsionof theLongParliament by Oliver Cromwell,
who himself was not Veddedandgluedto forms of govern-
JohnCook objectedto 'this over-dotinguponold
* What is especially interestingis Warr's fusionof
his religious ideas withhis driest andmost technical legal
analysis. Warr's philosophy, withits mythological useof the
Bible, its lack of enthusiasmfor fundamental law, appears to
becloser to that of Winstanley thanto that of theLevellers.
But analogies springto mindfromall sides. Abiezer Coppein
1649madeuseof similar pairs of opposites - Form/Power,
Thomas Sprat in1667pointedout that inwar
as inphilosophy 'greater things areproducedby thefreeway
InThePriviledges of thePeople(1649) Warr appliedhis
analysis moredirectly to politics. Thedivisions of thecivil war
resultedfrommen's minds being'prejudicedwithcorrupt in-
terests of onesort or other ... But is Truthdivided? Is there
not onecommonprincipleof freedomwhich(if discovered)
wouldreconcileall?' Prerogativeandprivilege(evenprivilege
of Parliament) arealtogether inconsistent withtruefreedom.
To claim'to servefor thecounty' as M.P. may beas hypo-
critical as thePopeclaimingto betheservant of thechurch.
Therearesomesparks of freedominthemindof most, and
28. H. andD., p. 55; Wolfe, p. 362.
29. No. 354,19-26March1653; Woodhouse, p. 36.
29A. Cook, RedintegratioAmoris (1647), p. 24.
30. [Coppe] SomeSweet Sips of SomeSpiritual Wine(1649), p. 13.
31. Sprat, Historyof theRoyal Societyof London, p. 73; cf. p. 53. See
my God's Englishman, p. 58.
theseareGod's imageinthemind. 'Godfavours all weak
things.' Thewholebody of thepeopleis abovetheir rulers,
whether oneor more. Truemajesty is inthespirit, andcon-
sists inthedivineimageof Godinthemind.' Theprinces of
theworld, fallingshort of this, havereplacedit withoutward
badges of fleshly honour, empty shows, voidof substance.
Weak thoughtheseare, they havedazzledour eyes, owingto
thedarkness whichis inus. Whenweourselves shall beraised
upto aninwardglory, thenshall webeableto judgeof that
majesty andglory whichrests uponanother.
Tis not possible
for apeopleto betoo free,' wroteWarr, but withMiltonhe
recognizedthat liberty inits full appearancewoulddarkenthe
eyenewly recoveredfromblindness: so gradualismwas in
Therewouldbeplenty of would-belegal reformers inEng-
landduringtherevolutionary decades: but I knownonewith
suchasystematic philosophy. Indeed, I knowof no one, except
perhaps Winstanley, who so comprehensively (andyet so con-
cisely andelegantly) attempts to link theinner light to political
democracy andlegal revolution. It wouldbeniceto think we
neednot equateour author withtheJohnWarr who was an
extensivepurchaser of crownlands, mainly insouth-western
EnglandandWales: but no doubt hetoo, likeWildman, had
alegal livingto earn.
32. Warr, ThePriviledges of thePeople(1649), pp. 3-6, 10-11.
33. M. James, Social Problems andPolicyduringthePuritanRevolu-
tion, p. 359. For WUdman, seeM. Ashley, JohnWildman(1947), ch. VI.
If madness beintheheart of every man, Eccles.
9.3, thenthis is theislandof Great Bedlam.. •
Come, let's all bemadtogether.
w. ERBERY, TheMadMans Plea(1653), p. 8.
A CHARACTERISTIC of aprimitivesociety is aninterest in,
andaweandtoleranceof, madness. Inseventeenth-century
Englandit was fashionableto go to Bedlamto gapeat poor
lunatics; masques of madmendancingappear frequently in
Elizabethanandespecially Jacobeandrama. Court fools, and
fools inaristocratic houses, areaspecial caseof this: one
suspects they werenot oftenas witty as Shakespeare's, though
no doubt somewisemenplayedthefool to get aliving. A
fewintelligent rulers, by listeningto their fools, may have
brokenthroughthecloudof flatteringcourtiers who stoodbe-
tweenthemandpublic opinion.
It was astepforwardwhen
aradical separatist likeHenry Barrowobjectedonprincipleto
bishops keepingfools to entertainthem.
TheStuarts were
thelast Englishkings to employ acourt fool; thelast fool
knownto havebeenkept by anEnglishlandedfamily diedin
Durhamin1746, theyear whenthelast attempt to restorethe
Stuart linewas defeated.
'Gonearethehalcyondays of the
1. cf. C. B. Macpherson, TheUniversity as MultipleFool', Bulletin
of theCanadianAssociationof UniversityTeachers, Autumn1970, p.
6. Professor Macphersonsuggests that universities might play asimilar
roleincontemporary society; cf. N. Z. Davis, TheReasons of Misrule',
P. andP., 50, esp. pp. 70-75.
2. Ed. L. H. Carlson, Writings of HenryBarrow, 1590-91(1966), pp.
3. W. Andrews, Curiosities of theChurch(1890), pp. 162-4; E. Wels-
ford, TheFool <1935), pp. 192-3.
jesters,' JohnOwenassertedin1655.
Aubrey illustrates another
way inwhichsensitivity was increasing. Till thebreakingout
of thecivil wars,' hewrote, TomO'Bedlams ('poor distracted
menthat hadbeenput into Bedlam') 'didtravel about the
country,' beinglicensedto go beggingon'recoveringto some
soberness'. But 'sincethewars I do not remember to have
seenany of them'.
Aweandtoleranceof themadareillustratedby therelative
immunity whichamanlikeAriseEvans, or alady likeEleanor
Davies, enjoyeduntil they oversteppedthebounds of the
politically endurable. AriseEvans couldhangabout Charles
I's court for days onend, anddeliver amessagefromGodto
theKingannouncingthat heandhis kingdomwereto be
destroyed. Meanwhilebishops ranaway at thesight of him,
andtheroyal Secretary of Stateaskedfor theprayers of 'God's
secretary'. Inthe1640s Evans got only abrief spell inBride-
well for tellingtheCity's Deputy Recorder that AriseEvans
was theLordhis God. Later hecalledonOliver Cromwell and
stayedto midnight; hepesteredtheCouncil of Stateto restore
thesonof theKingwhomthey hadexecuted; andrepublican
officers defendedhiminlongarguments at Whitehall.
Commonwealthdidnot evenimprisonhimas Charles andthe
Deputy Recorder haddone. Lady Eleanor Davies printed
verses predictingtheviolent overthrowof Charles I, andwas
sent to Bedlam. Theaccuracy of her prophecies gaveher 'the
reputationof acunningwomanamongst theignorant people'.
Nevertheless, so longas theholy imbecilehadno disciples, he
or she- unlikeJames Nayler in1656- hadagreat deal of
4. Ed. P. Toon, TheOxfordOrations of Dr JohnOwen(n.d. 71971),
p. 26.
5. Aubrey, Natural Historyof Wiltshire(1847), p. 93; Remaines of
GentilismeandJudaisme(1881), pp. 205,241.
6. AriseEvans, TheVoiceof KingCharts, pp. 27-8, 44-6, 71-2; The
BloudyVisionof JohnFarley, sig. A 8; To theMost HighandMighty
Prince, Charles II... AnEpistle(1660), pp. 18-19.
7. P. Heylyn, Cyprianus Anglicus, quotedby T. Spencer, 'TheHistory
of anUnfortunateLady*, HarvardStudies andNotes inPhilologyand
Literature, XX, p. 52.
Prophets couldbeusedto further others
purposes, as AriseEvans may havebeen; Professor Under-
downsuggests Cromwell andIretonmadeuseof theprophetess
ElizabethPooleintheanxious weeks beforetheexecutionof
Charles I.
Inthefreer circumstances of the1640s and50s most 'mad-
appear to bepolitical radicals. For this therecouldbe
many explanations. Oneis popular inour day - that mental
breakdownis aformof social protest, or at least areaction
to intolerablesocial conditions: thosewho break downmay
bethetruly sane. Onewonders howconscious Shakespeare
was of what hewas doingwhenheput significant social
criticisminto themouths of fools andthose, likeLear, under
extrememental stress. This is certainly anexplanationto bear
inmindwhenconsideringthoseradicals oftendismissed^as
'thelunatic fringe
. Theeffort to graspnewtruths, truths which
wouldturntheworldupsidedown, may havebeentoo much
for menlikeThomas Tany andGeorgeFoster.
A partial
may havebeenthepriceto bepaidfor cer-
Abiezer Coppedescribes himself as
chargingso many coaches, so many hundreds of menandwomen
of thegreater rank, intheopenstreets, withmy handstretchedout,
my hat cockedup, staringonthemas if I wouldlook throughthem,
gnashingwithmy teethat someof them, andday andnight with
aloudvoiceproclaimingtheday of theLordthroughout London
andSouthwark. [This was, headmitted], strangecarriage...
I amabout my act, my strangeact, my work, my strangework,
that whosoever hears of it, bothhis ears shall tingle.
I amconfounding, plaguing, tormentingnice, demure, barren
MicahwithDavid's unseemly carriage, by skipping, leaping, dan-
cinglikeoneof thefools, vile, basefellows, shamelessly, basely, and
uncoveredtoo, beforehandmaids...
8. Contrast Thomas Brewer, who was imprisonedin1626for fore-
tellingthedestructionof Englandwithinthreeyears by two kings; he
remainedinjail till theLongParliament releasedhim(Burrage, The
EarlyEnglishDissenters, I, pp. 202-3).
9. Underdown, op. dt., p. 183.
10. Seepp. 223-6above.
It's ajoy to Nehemiahto comeinlikeamadmanandpluck
folk's hair off their heads, andcurselikeadevil —andmakethem
swear by God—(Nehem. 13).
Quakers goingnakedfor asign, GeorgeFox cryingout Woe
to thebloody city of Lichfield', weresymbolical gestures. Fox
felt it necessary, longafter theevent, to rationalizehis be-
haviour inLichfield, singularly unconvincingly.
werealso deliberateforms of advertisement, whether self-
advertisement or advertisement for thecause, inso far as these
couldbedistinguished. Mr Thomas suggests that prophecy was
aneasy way for amember of thelower classes to winattention,
especially perhaps alower-class radical.
overtones inCoppe, his desireto shock; thoughtheconnection
betweensexual innuendo andclass hostility is initself interest-
ing. Many radicals recognized, withCoppe, that their views
wereso extremethat they must appear madto normal mem-
bers of therulingclass.
Lilburnein1640suggestedthat God'dothnot choosemany
rich, nor many wise, ... but thefools, idiots, baseandcon-
temptiblepoor menandwomenintheesteemof theworld'.
Herethenoteis social, as inCoppe's 'vile, basefellows': the
ideas aremadbecausethey reflect theoutlook of alower class.
Similarly Winstanley in1649saidthat 'thedeclarationof
righteous lawshall springupfromthepoor, thebaseand
despisedones andfools of theworld'. Thelawof loveinmy
heart,' hewroteonanother occasion, 'does so constrainme,
by reasonwhereof I amcalledfool, madman.'
of theworld,' Winstanley wrotelater, 'amanis afool before
Godprefers his own'confusion' to man's
'order', Warr agreed.
Therewas goodBiblical authority for becoming'afool for
11. Cohn, op. cit., pp. 368-9.
—' represents Coppe's punctuation;
'...' as usual indicates omissions madeby me.
12. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 77-8.
13. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, pp. 149-50.
14. J. Lilburne, Coppyof a Letter (1646), p. 14.
15. Sabine, pp. 205,291; cf. TheSaints Paradice, sig. D.
16. Sabine, pp. 484,480; cf. p. 172.
17. Seep. 274above.
Christ'. Eventhearistocratic Miltonclaimedto befoolishwith
'suchafolly as wisest mengoingabout to commit haveonly
confessedandso committed', thoughhis folly was greater.
DivinityandPhilosophyDissected(Amsterdam, 1644), attri-
butedto Giles Randall, was 'set forthby amadman'. That
whichis foolishness withGodis wisdomwithman,' Clarkson
JosephSalmonin1649, threateningthe
leaders of theArmy, wrote: 'I was oncewiseas well as you,
but nowI amafool, I carenot who knows it,... andit is for
your sakes that I amso.*
Theyounger Isaac Peningtonin
1650began'to prefer folly at my very heart abovewisdom...
Thereis amoresweet, quiet andfull enjoyment of oneself in
astateof folly thaninastateof wisdom... Inthis stateof
folly I findanewstateof things springingupinme.'
This did
not stophimwritingabout TheFundamental Right, Safetyand
Liberties of thePeople(1651). WilliamCovell in1660toldthe
restoredCharles II that menwho 'arecountedas madas Paul
was oftentimes speaks forththewords of truthandsobriety';
andhewent onto recommendvery radical reforms
Crook abandonedhis positionas aJusticeof thePeace'to be
afool for Christ' whenhewas convertedto Quakerismby
WilliamErbery inTheMadMans Plea combinedrough
buffoonery at theexpenseof theBaptist EdmundChillenden
andhis military congregationwithserious polemical purpose.
Addressing'theLord's fools andmadfolks', Erbery asserted
that withGod'fools arethewisest men, andmadmenthemost
sober-minded(as babes arethehighest men).' Theprophet
18. Milton, CompleteProseWorks, I, p. 808.
19. L. Clarkson, TruthReleasedfromPrisontoits Former Ubertie
(1646), sig. B 5v; cf. R. Coppin, A Historyof theGlorious Mysteryof
DivineTeachings, ch. II; Hairy Pinnell, A Wordof Prophecyconcern-
ingTheParliament, Generall andArmy(1648), p. 75.
20. Salmon, A rout, a rout, p. 13; cf. Heights inDepths, pp. 18, 23.
21. Penington, Light or Darknesse(1650), sig. A 2v.
22. Covell, ThetrueCopyof a Letter sent To theKings Most Excellent
Majestie(n.d., 71660) singlesheet. Covell addresses theKingas 'thou'.
23. A Short Historyof theLifeof JohnCrook, inSippell, Werdendes
thenis afool, andthespiritual manis mad.
Erbery casts some
light ontheBaptist andQuaker practiceof interruptingser-
vices andinsultingministers whenhewrotethat sincethe
Churchis nowbecomeaharlot,.
menthereforemust nowbesober to God, but stark madwiththe
church, inplaguing, vexinganddestroyingall her delicacies...
If Godhadnot mademeafool, surely I shouldnever havemade
theministers mad... Babylon's last fall will beinthefall of these
last churches, who shall bethrowndown... by themighty ap-
proachof Godinhis people(Rev. 18). Neither is it by controversy
(as before) nor by disputes (as now), but by derisionandscorn.
Ridiculeandderision, mockingandplayingthefool, Erbery
thus regardedas thebest polemical instruments. Hewas writing
at thetimeof theBarebones Parliament, whenhe(wrongly)
believedthat 'thepresent powers areresolvedthat their minis-
ters shall tell no morelies to thenation
, andstill hopedthat
'this land(thoughthehouseof bondage) shall oneday break
forthinto singing, andsmileat thoseempty forms of religion'.
Thereis another possibility: that menweresimply covering
up, allowingthemselves to express dangerous thoughts under
cover of insanity or delusions, fromwhichonecouldretreat
afterwards. This may havebeenthecasewhenTheaureaujohn
proclaimed'Knowthat I amamadman
probably right; but heexpressedvery seditious views inhis
madness. Coppewas generally believedto havesimulatedmad-
ness whenhewas examinedby aParliamentary committeein
1650, 'flingingapples andpears about theroom
accordingto another account).
Onewonders howthefruit
24. W. E[rbery] TheMadMans Plea: Or, A Sober Defenceof Cap-
tcdneChillintons Church(1653), pp. 1-3, 7-8. Thetitleis ironical: the
pamphlet is as littleadefenceas it is sober: it attacks Chillendenand
his Baptist church. Thewords quotedintheepigraphto this chapter,
'Come, let's all bemadtogether', Erbery attributes to 'agreat manof
thesea... whenheheardof the[Long] Parliament dissolved'. Would
this beBlake? Or Deane? Hardly Mondeor Montague, onefeels.
25. T. Tani TheNations Right inMagna Charta, discussedwiththe
thingCalledParliament, p. 8. Seepp. 225-6above.
26. TheWeeklyIntelligencer, 1-8October 1650, quotedby Morton,
op. cit., pp. 103-4; TheRoutingof theRanters, p. 2.
cameto bethereso usefully, andwhether perhaps somesym-
bolical gesturewas intended: by their fruits yeshall know
them, empty kernels. Salmoninhis work of recantation,
Heights inDepths, saidthat inhis Ranter days hetalkedin
unknownpaths, andbecameamadman, afool amongmen
He'stumbledandfell into thesnareof openerror andprofane-
ness, ledandhurried(by what power let thewisejudge) ina
principleof madzeal'.
Therecanbeno doubt that theRanter
Thomas Webbewas beingprudent whenhecalledhimself Mad
Tominapamphlet foretellingthedownfall of Charles II in
But not many of theradicals wereprudent, certainly not
Tany. GeorgeFoster remindedthoseof his readers who were
inclinedto dismiss himas insanethat Jesus Christ too had
behavedeccentrically by thestandards of his time. Foster him-
self might also beanagent of Godto turntheworldupside
Isaac Peningtonhadsimilar views. 'Hewho madeall
things, andhathoftenpreferredfolly to bringwisdomdown,
may beabout thesamework againinaway as uncouth, un-
expected, yeaimpossibleto thepresent wisemenas those
ways heformerly pickedout still wereto thewisest inthose
Intheearly 1650s theswordof theNewModel
Army hadsucceededinunitingtheislandof Great Britain
under asinglegovernment for thefirst timeinits history; but
neither Foster nor Tany nor evenPeningtonwerethemen
to unitetheislandof Great Bedlam.
So what areweto conclude? Self-advertisement by thelower
orders? Deliveringdangerous opinions inaway whichwould
enablethemto bedisowned? Mental breakdown? Thestrain
of novelty? Anelement of provocation, adesireto shock, was
certainly there. But theradicals, especially Ranters andearly
Quakers, seemalso to haveacceptedtheirrational element in
humanexperience, andirrational behaviour, morethanmost
of their contemporaries. Thereis somethingsurrealist about
27. Salmon, Heights inDepths, pp. 18,23.
28. A LastingAlmanackfor theRmgneof theFifthMonarchy(1660).
I owethis point to Mr W. A. Hunt. For Webbesee pp. 226-7above.
29. Seep. 224above.
30. Penington, Light or Darknesse, sig. A 4.
Godwithinmancouldafter all speak fromthe
irrational as well as fromtherational consciousness: Godis
by definitionbeyondhumanreason. Hecouldbeasynonym
for mereself-expression, self-assertion, regardless of thecon-
tent of what was expressed. This perhaps was what Winstanley
wishedto guardagainst whenheinsistedthat GodandReason
wereone. Rational moderateenjoyment of theworldgavethe
wholebody quiet rest andpeace; 'that immoderateranting
practiceof thesenses is not thetruelifeof peace'.
Wemay takeanother exampleof amanwitharespectable
political record, who yet onoccasionappears to beamadman
or acharlatanor both. This is Everard, amember of John
Pordage's 'family communion'. This Everardwas 'first asep-
aratist, thenascoffer at ordinances,... thenablasphemer'. He
was also aconjuror, who duringastay withPordageat harvest
timein1649raisedwonderful apparitions - 'agiant witha
great swordinhis hand' and'agreat dragon... withgreat teeth
andopenjaws, whenceheoftenejectedfireagainst me' (Por-
dage). Someof theseapparitions wereaccompaniedby noisome
poisonous smells andloathsomehellishtastes of sulphur. But
therewerealso visions of goodangels, withcorrespondingly
agreeablesmells andtastes. All thesecontinuedfor thethree
to four weeks of Everard's stay, andmadeDr Pordagetaketo
thevirginlife, to avoidthekingdomof theDragon. Everard
was also 'seenat Londoninafrantic posture' about thesame
time; hebecame'madandfrantic' andwas 'committedby
authority to Bridewell'.
31. cf. Huehns, AntinomianisminSeventeenthCenturyEngland, pp.
32. Sabine, p. 400. For MuggletonReasonwas theDevil.
33. JohnPordage, InnocenceappearingThroughthedarkMists of
PretendedGuilt (1655), pp. 9-12, 26, 69-80; [Anon.] A Most faithful
relationof twowonderful passages whichhappenedverylately. ..in the
Parishof Bradfield(1650), pp. 2-3; Christopher Fowler, Daemordum
Meridianum, pp. 53-5, 59-61, 80; S. Hutin, Les Disciples anglais deJacob
Boehme(Paris, 1960), pp. 82-9.
It is not clear whether this Everardis theDigger William
Everard, whomFairfax inApril 1649thought 'no better than
, whenhecalledhimself aprophet 'of theraceof
andretailedstories of his visions.
Winstanley, in
amysterious phrasenever satisfactorily explained, spokeof
himas 'ChamberlentheReadingman, calledafter theflesh
A WilliamEverard, who first appears from
ReadinginFebruary 1643, actedas aregular spy for Sir
Samuel Luke, Scoutmaster-General to theEarl of Essex's
army, intheearly months of that year.
Four years later a
WilliamEverard, who may well havebeenthesameman, was
anAgitator andpromoter of theAgreement of thePeoplein
theNewModel Army. Hewas arrestedfor participationin
themutiny at WareinNovember 1647, andwas allegedto
havebeeninvolvedinaconspiracy to kill theKing, together
withCaptainBray andWilliamThompson. InDecember he
was releasedfromimprisonment, but cashiered. This wouldfit
theDigger Everard, who weknowhadbeendismissedfrom
theArmy. Intheearly stages of theDigger movement Everard
rather thanWinstanley seems to havebeenits spokesman.
Contemporary news-sheets suggest that Everardleft theDigger
colony at St George's Hill at theendof April 1649inorder to
jointhemutiny whichFairfax andCromwell suppressedat Bur-
ford. If this is correct it wouldhelpto connect thetwo William
Everards, sinceafter WaretheAgitator WilliamEverardhad
beenafellow-prisoner withThompson, who ledsomeof the
troops whichrevoltedinMay 1649.
It wouldalso supply a
34. ClarkePapers, II, pp. 210-12; Whitelocke, op. dt., p. 383; Pete-
gorsky, op. dt., p. 135. Theaureaujohntoo was 'of theraceof theJews'.
35. Sabine, p. 103.
36. Ed. I. G. Philip, Journal of Sir Samuel Luke(OxfordshireRecord
Soc., 1950-53), pp. 16, 35,38,41,61-2, etc.
37. Wolfe, p. 258; ClarkePapers, I, p. 414; Englands StandardAd-
vancedinOxfordshire, or a DeclarationfromMr Will. Thompsonand
theoppressedpeopleof this nationnowunder his conduct (1649). We
shouldperhaps not maketoo muchof theechoes of Digger titles - The
TrueLevellers StandardAdvanced, whichWilliamEverardsignedand
whichwent to thepress on20April 1649, andA Declarationfromthe
Poor OppressedPeopleof England, thenext Digger pamphlet, which
reason, otherwiselacking, for his disappearancefromtheDig-
ger story andfor his appearanceat Bradfieldat harvest-time,
sinceif hehadindeedbeeninarms after leavingSt George's
Hill hewouldbeseekinganinconspicuous refuge. Pordage's
livingat Bradfieldwas near Reading, wherehehadearlier been
acurate, andso may well havebeenknownto 'theReading
man'. But thesuggestionthat WilliamEverardwas at Burford
may bedueto contemporary confusionwithRobert Everard,
who certainly was.
Robert Everardhadalso beenanAgitator, who took part
inthePutney Debates. Hemay or may not bethesameas
theCaptainRobert Everardwho left theArmy after theBattle
of Worcester in1651, andin1652was allegedto bedissemin-
atingArianandSocinianheresies inNewcastleuponTyne.
This Robert Everardpublishedseveral pamphlets between1649
and1652, defendingadult baptismanddenyingoriginal sin.
Whichever was Pordage's Everard, thereseems to havebeen
somemethodinhis madness.
38. Woodhouse, pp. 6-7, 23, 34-6, 42-4, 83-4; ed. C. H. FirthandG.
Davies, A Regimental Historyof Cromwell's Army(OxfordU.P., 1940),
II, p. 503; Nickolls, Original Letters andPapers of StateAddressedto
Oliver Cromwell, p. 81.
39. Withthethemeof this chapter, cf. H. MarcuseAnEssayonLibera-
Hon(Penguinedn), p. 68.
Onesort of childrenshall not betraineduponly
to book learningandno other employment,
calledscholars, as they areinthegovernment of
monarchy; for thenthroughidleness andexer-
cisedwit thereinthey spendtheir timetofindout
policies toadvancethemselves tobelords and
masters abovetheir labouringbrethren.
WINSTANLEY, TheLawof Freedom(1652) in
Sabine, p. 577.
I DISCUSSED abovethehopes of establishingascienceof
Biblical prophecy, andtheeffects this hadonpopular mil-
Sideby sidewiththis, andevenmoreplausible
at thetime, werethevast prospects raisedby thesixteenth-
and early seventeenth-century magi/scientists, that new
methods of controllingtheworldof natureandof manmight
befound. Hermeticists hopedto revivetheprisca theologia,
thetimeless magical wisdomof theAncients; Paracelsans ex-
pectedby drawingontheexperienceof craftsmento founda
newscienceof alchemy/chemistry; astrologers, Mr Thomas
has suggested, weregropingtowards asocial science, ascience
of maninsociety.
All thesedreams still seemedrealizable. Weknownowthat
no scienceof prophecy, whether Biblical or astrological,
emerged: no scienceof natural magic nor of alchemy. But
until thelater seventeenthcentury this was not clear: great
scientists likeDee, Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Napier, Boyle, were
all interestedinthosesubjects. WilliamPerkins was addicted
to magic as anundergraduate; JohnPrestonwhenayoungdon
1. Seepp. 90-98above. 2. Seepp. 290-93below.
So cool andlevel-headedasceptic as John
Seldenwas at onceasupporter of thenewheliocentric
astronomy andagreat admirer of Robert Fludd.
Baconhimself hadbeeninspiredby theHermetic religio-social
ideal of controllingnature. Althoughherejectedthesupersti-
tious claims of magic andastrology, whichattemptedto dom-
inatenaturefromoutside, hethought they containedacore
of knowledgeabout thephysical universewhichcouldbeused.
Helookedto theexampleof craftsmenas amodel of scientific
experiment: naturecannot 'becommandedexcept by being
Bacon's influencewas spreadwideinEnglandafter 1640,
thanks especially to theexertions of Samuel Hartlib, andto
theinvitationto Comenius to cometo England. TheComenian
fusionof BaconianismandHermetic natural philosophy laid
great emphasis onthesocial anddemocratic possibilities of the
newscience. Hartlibfor two decades popularizedinEngland
aprogrammeof social, economic, religious andeducational re-
formwhichinfluencedmenof thecalibreof BoyleandPetty.
Intheeuphoriaof theearly 1640s this programme, whichap-
pearedto havetheblessingof theParliamentary leaders, joined
withmillenarianenthusiasmincreatingvisions of aUtopia
inEnglandsoon. (Cf. HughPeter's recommendationto Parlia-
ment in1646that thestateshouldfurther 'thenewexperi-
mental philosophy'.
). TheComenians
appealedespecially to
craftsmen, who formedthebulk of thereligious sects, by their
call for awideextensionof educational opportunity, for new
teachingmethods (usingthevernacular, not Latin; emphasiz-
ingthings, not words; experience, not books); for poolingand
makingwidely availableall existingscientific information(not-
ably viaHartlib's Officeof Addresses) andfor directingscience
3. Fuller, Abel Redivivus (1651), p. 432; T. Ball, TheLifeof theRe-
nownedDr Preston(1885), pp. 14-16.
4. /.O.E.R., p. 149.
5. Bacon, Works, III, p. 289, IV, pp. 32, 349, 366-7. SeeLO.EJt., ch.
6. Peter, Gods Doings andMans Duty(164©; GoodWorkfor a Good
Magistrate, esp. pp. 74-8.
7. Seep. 164above.
to therelief of man's estate- just as muchas by their desirefor
peaceandtoleranceamongprotestants, andfor unionagainst
thedark forces of papal reaction.
Weareall fellow-citizens of
theworld, all of oneblood, all of us humanbeings,' wrote
Comenius inwords whichWinstanley andWebster echoed.
This was what attractedBoylein1646-7. Themembers of
Hartlib's InvisibleCollege' practised'so extensiveacharity
that it reaches unto everythingcalledman', taking'thewhole
body of mankindfor their care'.
Mr Thomas has shownhowwidespreadwas interest in
alchemy andastrology inthe1640s and50s, not least among
religious andpolitical radicals. It was not accidental that
Ralpho, Hudibras's squire, was at onceasectary, aHermetic
philosopher andaBehmenist.
Thevictory of Army andIn-
dependents over thePresbyterians WilliamLilly interpretedas
avictory for thefriends of astrology. Mr Thomas gives evi-
denceto showthat RichardOvertonsought political advice
fromtheastrologer Lilly at acrucial stageinApril 1648;
other serious rational politicians who consultedprofessional
astrologers includeCornet Joyce, Mrs JohnLilburne, Hugh
Peter, several Agitators, Anabaptists, Ranters andQuakers.
LawrenceClarksontook upastrology in1650; JohnPordage
practisedit. So didthemembers of Hartlib's InvisibleCollege;
GerrardWinstanley andJohnWebster recommendedthat it
shouldbetaught. GeorgeFox in1649was no less worriedby
theinfluenceof astrologers thanof priests. Astrology was 'a
study muchintheesteemof illiterateRanters', saidapamph-
let of 1652.
As lateas 1663aQuaker saidto beunder Ranter
influencethought the'conjunctionof thestars was hopeful
for thenation'.
Those- Presbyterians especially - who op-
8. J. A. Comenius, Panegersia, quotedinTheTeacher of theNations
(ed. J. Needham, 1941), p. 6; cf. Winstanley, quotedonp. 312below,
andWebster, AcademiarumExamen, sig. B 1v.
9. R. Boyle, Works (1744), I, p. 20.
10. S. Butler, Hudibras, ed. J. Wilders (OxfordU.P., 1967), p. 200; cf.
Butler's Character of aHermetic Philosopher inCharacters andPassages
fromNote-Books, pp. 97-108.
11. Stokes, TheWiltshireRant, p. 22.
12. Braithwaite, SecondPeriodof Quakerism(1919), p. 39.
posedastrology raisedthequestionof whether 'humancuriosity
shouldbeallowedto play freely upontheworks of creation':
thoughsuchoppositionseems to havedonetheastrologers
Alchemy/chemistry, andespecially chemical medicine, had
radical associations. For Familists andBehmenists, so influen-
tial onRanters andQuakers, alchemy was anoutwardsymbol
of internal regeneration.
JohnWebster, Erbery's heir, had
beenapupil of theTransylvanianchemist Hans Hunneades,
who workedat GreshamCollege. Webster also pressedthe
study of alchemy andnatural magic ontheuniversities, and
was attackedas aproponent of the'Familistical-Levelling-
Magical temper'.
Onealchemist, of whomSir Isaac Newton
thought very highly, hopedin1645that ^withinafewyears',
thanks to alchemy, 'money will belikedross', andso 'that prop
of theantichristianBeast will bedashedinpieces ... These
things will accompany our so longexpectedandso suddenly
approaching redemption,' when 'thenewJerusalemshall
That was nearly as sub-
versiveas Winstanley.
Chemistry becamealmost equatedwithradical theology.
Webster himself hailedErbery as 'chemist of truthandgospel'.
Francis Osbornein1656saidthat theSocinians were'looked
uponas themost chemical andrational part of our many divi-
Samuel Fisher in1662praised'that chemical divinity,
that Godis declaringforththemysteries of his kingdomby',
inreply to BishopGauden's sneer at 'cantingor chemical
divinity, whichbubbles forthmany specious notions infine
13. For thewholeof this paragraph, seeThomas, Religionandthe
Declineof Magic, pp. 313, 359, 366-77andpassim; Fox, Journal, I,
p. 41.
14. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, pp. 270-71.
15. I.O.E.R., p. 58; T. Hall, VindiciaeLiterarum(1655), p. 199.
16. Eyraeneus PhilalethaCosmopolita, Secrets Reveal'd(publishedby
W. C. Esq., 1669), p. 48. Seemy Antichrist inSeventeenth-CenturyEng-
land, p. 119, for this pamphlet, andfor apredictionby anEnglishwoman,
possibly Mary Cary, that 'goldwouldshortly becommonly made*.
17. Erbery, Testimony, p. 266; Osborne, op. cit., I, p. 91.
fancies andshort-livedconceptions'.
hadproposedascientific experiment to test theimmortality
of thesoul; GeorgeFox andEdwardBurroughin1658simi-
larly proposedexperiments to test themiracleof themass.
Henry Pinnell translatedParacelsus in1657, withanApology
inwhichthetranslator praisedtheHermetic philosophy and
insistedthat, so far frommaking'voidtheWordof theLord
by his works', hewantedto 'establishtheoneby theother'.
'Every part of thecreationdothits part to publishthegreat
mysteries of man's salvation.'
Oneof theFellows of the
short-livedDurhamCollegewas Israel Tonge, analchemist;
another, WilliamSprigge, agitatedfor theteachingof chemistry
So astrology, alchemy andnatural magic contributed, to-
gether withBiblical prophecy, to theradical outlook. In1646
BenjaminBournedeclaredthat 'theFamilists arevery confi-
dent that by knowledgeof astrology andstrengthof reason
they shall beableto conquer over thewholeworld'.
As Mr
Thomas points out, intheastrologers' 'assumptionthat the
principles underlyingthedevelopment of humansociety were
capableof humanexplanationwecandetect thegermof
modernsociology'. 'Astrology, thoughbeginningas asystem
of explanation, ... endedas onewhichheldout theprospect
18. S. Fisher, TheTestimonyof TruthExalted, pp. 51, 57; cf. Samuel
Hartlib's referenceto RichardSibbes as 'oneof themost experimental
divines nowliving'. Heattributedtheopinionto JohnPym(Ephemerides,
1634. I amgrateful to Professor Trevor-Roper for givingmeatranscript
of this passage). Theelevationof 'chemical divinity' seems to datefrom
the1640s. TheGrindletonianRoger Brearley spokedisparagingly of
'chemical theology* (T. Sippell, Zur Vorgeschichtedes Quakertums,
p. 12).
19.1.O.EJl., p. 121; Fox, Journal, I, pp. 430-31; Gospel-Truth, p. 1088.
20. Pinnell, PhilosophyReformedandImprovedinFour Profound
Tractates (1657), sig. A 7v, a3.
21. J. T. Fowler, DurhamUniversity(1907), p. 18; Sprigge, A Modest
Pleafor anEqual Common-wealth(1659), p. 53. Tongewas later an
associateof Titus Oates.
22. B. Bourne, TheDescriptionandComputationof Mysticall Anti-
Christ theFamilists (1646), sig. T. 1, quotedby Thomas, op. cit., p.
of control.' That is why conservativetheologians wereso hos-
tileto it.
It also explains its attractions for theradicals: rather
likesociology inmid-twentiethcentury Englishuniversities.
Relianceondreams andvisions - Descartes andLordHer-
bert of Cherbury no less thanFox or Winstanley - was also
not entirely irrational. Thesuddeninsight, summingupmental
processes that havebeencontinuingfor sometime, is some-
thingweareall familiar with. It couldseemlikearevelation,
especially whenit cameinthehours of darkness. But if you
believedtheinsight was divinely inspired, this gaveit authority
bothfor youandfor your audience. So newandunconven-
tional insights couldbepropoundedandaccepted. A group
whichFox met in1647, who "reliedmuchondreams
, ulti-
mately becameQuakers.
Many Anabaptists, Ranters and
Quakers practisedfaithhealing, alayman's medicine, or rather
themedicineof lay believers.
But themiraculous cures claimed
by theearly Quakers weresuppressedby their successors:
PennandEllwooddo not refer to them.
Thesupporters of alchemy, astrology andmagic wereun-
fortunateinbackingtheright horseat thewrongtime. Alchemy
was to developinto thescienceof chemistry, thoughit hadto
wait for thenext great upheaval of theFrenchRevolutionfor
this to becompleted.
Social sciences haveemergedmore
slowly inthenineteenthandtwentiethcenturies, andthey are
not conscious of any debt to astrology. But thecosmic hopes
whichtheHermetic philosophy seemedto openupwerenot
wholly unreasonableinthemid-seventeenthcentury when
magic andsciencewerestill advancingsideby side. Isaac New-
tonfirst turnedto thestudy of mathematics inorder to investi-
23. Thomas, op. cit., pp. 327, 332,361.
24. Fox, Journal, I, p. 9. ManfredWeidhorn, Dreams inSeventeenth
CenturyEnglishLiterature(TheHague, 1970) emphasizes thesignificance
of thedreams of AdamandEveinParadiseLost andthedreamframe-
work to Bunyan's masterpiece(esp. pp. 82-8,154-5).
25. Thomas, op. dt., pp. 125-8. SeeJ. Aubrey, Miscellanies (1890), p.
137, for aQuaker of Kingstoncuringby astrology.
26. GeorgeFox's 'Bookof Miracles', p. 44andpassim; cf. p. 252
27.1.O.EJI., p. 298.
gatethescientific claims of judicial astrology.
interestedinalchemy throughout thecreativeperiodof his
life. Thelast of themagicians,' LordKeynes calledhim.
Fromour twentieth-century vantagepoint weseethepathof
scienceadvancinginexorably throughthemechanical philo-
sophy andthegradual eliminationof magic fromall spheres
- except, unfortunately, thecoreof Newton's lawof gravity,
theunexplained'force' whichacts by apparently non-material,
non-mechanical means across vast distances. Ignoringthis, we
assumethat thetriumphof mechanismwas inevitablefromthe
start. But Winstanley, for whomGodandmatter wereone,
said'Godis still inmotion', andurgedus to pursue'the
motional knowledgeof athingas it is'. For truthis hidin
every body'.
Great thoughtheachievements of themechani-
cal philosophy were, adialectical element inscientific thinking,
arecognitionof the'irrational' (inthesenseof themechanically
inexplicable) was lost whenit triumphed, andis havingto be
painfully recoveredinour owncentury. Wesmilewhenwe
readSamuel Heringaskingfor special university courses on
JacobBoehme; but at least onemodernhistorianof science
has suggestedthat it was exactly Boehme's sort of leaventhat
was missinginEnglishscientific thinkingduringthelater
seventeenthand eighteenthcenturies.
Theradicals were
wrong; but they arebeginningto look less stupidly wrongthan
they didonce.
A generationago evenso sensitiveacommentator as Sabine
was alittleembarrassedby Winstanley's suggestionthat nature
itself hadbeencorruptedby theFall of Man. Hedismissedas
28. Ed. I. B. Cohen, Isaac Newton's Papers andLetters onNatural
Philosophy(CambridgeUP., 1958), p. 436.
29. LordKeynes, 'NewtontheMan* inNewtonTercentenaryCelebra-
tions (CambridgeU.P., 1947), pp. 27, 31-2; cf. R. J. Forbes, 'Was New-
, Chymia, II (1949), pp. 35-6.
30. cf. Thomas, op. cit., pp. 643-4.
31. Sabine, pp. 565-7.
32. cf. p. 176above; S. F. Mason, A Historyof theSciences (1953),
PP. 282-90; TheScientific RevolutionandtheProtestant Reformation:
H, Lutheranisminrelationto Iatrochemistry andtheGermanNature-
Philosophy', Annals of Science, vol. 9, pp. 154-75.
theideathat natural disasters like
'therisings upof waters andthebreakings forthof fireto
wasteanddestroy arebut that curse, or theworks of man
ownhands that riseupandruntogether to destroy their
maker, andtorment himthat brought thecurseforth
stanley, however, as so often, is puttingstartlingly newcontent
into traditional forms of language. If webear inmindthat for
himtheFall was causedby covetousness andset upkingly
power, wemay rather think today that this is oneof thepro-
foundest of Winstanley's insights. As wecontemplateour land-
scapemadehideous by neonsigns, advertisements, pylons,
wreckageof automobiles; our seas poisonedby atomic waste,
their shores litteredwithplastic andoil; our atmospherepol-
lutedwithcarbondioxideandnuclear fall-out, our peaceshat-
teredby supersonic planes; as wethink of nuclear bombs which
to anextent that Winstanley never
dreamedof - wecanrecognizethat man's greed, competition
betweenmenandbetweenstates, arereally indanger of up-
settingthebalanceof nature, of poisoninganddestroyingthe
fabric of theglobe. Wearebetter placedto appreciateWin-
stanley's insight that inacompetitivesociety thestateis just
apart of thecompetitivesystem. Perhaps it was over-simplified
to believethat harmony andbeauty will berestoredto nature,
as well as society, as soonas community of property is estab-
lished. But what arethechances of priority beinggivento 'the
beauty of thecommonwealth' beforetherehas beenachange
insocial relations? For Winstanley social revolutionis the
samethingas menlearningto 'liveincommunity withthe
globeand... thespirit of theglobe
, inaccordancewiththe
laws of nature: lettingReasonruleinmanas it does inthe
Rejectionof non-mechanistic explanations was inpart - and
only inpart - ideologically motivated. Stablelaws of nature
went withastablesociety. Nowthat Godwas locatedwithin
every humanheart, it was inconvenient to havehiminterven-
ingintheday-to-day runningof theuniverse. Bothpopular
magic andcatholic magic upset theorderedcosmos. After
33. Sabine, pp. 42-3, 221; cf. p. 169.
1660everythingconnectedwiththepolitical radicals hadto be
rejected, including'enthusiasm
, prophecy, astrology as arival
systemof explanationto Christianity, alchemy andchemical
medicine. Proponents of thelatter weredismissedas 'fanatics
inphysic', 'asort of mennot of academical but mechanic
education', supporters of 'thelaterebellion', who wantedto
openmedicineto 'hatters, cobblers andtinkers
enough, as theiatrochemists andalchemists failedto win
acceptance, as they foundthemselves spurnedby official scien-
tific bodies, so they becameincreasingly wildandirrational.
Thus society's verdicts areself-confirming.
It was 'plebeians andmechanics
whomBishopParker de-
nouncedin1681for having'philosophizedthemselves into
principles of impiety'. They 'readtheir lectures of atheism
inthestreets andhighways'. I was guilty of undueforeshorten-
ingwheninmy Intellectual Origins of theEnglishRevolution
I describedthemechanical philosophy as thephilosophy of
I shouldhavedifferentiatedmoresharply
between'mechanic atheism' andthemechanical philosophy
proper. Onepart of thereasonfor theacceptanceof thelatter
was that it seemedto offer anacademic alternativeto the
mechanic atheismto whichsomeof theradical congregations
under mechanic preachers weretending.
The triumph of themechanical philosophy ultimately
createdfurther problems for Christianity, as someparsons had
foreseenit would. Witches, malignant spirits andthedevil had
beenuseful explanations for theexistenceof evil andsuffering,
useful scapegoats. Who was to blameif they werenot? 'Deny
spirits andyouareanatheist,' divines said.
34. N. Hodges, VmdidaeMedidnaeet Medicorum(1665), passim; W.
Johnson, Brief Animadversions (1665) passim; C. Goodall, TheRoyal
Collegeof Physidans (1684), sig. A 4. I owethefirst two references to
Mr I. A. McCalman; cf. Sir WilliamTemple, quotedinI.O.E.R., pp.
35.1owethis point to Mr McCalman.
36. /.O.E.R., pp. 127,66.
37. J. Aubrey, Brief Uves (OxfordU.P., 1898) II, p. 318; cf. Sir T.
Browne, ReligioMedici (Everymanedn), p. 34; H. More, AnAntidote
against Atheism(1653) passim.
not bedispensedwith, thefeelings of sinandguilt previously
purgedby punishingheretics andwitches wereincreasingly
turnedinwards: thePuritansenseof guilt was part of the
pricepaidfor thegapbetweenideology andtechnology.
