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Early Modern Literature in History

General Editors: Cedric C. Brown, Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and
Humanities, University of Reading; Andrew Hadfield, Professor of English, University of
Sussex, Brighton
Advisory Board: Donna Hamilton, University of Maryland; Jean Howard, University
of Columbia; John Kerrigan, University of Cambridge; Richard McCoy, CUNY; Sharon
Achinstein, University of Oxford
Within the period 1520–1740 this series discusses many kinds of writing, both within and
outside the established canon. The volumes may employ different theoretical perspectives,
but they share an historical awareness and an interest in seeing their texts in lively
negotiation with their own and successive cultures.
Titles include:
Andrea Brady
ENGLISH FUNERARY ELEGY IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
Laws in Mourning
Mark Thornton Burnett
CONSTRUCTING ‘MONSTERS’ IN SHAKESPEAREAN DRAMA AND EARLY MODERN
CULTURE

Dermot Cavanagh
LANGUAGE AND POLITICS IN THE SIXTEENTH-CENTURY HISTORY PLAY
Patrick Cheney
MARLOWE’S REPUBLICAN AUTHORSHIP
Lucan, Liberty, and the Sublime

Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (editors)


‘THIS DOUBLE VOICE’
Gendered Writing in Early Modern England
David Coleman
DRAMA AND THE SACRAMENTS IN SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND
Indelible Characters
Katharine A. Craik
READING SENSATIONS IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND

James Daybell (editor)


EARLY MODERN WOMEN’S LETTER-WRITING, 1450–1700

Matthew Dimmock and Andrew Hadfield (editors)


THE RELIGIONS OF THE BOOK
Christian Perceptions, 1400–1660

Tobias Döring
PERFORMANCES OF MOURNING IN SHAKESPEAREAN THEATRE
AND EARLY MODERN CULTURE

Sarah M. Dunnigan
EROS AND POETRY AT THE COURTS OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
AND JAMES VI
Mary Floyd-Wilson and Garrett A. Sullivan Jr. (editors)
ENVIRONMENT AND EMBODIMENT IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND

Kenneth J.E. Graham and Philip D. Collington (editors)


SHAKESPEARE AND RELIGIOUS CHANGE

Teresa Grant and Barbara Ravelhofer


ENGLISH HISTORICAL DRAMA, 1500–1660
Forms Outside the Canon
Andrew Hadfield
SHAKESPEARE, SPENSER AND THE MATTER OF BRITAIN
William M. Hamlin
TRAGEDY AND SCEPTICISM IN SHAKESPEARE’S ENGLAND

Johanna Harris and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (editors)


THE INTELLECTUAL CULTURE OF PURITAN WOMEN, 1558–1680
Elizabeth Heale
AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND AUTHORSHIP IN RENAISSANCE VERSE
Chronicles of the Self
Constance Jordan and Karen Cunningham (editors)
THE LAW IN SHAKESPEARE

Claire Jowitt (editor)


PIRATES? THE POLITICS OF PLUNDER, 1550–1650
Gregory Kneidel
RETHINKING THE TURN TO RELIGION IN EARLY MODERN
ENGLISH LITERATURE

Edel Lamb
PERFORMING CHILDHOOD IN THE EARLY MODERN THEATRE
The Children’s Playing Companies (1599–1613)
Jean-Christopher Mayer
SHAKESPEARE’S HYBRID FAITH
History, Religion and the Stage

Scott L. Newstok
QUOTING DEATH IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND
The Poetics of Epitaphs Beyond the Tomb
Jennifer Richards (editor)
EARLY MODERN CIVIL DISCOURSES
Marion Wynne-Davies
WOMEN WRITERS AND FAMILIAL DISCOURSE IN THE ENGLISH RENAISSANCE
Relative Values

The series Early Modern Literature in History is published in association


with the Renaissance
Texts Research Centre at the University of Reading.