Academic scientists wereas anxious inrestorationEnglandto
dissociatethemselves fromatheismas fromenthusiasm, to
showthat scienceprovedtheexistenceof Godandalaw-
abidinguniverse. Charles II was wiseto becomepatronof the
Royal Society as well as headof theChurchof England: the
onewas as useful against mechanic atheismas theother was
incurbingmechanic preachers. But many babies went out
withthebathwater as theRoyal Society trumpetedits
respectability andconcentratedonutilitarianexperiments. The
widevision, especially thesocial vision, of theradical Baconians
was totally lost; someglimpses only survivedintheDissenting
Academies. For thenonconformist sects, as they abandoned
hopeof turningtheworldupsidedown, as they re-admitted
sin, acceptedexistingsociety andthestate, withdrewfrom
politics to anexclusively other-worldly religion- so they lost
their sympathy for andunderstandingof theearthly aspira-
tions of Hermetic philosophy, of magic.
Theradicals of theEnglishRevolutionmadealast attempt
to seetheuniverseas awhole, scienceandsociety as one.
Copernicanastronomy hadendedthedistinctionbetween
heavenly andsub-lunary: theradicals aimedat completingthis
by endingthedistinctionbetweenspecialists andlaymen. They
wantedto drivescholastic theologians out of theuniversities,
to endthedominanceof Latin, Greek andHebrew; but they
didnot want scienceto behandedover to anewset of mumbo-
jumbo men. Dee, Bruno, Fluddandmany others hadaspired
to understandthewholeuniverseinall its aspects. Comenius
38. Thomas, op. cit., pp. 638-40; my ReformationtoIndustrial Revolu-
tion, p. 117.
39. Thomas, op. cit., pp. 377-8.
was perhaps thelast serious thinker to attempt anall-embracing
synthesis andapply it to humanlife. Winstanley wantedscience,
philosophy andpolitics to betaught inevery parishby an
electednon-specialist, drawingonthepool of scientific and
other informationwhichsomethinglikeHartlib's Officeof
Addresses wouldhavefurnished.
Heandtheradical scientists
wantedscienceto beappliedto theproblems of humanlife:
this was thepractical significanceof their emphasis onastro-
logy, alchemy andnatural magic. Their defeat, however
scientifically necessary anddesirable, also meant theendof
dreams of anall-embracingWeltanschauungaccessibleto ordin-
ary people. Newtonwas as incomprehensibleto theaverage
mechanic as Thomas Aquinas. Knowledgewas no longer shut
upintheLatinBible, whichpriestly scholars hadto interpret;
it was increasingly shut upinthetechnical vocabulary of the
sciences whichthenewspecialists hadto interpret. 'Andpray
youwhat is thedifference?' theradicals might haveasked.
I do not wishto suggest that many of theplebeianradicals
wereawareof this philosophical andcosmological disputein
thebackground, thoughI suspect someof themhadagreater
understandingof it thanhistorians havehaduntil very re-
cently. But their specific grievances fall into placeagainst this
backcloth. What rank and fileradicals wantedwas democratiza-
tion- of religionby mechanic preachers andabolitionof
tithes, democratizationof lawby decentralizationof courts,
abolitionof feedlawyers, democratizationof medicineby
abolitionof theCollegeof Physicians' monopoly andthepro-
visionof freeor cheapmedical remedies for alL Inall three
spheres theenemy was monopoly.
Industrial monopolies hadcollapsedin1641, but as Lil-
burnepointedout in1645, book-printingwas still engrossed
by theStationers' Company, preachingby theblack-coated
ministers, administrationof justiceby lawyers andjudges,
'thieves cumprivilegio
Theliberty of thecommonwealth,
Nicholas Culpeper declaredin1649, is infringedby thethree
40. Plockhoy also wantedall economic informationto bepooled(see
p. 346below).
41. Haller, Tracts onliberty, III, p. 294.
monopolies of priests, physicians andlawyers.
orders, Goodall saidmuchlater, wantedmedicinethrownopen
to tinkers, 'tailors to invadethebar andjugglers thepulpit'.
Wearetoldof rank-and-filesoldiers, patients inSt Bartholo-
mew's Hospital in1647, who petitionedfor theappointment
of ayoungsurgeonof whomthey approved; others triedto
get ridof apolitically undesirablesister.
Winstanley in1652,
Samuel Heringin1653, demandedafreenational healthser-
vice; thelatter wantedlawyers, likeparsons, schoolmasters and
physicians, to bepaidby thestateandchargeno fees.
JohnCook the
regicideproposedfreemedical treatment for thepoor
liamDell, themainburdenof whoseattack is directedagainst
theclergy, thought physic andlawshouldbetaught inuniver-
sities only whenthoroughly reformedfromtheir corruptions
'bothfor practiceandfees'.
JohnWebster, who pressedscience
andnatural magic ontheuniversities, was as anxious as Dell
andWinstanley that they shouldno longer trainministers.
Themechanic preachers proposedto democratizereligion.
Any manor womanwho hadthespirit of Godmight preach,
better thanauniversity-traineddivinewho lackedthespirit
Thescientific radicals adoptedasimilar attitudeto medicine.
Therevolutionary decades, wroteJohnHeydonin1664, 'ad-
mittedstocking-weavers, shoemakers, millers, masons, carpen-
ters, bricklayers, gunsmiths, porters, butlers etc. to writeand
teachastrology andphysic'.
Nicholas Culpeper, apothecary
andavowedrepublican, denouncedas aSeeker andatheist,
42. Culpeper, A Physical Directory(1649), sig. A.
43. C. Goodall, TheRoyal Collegeof Physicians, sig. A 4; TheCollege
of Physicians Vindicated(1676), sig. A 4v-5v, pp. 1-2, 22-3, andpassim.
44. J. J. Keevil, MedicineandtheNavy(1957-8) II, p. 2.
45. Sabine* p. 598; ed. Nickolls, Original Letters ... addressedto Oliver
Cromwell, pp. 100-101,129-30.
46. Petty, TheAdviceof W. P. toMr Samuel Hartlib(1648).
47. J. Cook, UnumNecessarium(1648).
48. Dell, Several Sermons, p. 644.
49. Webster, TheSaints Guide(1654), pp. 26-7andpassim. Seepp.
50. J. Heydon, TheWise-mans Crown: or, theGloryof theRosie-
Cross (1664), sig. C. 3v, quotedby Thomas, op. cit., p. 375.
conductedacampaignagainst themonopoly of theCollegeof
Physicians parallel to that whichWinstanley, Webster andDell
carriedonagainst theuniversities. Culpeper translatedinto
Englishthesacredtext of theCollege, thePharmacoepia Lon-
dinensis, so that medical prescriptions wouldbeavailableto the
poorest. Hehopedit wouldmakeevery manhis ownphysician,
as thetranslationof theBiblemadeevery manhis own
theologian(andas Lilburnehopedevery manwouldbecome
his ownlawyer.)
Clarksonfor atimepractisedastrology; CoppeandWalwyn
after 1660took upmedicineas aprofession. Winstanley was
certainly acquaintedwiththeParacelsantradition, fromwhich
heno doubt took theantithesis of light/darkness whichper-
vades his thought as it does that of Clarkson, Bauthumley and
theQuakers, theChildrenof Light.
Winstanley may also have
learnt fromthis sourcethat to knowthesecrets of natureis
to knowtheworks of God', 'thesecrets of nature' beinga
familiar phraseinthis tradition.
Winstanley also appears to
haveknownsomethingof anatomy, correctly locatingtheperi-
GeorgeFox always retainedaninterest inmedi-
TheRevolutionwhichstartedby awaveof popular anger at
thecruel sentences passedontheRev. Henry Burton, lawyer
PrynneandDr Baswick, endedby pilloryingthethreeprofes-
sions of divinity, law, medicine, which, Fox said, hadaban-
donedthewisdom, faithandequity of God. Parsons of the
statechurchearly becametheprincipal enemy of theradicals.
51. For Culpeper seeI.O.E.R., pp. 29, 72, 81-2, 120, 122; Thomas, op.
cit., p. 343. For LilburneseeLOJE.R., p. 261.
52. Thesub-titleof Clarkson's A SingleEyewas All Light, No Dark-
ness; or Light andDarkness One; cf. Bauthumley's TheLight andDark
Sides of GodandFrancis Freeman's Light VanquishingDarknesse(1650);
cf. Morton, op. cit., pp. 74-5, andDebus, TheEnglishParacdsians, pp.
53. Sabine, p. 565; Debus, op. cit., pp. 41, 61, 88-90, 138; G. H. Turn-
bull, Samuel Hartlib(1920), pp. 10-13; cf. pp. 139-40, 142above. I am
indebtedto Mr Charles Webster for helpintins matter.
54. Winstanley, TheBreakingof theDayof God, pp. 17-18: 'the
heart of manhathadjoiningto it abladder or stemof water whidi cools
theheat of theblood- theperecardium'.
Lawyers, physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, schoolmasters,
'thenewprofessional groups', thrivingwithexpandingdemand
amongthemiddleclasses, 'cameto formoneof thedominant
elements, sometimes thepredominant one, intheparliament-
ariancounty committees'.
Theextrudedtraditional gentry
hatedthembecausethey wereconsolidatingtheRevolution; dis-
appointedradicals hatedthembecausethey werefrustrating
its further extension. Theradicals endedby advocatingnot only
mechanic preachers but also mechanic doctors, mechanic
lawyers andjudges. Winstanley carriedtheprinciplefurther
still, callingfor anon-professional citizenarmy, ready to act
as acheck onany who attemptedto upset thefreedomof the
Theradicals' visionincludedareformededucational system,
whichwouldrealizesomethinglikeComenius's ideal: universal
educationinthevernacular for boys andgirls upto theage
of eighteen, followedby six years at theuniversity for thebest
pupils. They areeagerly debatingonthereformationof schools
inthewholekingdom,' wrdteComenius in1641, that all young
peopleshouldbeinstructed, noneneglected'.
lutionanewuniversity was startedat Durham, andothers were
proposedfor London, York, Bristol, Exeter, Norwich, Man-
chester, Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Cornwall, Wales, theIsleof
Man: therewerealso proposals for anincreaseinthenum-
ber of schools.
InWales agreat number of newschools were
actually started. Professor Stonebelieves that therewas a'sub-
stantial increaseinlower-class literacy throughout therevolu-
55. Fox, Journal, I, pp. 29-30; A. Everitt, ChangeintheProvinces in
theSeventeenthCentury, pp. 43-6.
56. Sabine, pp. 572-3.
57. Ed. R. F. Young, Comenius inEngland(OxfordU.P., 1932), p.
65; Selections fromComenius, pp. 19-21.
58. 7.O.E.R., pp. 108-9, 124; R. L. Greaves, ThePuritanRevolution
andEducational Thought (Rutgers U.P., 1969), pp. 55-6,59-60. Notethat
tenof thetwelveproposednewuniversities areintheNorthandWest, or
tionary decades'.
WilliamPetty in1648advocated'colleges of
tradesmen', whereablemechanicians shouldbesubsidizedto
performexperiments, as well as 'literary workhouses' for poor
WilliamDell calledfor schools inall towns and
villages, withgrammar schools incities andlarger towns, and
universities inevery great city. Undergraduates shouldwork
their way throughtheuniversity, earningtheir livinginsome
useful callingpart of theday or every other day.
too wanteduniversal education, regardless of class or sex, to
becombinedwithmanual work so as to ensurethat no privi-
legedclass of idlescholars shouldariseVhichoccasions all
Dell also criticizedthesocial roleof universities, suggesting
that 'all divinity is wrappedupinhumanlearningto deter the
commonpeoplefromthestudy andinquiry after it, andto
causethemstill to expect all divinity fromtheclergy, who by
their educationhaveattainedto that humanlearningwhichthe
plainpeoplearedestituteof'. Fromthis swaddlingof divinity
inhumanlearning'must it sadly follow, that all who want
humanlearningmust needs also want divinity; andthenhow
shall poor plainpeople, who liveinlawful callings, andhave
not theleisureto attainhumanlearning, howshall they do to
Thesubtleclergy,' Winstanley agreed, 'do know
that if they canbut charmthepeopleby this their divining
doctrine, to look after riches, heavenandglory after they are
dead, that thenthey shall easily betheinheritors of theearth,
andhavethedeceivedpeopleto betheir servants.**
Universities werethus crucial to seventeenth-century society.
They trainedtheopinion-formers, thepersuaders. To theradi-
59. Stone, 'Literacy andEducationinEngland, 1640-1900', P. andP.,
42, pp. 109-12.
60. TheAdviceof P. toMr. Samuel Hartlib.
61. Dell, Several Sermons, pp. 642-8. Similar proposals weremadeby
GeorgeSnell, TheRight Teachingof Useful Knowledge(1649), pp.
62. Seeepigraphto this chapter.
63. Dell, op. cit., p. 585; cf. p. 273. Samuel Fisher madethesame
point (!Testimony, p. 336; cf. pp. 207,331,469).
64. Sabine, pp. 568-70,236-40.
cabthey seemedto embody andjustify fundamental assump-
tions of propertiedsociety - that all Englishmenweremembers
of thenational church, likeit or not; that only gentlemen
educatedintheclassics might preach. They seemedto deny
by implicationthefundamental protestant doctrineof the
priesthoodof all believers, to restrict its applicationto educated
clerics. For this reasonElizabethanBrownists andBarrowists
hadthought universities were'thevery guardof Antichrist's
What was newintherevolutionary decades was that
suchviews werediscussedopenly, bothby intellectual radicals
andby mechanick preachers, oneof whomwas reportedas
sayingin1647'that universities is of thedevil andhumanlearn-
ingis of theflesh'.
Roger Williams, Erbery, Coppin, Robert
Norwood, Fox, Nayler, Farnsworth, Samuel Fisher, JohnWeb-
ster, all agreedwithWinstanley andDell that universities should
not beusedfor thetrainingof ministers.
HughPeter occupied
ahalf-way positionwhenheadvocatedgatheringup'godly
youths out of shops' andsendingthemfor improvement -
perhaps to anOxfordCollegeset asidefor thepurpose. The
trainingwas clearly not to beprimarily in'arts andtongues'.
Theuniversities,' wroteThomas Hobbes, 'arethefountains
of thecivil andmoral doctrinefromwhencethepreachers and
thegentry... sprinklethesameuponthepeople.' Consequently
'theinstructionof thepeopledependethwholly ontheright
65. Ed. A. Peel andL. H. Carlson, Writings of Robert Harrisonand
Robert Browne(1953), pp. 530-31; ed. Carlson, Writings of JohnGreen-
wood(1962) I, pp. 268-9; Writings of HenryBarrow(1962-6) I, pp.
344-53,534-41; II, pp. 191,211-24.
66. LAnon.] TheseTradesmenarePreachers (1647), singlesheet.
67. Roger Williams, TheHirelingMinistryNoneof Christs (1652), pp.
14-17; Erbery, Testimony, p. 86; Coppin, DivineTeachings, pp. 21-4;
Truths Testimony(1655), p. 16; Norwood, TheFormof anExcommuni-
cationmadebyMr SydrachSympson... against CaptainRobert Nor-
wood(1651), pp. 33-4; Fox, TheLambs Officer, pp. 2-3, andpassim;
Journal, I, pp. 7, 11, 386; Gospel-Truth, p. 1016; Nayler, TheOldSer-
pents Voice, p. 5; Thomas Adams, AnEaster-Reckoning(1656), Preface
by RichardFarnsworth; [R.F.] Antichrists Manof War (1655), pp. 53, 55;
Fisher, Testimony, pp. 298, 589-90; Webster, AcademiarumExamen
(1654) passim.
68. Mr Peters Last Report of theEnglishWarres (1646), p. 13.
teaching of youthintheuniversities'. This succinct analysis
of thesocial roleof universities inmid-seventeenth-century
England helps us to understandthehostility of radicals to
them, especially as Hobbes added'auniversity is anexcellent
servant to theclergy'.
Thosewho wishedto abolishastate
church, tithes andparochial livings, naturally wishedto change
theuniversities, whoseprincipal functionwas trainingministers
to occupy theselivings. For thosewho thought that 'if Christ
call himandpour forthhis spirit onhim, that andthat only
makes himatrueminister,
knowledgeof Latin, Greek and
Hebrewwas irrelevant to his training, andthewholefunction
andpurposeof OxfordandCambridgeseemeddistorted.
Cobbler How, LordBrooke, Roger Williams, Henry Denne,
RichardOverton, WilliamWalwyn, EdmundChillenden, Ger-
rard Winstanley, WilliamDell, JohnMilton, Roger Crab,
RichardCoppin, JohnCanne, Henry Stubbe, GeorgeFox,
RichardFarnsworthandSamuel Fisher might all bequotedto
this effect.
Tt is oneof thegrossest errors that ever reignedunder Anti-
christ,' Dell toldhis Cambridgecongregationin1651, to affirm
that theuniversities arethefountainof theministers of the
gospel,' or that theclergy shouldbeaseparatecaste.
But if
universities ceasedto trainaprivilegedcasteof clergy, and
devotedthemselves to servingthesecular interests of thecom-
monwealth, thenareligious reformer likeDell couldagreewith
secular reformers likeJohnHall andNoahBiggs inurging
thestudy of anatomy and'mechanic chemistry, thehandmaid
of nature, that hathoutstrippedtheother sects of philosophy',
together withareviewof oldexperiments andtraditions.
69. Hobbes, Leviathan(Penguinedn), pp. 728, 324; Behemoth, inEng-
lishWorks, VI, p. 347; cf. pp. 184-5, 215-20, 230-34, 276-82.
70. Dell, Several Sermons, p. 398.
71. Seemy HieRadical Critics of OxfordandCambridgeinthe
Sixteen-fifties', inUniversities inPolitics, ed. J. W. BaldwinandC.
Goldthwaite(Johns Hopkins U.P., 1972).
72. Dell, Several Sermons, p. 403.
73. JohnHall, TheAdvancement of Learning(1649), ed. A. K. Croston
(Liverpool U.P., 1953), pp. 27-8; N. Biggs, TheVanityof theCraft of
Physick(1651), sig. b, pp. 229-31. Biggs repeats Hall almost verbatim.
JohnWebster wantedastronomy, natural magic, chemistry,
astrology, medicineall to bestudiedat theuniversities. He
knewhewouldberegardedas 'anabsoluteLeveller* for his
pains, thoughhedenouncedthemany-headedmonster.
was quiteright: JohnWilkins, SethWardandThomas Hall
all attackedhimas aLeveller.
Winstanley, who felt that 'the
secrets of thecreationhavebeenlockedupunder thetradi-
tional, parrot-likespeakingfromtheuniversities andcolleges
for scholars',
hadevery hopeof arapidadvancefor such
studies inhis ideal commonwealth. Therethefunctions of
parson, doctor andlawyer wouldall betakenover by asingle
electedmember of theparish, presumably without special train-
ing, who onceaweek shouldleaddiscussionclasses in
philosophy, medicine, history, civic studies.
It is sadly ironical that thetimewhenWinstanley was thus
of all knowledgewas almost precisely thetimeat whichsignifi-
cant specializationbeganto set in. Thelast of thepolymaths
weredyingout just as Winstanley hopedto establishaminor
polymathinevery parish. His schemewas not utterlyUtopian,
sinceit was linkedwithComenianplans for collectinganddis-
seminatinginformation, includingscientific informationand
informationabout inventions. Wecanhardly say that Win-
stanley's visionwas impossible; wecanonly say that it was
never tried.
Therestorationenabledtheuniversities to survive, almost
untouchedby thescientific ideas whichhadinvadedthemduring
theRevolution. But continuingunchangedinarevolutionized
society meant that their social rolewas transformed. They re-
thoughthelatter hadnowlost its exclusivemonopoly position.
74. Webster, AcademiarumExamen, sig. B iv, pp. 20, 51, 68-70,106-8.
75. [JohnWilkins andSethWard] VindidaeAcademiarum(1654), pp.
6,23,43,48; T. Hall, VindidaeLiterarum(1655), p. 199.
76. Sabine, p. 271.
77. ibid., pp. 562-5. InPlattes's Macaria (1641) parsons werealso to be
physicians (seeC. Webster, 'Theauthorship... of Macaria', P. andP.,
Mechanic Preachers andtheMechanical Philosophy
They also retainedaclassical emphasis whenLatinhadceased
to beeither themainsourceof scientific information, or the
languageof international scholarship, or eventheeffective
languageof theeliteprofessions, divinity, law, medicine.
of national andinternational intellectual life, abackwater, just
as nonconformists,excludedfromtheuniversities,evolvedindis-
sentingacademies aculturewhichwas as one-sidedontheother
side- utilitarian, provincial, sectarian. Thesplit whichWin-
stanley had hopedto bridge, betweenuseless specialized
scholars andill-educatedpractical men, remained. InWin-
stanley's society thetwo cultures wouldhavebeenone.
Not only didEnglandenter theepochof theIndustrial
Revolutionwitharulingeliteignorant of science; thescientists
of theRoyal Society themselves abandonedtheradicals
thusiastic' schemes for equal educational opportunity. So the
reservoir of scientific talent inthelower classes whichthese
schemes hadenvisagedremaineduntapped, and'Englandad-
vancedtowards thetechnological agewithapopulationill-
equippedto takethefullest advantageof its resources'.
78. Seepp. 296-300above, 355-6below. For thedisuseof Latinin
Chancery seeW. J. Jones, TheElizabethanCourt of Chancery, pp. 291,
79. C. Webster, 'Scienceandthechallengeto thescholastic curriculum,
1640-1660*, inTheChangingCurriculum(History of EducationSoc.,
1971), pp. 32-4.
It is acurious fact that withevery great revolu-
tionary movement thequestionof 'freelove*
comes intotheforeground. Withoneset of
peopleas arevolutionary progress, as ashaking
off of oldtraditional fetters, no longer necessary;
withothers as awelcomedoctrine, comfortably
coveringall sorts of freeandeasy practices be-
FREDERICK ENOELS, The Book of Revela-
tion', inProgress, Vol. II, 1883.
IN oneof many stories of Ranters searchingfor sininbroad
daylight withtheaidof alightedcandle, thelady foundit, to
her satisfaction, inagentleman's codpiece.
Thenas now, 'sin'
usually meant sex for Puritans. Thesexual revolutionwhich
was animportant part of theintroductionof theprotestant
ethic meant replacingproperty marriage(withloveoutside
marriage) by amonogamous partnership, ostensibly basedon
mutual love, andabusiness partnershipintheaffairs of the
family. Thewifewas subordinateto her husband, but no slave.
Theabolitionof monasteries andnunneries symbolizedthe
replacement of thecelibateideal ('stinkingchastity' as Bale
) by theconcept of chastity inmarriage. Thedual
standardof sexual conduct was replaced, at least as anideal, by
asinglestandardappliedto bothsexes.
This revolutionhas beendescribed, withsomeexaggeration,
as moreimportant thantheGreat Rebellion.
It took along
1. TheRanters Last Sermon(1654), p. 3.
2. J. Bale, Select Works (Parker Soc., 1849), p. 336; cf. Lucy Hutchin-
son's remark that EdwardtheConfessor was 'saintedfor his ungodly
chastity' (Memoirs of theLifeof Colonel Hutchinson, 1846, p. 4).
3. C. Bridenbaugh, VexedandTroubledEnglishmen(OxfordUP.,
1968), p. 28.
timeto complete, if indeedit has yet beencompleted. But the
revolutionary decades sawasignificant accelerationof the
process, as well as attempts to transcendit. Historians of litera-
turehavemadeus familiar withcontroversies ontheJacobean
stageover marriageandthepositionof women. By andlarge
thepopular theatrefor whichShakespearewrotewas infavour
of monogamous weddedlove; thearistocratic coterietheatre
was morecynical andcontemptuous inits attitudetowards
This may inthemainbeattributedto ariseineconomic
importanceof thosemiddling-sizedhouseholds, intownand
country, inwhichthewifewas ajunior partner inthebusiness.
Landowners, downto Samuel Richardson's Harlowes inthe
eighteenthcentury, naturally regardedmarriageas too serious a
property transactionto beleft to children: this is athemein
many of thosebooks of Adviceto a Sonso popular amongthe
gentry at this time, presumably becausestandards werechang-
ing, andparents thought that advicewas needed. Nor were
childrenalways romantic. Theterms of EdmundVerney's
proposal in1661chill theheart: 'Wearethemost convenient
matches inEngland, oneto theother,' heassuredthelady of
his choice, 'becausethebest part of our estates join.'
medieval traditionwithwhichC. S. Lewis has madeus familiar,
sexual satisfactionstill seemedto theInns of Court poets some-
thingto besought outsidemarriage.
Let haberdashers marry, andthosepoor
Shoptraffickers that spendtheir precious hours
saidacharacter inoneof Davenant's plays, probably actedin
So longas theCourt of Wards existed, themarriageof a
tenant-in-chief (andthat meant most great landowners) could
hardly beanythingbut aproperty transaction. Abolitionof the
4. A. Harbage, ShakespeareandtheRival Traditions (NewYork, 1952)
passim. •
5. VerneyMemoirs, IV, p. 17.
6. C. S. Lewis, TheAllegoryof Love(OxfordU.P., 1936) passim.
7. W. Davenant, TheDispensary, Act I, scenei.
Court in1646must haveincreasedthechanceof anheir or
heiress choosingfor himself. As Harringtonpointedout, the
lower sort' werefar freer inthis respect thanthenobility and
Someof theless attractiveaspects of thePuritanview
of marriageshouldthereforebeseeninrelationto what
preachers (andpopular dramatists) wereupagainst. Intolerance
of marital infidelity, thedesireto imposeseverepenalties for
adultery, werepart of thebattleagainst property marriage, for
Inmany ways thelegal positionof womenwas inferior to
that of men. They werestill burnt for husband-murder:
murderingone's wifewas only ahangingmatter. A wifeso
indecent as to sit inthesamepewwithher husbandat church
was liableto penalties intheecclesiastical courts.
But women's
positionwas improving, most of all inLondon, naturally
enough. Thereit was actionableto call awomanVhore', and
wife-beatingwas also anoffence.
(Dutchmerchants werestill
horrifiedby theEnglishman's habit of beatinghis wife, though
this was frownedoninYorkshire.)
But thepositionof women
was muchbetter infact thanit was intheory, lawstill not
havingcaught upwitheconomic change. 'A wifeinEngland,'
wrotethebachelor JohnChamberlain, 'is dejurebut thebest of
servants, havingnothinginamoreproper sensethanachild
hath.' But 'their conditiondefacto is thebest intheworld, such
is thegoodnatureof Englishmentowards their wives.' Italians
saidEnglandwas theparadiseof womenas well as thepurga-
tory of servants andthehell of horses.
'Englishwives,' the
8. J. Harrington, Works (1737), pp. 109-10.
9. T. E. Thiselton-Dyer, ChurchLoreGleanings (1891), p. 192.
10. Style, Reports, pp. 69-70,100, 229, 326,455; C. V. Wedgwood, The
King's Peace, 1637-1641(1966), p. 40. Gougewrotestrongly against
wife-beatinginOf Domesticall Duties, pp. 223-6.
11. A. C. Carter,' TheEnglishReformedChurches inAmsterdaminthe
SeventeenthCentury(Amsterdam, 1964), p. 162; P. Williams, Lifein
Tudor England(1969), p. 70. For Yorkshire, seeJ. Addy, Ecclesiastical
DisciplineintheCounty of York, 1559-1714(unpublishedLeeds M.A.
Thesis), p. 96.
12. H. T. Buckle, Miscellaneous andPosthumous Works (1872), IH,
p. 577.
old-fashionedJohnSmythgrumbled, 'challengemoreliberty
andinclinemoreto sovereignty thanthoseof other nations.
A Russianvisitor to Londonin1645-6confirmedthat women
ruletheir houses andtheir husbands; headdedthat they were
also morehonest.
For awomanto betruly independent meant
puttingherself outsidesociety andrejectingher sex. The
heroineof Middleton's TheRoaringGirl woremen's clothes
anddefendedherself withher sword.
Thenewethic was reflectedinPuritandoctrines of thehelp-
meet, insistenceonthewife's rights (insubordination) inthe
family partnership, onmarriagefor loveandonfreedomof
choicefor children(thoughnot disregardingtheparents'
Thequalifications haveto beput in, andPuritanism
was not amonolithic creed. Someoldideas diedhard: the
equationof adultery withtheft, becausethewifeis thehusband's
property, canbefoundinmany theologians popular withPuri-
tans, fromBullinger onwards.
Yet WilliamGougeinhis
influential Of Domesticdl Duties arguedvery clearly that the
husband's adultery was as badas thewife's: therewas no dual
standardfor him, nor for WilliamPerkins or Daniel Rogers.
Gougeurgedyoungmento marry for love. Daniel Rogers
almost incitedchildrento resist if parents refusedconsent to
themarriageof their choice.
Eve, Thomas Goodwinpointed
out, was takenfromAdam's side- not fromhis foot.
hadsomereasononhis sidewhenheaskedVouldyouhavea
milder government thanthat of ahusband, whichthoughit be
13. Smyth, lives of theBerkleys (Gloucester, 1883) II, p. 413.
14. Ed. Z. N. Roginsky, Londonin1645-6(Yaroslavl, 1960), p. 13.
15. W. andM. Haller, ThePuritanArt of Love', HL.Q., V (1942),
passim, cf. S. andP., ch. 13; I.O.E.R., pp. 273-5.
16. H. Bullinger, Decades {Parker Soc., 1849-52) I, pp. 406, 411-12,
[J. DodandR. CleaverJ A plainandfamiliar Expositionof theTen
Commandements (19thedn, 1662), p. 262; JohnHall of Richmond, Of
Government andObedience(1654), p. 27.
17. Gouge, op. cit, p. 128; D. Rogers, Matrimoniall Honour (1642), pp.
80-81; K. V. Thomas, TheDoubleStandard
, Journal of theHistoryof
Ideas, XX, p. 203.
18. T. Goodwin, Works, II, p. 422.
not aparity, yet it comes as near as canbe? *
This was doctrine
to appeal to moderateconstitutionalists, as patriarchialism
seemedto go withtheDivineRight of Kings.
Miltonwas very surprised, andso arewe, to discover how
many early protestant theologians sanctioneddivorce,
of theminsistingonequal rights for womeninthis respect,
e.g. BishopHooper andTheReformationof theEcclesiastical
Divorcewas easier inPuritanNewEnglandthanin
HughPeter in1651was thus not startlingly original when
headvocateddivorceas well as civil marriage; for thelatter
therehadbeenagitationinParliament as early as 1576.
family structureappropriateto industrialismwas established
inEnglandwell beforetheIndustrial Revolution, whichit may
havefacilitated. This seems aparallel phenomenonto that
notedby Mr K. V. Thomas - that 'magic lost its appeal before
theappropriatetechnical solutions hadbeendevisedto takeits
Womenhadplayedaprominent roleintheheretical sects of
theMiddleAges, andthis traditioncameto thesurfaceagain
inrevolutionary England. Sects allowedwomento participate
inchurchgovernment, sometimes evento preach.
votedinHughPeter's churchat Rotterdaminthe1630s.
Femalepreachers aboundinthehorrifiedpages of Thomas
Edwards. 'If atolerationweregranted,' hewailed, 'they should
19. R. Sibbes, Works (Edinburgh, 1862-4), V, p. 349; cf. Gouge, op.
cit., p. 273.
20. e.g. Calvin, A CommentaryonGenesis (trans. J. King, 1965) II,
p. 133.
21. J. Hooper, EarlyWritings (Parker Soc., 1843), pp. 378-85; The
Reformationof theEcclesiastical Laws, pp. 49-58.
22. S. E. Morison, TheIntellectual Lifeof NewEngland(Cornell U.P.,
1963), p. 10.
23. H. Peter, GoodWorkfor a GoodMagistrate, p. 117; C. L. Powell,
EnglishDomestic Relations (NewYork, 1917), pp. 67-76.
24. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, pp. 656-7.
25. E. M. Williams, 'WomenPreachers intheCivil War', J.MJI., I,
pp. 561-9; K. V. Thomas, 'WomenandtheCivil War Sects', P. andP.,
13, pp. 42-62; Nuttall, TheHolySpirit inPuritanFaithandExperience,
pp. 87-8.
26. R. P. Stearns, CongregationalismintheDutchNetherlands, 1621-
1635(Chicago U.P., 1940), p. 56.
never havepeaceintheir families more, or ever after have
commandof wives, children, servants' - anotethat recurs.
A respectabledivinelikeSamuel Torshell soldthepass when
hewrotein1645that therewas no differencebetweenmenand
womeninthestateof grace. Thesoul knows no differenceof
Theologically impeccable, it was socially imprudent to
emphasizethat inthe1640s. Fox was carryingtheideaonly a
littlefurther whenheasked'May not thespirit of Christ speak
inthefemaleas well as inthemale?
But womensectaries
didmorethanpreach, badthoughthat was. They threatenedto
subvert themarriagebond. Unequal marriages wereanti-
christianyokes, they said: awifemight forsakeanantichristian
husband, ahusbandanantichristianwife. Mrs Attaway did
just that, inthecompany of WilliamJenny.
ElizabethanFamilists divorced, as they married, by simple
declarationbeforethecongregation. Before1640suchcustoms
hadbeenconcealedby sects existingprecariously underground
or inexile. But duringtheRevolutionthey werepractisedand
defendedinpublic: thesocial impact was profound. Mr
Thomas points out someconsequences of openandwidespread
advocacy of religious equality for women. If thereligious
sanctionfor thefather's headshipof his family, or theking's
fatherhoodof his people, is takenaway, thewholeof society
andall its institutions areopento reviewfromthepoint of
viewof theinner light, reason, natural right, popular consent,
commoninterest. Mr Thomas quotes attacks madeduringthe
Revolution, sometimes by womenthemselves, ontheir limited
educational opportunities, their confinement to domestic duties,
their subjectionto their husbands andtheinjustices of acom-
mercial marriagemarket.
27. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 116-19, 187; cf. pp. 34, 121, 138, 171;
II, p. 8; III, pp. 14,99.
28. S. Torshell, TheWomans Glorie(1645), pp. 2, 10-11. Boltonhad
madethesamepoint earlier QVorks, 1631-41, IV, pp. 245-6, quotedby
Walzer, op. cit., p. 193).
29. Fox, Gospel-Truth, p. 81(1656); cf. pp. 331,724.
30. Edwards, Gangraena, I, pp. 220-23; II, pp. 11, 141, 178-9.
31. Thomas, 'WomenandtheCivil War Sects', pp. 52-5; cf. P. andR.,
p. 319: Roger Crab: 'They bargainandswoplikehorse-coursers.'
Mrs Chidley in1641arguedthat ahusbandhadno more
right to control his wife's consciencethanthemagistratehad
to control his.
TheFifthMonarchist JohnRogers forbade
mento despisewomen'or wrongthemof their liberty of voting
andspeakingincommonaffairs. To womenI say, I wishyou
benot too forward' (as, by all accounts, his ownwifewas); "and
yet not too backward, but holdfast your liberty ... Yeought
not by your silenceto betray your liberty.'
Quakers - follow-
ingtheexampleof Familists andsomeBaptists - practised
marriageby declarationbeforethecongregation, withno other
civil or religious ceremony. Winstanley advocatedasimilar
Quakers also abandonedthewife's promiseto
obey her husband, sincemanandwifewereas equal inthenew
lifeas they hadbeenbeforetheFall. GeorgeFox onmarrying
Margaret Fell engagednot to meddlewithher estate, to the
amazement of thelawyers.
GerrardWinstanley summarized
thebest of theradical protestant tendency for his ideal com-
munity: 'every manandwomanshall havethefreeliberty to
marry whomthey love, if they canobtaintheloveandliking
of that party whomthey wouldmarry. Andneither birthnor
portionshall hinder thematch, for weareall of onefamily,
mankind.' Thecommunal storehouse, headdedwitharealistic
touch, wouldprovidemarriageportions.
Weshouldaddtheliberatingeffect of thebreakdownof
churchcourts andthereforeof supervisionover thesexual lives
of ordinary people, 'uponagroundless suspicionof unchastity
... to drainthepeople's purses.'
Thesuspicions may not all
havebeengroundless. Wearetoldthat at least oneout of every
32.5. andP., p. 443n.
33. E. Rogers, LifeandOpinions of a FifthMonarchyMan, p. 69.
34. Morton, TheWorldof theRanters, pp. 122-3; Sabine, p. 599.
35.1. Ross, Margaret Fell, pp. 214-5. StephenMarshall, who also mar-
riedawifefromawealthier family, madesimilar arrangements (E.
Vaughan, StephenMarshall, 1907, pp. 26-7).
36. Sabine, p. 599. Fromtheway Winstanley puts it, thewomanwould
seemto beas freeto proposemarriageas theman. Do Winstanley's
words echo thoseof Comenius, quotedonp. 289above?
37. E. H[all] A Scriptural Discourseof theApostadeandtheAntichrist
(1653), sig. b4.
threebrides inseventeenth-century Englandwas pregnant when
shewas married; andthat bastardy was commoner inEngland
Themost recent historianof lawreform
duringtheinterregnumsees therevolutionary decades as a
periodof greater freedomfrommoral supervisionthanany
beforeor immediately after. The1650Act against adultery,
Mr Veall thinks, was not enforced.
Henceforth'sin' was not a
crime. Soon, intheeyes of Ranters, sexual intercourseoutside
marriageceasedto besinful. 'Vice, theselateyears,' wrote
Fuller in1647, 'hathkept openhouseinEngland... No
penancefor theadulterer, stocks for thedrunkard, whipfor the
petty larcener.'
'InCaptainChillington's [«c] church,' Erbery
mocked, 'there's neither penancenor stool of repentancefor
menwho liewiththeir maids.'
Another way inwhichEdmundHall allegedthat church
courts hadextortedmoney was by fines for marryingwithout a
licence. Theissuingof marriagelicences, Dr Marchant tells
us, hadbeen'agrowthindustry' intheyears before1640. They
werenot cheap. Of 509licences issuedinNorwichdiocesein
theyears 1636-7, all but 13cost 3s. 6d. or more. At York in
the1630s theaveragepricewas about 10s. Suchlicences were,
Dr Marchant suggests, astatus symbol whichonly theupper
andmiddleclasses couldafford: they must havepredisposed
thepoor to despisechurchmarriage.
Therevolutionary decades sawanastonishingoutburst of
uninhibitedspeculation, whichincludedtherelationof the
sexes amongmany other themes. Several besides Miltonadvo-
catedfreedomof divorce(HughPeter, Mrs Attaway). Francis
38. P. E. H. Hair, 'Bridal Pregnancy inRural England', Population
Studies, XX, pp. 233-43; P. Laslett, TheWorldWeHaveLost (1965), p.
39. Veall, op. cit., p. 141. Thepoint hadbeenmadein1881by John
Stoughton, who describedit as 'aconsiderablejudicial andsocial revolu-
tion' (Historyof ReligioninEngland, 1881, I, pp. 473-5); cf. 5. andP.,
p. 331.
40. Fuller, GoodThoughts inBadTimes (1830), pp. 174-5.
41. W. E., TheMadMans Plea (1653), p. 4. Erbery, oneimagines,
wouldregret this less thandidFuUer. Seepp. 281-2above.
42. Marchant, TheChurchunder theLaw, pp. 20-22, 80-82.
Osbornediscussedpolygamy andmarriageby annual contract,
theHarringtonianandrepublicanHenry Nevile,
accusedof atheismandblasphemy intheRumpParliament in
1659, inTheIsleof Pines (1668) depictedacheerfully happy
polygamous Utopia.
Petty andothers discussed'Californian
marriage', interesting sexual combinations of 1+4 and
JohnHall arguedthecasefor femalenudism, not
(as theAdamites wereallegedto do) as asymbol of regained
innocence, but becausenakedness wouldbeless provocative
thantheclothes whichwomenwore- aviewwhichowedsome-
thingto reports fromtheNewWorld, popularizedby Mon-
taigneandinEnglandby Robert Burton, JohnBunyanagreed
GeorgeFox in1647cameacross agroup
whichheldthat womenhadno souls, 'addinginalight man-
ner, no morethanagoose'.
TheMuggletonians thought that
inheavenweshall be
All males, not madeto generate,
But liveindivinehappy state.
It was Robert Herrick, bachelor, royalist andanti-Puritan,
who prayedfor an'unlearnedwife'.
Whenweget to theRanters weseesomeconsequences. John
Robins gavehis disciples authority to changewives andhus-
bands - andchangedhis own'for anexample'.
Clarksonraisedthis to atheory of completesexual freedom,
43. F. Osborne, op. cit., I, pp. 30, 34.
44. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, III, pp. 296-305.
45. Ed. Lansdowne, PettyPapers (1927), II, pp. 52-4.
46. J. Hall, Paradoxes (1650), ed. D. C. Allen(Gainsville, Florida,
1956), pp. 54-77; Burton, TheAnatomy of Melancholy(Everyman
edn), III, pp. 88-9; Bunyan, Works, III, p. 645.
47. Fox, Journal, I, p. 8.
48. DivineSongs of theMuggletonians (1829), p. 140.
49. R. Herrick, 'His Wish', inPoetical Works (1956), p. 294.
50. J. Reeve, A Transcendent Spiritual Treatise, p. 12.
andAbiezer Coppecarriedtheattack evenfurther, into the
monogamous family itself. 'Giveover thy stinkingfamily
duties,' hewrote. It is never quiteclear whenCoppeis speaking
inhis ownpersonandwhenonbehalf of God(if indeedhe
differentiatedclearly). But thefollowingpassageseems to be-
longto God: 'Giveover, or if nothingelsewill do it, I'll at a
timewhenthouleast of all thinkest of it, makethineown
child... liewithawhore—beforethineeyes.* Wemust be-
comelikelittlechildrenagain: 'andto suchalittlechild, un-
dressingis as goodas dressing; ... heknows no evil.' Coppe
seems to havetransferredto his ownpersonhere, warningus
that heis only hintinghis meaningwhenhewrites:
Kisses arenumberedamongtransgressors - basethings - well! by
basehellishswearingandcursing(as I haveaccountedit inmy
timeof fleshly holiness) andby baseimpudent kisses (as I then
accountedthem) my plaguey holiness hathbeenconfounded... And
again, by wantonkisses, kissinghathbeenconfounded; andex-
ternal kisses havebeenmadethefiery chariot to mount meinto
thebosomof ... theKingof Glory... I can... kiss andhug
ladies, andlovemy neighbour's wifeas myself, without sin.
Coppehadto disavow, amongother errors, that adultery,
fornicationanduncleanness is no sin', and'that community of
wives is lawful'.
For Clarksontheact of adultery was not distinct from
prayer: it all dependedonone's inner approach. To thepure
all things, yeaall things, arepure,
heemphasized, adultery in-
That was writtenin1650: lookingback tenyears later
Clarksonthus describedhis Ranter principles: 'No mancould
befreedfromsin, till hehadactedthat so-calledsinas no sin
... Till youcanliewithall womenas onewoman, andnot
judgeit sin, youcando nothingbut sin... No mancouldattain
to perfectionbut this way.
who makeGod'acloak for all their lascivious lust
51. Cohn, op. dt., pp. 364-71; Coppe, A FieryFlyingRoll, II, p. 9;
SomeSweet Sips of someSpirituall Wine, p. 46. Seepp. 279-80.
52. Copps Returntothewayes of Truth, pp. 1-13.
53. Clarkson, A SingleEye, inCohn, op. dt., p. 351.
they say that 'for themall womenareas onewoman', and
continueto practisewhat hehadformerly preached. But
intheearly 1650s hehadno qualms. 'Most of theprincipal
womencameto my lodgings for knowledge,' hetells us, 'but
at last it becameatradeso commonthat all thefrothandscum
brokeforthinto theheight of this wickedness.'
writingafter his conversionto Muggletonianism: his tone
wouldno doubt havebeendifferent earlier. But thereis no
reasonto disbelievehim.) His itinerant lifegavehimopportuni-
ties, andenabledhimto escapefromembarrassingrelation-
ships. Historians haveperhaps not yet reflectedsufficiently on
theimportanceof social andphysical mobility inexpanding
thepossibilities of freedom, includingsexual freedom, espe-
cially for women.