Early Modern Literature in History


Series Standing Order ISBN 978–0–333–80321–9
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Customer Services Department, Macmillan Distribution Ltd, Houndmills,
Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS, England
The Intellectual Culture of
Puritan Women, 1558–1680
Edited by

Johanna Harris
Lecturer in Early Modern Literature, Lincoln College, University of Oxford
and

Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
Lecturer in Early Modern Literature, Wadham College, University of Oxford and
Research Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Oxford
Selection and editorial matter © Johanna Harris and
Elizabeth Scott-Baumann 2010
Individual chapters © contributors 2010
Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2010 978-0-230-22864-1
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Contents

List of Illustrations vii


Acknowledgements viii
Foreword ix
N. H. Keeble
Notes on Contributors xv
List of Abbreviations xix

1 Introduction 1
Johanna Harris and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
2 The Exemplary Anne Vaughan Lock 15
Susan M. Felch
3 The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 28
Danielle Clarke
4 Imagining a National Church: Election and Education
in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 42
Lynne Magnusson
5 Anne, Lady Southwell: Coteries and Culture 57
Elizabeth Clarke
6 Godly Patronage: Lucy Harington Russell, Countess
of Bedford 71
Marion O’Connor
7 ‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’: Mary, Lady Vere 84
Jacqueline Eales
8 ‘Give me thy hairt and I desyre no more’:
The Song of Songs, Petrarchism and Elizabeth Melville’s
Puritan Poetics 96
Sarah C. E. Ross
9 ‘But I thinke and beleeve’: Lady Brilliana Harley’s
Puritanism in Epistolary Community 108
Johanna Harris

v
vi Contents

10 ‘Take unto ye words’: Elizabeth Isham’s ‘Booke


of Rememberance’ and Puritan Cultural Forms 122
Erica Longfellow
11 Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence: Earth, Wind,
and Fire 135
Susan Wiseman
12 Viscountess Ranelagh and the Authorisation of Women’s
Knowledge in the Hartlib Circle 150
Ruth Connolly
13 Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 162
Diane Purkiss
14 Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 176
Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
15 Pregnant Dreams in Early Modern Europe:
The Philadelphian Example 190
Nigel Smith
Afterword 202
David Norbrook

Bibliography 214

Index 239
List of Illustrations

1 Woodcut: John Foxe, Actes and Monuments of these latter


and perillous dayes touching matters of the Church
(London: John Day, 1563), STC 11222, titlepage.
Reproduced by permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford 16
2 Woodcut: Latimer preaching before Edward VI, John Foxe,
Actes and monuments of these latter and perillous dayes
touching matters of the Church
(London: John Day, 1563), STC 11222, p. 1353.
Reproduced by permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford 17
3 Map of London from An exact Delineation of the Cities of
London and Westminster and the Suburbs thereof, together wth
ye Burrough of Southwark and all ye Through-fares – Highwaies
Streetes Lanes & Allies wth in ye same. Composed by a scale
and ichnographically described by Richard Newcourt…Willm.,
Faithorne sculpsit.] A scale of yards, 800[⫽ 140 mm]
(1658; BL shelfmark Maps R.17.a.3)
Reproduced by permission of the British Library 164

vii
Acknowledgements

Foremost thanks are due to our contributors for their endorsement of


the project from its inception, their efficiency, and exemplary scholar-
ship. Special thanks are due to Professor David Norbrook and Professor
N. H. Keeble for their contributions and for their consistent encourage-
ment. Steven Hall at Palgrave, and our general editors Cedric Brown and
Andrew Hadfield, have provided essential practical and intellectual sup-
port. For kind permission to reproduce maps and illustrations, and for
advice, we thank the British Library, the Bodleian Library, Chatsworth
House and the Courtauld Institute.
This collection was nurtured by the intellectual cultures of the Harris
and Scott-Baumann households, and it is to them that the editors extend
their deepest gratitude.

viii
Foreword
N. H. Keeble

The intellectual prospects for Puritan women, or, indeed, for a collec-
tion of essays devoted to them, might not appear particularly bright. It
is not difficult to come by examples of early modern Puritan opinion
such as that of John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts in the 1630s
and 1640s, who was in no doubt that the ‘sad infirmity, the loss of her
understanding and reason’ suffered by Anne Hopkins, the wife of the
governor of Connecticut, came about

by occasion of her giving herself wholly to reading and writing, and


had written many books. Her husband, being very loving and tender
of her, was loath to grieve her; but he saw his error, when it was too
late. For if she had attended her household affairs, and such things as
belong to women, and not gone out of her way and calling to meddle
in such things as are proper for men, whose minds are stronger, etc.,
she had kept her wits, and might have improved them usefully and
honourably in the place God had set her.1