It seems indeedto havebeenperfectly simplefor any couple
to teamuptogether andwander roundthecountry, preaching
andpresumably dependingonthehospitality of their co-
religionists or thosewhomthey couldconvince. WilliamFrank-
linandMary Gadbury didthis, theonly remarkablething
about them(andtheonly reasonwhy weknowtheir story)
beingthat Mary Gadbury (who couldnot signher name) be-
lievedthat Franklinwas her LordandChrist, andcalledher-
self theSpouseof Christ. This rather naturally attracted
attention. Sin, Mary assuredaninquiringclergyman, is taken
away whenmenandwomencometo beinChrist Whenthey
weretriedat Winchester inJanuary 1650, Mary Gadbury as-
suredthecourt that 'shecompaniednot withhiminanuncivil
way, but as afellow-feeler of her misery; at whichlast word,
thewholecourt laughedexceedingly ... A fellowfeeler in-
deed.' Franklin, arope-maker whose'languagewas wholly
accordingto theFamilists' dialect', rather tamely abandoned
54. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound(1660), pp. 25-6; Lookabout you
(1659), pp. 30, 92-3; cf. Holland, op. cit., p. 4; E. Hide, op. cit., p. 42,
whosesummaries arenot unfair; andE. Stokes, TheWiltshireRant, pp.
8-9, for anexample.
55. Clark andSlack, Crisis andOrder inEnglishTowns, 1500-1700, p.
153; seeibid., pp. 135, 159-60, for earlier examples of unmarrieditinerant
his claimto beChrist; Mary Gadbury, indignant at this be-
trayal, sufferedtheadditional humiliationof beingwhipped.
Bunyantells us that hehimself heardaman'inOliver's days'
adviseagirl whomhewas temptingto commit uncleanness
withhim' to say, 'whenyoucomebeforethejudge, that you
arewithchildby theHoly Ghost'.
Hostileaccounts naturally madethemost of suchstories,
andtherearemany graphic descriptions of Ranter orgies by
pamphleteers who hadmasteredthemodernjournalist's ability
to titillatewhilst reprehending.
Clarksoninhis Baptist days
was accusedby acounty committeeof lyinginthewater with
a'sister' whomhewas dippingat night. Clarkson's presenceof
mindrarely failedhim, andhereplied'Surely your experience
teaches youthecontrary, that naturehathsmall desireof
copulationinwater' - 'at whichthey laughed'.
Similar accusa-
tions weremadeagainst many other radicals: therewas a
popular songabout aQuaker who practisedbestiality. A com-
mitteesolemnly reportedto Parliament in1656that'Nayler's
principles permittedhimto lie'withany womanthat is of his
Coppe, accordingto anevenless reliable
source, 'commonly lay inbedwithtwo womenat atime'.
Weneednot takeany of thesestories seriously, though
Coppecertainly likedto shock. Andweshouldallowagood
deal for symbolic gestures. If menandwomenbelievethat they
have'attainedto that perfectioninChrist already whichthey
lost inAdam', it was logical, if chilly, to assumethat 'they
may go nakedas hedid, andliveabovesinandshame'.
56. H. Ellis, Pseudochristus (1650), pp. 45-53andf passim; cf. Cohn, op.
cit., pp. 330-33, andD. M. Wolfe's Introductionto Vol. IV of Milton's
CompleteProseWorks, pp. 73-5. Mary Gadbury may havebeenan
57. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 613.
58. Thoseinterestedwill findreferences inCohn, op. cit., pp. 328-9.
59. Morton, op. dt., p. 122.
60. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, p. 24.
61. TheRoutingof theRanters, p. 3. For Coppe's indignant denial see
his RemonstranceOf ThesincereandzeaHous Protestation(1651), p. 6.
62. R. Abbott, TheYoungMans Warning-piece, sig. A 3v-4. Abbot
claimedto bedescribingthebehaviour of Ranters.
recall too themany occasions onwhichvery respectable
Quakers 'went nakedfor asign', withonly aloin-clothabout
their middles for decency's sake. But thecoreof truthwhich
does emergeis that Ranters systematically proclaimedtheright
of natural manto behavenaturally. Inwordanddeedsomeof
themdeliberately floutedtheinhibitions whichthePuritanethic
was imposing. Clarksonhadsomethinglikeaphilosophy of
andthereis reasonabledocumentationfor John
Holland's remark: They say that for onemanto betiedto one
woman, or onewomanto oneman, is afruit of thecurse; but,
they say, wearefreedfromthecurse, thereforeit is our liberty
to makeuseof whomweplease.'
Lieutenant JacksoninScot-
landinMay 1650was reportedas sayingthat if wewerenot
freeto enjoy another man's wifethecreaturewas kept in
bondage; thecreatures cando nothingotherwisethanas moved
andactedby God.
It wouldhavebeendifficult at thetime, andis impossible
now, to assess therelativeimportanceof repressedexhibition-
ismandserious symbolic propaganda. In1652alady stripped
nakedduringachurchservice, crying'Welcometheresurrec-
tion!' Theincident was remarkableprincipally becauseit took
placeinthechapel at Whitehall; suchoccurrences wereless
rareat Ranter andQuaker meetings.
Ranterismeasily passedover into its apparent oppositeex-
treme, asceticism. Fox fastedfor tendays, Miles Halheadfor
afortnight, Nayler for aday or two longer. James Parnell
diedafter atendays' fast. AnnaTrapnell fastedfor twelve
days, SarahWight, allegedly, for fifty-three.
was reportedas sayingthat marriagewas avery wickedthing,
andto havedeniedthelawfulness of havingchildrenby one's
husband. Hewas also, logically enough, accusedof havinghad
anillegitimatedaughter, andof defendingpolygamy, though
63. Seepp. 214-17above.
64. Holland, TheSmokeof thebottomles pit, p. 3.
65. Firth, Cromwell's Army, p. 408; cf. Fox, Journal, II, pp. 95-6.
66. Gardiner, CommonwealthandProtectorate, II, p. 95. For examples
seepp. 216(Ranter) and239(Quaker) above.
67. Nuttall, James Nayler, pp8-10; GeorgeFox's 'Bookof Miracles',
pp. 5, 32-4.
headmitted preferringvirginity to matrimony.
asceticismledto reports that 'theQuakers wouldhaveno
. GeorgeFox 'never thought of suchthings
as 'the
procreationof children
: 'I judgedsuchthings as belowme.
Winstanley, no ascetic, madeonevalidpoint against this 'ex-
cessivecommunity of womencalledRanting*.
Themother andchildbegotteninthis manner is liketo havethe
worst of it, for themanwill begoneandleavethem, andregard
themno morethanother women... after hehathhadhis pleasure.
Thereforeyouwomenbeware, for this rantingpracticeis not the
restoringbut thedestroyingpower of thecreation... By seeking
their ownfreedomthey embondageothers.
Sexual freedom, infact, tendedto befreedomfor menonly,
so longas therewas no effectivebirthcontrol. This was the
practical moral basis to thePuritanemphasis onmonogamy.
Thefact that it has sincelost this basis tends to makeus forget
howimportant it was inits time. Unless theseducer was aDon
Juanrichenoughto maintainabastardandits mother (as
Charles II andthecourt wits of therestorationcould) sexual
liberty was ahit-and-runaffair. Many putativefathers must
havetakento theroad, leavingthemother andtheparish
authorities to carry thebaby. Wecanseehereperhaps yet an-
other attractionof theitinerant lifefor aRanter likeLawrence
Clarkson. Theprudent andstay-at-home, likeSamuel Pepys,
preferredto philander withother men's wives: to lay their eggs,
cuckoo-like, inothers
nests. This is why cuckoldry is suchan
unfailing- andto us boring- jokeonthecoteriestage. Many
werethecomplaints intheearly seventeenthcentury that City
wives werebecomingtoo independent to appreciatethecompli-
ment'whichanaristocratic suitor paidthem.
Ranters, I amsuggesting, gaveideological formandcoherent
68. Pordage, Innocenceappearing, pp. 9, 18-19, 30-34, 56-8, 77-80,
84-6, 91. Seep. 225above.
69. Ed. Nuttall, EarlyQuaker Letters, pp. 181,277.
70. Winstanley, A Vindicationof those. . . calledDiggers (1649[-501),
inSabine, pp. 399-403; cf. Englands Spirit Unfoidded, ed. G. E. Aylmer
P. andP., 40, pp. 14-15. Clarksonin1659- rather late- madethesame
point (LookAbout You, pp. 94-6).
expressionto practices whichhadlongbeencommonamong
vagabonds, squatter-cottagers, andthein-betweencategory of
migratory craftsmen.
Over suchitinerants churchcourts and
J.P.s hadlittlecontrol: defacto marriageanddivorcemust
havebeencommon. 'Vagabonds,' it was saidin1654,
erally givento horribleuncleanness, they havenot particular
wives, neither do they rangethemselves into families, but con-
sort together as beasts.'
* TheGubbings of Devonareno doubt
anextremecase. They wereoutsidethelaw, 'exempt from
bishop, archdeaconandall authority either ecclesiastical or
civiF. They livedlikeswineand'multipliedwithout marriage'.
But Nordenthesurveyor also spokeof peoplebredamongst
thewoods, 'dwellingfar fromany churchor chapel', who were
'as ignorant of Godor of any civil courseof lifeas thevery
savages amongst theinfidels'.
Contemporaries explainedthe
whoredoms of theWelshby themountainair: themodern
historianmorewisely sees themas thenatural product of a
society whichrefusedto accept Englishprotestant marriage
(JohnKnox hadexperiencedsimilar difficulties in
guess howmuchinfanticideaccompaniedtheseinformal mar-
riages, or morecasual liaisons; but presumably infant mortality
wouldinany casebeespecially highamongsuchsocial groups.
Rejectionof churchmarriageby Clarkson, Winstanley, Ran-
ters, Quakers, was inonesenseatraditional lower-class atti-
tude, lookingback to LollardandFamilist practice.
But the
Ranters, by rejectingsin, proclaimingfreeloveandraising
thematter as onefor public rational discussion, went further
71. cf. p. 203above;
71A. R. Younge, ThePoores Advocate(1654), p. 11, quotedby P.
Slack inClark andSlack, Crisis andOrder inEnglishTowns, p. 167.
72. Fuller, Historyof theWorthies of England(1840), I, p. 398.
73. QuotedinThirsk, AgrarianHistory, IV, p. 411.
74. Penry Williams, TheCouncil intheMarches of Wales under Eliza-
bethI (Cardiff, 1958), p. 101.
75. J. Knox, TheHistoryof theReformation...in Scotland(Glasgow,
1832), pp. 232,237.
76. Thomson, TheLater Lollards, p. 127; seep. 311above.
thantheir predecessors could, andpushedthroughto acon-
cept of therelationof thesexes whichwas morelibertinethan
anythingpublicly defendedhitherto. Clarksonat least hoped
that his ethic wouldfreemenandwomenfromtormenting
themselves for imaginary sins. 'Happy is themanthat con-
demns not himself inthosethings heallowethof.'
tunately Ranter theology leapt ahead of the technical
possibilities of their society: equal sexual freedomfor both
sexes hadto wait for cheapandeffectivemethods of birthcon-
trol. Middleton's RoaringGirl couldretainher independence
only by remainingchaste. It wouldbeinterestingto know
howmuchtruththerewas inthepropagandist assertionof The
Routingof theRanters that amongRanters 'thewomandoth
commonly makechoiceof themanshewill dwell with'.
early Quakers seemto haveanticipatedtheories of painless
child-birth, eventhoughtheir reasoning- that they hadbeen
brought into theconditioninwhichAdamandEvewerebefore
theFall - wouldnot commenditself to amoderngynaecolo-
TheRevolutionhelpedmany womenbothto establishtheir
ownindependenceandto visualizeatotal escapefor thepoorer
classes. Mary Cary in1647got as far as sayingthat 'Weall
condemnthat antichristianprincipleinPopery [andelsewhere,
mutatis mutandis, thoughshedidnot emphasizethis] to enjoin
all to believeas thePopebelieves.'
Next year shedescribed
herself as a'minister', andjustifiedParliament's war against the
KingfromRevelation. Shedatedtheresurrectionof thetwo
witnesses prophesiedinRevelationXI to 5April 1645, theday
theNewModel Army marchedforth, andreferredto the'great
victory' whichhadoccurredinthesummer of 1647.
Miss Gary draftedA Newandmoreexact Mappeor Descrip-
77. Clarkson, A SingleEye, p. 11; cf. Milton, quotedonpp. 163above
78. op. cit., p. 6; cf. Winstanley, quotedonp. 312above.
79. Nuttall, EarlyQuaker Letters, p. 200.
80. M. Cary, A WordinSeasontotheKingdomof England(1647), p. 9.
81. M. Cary, TheResurrectionof theWitnesses (1648), title-pageand
pp. 82-9, 98-100,156-62,189-94. Inmy Antichrist inSeventeenth-Century
England, p. 107, thedateis misprintedas 4April 1645.
Honof NewJerusalems Glory, startingfromtheassumption
that in1645Jesus Christ hadbegunto takehis kingdom. 'The
timeis coming/ sheassuredher readers, when'not only men
but womenshall prophesy; not only agedmenbut youngmen,
not only superiors but inferiors; not only thosewho have
university learningbut thosewho haveit not, evenservants
andhandmaids.' 'Beforetwenty or tenor fiveyears pass we
shall undoubtedly seemuchmoreof this spiritual glory upon
thesaints thannowthereis
; andshedescribedthematerial
Utopiawhichawaitedthesaints onearth. They shall have
abundanceof goldandsilver.'
Mary Cary subsequently be-
cameMrs Rande, under whichnamein1653sheurgedthe
Barebones Parliament to abolishtithes andlawyers, relieve
thepoor andreformtheuniversities.
It may beacoincidence
that in1669theGrandDukeof Tuscany saidtheRanters were
'so calledfromAlexander Ranta, atailor', for hewas not at all
well informedinsuchmatters of detail.
Therewere, finally, tendencies amongtheradicals which
survivedto counteract thegloomy 'Puritanism' whichset in
after 1660andthedefeat of thereal Puritans. TheQuaker doc-
82. M. Cary, TheLittleHorns DoomandDownfall (1651), pp. 133,
83. M. R[ande] TwelveProposals totheSupremeGovernours of the
ThreeNations (1653), pp. 5,7-11.
84. LL. Magalotti] Travels of a Cosmo 111, GrandDukeof Tuscany,
throughEngland(1821), pp. 453-4.1havenot beenableto identify Mary
Cary's husband. In1650Lady Eleanor Davies's agent was aJohnRand
(P. Hardacre, 'GerrardWinstanley in1650*, HuntingtonLibraryQuar-
terly, XXII, p. 348). Daniel andWalter RandsignedaFifthMonarchist
tract in1657(Capp, FifthMonarchyMen, p. 244). A Mary, wifeof
WilliamRand, appears intheStatePapers, but thereseems to havebeen
morethanoneWilliamRand(iCSJ>.D1650, p. 500; 1652-3, pp. 333,
341, 445; 1653-4, pp. 44-6, 117, 434). William, sonof theapothecary
James Rand, was anassociateof Nicholas Culpeper, Samuel Hartliband
WilliamWalwyn, aphysicianandtranslator of chemical works who
originatedtheschemefor aCollegeof GraduatePhysicians (C. Webster,
'EnglishMedical Reformers of thePuritanRevolution', Ambix, XIV,
pp. 24, 31-2, 36-9; N. Culpeper, Culpeper's School of Physick, 1659, Sig.
A 6v, C; W. W., Healths newStore-houseOpened, 1661, p. 25). Mary
Cary's works seemto havebeenknowninchemical circles (seemy Anti-
christ inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, p. 119n., andp. 290above).
trineof perfectibility continuedto testify against hatredof the
body, evenif Fox didthink begettingchildrenbeneathhim.
For healso said'theoutwardbody is not thebody of death
andsin; thesaints
bodies arethemembers of Christ andthe
temples of thelivingGod.
Quakers thought lace-makingan
unsuitableoccupationfor members of their Society, but they
hadno objectionto brewingor keepinganale-house. ('Why
Samuel Fisher askedof thelatter occupation; 'thecalling
being... honest ... thoughoftenmuchabused
Milton's many unorthodoxies, hemaderomantic loveof man
for womanaprincipal causeof theFall, andendowedthe
angels withsex, as well as withthecapacity to appreciatefood
- thebasis of bothideas beingthat matter is goodandrightly
to beenjoyed.
What happenedto theideas whichradicals for
abrief periodpublicized, andwhichthenreturnedto obscurity,
wedo not know. But Mr A. L. Mortonhas establishedthat
Blakeat least inheritedideas similar to thoseof theRanters, as
well as knowinghis Miltonintimately.
85. Fox, Gospel-Truth, p. 1059; cf. p. 319above.
86. S. Fisher, Testimony, p. 584.
87. R. H. West, MiltonandtheAngels (GeorgiaU.P., 1955), esp. pp.
170-74. Seep. 398below.
88. A. L. Morton, TheMatter of Britain, esp. pp. 104-21. Seepp. 339,
Sir Thomas Bitefig:—First then,
I chargethee, lendno money; next, serveGod;
If ever thouhast children, teachthemthrift:
They'll learnreligionfast enoughthemselves.
cartwri ght, TheOrdinary, Act V, scenei.
(Published1651, but theauthor diedin1643.)
I SHALL assumewithout argument that thereis suchathingas
theprotestant ethic: anemphasis onthereligious duty of
workinghardinone's calling, of avoidingthesins of idleness,
wasteof time, over-indulgenceinthepleasures of theflesh.
This ethic was most easily absorbedby theindustrious middle
classes intownandcountry - yeomen, craftsmen, merchants,
somegentlemen. It gaveamoral energy, aconvictionof
righteousness, that enabledthemto carry out heroic feats of
political revolution, andto endurethat morehumdrumday-to-
day struggleto saveandaccumulatethecapital whichwas in-
dispensableto business success. It also convincedmany of
themthat it was areligious duty to imposeregular, disciplined
labour onthelower classes (andoccasionally, moredaringly,
ontheidleupper classes): at least to createsocial conditions
whichdiscouragedidleness. This meant opposingobservance
of saints' days, andthetraditional villagefestivals andsports,
as well as sexual irresponsibility.
I want to emphasizetheextent of therevolutioninman's
thinkingandfeelingwhichimpositionof theprotestant ethic
involved. Protestant preachers inthelatesixteenthandearly
seventeenthcentury undertook acultural revolution, anexercise
inindoctrination, inbrainwashing, onahitherto unprecedented
scale. Weonly fail to recognizethis becauseweliveinabrain-
washedsociety: our ownindoctrinationtakes placeso early,
andfromso many directions at once, that weareunawareof
theprocess. Brainwashingis somethingwhichother peoples
do. Only inour ownday, withthebeginnings of thewidespread
rejectionof theprotestant ethic inour society, andwith
examples of alternativeindoctrinations inother societies, can
wegraspthevastness of theachievement of thosewho initially
imposedit - eventhoughit took several generations.
Thepreachers knewwhat they weredoing. Their languageis
revealing. They wereupagainst 'natural man'. Themodeof
thought andfeelingandrepressionwhichthey wishedto impose
was totally unnatural. 'Every manis by naturearebel against
declaredRichardBaxter, 'so that ordinarily to plead
for ademocracy is to pleadthat thesovereignty may beput into
thehands of rebels.
Only thestrongest religious convictions
couldsteel mento facethesacrifices, therepressions, theloss
involved: andit took generations for thoseattitudes to be
internalized. 'It is theviolent only that aresuccessful,
thegentleRichardSibbes: 'they takeit [salvation] by force.
Professor andMrs Georgehavecollectedmuchevidenceof the
hostility whichmeninthecentral Puritantradition, Perkins,
Sibbes, Bolton, Adams, felt towards idleness, 'thevery rust and
canker of thesoul
, 'itself against thelawof Scripture
is aterrifyingcrescendo inthewords of Mrs Joceline's The
Mothers Legacie(1622): 'Beashamedof idleness, as thouart a
man, but trembleat it, as thouart a. Christian... Godhates
theslothful.... What morewretchedestatecantherebeinthe
world? First to behatedof Godas anidledrone, not fitfor his
service, thenthroughextremepoverty to becontemnedof all
'Onegrainof time's inestimablesand,
Williams, 'is worthagoldenmountain: let us not loseit.
Therewereplenty of idle, lazy natural men, of course. The
preachers agreedthat thetheology of popery was 'set upby the
1. Baxter, TheHolyCommonwealth, p. 94.
2. C. H. andK. George, TheProtestant Mindof theEnglishReforma-
tion(PrincetonU.P., 1961), pp. 48, 130-33; for Perkins, sec P. andR.,
pp. 225-35.
3. op. cit. (6thimpression, 1632), pp. 27-9.
4. Roger Williams, TheBloudyTenent of Persecution(HanserdKnollys
Soc., 1848), p. 357. First published1644.
wit of manto maintainstately idleness.'
What really horrified
themwas to findasimilar tendency incertainbrands of radical
protestantism. Under Elizabeththeviewwas attributedto the
Libertines that 'amanought not to weary his body intravail
andlabour; for they saidtheHoly Ghost wouldnot tarry ina
body that was weary andirksome.'
This was astrikingcounter-
argument to thedoctrineof thedignity of labour whichwas
suchanimportant component of theprotestant ethic. It is the
assimilationby alower social class of thevalues of theleisured
aristocracy. Therewereinterestingpossibilities here, which
Ranters developed. Theideafittedinwiththeeconomic ethic
of cottagers who wouldwork only whenthepriceof cornwas
high: whenbreadwas cheap, labour was dear, if indeedit
couldbeobtainedat all. This refusal to accept theprincipleof
supply anddemandinfuriatedeconomists, fromPetty onwards.
Most of thetenets of theFamilists, Thomas Welddeclaredin
1644, 'tendedto slothfulness, andquenchall endeavour inthe
'Intheordinary constant courseof his [God's] dis-
pensation,' theNewEnglandSynodof 1637toldMrs Hutchin-
son, 'themoreweendeavour, themoreassistanceandhelpwe
Familism, fromwhichthethought of so many of theradicals
derives, was thought to encouragemoral slothandtherefore
idleness incallings. Samuel Rutherfordthus caricaturedthe
effects of Dell's teaching: 'All husbandmensit idle, all trades-
menbuy andsell andlabour withyour hands no more, beat
rest andquiet, takeMr Dell's word, God's undertakingtakes
away all reforminginmen, all undertakinginsecondcauses.'
5. R. Sibbes, quotedin5. andP., p. 128. Seeibid., pp. 128-33, passim,
for this theme.
6. Strype, Annals, II, part ii, pp. 288-9.
7. Ed. C. H. Hun, Economic Writings of Sir WilliamPetty(1899) I,
pp. 274-5.
8. T. Weld, A Short Storyof theRise, raignandrtdneof theFamilists
andLibertines (1644), p. 32.
9. P. Miller, TheNewEnglandMind: fromColonytoProvince(Har-
vardU.P., 1953), p. 56.
10. Rutherford, A Surveyof Antinomianism, p. 209, inA Surveyof
theSpirituall Antichrist (1648).
Accordingto ananti-Ranter pamphlet, 'that idleness is the
mother of all mischief was never so evidently provedas by the
... Ranters, apeopleso dronishthat thewholecourseof their
lives is but onecontinuedsceneof sottishness.'
If thelower
orders areidlethey may evenbeableto enjoy themselves! It
was idleness whichbrought Nayler to 'thesehighnotions
, Luke
RobinsontoldtheHouseof Commons inDecember 1656; hard
labour wouldrestorehimto his senses.
(Without wishingto
labour it, wemay quoteMrs Thirsk
s point that insixteenth
andseventeenthcentury Englandpastoralists wereregardedas
lazy by contrast withhusbandmen.
? JohnEverardallegorized
this to makethetrueshepherd'dependmoreuponGodandhis
thanhusbandmen, who rely upontheir ownlabour
andtoil, 'andthink thereby to cozenGod, expectinghewill
Aristocratic sentimentalizationof thepastoral
existencewas possiblebecauseshepherds were, or werethought
to be, non-manual workers, who hadplenty of timefor sporting
withAmaryllis intheshade.)
Inmy SocietyandPuritanismI illustratedthePuritanhorror
of wasteof time, theinculcationof habits of punctuality and
orderliness of life.
daminthe1630s enforcedpunctuality andvoluntaryperform-
anceof duties onits members by fines. Thestandards which
wereimposedby theConsistory Courts of theDutchreformed
church, unlikethoseof theEnglishchurchcourts, werethose
of capitalist business life.
By theendof thecentury this dis-
cipline, this sensethat timeis money, this voluntarycommit-
ment to duty, hadbeeninternalizedby thebulk of theEnglish
middleclass, labouring'as ever inmy great taskmaster's eye
It hadbecomeacustom, ahabit takenfor granted. But not by
thelower classes, as Milton's metaphor suggests.
11. [Anon.] TheRanters Religion(1650).
12. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, p. 119.
13. Thirsk, AgrarianHistory, pp. xxxiv-xxxv. I havebenefitedby hear-
ingMrs Thirsk lectureonthis subject.
14. Everard, TheGospel TreasuryOpened(2ndedn, 1659), pp. 329-35.
15. S. andP., ch. Ill andesp. p. 127.
16. A. C. Carter, TheEnglishReformedChurchinAmsterdaminthe
SeventeenthCentury(Amsterdam, 1964), pp. 36, 114, 128, 141-2.
Menso different as RichardBancroft, Henry Barrowand
Thomas Hobbes all pointedout that thePuritanpreachers
turnedarelatively blindeyeto thesins of richbusiness men.
Calvinism, whichhelpedso many yeomen, merchants and
craftsmento live, labour andsometimes prosper, turnedaless
friendly faceonthosewhoseefforts didnot meet withthegood
fortunewhichwas also necessary if amanwas to get oninthat
uncertainworld, andonthoseunableor unwillingto keepup
unremittingself-discipline. Calvinismcalleduptheterrors of
hell anddamnationfor thosewhomanarbitrary Goddidnot
chooseto favour: despair andthoughts of suicide, as wehave
seencontemporaries witnessing,
might beby-products of
Calvinism. For theungodly lower orders it offered- or Pres-
byterians thought it should- aharshandbracingdiscipline.
Presbyteriandisciplinewas anattempt to dragoontheminto
acceptance. TheNewModel Army frustratedthis attempt, and
Presbyterians werenot ableto taketheplaceof theArmy in
1660. After therestorationthesectariancommunities took over
moregentleindoctrinationof their members, somethingof an
elite: themass of thelower classes remainedresistant until
coercedby thebrutal economic pressures of theeighteenth-
century Industrial Revolution.
This ledto assumptions of a
dual standardof rationality. Themenof property, employers,
weredeemed(by themselves andtheir ideologues) to becapable
of reasonedcalculationinaway that their employees were
Only afewtheorists resistedthewholeattempt at regi-
mentationfor labour: or at least only inthe1640s and1650s
couldtheir views get into print.
Theauthor of Tyranipocrit Discoveredwas oneof these. He
referredin1649to 'this hypocritical doctrine, to berichand
17. Ed. A. Peel, Tracts AscribedtoRichardBancroft (CambridgeU.P.,
1953), p. 72; ed. Carlson, Writings of HenryBarrow, 1590-1591, p. 244;
Hobbes, EnglishWorks, VI, pp. 194-5; cf. P. andR., pp. 230-31(Per-
18. Seepp. 171-5above.
19. Seemy ReformationtoIndustrial Revolution, pp. 260-66.
20. cf. K. V. Thomas, 'Work andleisureinpre-industrial society', P.
andP., 29, pp. 61-2.
Hedidnot exaggerate. WilliamAmes explainedthat
riches lawfully gotten, thoughnot goodinthemselves, werethe
gifts of God: not to beforsakenunless thespecial will of God
requiredit. Evangelical poverty is spiritual, andmay consist
withgreat riches: themoreusual sort of poverty may bere-
gardedas apunishment or affliction. Prosperity is approvedby
God: parsimony andfrugality arevirtues.
This gets thebest
of every world: riches canbedespisedandenjoyedat thesame
time, andthespecial will of Godwas not always easy to
identify. Influential City preachers likeSibbes, Gougeand
Thomas Taylor all taught their congregations that riches could
besanctified: theScriptures teachus howto usethemlest we
betemptedto prefer astateof poverty.
It was only avery short stepto Sir WilliamTemple, who
thought the. manthat shall not providefor his family Nvorse
HughPeter in1651said'awell-moniedman
that is prudent by God's blessinggets upabovehis neighbours',
andasermonof 1655dedicatedto theLordMayor of London
industry anddiligenceinalawful andwarrantablevocationand
calling, inorder to gainacompetent provisionof earthly things
for our childrenandrelations, is not condemnedinsacredWrit,
but commended... Graceinapoor manis graceand'tis beauti-
ful; but graceinarichmanis moreconspicuous, moreuseful.
It is laudableandaduty to providefor our families, declared
theRev. JosephLeein1656;
to choosetheless gainful way,
whenGodshowedalawful way to makemoney, was refusing
21. Orwell andReynolds, op. cit., p. 83; cf. pp. 335-6below.
22. W. Ames, TheMarrowof SacredDivinity(1642), p. 378: English
translationpublishedby order of theHouseof Commons; cf. Perkins, |
quotedinP. and/?., pp. 229-30.
23. R. Sibbes, Works, VII, p. 62; W. Gouge, A Commentaryon ...
Hebrews (1867) III, pp. 290-95; T. Taylor, Works (1653), p. 477.
24. E. F. Gay, "TheTemples of Stoweandtheir debts (1603-1653)*,
HuntingtonLibraryQuarterly, II, p. 408.
25. H. Peter, GoodWorkfor a GoodMagistrate; [Anon.] TheVanity
andMischief of MakingEarthlyTreasures our Chief Treasure(1655).
26. J. Lee, A Vindicationof regulatedEnclosure, p. 21.
to beGod's steward, RichardBaxter thought.
I shall quote
belowAbiezer Coppe's furious retort to this very prevalent line
of argument. GeorgeFox inhis Journal noted, withpositive
gratification, that Quaker uprightness ledto worldly pros-
Thedoctrineof predestination, saidtheauthor of
Tyranipocrit Discovered, encouraged rich presumptuous
sinners to sinthroughsecurity.
Dr MacfarlaneandMr K. V.
Thomas suggest that theguilty conscienceof individualists,
breakingthetraditional decencies of thecodeof villagesociety,
took refugeinwitchcraft accusations whichsingledout their
victims as enemies of God.
Oneconsequenceof theprotestant ethic was anemphasis on
theimportanceof property rights. DuringtheRevolution, and
especially intheeconomic crisis of theyears 1647-50, men
askedwhat moral justificationtherecouldbefor theexclusive
property rights of therichwhenthepoor werestarving. Here
is Baxter's reply:
Whensoever thepreservationof lifeis not inopenprobability like
to bemoreserviceableto thecommongoodthantheviolationof
property will behurtful, thetakingof another man's goods is sin-
ful, thoughit beto savethetaker's life... Thereforeordinarily it
is aduty rather to diethanto takeanother man's goods against his
Property, saidBaxter, anticipatingLocke, 'is inorder of nature
antecedent to humangovernment.' Oneof Oliver Cromwell's
criticisms of FifthMonarchists was that they didnot recognize
property as oneof thebadges of thekingdomof Christ.
Thetestingtimefor Calvinismcameinthe1640s, whenthe
preachers hadarousedhopes of abetter society whichremained
unfulfilled, andwhenanatmosphereof freedomprevailedin
27. R. Baxter, A ChristianDirectory(1825) II, pp. 585-6. First pub-
28. Fox, Journal, I, p. 186; cf. W. Penn, SomeFruits of Solitude
(1693) (Everymanedn), p. 60.
29. Orwell andReynolds, op. cit., p. 92.
30. Seep. 88above.
31. Baxter, Chapters froma ChristianDirectory(1925), pp. 69, 71;
Abbott, op. cit., Ill, p. 438.
whichvoices of protest against theharshness of theCalvinist
disciplinecouldnot besilenced. Onall sides boththePresby-
teriansystemandtheEternal Decrees cameunder attack, and
nownot merely fromsceptical scholars likeWilliamChilling-
worth, JohnHales andJohnSelden, but fromcrudematerial-
istic Ranters, someof whomdislikedCalvinismbecauseit
stifledthehumanspirit, others, it may besuspected, because
they didnot likework.
Professor C. H. Georgequotes Falstaff's defenceof his activi-
ties as ahighwayman: 'Why, Hal, 'tis my vocation, Hal. Tis
no sinfor amanto labour inhis vocation.'
Therewas plenty
for enemies of theprotestant ethic to beironical about. Some
Puritanpreachers hadsaileddangerously near thewindwhen
they denouncedidlegentlemenwho 'liveinno calling'.
MoreLight ShininginBuckinghamshirearguedthat gentle-
menwerethereal vagabonds, who do not labour inacalling:
by their ownandby God's lawthey shouldbepunished. 'So
first go hangyourselves for your great thefts of enclosures and
oppressions, andthenafterwards youcango hangyour poor
brethrenfor petty thefts.'
Winstanley extendedthePuritan
emphasis onthedignity of work to somethinglikealabour
theory of value:
No mancanberichbut... either by his ownlabours, or by the
labours of other menhelpinghim. If amanhaveno helpfromhis
neighbours, heshall never gather anestateof hundreds andthou-
sands ayear. If other menhelphimto work, thenarethoseriches
his neighbours' as well as his... Richmenreceiveall they havefrom
thelabourer's hand, andwhat they give, they giveaway other
men's labours, not their own.
32. Shakespeare, / HenryTV act I, sceneii; C. H. George'TheMaking
of theEnglishBourgeoisie', aforthcomingarticleinScienceandSociety.
33. Perkins, Works, III, pp. 63-4; cf. P. andR.
pp. 215-38, S. andP.,
pp. 138-43.
34. Sabine, pp. 633-4. Winstanley madethesamepoint (ibid., p. 432).
All landlords arethieves. Winstanley's conclusion, so different
fromthat of thepreachers, was that bothlandlordismandwage
labour shouldbeabolished, 'for this brings inkingly bondage'.
Sinitself lookeddifferent to theproponents of anupside-
downworld. Winstanley asked, who werethegreatest sinners in
theworld? Herepliedthat 'thegreatest sinagainst universal
love' was 'for amanto lock upthetreasuries of theearthin
chests andhouses, andsuffer it to rust or moulder, whileothers
starvefor want to whomit belongs - andit belongs to all.'
Winstanley answeredIreton's phraseat Putney, 'Liberty cannot
beprovidedfor inageneral senseif property bepreserved'
withaphraseno less trenchant: Therecannot beauniversal
liberty till this universal community beestablished.' His second
deadly sinmight beareply to Baxter onthesanctity of private
property: it was
for any manor men, first to taketheearthby thepower of the
murderingswordfromothers; andthenby thelaws of their own
making[to] hangor put to deathany who takes thefruits of the
earthto supply his necessaries, fromplaces or persons wherethere
is morethancanbemadeuseof by that particular family whereit
is hoardedup.
Lionel Lockier arguedthat 'formal saints' weremoreguilty
thanRanters of spendingextravagantly whentheir fellows
stoodinneed: servants aremadeto labour ontheSabbathand
thepoor starveinthechurchporch:
Andall that holdcommunity
By themas Ranters countedbe.
Mr Covetousness, inBunyan's HolyWar, 'covers himself with
thenameof Good-Husbandry.'
35. ibid., pp. 258, 511-12, 595, 580-81; cf. pp. 159, 190-98.
36. ibid., pp. 109, 496-7; cf. GeorgeFoster's justificationof ex-
propriationquotedonpp. 223-4above. For IretonseeWoodhouse,
p. 73; for Baxter, pp. 329-30above.
37. Ed. H. E. Rollins, Cavalier andPuritan(NewYork UP., 1923),
pp. 322-4.
38. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 314; cf. p. 333.
Ranters gavefullest expressionto moral indignationagainst
thehumbugto whichtheprotestant ethic couldgiverise- 'thy
stinkingfamily duties andthy Gospel ordinances as thoucallest
them... under themall lies snapping, snarling, biting, besides
covetousness, horridhypocrisy/
'Hypocritical darkness hath
... overspread ... almost all family worship,' Winstanley
This 'Phariseeinmanis themother of harlots,' Coppe
continued, 'andbeingtheworst whorecries Whorefirst; and
thegrandblasphemer cries out Blasphemy, blasphemy, which
sheis brimfull of.'
But Coppe's casecanonly bemadeat
Followme, who last Lord's Day, September 30, met himinopen
field, amost strangedeformedman, cladwithpatchedclouts: who
lookingwishly onme, mineeyepitiedhim; andmy heart* or the
day of theLord, whichburnedas anoveninme, set my tongueon
flameto speak to him, as followeth:
Hownow, friend, art thoupoor?
Heanswered, Yea, master, very poor.
Whereuponmy bowels trembledwithinmeandquiveringfell
upontheworm-eatenchest (my corpse, I mean) that I couldnot
holdajoint still.
Andmy great lovewithinme(who is thegreat Godwithinthat
chest, or corpse) was burninghot towards him; andmadethelock-
holeof thechest, to wit, themouthof thecorpse, againto open.
Art poor?
Yea, very poor, saidhe.
Whereuponthestrangewomanwho flatterethwithher lips and
is subtleof heart, saidwithinme:
It's apoor wretch, givehimtwo-pence.
But myEXCELLENCY andMAJ ESTY (inme) scornedher words,
confoundedher language, andkickedher out of his presence.
But immediately the WELL-FAVOURED HARLOT (whomI
carriednot uponmy horsebehindme, but who roseupinme),
39. Cohn, op. cit., p. 370.
40. Sabine, p. 139. For moreevidenceof hostility to family prayers,
seeS. andP., pp. 461-2, andK. V. Thomas, 'WomenandtheCivil War
Sects', p. 52.
41. Coppe, Prefaceto RichardCoppin's DivineTeachings.
It's apoor wretch, givehim6d., andthat's enoughfor asquire
or knight to giveto onepoor body.
Besides (saiththeholy ScripturianWhore) he's worsethanan
infidel that provides not for his ownfamily.
Truelovebegins at home, etc.
Thouandthy family arefed, as theyoungravens, strangely.
Thoughthouhast beenaconstant preacher, yet thouhast ab-
horredbothtithes andhire; andthouknowest not aforehandwho
will givetheetheworthof apenny.
Haveacareof themainchance,
And thus she flattereth withher lips, and her words being
smoother thanoil, andher lips droppingas thehoneycomb, I was
firedto hastenmy handintomy pocket; andpullingout ashilling,
saidto thepoor wretch, givemesixpence, here's ashillingfor thee.
Heanswered, I cannot, I havenever apenny.
WhereuponI said, I wouldfainhavegiventheesomethingif
thoucouldst havechangedmy money.
Thensaidhe, Godbless you.
Whereupon, withmuchreluctancy, withmuchlove, andwith
amazement (of theright stamp) I turnedmy horse's headfrom
him, ridingaway...
Andbeholdtheplagueof Godfell intomy pocket, andtherust
of my silver roseupinjudgment against me, andconsumedmy
fleshas withfire... andthe5of James
inmineears that I was fainto cast all I hadintothehands of him,
whosevisagewas moremarredthanany man's that ever I saw.
This is atruestory, most trueinthehistory.
It's truealso inthemystery.
Andtherearedeepones couchedunder it, for it's ashadowof
various glorious (thoughstrange) goodthings to come.
Well! To return— After I hadthrownmy rusty cankered
money intothepoor wretch's hands, I rodeaway fromhim, being
filledwithtrembling, joy andamazement, feelingthesparkles of a
great glory arisingupfromunder theseashes.
After this, I was made(by that divinepower whichdwellethin
this Ark, or chest) to turnmy horse's head—whereuponI beheld
this poor deformedwretchlookingearnestly after me: andupon
that was madeto put off my hat andbowto himseventimes, and
42. Hiemarginal comment onthis delicatepassageintheGeneva
Bibleis entertaining; it stresses that therichwhomtheApostlecon-
demns to weepandhowl arethewickedandprofanerich.
... I rodeback to thepoor wretch, saying, BecauseI amaKing
I havedonethis, but youneednot tell any one.
After thewhite-hot anger andpity of that strangepassage,
almost anythingelsesounds tame. But Nayler has analogous
words, whichironically pick upmany of thetraditional Puritan
phrases inaway that couldhardly beto thelikingof thelater
SaithGod, Thoushalt not covet... SaithAntichrist, Thoumust
liveby thewits that Godhathgiventhee, andthis is not covetous-
ness but aprovident care; andhethat will not providefor his
family is worsethananinfidel, andif thoustandto wait uponGod
anddo not helpthyself by thy wits, boththouandthinemay be
poor enough.
Of PresbyteriansabbatarianismNayler said*youhave... aday
to abstainfromtheworld, anddays to conformto theworld':
andhemockedtheir fear of freedom.
Theauthor of Tyranipocrit Discoveredmadesomegentler
points against theselfishness andhypocrisy to whichPuritanism
I wouldnot dispraisefaith, but I wouldpraiselove, andprefer
loveaboveandbeforeall... Manmay profit man, but no mancan
profit God; andtherefore, if wewill do good, wemust do it to man*
kind, andnot to Godwithout [i.e. outside] man... Faithno doubt
43. Cohn, op. cit., pp. 365-8. 'A dialoguebetweenalearneddivine
andabeggar', whichJohnEverardtranslated, may havegivenCoppea
startingpoint (Everard, TheGospel TreasuryOpened, 2ndedn, 1659,
pp. 528-31).
44. Nayler, TheOldSerpents Voice(n.d., 71656), p. 6. That Nayler
was not exaggeratingmay begatheredfromthefollowingpassagefrom
Henry Newcome's Autobiography: This is nowmy constant fear, lest I
dieandshall leavenothingfor my wifeandchildren; andso menwill
say, "This was his strictness, andthis is Puritanism! Seewhat it gets
them! What it leaves to wifeandchildren!"' (Ed. R. Parkinson, Chetham
Soc., 1852, pp. 135-6.) EvenMiltonthought that theduty of charity is
owedfirst to oneself andonly inthesecondplaceto others (Complete
ProseWorks, II, p. 750).
45. Nayler, A SalutationtotheSeedof God(3rdedn, 1656), p. 20; cf.
P. 249above.
is acomfortablethingfor himthat hathit, but another's faithcan-
not helpme.
It wouldbeless hypocritical to prefer hateto lovethanto put
all emphasis onafaithwhichdoes not issueincharitable
Talkingof loveis no love,' Winstanley added; 'it is
actingof loveinrighteousness.'
Roger Crabin1657argued
that it was impossibleto loveyour neighbour as yourself whilst
accumulatingproperty: 'all our properties arebut thefruit of
God's curse.'
Antinomianismis ademocratizationof theCalvinist doctrine
of election, alogical extensionof protestant individualism. All
protestants hademphasizedthat religionmust bebasedoninner
conviction; but radical Puritans most of all. 'Godinthis Gospel
reformationaims at nothingbut theheart,' declaredWilliam
Themiddleclass of Geneva, Amsterdam, London, East
Anglia, hadfoundtheprotestant ethic, thedignity of labour
andhatredof idleness, writtenontheir hearts: theenvironment
inwhichthey livedandworkedhadput it there. Not so
cottagers, casual labourers. Labour is onethingfor small
masters whosewealthis directly relatedto their labour: if they
do not work neither shall they eat. But thewagelabourer works,
inpart at least, that another may eat. So longas hegets his
wages, heis not interestedinwhat heproduces, or howmuch.
Theinner voicespeaks differently to communities drawnfrom
thelowest classes. Idleness is not asin; adultery is no sinto the
pureinheart. Loveis moreimportant thanfaith.
Onefinal blasphemy: someradicals deniedthecivilizing
missionof whiteAnglo-Saxonprotestants. Already in1646
Thomas Edwards reportedseditious spirits who werequestion-
ingEnglishmen's rights inIreland. Walwynsuggestedthey had
no business to bethereat all: 'thecauseof theIrishnatives in
seekingtheir just freedoms ... was thevery samewithour
46. Orwell andReynolds, op. cit., pp. 86-7.
47. Sabine, p. 193.
48. R. Crab, Dagons-Downfall (1657), pp. 5-6, 13. InTheEnglish
Hermit (1655) Crabhadbeenfacetious at theexpenseof thosewho ex-
plainaway theBiblical adviceto therichmanto sell all hehadandgive
to thepoor (HarleianMiscellany, IV, p. 461).
49. Dell, Several Sermons, p. 132.
causehereInendeavouringour ownrescueandfreedomfrom
thepower of oppressors/ Why shouldnot theIrishenjoy the
liberty of their consciences, Walwynasked. They areabetter-
naturedpeoplethanwe. Thus he'puzzledthejudgments and
consciences of thosethat otherwisewouldpromotethehappy
work* whichterminatedat Drogheda.
Samuel Rutherford
observedthat it was 'sundry Antinomians' who thought Irish
papists shouldbeallowed'to enjoy their religion.'
Theauthor of Tyranipocrit Discoveredin1649lumpedto-
gether FrenchandSpanishbrutality towards Waldensians,
Moors andDutch, and'howtheEnglishhuntedthepoor Irish'.
Heextendedthis to adenunciationof commercial empirein
Our merchants, they travel by seaandlandto makeChristianpro-
selytes, chiefly our Indianmerchants; but consider their practices,
andtheprofit that wehaveby their doubledealing, first inrobbing
of thepoor Indians of that whichGodhathgiventhem, andthen
inbringingof it hometo us, that wethereby may thebetter set
forthandshowtheprideof our hearts indeckingour proud
carcasses, andfeedingour greedy guts withsuperfluous unnecessary
Yet 'althoughtheir dealingconcerningtheIndians' goods be
bad, yet they deal worser withtheir persons: for they either
kill them, whichis bad, or makethemslaves, whichis worse. I
knownot what to say concerningsuchimpious proceedings
withthempoor innocent people.'
TheDiggers spokeonbe-
half of 'all thepoor oppressedpeopleof Englandandthewhole
world,' andhopedthat thelawof freedomwouldgo fromtheir
country to all thenations of theworld. BurroughechoedWin-
stanley whenheasked'Hathnot Godmadeof onemouldand
onebloodall nations to dwell uponthefaceof theearth?'
50. Edwards, Gangraena, III, pp. 23, 227, 237-9; II, p. 27; H. andD.,
pp. 288-9, 310, 315; cf. Wolfe, p. 318, T. Prince, TheSilkenIndependents
SnareBroken(1649), pp. 6-7.
51. Rutherford, A Modest Surveyof theSecrets of theAntinomians,
PP. 176-7.
52. Orwell andReynolds, op. cit., pp. 105,90-91.
53. Sabine* pp. 277, 525; Burrough, Works, p. 500.
Yet inthe1650s Oliver Cromwell was tryingto useanaggres-
siveimperialist foreignpolicy as ameans of reconcilingroyalists
to his rule, not unsuccessfully. This harnessingof themilitary
tastes of asectionof thegentry to colonial expansionsurvived
for morethantwo centuries, until 'thepoor oppressedpeople
of England
againmadethemselves heardinpolitics.
Puritans hadexpendedso muchenergy denouncingpapist
goodworks, donefor what they believedto bethewrong
reasons, that their faithsometimes producedno goodworks at
all. Levellers andQuakers, liketheauthor of Tyranipocrit,
insistedthat faithmust issueinworks.
Thetruelight, said
Margaret Fell, couldbedistinguishedfromahypocritical pre-
tenceonly if words weretestedby deeds, anddeeds by their
effect onthecommunity - meetings, families, neighbours.
Thanks to theinner light, wrotePenn, 'whereoncenothing
was examined, nothingwent unexamined. Every thought must
cometo judgment, andtheriseandtendencyof it bewell
approvedbeforethey allowit any roomintheir minds.'
Most radicals preferreddoers to talkers, rejectedafugitive
Thesupremeexponent of thephilosophy
of action as opposed to contemplation was Winstanley.
Thoughts runinme,' hesaid, 'that words andwritings wereall
nothingandmust die, for actionis thelifeof all, andif thou
dost not act thoudost nothing.' It is 'actionwhereby thecrea-
tionshines inglory
. University ministers under 'acovetous
proudblack gown... wouldalways bespeakingwords, but
falls off whenpeoplebegins to act their words
. But 'Godis an
activepower, not animaginary fancy
. 'So that this is thegreat
battleof GodAlmighty; light fightsagainst darkness, universal
love fightsagainst selfishpower; lifeagainst death; trueknow-
ledgeagainst imaginary thoughts.
54. Wolfe, pp. 167,171,176,180-81,271, 369-70.
55. Ross, Margaret Fell, p. 59; cf. Troeltsch, Social Teachingof the
ChristianChurches, II, pp. 841,920.
56. W. Penn, No Cross, No Crown(1669), ch. II, J 6. My italics.
57. Seepp. 335-6above, pp. 396,407below.
58. Sabine, pp. 315, 290, 475, 579, 457; cf. pp. 395, 409, 567; cf. Blake:
'Hewhodesires but acts not breeds pestilence.
TheRanter ethic, as preachedby CoppeandClarkson, involved
areal subversionof existingsociety andits values. Theworld
exists for man, andall menareequal. Thereis no after-life:
all that matters is hereandnow. 'Inthegravethereis no re-
membranceof either joy or sorrowafter,* saidClarkson.
Nothingis evil that does not harmour fellowmen- as many
of theexistinginstitutions of society do, andas therepressive
humbugandhypocrisy of theself-styledgodly certainly do.
'Swearingi'thlight, gloriously', and'wantonkisses',
may help
to liberateus fromtherepressiveethic whichour masters are
tryingto imposeonus - aregimeinwhichproperty is more
important thanlife, marriagethanlove, faithinawickedGod
thanthecharity whichtheChrist inus teaches.
It was aheroic effort to proclaimDionysus inaworldfrom
whichhewas beingdriven, to reassert thefreedomof thehuman
body andof sexual relations against themind-forgedmanacles
'Without act, no life,' Clarkson
echoedWinstanley, 'without life, no perfection; andwithout
perfection, no eternal peaceandfreedomindeed, inpower,
whichis theeverlastingMajesty, ruling, conqueringanddamn-
ingall into itself, without end, for ever.' Wemight very nearly
bereadingBlake. Clarksonlooks forwardto Blakeagainwhen
heconcludes that to thetruly pure'Devil is God, hell is heaven,
sinholiness, damnationsalvation: this andonly this is thefirst
Theworldis turnedupsidedown. Menmust
no longer, wroteCoppein1649, 'hunger or hanker after the
flesh-pots of thelandof Egypt (whichis thehouseof bondage),
wherethey durst not minishought fromthebricks of their
daily task'; they shouldlook for andhastento 'spiritual Canaan
(thelivingLord), whichis alandof largeliberty, thehouseof
happiness, where, liketheLord's lily, they toil not but growin
59. Clarkson, TheLost SheepFound(1660), p. 28; cf. Sabine, p. 565.
60. Seepp. 202, 315above.
61. I havebenefitedgreatly fromdiscussingthis subject withMr W. A.
62. Clarkson, A SingleEye, inCohn, pp. 352-3.
thelandflowingwithsweet wine, milk andhoney ... without
This is thelandof Cokayne, of tipsy topsy-turvydom.
It was arevisedversionof thedreamof themedieval peasant,
as was theheavenonearthwhichGeorgeFoster andMary
Cary hadforeseen.
TheRanters' emphasis onloveis perhaps mainly anegative
reactionto nascent capitalism, acry for humanbrotherhood,
freedomandunity against thedivisiveforces of aharshethic,
enforcedby theharshdisciplineof themarket, as hitherto
masterless menaredrawninto themeshes of theharshcom-
petitivesociety. Thenegativeness of theRanter reactionallowed
links to beformed, as wehaveseen, withtheroyalist aristoc-
racy, whoseoaths andwhosecompliments theRanters aped.
Muchof Ranterismwas less anewethic thananexpressionof
traditional attitudes, someof whichderivedfromtheleisured
rulingclass - dislikeof labour, sexual promiscuity, swearing, an
emphasis onworks rather thanfaith. All theselinkedtheupper
andlower classes inoppositionto theintermediateproponents
of theprotestant ethic. Thegreatest of theroyalist journalists,
Sir JohnBerkenhead, usedto look back nostalgically to happier
times whentherehadbeenno needfor newsbooks
But now
themany-headedmonster hadto becourted, andhowbetter
appeal to Dionysianelements amongtheoppositionto Puritan-
ismthanby theboldbawdry of royalist newspapers?
Mortonof Merrymount inNewEnglandinthe1620s en-
couragedservants to revolt against their masters, dancedround
amaypoleand'maintained(as it were) aschool of atheism'.
Mortonwas naturally aroyalist duringthecivil war.
poles andtheMerrieMonarchhadthesamesort of appeal
after therestoration.
63. [Coppe] SomeSweet Sips of someSpiritudl Wine, title-pageand
p. 52.
64. Seepp. 321-2above.
65. Seepp. 202,325-6above, 357-8below.
66. P. W. Thomas, Sir JohnBerkenhead, 1617-1679(OxfordU.P.,
1969), p. 57.
67. I owethis suggestionto Mr C. Russell's TheCrisis of Parliaments
(1971), p. 374.
68. S. andP., p. 179. 69. Seepp. 409-10below.
Royalists inthe1650s mademoredirectly political overtures
to theLevellers, someof whomenteredinto negotiations with
them, unlikethemoreconsistently republicanDiggers.
Winstanley's pamphlet of 1650callingonmento support the
Commonwealthinthehopeof further advanceinaradical
direction, heattackedRanters whosesexual libertinismwas
disruptingtheDiggers' attempt at disciplinedcommunal culti-
vationof thewaste. Their sexual practice; hesuggested, merely
stoodtraditional values ontheir head; it was not thetransvalu-
ationof values which, intheir different ways, boththeprotest-
ant ethic and Digger communismachieved.
wantedto transcendtheforces of his society, to buildup
throughloveamorepositiveunity basedonrational acceptance
of aself-imposedlabour disciplinewithinthecooperativecom-
munity. Hewas as fiercely opposedas Ranters to the'clergy
power', whichrestrains 'theliberty of theinwardman, not
sufferinghimto act intheliberty of himself; for hemakes a
manasinner for aword, andso hesweeps thestars of heaven
downwithhis tail, hedarkens heavenandearthanddefiles
body andmind.'
Therehadbeenmoments whenit seemedas thoughfromthe
ferment of radical ideas aculturemight emergewhichwould
bedifferent bothfromthetraditional aristocratic cultureand
fromthebourgeois cultureof theprotestant ethic whichre-
placedit. Wecandiscernshadows of what this counter-culture
might havebeenlike. Rejectingprivateproperty for com-
munism,* religionfor arationalistic andmaterialistic pantheism,
themechanical philosophy for dialectical science, asceticismfor
unashamedenjoyment of thegoodthings of the flesh, it might
have achievedunity throughafederationof communities, each
basedonthefullest respect for theindividual. Its ideal would
have beeneconomic self-sufficiency, not worldtradeor world
domination. Theeconomically significant consequenceof Puri-
70. Seep. 123above.
71. Ed. G. E. Alymer, 'Englands Spirit Unfoulded', pp. 14-15; cf.
Sabine, pp. 241, 312-13, 399-403.
72. Sabine, pp. 468-9; cf. Milton's referenceto 'scarecrowsins' quoted
o n
P-163above, andClarksonquotedonp. 321above.
tanemphasis onsinwas thecompulsionto labour, to save, to
accumulate, whichcontributedso muchto makingpossible
theIndustrial RevolutioninEngland. Ranters simply rejected
this: Quakers ultimately cameto accept it. Only Winstanley
put forwardanalternative. Exploitation, not labour, was the
curseof fallen(i.e. covetous) man. Abolishexploitationwith
thewagerelationship, andlabour initself, to contributeto the
beauty of thecommonwealth, wouldbecomeapleasure.
Coolly regarded, wemust agreethat this was never morethan
adream: thecounter-actingforces insociety weretoo strong.
It camenearest to realizationintheDigger communities, which
might havegiventhecounter-cultureaneconomic base. Their
easy dispersal, andthetransitionfromunorganizedRanter
individualismto theorganizedSociety of Friends, registers the
fadingof thedreaminto thehalf-light of commonday.
Oneof thefascinatingproblems intheintellectual history of
seventeenth-century Englandis thecollapseof Calvinism. It
was as thoughit hadperformedits historic task withtheestab-
lishment of asociety inwhichtheprotestant ethic prevailed.
Before1640Calvinismhadbeenattackedfromtheright by
sacramentalist LaudianArminians; duringtheRevolutionit
was attackedby rationalist Arminians of theleft - JohnGood-
win, Milton, Quakers. Presbyteriandisciplinewas unpopular
bothwiththeungodly lower classes andwithupper-class anti-
clericals. Moreserious, Calvinismhadprovedunableto main-
tainits defences against Antinomianism. So longas theelect
wererespectablebourgeois Puritans, their senseof freedom
throughcooperationwithGodbrought no fundamental danger
to thesocial order. But it was impossible, oncedisciplinebroke
down, to decidewho theelect were. Theradicals rejectedas
hypocrites thosePuritans whosefaithdidnot result inworks of
love. ArtisanFifthMonarchists proclaimedthat they werethe
saints who shouldrule. Mechanick preachers andlower-class
Quakers wereconvincedthat theholy spirit was withinthem.
SomeRanters preachedadionysiac Antinomianismthat would
havesubvertedall themoral standards of apropertiedsociety.
73. Sabine, p. 593. For theideaof acounter-culture, seethepioneering
book by Jack Lindsay, Civil War inEngland(1954), pp. 313-24.
Failureto agreeonwho fheelect weredrovethemenof
property back to works - by their fruits yeshall knowthem.
Standards andnorms of conduct couldbeestablishedanden-
forcedby lay J.P.s, withno danger of aclerical Presbyterian
discipline. This was avery different theology of works from
that of Catholics or Laudians; it was non-sacramental, inno
way dependent onamediatingpriesthood. It avoidedboth
types of clericalism. Andthesects themselves, oncethey had
acceptedtheworldandthesinfulness of man, cooperatedin
enforcingamorality of works ontheir members. Weareall so
muchArminians nowthat it requires agreat imaginativeeffort
to think oneself back into thepre-revolutionary society which
Somethinganalogous occurredduringtheFrenchRevolu-
tion. Middle-class revolutionaries proclaimedtheRights of
Man, andseemto havebeengenuinely takenaback whenthe
FourthEstateclaimedthat they too weremen. Thedistinction
betweenactiveandpassivecitizens fulfils thesamefunctionas
that betweengodly andungodly: thelatter is moreconvenient
becauseless precisely definable. But bothjustificationby faith
andtheRights of Mansuffer fromthesameinescapablecon-
tradiction: inorder to givethenot-yet-privilegedconfidenceto
fight against theoldtypeof inequality it is necessary to appeal to
that inthemwhichunites themagainst theprivileged: then-
commonhumanity, theequality beforeGodof thosewho be-
lievethemselves to behis elect. The'bourgeois' doctrineof
equality always has thesuppressedpremisethat somearemore
equal thanothers. ThePuritans, to do themjustice, didnot
suppress their premise. Haller perceptively wrote:
Orthodox Calvinismlevelledall menunder thelaw, madeall
equal intheir titleto grace, andthendeniedto most all prospect
of realizingtheir hopes. It madeindividual experienceof Godall-
important, and then denied freedomto theindividual will. It
evokedenergy andtriedto direct it withinpreordainedchannels.
74. Haller, TheRiseof Puritanism, p. 193; cf. pp. 193-205passim; cf.
p. 60above.
Peacenever comes amongst thosesaddisasters
Intothat landwhereservants beat their masters.
THOMAS JORDAN, LordMayor's Pageant, 18
December 1659, inF. W. Fairholt, LordMayors'
Pageants (Percy Soc. - Early EnglishPoetry, Bal-
lads andPopular Literature, X, 1847) ii, p. 211.
I 1649-1660
MANY complainedinandafter 1649that theRevolutionhad
not realizedtheglorious hopes of theprecedingyears. 'The
newtyrants whichhavedrivenout theold,' saidtheauthor of
Tyranipocrit Discovered, 'areinall things so bad[as] or worse
thantheoldtyrants were, only they have, or pretendto have,
abetter faithandanewformof tyranny.'
It was not so much
thepersonof Charles I that canhurt me, saidMajor Whitein
thesameyear, 'as thepower that is madeupinthekingly office
by thecorrupt constitution.'
Truly tyranny is tyranny inone
as well as inanother,' Winstanley wrote, 'inapoor manlifted
upby his valour as inarichmanliftedupby his lands'
- in
theGrandees of theArmy as inthegentry of theHouseof
Commons, infact. As thechangeof institutions failedto bring
about thehoped-for transformation, Winstanley, Dell, Erbery,
Vavasor Powell andothers warnedtheArmy leaders against
avarice, ambition, luxury. They wereindanger of rearinga
morestubbornandintractabledespot at homethanever they
encounteredinthe field, Miltontoldthem. Unless they changed
their ways, they wouldbecomeroyalists themselves.
1. InOrwell andReynolds, BritishPamphleteers, I, p. 106.
2. Gardiner, Great Civil War, IV, pp. 302-3; cf. G. Foster, ThePouring
Forthof theSeventhandLast Viall (1650), p. 12.
3. Sabine, p. 198.
4. Milton, CompleteProseWorks, IV, part i, p. 681; cf. Sabine, pp.
336,513,527, 574.
After the'glorious richprovidenceof Godto England
- the
'quashingof theLevellers' at BurfordinMay 1649
- onceit
hadbeendecidedthat therewas to beno further social revo-
lution, it was inevitablethat thosewho haddonewell out of
thecivil war shouldseek to consolidatetheir position. This,
they cameto recognize, couldbest beachievedby compromise
withtheir defeatedenemies, evenat thepriceof retainingor
restoringmuchof theoldorder. Thealternativeof continuous
revolution, or afurther extensionof democracy, was too
frighteningto contemplate. As early as 1650theIndependent
JohnPrice, Walwyn's oldadversary, asked'Wereit not better
agovernment 'of theGreat Turk thanof the
Heexpectedany reasonableandeducatedman
to agreewithhim. After 1653, if not earlier, almost all trends of
opinionamongthepropertiedclass combinedto denounce
Levellers andlevelling- theProtector Oliver Cromwell, the
republicanJames Harrington, heads of OxfordandCambridge
colleges, townoligarchies, agricultural reformers, theauthor of
TheWholeDutyof Man, Presbyteriandivines andtheir sec-
OncetheNayler casehadbrokentheradical-
political back of Quakerism, themenof property seemedsecure
fromtheperils whichhadenvironedthemsince1647. But the
security was illusory. After Oliver Cromwell's deathin1658,
his sonRichardfell out withthegenerals, andaperiodof
desperateconfusionensued, inwhichradical groupings and
opinions revived.
Alarmingideas wereabroadagain. A series of pamphlets by
WilliamCovell, who carefully describedhimself as agentle-
mananddisavowedbeing'aLeveller who woulddestroy
, nevertheless proposedto settleall wastelands and
5. Hockliffe, Diaryof theRev. RalphJosselin, p. 65.
6. J. Price, TheCloudieClergy(1650), p. 14. I owethis referenceto
thekindness of Mr DavidKirby. SeeUnderdown, Pride's Purge, ch.
IX, esp. pp. 262-4.
7. Seepp. 122-3, 240-41above; Abbott, op. cit., Ill, pp. 435-6; [Wil-
kins andWard] VindidaeAcademiarum, p. 6; T. Hall, Histrio-Mastix
(1654), pp. 198-9; Underdown, Pride's Purge, pp. 323, 356; TheWhole
butyof Man, I, pp. 314,423,441.
commons onthepoor for ever, to establishcooperativecom-
munities withno buyingandsellingamongtheir members, to
tax therichinorder to pay for themaintenanceof theaged,
andto abolishthestatechurch. HewrotefromEnfield, where
therehadearlier beenaDigger colony, andwherein1659there
'Peter Cornelius' (Plockhoy) thought
privateproperty was oneof themamcauses of want, abuse
andcorruption. Heput forwardschemes for cooperative
cultivationandcommunal living, withfreesocial services. Like
Winstanley, heappealedto thelawof naturewhichentitled
all mankindto somemeans of subsistence. LikeWinstanley, he
was passionately anti-clerical andwantedto abolishtithes.*
WilliamSpriggealso proposedto abolishtithes, andattacked
hereditary nobility. Heandmany other followers of James Har-
ringtoncampaignedfor anagrarianlawto limit theaccumula-
tionof landedcapital.
Another pamphleteer revivedthe
assertionthat theArmy embodies 'theordinary andcommon
bulk of thepeople, whicharethegreatness andstrengthof
thenation'. Headded, moreominously, that it was 'atimeof
breakingandpullingdownall worldly constitutions ... Weare
uponour marchfromEgypt to Canaan, fromalandof bondage
anddarkness to alandof liberty andrest.'
EvenMilton, not
usually very conscious of economic problems, closedhis Pro-
posals ... for thePreventingof a Civil War (?1659) witha
pleafor 'thejust divisionof wastecommons'.
What madesuchpronouncements especially frighteningto
thepropertiedclass was thereappearanceof Agitators inthe
8. W. Covell, A DeclarationuntotheParliament (1659), pp. 8-11, 18,
21. Seep. 126above.
9. P. Cornelius, TheWaytothePeaceandSettlement of theseNations
(April 1659), esp. pp. 8-27; A Waypropounded(May 1659) passim; L.
andM. Harder, PlockhoyfromZurich-zee(Newton, Kansas, 1952), esp.
pp. 101-2.
10. [W. Sprigge] A Modest Pleafor anEqual Common-Wealth(1659),
pp. 36-42,75-86.
11. [Anon.] TheArmies Vindicationof This Last Change(1659), pp.
12. op. cit., Milton, CompleteWorks (ColumbiaU.P.) XVIII, p. 6.
First published1938.
It lookedlikeareturnto 1647, complicatedby fears
of Quakers and'bloody Anabaptists', nowbetter organized
thanany radical groups hadbeentwelveyears earlier.
Army leaders wereaccusedof armingAnabaptists andQuakers,
withtheresult that 'ameanandschismatical party must depress
thenobility andunderstandingcommons'. Thewords were
usedby anoldParliamentarianas heroseinrevolt inorder
to bringabout arestorationof monarchy.
archist Christopher Feakewas accusedof wantingto destroy
aristocracy andgentry,
andin1661themanifesto of Fifth
Monarchists inarms didinfact denounce'theold, bloody,
popish, wickedgentry of thenation'.
'Welay at themercy
andimpulseof agiddy, hot-headed, bloody multitude,' de-
claredtheRev. Henry Newcomeafter it was all over.
not this multituderestrainedthey wouldpresently havethe
bloodof thegodly,' RichardBaxter agreed.
Thecrucial ques-
tionwas askedby apamphleteer in1660: 'Canyouat once
suppress thesectaries andkeepout theKing?*
Most middle-
of-the-roadPuritans andsupporters of Parliament hadby that
timedecidedthat they couldnot.
In1641Sir Thomas Astonhaddefinedtrueliberty' as
knowing'by acertainlawthat our wives, our children, our
13. Ed. F. J. Routledge, ClarendonStatePapers, IV (1932), pp. 191
(4April 1659), 210(23May), 628(30March1660), 640(4April); A.
Evans, A RidefromHeaven(1659), p. 50; Burton, ParliamentaryDiary,
IV, pp. 458-9(April 1659), rumours; ed. W. L. Sachse, Diurnal of Thomas
Rugg(CamdenSoc., 1961), pp66, 74(March-April 1660); Leyborne-
PophamMSS., pp. 168(February 1660), 176(20April); Gooch, English
Democratic Ideas, p. 259).
14. ClarendonStatePapers, IV, pp. 220,228,235-6, 330, 381,405, 440,
15. Ed. J. A. Atkinson, Tracts relatingtotheCivil War inCheshire
(1641-1659) (ChethamSoc., 1909), p. 186.
16. Capp, TheFifthMonarchyMen, p. 142; cf. pp. 34-5above.
17. A Door of Hope(1661), Vomer's Manifesto.
18. Ed. R. Parkinson, Autobiographyof HenryNewcome(Chetham
Soc., 1852), pp. 118-19.
19. Baxter, TheHolyCommonwealth, p. 93.
20. A Coffinfor theGoodOldCause, inThePosthumous Works of
Samuel Butler (6thedn, 1754), p. 300. Theattributionto Butler is
almost certainly incorrect.
servants, our goods areour own'.
Thewordliberty hadre-
ceivedmany different definitions sincethen, but by 1660a
majority of themenof property hadcometo seealot inSir
Thomas's point of view. Wives, property, employees: it would
bearelief to knowthat they wereall safely under control. In
1657General Monck, who morethanany other singlein-
dividual was to maketherestoration, toldRichardCromwell
that though'thegreatest part of thepeoplearenot thebest
part', nevertheless 'themost considerable... of thosethat are
thebest... haveagreat regardto disciplineintheChurchof
Two years later apamphleteer noticed'theoldspirit
of thegentry brought inplay again', opposingan'earthly,
lordly rule' to 'thegrowinglight of thepeopleof God'.
It was
this 'growinglight' that made'themost considerable' forget
their objections to bishops.
It was significant for thefuturehistory of Englandthat the
ConventionParliament of 1660was not summonedby the
King: it summonedhim. Bishops andLords werebrought
back too. Radicals werepurgedfromthegovernment of cor-
porations, by thesimpleprocess of offeringthemtheoaths of
supremacy andallegiance, sincerefusal to swear was oneof
thehall-marks of sinceresectaries. Just to makesure, how-
ever, theCorporationAct of 1661also gavelocal commissions
(composedof theneighbouringgentry, who wouldknowtheir
men) power to displaceany oath-takers if thecommissioners
'shall deemit expedient for thepublic safety'. TheAct against
tumultuous petitioninghit at oneof themainforms of popular
political activity. Henceforthit was illegal to collect morethan
twenty signatures to any petition'for alterationof matters
establishedby lawinchurchor state', unless thepetitionhad
21. Sir T. Aston, A Remonstranceagainst Presbytery(1641), sig. M 4v.
22. ThurloeStatePapers, VII, p. 387.
23. [Anon.] TheCauseof Godandof theseNations (1659), quotedby
A. H. Woolrych, Introductionto Vol. VII of Milton*s CompleteProse,
first beenapprovedby threeor moreJ.P.S or by themajority
of theGrandJury of thecounty - menof property again. Since
theabolitionof churchcourts J.P.S hadtakenover many of their
andthey maintainedwidesupervisory powers even
after ecclesiastical courts hadnominally beenrestored.
TheAct of Settlement of 1662put anendto themobility
whichhadbeenanessential part of popular liberty inthe
revolutionary decades. Its preamblemadeclear that it was
aimedagainst those'poor people
who 'do endeavour to setde
themselves inthoseparishes wherethereis thebest stock, the
largest commons or wastes to buildcottages, andthemost
woods for themto burnanddestroy; andwhenthey havecon-
sumedit, thento another parish, andat last becomerogues
. That is anexact descriptionof thelowest
classes whomtheDiggers hadtriedto mobilizeto helpthem-
But nowthegentry weresecurely inthesaddleagain.
J.P.s wereenabledto allowmigrationof labour whereit was
economically necessary, but to check it whereit seemedto
themto serveno useful purpose. Similarly J.P.s coulddisplace
squatters onthewaste- andmany of themwereexpelledfrom
their cottages - but couldalso licensethemwheretheir labour
was needed. Landowners couldonceagainencloseandremove
timber, unchecked. Copyholders hadno security of tenure, no
protectionagainst being'devouredby fees
Thegamelaws weremadeevenmoreferocious against all
but thewell-to-do: after 1671gamekeepers hadtheright to
searchhouses andconfiscateweapons. Theconcentrationof
power inthehands of thelandedclass couldhardly havebeen
better illustrated. Enclosureandthegamelaws deprivedcot-
tagers of many of their traditional sources of food. No wonder
24. Trotter, SeventeenthCenturyL LifeintheCountryParish, p. 36.
25. TheDiggers hadinfact beenmovedontoanother parish, after
consumingagooddeal of timber inWalton-on-Thames, leavingtheir
childrenontheparish, eventhoughmany of thanwerehouseholders
(Thomas, 'Another Digger Broadside', pp. 59, 65; Sabine, pp. 348, 434).
Theprincipleof settlement hadbeeninoperationinsomeareas for many
26. R. North, Lives of theNorths (1826), I, pp. 34-6. Thespeaker is
LordKeeper Guilford.
forest andpastureareas continuedto becentres of radical dis-
sent, whilst parsonandsquirewereconsolidatingtheir control
over theagricultural villages, andthegentry intheHouseof
Commons (thanks to thedisbandment of theArmy) werefree
to persecutedissenters inthetowns. J.P.Stook vigorous action
against vagrants.
Not less effective, as Winstanley hadlearnt
in1649andtheFenstantonBaptists in1653, andas Bunyan
confirmedin1658, werethethreats of raisingrents or evic-
tionby which'richungodly landlords' couldpersuadetenants
not to go out 'to hear theWord'.
Therichwill ruletheworld,' sighedthewell-to-do Richard
Baxter philosophically; 'andfewrichmenwill besaints ...
Weshall havewhat wewould, but not inthis world.'
Not in
this world: thewords wereofteniieardnow. In1649'many
Christianpeople' inNorfolk hadfacedthequestion: 'Christ
saith, My kingdomis not of this world. Howthencanit now
beexpected?' They replied: 'But hedothnot say, It shall not
beupontheearthnor whiletheearthremains (seethecon-
trary, Rev. 5.10).'
But thoseconfident days wereover. Erbery
was sayingas early as 1654that thepeopleof Godshouldnot
But not evenQuakers pursued
that lineconsistently before1660.
After therestoration, how-
ever, EdwardBurroughtoldFriends 'our kingdomandvictory
is not of this world, nor earthly', andbackedupthis newposi-
tionwithahistorical argument. TheLordhadsufferedthe
restorationto takeplace'as arodof Godinhis hand, to cor-
rect andsmitemany people' - inparticular theParliament-
arians who, forgetful of theLordandhis mercies, hadfailed
to carry out their reformingpromises. Godhadsufferedit for
27. Trotter, op. cit., p. 169. For forests as arefugefrompost-restoration
persecution, seeA. Everitt, ThePatternof Rural Dissent: theNineteenth
Century(Leicester U.P., 1972), pp. 44-6, 50; Capp, TheFifthMonarchy
Men, p. 79.
28. Sabine, pp. 367-8, 436; FenstantonRecords, p. 82; Bunyan, Works,
III, pp. 699,712,714.
29. ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, p. 297(1663).
30. Woodhouse, p. 244.
31. Erbery, Testimony, pp. 184-5; seepp. 195-7above.
32. Seepp. 241-6above.
reasons knownto himself only. Inthesecircumstances there
is nothingto do but accept. But hehinteddelicately that 'force
andcruelty will never maketheKinghappy,... for thepeople
arewiseandunderstanding, andwill not longbear any degree
of theyokeof slavery'.
It was, as it were, aminimumpacifist
Sincameback, first as themeans by whichradicals explained
to themselves their failureto achievevictory for God's cause
onearth: not only Quakers, who rejectedChrist inNayler,
but also Milton, thethemeof whosegreat philosophical poem
was 'man's first disobedience', andits consequences, andhow
Paradisewithincouldberegainedonearth. But sinalso pro-
tectedproperty andanunequal society. Isaac Barrowwrotein
All things at first werepromiscuously exposedto theuseanden-
joyment of all, every onefromthecommonstock assumingas his
ownwhat heneededInequality andprivateinterest inthings...
weretheby-blows of our Fall; sinintroducedthesedegrees and
distances, it devisedthenames of richandpoor; it begot thesein-
grossings andenclosures of things; it forgedthosetwo pestilent
words, meumand tuum, whichhaveengenderedso muchstrife
amongmen... Wemistakeif wethink that natural equality and
community areineffect quitetakenaway.
But thegooddoctor's messagewas not that his congregation
shouldthereforereject privateproperty: it was that sin, like
thepoor, was always withus, andthat therewas nothingthat
we- still less thepoor - coulddo about it; but bounty to the
humblepoor wouldearnits reward.
For thepoor themessagewas slightly different, but drawn
fromthesamepremises. TheWholeDutyof Manurged:
Beoftenthinkingof thejoys laidupfor theeinheavenandthen*
as atraveller expects not thesameconveniences at aninnas hehath
at home, so .thouhast reasonto becontent withwhatever enter-
tainment thoufindest here, knowingthouart uponthy journey to
33. Burrough, Works, pp. 659, 669-73, 684, 687, 706, 783-5.
34. I. Barrow, TheDutyandRewardof BountytothePoor (1671),
PP. 120-22.
aplaceof infinitehappiness whichwill makeanabundant amends
for all theuneasiness andhardshipthoucanst suffer intheway.
That was exactly themessagethat Levellers, Diggers and
Ranters hadchallenged.
But theexperienceof therevolutionary decades couldnot so
easily bewishedaway. Consequently many, bishops included,
deliberately preachedadual standard, anoblelie, so as to
persuadethemoreintelligent of themenof property not to
attack thesocially necessary myths whichthey didnot them-
selves accept. Marvell quotes Samuel Parker as saying:
Put thecase, theclergy werecheats andjugglers, yet it must be
allowedthey arenecessary instruments of stateto awethecommon
peopleintofear andobedience, becausenothingelsecanso effect-
ively enslavethem('tis this it seems our author wouldbeat) as the
fear of invisiblepower andthedismal apprehensions of theworld
to come.
Rakehelly courtiers might blasphemeandfornicateso longas
they didnot justify suchpractices openly. RakeRochester in-
deedwas convincedonhis death-bedby Gilbert Burnet, far
frombeingthemost illiberal of Anglicans, of thesocial neces-
sity of Christianity.
TheHon. andRev. Dr JohnNorth, his
brother tells us, was anArminianby conviction. But hethought
Calvinism, *withrespect to ignorant men, to bemorepolitic
andthereby, insomerespects, fitter to maintainreligionin
them, becausemoresuitedto their capacity. But that is referred
to art, andnot to truth, andought to berankedwiththepiae
fraudes or holy cheats'.
To suchends hadtherevolutionary
35. TheWorks of the... Author of TheWholeDutyof Man(1704) I,
pp. 62-3. First published1658.
36. A. Marvell, TheRehearsal Transpros'd, ed. D. I. B. Smith(Oxford
U.P., 1971), p. 139. First published1672.
37. Seep. 412below; cf. PettyPapers, I, pp. 116-18, for somereflec-
tions onthesocial functions of religion.
38. Roger North, Lives of theNorths, III, p. 344. Thedual standard
still remains withus. Seeabook entitledTrouseredApes by Duncan
Williams, freecopies of whichweredistributedin1971to anumber of
academics. Theauthor claims to object not to thetheological views of
creedof Calvinismcome, after shakingEuropefor acentury
andahalf. It was inawork entitledTheReasonableness of
Christianitythat JohnLockewrote: 'day-labourers andtrades-
men, thespinsters anddairymaids' must betoldwhat to believe.
'Thegreatest part cannot knowandthereforethey must be-
But at least Lockedidnot intendthat priests shoulddo
thetelling: that was for Godhimself.
Therewereno LordMayor's shows inLondonbetween1640
and1655. Whenthey wererevivedinthelatter year thepreacher
toldtheLordMayor (who no doubt knewalready) that 'for
anniversary shows andharmless andmerry recreations, without
amoderatepermissionof them, very littleto content themulti-
Thegreatest showof all was monarchy. Theextra-
ordinary popularity of EikonBasilikefromthe1650s, despite
Milton's furious attack onit, hadput conservatives wiseto
thesocial significanceand uses of divinekingship. Rude
plebeiansoldiers hadreferredto their royal prisoner as
'Stroker', 'inrelationto that gift whichGodhadgivenhim'
of beingableto curetheKing's evil. Leveller journalists had
mockedastory that Charles I's spittlehadcuredasick child.
But nowplebeiansoldiers andLevellers weresilenced. The
tremendous ceremonial of thecoronationwas accompanied
by arevival of 'touching' onagrandscale. Charles II is alleged
to have'touched' over ninety-two thousandpersons duringhis
reign, thoughI do not knowwho counted. Ononeoccasionhalf
adozenof thosehopingfor acureweretrampledto deathin
Weareintheworldof synthetic monarchy, of gov-
BishopJohnRobinsonbut to their popularizationamongthe'immature*
(pp. 13-14). Thomas Edwards wouldhaveapprovedof that lineof
argument no less thanJohnNorth. The'apes' of thetitleareof course
other people.
39. J. Locke, TheReasonableness of Christianity(1695), p. 285.
40. EdmundGayton, CharityTriumphant (1655), quotedinFairholt;
LordMayors' Pageants, i, p. 171.
41. Mercurius Elencticus, 7February 1649; J. Frank, TheBeginnings
of theEnglishNewspaper, 1620-1660(HarvardU.P., 1961), p. 166, quot-
ingMercurius Militaris, 17-24October 1648, p. 9.
42. Sir James Frazer, TheGoldenBough(abridgededn, 1963), p. 118;
Sir G. Keynes, TheUfeof WilliamHarvey(OxfordU.P., 1966), p. 268.
ernment by manipulation. Thebought cheers at therestoration
look forwardto thebought anti-popery of theyears 1679-81.
Thereis plenty of evidencefor different sentiments among
thepopulace. 'A pox onall kings. I do not giveaturdfor never
aKinginEngland,' saidaLondonlady. A Wappingman
Vouldgladly spendfiveshillings to celebratetheexecutionof
theKing', andwouldnot mindbeingtheexecutioner himself.
'Welivedas well whentherewas no King,' saidaYorkshire
yeoman; hehopedto do so again. A Londoner in1662hoped
that 'all thegentry inthelandwouldkill oneanother, that so
thecommonalty might liv6thebetter'. A constablewho had
helpedto handsomeregicides over for executionin1660found
that inconsequencehehad'quitelost his tradeamongthe
factious peopleof Southwark'. It was aSurrey manwho 'hoped
erelongto trampleintheKing's andbishops' blood'.
thechurchhierarchy was no morepopular. In1669Edward
Chamberlaynerecordedthat 'theclergy ... areaccountedby
many as thedross andrefuseof thenation... It hathbeen
observed, evenby strangers,... that of all theChristianclergy
of Europe... noneareso littlerespected, beloved, obeyedor
rewardedas thepresent ... clergy of England'. TheGrand
Dukeof Tuscany, who visitedEnglandthat year, was one
Pepys andSamuel Butler bothusetheword
'hatred' to describethepopular attitudetowards theclergy.
But Isaac Barrowclaimedthat theChurchof Englanden-
joys 'thefavour of thealmost wholenobility andgentry'.
No doubt hewas right too.
For someat least therevolutionary decades hadbeena
43. Ed. J. C. Jeaffreson, MiddlesexCountyRecords (Middlesex County
RecordSoc., 1886-92), HI, pp. 303, 326-7; ed. D. L. Powell andH.
Jenkinson, SurreyQuarter Sessions Order Book andSessions Rolls,
1661-1663(Surrey RecordSoc., 1935), p. 307; J. Lindsay, Civil War in
England(1954), pp. 34<W1.
44. E. Chamberlayne, AngliaeNotitia(1669), pp. 389, 400-401; [Maga-
lotti] Travels of Cosmo HI, GrandDukeof Tuscany, throughEngland,
p. 428
45. S. Pepys, Diary(ed. H. B. Wheatley, 1946), I, pp. 314-15; S. Butler,
Characters andPassages fromNote-books, p. 318.
46.1. Barrow, Theological Works (ed. A. Napier, 1859), IX, p. 577.
periodof intensestrain: for suchthefear of freedomwas re-
movedby thereturnto theoldfamiliar forms. A last outburst
of despairingprophecies of theendof theworld, 'produced
by fanatics to rousethevulgar',
reboundedas thefatal year
1666cameandwent. Londonwas burned, but Englandandits
King, bishops andsocial systemsurvived. Therewas acon-
siderableliteraturedenouncing'vulgar prophecies'
other suspect forms of enthusiasm. Thomas Sprat claimedit
as thejobof scienceandtheRoyal Society 'to shakeoff the
shadows andto scatter themists whichtill theminds of men
withavainconsternation'. Prodigies andprophecies couldbe
self-validatingby breakingmen's courageandpreparingthem
for disasters 'whichthey fondly imaginedwereinevitably
threatenedthemfromheaven'. This hadbeen'oneof themost
considerablecauses of thosespiritual distractions of whichour
country has longbeenthetheatre'
Theendingof belief in
day-to-day divineinterventioninpolitics helpedto producean
atmosphereinwhichsciencecoulddevelopfreely; elevation
of themechanical philosophy abovethedialectical scienceof
radical 'enthusiasts' reciprocally helpedto underminesuch
'Fanaticism' and'enthusiasm' werethebugbears of polite
andscholarly restorationsociety. Thecarefully cultivated
classicismof theageof DrydenandPopewas (amongother
things) theliterary formof this social reaction. For theradicals
LatinandGreek hadbeenthelanguages of Antichrist,
they werethelanguages of theuniversities, law, medicine, the
threeintellectual elites.
Dr P. W. Thomas has shownus how
theclassical principles of regularity andpropriety hadappealed
47. Contemporary MS. comment ontheBodleiancopy of MirabUis
Annus (1661).
48. e.g. JohnSpencer, DiscourseConcerningProdigies (1663) andDis-
courseConcerningVulgar Prophecies (1665).
49. Sprat, Historyof theRoyal Society, pp. 362-5.
50. Seemy Antichrist inSeventeenth-CenturyEngland, pp. 138-9; cf.
Pox, TheLambs Officer, p. 2; Burrough, Works, p. 189; Bunyan, quoted
on p. 405below.
51. H. Kearney, Scholars andGentlemen(1970), p. 76. Seepp. 296-
to isolatedroyalist intellectuals duringthedecades of defeat.
They sawthemselves as preservers of literary cultureinatime
of barbarism. They deploredexcess, emphasizeddecorum
andobedienceto therules, inall walks of life.
revival may thus haveplayedits part against thedionysianfree-
domfavouredby theRanters.
Blake- as so oftenthein-
heritor of this tradition- wroteTheclassics! It is theclas-
sics, andnot Goths nor monks, that desolateEuropewith
Amongscientists andmost ex-Parliamentarians, latitud-
inarianismprevailedafter 1660, alimitedtoleration, adesire
to comprehendmoderatedissenters withinthestatechurch. The
latitudemenagreedwithrespectabledissenters ininsistingon
themaintenanceof 'afaceof godliness'. Strict Sabbathob-
servance, Baxter argued, *will makemento beinsomesort
religious whether they will or not: thoughthey cannot betruly
religious against their will, it will makethemvisibly religious'.
Such'visiblereligion' was exactly what theradicals hadde-
nouncedas Antichrist sittingintheChurchof England.
Thescumof thepeople', 'therascality androut', hadalways
beenagainst Parliament andPuritans, partly no doubt through
ignoranceandclerical influence, but partly too throughhatred
of aPresbyteriandiscipline, of theforcibleinculcationof the
protestant ethic, of Puritanhostility to traditional popular fes-
tivals andsports.