Disconcertingly, highly educated Puritan women of evident creative


ability could write in just these terms. For all her ‘intellectual tough-
ness’, to adopt David Norbrook’s apt phrase,2 Lucy Hutchinson could
reflect that, ‘as our sex, through ignorance and weakness of judgment
(which in the most knowing women is inferior to the masculine under-
standing of men), are apt to entertain fancies, and [be] pertinacious in
them so we ought to watch our selves…and…embrace nothing rashly;
but as our own imbecility is made known to us, to take heed of pre-
sumption in ourselves’.3 Though in the apologia prefaced to her poems
Anne Bradstreet was seeking, by anticipating it, to disarm prejudice, and
was perhaps doing so with knowing irony, she was nevertheless very
clear about what might be expected from her readers:

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue


Who says my hand a needle better fits,
A poet’s pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits:
If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,
They’ll say it’s stolen, or else it was by chance.

ix
x Foreword

...
Men have precedency and still excel,
It is but vain unjustly to wage war;
Men can do best, and women know it well.
Pre-eminence in all and each is yours;
Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.4

Small wonder that it is Eve’s asking questions that causes much of the
trouble in Paradise Lost.
And yet, when Eve leaves Adam and Raphael to talk together of things
‘abstruse’, the narrator of Paradise Lost is careful to insist that ‘went she
not as not with such discourse/ Delighted, or not capable her ear/ Of
what was high’.5 It is a seemingly small chink of light, but by it the essays
in this collection are able to illuminate for the first time a vista of quite
extraordinary breadth, richness and variety, and one which our com-
monplaces (derived from witnesses such as Winthrop) about patriarchal
oppression, discriminatory gender roles, strategies of subversion and pas-
sive subjects are quite unable to chart. Far from being isolated, untutored,
idiosyncratic or marginalised,6 the women described in these essays take
their due place in a wide range of intellectual, cultural, social, religious
and literary networks. These include Anne Lock’s association with John
Knox and the Presbyterian and Genevan reformers of Elizabeth’s reign;
the part played by Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, in the Sidney
circle; the engagement of Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, both in
the courtly activities of late Elizabethan and early Stuart England and in
international Protestant networks; the involvement of Katherine Jones,
Viscountess Ranelagh, in the Hartlib circle and her association with
the pioneering experimental scientists who would constitute the Royal
Society; and the radical sectarians and printers, and the gathered churches,
of Anna Trapnel’s London.
There is nothing apologetic or deferential about these engagements,
nor the least suggestion of impropriety or inequality. On the contrary,
these women are not merely participants in, but are influential members
of, their intellectual and cultural circles. Lady Ranelagh enjoyed the admi-
ration and respect of continental (male) members of the Hartlib circle
without condescension or concession. Carrying, in its prefatory epistle,
the explicit approval of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, the
translation of John Jewel’s foundational Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae
by Anne, Lady Bacon (1564) constituted the officially sanctioned pub-
licly accessible defence of the newly re-established Protestant Church
of England. It was through a woman that the episcopal English church
Foreword xi

found its national voice. Furthermore, her probable patronage and facili-
tation of, if not active involvement in, the compilation of A Parte of a
Register (1593), an apologetic collection of cases of persecution, estab-
lished an enduring tradition of Puritan record-keeping that led to the
later detailed archives assembled by the Quakers. It is from these accu-
mulative habits that modern archival practice and notions of historical
evidence developed.
There are many such examples in these essays of Puritan women
being in the intellectual vanguard and of their assuming the roles of
patron, mentor and guide. By John Knox’s own account, Anne Lock
acted as his spiritual mother. Lady Ranelagh exercised the authority of
a recognised leader within the Hartlib circle. Mary, Lady Vere, was the
patron of many Puritan clerics, including James Ussher, whose consecra-
tion as archbishop of Armagh was largely owing to her good offices. She
was, in return, the dedicatee of books by eminent Puritan ministers, as
was the Countess of Bedford of a number of theological works. In a very
different context, Jonson and Donne enjoyed her patronage, receiving
in return, from Donne, praise as ‘God’s masterpiece, and so/ His factor
for our loves’.7 Different again, yet comparable in its demonstration of
superior status within cultural communities, was the sway exercised
over their followers by the prophetess Anna Trapnel and by the mystic
Jane Lead.
If the cultural authority and extensive social and intellectual networks
of these women are striking, so too is the comprehensiveness of their
learning. Not only records such as the commonplace book of Brilliana,
Lady Harley, or the library catalogues of the Harleys and of Elizabeth
Isham, but the literary models, conventions and allusions of their
texts demonstrate a familiarity with the entirety of Europe’s Classical,
Christian, Humanist and Reformation heritage: Greek and Latin poets
and philosophers; the Church Fathers; Italian and French Renaissance
writers; Lutheran and Reformed theologians; systematic, evangelistic,
controversial, casuistical and practical works by English Puritan divines;
and Tudor and Stuart poets and dramatists – all are in attendance. Any
of these women might aptly have said, with Anne, Lady Southwell, ‘I by
booke haue trauelld all the world.’8
If our expectations of early modern gender, cultural and social distinc-
tions are unsettled by these essays, so, too, are our generic assumptions.
Received literary categories and hierarchies hardly apply. Though we
are beginning to learn that Renaissance culture is not susceptible to
Enlightenment orderliness, nor containable within would-be scientific
taxonomies or confident critical definitions, one of the revelations of
xii Foreword