So longas aPresbyteriandisciplinary system
seemedapossibility, it was rational to prefer bishops if they
weretheonly alternative. By 1660RichardBaxter hadbecome
reconciledto episcopacy as theonly chanceof gettingany
disciplineat all;
others may haveacceptedbishops rather
52. P. W. Thomas, Sir JohnBerkenhead, 1617-1649, pp. 100-103, 120,
133-6, 143, 168-70, 193, 208-9. It was of courseaEuropeanmove-
ment, thoughI amhereconcernedonly withEngland.
53. Seepp. 202, 339-41above.
54. Blake, CompletePoetryandProse(Nonesuchedn.), p. 767.
55. SeeS. andP., pp. 249-50, whereother examples of emphasis on
thevirtues of hypocrisy aregiven.
56. [Anon.] Salus Populi Solus Rex(1648), quotedby Brailsford, op.
cit., p. 346; Thomas Hall, FunebriaFlorae(2ndedn, 1661), title-page
andp. 19; ReliquiaeBaxterianae, I, pp. 32-3, 44.
57. Baxter, A Sermonof Repentance(1660), p. 43.
thanrisk havingtoo muchdiscipline. Infact churchcourts
andtheir excommunications wereless effectiveevenagainst
thelower classes after 1660thanthey hadbeenbefore1640.
From1687they fadedout altogether. Suchdisciplineas was
imposedwas donevoluntarily by thesects for their ownmem-
This was agreat if unsungvictory for popular liberty,
at all events inthetowns: menandwomenwereleft alone
morethanthey hadever beenbefore1640, certainly far more
thanthePresbyterians hadhopedintheforties.
Moral discipliningof thelower classes passedtoJ.P.S,
was moreeffectiveinagricultural districts thanintowns or
pastoral/industrial areas. It is doubtful evenwhether attempts
werestill madeto compel thepoorer classes to cometo church
onSundays. It hadbeendifficult enoughbeforethebreak-
downof churchcourts, beforetheAct of 1650whichended
compulsory attendance.
Inmany Londonparishes thechurch
couldnot haveheldall theparishioners if they hadattended,
andthegrowinghabit of rentingpews helpedto excludethe
Insomerural parishes asquirelikeAddison's Sir Roger
deCoverley attendedchurch'inorder to count thecongrega-
tion' and'seeif any of his tenants aremissing'.
wardens of aHertfordshirevillageof 1677thought it worth
reportingthat 'several of theinhabitants comeconstantly to
Thevarious royal indulgences, andthentheTolera-
tionAct of 1689, finallydeprivedtheChurchof Englandof its
monopoly position. So 'therabble', savedfromRanters, was
left to its owndevices. Therewas thus social senseinthe
allianceof thehighest andlowest classes, thehardest swearing
classes, against thesmughypocrites inbetween.
In1646thefriends of Overton's Mr Persecutionwantedthe
58. G. V. Bennett, 'Conflict intheChurch', inBritainafter the
Glorious Revolution, 1689-1714(ed. G. Holmes, 1969), pp. 156-63.
59.5. andP., pp. 331-2,363-5.
60. SeeThomas, ReligionandtheDedineof Magic, p. 161, andC. W.
Chalklin, Seventeenth-CenturyKent (1965), p. 244, for examples.
61. 5. andP., pp. 458,469,484; my Economic Problems of theChurch
pp. 175-82; J. Waddington, CongregationdHistory(1874), pp. 615-16.
62. TheSpectator, 112(9July 1711).
63. Capp, TheFifthMonarchyMen, p. 195.
jury whichtriedhimto includeRude-multitudeas well as Satan,
Antichrist andSir JohnPresbyter.
This allianceproducednot
only churchandkingmobs but also adeliberatesentimental
cultivationof thetraditional aspects of agricultural MerrieEng-
land, maypoles, cakes andale, as against thetriumphant bour-
geois ethic. It has its expressiontoo intheliterary glorification
of thehighwayman, oftenaruinedex-Cavalier who robs the
richbut spares thepoor, andwho also hadno usefor anethic
of hardwork.
Restorationcomedy does not merely pick up
theoldInns of Court naughtiness: it has also learnt something
fromtheRanters, whomSamuel Shepparddepictedas The
Joviall Crewf* Thelowest classes, whomthesects hadneglected
(except for Ranters, perhaps to someextent early Quakers)
got their revengeby rabblingdissenters for thenext century
As amilitary andpolitical operationtherestorationwas a
great success. Most of theArmy was disbanded, but selected
regiments, carefully purged, wereretainedas garrisons for key
towns. At Plymouthacitadel was built as acheck onthein-
habitants who had'showedthemselves onaformer occasionto
beopento sedition'.
TheCorporationAct ejectedradicals
fromthegovernment of towns: theact against tumultuous
petitioning, therestorationof thecensorshipandtheendof
religious tolerationdeprivedthemof thepossibility of political
action. Thehonest inhabitants of thenowwoeful townof
Mansoul', inBunyan's inimitablesummary, coweredat home
whilst 'red-coats andblack-coats walkedthetownby clusters,
ency amongthesects towards pacifismandwithdrawal from
64. [R. Overton] TheArc&gnement of Mr Persecution(1645) inHaller,
Tracts onLiberty, II, p. 213.
65. Seemy ReformationtoIndustrial Revolution, pp. 196, 279; P. and
R.j p. 382. Seep. 44above.
66. S. S., Gent., TheJoviall Crew, or theDevill turnedRanter (1651).
His Ranters areamerecaricature. They drink excessively, smoke(includ-
ingtheladies) andfornicate. Seepp. 410-12below.
67. R. A. J. Walling, TheStoryof Plymouth(1952), pp. 138-9. For
other examples, seeSir JohnReresby's Memoirs, passim.
68. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 351.
politics was encouragedby this mixtureof pulpit cajolery and
military repression. Thoseleast amenablewouldemigrate- or
wouldbetransported. Yet, notwithstandingthesedraconian
measures, evenas lateas theendof 1687Gilbert Burnet be-
lievedthat 'arebellionof whichhe[Williamof Orange] should
not retainthecommandwouldcertainly establishacommon-
Prudently, themenof property invitedWilliamin
time, andhebrought alargeprofessional army withhim: so
theunreliableJames II couldbehustledoff thethronewithout
danger of popular revolt.
Inoneway or another lawandorder werethus preserved
longenoughfor theagricultural improvers to beprovedright.
Destructionof timber by squatters andminers, together with
marlingthesoil, extendedtheareaof arableor mixedhus-
bandry at theexpenseof forests andpasture. Disafforestation,
fendrainage, enclosureof commons andcapital investment in
agriculture- all theseinthelongrundidmakeEnglanda
richer country, didcreatenewdemands for apermanent class
of landless wagelabourers, however muchthis newstatus was
felt as unfreedom. By the1690s restrictions onmobility could
safely bemodified.
Economic expansion, ironically, came
especially intheNorthandWest, whereclover enabledmar-
ginal landto bebrought under cultivationwhenenclosed, where
cheaplabour attractedindustry andtheexpansionof colonial
tradeandshippingunder thestimulus of theNavigationAct
benefitedtheoutports. Thegrowingrespectability andquiet
dedicationto industry of so many Quakers shows howtheir
moodadaptedto theneweconomic possibilities.
JohnEvelynin1664attributedthe'furious devastationof
so many goodly woods andforests' to thepunitivetaxationof
therevolutionary decades andto theactivities of Parlia-
mentary sequestrationcommittees as well as to 'themultiplica-
tionof glass-works, iron-furnaces andthelike'. But nowhehad
hopes, viaenclosure, of reafforestation.
Theagricultural writer
69. Quotedby M. Ashley, JohnWUdman(1947), pp. 268-9.
70. P. Styles, TheEvolutionof theLawof Settlement', Universityof
BirminghamHistorical Journal, IX (1963), pp. 33-63.
71. J. Evelyn, Sylva (1664), sig. A4-B, pp. 1-2,111-12.
JohnHoughtoncountedenclosureof commons anddisparting
of parks amongthebeneficial consequences of 'his Majesty's
most happy restoration'.
In1690Sir WilliamPetty remarked
that over thepast forty years thepower andwealthof England
hadincreased, thanks especially to fen-drainage, wateringdry
grounds, improvingforests andcommons, cultivatingheath
andbarrengrounds withclover andsainfoin.
Dr Kerridge
suggests that by 1700three-quarters of Englishenclosures had
already takenplace.
Evenaradical likeMoses Wall in1659
hadseen'animprovingof our nativecommodities, as our
manufactures, our fishing, our fens, forests andcommons, and
our tradeat sea, etc.' as theway forwardnot only to 'acom-
fortablesubsistence' for thenationbut also to 'progressency
... inliberty andspiritual truths'.
Oliver Cromwell leadingfenmeninrevolt against court drain-
ageschemes; its crucial turningpoint was thedefeat of the
Leveller regiments at Burford, whichwas immediately followed
by anact for drainingthefens; it endedwiththerout of the
commoners andcraftsmenof thesouth-westerncounties inthe
bogs of Sedgmoor.
72. Quotedby W. Tate, 'TheAgrarianProblemandthePuritans',
ChurchMilitant, 8June1937, p. 5; cf. J. Aubrey, Remaines of Gentilisme
andJudedsme(1881), pp. 247-8.
73. Hull, Economic Writings of Sir WilliamPetty, I, pp. 302-3.
74. Kerridge, TheAgricultural Revolution, p. 24.
75. Moses Wall to JohnMilton, May 1659, quotedinMasson, Lifeof
Milton, V, p. 602.
Revolutions of ages do not oft recover theloss
of arejectedtruth, for thewant of whichwhole
nations faretheworse.
J. MILTON, Areopagitica(1644) in Complete
ProseWorks, II, p. 493.
THE philosopher Thomas Hobbes inhis analysis of senseex-
periencestressedtheimportanceof changeinstimulating
mental activity - 'it beingalmost all onefor amanto bealways
sensibleof thesamethingandnot to besensibleof anything'.
Oneachievement of this periodis its insights into thehistorical
process itself, an'awareness of great forces at work insociety',
whether inHobbes's Behemoth, Marvell's HoratianOde, Har-
rington's Oceana, or Winstanley's writings.
Theseinsights were
lost at therestoration, andthis aspect of historical writingad-
vancedlittleinthenext century. I havetriedto stress inthis
book themost unusual stimuli whichduringtherevolutionary
decades producedafantastic outburst of energy, bothphysical
andintellectual. Thecivil war itself, theintellectual forcing
houseof theNewModel Army andits Army Council, regicide,
theconquest of IrelandandScotland, theDutchandSpanish
wars, physical andsocial mobility, thecontinuous flowof pam-
phlets onevery subject under thesun- onecouldlist agreat
many moreways inwhichthis energy manifesteditself.
For ashort time, ordinary peoplewerefreer fromthe
authority of churchandsocial superiors thanthey hadever
beenbefore, or werefor alongtimeto beagain. By great good
1. Hobbes, quotedby A. Wolf, A Historyof Science, Technologyand
PhilosophyintheSixteenthandSeventeenthCenturies (1935), p. 565.
2. R. Nevo, TheDial of Virtue: A Studyof Poems onAffairs of State
intheSeventeenthCentury(PrincetonU.P., 1963), pp. 136-146. Seep.
fortunewehaveapretty full recordof what they discussed.
They speculatedabout theendof theworldandthecoming
of themillennium; about thejusticeof Godincondemning
themass of mankindto eternal torment for asinwhich(if
anyone) Adamcommitted; someof thembecamesceptical of
theexistenceof hell. They contemplatedthepossibility that
Godmight intendto saVeeverybody, that somethingof God
might bewithineachof us. They foundednewsects to express
thesenewideas. Someconsideredthepossibility that there
might beno Creator God, only nature. They attackedthe
monopolizationof knowledgewithintheprivilegedprofessions,
divinity, law, medicine. They criticizedtheexistingeducational
structure, especially theuniversities, andproposedavast ex-
pansionof educational opportunity. They discussedtherela-
tionof thesexes, andquestionedparts of theprotestant ethic.
Theeloquence, thepower, of thesimpleartisans who took
part inthesediscussions is staggering. Someof it comes across
inprint - Fox theshepherd, Bunyanthetinker, Nayler theyeo-
man. Wetendto takethemfor granted. But far moremust
havebeenlost, evenof thosemenandwomenwho left writings.
Andwhat of thosewho didnot? The'menof acutewit and
, as anenemy describedthem, who visited
Coppeinjail at Coventry in1650?
Howoverwhelmingly right
Milton's pridehadbeeninthe'nobleandpuissant nation, rous-
ingherself likeastrongmanafter sleepandshakingher in-
vinciblelocks, ... anationnot slowanddull, but of aquick,
ingenious andpiercingspirit, acuteto invent, subtleandsinewy
to discourse, not beneaththereachof any point thehighest
humancapacity cansoar to'.
Howright too was Milton's confidencethat God's English-
menhadsignificant andeloquent things to say, whichonly
the'tyrannical duncery' of bishops hadpreventedthemfrom
saying; andthat any futureattempt to censor themwouldbe
'anundervaluingandvilifyingof thewholenation', areproach
to thecommonpeople.
Onewonders howofteninthe1650s
3. Leyborne-PophamMSS. (H.M.C.), p. 57.
4. Milton, Areopagitica, inCompleteProseWorks, II, pp. 558, 551; cf.
Hobbes, quotedonp. 387below.
and60s, for all his growingdisillusionment withthepolitical
gullibility of ordinary people, henevertheless reflectedonwhat
they hadcreated. Henry Power, aHalifax man, summedup
betweentenandtwenty years after Areopagitica, whenMil-
ton's hopes werefailinghim:
This is anagewhereinall men's souls areinakindof fermenta-
tion, andthespirit of wisdomandlearningbegins to mount andfree
itself fromthosedrossy andterreneimpediments wherewithit has
beenso longclogged... Methinks I seehowall theoldrubbish
must bethrownaway, andtherottenbuildings beoverthrownand
carriedaway withso powerful aninundation. Thesearethedays
that must lay anewfoundationof amoremagnificent philosophy
never to beoverthrown.
What do weconclude? Wedo not needpersuading, today,
that liberty of printingought to begivenatrial. That hard-
fought battlehas beenwon. Wetakethevictory for granted,
andaresometimes sceptical of theresults nowthat printing
has becomebigcapitalist business. But to appreciatewhat it
meant, to recover theintoxicatingexcitement - not only of be-
ingableto print what onethought, but of beingableto say
what onethought - wehaveto returnto thosemarvellous
decades whenit seemedas thoughtheworldmight beturned
Thereis still afreshness about their writings whichcomes
across. Historians may tracesources inItalianNeo-Platonists
andGermanAnabaptists, but what gives lifeandvigour to
theseideas is therelevancewhichmenfelt that they hadto the
affairs of Englandintherevolutionary decades. Theideas may
(or may not) besecond-hand; thepassionbehindthemis not.
Many radicals claimedto havereceivedtheir truths not from
books or frommenbut fromGod, fromthespirit within. No
doubt they deceivedthemselves: they gaveformandshapeto
vagueideas that wereintheair. But theformandshapewere
their own, drawnfromtheexperienceof their daily lifein
5. H. Power, Experimental Philosophy(1664), p. 192. Power began
writinghis book in1653. Is thesentencebeginning'Methinks I see...'
conscious echo of Milton's similar sentenceinAreopagitica*!
Englandduringtheyears whenJohnWarr's 'teemingfreedom'
Wemust not sentimentalize: I havepickedout themost
favourableexamples. Magic andsuperstitionstill playedabig
part inpopular thought, as was showninthebrief outburst of
witchpersecutioninSuffolk in1645. A lot of nonsensewas
talkedandwritten. Nevertheless, if wecomparethetwo great
set debates onreligious tolerationwhichsurvivefromthis
period, theWhitehall debates of December 1648andJanuary
1649andtheNayler debates of December 1656, aclear dis-
tinctionemerges. Intheformer therepresentatives of theNew
Model Army, LondonLevellers andradical divines, all show
adegreeof toleranceastonishingfor theage. Wildmanspecu-
latedthat thesunor themoonmight reasonably bethought to
beGod: heandothers wishedto deprivethemagistrateof
any power inreligious matters at all. Thegenerals wereless
certain, andIretonuneasily askedwhether tolerationwas to
'debar any kindof restraint onanythingthat any will call
InthesecondParliament of theProtectoratethegentry, the
principal lawyers of thecountry, andafewbigmerchants, sat
injudgment ontheYorkshireyeomanwho hadenteredBristol
onadonkey. Thehysterical savagery whichthey showedis in
strikingcontrast to thecivilizeddecency of theWhitehall de-
bates. A fewcourageous Army officers defendedNayler, to-
gether withoneor two members of thegovernment whose
policy of tolerationwas under attack. Nayler's aims, Colonel
Sydenhamdeclared, border 'near aglorious truth'. But the
consciences of manyM.P.S, especially thosewho werejust
about to offer thecrownto Oliver Cromwell, couldnot bere-
conciledto allowingNayler to live. It was doubtful whether
Parliament hadany right to punishNayler at all, andafter
nearly amonthof debatethis considerationamongothers
helpedto produceamoremerciful sentence. Andwhat was it?
To be floggedthroughthestreets of London, his tongueto be
boredwithahot iron, his foreheadbranded; thento besent
to Bristol for asecondflogging: andto bekept inprison
6. Woodhouse, pp. 128,143,161.
until Parliament decidedotherwise.
Floggingfollowedby ex-
posureinthepillory was designedto break aman's spirit. It
rarely failedexcept when- as withLilburnein1638- thevic-
timwas sustainedby thesolidarity of thewatchingcrowd,
whichmight itself restraintheexecutioner's hand. But apitiless
punishment approvedby ahostilecrowdwas society's most
brutally effectiveway of reassertingits standards against a
movement whichwas dividedandinretreat. Nayler under-
went his ordeal withfortitude, but physically henever re-
coveredfromit; hediedthreeyears later at theageof 43.
TheM.P.s in1656werefrightened- frightenedof what they
believedto betheQuaker threat to magistracy andministry,
to astatechurchandthestability of thesocial order. Oneof
the fiercest was Francis Drake, lordof themanor of Cobham,
theDiggers' persecutor.
But fear will not initself explainthe
differencebetweentheatmosphereof thetwo debates. For the
participants intheWhitehall debates inthewinter of 1648-9
wereapproachingthegreatest crisis of theRevolution, thetrial
andexecutionof Charles I. Someof thosewho took part in
thediscussions sufferedtheterribledeathof atraitor after the
restoration: thebodies of Cromwell andIretonweredugup
andhanged. Many of theothers ledahuntedexistence, under-
groundor inexile. They knewat thetimeof thedebates what
risks they wererunning. If anyonehadcausefor nervous panic,
it was they, not theM.P.S of 1656. Theformer hadaconfidence
inreason, inthegoodness of man, whichinretrospect appears
naiveandtouching. Thelatter weresavagebecausethey hadno
assurancethat what they wantedto defendcouldbepreserved
by any other means thansavagery.
Their attitudehadbeenexpressedby Clement Walker in
1649: theArmy radicals hadencouragedsocial insubordination
by stimulatingdiscussion. But 'therecanbeno formof govern-
ment without its proper mysteries, whichareno longer mysteries
7. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, pp. 69, 86, 158; cf. p. 76. Thein-
tentionof dielast clausewas no doubt to prevent Cromwell releasing
Nayler. Hewas freedby therestoredLongParliament inSeptember
8. ibid., I, pp. 55-6.
thanwhilethey areconcealed. Ignorance, andadmirationaris-
ingfromignorance, aretheparents of civil devotionand
Themoreliberty, thegreater mischief,' Major-
General Skipponsuccinctly toldParliament inDecember 1656.
*I wouldnot haveapeopleknowtheir ownstrength,' Luke
Part of theebullienceI havebeendiscussingsprings from
theyouthof theactors. Youngmenof ability havefar more
chanceof comingto thetopinarevolution. I havealready
quotedaccounts of theappeal of religious radicalismto the
Brailsfordpointedout howvery youngwerethe
Agitators of 1647.
It was trueof higher ranks intheArmy
too. Fairfax was Commander-in-Chief of theNewModel Army
at theageof 33, Ludlowmilitary ruler of Irelandat thesame
age. Henry Iretonwas only 40whenhediedin1651. John
Lambert was perhaps thesecondmost powerful personinthe
kingdomat theageof 35; his political career was finishedwhen
hewas 41, thoughhelanguishedfor another 23years ingaol.
TheNewModel offeredonecareer to thetalents; but leaders
of democratic sects also hadto establishtheir ascendancy in
opencompetition, andmost of themwerevery youngwhen
they enteredonthesecareers. Bidlewas bornin1616, Nayler
in1617or 1618, Coppein1619, Fox in1623, JohnRogers in
1627, RichardHubberthornein1628, EdwardBurroughin
1634. All wereunder thirty whenthecivil war ended. James
Parnell was still not 20whenhediedin1656. It was ayoung
man's worldwhileit lasted.
Intheradicals' modeof thought two strands aretwisted.
Oneis belief intheevolutionof truth, continuous revelation.
JohnRobinsonpreachedthedoctrineinhis farewell sermon
9. Walker, Historyof Independency, Part I, pp. 140-41. Seep. 72
10. Burton, ParliamentaryDiary, I, pp. 218, 272. Skipponhadbeen
oneof Nayler's fiercest enemies: Robinsononthewholefavouredmercy.
11. Seepp. 188-9above.
12. Brailsford, op. cit., ch. X.
to thePilgrimFathers in1620,
so it is fittingthat thebelief
is oftenrelatedto thediscovery of theNewWorld. Thus
if so great andconsider-
ableapart of theworldas Americais ... was yet unknown
to all theworldbesides for so many generations together:
well may it beconceived, not only that somebut many
truths, yeaandthoseof mainconcernment andimportance,
may yet beunknown.'
Thomas Goodwinannouncedthat
'anewIndies of heavenly treasure... hathbeenfoundout! ...
Yet more... may be.'
Brethrenof theWestminster Assembly lookedforwardto a
stateof permanent reformation.
JohnSaltmarsh, Walter
Cradock andmany others sawtheir ownageas oneof an
outpouringof thespirit: they hopedthat athousandflowers
This was agreat argument for religious toler-
ation, inAreopagitica andintheanonymous TheAncient
Bounds (1645), whichinsistedthat truth'cannot beso easily
brought forth' without liberty of conscience; 'better many
errors of somekindsufferedthanoneuseful truthbeobstructed
or destroyed'.
Thedaily progress of thelight of truth,' said
Milton, 'is productivefar less of disturbanceto thechurch, than
of illuminationandedification.'
Throughrevelationof new
truths to believers, traditional Christianity couldbeadaptedto
theneeds of anewage; theeverlastinggospel withinresponded
moreeasily andswiftly to thepressures of theenvironment
thandidtraditions of thechurchor theliteral text History is a
gradual progress towards total revelationof truth.
What thenis thetest of thenewtruth? It is plainblunt com-
monsense. TheBaconianemphasis onthings rather thanwords,
thescientists' emphasis onthetest of practice, onexperiment,
bothpoint that way. Hobbes arguedagainst thearidrationalism
13. J. Robinson, Works, (1851), I p. xliv.
14. J. Goodwin, ImputatioFidei (1642), Preface.
15. T. Goodwin, Works, IV, p. 237.
16. Halter, Tracts onliberty, II, pp. 160,318-19,331.
17. Nuttall, TheHolySpirit, pp. 104-7,115-17,126-30.
18. Woodhouse, p. 247.
19. Milton, ChristianDoctrineinWorks (Columbiaedn) XIV, p. 9.
20. J. Goodwin, Hagiomastix(1646), Preface.
of theSchoolmenwho 'speak without conceptionof thethings,
andby rote, onereceivingwhat hesaithfromanother by
. Ordinary menknowjust as well as thelearnedwhat
is meant by anempty vessel, 'namely that thereis nothinginit
that canbeseen; andwhether it betruly empty theploughman
Appeal to thecollective
commonsenseof ordinary menandwomenwas what the
sectaries meant whenthey appealedto experience, experiment:
theexperiencemust havebeenfelt by therecipient very
powerfully, but hemust also beableto communicateit to his
peers, andthey must findit acceptable.
Herewecometo thesecondprincipleof theradicals -
relianceontheholy spirit withinone, onone's ownexperienced
truthas against traditional truths handeddownby others. How
elsecanrevelationbecontinuous? This emphasis was common
to Milton, Dell, Winstanley, Bunyan, Ranters andQuakers.
Clearly it couldhavevery radical consequences indeed: every-
thingthat is traditional is suspect just becauseit is traditional.
Intimeof revolutionmenthink aggressivethoughts, andthese
canberecognizedby others as valid, as divinely inspired.
Experiencecouldbeusedalikeagainst history andagainst the
Bible. Thomas Collier, preachingto theArmy at Putney in
1647, offeredto confirmoneof his points fromScripture,
'althoughI trust I shall declarenothingunto youbut experi-
mental truth'.
'Experiencegoes beyondall things,' Coppin
TheAntinomianHenry Pinnell contrastedtheway
'amanknows athingby readingof it' with'experimental cer-
tainty of it inhimself'.
Oneconsequenceof thestress oncontinuous revelationand
onexperiencedtruths was that theideaof novelty, of originality,
ceasedto beshockingandbecameinasensedesirable. 'All that
I havewrit concerningthematter of digging,' Winstanley wrote
inDecember 1649, 'I never readit inany book, nor receivedit
fromany mouth... beforeI sawthelight of it riseupwithin
21. Hobbes, EnglishWorks, V, pp. 397-8; cf. Ralegh, quotedin
I.O£.R., p. 182.
22. Bunyan, Works, I, p. 392; Woodhouse, p. 390.
23. Seep. 222above. 24. Quotedby Huehns, op. cit., p. 49.
Heemphasizedthat theLawof Righteousness about
whichhewrotewas New. Originality was atest of sincerity and
genuineness. 'Menmust speak their ownexperiencedwords,
andmust not speak thoughts.' This question,' hetoldtheclergy,
'is not to beansweredby any text of Scripture... but theanswer
is to begiveninthelight of itself, whichis thelawof righteous-
ness ... whichdwells inman's heart.'
Winstanley agreedwith
JohnWilkins that it was thedevil who persuadedmenthat
novel ideas, drawnfromexperience, wereasignof error.
To this emphasis onexperience, onthings rather thanwords,
several streams contribute. Thereis theradical protestant in-
sistenceonrelyingonyour ownfeelings, not onthewords of
others - 'as amanrehearsethataleof another man's mouth',
saidTyndale, 'andwottethnot whether it beso or no as he
saith, nor hathany experienceof thethingitself.'
perienceof Christ,' thePuritanThomas Taylor wroteacentury
later, 'is experimental.' It is not acquired'out of books or
relations ... but by experienceof himself'.
T aimnot at words
but things' weretheopeningwords of LordBrooke's A Dis-
course... of ... Episcopacie(1641). A parallel development
took placeamongscientists. WilliamGilbert praisedtruephilo-
sophers who lookedfor knowledge'not only inbooks but in
things themselves'.
JohnWilkins was summinguptheBacon-
iantraditionwhenhesaid'it wouldbemuchbetter for the
commonwealthof learningif wewouldgroundour principles
rather uponthefrequent experienceof our ownthanthebare
authority of others.'
JohnHall was Comenianas well as
Baconianwhenheadvancedtheeducational principlethat it
was 'better to gravethings intheminds of childrenthan
25. Winstanley, Several pieces gatheredintoonevolume, Introduction;
cf. TheSaints Paradice, p. 102.
26. Sabine, pp. 125,185,289; cf. 315,564,579.
27. ibid., pp. 564-6; LO.E.R., p. 110.
28. W. Tyndale, Doctrinal Treatises (Parker Soc., 1848), pp. 55-6; An
Answer toSir Thomas More(Parker Soc., 1850), pp. 51-2, 55.
29. T. Taylor, Works (1653), p. 411.
30. W. Gilbert, DeMagnete(1600), Preface; cf. LynnThorndike, 'New-
ness inSeventeenthCentury Science*, Journal of theHistoryof Ideas,
XII, pp. 585-98.
31.1.O.EJR., pp. 114-15; cf. Bacon, Works, IV, p. 14.
Henry Stubbeindeedsaidit was Baconwho inspired
Englishmenwith'suchadesireof novelty as roseto acontempt'
of theestablishedorder inchurchandstate, andwas respon-
siblefor thecivil war.
Thereligious doctrineof theevolutionof truthor of the
EverlastingGospel achievedthesameeffect. Tf thouwilt needs
condemnwhatever savours of novelty,' WilliamDell expostu-
lated, 'howshall thetruths weyet knownot bebrought in, or
theerrors that yet remainwithus bepurgedout?' Wemust
'wholly ... forsakethedoctrines of men,' and'lay by all those
opinions that wehavesuckedinfromour very cradles.' Thus
purgedwecanhear what Jesus Christ will say to our spirits,
andstick to it, 'thoughnever so differingfromtheopinions and
doctrines of this present age, as well as of theformer'.
Winstanley as wehaveseenGodandReasonbecameone;
theChrist withinour hearts preachedsecularism.
But treachery lurkedintheinner light. Intimeof defeat,
whenthewaveof revolutionwas ebbing, theinner voicebecame
quietest, pacifist This voiceonly was recognizedby others as
God's. Godwas no longer servedby theextravagant gesture,
whether Nayler's entry into Bristol or theblasphemy of the
Ranters. Oncethegroupdecidedthis way, all thepressures
wereinthedirectionof acceptingmodes of expressionnot too
shockingto thesociety inwhichmenhadto liveandearntheir
Theradicals wereso effectively silencedthat wedo not
32. J. Hall, AnHumbleMotion... ConcerningtheAdvancement of
Learning(1649), p. 34. InI.O.E.R., I havecollectedanumber of examples
of theconvergenceof thereligious emphasis onexperiencewiththescien-
tists* andalchemists' emphasis onexperiment (pp. 112-15, 121, 295-7);
cf. C. Webster,
EnglishMedical Reformers of thePuritanRevolution',
Ambix, XIV, pp. 26-7.
33. Stubbe, TheLordBacons Relationof theSweatingSickness
Examined(1671) Preface.
34. Dell, SeveredSermons, pp. 298, 428. Descartes andLocke, intheir
different ways, brought about asimilar openness of mindinphilosophy.
For theEverlastingGospel seepp. 141-8above.
35. cf. JohnLewis, who in1656urgedthereligious radicals inWales
not to go too fast or too far ininveighingagainst oldcustoms and
against thesuperstitious Welshregardfor churchbuildings (Someseason*
ableandmodest thoughts, 1656, pp. 11-17); cf. pp. 250-57above.
knowwhether many heldout inisolationwithMilton. Wedo
not evenknowabout Winstanley. But what hadlookedinthe
Ranter heyday as thoughit might becomeacounter-culture
becameacorner of thebourgeois culturewhoseoccupants
askedonly to beleft alone.
Theinner light whichformerly
spokeof theperfectibility of thesaints nowcameto re-
emphasizesin. Weshouldnot attributethis to theskill, inspira-
tionor wickedness of GeorgeFox or of anyoneelse. Fox was
only theagent: Nayler or Burroughinhis placewouldno doubt
havehadto act similarly. Theopenness of thereligionof the
heart, of theinner voice, to changes inmass moods, to social
pressures, to waves of feeling, hadmadeit thevehicleof revo-
lutionary transformations of thought: nowit hadtheopposite
effect. The'senseof themeeting' acceptedthe'commonsense'
of thedominant classes insociety. 'Inspiration,' saidDavenant,
was 'adangerous wordwhichmany haveof latesuccessfully
It was to ceaseto beanideal to beaimedat for a
century or more, till theromantic revival
Theinner light, then, was not for thesectaries mereabsolute
individualism, any merethantheappeal to privateinterpreta-
tionof theBiblewas. Theappeal to texts andtraditions was
not merely antiquarian: thepast was calledinto existenceto
redress thebalanceof thepresent. Printingandtheprotestant
emphasis oneducationhadmadeavailabletranslations not
only of theScriptures but also of other hitherto arcanedocu-
ments. Nicholas Culpeper translatedthePharmacoepia Lon-
dinensis out of Latininto Englishso that poor menandwomen
couldcurethemselves. Just as theLevellers elevatedthejury
over thejudge, so theradical sectaries no longer lookedupto
thespecialized, educatedpriest as thearbiter of precedent.
For themtheverdict lay withthecongregationof believers,
36. Seepp. 373-8below.
37. Ed. D. F. Glandish, Sir WilliamDaverumt's Gondibert (Oxford
U.P., 1971), p. 22; cf. p. 49.
38. /.O.E.R., pp. 81-2, 261-3; cf. pp. 95, 298-9above.
eachmember of whichrespectedthespirit withinall his fellow
priests. Theideal was asociety of all-roundnon-specialists
helpingeachother to arriveat truththroughthecommunity.
Acceptanceof interpretations of theBibleby acongregation
guarantees their relevancefor thegivengroup, is acheck against
mereanarchic individualism. Today, inour atomizedsociety,
theappeal to theindividual conscience, to theintegrity of the
isolatedartist, is ultimately anarchistic, theextremeof illusory
withdrawal fromsociety. But intheseventeenthcentury the
inner light was abondof unity becauseGoddidinfact say
similar things to themechanics who formedhis congregations.
Thelight whichshinethinevery oneof us,' saidBurrough,
brings lis to perfect knowledge'as to it our minds become
turnedandour hearts inclined.'
Silent meetings neededno
priest to guidethemintheir searchfor unanimity: Winstanley,
Erbery andFox hopedto bringpeople'to theendof all out-
Winstanley waited'theLord's leisurewitha
calmsilence'; JosephSalmon's 'great desire' was 'to seeandsay
Therehadbeenaunity inoppositionto theoldregimein
churchandstatewhichextendedover abroader spectrumof
society, but evenafter this disintegrated, theclasses to whom
thesects appealedhadmuchincommon. Winstanley visualized
national divisions beingswallowedupinbrotherly unity -
thoughparticular churches must first 'betornto pieces'.
himtheinner light or Reasonis what tells amanthat hemust
do unto others as hewouldthey shoulddo unto him: that he
must cooperate. So he, andhealone, really transcendedthe
dichotomy of individualism/collectivismthroughhis visionof
asociety basedoncommunal cultivationandmutual support
But Ranters too hadayearningtowards unity.
39. Burrough, Works, sig. b2v-b3.
40. Sabine, pp. 223-4; Erbery, Testimony, pp. 263-5, 337-8; Fox,
Journal, I, p. 425.
41. Sabine, pp. 231-2; for Salmonseepp. 217-19above.
42. Winstanley, TheBreakingof theDayof God, sig. A 4v; Sabine,
pp. 445-6; cf. Erbery, quotedonp. 195above.
43. Seep. 206above.
wereultimately to giveorganizational formof asort to this
unity through'thesenseof themeeting'.
Thetragedy of theradicals was that they werenever ableto
arriveat political unity duringtheRevolution: their principles
weretoo absolutely heldto beanythingbut divisive. It was
small consolationfor Samuel Fisher to beableto jibeat John
Owenin1660: formerly youcalledus fanatics, nowyouare
Theprinter Giles Calvert's shopperhaps
camenearest to unitingtheradicals inspiteof themselves -
'that forgeof thedevil fromwhenceso many blasphemous,
lyingscandalous pamphlets for many years past havespread
over theland.'
Mr Mortonstresses theimportanceof Calvert
as aunifyingforce. Heprintedtranslations of Henry Niclaes
andJacobBoehme, theworks of Saltmarsh, Dell, some
Levellers, most of Winstanley, theWellingboroughbroadsheet,
many Ranters andvery many Quakers, as well as thelast
speeches of theregicides in1660. Two years later hewas still
incitingthepublicationof seditious literature, andafter his
deathin1663his widowcontinuedhis policy. WhenClarkson
in1649wishedto get intouchwithRanters hewas referredto
Giles Calvert.
Fox's achievement was to formadisciplinedsect, withapreach-
ingministry, out of arabbleof ex-Ranters andothers newto
theideaof thinkingfor themselves about religion. Thetask
was immense: but success brought its disadvantages. Wecan
approachthis by asking, Who supportedtheitinerant preachers
- Baptists, Ranters, Quakers? They hadto live; andtherewere
so many of them, incut-throat competition. Someorganization
was essential. This was thegreat failureof theRanters - their
inability (or unwillingness) to organize. A manwithLawrence
44. S. Fisher, Testimony, p. 548.
45. T. Hall, VindiciaeLiter arum, p. 215.
46. Morton, op. cit., pp. 98, 106, 132-3; Ashley, JohnWildman, pp.
194-5. I do not think this last fact justifies Professor Cohninreferring
to Calvert as himself aRanter (op. cit., p. 464).
Clarkson's charismaseems to havemademoney enough, but
heendedupaMuggletonian, responsiveto thecrack of the
leader's whip.
Fox andother Quaker missionaries couldon
occasionsleepinaditchor under ahaystack, but his ministry
was moreeffectivewhenhefoundaHotham, aFell, to put him
upat themanor house. I quotedaboveCoppe's rueful reflec-
tions ontheinsecurity andfinancial temptations of theitiner-
ant preacher's life.
Therewas inevitablepressureonall sects
to seek somesupport fromsomemenof property: andthis in
timeexactedits price. Theinsidious pressures of theworldbore
downonthechildrenof light evenas they organizedto turn
Inthelast resort, perhaps, Quakers didnot want to overturn
theworld, any morethanconstitutional Levellers wantedto
overthrowthesanctity of privateproperty.
Quakers wanted
lifeto belivedbetter, morehonestly; they wantedto endthe
hagglingandswindlingof themarket, by insistingthat their
yeawas yeaandtheir nay nay. This introductionof modern
business standards of behaviour (to whichBunyan's Mr Bad-
manalso contributed) was agreat achievement, agreater revo-
lutionthanweoftenrecognize, just becauseit was so complete
andfinal. Onehas to liveinapre-capitalist society to appre-
ciatethedifference. Every credit to theQuakers: they deserved
theprosperity they werealready beginningto win, despite
persecution, beforeFox's death. But this was not overturning
theworldas Diggers, andevenRanters, hadhoped.
vellous dialogues recordedinRecords of theChurches of
Christ gatheredat Fenstanton, Warboys andHexham. There
wehear thecommonmanandwomanstrugglingfor self-
expressionagainst thedeadweight of thecultureof centuries.
Inevitably theorganizers of thesects usedtheBibleagainst
what they calledthe'fancies' of thosewhomthespirit was still
movinginways that werebecomingunpopular; inevitably the
rebels hadto reject theBible, eventhoughthey couldnot pro-
ducescholarly reasons for doingso that couldcompetewith
47. Morton, op. dt., pp. 138-42. 48. Seep. 334above.
49. Seepp. 120-21above.
thelearningof Henry Denne, theLevellers' 'Judas Denne'.
ModernBiblical scholarshiphas caught upwithandjustified
them: convictionof sinhas to takemoresophisticatedforms
today than'theBiblesays so'.
But theorganizers of thesects facedadual problem. Inthe
Fenstantondiscussions, inadditionto conformist pressure, and
thepressureof landlords, drivingmento go to their parish
churches, weseethat menalso haveasensethat so longas
they wouldconformoutwardly to thestatechurchthey hada
chanceof beingleft to their owndevices. TheBaptists didnot
let themalone. They madetoo highdemands for normal
frail humanity. So longas theendof theworldseemed
imminent, psychological tensioncouldbemaintained, andin-
tensemoral pressurewas tolerable. But not for theeveryday
world. Andwhenintherestorationperiodfiercepersecution
came, this producedadifferent sort of tension, whichdroveall
but themost dedicatedbelievers back to thestatechurch. So
thesects becamerestrictedto aself-selectedelite, theelect: they
couldnot befor theaveragesensual man. TheEnglishCom-
munist Party inthe1930s usedto bedescribedas havingthe
largest ex-membershipof any party. All theseventeenth-century
sects, as they establishedthemselves, must haveacquiredavery
largeex-membership. This explains what wehavealready
noted, somegenuinepopular welcomeback for theoldchurch,
cakes andchurchales, evenif not for bishops.
Yet thesects didplay animportant roleas centres of social
services, givingsomeprotectionfor their members inthetough
worldof early capitalism.
TheFenstantonBaptists distributed
poor relief, andusedit as aninstrument of social control. A
womanwho went to theparishchurch- 'forcedso to do for
themaintenanceof herself andchildren', as sheclaimed- got
sevenshillings to satisfy her necessities as soonas shehad
As theworldclosedinonthesects, their organiza-
tiontightenedandwas moreandmoreusedto imposesocial
attitudes. In1655thechurchresolvedthat no 'member of the
congregationwhatsoever shall travel fromplaceto placewith-
50. Seepp. 70,229above. 51. cf. S. andP., pp. 286-7,428.
52. FenstantonRecords, pp. 17-19,85.
out theadviceandconsent of thecongregationto whomhe
belongeth', suchconsent to beinwriting. No morefree-lance
itinerant ministers, goingwhereandwithwhomthespirit
suggested! Two years later they resolvedthat it was unlawful
for afamily 'to keepadaughter at home, maintainingher in
idleness', whenshewas capableof earningher living. The
parents were'sharply reprovedfor their sin', andexhortedto
put their daughter to service.
Inthe1670s Bunyan's church
showedgreat severity against thoseof its members who didnot
pay their debts, andBunyanhimself adviseddeacons to use
poor relief to encourageindustry anddiscourageidleness.
Hereis another reasonwhy inthelater seventeenthcentury
thenonconformist sects ceasedto proselytizeamongtheurban
poor: they hadenoughto do to surviveandlook after their
own. It was yet another argument against doinganythingto
frightenoff members who beganto prosper.
So, paradoxically, thesects' acceptanceof responsibility for
their ownpoor compelledthemto imposelabour disciplineon
their members; andthey woulddo this far moreeffectively than
anexternal Presbyteriandisciplinary systemcouldhavedone.
As theeconomy slowly progressed, thegreatest extremes of
starvationdisappearedanyway: Professor Jordan's menof
charity couldinvest all their surplus inproductionnow, con-
fident that betweenthemthesects andthestatewouldlook
after thepoor. However laudabletheprovisionof social in-
suranceby thesects, it involvedatotal acceptanceof theun-
equal world. It is far fromtheLeveller demandfor the
restitutionto thepoor of embezzledcharities, fromtheDigger
demandfor theoccupationof commonlands, fromtheDigger
andRanter wishto seecommunity of goods. Theradicals no
longer hopedto turntheworldupsidedown: they competed
desperately as they adaptedthemselves to it. Thesects became
Hothamwas quiteright, wemay conclude, to think that for
53. FenstantonRecords, pp. 156,210. Thehusbandacceptedtheruling;
his wifedidnot.
54. Ed. G. B. Harrison, TheChurchBookof BunyanMeeting, 1650-
1S21(1928), p. x; Bunyan, Works, II, pp. 582-3; cf. Walzer, op. cit.,
p. 305.
his society Quakers werepreferableto Ranters. TheSociety
of Friends formedaresponsible, disciplinedbody out of a
shapeless, nameless mass. They wereanxious for their reputa-
tion, moreandmorecameto preservethebourgeois decencies.
At analleged'Ranter's Parliament' of 1650'many queries were
propoundedinbehalf of thepoor of their fraternity; desiring
to knowhowthey shouldbemaintainednotwithstandingthe
fallingoff of many hundreds of thegreat ones. To which
answer was made, that they shouldborrowmoney andnever
pay it again.'
Thestory may beapocryphal, but thedilemma
it records was real. Howcouldtheallegianceof thepoor be
retainedwithout forfeitingthesupport of 'great ones'? And
if asect attractedtoo muchsupport fromgreat ones, couldit
preserveits original principles? TheRanters never formeda
sect at all inthis sense, never achievedthedisciplinenecessary
to maintaintheir ownpoor andso preserveacohesiveunity.
If they haddoneso, they might havelost all that was distinctly
Ranter anyway.
Winstanley andErbery believedthat too muchdiscussion
ledonly to division.
As sects crystallizedout, suchunity as
theradicals hadever hadwas finally destroyed. After 1649all
trends of opiniondisavowedtheLevellers, oftenmeaningby
themtheTrueLevellers. EvenCoppedisclaimed 'sword-
levelling' and'digging-levelling'. Coppin, JohnSpittlehouse,
JohnWebster, Nayler andtheQuakers all hadto counter
accusations of beingLevellers.
Ranters disruptedtheDigger
community; Winstanley denouncedRanting, thoughcarefully
sayingthat Ranters must not bepersecuted. Baptists excom-
municatedRanters andQuakers; Quakers attackedBaptists
55. TheRanters Declaration, ... publishedbyM. Stubs, a latefellow-
Ranter (1650) inCohn, op. cit., p. 334.
56. Sabine, pp. 223-4; Erbery, Testimony, p. 137.
57. Seepp. 119-23, 210, 222, 240, 245-7, 250-51, 304above: J.
Spittlehouse, AnAnswer To onepart of TheLordProtectors Speech: Or,
A Vindicationof theFifth-Monarchymen(1654), p. 1. As lateas 1691
RichardBaxter felt hehadto disavowlevellingwhenhecriticizedthe
extravaganceof therich(!ThePoor Husbandman's AdvocatetoRich
RackingLandlords, 1691, inTheRev. RichardBaxter's Last Treatise, ed.
F. J. Powicke, 1926, p. 46).
andRanters as antichristians. To judgeby thesurvivingchurch
books, excommunicationwas oneof theprincipal activities of
theearly sects. Themaintenanceof internal purity disrupted
unity: without internal purity survival as asect was impossible.
Heretoo therewas no obvious solution. Therewas still broad
agreement onpolitical aims - oppositionto tithes, to thestate
churchandits ministry, to thelaw, to theexistingfranchise;
but ontheological issues, ontheSecondComing, they split. In
1659this disunity preventedtheconcertedactionwhichalone
might havesavedtheGoodOldCause; in1660its consequences
wererevealedinall their political ugliness. All sects were
anxious to disavowthoseto theleft of themselves, to show
howmoderateandrespectablethey werereally.
Andyet, viewedinternally, thedisciplineandinternal unity
werenecessary for eachsect's survival inanincreasingly un-
sympathetic environment. Quaker expansionno doubt suf-
feredfromthedefectionof ProudQuakers, Ranters, supporters
of Perrot andof Story andWilkinson. Yet wouldtheSociety of
Friends havesurvivedat all without thesepurges? Wouldthey
haveattractedandretainedthesupport of menlikeWilliam
PennandRobert Barclay? Couldthey haveafforded, inhard
financial terms, not to havesuchsupport?
Thegreat periodof freedomof movement andfreedomof
thought was over. For 20years menhadtrudgedbackwards and
forwards across Great Britain, intheArmy, insearchof work,
intheserviceof God. Themixing, thecross-fertilization, must
havebeenimmense. After therestorationofficers of theNew
Model returnedto their crafts.
Preachingtinkers returnedto
their villages, or likeBunyanwent to gaol. Levellers, Diggers,
Ranters andFifthMonarchists disappeared, leavinghardly a
trace. Coppechangedhis nameandbecameaphysician. Sal-
mon, Perrot andmany others emigrated. Nayler andBurrough
58. SeeBurrough, Works, p. 615.
59. Seepp. 252-7above; Carrol, op. cit., pp. 58-9, 92.
60. Pepys, Diary, III, p. 315.
died, Fox disciplinedtheQuakers: they succumbedto thepro-
testant ethic. Property triumphed. Bishops returnedto astate
church, theuniversities andtithes survived. Womenwereput
back into their place. Theislandof Great Bedlambecamethe
islandof Great Britain, God's confusionyieldingplaceto man's
order. Great Britainwas thelargest free-tradeareainEurope,
but oneinwhichthecommerceof ideas was againre-
stricted. Milton's nationof prophets becameanationof shop-
As thecompleteness of theradicals' defeat becameevident,
Erbery andSalmondeliberately sought refugeinsilence,
Copperecanted, LilburneturnedQuaker, ClarksonMuggle-
tonian. Theconclusionof Winstanley's last pamphlet acknow-
ledges defeat:
Truthappears inlight, falsehoodrules inpower;
To seethesethings to beis causeof grief eachhour.
Knowledge, why didst thoucome, to woundandnot to cure? ...
Opower, whereart thou, that must mendthings amiss?
Come, changetheheart of man, andmakehimtruthto kiss.
His last words wereacall to deathto reunitehimwiththe
material creation:
0death, whereart thou? Wilt thounot tidings send?
1fear theenot, thouart my lovingfriend.
Cometakethis body, andscatter it intheFour,
That I may dwell inOne, andrest inpeaceoncemore.
Yet nothingever wholly dies. Great Britainno doubt fared
theworseinsomerespects for rejectingthetruths of the
radicals intheseventeenthcentury, but they werenot utterly
lost. Just as asurvivingLollardtraditioncontributedto the
EnglishReformationover acentury after thedefeat of Lol-
lardy, just as asurvivingradical protestant traditioncontri-
butedto theEnglishRevolution, andbothhavestill to be
rediscoveredby historical research, so theradicals of theEng-
61. Seepp. 196-7,218-19above.
62. Sabine, p. 600. TheFour' arethefour elements.
lishRevolutionperhaps gavemoreto posterity thanis im-
mediately obvious. Thebroadsideballadof 1646, TheWorld
is TurnedUpsideDown*
may well havebeentheoldsongof
that namewhichwas popular intheeighteenthcentury. It is
saidto havebeenplayed, appropriately enough, whenCorn-
wallis surrenderedto theAmericanrevolutionaries at York-
town in 1781. Thomas Spence, who rejected monarchy,
aristocracy andprivateproperty inland, andwanteddemo-
cratic villagecommunities to becomesoleowners of theland,
Thephrasewas usedby theShakers, aLancashire
groupwho were'commissionedof theAlmighty Godto preach
theeverlastinggospel to America' in1774. Their membership
was drawnfromartisans, labourers andservants; they believed
that they hadactually risenwithChrist andcouldlivewithout
sin; they danced, sangandsmokedat their meetings.
findother hints. WilliamPleasants, alay clerk of Norwich
cathedral around1700, was allegedto think 'thereis no heaven
but aquiet mindandno hell but thegrave'.
* JohnWesley in
1746, talkingto Antinomians inBirmingham, reports onewhose
views werevirtually indistinguishablefromthoseof theRan-
ters. Helivedby faithandso was not under thelaw. Wesley
askedhim'May youthentakeanythingyouwill anywhere?
Supposeout of ashop, without theconsent or knowledgeof the
owner?' 'I may if I want it; for it is mine: only I will not give
offence.' Wesley's next questionwas predictable:- 'Haveyou
also aright to all thewomenintheworld?' Theanswer showed
that themaninquestionwas not just tryingto annoy, but was
63. Morton, op. cit., p. 36.
64. SeeP. andR., pp. 105-7, andreferences therecited. TheEnglish
Saint-SimonianJ. E. Smithin1833saidthetrueChristianwas 'onewho
turns theworldupsidedown' (W. H. G. Armytage, Heavens Below,
1961, p. 134).
65. E. D. Andrews, ThePeopleCalledShakers (NewYork, 1953) esp.
pp. 13-20, 27-8. LiketheMuggletonians theShakers believedtheTwo
Witnesses hadcome(p. 23). ThenameShaker hadbeengivento some
sectaries in1648(A ScottishMist Dispel'd, p. 17) andwas later usedfor
65A. R. W. Ketton-Cremer, NorfolkAssembly(1957), p. 85.
describingathought-out position: it was 'Yes, if they con-
Weneednot bother too muchabout beingableto tracea
continuous pedigreefor theseideas. They aretheideas of the
underground, surviving, if at all, verbally: they leavelittle
trace. It is unlikely that theideas of theseventeenth-century
radicals hadno influenceontheWilkesitemovement, the
AmericanRevolution, Thomas Paineor theplebeianradicalism
whichrevivedinEnglandinthe1790s. Unlikely: but suchin-
fluenceis difficult to prove. Amongso muchthat was unre-
cordedwecanperhaps traceasurvivinginfluencefor Samuel
Fisher's Biblecriticism;
but eventhat seems ultimately to
havebeenforgotten. A balladattributedto James II's reign
is asatireon'Lubberland', andmay hint at ideas similar to
thoseof theradicals; but thereis no specific reference. InLub-
berlandtherewill be
No lawnor lawyers' fees...
For everyonedoes what heplease
Without ajudgeor jury...
They haveno landlords' rent to pay,
Eachmanis afreeholder.
Wemay perhaps wonder whereDefoegot someof his ideas
Thevery lands weall alongenjoyed
They ravishedfromthepeoplethey destroyed.. •
All thelongpretences of descent
Areshams of right to propupgovernment
Tis all invasion, usurpationall...
Tis all by fraudandforcethat wepossess
Andlengthof timecanmakeno crimetheless.. .
Religion's always onthestrongest side.
65B. J. Wesley, Journal (1864), pp. 10-11. I owethis referenceto the
kindness of Mr JohnWalsh.
66. Seech. 11above.
67. Ed. J. Ashton, Humour, Wit andSatireof theSeventeenthCentury
(1883), p. 37.
68. D. Defoe, JureDivino(1706), pp. 206-17. They' inthesecondline
Harringtonwas no doubt themaininfluenceonDefoe's thought
about property, andthereis no evidencethat hehadreadWin-
stanley. But thepassageis considerably moreradical inits
implications thananythingHarringtonever wrote- andDefoe
Therewereother poets too. Oliver Goldsmithknewabout
theLevellers, andBlakeowedmuchto theradicals of the
Dionysus proveddifficult to naturalize
inBritain, wherehis nametendedto betranslatedas John
Barleycorn. But Burns perhaps records somethingof thetradi-
tion. Thewords 'rant' and'ranting' (never usedpejoratively)
arefavourites of his, andhemorethanoncesignedhimself
'RabtheRanter'. Thereis no reasonto postulateany reference
to theseventeenth-century Ranters inthis. Moresignificant is
that Burns repeats many of thethemes of theseventeenth-
century radicals - fierceanti-clericalism, respect for honest
poverty (or eventhehonest immoralismof itinerant beggars -
afigfor thoseby lawprotected') as against kings, aristocrats
andthejudges who 'aretheir engines', hatredof thesmug
hypocrisy of Holy Willieandhis like, scepticismabout theex-
istenceof hell (except as asocial deterrent -
Thefear of hell's ahangman's whip
To haudthewretchinorder),
ribaldry about theBible, aloveof freedom(associatedon
occasionwithloveof liquor), abelief 'that Manis goodby
nature' andthat international brotherhoodis coming: his
sexual practicedisregardedtheconventional ties of marriage.
Morework couldprobably discover moreconnections, or
69. Morton, TheMatter of Britain, esp. pp. 104-21; seemy Centuryof
Revolution, p. 168.
70. Thequotations arefromLoveandLiberty, Why shouldweidly
wasteour prime?, Epistleto ayoungfriend; seealso ThirdEpistleto
J. Lapraik, To James Tennant of Glenconner, Holy Willie's Prayer, Elegy
onWillieNicol's Mare, Is therefor honest poverty?, Look upandsee!,
TheTreeof Liberty, TheAuthor's Earnest Cry andPrayer. For all his
sentimental JacobitismBurns's poemTheSolemnLeagueandCovenant
shows soundhistorical sense; YeJacobites by Namecouldbesungto the
sametuneas TheDiggers' Song.
possibleconnections. TheBrontes' Haworthwas intheGrindle-
tonian area, wheredownto theearly nineteenthcentury
'Oliver's days' wererememberedas agoldenage.
inthepotentialities of activism... displayedby theradical
groups of theInterregnum", Mr K. V. Thomas tells us, was
'dashedby therestoration; but thenotionthat political remedies
couldbefoundfor social andeconomic discontent was less
easily checked'.
Theradicals' postulateof economic solutions
to society's problems must havehelpedto bridgethat gapbe-
tweenthewaningof magical beliefs andtheriseof modern
technology to whichMr Thomas has drawnattention.
moreimportant, perhaps, for our generation, weretheir
glimpses of apossiblesociety whichwouldtranscendthepro-
perty system, of acounter-culturewhichwouldreject thepro-
testant ethic altogether. Someof theseinsights survivedto do
their subversivework onreaders of MiltonandBunyan, re-
gardedintheeighteenthcentury as themost respectablepillars
of religious orthodoxy.
Againandagaininthis bookwehavenoticedtheseventeenth-
century radicals shootingaheadof thetechnical possibilities of
their age. Later Biblical scholarshipandanthropology make
better sensethanthey couldof themythological approachto
theBible; cheapandeasily availablecontraceptivedevices
makebetter senseof freelove. Modernphysics andchemistry
arecatchingupwiththedialectical element intheir thought;
modernanthropology is ascienceof society whichdoes not rely
onthestars, moderntheories of painless childbirthmakeno
theological assumptions about theFall of Man. Theconcept
of evolutionmakes it possibleto conceiveof auniversewith
no external first cause.
Thetechnological possibilities may
nowexist evenfor acommunity inwhichthecreationof un-
employment neednot beregardedas aprincipal task of gov-
71. Mrs Gaskell, lifeof CharlotteBronte(World's Classics), p. 12.
72. Thomas, ReligionandtheDeclineof Magic, p. 661.
73. This is suggestedby Mr Arthur Clegg, inhis poemFireintheBush
(BreakthruBroadsheet, 1971); cf. ITiomas, op. dt., pp. 656-7, andp.
74. SeeAppendix 2below.
75. Seepp. 182-3,292-5, 321, 374-5above.
ernment, andinwhich'thebeauty of thecommonwealth'
couldtakeprecedenceover privateprofit, national power or
eventheG.N.P. My object is not to patronizetheradicals by
pattingthemontheheadas 'inadvanceof their time' - that
tiredclicheof thelazy historian. Insomeways they arein
advanceof ours. But their insights, their poetic insights, are
what seemto meto makethemworthstudyingtoday.
Therearetwo ways of lookingat arevolution. Wecanob-
servethegestures whichsymbolizeandfocus wholeages of
struggle- Sir JohnHothamshuttingthegates of Hull inthe
whitefaceof Charles I; thewomenbringinguptheammuni-
tionat LymeRegis; anaxe flashingintheJanuary sunoutside
Whitehall; Nayler ridinginto Bristol onhis ass, withwomen
strewingpalms inhis path. But therearealso thelonger, slower,
profounder changes inmen's ways of thinking, without which
theheroic gestures wouldbemeaningless. Theseeludeus if we
get too immersedindetail; wecanappreciatetheextent of the
changes only if westandback to look at thebeginningandthe
endof therevolution, if wecanusesuchinaccurateterms
about somethingwhichis always beginningandnever ends.
Fromthelonger rangewecanappreciatethecolossal trans-
formations whichusheredEnglandinto themodernworld. And
wecan, perhaps, extendalittlegratitudeto all thosenameless
radicals who foresawandworkedfor - not our modernworld,
but somethingfar nobler, somethingyet to beachieved- the
After thedefeat of theradicals in1660, andthe final elimina-
tionof theoldregimein1688, therulers of Englandorganized
ahighly successful commercial empireandasystemof class
rulewhichprovedto haveunusual stayingpower. Thepro-
testant ethic dominatedat least thosethoughts andfeelings
whichcouldbeexpressedinprint. Thesociety producedgreat
scientists, great poets: it inventedthenovel. NewtonandLocke
dictatedlaws to theintellectual world. It was apowerful civil-
ization, agreat improvement for most peopleonwhat had
gonebefore. But howabsolutely certaincanwebethat this
worldwas theright way up- theworldinwhichpoets went
mad, inwhichLockewas afraidof music andpoetry, and
Newtonhadsecret, irrational thoughts whichhedarednot
Blakemay havebeenright to seeLockeandNewtonas
symbols of repression. Sir Isaac's twisted, buttoned-upper-
sonality may helpus to graspwhat was wrongwiththesociety
whichdeifiedhim. So may DeanSwift, thefiercest critic of the
newworldinwhichmoney ruled, whose'excremental vision'
extendedbackwards to agoldenagewhengoldandrepression
This society, whichonthesurface
appearedso rational, so relaxed, might perhaps havebeen
healthier if it hadnot beenso tidy, if it hadnot pushedall its
contradictions underground: out of sight, out of conscious
Theprotestant ethic so dominatedthemoral attitudes
of themiddleclasses, themechanical philosophy so dominated
scientific thinking, that theLicensingAct couldbeallowedto
lapsein1695- not ontheradicals' libertarianprinciples, but
becausecensorshipwas no longer necessary. LikeNewton, the
opinion-formers of this society censoredthemselves. Nothing
got into print whichfrightenedthemenof property. What
went onundergroundwecanonly guess. A fewpoets had
romantic ideas out of tunewiththeir world; but no one
neededto takethemtoo seriously. Self-censoredmeant self-
Upsidedownis after all arelativeconcept. Theassumption
that it means thewrongway upis itself anexpressionof the
viewfromthetop. Marx spokeof findingHegel standingon
his headandturninghimtheright way up: but that was not
76. 'Music is almost as dangerous as gunpowder, andit may bere-
quires lookingafter no less thanthepress or theMint.' Thewords are
thoseof Jeremy Collier, at almost theoppositepoleinpolitics and
religious views fromLocke(A Short Viewof theImmoralityandProf one-
ness of theStage, 4thedn, 1699, p. 278).
77. SeeN. O. Brown, Lifeagainst Death(1959) ch. XIII andpassim.
78. Seemy
"Reason" and"reasonableness" inseventeenth-century
England', BritishJournal of Sociology, XX, pp. 248-9, andreferences
Hegel's impressionof his ownposition. Marx thought the
Prussiaof his timewas anupside-downworld.
thebottommight cometo thetop, that thefirst might belast
andthelast first, that 'community... calledChrist or universal
love' might cast out 'property, calledthedevil or covetousness',
andthat 'theinwardbondages of themind' (covetousness, pride,
hypocrisy, fears, despair andmental breakdown) might be'all
occasionedby theoutwardbondages that onesort of people
lay uponanother'
- suchideas arenot necessarily opposed
to order: they merely envisageadifferent order. Wemay be
too conditionedby theway uptheworldhas beenfor thelast
threehundredyears to befair to thoseintheseventeenthcen-
tury who sawother possibilities. But weshouldtry.
'If youshould'destroy thesevessels,' EdwardBurroughtold
theall-powerful restorationgovernment, 'yet our principles you
cannever extinguish, but they will livefor ever, andenter into
other bodies to liveandspeak andact'.
Theradicals assumed
that actingwas moreimportant thanspeaking. Talkingand
writingbooks, Winstanley insisted, is 'all nothingandmust die;
for actionis thelifeof all, andif thoudost not act, thoudost
nothing.' It is athought worthponderingby thosewho read
books about theseventeenth-century radicals, no less than
by thosewho writethem. Wereyoudoers or talkers only?
Bunyanaskedhis generation.
What canst thousay?
79. Marx, Capital, I (ed. DonaTorr, 1946), p. xxx; Marx-Engels
Gesamtausgabe, I, i, p. 563.
80. Sabine, pp. 493,520.
81. Burrough, Works, p. 677.
82. Seep. 407below.
This samepower inmanthat causes divisions
andwar is calledby somementhestateof nature,
whichevery manbrings intotheworldwith
Hereis disorder, thereforethis subtlespirit of
darkness ... tells thepeople, Youmust make
onemankingover youall andlet himmake
laws, andlet everyonebeobedient thereunto.
WINSTANLEY, FireintheBush(1650), and
TheLawof Freedom(1652), inSabine, pp. 493,
THOMAS HOBBES has properly no placeinthis book, inso
far as it is astudy of theleft wingof radical Puritanism.
Hobbes was no Puritan: hewas adependant of thegreat aristo-
cratic androyalist family of theCavendishes. He fledfromEng-
landin1640, remainingabroadthroughout thecivil war. For
atimehewas tutor to PrinceCharles inexile. Hobbes returned
to Englandonly at theendof 1651, after theCommonwealth
hadsuppressedtheradicals. Yet Hobbes hadagrudgingad-
mirationfor theachievements of theRevolutionhethought
shouldnever havebeenallowedto happen. Tf intimeas in
place,' heoncesaid, 'thereweredegrees of highandlow, I
verily believethehighest of timewouldbethat whichpassed
betwixt 1640and1660.'
Theroyalist Earl of Clarendonthought
Hobbes no better thanaLeveller inhis belief inhumanequality
andacareer opento thetalents, denouncingHobbes's 'extreme
malignity to thenobility, by whosebreadhehathbeenalways
Hobbes was oftenintellectually of theradicals'
1. Hobbes, EnglishWorks, VI, p. 165.
2. Clarendon, A Brief ViewandSurveyof . . . Mr Hobbes's Book
EntitledLeviathan(OxfordU.P., 1676), pp. 181-2.
WecanseeHobbes andWinstanley at two oppositepoles.
Hobbes's philosophy is asecularizedversionof theprotestant
ethic: Hobbes's maninthestateof natureis Calvin's natural
man- selfish, dominatedby evil passions, alonely individual
Protestantismreliedonthesenseof guilt, of sin, to internalize
anethic of effort, thrift, industry. Hobbes hopedto achieve
thesameends by anappeal to rational science, calculationof
profit andloss, expediency, utility: not fear of hell but fear of
social disorder. Hobbes has rightly beenseenas thehigh
priest of competitiveindividualism. Hestrippedbaretheessence
of capitalist society, andattemptedto createascienceof politics
whichwouldbeconvincing, if unpalatable, to all rational men.
Winstanley attemptedsomethingsimilar onthebasis of col-
lectivist assumptions. Heis less ruthlessly systematic than
Hobbes, but hetoo aimedat producingarational political
system, theadvantages of whichwouldbeself-evident to all
meninso far as they wereruledby Reason.
But Winstanley
startedby rejectingboththe'sin' of thetheologians andthe
competitiveindividualismof Hobbes.
Yet bothWinstanley andHobbes weredeterminedto pene-
trateto thebedrock of politics, to disregardtheinessential;
bothwereacuteobservers of thebrutally competitivesociety
inwhichthey lived. So they havecuriously muchincom-
mon. Bothreject theBibleas asourceof political guidance,
andindulgeinsomedaringBiblical criticism.
tical about hell. Hobbes was probably adeist, but it is doubtful
if hewas aChristian: hewas preparedto accept Christianity
as thereligionauthorizedby thesovereignauthority under
whichhelived. Eachwas preparedto useBiblical texts to add
convictionto aconclusionat whichhehadarrivedby rational
argument. Hobbes lacks evenWinstanley's mythological in-
terest intheBibleas ameans of conveyingpoetic truth, though
Hobbes treats thestateof natureas amyth. Bothwerefiercely
anticlerical, for theclergy werethemainthreat to theauthority
3. Sabine, pp. 513,581.
4. Evidencefor statements about Hobbes madeherewill befound
(unless otherwisedocumented) inP. andR., pp. 275-98. For Winstanley
seech. 7above.
bothof Hobbes's sovereignandof Winstanley's Christ inman.
Bothdisapprovedof persecution, but Hobbes dislikedclaims
to revelationor inspirationno less. Neither of themexpected
salvationfromanother-worldly saviour; Hobbes lookedto
Leviathan, themortal God, Winstanley to Reason, Christ in
menandwomen. Bothbelievedintheequality of man. Both
heldthat "property, ... dependingonsovereignpower, is the
act of that power*. Bothrejectedscholastic divinity, Winstanley
becauseit leaves themotional knowledgeof athingas it is'.
'Godis still inmotion,' hesaid, andmotionis growth. Hobbes
heldthat 'lifeitself is but motion'; 'thenatureof motion' is
'thegateof philosophy universal'. Boththought that no com-
monwealthhadyet beenestablishedontrueprinciples, and
hopedby their writings to remedy that defect
Hobbes sawthat inasociety composedof equal andcom-
petingindividuals therewouldbeaninevitabletendency to-
wards anarchy unless therewereasovereignwith, inthelast
resort, absoluteauthority. Fewindeedof theradicals tackled
this central problemof political theory - theproblemof the
stateandits relationto systems of property. TheLevellers
never facedit squarely, andhadno reply to Ireton's insistence
at Putney that liberty andproperty wereultimately incom-
Winstanley was theonly radical who bothgrasped
Hobbes's problemandprovidedanalternativesolution. Win-
stanley may evenrefer to Hobbes inthepassages quotedas
epigraphto this appendix. Thefirst was writtenin1650, a
year beforeLeviathanwas published, thoughHobbes's views
hadbeenknownsince1640. Whether Iretonor Winstanley had
readHobbes is aninterestingquestion, but theanswer to it
does not matter very muchfor our purposes. Thesociety itself
gavebirthto Hobbist ideas, inothers as well as Hobbes.
was thesociety, not merely aparticular political thinker, that
Winstanley was rejectingwhenhedeniedthat all menare
5. Hobbes, Leviathan(Penguinedn.), pp. 234,18,28; EnglishWorks, I,
p. viii; Sabine, pp. 565,567.
6Seep. 118above.
7. Q. Skinner, TheIdeological Context of Hobbes's Political Thought*,
Historical Journal, IX, pp. 286-317.
naturally competitive. But hemight well haveHobbes's state
of natureinmindwhenhewrote: Imaginationfears where
no fear is: herises upto destroy others, for fear lest others
destroy him: hewill oppress others, lest others oppress him;
andfears heshall beinwant hereafter, thereforehetakes by
violencethat whichothers havelabouredfor.
youwithfears, doubts, troubles, evil surmisings andgrudges,
heit is that stirs upwars anddivisions, hemakes youlust after
everythingyouseeor hear of'. As longas imaginationrules, a
sovereignstateis necessary - 'thegovernment of highwaymen';
but that is anadditional reasonfor gettingridof property
andcompetition, for lettingReasonrule.
Winstanley's answer to Hobbes derivedfromhis trans-
mutationof themythof theEverlastingGospel.
age, whichWinstanley thought was beginninginhis time,
Christ was appearinginsons anddaughters, guiding'all men's
reasoninginright order to aright end'. Hewouldmakeall
menrighteous, i.e. all will voluntarily 'liveincommunity with
theglobeand... thespirit of theglobe', inaccordancewith
thelaws of nature, withReasonwhichguides theconsciences
of menandis thelawof theuniverse.
haveno coercivefunctions except to preservethecommunity
against any resurgenceof individual selfishness.
Hobbes hadattemptedto foundascienceof politics through
his laws of nature, whichwere'precepts or general rules found
out by reason'. If menunderstoodtheselaws of nature, which
also extendedto society, thenthey wouldaccept themand
drawthenecessary rational consequences for their owngood.
Any other courseis as irrational as kickingagainst thepricks
or tryingto makewater flowuphill. Hobbes includedindi-
vidualismandcompetitionwithinhis basic psychology of man,
anddrewtheconclusionthat absolutesubjectionto the
sovereignwas to theinterest of eachindividual. His rigorous
logic is so powerful that it is very difficult to break its chain:
it has to bechallengedinits assumptions, inits psychology.
This Winstanley did, inapassagewhichfollows immediately
8. Sabine, pp. 456-7,452,529. 9. Seepp. 147-8above.
10. Sabine, pp. 105,111-12.
after the first passagequotedas epigraphto this appendix. Man,
heargued, is naturally sociable. 'Look uponachildthat is
new-born, or till hegrows upto somefewyears; heis innocent,
harmless, humble, patient, gentle, easy to beentreated, not
envious.' Manfalls when, growingupinthecompetitiveworld,
hesurrenders to covetousness. But thereis nothinginevitable
or necessarily permanent inthis. Reasonis ineachoneof us,
andReasonrejects thecovetousness whichunderlies private
property. Cooperationandmutual helparedictatedby Reason
for thepreservationof thehumanrace. 'Let Reasonrulein
man, andhedares not trespass against his fellow-creature,
but will do as hewouldbedoneunto. For Reasontells him,
is thy neighbour hungry andnakedtoday, do thoufeedhim
andclothehim, it may bethy casetomorrow, andthenhewill
beready to helpthee.'
Consequently Winstanley sees thethird
age, theageof thespirit, not as anageof inspiredzealots but
as atimewhenChrist risinginmenandwomenwill at last
bringthemto understandthelaws of theuniverse, andto see
that community, cooperation, is oneof theselaws. Thenno
onewill want to kick against thepricks.
Hobbes thought all menwerecapableof understandinghis
laws of nature, thoughany manmight reject or disregardthem
onashort-termcalculationof his ownadvantage. But this
couldonly havedisastrous consequences for himself and
society. Unbridledselfishness wouldleadto universal conflict,
andso ultimately to astateof war. Thereforethesovereign, any
sovereign, hadto beelevatedandobeyed. Hobbes believed,
however, that hehadestablishedascienceof politics which
wouldconvinceenoughmenfor enoughof thetime: the
sovereign's jobwouldthenbeto coercetheirrational, or any
of lis inour irrational moments. Beforehewrote, hethought,
therehadbeenno. scienceof politics, andconsequently no
Winstanley's Reasonsometimes sounds likeananticipation
of Rousseau's General Will. Its light is inall men, but does not
completely dominatethethinkingof any singleindividual all
11. ibid., p. 493; TheSaints Paradice, pp. 123-4; cf. Sabine, pp. Ill,
125, 197, 235, 261-2; Marcuse, AnEssayonLiberation, p. 19.
thetime: somecalculatethat it is to their advantageto com-
peteanddestroy oneanother. 'Many times menact contrary to
Reason, thoughthey think they act accordingto Reason.'
Under kingly power this is thenorm. But this will changeas
Reasonitself 'knits every creaturetogether into aoneness,
makingevery creatureto beanupholder of his fellow, andso
everyoneis anassistant to preservethewhole'. Theless selfish
menare, themoreclosely will they approximateto this Reason,
which'guides all men's reasoninginright order andto aright
end'. For all humanity is one. Winstanley believedthat Christ
risinginmenandwomenwouldconvinceall, eventherich
who intheshort runappearedto lose, that cooperationand
mutual helparethemerest commonsense, arenatural, and
that intheendrichmentoo wouldgainby theestablishment
of communism. This wouldhowever involveamorefunda-
mental revolutioninmen's attitudes thanacceptanceof the
Hobbist philosophy. This great change, or settingupthis new
lawof righteousness, rulingineveryone, ... will beagreat
day of judgment. Therighteous judgewill sit uponthethrone
inevery manandwoman.'
thesubtitleof TheLawof Freedom: therestorationmust
Hobbes's intellectual radicalismwas astronginfluenceon
thewits at Charles II's court,
but his political philosophy
ultimately provedunacceptableto therespectablemenof pro-
perty who dominatedpost-restorationEngland. It was un-
acceptablebecauseit was so hopelessly rational. Hobbes
strippedsociety andthestateof all theflummery whichthe
compromiseof 1660madeit essential to restore- hereditary
monarchy andaristocracy, bishops. Authority was what men
of property yearnedfor in1659-60. But as society settleddown
againinto somethingthat triedto resemblethecomfortable
oldways, Hobbes's astringent political philosophy yieldedplace
to that of Locke. Locke's ideas - by Hobbes out of thepro-
testant ethic - wereless ruthlessly logical, less brilliantly clear-
cut, less shockingto traditionalists. They fittedtheworldin
12. Sabine, pp. 105, 206, 222, 261; TheSaints Paradice, p. 72.
13. Seepp. 410-13below.
whichkings ruledby thegraceof Godbut couldbeturnedout
if they didnot ruleas themenof property wished; inwhichthe
churchshowedmentheway to heavenbut bishops wereap-
pointedby politicians.
Hobbes hadhis moment, as herightly saw, in1651, when
thesovereignbody of menhadnoneof thetraditional attri-
butes of divineright, hereditary right or ecclesiastical blessing.
His was by far themost thoroughgoingof many attempts at
that timeto establishatheory of defacto authority.
important questionfor suchtheories was not who thesovereign
was but whether or not hedidhis jobof holdingcompetitive
individualist society together. Winstanley challengedthede
facto theory at its strongest: if competitiveindividualist pro-
perty relations wereabolished, thentheproblemof sovereignty
wouldsink into insignificance. Just as sindidnot causepro-
perty, but viceversa, so only theabolitionof property could
get ridof thecoercivestateandthepreachers of sin, bothof
whichhadcomeinto existenceto protect property. Theweak-
ness of Winstanley's position, as Hobbes wouldhavepointed
out, lay inhis assumptionthat Reason-wouldsay thesame
thingto all menandwomen. It was anassumptionsimilar to
that whichRousseaumadeabout theGeneral Will. But, said
Hobbes, 'commonly they that call for right reasonto decide
any controversy do meantheir own'.
At least Winstanley's
way out of this dilemma, aday of judgment intheheart of
every man, is moreplausiblethanRousseau's hopethat the
pluses andminuses will somehowcancel out. But Hobbes would
feel that bothof themunderestimatetheextent to whichthe
complex of property relations, statepower andideology tends
to beself-perpetuatingbecauseself-justifying.
Karl Marx inaperceptivepassagesaidthat withHobbes
thebloomis off Baconianmaterialism. Sciencehas lost its joy,
its excitement, its freshness: reasonis reducedto calculation,
to countingthecost. For Hobbes, reason'is nothingbut reckon-
14. Skinner, TheIdeological Context of Hobbes's Political Thought',
15. Hobbes, TheElements of Law(ed. F. Tonnies, CambridgeU.P.,
1928), p. 150.
ing(that is addingandsubtracting) of theconsequences of
general names agreeduponfor themarkingandsignifyingof
our thoughts'.
But for Winstanley Reasonis Love, is Christ
risinginthesons anddaughters of God: thebloomis restored
to science, to Iheuniversewhichis theclothingof God. Win-
stanley's mythological, poetic approachis at theoppositepole
to Hobbes's abstractions, just as it. is poles apart fromHobbes's
Calvinist assumptions about theinherent selfishness andcom-
petitiveness of natural man. Hobbes thought that man's ruling
passionwas fear of death: Winstanley wantedall mento
chooselife, andto haveit moreabundantly. Davenant wrote
fromavery different point of view, but heexpresses what Win-
stanley meant by love:
InLove's freestateall powers so levelledbe
That themaffectiongoverns morethanawe.
16. K. Marx andF. Engels, TheHolyFamily(1844) inMarxandEngels
onReligion(Moscow, 1957), pp. 64-5; Hobbes, Leviathan(Penguinedn),
17. Sir W. Davenant, Gondibert (ed. Gladish), p. 235.
Thereforewedarenot despair, but will look for,
wait for, andhopefor deliverancestill.
BUNYAN, TheHolyWar (1682) in Works,, III, p.
IF wewerenot so over-awedby Miltonthegreat poet weshould
longago haverecognizedhis roleas aprecursor of theRanters.
In1641hewent out of his way to compare'suchas arenow
calledFamilists' withprimitiveChristians. This was anastonish-
ingact, at atimewhenevenLordBrookedenouncedFamilists,
beforeeventheLeveller Walwynhadspokenupfor them.
Already Miltonsharedthemillenarianhopes of theradicals.
Heearnedhis placeinGangraena as adivorcer: Miltonre-
taliatedby linking'shallowEdwards andScotchwhat d'yecall'
(? Baillie) incommonignominy. Miltonacceptedthesoul-
sleepingdoctrines of RichardOverton's Mans Mortallitie. In
Areopagitica Miltonattackedcensorshipbeforepublicationbe-
causerevelationis progressive, becausenewtruths arebeing
revealedto believers inthe1640s: Clement Writer echoed
Inhis Treatiseof EducationMiltonhopedthat learning
wouldundo theconsequences of theFall, 'repair theruins of
our first parents': thehoperealized(very differently) at the
endof ParadiseLost. All theseviews canberelatedto the
1. Milton, CompleteProseWorks, I, p. 788; cf. II, p. 278. For Brooke
seeHaller, Tracts onLiberty, II, p. 134. D. M. Wolfe's Miltoninthe
PuritanRevolution(1941) is thebest discussionof Milton's dialoguewith
2. Edwards, Gangraena, I, p. 34; Writer, TheJus Divinumof Presby-
terianism, pp. 80-84; cf. pp. 173-4, 367above.
Familist tradition. Thegrounds onwhichMiltondefended
divorcearetheobverseof abelief that marriagemust bebased
onlove, andsurprisingly reminiscent of Clarkson's views on
sex: amanmay put away his wifeif hedoes it 'withthefull
suffrageandapplauseof his conscience... claimingby faith
andfullness of persuasiontherights andpromises of God's
institution'. Theelect neednot beboundby theMosaic Law.
Miltoncameevencloser to Clarkson's positionwhenhewrote
inAreopagiticaTo thepureall things arepure, not only
meats anddrinks but all kinds of knowledge, whether of good
or evil.'
Thesameemphasis onGodwithinus whichpervades the
divorcepamphlets andAreopagitica underlies Milton's attitude
towards theBibleandhis rejectionof Sabbatarianism: 'If I
observetheSabbathincompliancewiththedecalogue, but con-
trary to thedictates of my ownfaith, conformity withthedeca-
logue, however exact, becomes inmy casesinandaviolation
of thelaw.'
This echoes thepassagefromBauthumley which
I quotedabove.
Milton, likeWinstanley, Coppe, theauthor of
Tyranipocrit DiscoveredandJames Nayler, rejecteda'fugitive
andcloisteredvirtue', andpraisedonly afaithwhichresults in
charitableworks: 'that faithalonewhichacts is counted
His hatredof priests, anestablishedchurch, forms,
ceremonies andtithes was as fierceas that of any of theradi-
cals. Herejectedthedistinctionof clergy andlaity, andthought
'themeanest artificer' might exerciseagift of preaching.
deplored, intrueRanter style, clerical attempts to impose
'imaginary andscarecrowsins'.
Christ inbelievers' hearts, nevertheless inAreopagitica hede-
nouncedcensorshipas aninsult to thecommonpeople, not
merely to believers. InComus headvocatedamoreequitable
distributionof this world's goods; as lateas 1659hewas argu-
3. Milton, CompleteProseWorks, II, pp. 366-7, 512, 670; cf. p. 163
4. Milton, Works (Columbiaedn) XVII, pp. 7-9; cf. XVI, pp. 112-63.
5. Seep. 220above.
6. Milton, CompleteProseWorks, II, p. 750; cf. p. 338above.
7. Milton, Works (Columbiaedn) VI, p. 98.
8. Seep. 163above.
ingfor 'ajust divisionof wastes andcommons'.
prouddefenceof regicidewas ontheradical groundthat 'no
manwho knows aught canbeso stupidto deny that all men
naturally werebornfree'. Kings andmagistrates are'deputies
andcommissioners' of thepeople. To think otherwise'werea
kindof treasonagainst thedignity of mankind'.
obeyedtheCouncil of State's instructionto writeagainst the
Levellers, thoughhewas not backwardinusinghis penagainst
theCommonwealth's enemies fromtheother flank.
theinternationalist hopeof seeingother nations of theearth
recoveringthat liberty whichthey so longhadlost.
But it is not only inhis prosepamphlets that wecansee
affinities betweenMiltonandtheradicals. It is thepoetry that
is truly subversive- oftenagainst Milton's intellectual convic-
tions. Hetreats hell andthedevil inthesamemythological
way as Winstanley, as ameans of depictinginner psychological
conflicts, or simply to makeagoodstory. Classical andBiblical
myths aremingledinaway whichshows that neither is to be
takenliterally. Hell is internal. Heavenis anallegory for the
earth. Whenat thecrisis of ParadiseLost Adamrealizes that
Eveis lost becauseshehas eatentheapple, hecries out
HowcanI livewithout thee, howforgo
Thy sweet converseandloveso dearly joined
To liveagaininthesewildwoods forlorn...
Fleshof flesh,
Boneof my bonethouart, andfromthy state
Minenever shall beparted, bliss or woe.
Thereis completeambivalenceinMilton's attitudehere. Pro-
fessor Waldock rightly calls it 'afundamental clash: it is a
clashbetweenwhat thepoemasserts, ontheonehand, and
what it compels us to feel, ontheother'.
9. Seep. 346above.
10. Milton, CompleteProseWorks, III, pp. 198-9,204.
11. cf. ibid., V, 421, for positions sharedwiththeLevellers.
12. ibid., IV, p. 555.
13. A. J. A. Waldock, ParadiseLost andits critics (CambridgeU.P.,
1947), pp. 23-4.
Miltonaccepts God's will, realizes that theremust beorder,
discipline, obedience: yet at thecrucial moment his heart
warms to Adam, sacrificingall for love. Theemotionunder-
lyingthepoemis moresubversivethanthepoem's argument.
Adam's fall was duenot to prideor intellectual curiosity, as
it well might havebeenif MiltonhadfollowedGenesis and
thecommentators. It was dueto love, lovefor woman; andto
apreferencefor society rather thanalonely rectitudeinin-
dividual isolation. It is not quitewhat weshouldexpect from
thepoet traditionally seenas thehighpriest of self-righteous
protestant individualism. Andtheconclusionof ParadiseLost
too - 'aParadisewithinthee, happier far' - echoes (however
unconsciously) Coppin, andis anelaborationof theradicals'
viewthat mancanattainto apre-lapsarianstatehereon
Milton's very unusual emphasis onthephysical aspects
of lovebetweentheangels, andontheir enjoyment of food,
becomes perhaps less eccentric if werelateit to theradicals'
doctrinethat matter is God, that physical existencehereon
earthis goodandto beenjoyedfor its ownsake.
out of his way to glorify thenakedness of AdamandEvebe-
foretheFall, andto stress that their sexual lovewas consum-
mated, 'Whatever hypocrites austerely talk.' Miltonwas as
severeas Winstanley or Erbery onthose'that practisedfalse-
hoodunder saintly show'. Hypocrisy is 'theonly evil that walks
Invisibleexcept to Godalone'. Miltonemphasizes that there
was no privateproperty beforetheFall. Labour is not really
acurse: AdamworkedinParadisebeforetheFall, andeven
after it 'idleness hadbeenworse'.
Miltonso successfully concealedhis ArianisminParadise
Lost andParadiseRegainedthat commentators weredeceived
14. cf. theopeningandcloseof ParadiseRegained- 'Edenraisedin
thevast wilderness': 'A fairer Paradiseis foundednow.' For Coppinsee
p. 221above.
15. For thetendencies towards pantheisminMilton's ChristianDoctrine
seeSaurat, BlakeandMilton, pp. 145-8.
16. cf. Winstanley's viewthat exploitationrather thanlabour is the
curse- p. 163above. But seeK. V. Thomas, 'Work andLeisureinpre-
industrial society', pp. 56-7, onthelongmedieval traditionbehindthis
ideaof Milton's.
until thepublicationin1825of theDeDoctrina Christiana;
but oncewehavethecluetherearemany hints. Menare, like
Christ, 'thesons of God', as they hadbeenfor Winstanley.
WhenJesus brought back 'throughtheworld's wilderness long
wanderedmanSafeto eternal Paradiseof rest
, Paradisewas
regained'by oneman's firmobediencefully triedThroughall
, not by thevicarious sufferingof Christ onthe
cross. The"onejust man' canbeNoahor Samsonor Christ,
or (onesuspects) Milton. All this too is of apiecewiththe
radical treatment of theChristianmythas anallegory of the
conflicts intheheart of eachbeliever, andwiththeir increasing
emphasis onworks rather thanfaith; it assumes theinterreg-
numdiscussionabout theFall.
TherejectioninParadiseRegainedof prematurepolitical
solutions - 'his weakness shall o'ercomeSatanic strength' -
reminds us of Erbery andtheQuakers. Theinsistencethat
Christ's kingdomis not of this worldis also acontinuationof
thelifelongbattleof Milton(andtheradicals) against theunion
of churchandstate, coercionof consciences by thecivil power.
It was Satanwho was convincedthat Christ aimedat anearthly
kingdom. Theconfidencethat despitethepolitical catastrophe
of 1660Christ's kingdomwill still come- 'but what themeans
Is not for theeto knownor meto tell' - also recalls theQuaker
analysis of therestoration.