the following essays is just how ill-equipped we remain to encompass the


fluidity and flexibility of early modern intellectual exchange, discourse
and productivity. Letters, which we pigeonhole as private and personal
communications between friends and relatives, probably inconsequen-
tial, ill-considered and ephemeral, were for Lady Harley and for Lady
Vere their chief means of intellectual exchange, essential to the main-
tenance and coherence of the godly community of which they were
part. It was similarly through correspondence that the members of the
Hartlib circle, including Lady Ranelagh, maintained their international
network and developed their pansophical programme. For the Countess
of Pembroke, translation was not subordinate to original creativity, as
we are inclined to judge it, but its vehicle. Her compositional prac-
tices cannot be adequately contained within notions of revision and
completion, nor of sole or collaborative authorship. Jane Lead’s habit
of serial composition is similarly teasing to expectations of textual clo-
sure. The flexibility of Anne Lock’s conception of literary kinds could
accommodate original sonnets within her translation of Calvin without
compromising her work’s integrity. Elizabeth Melville’s refashioning of
Petrarchanism to religious purpose dissolves the distinction between
divine and profane, while for Lady Southwell humane artistry is itself
an image, reflection and expression of divine creativity, of the revealed
truth that ‘with retorick is sweetly grased/… a grammar of congrui-
tye’.9 In autobiographical writing such as Elizabeth Isham’s ‘Book of
Rememberance’, creative, devotional and meditative practices are so
inextricably interdependent as to render insufficient (and impossible)
any attempt to read the text as solely a literary exercise. Similarly, Anne
Bradstreet’s shorter poems are as prayerful as they are poetic, and the
title-page of Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder describes that poem
as ‘Meditations upon the Creation and the Fall; As it is recorded in the
beginning of Genesis’.10 In short, our familiar binary oppositions fail
us: private/public, original/imitative, print/manuscript, secular/sacred,
finally, even masculine/feminine. Our own intellectual and critical tools
are rendered dull by the vibrancy, excitement and adventurousness of
the intellectual culture of Puritan women.
And yet, for all this wonderful richness and diversity, every one of
the essays in this collection examines what remain recognisably Puritan
works. As the historian Geoffrey F. Nuttall long ago taught us, Puritanism
is not to be defined by any one set of doctrinal, ecclesiological or liturgi-
cal practices or convictions, still less by cultural or political affiliations;11
it is compatible with, and articulated through, the whole range of opin-
ion current in the early modern period. Lucy Hutchinson’s republicanism
Foreword xiii

is no more definitive of Puritanism than is Margaret Fox’s Quakerism


or the Presbyterianism of Elizabeth Melville – or, indeed, Winthrop’s
masculinism, which is why he proves such an unreliable guide. For
all this variety, however, something discernibly distinctive is shared:
a high seriousness of purpose founded not on the externalities of a
particular religious or political allegiance – Milton’s (Puritan) God pre-
ferred ‘Before all temples th’upright heart and pure’12 – but on a pierc-
ingly honest subjectivity: ‘Awake my soule, my conscience knockes,
awake’. As Southwell’s injunction suggests, Puritan self-scrutiny and
self-awareness13 results not in introspective retreat but, founded on
the sure ground of self-knowledge, vocational action; she continues:
‘cast of this stupid lethargie of sense/ …& bee noe longer bogg<e>’d
in diffidence’.14 In one of the poetic self-admonitions of the noncon-
formist Julia Palmer, the womanly reticence so admired by Winthrop is,
strikingly, stigmatised as culpable, a reprehensible refusal of Christian
responsibility:

What means this sinfull. modesty


Which maketh me, most times, soe shy
To speak how good thou art…

Who wilt thou speak for, oh my soull


If not for him, whose thou art whole
Why then art thou so loth
For to begin
To speak of him
And set his glory forth15

So far from being unseemly, ‘Spiritual discourse’ (in the words of the
poem’s title) is for her, as for all Christians, a duty. Whatever their kind,
the writings examined in this symposium constitute an active ministry
of letters: ‘Everie one in his calling’, wrote Anne Lock, ‘is bound to doo
somewhat to the furtherance of the holie building’ of ‘that Jerusalem,
wherof (by grace) wee are all both Citizens and members’.16

Notes
1. John Winthrop, Journal (13 April 1645), in Perry Miller and Thomas H.
Johnson (eds.), The Puritans, 2 vols (1938; rev. edn New York: Harper & Row,
1963), 1:140.
2. Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, ed. David Norbrook (Oxford: Blackwell,
2001), p. xvi.
xiv Foreword

3. Lucy Hutchinson, On the Principles of the Christian Religion, ed. Julius


Hutchinson (London: Longman, 1817), pp. 5–6.
4. Anne Bradstreet, ‘The Prologue’, ll. 27–32, 40–4, in The Works, ed. Jeannine
Hensley (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967), p. 16.
5. Paradise Lost, 8: 39, 48–50.
6. As the editors of this collection note, early modern women writers are often
so characterised (below, p. 3).
7. John Donne, ‘To the Countess of Bedford’ (‘Madam,/ Reason is our soul’s
left hand, Faith her right’), ll. 33–4, in John Donne, The Complete Poems, ed.
A. J. Smith (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), p. 224.
8. Jean Klene (ed.), The Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book (Tempe, Az.:
Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1997), p. 137 (quoted below,
p. 58).
9. Klene (ed.), Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 69.
10. Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, p. lx.
11. Geoffrey F. Nuttall, The Puritan Spirit (London: Epworth Press, 1967).
12. Milton, Paradise Lost, 1:18.
13. It is no accident that many compounds in self in English are Puritan coin-
ages; see Marinus van Beek, An Enquiry into Puritan Vocabulary (Groningen:
Wolters-Noordhoff, 1969), pp. 68–9, 117–20.
14. Klene (ed.), Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 128.
15. Julia Palmer, ‘About spirituall discourse June 13 72’, in The ‘Centuries’ of Julia
Palmer, eds. Victoria Burke and Elizabeth Clarke (Nottingham: Nottingham
Trent University, 2001), p. 156.
16. Anne Vaughan Lock, The Collected Works, ed. Susan M. Felch (Tempe, Az.:
Medieval & Renaissance Text Society, 1999), p. 77 (quoted below, p. 24).
Notes on Contributors

Danielle Clarke is Professor of English Renaissance Language and


Literature at University College Dublin. Her publications include ‘This
Double Voice’: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England (with Elizabeth
Clarke, 2001); The Politics of Early Modern Women’s Writing (2001); an
edition of Whitney, Sidney and Lanyer (2000); and articles on women’s
writing, Shakespeare, sexuality, and textuality in the Renaissance. She is
currently completing a book on relationships between gender, language
and textual practice in the early modern period.

Elizabeth Clarke is Reader in English at the University of Warwick. She


leads the landmark Perdita Project for early modern women’s manu-
script writings, and the John Nichols Project at Warwick University,
from which the five-volume Progresses of Queen Elizabeth I will be pub-
lished (2011). She is the author of Theory and Theology in George Herbert’s
Poetry (1997), Politics, Religion and the Song of Songs in Seventeenth-Century
England (2010), and co-edited ‘This Double Voice’: Gendered Writing in
Early Modern England (2001) and Julia Palmer’s ‘Centuries’ (2001).