But SamsonAgonistes shows us
that Miltonstill hadconfidenceinultimatepolitical victory,
evenif hecouldnot envisagethemeans by whichit wouldbe
achieved. Miltonhadnailedhis republicancolours to themast
inTheReadieandEasieWayto establisha FreeCommon-
wealth, that very bravebook. Althoughafter therestoration
hewroteunder astrict censorshipandwas himself deeply sus-
pect, Miltonstill managedto convey many radical opinions
inthelater poems - usinge.g. 'theparsimonious emmet' as a
'patternof just equality' inafuturerepublic - coveringhimself
by anambiguous 'perhaps'. His last publishedwork - anat
first sight surprisingpanegyric of thepapist Kingof Poland,
JohnSobieski - was infact amasterpieceof double-talk.
Sobieski was akingwho carriedout aforceful nationalist
17. cf. pp. 350-51above.
foreignpolicy, andso anobvious foil to Charles II. But the
contrast was themorepiquant inthat in1672astatueof
Charles II hadbeenunveiledby theTory LordMayor of Lon-
donwhichwas anadaptationof astatueof JohnSobieski.
Many werethewitticisms at theexpenseof this statue, includ-
ingpoems by Marvell (probably) andRochester.
I amnot suggestingthat Miltonwas acrypto-Ranter, or even
that hesharedmany of theviews of theradicals. It couldin-
deedbearguedthat ParadiseRegainedis insomerespects an
anti-Ranter poem. Whether or not Ellwoodsuggestedthesub-
ject, it was writtenat atimewhenMiltonwas closeto the
Quakers, andtheQuakers very occupiedwithPerrot andother
rantingtendencies. WhenSatanoffers Christ foodanddrink
inthewilderness Christ rejects Clarkson's doctrinethat to the
pureall things arepure; but whengoodangels providefood
Christ eats heartily. Heis as moderate, as sensible, as middle-
of-the-roadas theQuakers werebecomingby 1667. For him
as for Quakers, the'spirit of truth... inpious hearts' offered
To all truthrequisitefor mento know.
Miltonwas aleisure-class intellectual, who never knewwhat
it was to labour under asmall taskmaster's eye.
His contempt
for thecommonpeopleis explicit, at least from1645onwards.
What I do suggest is that someof Milton's religious andpoli-
tical convictions, as revealedintheprosepamphlets, derive
fromtheradical traditions of theFamilist underworldand
that it is very likely that someRanters drewonthemvia
Milton. PaceM. Saurat, this undergroundtraditionseems to
meamoreplausiblesourcethantheZohar, thoughMilton
may havereadthat too. Hecouldhavelearnt that sinis the
privationof light fromBauthumley's Light andDarkSides of
18. Marvell, Poems andLetters, ed. H. M. Margoliouth(OxfordU.P.,
1927), I, pp. 300-303; Rochester, Poems (ed. Pinto, 1953), p. 111.
19. This is of courseonly onesmall aspect of ParadiseRegained.
Another is therejectionof aworldly foreignpolicy, alliances withgreat
powers - clearly acriticismof theProtector's government.
20. cf. p. 327above.
God, andthelight/darkness antithesis pervades thethought
of many other radicals as well as of Milton.
Milton, I amsuggesting, combinedradical intellectual con-
victions withpatriciansocial prejudices, rather as Oliver Crom-
well combinedsomegenuinely radical religious beliefs withthe
normal social assumptions of acountry gentleman. If wethink
of Miltonas livinginastateof permanent dialoguewithradi-
cal views whichhecouldnot altogether accept, yet someof
whichhevaluedvery highly indeed, it may throwlight even
onthegreat poetry. Wemay recall his friendshipwithQuakers
after therestoration, althoughhe(likeErbery) appears not to
haveassociatedhimself withany religious sect.
Suchanapproachto Miltonhelps me, at any rate, to absorb
theargument of WilliamEmpson's brilliantly provocativeMil-
ton's God. At first sight Empson's thesis, attractivethoughit
is, raises doubts becauseit appears to suggest that Miltonthe
poet knewtruths whichMiltonthetheologiandenied- not
emotional truths, likethepower of love, but philosophical
truths, likethenatureof God. If hewas not stupidor con-
fused, hemust havebeenwritinginanelaboratecode. But if
Miltonwas carryingonacontinuous dialoguewiththeradicals
it becomes easier to think of himrejectingwithhis intellect
truths of whichhewas well awareandwhichonehalf of his
beingaccepted. If Miltonhadallowedhimself consciously to
accept theviewof Winstanley, Erbery andsomeRanters, that
theGodwhommost Christians worshippedwas awickedGod,
his lifewouldhavelost its structure, wouldhavefalleninruins
about his headlikethetempleof thePhilistines. Hehadto
justify theways of Godto meninorder to justify his own
life, thesacrificeof his eyes. No Ranter couldhavewritten
ParadiseLost: thetensionwouldhavebeenlacking. God's
ways werejustifiableto all except theobscurefewVho think
not Godat all'. Thoseothers
who doubt his ways not just...
Givethereins to wanderingthought...
21. D. Saurat, Milton, ManandThinker (1944), Part IV; cf. pp. 219-
Till by their ownperplexities involved
They ravel more, still less resolved,
But never findself-satisfyingsolution.
History was meaningless, therewas no hopefor thefuture,
unless onecouldbelievethat God, inhis owngoodtime,
wouldbringabout thechanges whichtherevolutionaries had
failedto achieve. Inthelast two books of ParadiseLost,
Michael, at God's express command, encourages fallenAdam
withapre-viewof futurehistory. Thosewho lost their confi-
denceinGod's purposes,
Theconqueredalso, andenslavedby war,
Shall withtheir freedomlost all virtuelose
Andfear of God, fromwhomtheir piety feigned
Insharpcontest of battlefoundno aid
Against invaders; thereforecooledinzeal
Thenceforthshall practicehowto livesecure,
Worldly or dissolute, onwhat their lords
Shall leavethemto enjoy...
So all shall turndegenerate, all depraved...
Tyranny must be,
Thoughto thetyrant thereby no excuse.
So virtuegivenfor lost,
Revives, reflourishes, thenvigorous most
Whenmost unactivedeemed.
ParadiseLost, ParadiseRegained, andSamsonAgonistes are
all, inmy view, wrestlingwiththeproblemof thefailureof the
Revolution, tryingto apportionblameandlook forwardfrom
defeat. Samson, liketheNewModel Army, was apublic per-
I was no private, but apersonraised
Withstrengthsufficient andcommandfromheaven
To freemy country.
HeacceptedDalila's chargethat hehadbetrayedhimself. We
recall Milton's warningin1654to theambitious generals, that
22. Seep. 158above.
fhey wouldthemselves becomeroyalists if they didnot abandon
'I formedthemfree/ Godsays of the
rebel angels,
Andfreethey must remain
Till they enthral themselves.
They fell 'self-tempted, self-betrayed'. Satanwas inconse-
quence'not free, but to thyself enthralled'. Theargument from
necessity, whichOliver Cromwell andSatanused, was 'the
tyrant's plea'.
Yet Empsonis right to suggest that Miltonwas insome
senseawareof theterriblecollapsethat was always possible.
Miltonwas not of thedevil's party without knowingit: part
of himknew. Therevolutionary Miltonadmires muchinSatan
- as inAdamat themoment of theFall - that reflects the
characteristics of unrestrainedromantic individualism, which
arepresent inMiltonas they hadbeeninMarlowe, as they
wereintheRanters. But Miltonhadconcludedthat thesequali-
ties canbedangerous to society unless they arecontrolled.
Satanrepresents theway inwhichtheGoodOldCausehad
beenperverted, whether by ambitious generals or undisciplined
rank andfile. It is significant that theviewthat Satanwas the
truehero of ParadiseLost flourishedwiththerevival of revolu-
tionary romanticism, withBlakeandShelley andByron.
aremeant to admireTennyson's Ulysses whenhesays:
Thoughmuchis taken, muchabides; andthough
Wearenot nowthat strengthwhichinolddays
Movedearthandheaven; that whichweare, weare;
Oneequal temper of heroic hearts,
Madeweak by timeandfate, but stronginwill
To strive, to seek, to find, andnot to yield.
23. Seep. 344above. I amreluctant to accept theargument that
SamsonAgomstes was writtenbeforetherestoration. So many of the
allusions so aptly lit Englandafter 1660that it is difficult not to think it
was at least redraftedthen. But by thelate1650s Miltonwouldseelittle
differencebetweentheruling-generals androyalists, cf. Ants Oras,
'Milton's Blank VerseandtheChronology of his major poems,' Essays on
JohnMilton(ed. J. M. Patrick, FloridaU.P., 1953), pp. 128-95.
24. Dryden's is amoretechnical argument.
Wearenot meant to admireMilton's Satanwhen, insimilar
circumstances heasked:
What thoughthefieldbelost:
All is not lost; theunconquerablewill,
Andstudy of revenge, immortal hate,
Andcouragenever tosubmit or yield:
Andwhat is elsenot tobeovercome?
Satan's conceptionof liberty is for Miltonafalseconception:
Themindis its ownplaceandinitself
Canmakeaheavenof hell, ahell of heaven...
Better toreigninhell thanserveinheaven.
That seemedfineto theromantic anarchists of thelate
eighteenthandearly nineteenthcenturies. But Miltonhadseen
whereunrestrainedindividualismledto. Theconclusionof
ParadiseLost, thoughapparently expressingasimilar senti-
ment, is vastly different. Adamleaves Paradiseto find'A Para-
disewithinthee, happier far': theFall is after all fortunate,
whatever wethink of thosewho brought it about. But Adam
will findthis Paradiseonly if hecanadd:
Deeds tothy knowledgeanswerable* addfaith,
Addvirtue, patience, temperanceandlove.
This is not romantic self-realization; it is adaptationto the
worldandits laws, thelaws of Godfor man. TheQuakers
madeasimilar adaptation, but without thetension, theinner
contradictions whichproducedMilton's poetry. It is Milton's
glory that inthetimeof utter defeat, whenDiggers, Ranters
andLevellers weresilencedandQuakers hadabandonedpoli-
tics, hekept somethingof theradical intellectual achievement
alivefor Blakeandmany others to quarry.
WithBunyantoo I wouldstress theradical ambience, though
inhis caserather for its influenceonhimthan(as with
Milton) for his influenceonit. Bunyan, likeWinstanley, Fox
andmany others, sharedthedespairs, thetemptations, the
atheismof theearly fifties. His theology developedincontro-
versy withRanters andQuakers.
If Miltonhadintellectual
affinities withtheradicals but was set apart fromthemby his
patricianassumptions, Bunyansharedthesocial andpolitical
attitudes of theradicals but not their theology. In1654and
many times later hedenouncedkingly oppressors.
Hecaredabout 'theoldlaws, whicharetheMagnaCarta,
thesolebasis of thegovernment of akingdom'. They 'may
not becast away for thepet that is takenby every littlegentle-
managainst them'.
InTheHolyWar it madehim'laughto
seehowoldMr Prejudicewas kickedandtumbledabout inthe
Andhis owncomment onthebehaviour of thepro-
pertiedPuritans, slippedunobtrusively into ThePilgrim's Pro-
gressyis thebest commentary I knowontherestoration. 'Did
younot know,' Faithful asks, 'about tenyears ago, oneTem-
porary inyour parts, who was aforwardmaninreligion
Oneobject of therestorationhadbeento put tinkers back
into their callings.
But Bunyanrememberedalot fromthe
revolutionary decades. 'Moreservants thanmasters,' hewrote,
'moretenants thanlandlords, will inherit thekingdomof
heaven.' God's own, hewroteinthesameyear 1658, 'aremost
commonly of thepoorer sort'. Unlikegentlemen, 'they can-
not, withPontius Pilate, speak Hebrew, Greek andLatin'.
Bunyanreflectedon'thesadconditionof thosethat arefor
themost part richmen'.
Worldly Wiseman, Formalist, Hypo-
crisy, likeAntichrist, wereall gentlemen: MadamBubble, 'the
Mistress of theworld', was agentlewoman. Mrs Wantonwas
'anadmirably well-bredgentlewoman'. Mr By-ends was 'a
gentlemanof goodquality', relatedto lords, parsons andthe
25. Seepp. 174, 201, 204-5, 237above, cf. Jack Lindsay's pioneering
26. Tindall, JohnBunyan, p. 138.
27. Bunyan, Works, I, p. 600.
28. ibid., Ill, p. 282.
29. ibid., Ill, p. 160. Bunyanpresumably wrotethis about tenyears
after therestoration.
30. ibid., I, pp. 51-6; cf. Underdown, op. cit, p. 353.
31. ibid., Ill, pp. 394,676,695-6.
rich. ThePilgrims, ontheother hand, were'of baseandlow
estate', anduneducated. Faithful was brought beforeLord
Hate-Goodfor slanderingseveral of thenobility and'most of
thegentry of our town'. ('Sins areall lords andgreat ones,' is
Bunyan's marginal note.)
InTheHolyWar hegives us along
list of Diabolianlords andgentlemen(thoughvagabonds are
also Diabolians). Mr Lustings is 'amanof highbirth'. The
devils areclearly very well bred: they bowandscrapeto one
Mr Badmanwas 'apersonof quality'; 'Cain's brood'
were'lords andrulers'.
EvenGiant Popeis armigerous: 'his
escutcheonwas thestake, theflameandthegoodmaninit'.
Bunyan's parents hadbeencottagers, andhis wifedescribed
himin1661as 'atinker andapoor man, thereforeheis
despisedandcannot havejustice'.
'Indanger to beremoved
likeacottage' was aproverbial phrasefor Bunyan; his Dives
describedLazarus as 'ascabbedcreep-hedge'.
ThePilgrim's Progress as thegreatest literary product of this
social group, theepic of theitinerant. 'As I walkedthroughthe
wilderness of this world,' Bunyanlaidhimself downto sleepin
adenwhichhe'lightedon', as GeorgeFox andso many other
itinerants did: Pilgrim's Progress was thedreamhethen
Royalty hadceasedto beperipatetic, hadceasedto go on
progress except onrareoccasions, just at thetimewhenthe
lowest class of thepopulationappears to havebeenmost
mobile. Was thetitleof Bunyan's epic, whoseapt alliteration
wetakeso entirely for granted, intendedto suggest that his
Pilgrimwas aking? Werecall Coppe's 'BecauseI amaking
32. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 130.
33. ibid.. Ill, pp. 89-167passim, 311, 322, 348. They might of course
havebeenRanters - seep. 238above.
34. ibid., Ill, p. 591; cf. p. 166, andp. 146above. Inpart this attitude
is traditional: RichardBernardinTheIsleof Man(1627) madethe
enemies of religiongentlemen, includingSir Worldlywise, Sir Luke
Warm, Sir Plausible-Civil andmany more(pp. 70-71,77-8,128-9,150).
35. Bunyan, Works, I, p. 362.
36. Tindall, JohnBunyan, MechanickPreacher, pp. 105-6.
37. Bunyan, Works, III, pp. 593, 695. Seep. 12above.
38. ibid., Ill, p. 89.
I havedonethis' to thebeggar whomhebefriended.
denontheback was thesymbol of thelowest gradeof master-
less man; but Bunyan's Pilgrimalso has thefreedomof the
masterless. Heis not tiedto thesoil. Hecanleavehomewhen
hewishes, go wherehewishes: his wifecanfollowhimif she
wants to. It is thewidest democratizationof potential salva-
tion- not merely to thestatic humblepoor, dependent on
their superiors, but to menandwomenwho cantaketheir
lives into their ownhands, helpthemselves intheconfidence
that if they do Godwill helpthem.
Wecall BunyanaCalvinist, but his is aCalvinismwitha
difference. Heshares Winstanley s activism. Wereyoudoers,
or talkers only?' Godwill ask at theday of judgment
has to bestrivenfor. Contrast thehighCalvinismof Samuel
Hieron: 'thekingdomof heavenis as arewardof inheritance
This 'breakeththeneck of all merit... If heavenwerethehire
of servants, or thebooty of purchasers, it weresomethingto
thepurpose; but beingtherewardof sons,... thereis no colour
of desert
Hieron's is atheology whichmakes senseto men
who haveinheritedtheir wealthandsocial position: Bunyan's
is theoutlook of mobilesmall craftsmen, itinerants. Society has
beenloosenedup; desert andworks creepinto all thetheology
of thelater seventeenthcentury, eventhat whichwecall Cal-
vinist. 'Thesoul of religionis thepractical part,' saidChris-
Wecanparallel Bunyan's attitudefromearlier writers like
Sibbes: it is inthePuritantradition, hardly theheresy M.
Talonthought it.
But it also relates to thedemandof Win-
stanley, Coppeandtheauthor of Tyranipocrit Discovered, that
faithshall issueinworks. Thesubversiveness of Bunyanis
bothinhis flat, matter-of-fact, real-lifenarrative, andinhis
themes. Thehero of ThePilgrim's Progress is oneof the
people: thelawandits courts, heknows, will not givehim
39. Seepp. 334-5above.
40. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 123. Seep. 386above.
41. S. Hieron, Sermons (1624), p. 373.
42. Bunyan, Works, III, p. 122.
43. H. Talon, JohnBunyan(1951), p. 276.
justice. Thespiritual autobiography itself becomes subversive
whenits hero is alower-class itinerant whosemajor tempta-
tions occur whenplayingtipcat. Therecouldbeno morebanal
villainthanthepetty-bourgeois Mr Badman, thoughlikeSatan
inParadiseLost heis oftenvery muchlivelier thanthevirtuous
characters. Episodes likehis courtshipandsecondmarriage
look forwardto Defoeinthemeas well as instyle.
Yet for all therealismof thenarrativeBunyan's Pilgrimis
travellingto his upside-downworld, whichis almost as con-
creteandmaterialistic as Mary Cary's hadbeentwenty years
earlier. Only nowit is not to befoundonearth- just as for
centuries beforetheRevolutionhadbeenthecase. Themaster-
less manassumes hemust bear his burdeninthis world. He
too has adaptedto asociety whichMary Cary andothers
hopedwas about to beoverthrown. Just as GeorgeFox came
to accept sin, just as sinlooms muchlarger inParadiseLost
thaninAreopagitica, so theparticular poignancy of ThePil-
grim* s Progress (as of ParadiseLost) springs fromthetension
betweenthevisionandthereality, theupside-downworldand
theall too real world. Miltonpersuadedhimself that it had
beenafortunateFall. I do not think Bunyanwouldhave
agreed. Heknewmoreabout theheaviness of theburden, more
about thepuzzlingworldof Mr Badman, thefreemarket and
petty commercial morality, thanMiltonever did, livingwithout
labour ontheincomehis father's usury hadleft him. But each
of them, startingfromfallenman, canshowthedivineinman
slowly winningits way back, inMilton's caseto 'aParadise
withinthee, happier far'; inBunyan's to aconfidencethat
triumphedover thetorments andearly deathwhichwerethe
fateof theitinerant.
Bunyan's Christiangot ridof his burdenonly after hehad
turnedaway fromtheworldandits works throughthestrait
gate, andhadacceptedthecross. Thentheburdenrolledoff his
back, no thanks to any effort of his. If natural mancouldcast
off theburdenby his ownexertions, hewouldcast off Godtoo:
hewouldbeback inthestateof equality whichexistedbefore
mancreatedGod, beforepriests andkings persuadedmenthat
44. Bunyan, Works, III, pp. 618-21,654-5.
theroot of evil is man's sin, not inequality. Salvationmust be
thearbitrary gift of God's gracefromoutside, becausethe
essenceof theFall hadbeenabreachof God's arbitrary, irra-
tional prohibition- thoughtheideaof sinfulness cameto in-
corporateany kindof anti-social behaviour. Bunyandisliked
arbitrary littlegentlemenwho cast away theoldlaws; but he
acceptedthat they, likethepoor, will bewithus till theendof
If thereis anythingintheanalysis I haveessayedinthis book,
it might suggest freshapproaches to other aspects of later
seventeenth-century literature. BothMiltonandBunyancreate
for their characters what I havecalleda'RobinsonCrusoe
situation', theisolationof thehero or heroinefromsocial
ties, as inHobbes's stateof nature.
TheLady inComus is
lost inthewood, AdamandEvetook 'their solitary way' from
Paradiseto theworld, Christ faces Satanaloneinthedesert,
Samsonwas never morealonethanwhenhestoodsurrounded
by his enemies inDagon's temple. Bunyan's Pilgrimdeserted
wifeandchildreninquest of salvation; RobinsonCrusoeis
precededby Henry Nevile's TheIsleof Pines.
reasonfor creatingthis situation, whether conscious or not,
was to freetheindividual frominheritedtraditions, customs
andlaws, leavinghimto work out his salvationaloneinthe
sight of Godonly. Inthelight of our present analysis wemay
perhaps link this tendency to set theindividual freefromsocial
norms withtheRanter rejectionof conventional morality as
well as withLocke's tabula rasa.
Wemay indeedseeit as the
applicationto literatureof thedoctrineof theinner light, the
quintessenceof radical individualism.
Theaffinities whichI suggestedbetweenRanters androyal-
ists intheir oppositionto theprotestant ethic
no doubt worked
bothways, andcontinuedto apply after therestoration. The
45. SeeP. andR., pp. 381-2, whereI giveother examples.
46. Seep. 314above.
47. Seep. 370n. abovefor Locke; cf. my
"Reason" and"reasonable-
ness" in17thcentury England*, BritishJournal of Sociology, XX, p. 244.
48. Seepp. 123,202, 340,357-8,375above.
wits of Charles IPs court, insecurely restoredto thehighest
positions inasociety increasingly aliento thembecausein-
creasingly commercial, wereinasensethemselves outsiders,
social misfits. Hencetheir desireat all costs to epater thetrium-
phant bourgeoisie. They werenot abovereproducingtheideas
of theradicals, or theradical ideas of Hobbes, for this purpose.
Only incourt circles, indeed, weremenfreeto air suchdan-
gerous thoughts oncethecensorshipclampeddown. Samuel
Butler, for instance, askedwhy femalehonour consistedonly
in'not beingwhores: as if that sex werecapableof no other
morality but amerenegativecontinence.
Hesaidthat clergy-
menexposethekingdomof heavento sale, inorder withthe
proceeds to purchaseas muchas they canof this world. 'These
officers andcommanders of theChurchMilitant arelike
soldiers of fortunethat arefreeto serveonany sidethat gives
thebest pay.
Heattackedthemumbo-jumbo of priests and
lawyers alike. 'Courts of justicefor themost part commit
greater crimes thanthey punish.' Heelevatedreasonabove
Thecomments of Osborne, Stillingfleet, Burnet andothers,
suggest that therewas completecontinuity be-
tweenpre- andpost-restoration'atheism' andhostility to priest-
craft. They makenonsenseof theideathat therewas inreaction
against Puritanisma'restorationspirit' whichwas inpart a
Frenchimport. The'restorationspirit' was at least as mucha
product of 'thePuritanRevolution' as areactionagainst it: or
inso far as it was areaction, this reactioncameoriginally from
theradical left wingof thePuritans. Just as theproseinwhich
restorationcomedy is writtendraws at least inpart onthe
norms establishedby radical (androyalist) pamphleteers dur-
ingtheRevolution, so theideas of restorationdramaalso have
their roots intheideas of theradicals whomthis book has
studied. Wethink of the fiercelibertarianismof Otway, of his
49. Butler, Characters andPassages fromNotebooks, pp. 74-5, 168,
308, 310, 318-22, 341, 479; Poetical Works (Edinburgh, 1854), II, pp.
50. Seep. 180above.
Conscience! atrick of state, foundout by those
That wantedpower to support their laws;
A bugbear name, to startlefools; but we
That knowtheweakness of thefallacy,
Knowbetter howto usewhat naturegave.
That soul's no soul whichto itselfs aslave.
Who anythingfor conscience* sakedeny
Do nothingelsebut givethemselves thelie.
Wethink of Mrs AphraBehn, fewof whosecharacters have
agoodwordto say for matrimony if they couldget into bed
together without it. Her ownprivatelifewouldhavefittedinto
theworldof theRanters. Her WidowRanter, depictedas a
sympathetic character, is ahard-drinking, hard-smokinglecher,
who defends herself withher swordliketheRoaringGirl.
Tis as natural for wives as for subjects to rebel' against des-
potism, saidthehero of theDukeof Buckingham's TheMili-
tant Couple.
Vanbrugh's Lady Brutewas no doubt not the
only oneto makeuseof Biblical criticismsimilar to that of
Clement Writer andSamuel Fisher.
restorationcomedy came, its spokesmanwas not aPuritanbut
thehighAnglicanJeremy Collier. Hecarefully documented
links betweentheanticlericalismandirreligionof thedra-
matists andsocial levellingand'downright porter's rhetoric'.
Rochester, to takeanother example, rejectedhell, thedevil
andpersonal immortality as
senseless stories, idletales,
Dreams, whimsies andno more.
Our sphereof actionis life's happiness,
Andhewho thinks beyondthinks likeanass.
51. T. Otway, Alcibiades, Act III, sceneii.
52. TheWorks of Mrs Aphra Behn, ed. M. Summers (1915), I, p. xxv;
IV, pp. 288-90, 303. Yet Mrs Behnwas anadmirer of theBehmenist
vegetarian, Thomas Tryon(ibid., VI, pp. 379-81). For acutecomments
onMrs Behn, linkingher withQuakers andDiggers, seeG. Woodcock,
TheIncomparableAphra (1948), pp. 150-52, 229andPart Six, passim.
53. G. Villiers, Dukeof Buckingham, Works (1775) II, p. 134.
54. Seech. 11above.
55. J. Collier, A Short View. ..of theEnglishStage, pp. 175,101; cf.
ibid., pp. 95-6, 129, 143-5, 190.
Heworriedabout thecompatibility of evil withdivineomni-
potence. Hewas sceptical about miracles, rejectedmuchof the
moral codeof theOldTestament, andcouldnot believethe
stories of thecreationandtheFall 'unless they wereparables'.
Rochester paraphrasedWinstanley's 'actionis thelifeof all' -
Thoughts aregivenfor action's government;
Whenactionceases, thought's impertinent.
Burnet's fascinatingdiscussions withRochester havestriking
analogies to conversations whichmust havegoneonbetween
Ranters andQuakers. Rochester usedthearguments of Writer
andFisher against thesacredcharacter of theBible(whichis
not to say that hederivedhis arguments fromtheseauthors).
Hethought that all cameby nature, still questionedtheex-
istenceof eternal punishment, rejectedmonogamy as anun-
reasonable imposition on the freedomof mankind. He
complainedto Burnet of 'thejugglings of priests'. 'Why,' he
asked, 'must amantell methat I cannot besavedunless I
believethings against my reason, andthenI must pay himfor
tellingmeof them?' Burnet inhis turnthought Rochester's
'philosophy for reformingtheworld' was too speculative. Bur-
net (likeMilton, liketheQuakers) madelittleof predestination
but agreat deal of themoral teachingof Christianity. The
escapewhichheofferedRochester fromhis materialist scepti-
cismwas by theexperienceof feeling'alawwithinhimself.
Theargument of his whichcarriedmost weight withRochester
was that libertinismwas anti-social. Rochester agreednot to
attack Christianity evenbeforehewas convincedof its truth.
Professor Pinto's analysis of Rochester's dilemmacomes
very near to our analysis of theradicals duringtheinterreg-
num. Rochester, hesuggests, was tryingto escapefrom'a
worldwhichhadbeensuddenly transformedby thescientists
into avast machinegovernedby mathematical laws, whereGod
has becomearemotefirst causeandmananinsignificant
56. Rochester, Poems, pp. 49,72,121.
57. G. Bumet, SomePassages of theLifeandDeathOf ... John, Earl
of Rochester, mTheLives of ... Hale, ... Rochester andQueenMary
(1774), pp. 18,22,35,47,58.
; hewas tryingto escapefrom'theCartesian-
Newtonianworldpicture, acivilizedcity of goodtaste, com-
. But Rochester was also, I think, trying
to escapefromtheprotestant ethic, whichadds forceto Pro-
fessor Pinto's comparisonwithBlake. Professor Pinto lists
Rochester's threealternativesolutions as (i) 'theideal of the
purely aesthetic hero,... apurely selfishideal'; (ii) 'theethical
hero, thedisillusionedandpenetratingobserver'; (iii) 'there-
ligious hero', rejectingtheshams of thesocial worldfor 'virtue
conceivedas poor, homeless, rejectedandoutcast' - anitinerant
or cottager, wemight almost say.
It is difficult to knowhowseriously to takeRochester's re-
publicanism. It couldhardly beexpressedmorevigorously:
Monsters whichknaves 'sacred* proclaim,
Andthenlikeslaves fall downbefore'em.
What cantherebeinkings divine?
Themost arewolves, goats, sheepor swine.
Thenfarewell sacredmajesty,
Let's put all brutishtyrants down;
Whenmenarebomandstill livefree,
Hereevery headdothwear acrown.
I hateall monarchs andthethrones they sit on,
FromtheHector of Franceto thecully of Britain.
Wedo not know, either, whereRochester got his ideas from.
Comingupto suchanexcitingcollegeas Wadhaminsuchan
excitingyear as 1660, it seems unlikely that all helearnt at
Oxfordwas howto drink. Hecertainly readHobbes: wedo
not knowwhomelse.
Wemay findmany radical ideas, defusedof their revolution-
ary content, inthewritings of theblameless Anglicanclergyman,
Thomas Traherne. Wenotedhimundergoingsceptical doubts
duringhis undergraduatecareer at Oxford.
Helater overcame
58. cf. Rochester's defenceof 'thecommoners andcottagers' of Kings-
woodChase, Gloucestershire, in1670(V. deSolaPinto, Enthusiast inWit,
1962, p. 146).
59. Rochester, Poems, pp. 107-13, 137; cf. p. 117. Thereferenceto 'new
rants' onp. 131is inapoemdoubtfully ascribedto Rochester.
60. Seep. 172above.
these, but retainedasenseof Godimmanent withinthecrea-
tion: sciencehelps us to knowGodthroughknowingthereal
Trahernecarefully studiedtheHermetic philosophy,
sought out the'secrets of nature' andsawinfinity inagrain
of sand.
Heequatedlifewithmotion, andthought that 'prac-
ticeandexerciseis thelifeof all'. 'Philosophers arenot those
that speak but do great things.' LikeWinstanley, Trahernebe-
lievedthat menwereborninnocent, andthat they fell because
of thecovetousness prevalent inthesociety inwhichthey grew
up; but somethingof Christ remainedinall men.
But Tra-
herne's communism, unlikeWinstanley's, was intheimagina-
Withenvy, avarice
Andfraud, thosefiends that spoil evenParadise,
Fledfromthesplendour of mineeyes...
Proprieties themselves weremine.
'All was mine': Trahernedoes not seemto havesharedthe
Digger hopethat all mankindmight haveequal rights, nor
eventheRanter claimthat 'all is ours'. 'Inthegreat historical
revolutions', Marcusewrote, 'theimaginationwas, for ashort
period, releasedandfreeto enter into theprojects of anew
social morality andof newinstitutions of freedom; thenit was
sacrificedto therequirements of effectivereason.'
Our story
ends by pointingtowards theAgeof Reasonrather thanthe
upside-downworld. But theEnglishRevolution's 'teemingfree-
dom' didliberatetheimaginationas Christ rose, however
briefly, insons anddaughters.
61. Seepp. 139-40above.
62. T. Traherne, Poems, Centuries andThreeThanksgivings, ed. A.
Ridler (OxfordU.P., 1966), pp. 284,244.
63. ibid., pp. 10,224,267-71,284, 327, 363.
64. Traherne, Poems, Centuries and ThreeThanksgivings, p. 8.
'Proprieties' =properties.
65. Marcuse, AnEssayonLiberation, p. 37.
Abbot, Robert, 190
Abel, 145-6, 210, 220
Adam, 35,144-5, 147,155-8,
167-8, 174, 233,263,292, 309,
317, 321, 362, 397-8, 403-4, 409
Adamites, 314
Adams, Mary, 249
Adams, Thomas, 31, 55,325
Addison, Joseph, 357
Addresses, Officeof, 138, 288, 297
Agitators, chapter 4, passim, 108,
112, 225,285-6, 289, 346, 366
Agnew, Alexander, seeJock of
AgrarianLaw, 57-8,114-15,130
Agreement of thePeople, the, 66-9,
102, 121, 165, 193, 285
Alchemists, alchemy, 16,81,88,
164, chapter 14passim, 370n.
Alehouses, 93, 126, 198-201,254,
All Souls College, Oxford, 225
Alsted, J. H., 96
America, 49, 314, 367, 380
Ames, William, 329
Amsterdam, 26-7,327,336
Anabaptists, 26,35,114,120,155,
161-2, 174, 185-91, 239-40, 289,
292, 347, 363. SeealsoBaptists
Ancient Bounds, The, 367
Angels, 142,179n., 323, 398,400,
Anglo-Saxons, 158,381n.
Anne, Queenof England, 41
Antichrist, theBeast, 29, 33, 92-3,
100, 104,145, 148-9,160,194-5,
217,246,261,265,271, 290, 302,
335, 355-8, 378, 405
Anti-clericalism, 25,27-8, 35-7,
102-3, 111, 140-41,159,161,166,
180,214, 227, 243-4, 273, 303,
354, 382, 388-9, 396,409-12
Antinomianism, Antinomians,
161-2, 185, 187, 190, 199, 215,
239, 336-7, 342, 368, 380, 393
Apostles, the, 27,50,214,221,257,
Apprentices, 41, 63,93,112,189
Apprentices, Statuteof, 1563,41
Aquinas, Thomas, 273,297
Arden, Forest of, 44-6
Arianism, 286, 398
Arminianism, Arminians, 159
342-3, 352
Arnold, Richard, 68-70
Arthington,'Henry, 247
Ashford, Kent, 259
Ashley Cooper, Antony, see
Shaftesbury, Earl of
Ashmole, Elias, 89
Aston, Sir Thomas, 347-8
Astrologers, astrology, 16, 87-91,
chapter 14passim
Astrologers, Society of, 89,204
Astronomy, 296, 304
Atheism, 98,104, 179-80, 205, 253,
295-6,298,314, 340,401,405,
Atheism, mechanic, 295-6
Atkinson, Christopher, 239
Attaway, Mrs, 105, 175, 188, 311,
Aubrey, John, 46, 88,278
Audland, John, 245
Austin, Mrs William, 229
Axholme, Isleof, 47,122
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, 126
Babylon, 192,197,266,282
Bacon, Sir Francis, LordVerulam,
Baconianism, 27, 88-90,93
164, 261,288,296, 367, 369-70,
Baillie, Robert, 96,187,395
Bale, John, Bishopof Ossory, 306
Bancroft, Richard, Bishopof
Canterbury, 32, 111, 328
Bancroft, Thomas, 84
Baptism, adult, 99,190
Baptists, 14,42,49,70, 74,75,79,
97, 99,105-6, 127,128,187,199,
213,223, 228-9, 240,255, 259,
261, 265,281-2, 312, 317, 373-8.
Barbados, 219,254-5n.
Barber, Edward, 105
Barbour, Professor H., 77
Barclay, Robert, 254-6, 378
Barg, Professor M. A., 116,121
Barnes, Surrey, 213
Barnet, Hertfordshire, 123
Barnstaple, Devon, 77
Barraclough, Professor G., 15
Barri&re, 248
Barrow, Henry, 277, 328
Barrow, Isaac, 351,354
Barrowists, 302
Bastwick, Dr John, 299
Bauthumley, Joseph, 71, 172, 179,
203,206, 208,219-20,263-4,299,
Baxter, Mrs Margaret, 172
Baxter, Richard, 44, 60,73, 80,103,
168-9, 172, 176, 189, 192,205,
225,237, 266, 272,325, 330-32,
347, 350,356,377n.
Beard, Thomas, 88
Beast, the, seeAntichrist
Bedfordshire, 124, 126
Bedlam, 277-9, 379
Beggars, 48-51, 67, 211, 382,406-7
Behmenists, 289-90,41In. Seealso
Boehme, Jacob
Behn, Mrs Aphra, 411
Bell Alley Baptist church, London,
Bendwich, Mr, 42
Berens, L. H., 127n.
Berkenhead, Sir John, 340
Berkshire, 69, 126, 224-5
Bernard, Richard, 406n.
Besse, Joseph, 125
Bible, 27, 33,37, 38,83,89-96, 110,
182,185-6, 188-91,203, 206-7,
236-7,246-7,261-8,275, 280,
287, 291, 297-9, 325, 329, 336n.,
368-72, 374-5, 381-3, 388,396-7,
Bible, Geneva, 39n., 41, 56n., 93,
161-2, 334n.
Bidle, John, 80,166,177,209,366
Biggs, Noah, 303
Billing, Edward, 241-3
Birmingham, 24, 380
Bishops, 28, 31-2,102,379
Blackwood, Mr B. G., 79n.
Blake, Admiral Robert, 282n.
Blake, William, 138,141, 143,227,
323, 339, 356, 382, 385,403,404,
Blith, Walter, 79, 111, 122
Boehme, Jacob, 148,176, 192,225,
293, 373. SeealsoBehmenists
Boggis, John, 176
Bohemia, Frederick, Kingof, 20
Bolsheviks, 49, 202n.
Bolton, Richard, 186, 325
Bond, Denis, M.P., 232
Bond, William, 228
Booth, Cumberland, 106
Boston, Massachusetts, 104
Bosworth, Leicestershire, 124
Bourne, Benjamin, 291
Bowden, Professor P. J., 21
Bowles, Edward, 60
Boxley, Kent, 124n.
Boyle, Robert, 90,180,287-9
Bradfield, Berkshire, 225, 284-6
Bradford, Yorkshire, 81-2
Brahe, Tycho, 88,287
Brailsford, H. N., 63, 366
Braithwaite, W. C., 231
Bray, CaptainWilliam, 65-70,96,
114, 285
Brearley, Roger, 81-4,185,291n.
Brewer, Thomas, 279n.
Bridewell, 278, 284
Bridge, William, 59-60
Briggs, Henry, 81
Brightman, Thomas, 29, 92, 96
Bristol, 75, 97-8, 121, 245, 249-50,
'251,254,263, 300, 364, 370,384
Brome, Richard, 48
Bromley, Thomas, 225n.
Brontefamily, 383
Brookefamily, 124
Brooke, Robert Greville, Lord, 73,
303, 367,369, 395
Brownists, 124n., 187, 302
Bruno, Giordano, 88,296
Buckingham, GeorgeVilliers, 1st
Dukeof, 20,89, 111, 160
Buckingham, GeorgeVilliers, 2nd
Dukeof, 411
Buckinghamshire, 23, 109, 117-18,
123, 126
Bullinger, Henry, 170, 309
Bunyan, John, 71, 94-5, 97,146-7,
262,266n., 292n., 314,317,332,
350, 358, 362, 368, 374-8, 383,
386, 404-9
Burford, Oxfordshire, 70, 109, 122,
124-7, 250, 285-6, 345, 360
Burghall, Edward, 243
Burnet, Gilbert, Bishopof
Salisbury, 180, 352, 359,410,412
Burns, Robert, 382
Burrough, Edward, 74, 103,112,
Burton, Henry, 299
Burton, Robert, 171, 314
Bushell's Case, 271
Butler, Samuel, 354, 410
Byron, GeorgeGordon, Lord, 403
Cain, 141n., 145-6, 169, 220, 406
Calamy, Edmund, 31, 105
Callot, Jacques, 48
Calvert, Giles, 17, 373
Calvin, Jean, 83, 143, 156,162,215,
Calvinism, Calvinists, 40, 83,153,
154, 160-67, 182, 327, 330-31,
336, 342-3, 352-3, 407
Cambridge, University of, 303-5,
Camm, John, 84
Canne, John, 303
Canterbury, Kent, 217
Capp, Dr Bernard, 16, 80, 97,263,
Cardiff, 192
Carew, John, 80
Carlisle, 78, 235
Cary, Mary, Mrs Rande, 290n.,
321-3, 340, 408
Case, Thomas, 100
Cavaliers, seeRoyalists
Cavendishfamily, 387
Cecil, Sir William, 88
Censorship, 17-18,89,96,358,362,
385, 395-6, 399
Cervantes, Miguel de, 48
Chalier, Joseph, 248
Chamberlain, John, 308
Chamberlayne, Edward, 354
Chamberlen, Peter, 55, 108-9, 115,
Chancery, 269,273
Chandos, Lord, 112
Chaplains, Army, 58-60, 71
Chapman, George, 163
Charles I, Kingof England, 13,18,
21-2, 24, 33, 41-2, 57, 61-71, 89,
96, 98, 100,108, 111, 133-4,136,
140, 192-3, 204, 234, 274, 278-9,
321, 344, 353, 365
Charles II, Kingof England, 57,
256, 272, 281-3, 296, 319, 340,
347, 348, 351, 353, 366, 387, 392,
Charleton, Walter, 179
Chatham, Kent, 124n.
Chelmsford, Essex, 37
Chemical Physicians, Society of,
Chemistry, 290-95, 383
Cheshire, 77-8, 236
Cheynell, Francis, 102
Chidley, Mrs Katherine, 312
Chillenden, CaptainEdmund,
281-2, 303, 313
Chillingworth, William, 96, 331
Church, Corporal, 73-5, 80
Churchcourts, 23, 26, 29-31, 98-9,
102, 158-9,160-61, 307-8,
312-13,320, 327, 349,356-7
Churchof England, 98-9,114,148,
159, 296, 354, 356-7
Church, astate, 36-7,41, 59, 72,
98-9, 177, 195, 303, 356, 375,
Civil war, 14,22-3,45, 85,89-91,
160, 345, 361, 387
Civil war, second, 69
Clarendon, EdwardHyde, Earl of,
30, 77-8, 387
Clark, Mr andMrs Peter, 49,124n.
Clarkson, Lawrence, 50, 71, 80,
113,144,167,179, 186n., 191,
200-201, 203, 207-8, 213-17,228,
339, 341n., 373-4, 379, 396,400
Clarkson, Mrs, 50,216
Clegg, Mr Arthur, 383n.
Cleveland, Yorkshire, 81-2, 227,
238, 255
Clitheroe, Lancashire, 82
Clothiers, clothingindustry, 23,40,
88, 97, 112
Clubmen, 24,77,108-9
Coates, John, 119n.
Cobham, CobhamHeath, 124n.,
126, 134, 365
Cock Hill, Kent, 124n.
Cocke, Charles, 272
Coggeshall, 124n.
Cokayne, Landof, 17,340
Cole, Professor W. A., 242-3
Collier, Jeremy, 385n., 411
Collier, Thomas, 58-9, 71,75,190,
237, 368
Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire, 29,
Comber, Thomas, 241
Comenians, 164, 288-9, 304, 369
Comenius, JohnAmos, 164, 288-9,
296-7, 300, 312
Committeefor Plundered
Ministers, 227
Committeefor Propagatingthe
Gospel intheNorthParts, 76,
Committeefor Propagatingthe
Gospel inWales, 76, 234-5
CommonCouncil of London, 22
Commonlands, commons, 43,
50-56, 124-5, 128-32, 346-7
Commons, Houseof, 30-31,45,51,
58, 75, 96n., 100,108,161, 198,
232, 246, 327, 344, 350, 397
Commonwealth, English, 13,
115-16,123, 131-2,134, 165,
195-7, 272,278, 341, 387, 397
Communism, 15,26,38,114-20,
122, 129-39, 143-5, 210-12,
223-4, 294, 312, 340-41, 372-3,
375-7, 390-94,414
Congregations, sectarian, 35-7, 78,
82, 95,98-101,104-5,119n., 187,
191, 372, 375-6
Cook, John, 109,119n., 275, 298
Cooper, Thomas, Bishopof
Winchester, 28, 114-15
Cooper, Colonel Thomas, 232
Copernicus, Nicholas, 296
Coppe, Abiezer, 71,110,116,138,
143,146, 169-72,191,201-2,206,
210-13, 216, 225-7, 261-3, 275,
279-80, 282-4, 299, 315, 317, 330,
333-5,339-40, 362,366, 374,
377-9, 396,406-7
Coppin, Richard, 166,178,191,
Coppinger, Edmund, 247
Copyhold, copyholders, 55-6, 64,
108, 119, 130, 349
CorkbushField, near Ware, 68,70
Cornwall, 80,121,172, 227, 300
Cornwallis, Charles, Earl, 380
CorporationAct, 1661,348,358
Coster, Robert, 129
Cotton, John, 104
Council of theArmy, General, 62,
Council of Officers, 243
Council of State, 54, 113, 278,397
Council of War, 61
Court, Inns of, 188n., 307, 358
Covell, William, 126,147, 281, 345
Coventry, Warwickshire, 44, 218,
227, 263, 362
Cox Hall, Kent, 124n.
Cox Heath, Kent, 124n.
Cox Hill, Kent, 124n.
Crab, Roger, 123, 167,303,311n.,
Cradock, Walter, 49, 80, 367
Cranfield, Lionel, Earl of
Middlesex, 22
Crashaw, Richard, 81
Crashaw, William, 159
Crisp, Tobias, 186,215-16
Cromwell, Henry, 246
Cromwell, Oliver, Lord
Protector, 15, 32,47, 57-67,
69-70, 72, 88-9, 96-7,109, 113,
122,134, 191,194, 208,235,248,
250, 270-72,275, 278-9, 285,
317, 330, 338, 345, 360, 364, 365,
383, 401, 403
Cromwell, Richard, LordProtector,
Crook, John, 172,189,241,281
Culpeper, Nicholas, 199, 297-9,
322n., 371
Cumberland, 47,73,79, 84,106,
Daniel, Colonel William, 246
Danvers, Henry, 80
Davenant, Sir William, 54n., 307,
371, 394
Davidson, Morison, 127n.
Davies, Lady Eleanor, 128,278,322n.
Davies, John, of Hereford, 81
Davies, Sir John, 158n.
Dean, Forest of, 46,51,54,57,78
Deane, Admiral Richard, 282n.
Decrees, Eternal, 83,167, 170, 173,
260, 331
Dee, John, 81,88,287,296
Defoe, Daniel, 381-2, 408
Dell, Mr Edmund, 134-5
Dell, William, 37, 42, 58-9, 70-71,
298-9, 301,303, 326,336,344,
368-70, 373
Democracy, 69-71, 122-3, 128-30,
133, 148, 345, 400
Denne, Henry, 42,70,105,114,127,
166, 169, 303, 375
Derby, 235
Derbyshire, 227
Dering, Sir Edward, 34, 100
Descartes, Ren€292, 370n., 413
Despair, 153, 170-74, 181,328, 386,
Deusbury, William, 25, 71, 172,
191,208, 241,281
Devil, the(Satan), 26, 87-8, 123,
141-2, 145,173-4, 176-7, 181,
220, 237, 284,295, 339, 358, 373,
386, 397-404, 408-9, 411
Devon, 80, 320
D'Ewes, Sir Simonds, 23,159-60
Dickens, Professor A. G., 25, 77
Digby, Sir Kenelm, 88
Diggers (TrueLevellers), 14-15,
42, 55, 72, 80, chapter 7passim,
168,210,223,225,228, 255,271,
285-6, 337, 341-2, 347, 349, 352,
374-8, 404, 41In., 414
Disafforestation, 43, 47, 51, 53-4,
DissentingAcademies, 296, 305
Divorce, chapter 15passim, 395-6
Dixon, Henry, 179n., 209n.
Donaldson, Mr Ian, 48n.
Donne, John, 81
Dorset, 77,239
Dover, 124n.
Dowdeswell, Richard, 22-4
Downame, John, 159
Drake, Francis, 365
Drogheda, massacreof, 337
Drummond, Williamof
Hawthornden, 24
Dryden, John, 355,403
Dudley, Worcestershire, 44
Dudley's Conspiracy, 45
Dumfriesshire, 209
Dunbar, Battleof, 103
Dunstable, Bedfordshire, 124, 127
Durham, 78n., 277
DurhamCollege, 291, 300
Elutch, the, seeNetherlands
Eachard, John, 199
East Anglia, 27, 336
Eden, Gardenof, 145,151,163-4,
Education, 137, 300-305,311,362
EdwardtheConfessor, 306n.
EdwardVI, Kingof England, 28,
Edwards, Thomas, 47,75, 87, 98,
115, 124-5, 166, 175-6, 179,
187-9,192, 199, 261-2, 310-11,
336-7, 353n., 395
Egypt, 93, 339
Elders, 104, 111
Elect, the, 152-3,160, 260,342-3
Elizabeth1, Queenof England, 26,
28,42,104n., 161,163, 175, 184,
302, 311,326
Ellington, Francis, 125
Ellwood, Thomas, 189, 247-8, 292,
Ely, dioceseof, 27; Isleof, 28n.,
47, 57,228
Empire, 337-8,341,384
Empson, Professor William, 401-3
Enclosure, 20,44, 51-6, 63, 82,101,
109, 117-22,126,130, 188n., 346,
Enfield, Middlesex, 124,126, 346
Erbery, Dorcas, 249
Erbery, William, 47, 58-9, 66, 71,
74, 76, 80, 84,102-4,158,176-7,
186,190-98,213, 217,225, 261,
265,270, 281-2,290, 302, 313,
344,350, 372,377-9, 398-9,401
Esau, 145, 220
Essex, 21, 46,124n.
Essex, Robert Devereux, 2ndEarl
of, 160; Robert Devereux, 3rd
Earl of, 126, 285
Etherington, John, 184
Eton, Berkshire, 36
Evans, Arise, 93-4,261,278-9
Eve, 35,144,292n., 309,321,
397-8, 409
Evelyn, John, 359
Everard, John, 185, 261, 264, 327
Everard, Robert, 225, 284-6
Everard, William, 68, 225, 247,
Everitt, Professor A., 46, 57
EverlastingGospel, 147-8, 262,
367-70, 380, 390
Exeter, 300
Experience, 221, 366-71
Experiment, 288, 291, 296, 303,
Eyres, Lieut.-Col. William, 68-9
Fairfax, Edward, 47n.
Fairfax, Sir Thomas, Lord, 42,
47n., 60-69, 70,109, 112-13,134,
223,247,285, 366
Falkland, Lucius Cary, Viscount, 35
Fall of man, 27,134,143, 145-7,
chapter 8passim, 221,225,
293-4, 323, 351, 383, 395, 397-9,
403, 408-9
Familism, Familists, Family of
Love, 26-8, 35-6,45, 77, 81^,
94-5,114, 143,148,166,172,
175-6, 184-5, 204, 209, 216, 225,
239, 255n., 290-91, 311-12, 316,
320, 326, 395-6, 400
Family of theMount, 27, 114,175
Farley, Quarter-Master, 246
Farnsworth, Richard, 302-3
Faucet, —,110
Fawsley, Northamptonshire, 11In.
Feake, Christopher, 35, 347
Fell, Margaret, later Fox, 42-3,
257, 312, 338
Fell, Thomas, Judge, 373
Felton, John, 20, 111
Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire,
Fens, the, 50, 53-5, 56, 359-60
Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, 42,
127, 228-9, 265, 350, 374-5
FifthMonarchism, Fifth
Monarchists, 14, 71-2, 80, 90,
96-7, 109,128, 147, 171-3,178,
322n., 330, 342, 347, 378
Filmer, Sir Robert, 157-8
Fiore, Italy, 147
Firth, Sir C. H., 44
Fisher, Samuel, 99,144,169,205-7,
241,245, 251,259-68, 290-91,
301-3, 323, 373, 381,411-12
Fludd, Robert, 81, 88,288,296
Ford, John, 175n.
Fordam, —, 229
Forests, chapter 3passim, 57, 85,
117, 128-32, 350, 359-60
Forfar, Angus, 246
Foster, George, 127, 177,223-4,
279, 283, 340
Fox, George, 79-81, 84, 95, 106,
112, 127n., 146, 167-9, 175, 179,
201, 203, 205, 213,220, 231-45,
251-8, 265, 270-71, 280, 289-92,
299-303, 311-14., 318-19, 323,
330, 335, 362,366, 371-4,379,
Fox, George, 'theYounger', 241,
Fox, Margaret, seeFell, Margaret
Fox, Tinker', 24, 44
Foxe, John, 33, 64, 96
France, Frenchmen, 96-7,133, 313,
337, 413
Franklin, William, 49,171,179n.,
209n„ 249, 316-17
Freeman, CaptainFrancis, 191,
Fuller, Thomas, 90,117,168,180,
240, 247, 313
Furness, 245
Gadbury, Mary, 49-50,249,316-17
Gamelaws, 53-4, 349
Gardiner, S. R., 66
Garment, Joshua, 228
Gauden, John, Bishopof
Worcester, 290-91
Gell, Robert, 236
Geneva, 161-2, 336
Gentry, 53, 99, 117,121, 131,138,
149, 214, 218, 234,269-70, 302,
307-8, 324, 331, 338, 346-9, 364,
400-401, 405-6
George, Professor C. H., andMrs
K., 325, 331
Germany, 23,162,363
Giggleswick, Yorkshire, 82
Gilbert, William, 369
Gipsies, 48-9
Glamorganshire, 74
Gloucestershire, 23-4, 75, 77, 80,
124-5, 227, 239, 413n.
Glynne, Serjeant John, 208n.
GoldenAge, 151,188n., 385
Goldsmith, Oliver, 382
GoodOldCause, 378,403
Goodall, Charles, 298
Goodman, Godfrey, Bishopof
Gloucester, 98, 168
Goodwin, John, 42,102,171, 342,
Goodwin, Thomas, 38,160, 173,
309, 367
Gouge, William, 35, 309, 329
Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire,
Great Tew, Oxfordshire, 36
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 176
Green, Serjeant, 208n.
Greene, Robert, 163n., 167
GreshamCollege, 290
Grindal, Edmund, Archbishopof
Canterbury, 42, 104n.
Grindleton, Yorkshire, 81-2, 84
Grindletonians, 77, 81-5, 95, 103n.,
166,171,185,216,291n., 383
Gubbings, the, 320
Gunter, Edmund, 81
Gwynne, Matthew, 81
Hacket, John, Bishopof Coventry
andLichfield, 90
Hackney, London, 187
Hakewill, George, 164
Hale, Sir Matthew, Judge, 208n.
Hates, John, 36, 331
Halhead, Miles, 318
Halifax, Yorkshire, 75, 81, 363
Hall, Edmund, 313
Hall, John, 303, 314, 369-70
Hampshire, 50, 52
Hancock, theRev Thomas, 127n.
Hariot, Thomas, 144n., 174
Harley, Sir Thomas, 77
Harrington, James, 115,122-3,
361, 382
Harris, John, 63
Harrison, Major-General Thomas,
Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, 127
Hartley, William, 122
Hartlib, Samuel, 51-3, 138,288-91,
297, 322n.
Harvey, John, 229
HatfieldChase, 122
Haworth, Yorkshire, 383
Hegel, G. W. F., 385
Hell, 26-7, chapter 8passim, 185,
209,214, 220-22,227-8,236, 328,
339, 362, 382,388,397,404,
Helwys, Thomas, 170-72
Henry VII, Kingof England, 81
Henry VIII, Kingof England, 81
Henry, Philip, 101
Herbert, LordEdward, of
Cherbury, 81,292
Herbert, George, 81
Herefordshire, 19-20, 74, 77
Hering, Samuel, 176,293, 298
Hermes Trisraegistus, 93, 185,
287-92, 296, 414
Herrick, Robert, 314
Hertfordshire, 20n., 52,124,126-8,
Hexham, Northumberland, 229,
265, 374
Heydon, John, 298
Hibbord, Thomas, 228
Hickhorngill, Edmund, 229
Hide, Edward, 206n.
Hieron, Samuel, 407
HighWycombe, Buckinghamshire,
Highland, Samuel, 80
Hipkin, Miss G. M., 55
Hobbes, Thomas, Hobbism, 31,
91-4,149,157-8, 173, 177,180,
361, 367-8, appendix 1passim,
409-10, 413
Hobday, Mr Charles, 81n., 163n.,
Hobson, Paul, 144
Hoby, Joan, 29
Hodges, Thomas, 45
Holderness, Yorkshire, 227
Holland, John, 206,318
Holland, Lincolnshire, 57
Holmby House, 62
Homes, Nathanael, 122
Hooker, Richard, 20,29, 32,157
Hooker, Thomas, 154,159
Hooper, John, Bishopof
Gloucester, 310
Hopkins, Matthew, 173
Horrocks, Jeremiah, 81
Hotham, Charles, 176
Hotham, Sir John, 384
Hotham, Justice, 176,234n., 236,
257, 374
Houghton, John, 359-60
HounslowHeath, 127
How, Samuel, 'Cobbler', 303
Howgill, Francis, 84,191, 242-4,
Hubberthorne, Richard, 241-2,
Hudson, Professor W. S., 128
Hull, 74, 121, 384
Hunneades, Hans, 290
Hunt, Mr W. A., 283n., 339n.
Huntingdon, Henry Hastings, Earl
of, 42
Huntingdonshire, 51, 126, 227,
Hutchinson, Mrs Anne, 83, 326
Hutchinson, Mrs Lucy, 306n.
Ilford, Essex, 70
Independents, independent
churches, 33, 59, 74-5, 99-102,
108,120-23,128, 187, 191,289,
Indians, 337
Inner light, the, 101,251-8, 311,
338, 370-72,409. SeeSpirit, the
InvisibleCollege, the, 289
Ireland, 20,49, 60, 73,109,112,
118, 336-7, 359, 366
Ireton, Commissary-General
Henry, 67, 69-70, 118,147,272,
332, 364-6, 389
Isaac, 143,220
Isaiah, 56
Italians, Italy, 224, 308, 363
Itinerants, 27, 44-6,48-50, 76, 85,
203, 213, 316, 320, 373-4, 376,
Iver, Buckinghamshire, 124,126
Jackson, Lieutenant William, 116,
Jacob, 145-6, 220
Jacobins, 48
James I, Kingof England, 32, 51,
81,89,95, 185
James U, Kingof England, 254,
James, Dr Margaret, 138n.
Jenny, William, 188, 311
Jermyn, Judge, 271
Jerusalem, 175,207,229,239,261,
Jerusalem, theNew, 122, 322
Jessey, Henry, 80
Jews, 59,144-5, 193, 224,249,285
Joachimof Fiore, 147
Joceline, Mrs Elizabeth, 325
Jock of BroadScotland, 209
JohntheBaptist, 74,123
Johnstonof Wariston, Sir
Archibald, 172
Jones, Inigo, 81
Jones, Rice, 254
Jordan, Professor W. K., 103,178,
Josselin, Ralph, 93, 97,109
Joyce, Cornet George, 61-2,71,
126n., 289
Jubbes, Lieut.-Col. John, 96
Judgment, TheLast, 144-5,205,
206-7, 221-2
Justices of thePeace, 49, 52,56,
208, 235, 242, 257,269,281, 320,
343, 349-50, 357
Kelsey, Major-General Thomas,
208n., 222
Kent, 124, 126-8, 259
Kent, Mrs Robert, 229
Kepler, Johann, 88,287
Kerridge, Dr Eric, 360
Ktt's Rebellion, 1549,23n., 117
Keynes, JohnMaynard, Lord, 293
Kulin, William, 171
Kildwick, Yorkshire, 82
King's Evil, the, 353
Kingly power, 129,133, 137, 391-2
Kingston, Surrey, 68,111-13,141
KingswoodChase, 413n.
Kirby, Mr David, 345n.
Kirby Malham, Yorkshire, 82
KnaresboroughForest, 47
Knewstub, John, 27
Knollys, ttanserd, 105
Knox, John, 91,320
Koran, 266
Lacock, Wiltshire, 228
Lambe, Dr John, 89,185
Lambert, Major-General John, 82,
Lamont, Mr W., 16* 95-6
Lampire, Tom, 228
Lancashire, 46; 57, 77, 81-4,121,
213,216,227, 234, 380
Lane, Richard, 184
Langley Bui hill, Wiltshire, 226
Laucock, Thomas, 239
Laud, William, Archbishopof
Canterbury, 29, 96,185
Laudians, 31, 342-3
Law, Common, 15,72,133-5, 157,
chapter 12passim, 213, 362, 378,
Lawyers, common, 54,87,93, 97,
103,115, 133-6, 194,299-300,
304-5, 322, 364, 410
Lee, Rev Joseph, 132, 329
Leff, Dr Gordon, 91-2
Leicester, 117,220,263
Leicester, Robert Dudley, Earl of,
Leicester, Robert Sidney, Earl of,
Leicestershire, 124, 219, 227,238
Lenthall, William, Speaker of
theLongParliament, 94
Levellers, 13-17, 36-8,47, 55,
chapter 4passim, 79-80, 96-7,
102, chapter 7passim, 146-7,
220-24, 227,236,239-41,243,
246, 250,255, 271-3,275, 304,
338, 341, 345,352-3, 360, 364,
371, 373, 374, 376-7, 382, 387,
389, 395-7, 404, 411
Levellers, True, seeDiggers
Lewis, Professor C. S., 307
Lewis, John, Elizabethanheretic,
Lewis, John, pamphleteer, 370n.
Libertines, libertinism, 186* 210,
227,255, 326,412
LicensingAct, 1694, 385
Lichfield, Staffordshire, 380
Light ShininginBuckinghamshire,
MoreLight Shiningin
Buckinghamshire, 108-9,
117-18, 126, 331
Lilburne, John, 37,61, 63-6,68,
80, 100,102,108,114-19,
120-23, 165, 189,227,240,247,
271,280,289,297-9, 36:. 37:
Lilly, William, 64, 89-91,176,289
Lincolnshire, 55
Lindsay, Mr Jack, 342n.
Linton, Kent, 124
Lloyd, Morgan, 80
Locke, John, 88,122, 158,330,
353, 370n., 384-5, 392-3,409
Lockier, Lionel, 332
Lockier, Robert, 70,113,233
Lollards, the, 25-7, 33, 77, 85, 161,
174, 209, 320, 379
London, City of, 20-22, 30, 36,
39-44,49, 63, 65, 70, 93, 96,108,
188-9, 224, 239, 249, 278-9, 284,
300, 305, 319, 329, 353-5, 337,
Lords, Houseof, 69,108,243
Lubberland, 381
Ludlow, Shropshire, 300
Ludlow, Major-General Edmund,
Luke, Sir Samuel, 285
Luther, Martin, 91, 95,152,155-6,
161-2, 215-16, 252
LymeRegis, Dorset, 384
McCalman, Mr Ian, 60n., 76n.
Macfarlane, Dr Alan, 88, 330
McGregor, Mr Frank, 16, 208-9n.
Maclear, MrJ.F., 103
Macpherson, Professor C. B.,
121-2, 277n.
Madness, 16,224,226, chapter 13
Magic, natural, magicians, 16-17,
81, 87-90, 142,151-2,163-4,
170, 287-300, 364, 383
MagnaCarta, 95,405
Mahomet, 174
Mahometanism, 266
Maidstone, Kent, 124n.
Man, Isleof, 300
Manchester, 184, 300
Manchester, EdwardMontagu,
Earl of, 60
Marchant, Dr R. A., 313
Marcuse, Herbert, 138,414
Marlowe, Christopher, 175, 227n.,
Marprelate, Martin, 42,45,260
Marriage, 31, 136, chapter 15
passim, 382, 396,411
Marshall, Stephen, 34, 312n.
Marten, Henry, 69,271
Martyrs, Marian, 33, 209
Marvell, Andrew, 81, 84,145,183,
Marx, Karl, 385-6, 393^
Mary I, Queenof England, 106
Mary, Queenof Scots, 91
Mason, John, 199
Massinger, Philip, 44
Masterless men, 20, chapter 3
passim, 85,408
Mathematics, 81, 292-3
Mayle, EdwardandMrs, 229
Maypoles, 340, 358
Mead, William, 271
Mechanical philosophy, chapter 14
passim, 341, 355, 385
Mede, Joseph, 92, 96
Medicine, 292, 297-300, 303-5, 362
Melksham, Wiltshire, 228
Mercurius Britanicus, 64
Mercurius Politicus, 76, 275
Merionethshire, 87
Merrymount, 340
Merton, Statuteof, 54
Middlesex, 52, 124, 126
Middleton, Mary, 201
Middleton, Thomas, 39, 309, 321
Midlands, the, 24,126-8,228, 250
Millenarianism, millenarians, 35,
96, 122, 190, 199, 287-90
Millennium, the, 33-4,92, 96-7,
174, 321, 362
Milton, John, 16, 33, 36,47n., 96,
101, 140,143-5, 162-3, 174, 182,
191, 220, 221, 243, 264-5, 276,
303,310,313,323, 327,335n.,
341-2, 344, 346, 351, 353, 362-3,
367-8, 371, 379, 383, 395-405,
408-9, 412
Minories, the, 201
Miracles, 89,185,252,256,265,412
Mobility, 48-9, 316, 349, 361, 378,
Mobility, social, 85, 316
Moderate, The, 120, 220
Monck, General George, Duke
of Albemarle, 18, 282n., 348
Monmouth's Rebellion, 1685, 242,
Monopolies, 21,297-8
Montague, Admiral Edward, 282n.
Montague, Lady, 257
Montaigne, Michel de, 314
Moor Lane, London, 201
Moore, Adam, 52
Moore, John, 52n.
Moors, the, 337
More, Sir Thomas, 116
Morley, Miss Iris, 17
Mortalism, 179
Morton, Mr A. L., 16, 203,213,
227, 323, 373
Morton, Thomas, 340_
Moses, 214, 227, 263
Muggleton, Lodowick, 173-4, 176,
179, 200-201, 223, 284n.
Muggletonians, 14,191n., 217,
226-8, 314, 316, 374, 379,380n.
Minister, 26,120, 161
Miinzer, Thomas, 26
Napier, John, 92, 96, 287
Naseby, Battleof, 90
Nashe, Thomas, 144n.
Natural rights, 118, 311
Nature, laws of, 90,390-91
Nature, stateof, 147, 149, 388-91,
NavigationAct, 359
Nayler, James, 25, 71, 80, 84,112,
169n., 177, 203, 231-8, 241-58,
278, 302, 317-18, 327, 335, 345,
351, 362-6, 370-71, 377-9, 384,
Nedham, Marchamont, 60
NeedwoodForest, 54
Neile, Richard, Archbishopof
York, 75
Neo-Platonists, 363
Netherlands, the, 26,27,97, 104,
116, 162, 274, 308,327,336, 337,
Nevile, Henry, 314,409
NewEngland, 127n., 172,200,
310, 326, 340
NewForest, 46
NewInnHall, Oxford, 259
NewModel Army, the, 13, 24-5,
38,41, 64-5, chapter 4passim,
75, 76, 78,81, 85,99, 102,
108-12,114n., 115,116,118,119,
128, 131, 158-61, 188, 190-95,
210, 213,217-19,234,241-2,
250, 269,283-5, 289, 321, 328,
344, 346, 347, 350, 358,361-6,
368, 378, 402
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 20, 77, 78,
172, 286
Newcome, Henry, 335n., 347
Newgate, 212
Newmarket, Suffolk, 62,67
Newton, Sir Isaac, 90, 92, 290,
292-3, 297, 384-5,413
Nibley, Gloucestershire, 125
Nicholson, B., 244
Niclaes, Henry, 26-7, 176, 185,
Norden, John, 320
Norfolk, 117, 146, 350
NormanYoke, the, 55, 66, 133,
138, 145, 226, 271-2
North, theHonJohn, 352
Northampton, 259
Northamptonshire, 23, 46-7,
50-51, 102, 11In., 121,124,
126n., 128
Northtonus, Championus, 147
Northumberland, 73, 78n., 80, 81,
108, 118, 121
Northumberland, JohnDudley,
Dukeof, 160
Norwich, 300, 313, 380
Norwood, Robert, 177,226,302
Nostradamus, 90
Nottingham, 127n., 254
Nottinghamshire, 124, 128,227,
Nuttall, Dr G. F., 97
Oates, Titus, 291n.
Oaths, 26,202-3,218,340,348
Offley, Elizabeth, 229
Offley, John, 229
Oldenburg, Henry, 51n., 263
Osborne, Mr B., 52
Osborne, Francis, 32, 177, 180,
269, 290, 313-14,410
Otway, Thomas, 410-11
Overbury, Sir Thomas, 215
Overton, Richard, 32, 37, 38, 65,
89,108,114,120, 165,174,214,
275,289,291,303, 357, 395
Owen, John, 167,177,266,277-S,
Oxford, 59,102
Oxford, University of, 109,259,
302-5, 345, 413
Oxfordshire, 45, 109
Paget, Dr, 216
Pagitt, Ephraim, 74, 205,227
Paine, Thomas, 381
Palmer, Herbert, 75-6
Pantheism, 139-40, 142,219, 394
Paracelsans, 90, 140, chapter 14
passim, 149-50,164,168,221,
350-51, 398-9,404,408,414
Parker, Henry, 119n., 157,264
Parker, Samuel, Bishopof Oxford,
295, 352
Parliament, Barebones, 56,176,
196, 235,272,282,322
Parliament of 1576,310
Parliament of 1656, 56, 106,250,
Parliament of 1660, 348
Parliament, Long, 13-14, 22-5,
32-5, 60, 71, 78-80, 84, 90-91,
94, 98-100, 108, 111-12, 125,
131, 133,160-61,164,166-7,
188, 192, 226-7, 234-5, 248,
274-5,278,282n., 288, 321-2,
356, 364-5
Parliament, Longat Oxford, 90
Parliament, Rump, 167,212,
234-5, 272, 314
Parliament, Short, 21
Patronage, 31, 160
Peacock, Thomas, 239
Peak District, Derby, 227
Pearson, Anthony, 189, 234n., 238,
Peasants* Revolt, 1381, 117
Pendle, Forest, Hill, 47,57, 81,84
Penington, Isaac, 171-2,281-3
Penn, William, 253-6, 271, 292,
338, 3/8
Pepys, Samuel, 319,354
Perfectibility, 83, 164, 166, 236,
251, 371
Perkins, Corporal, 70
Perkins, William, 27,156, 158-9,
287, 309, 325
Perrot, John, 254, 257n., 258n.,
262, 264, 378
Peter, Hugh, 58, 66, 74, 80, 96,
98,109, 146, 288, 289,302, 310,
314, 329
PetitionandAdvice, theHumble,
Petty, Maximilian, 116
Petty, Sir William, 138, 288,298,
301, 314, 326
Physicians, Collegeof, 297,299,
PilgrimFathers, the, 104, 367
Pinnell, Henry, 58, 71,186n., 291,
Pinto, Professor V. deSola,
Pirton, Hertfordshire, 127
Piatt, John, 113,131
Plattes, Gabriel, 304
Pleasants, William, 380
Plockhoy, 'Peter Cornelius', 346
Plymouth, 358
PlymouthBrethren, 81n.
Poland, 399
Poole, Dorset, 55, 228, 239
Poole, Elizabeth, 279
Pope, Alexander, 355
Pope, the, 97,99,145,148, 156,
217, 224, 255,260,406
Popery, 194-5, 321, 325-6
Pordage, John, 176,224-5,284-6,
289, 318
Postmasters, 137-8
Potts, Sir John, 23
Powell, Vavasor, 16,80,169n.,344
Power, Henry, 81, 363
Preachers, mechanic, 34-7, 78,
93^1, 98-100,105,143,176, 263,
chapter 14passim, 342
Preachers, Puritan, 35, 38, 64, 93,
Preaching, 98-9, 103, 195,227,
302, 310-11, 396
Predestination, 92, 152, 170-71,
Presbyterianism, Presbyterians, 32,
36,41,59-60, 75-80, 102,111,
115, 157, 159,160-61,167,173,
191, 192-3, 259, 289-90, 328,
335, 343, 345, 356-7
Preston, John, 89,186,287-8
Preston, Lancashire, 80, 213
Prestwich, Mrs Menna, 22
Price, John, 345
Pride's Purge, 69,165
Priesthoodof all believers, 152,
182, 302, 371
Prince, Thomas, 108
Printing, 17, 22, 92,161-2, 363,
Privy Council, Privy Councillors,
29, 45
Property, 22-4,26, 27, 32, 99,
114-21, 131-2, 138-9, 142, 149,
183, 210,224, 225,247,272,
330-32, 341-3, 345-6, 348-51,
379, 382, 383, 386, 389-94,405,
Prophecies, 89-92, 113, 278-9,
287-91, 355
Prophesyings, 105
Protectorateof Oliver Cromwell,
15, 250, 364-6
Protestant Ethic, 15-16, chapter 16
passim, 341-2, 383, 384-5, 392,
Protestantism, 89, 152, 154-5, 161,
163-4, 267, 388
Prynne, William, 170, 299
Pulham, Norfolk, 213
Purchas, Samuel, 167
Purgatory, 152, 170
Puritanism, Puritans, 47-8, 73, 75,
77, 78-9, 148, 158-9, 197,
200-203,232-4,296, 306-14,
318-19, 322, 325, 327-8, 331,
335, 338, 340, 342, 347, 356, 387,
405, 407, 410-11
Putney (Debates), 38, 67,118, 162,
286, 332, 368, 389
Pym, John, 18,41,107,157,
Pyne, Colonel John, 55,165
Quakers, 14,47,49-50,71-80,84,
94-5, 97, 103-4, 106, 112, 125-8,
143-4, 147, 169, 175-8, 183,
187-91, 201, 203-4, 210-11,
228-9, chapter 10passim,
260-61, 268, 270-71, 281-3, 289,
290, 292, 299, 312, 317-23, 330,
338, 342,345, 347, 350,351,
358-9, 368, 372-8, 379, 399, 401,
404,405,41In., 412
Quakers, theProud, 233n., 250,
254, 378
Quinn, Professor D. B., 174n.
Rabelais, Francois, 260
RacovianCatechism, the, 166-7
Rainborough, Colonel Thomas,
66, 112, 116, 217
Rainborough, Major William,
Ralegh, Sir Walter, 88, 95, 140,
144n., 163,167, 174, 175
Rand, Daniel, 322n.
Rand, James, 323n.
Rand, John, 322n.
Rand, Mary, seeCary, Mary
Rand, Walter, 322n.
Rand, William, 322n.
Randall, Giles, 199n., 281
Rande, Mrs Mary, seeCary, Mary
Ranta, Alexander, 322
Ranters, the, 14-16, 44, 50, 71-2,
80, 105n., 110, 113, 125, 135,
138,143,144,161, 167-72,177,
178, 179, 183, chapters 9and10
passim, 259-62,283, 284,
289-90, 292, 306, 313-23, 326-7,
331, 332, 339-42, 352, 356,
357-8, 368-78, 380, 382, 395-6,
400-405, 409-12, 414
Rattansi, Professor P. M., 16
Reading, Berkshire, 224, 285-6
Reason, 116,132, 139, 141, 145,
148, 178, 206, 274-5, 284, 294,
311, 370-72, 388-94, 410,
412, 413
Reason, Ageof, 414
Recorde, Robert, 81
Reeve, John, 177,200,204,217,
Reformation, the, 91,151,161,
Reformationof theEcclesiastical
Laws, The, 310
Republicanism, republicans, 122,
123, 399, 413. See
Commonwealth, English
Restorationof 1660, the, 15, 213,
254, 272, 295-6, 304-5, 322, 340,
chapter 17passim, 361, 383, 399,
403n., 405, 410
Resurrection, the, 26, 27, 143,
144-5, 205, 214, 237, 339
Revelation, Book of, 94, 233, 321
Revolution, American, 380, 381
Revolution, English, 70, 93, 123,
164-5, 186-7, 250, 296, 299-300,
306-7, 311, 321, 330, 342, 344,
352-3, 365, 373, 379-80, 384,
Revolution, French, 247-8,292,
Revolution, Industrial, 305,310,
328, 342
Revolution, Russian, 231
Revolution, sexual, 306-14
Rich, Colonel Nathaniel, 69
Rich, Robert, 254n.
Richardson, Dr R. C., 78, 82
Richardson, Samuel, 307
RobinHood, 43,47,77
Robins, Mrs Joan, 249,314
Robins, John, 204, 226-8, 314
Robinson, John, 104, 366-7
Robinson, John, Bishopof
Woolwich, 353n.
Robinson, Luke, 327, 366
RobinsonCrusoe, 409
Rochester, Kent, 187, 222
Rochester, JohnWilmot, Earl of,
352, 400, 411-13
RockinghamForest, 50
Rogers, Daniel, 309
Rogers, John, FifthMonarchist,
16,97,171, 173,271,312, 366
Rogers, John, of Cornwall, 172
RomanCatholics, 89, 222n., 343
Rome, churchof, 28, 33,233
Rome, city of, 97,145, 217,242
RossendaleForest, 57
Rotterdam, 310
Roundheads, 233-5
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 391, 393
Routingof theRanters, The, 321
Royal Society, 88, 89, 296, 305,
Royalists, 13, 2l-4, 30, 34, 58, 64,
79, 217, 255, 338, 340-41, 344,
387, 403, 409
Russell, Mr Conrad, 20n.
Russians, 309
Rutherford, Samuel, 184, 326, 337
RyeHousePlot, 45
Ryves, Bruno, 37-8
Sabbatarianism, sabbatarians, 88,
335, 356, 357, 396
Sabbath, 110,184,189, 263, 332
St Bartholomew's Hospital, 298
St Benet Fink, London, 105
St George's Fields, 226
St George's Hill, 110-12, 117-19,
121,128, 131, 134, 135, 138,
St Giles, Cripplegate, 201
St Paul, 94,231,281
St Paul's Cathedral, 198
St Peter, 96
Salisbury Wiltshire, 122
Salmon, Joseph, 71, 143, 179, 191,
202-3, 206, 208, 217-19, 220,
227,254n., 281, 283, 372, 378
Saltmarsh, John, 58-9, 70, 80,
103-4,171,184,191,194, 367,
Samson, 399, 402-3, 409
Sandys, Edwin, Archbishopof
York, 28
Sanial, 248
Satan, seeDevil
Saurat, Denis, 400
Scepticism, 89, 98, 166, 412
Science, 81, 85, 88, 89-90,140,
142, chapter 14passim, 341,
355, 356, 412-13,
Scotland, Scots, 21,24,31,45,51,
96, 157, 183, 208-9, 318, 320,
359, 395
Scott, Thomas, 35
SecondComing, 92,145, 148, 378
Sectaries, sects, 23,41-3, 75, 98,
103,104, 115, 162, 188-9,224,
263, 267, 296, 310-11, 328, 343,
345, 347, 348, 358, 362, 371,
374, 375-8
Sedgmoor, 51,360
Seekers, 14, 84, 95,184-5,191-2,
Selden, John, 32, 91, 288, 331
Self DenyingOrdinance, 195
Settlement, Act of, 1662, 349
SevernValley, 108
Sexby, Edward, 71,116,123
Shaftesbury, Antony Ashley
Cooper, Earl of, 41, 76
Shakers, 380
Shakespeare, William, 43, 114,
117,277, 279, 307
Shaw, GeorgeBernard, 16
Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 403
Shepard, Thomas, 83, 171
Sheppard, Samuel, 358
Sheppard, William, 146-7
Sherborne, Dorset, 175
SherwoodForest, 46
Shrewsbury, 300
Shropshire, 77, 79
Shuttleworth, Colonel, 58n.
Sibbes, Richard, 186, 291n.,
309-10, 325, 329, 407
Sin, 36, 71-2, 98,120, chapter 8
passim,>187-8, 207-12, 214-16,
219-20, 221-2, 229, 251-6, 296,
313, 316, 342, 343, 351, 388,406,
Sin, original, 147,155,286,391,
Skippon, Major-General Philip,
235n., 366
Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, 125-6
Slingsby, Sir Henry, 42
Smith, Andrew, 246
Smith, J. E„ 380n.
Smyth, John, of Nibley, 125-6
Sobieski, John, Kingof Poland,
Socinianism, Socinians, 80, 166-7,
193, 209, 239,286, 291
Somerset, 121, 199
Somerset, Edward, Marquis of
Worcester, 81
Southwark, Surrey, 41n., 80,112,
187,204,279, 354
Spain, Spaniards, 35, 88, 97, 186,
274, 337, 361
Spence, Thomas, 380
Spenser, Edmund, 114
Spinoza, Baruch, 266-7
Spirit, theinner, 83,95,100,363,
367-9. SeeInner light, the
Spittlehouse, John, 71,96, 104,
Sprat, Thomas, Bishopof
Rochester, 275,355
Sprigge, William, 147, 291, 346
Squatters, 54,320,349,359
Staffordshire, 54, 57, 79, 80
Star, Mrs, 216
Starkey, Thomas, 53
State, the, 135, 155, 163, appendix
Stearne, John, 173
Stephens, Nathaniel, 127n.
Stillingfleet, Edward, Bishopof
Worcester, 180,410
Stone, Professor Lawrence, 76,
Story-Wilkinsonseparation, 255,
257, 378
Stoughton, John, 313n.
Stratton, Jane, 187
Stubbe, Henry, 303, 370
Suffolk, 102, 199,364
Surrey, 111, 113, 125-7,213,354
Sussex, 238
Swearing, seeOaths
Swift, Jonathan, 147n., 385
Switzerland, 35
Sydenham, Colonel William, 364
Symonds, Thomas, 241
Sympson, Sidrach, 200
Talon, M Henri, 407
Tany, Tani, John(Theaureaujohn),
177, 204,225-6,246,249,262,
279, 282, 283
Taunton, Somerset, 75
Taverns, 198-201
Tawney, Professor R. H., 153
Taxation, taxes, 15,91,194
Taylor, Thomas, Puritan, 329, 369
Taylor, Thomas, Quaker, 191
Temple, Sir William, 329
Tennyson, AlfredLord, 403
Thames, river, 111-12
Theatre, 307-8, 319, 410-11
TheologiaGermanica, 185
ThirdEstate, 153,248
Thirsk, Dr Joan, 46-7,57,78,130,
146, 327
Thirty-nineArticles of theChurch
of England, 155
Thomas, Mr K. V., 16,17,25-6,
88, 130, 173, 185, 280, 287-92,
Thomas, Dr P. W., 355-6
Thompson, William, 68, 70, 122,
124, 127n., 223,285
Thompson, Cornet, brother of the
above, 70
Thomson, Mr J. A. F., 77
Tillinghast, John, 97
Tithes, 35,63,72,97,99,102-3,
303, 322, 346, 378, 379,396
Tobacco, 198-201
Todd, Mary, 239
TolerationAct, 1689,357
Toleration, religious, 36, 88
Tonge, Israel, 291
Toon, Mr Peter, 16, 96
Torshell, Samuel, 311
Towne, Robert, 84,216
Towneley group, 81
Traherne, Thomas, 81, 140, 172,
186-7, 413-14
Trapnel, Anna, 172,207,318
Trapp, John, 187
Trevor-Roper, Professor H. R.,
Trinity, the, 45,179,187,236
Trinity College, Oxford, 259
Trotsky, Leo, 202n., 231
Tryon, Thomas, 41In.
Turk, theGreat, 97,224,345
Turkey, Turks, 133,174, 193n.
Turner, Mrs Jane, 172
Turner, William, 81
Tuscany, Cosimo deMedici,
GrandDukeof, 322,354
Tyndale, William, 31,161, 369
Tyranipocrit Discovered, 116-17,
123, 166,173, 328-30, 335-7,
344, 396, 407
Udall, John, 111
Underdown, Professor D. E.,
13-14,78n., 279
Universities, 31, 98-9,104,109,
Ussher, James, Archbishopof
Armagh, 92
U.S.S.R., the, 63,137
Vagabonds, 20,40,49, 51, 85, 320,
331, 349
Vagrancy Act of 1656,49
Vanbrugh, Sir John, 268, 411
Vane, Sir Henry, 16, 177
Vaughan, Henry, 81
Vaughan, Thomas, 81
Veall, Mr Donald, 313
Venner, Thomas, 147, 241
Verney, Edmund, 307
Verney, Sir Ralph, 117
Verney jam*ly, 23
Vico, Giambattista, 143
Villeinage, 126n.
Virginia, 20
Vittels, Christopher, 27
Voltaire, Frangoise-Marie, 25
VoxPlebis, 165
WadhamCollege, Oxford, 413
Wagelabour, 53, 137, 332, 341-2
Wakefield, Yorkshire, 25
Waldensians, 337
Waldock, Professor A. J. A., 397
Wales, Welshmen, 49, 73-81, 84,
93, 234-5, 242, 276, 300, 320,
Walker, Clement, 63, 72, 76,365-6
Walker, Mr D. P., 178
Wall, Moses, 360
Walsh, Mr John, 381n.
Walton-on-Thames, 110, 112, 189,
Walwyn, William, 36, 65, 80,102,
177,181,191, 262, 299, 303,
322n., 336-7, 345, 395
Walzer, Professor Michael, 47-8
Wapping, Middlesex, 354
Warboys, Huntingdonshire, 127n.,
223, 265, 374
Ward, Rev John, 240n.
Ward, Seth, Bishopof Salisbury,
Wards, Court of, 244, 307-8
Ware, Hertfordshire, 68,69,71,
Warr, John, chapter 12passim,
Warwick, 210
Warwickshire, 52, 79
Wasteland, 43, 51-6,128-30,
345-6, 349, 397
Wayt, Mrs Paul, 229
Weald, the, 46-7,124n.
Webbe, Thomas, 226-8, 258n.,
283, 304n.
Webster, Mr Charles, 16, 94n.,
Webster, John, 58, 71, 80-84,176,
185, 191, 192n., 196-8, 289-90,
298, 302-4, 377
Weld, Thomas, 326
Northamptonshire, 70,11In.,
124-7, 228, 373
Wells, Somerset, 228
Wesley, John, 380-81
Westminster, 22, 90, 198,217,
Westminster Assembly, 167, 367
Westminster II, Statuteof, 54
Westmorland, 73,84,227
West Ridingof Yorkshire, 77-8,
216, 227, 234
White, Major Francis, 65-6, 70,
96, 114, 344
Whitehall, 244,278, 318, 364-5,
Whitehead, John, 241
Whitelocke, Bulstrode, 89, 246
WholeDutyof Man, The, 180,
345, 351-2
Wigan, Lancashire, 112
Wigglesworth, Michael, 172
Wight, Sarah, 171, 318
Wilde, Serjeant John, 113, 208n.
Wildman, John, 68, 107-8, 114-16,
123, 165,276, 364
Wilkins, John, Bishopof Chester,
88, 304, 369
Wilkinson, Henry, 198n.
Wilkinson, John, 263
Wilkinson, John, see
WilliamIII, Kingof England, 359
Williams, Professor C. M., 60n.
Williams, Roger, 84,101,191,
302-3, 325
Wiltshire, 46-7, 77,109,226-8,239
Winchester, 316
Windham, Judge, 208n.
Windsor, Buckinghamshire, 70
Windsor Great Forest, 110-11
Winstanley, Gerrard, 14,38,46,
55, 60, 80, 94,104, chapter 7
passim, 163,166,173-83,199,
206, 213n., 216n., 229-30, 233,
241,247,258n., 261-72,275-6,
319-20,331-42,344, 346,350,
361, 368-9, 370, 373, 377,
379-82, 386, appendix 1passim,
396-401,404, 407, 412-14
Winthrop, John, 83,200
Wiseman, Robert, 147
Witchcraft, witches, 47, 87-8,
127n., 296-7, 330
Wither, George, 96
Wolfe, Professor D. M., 65
Women, positionof, chapter 15
passim, 379, 410
Worcester, 265
Worcester, Battleof, 286
Worcestershire, 44,74,77, 79, 80
Wordsworth, William, 48
Writer, Clement, 144,191,265,
268, 395, 411-12
Wyke, Andrew, 263
Yates, Dr Frances, 16
Yeomen, 91,214,324
York, 82,107,121, 300,313
Yorkshire, 21,25,46,75-84,216,
Yorktown, 3S0
Youth, 188-90,302,322,366