Ruth Connolly is Lecturer in Seventeenth-Century Literature at Newcastle


University and is working on an edition of The Complete Poetry of Robert
Herrick (2010). Recent articles on early modern women’s writing have
been published in Women, Gender and Radical Religion in Early Modern
Europe (2007) and in The Seventeenth Century. She is currently working on
an edited collection exploring the theme of community in the poetry of
Robert Herrick and on an examination of William Woodrooffe’s annota-
tions to the diaries of Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick.
Jacqueline Eales is Professor of Early Modern History at Canterbury
Christ Church University and Director of the John Hayes Canterbury
1641 Project. Her books include Puritans and Roundheads: The Harleys of
Brampton Bryan and the Outbreak of the English Civil War (1990; 2002),
and Women in Early Modern England, 1500–1700 (1998). Recent articles
have been published in Religion in Revolutionary England, eds Christopher
Durston and Judith Maltby (2006), Politics, Religion and ‘Popularity’ in
Early Modern England, eds T. Cogswell, R. Cust and P. Lake (2002), and
Women’s Letters and Letter Writing in England, 1450–1700, ed. James
Daybell (2001).

xv
xvi Notes on Contributors

Susan M. Felch is Professor of English at Calvin College, Grand Rapids


MI, USA. She has published widely on English women writers, church
history and liturgy, including the foremost edition of Anne Vaughan
Lock’s works with the Renaissance English Texts Society, The Collected
Works of Anne Vaughan Lock (1999) and the first critical edition of
Elizabeth Tyrwhit’s Morning and Evening Prayers (2008). She is also the
co-editor of Bakhtin and Religion (2001) and of Elizabeth I and Her Age, a
Norton Critical Edition (2009).

Johanna Harris is Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at Lincoln College,


University of Oxford. She has published articles in The Seventeenth Century,
Literature Compass, Literary Encyclopaedia, the Blackwell Encyclopaedia of
English Renaissance Literature, and New Ways of Looking at Old Texts (forth-
coming). She is editing the manuscript writings of Lady Brilliana Harley
and is working on a monograph on puritan epistolary communities.

N. H. Keeble is Professor of English Studies and Senior Deputy Principal


of Stirling University. His research interests are in English literary and
religious history of the early modern period, and especially in Puritanism
and nonconformity. Among his many publications are Richard Baxter:
Puritan Man of Letters (1982), The Literary Culture of Nonconformity in
later seventeenth-century England (1987), Calendar of the Correspondence of
Richard Baxter (1991), The Restoration: England in the 1660s (2002), The
Cambridge Companion to Writing of the English Revolution (2001), and
other edited collections on Bunyan, Civil War writing, seventeenth-
century writing about women, and editions of texts by Baxter, Bunyan,
Hutchinson, Marvell and Defoe.

Erica Longfellow is Senior Lecturer at Kingston University. She is the


author of Women and Religious Writing in Early Modern England (2004), as
well as several articles on women’s religious writing and public and pri-
vate in the household. She is currently working on a monograph, pro-
visionally titled Writing Privacy in Early Modern England: The Household
and Religious Life. She is also editing a volume of the Oxford University
Press complete sermons of John Donne and the manuscript life writings
of Elizabeth Isham, the latter with Elizabeth Clarke and with funding
from the British Academy.

Lynne Magnusson is Professor of English at the University of Toronto.


Her publications include Shakespeare and Social Dialogue: Dramatic Lan-
guage and Elizabethan Letters (1999) and several co-edited books on
Shakespeare and Elizabethan theatre. Recent articles and chapters have
been published in Shakespeare and Language, ed. Catherine M. S. Alexander
Notes on Contributors xvii

(2004), The Cambridge Companion to John Donne, ed. Achsah Guibbory


(2005), Women and Politics in Early Modern England, 1450–1700, ed.
James Daybell (2004), and an Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
entry on Anne Cooke Bacon. Her current projects include early modern
letter writing and Shakespeare’s language.

David Norbrook is Merton Professor of English Literature at the


University of Oxford, and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He has
published widely on early modern literature, politics and historiogra-
phy, early modern women’s writing, Shakespeare, Milton and Marvell,
and is currently preparing a biography of Lucy Hutchinson and an
edition of her works. His books include Poetry and Politics in the English
Renaissance (1984; 2002), Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and
Politics, 1627–1660 (1999), and The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse,
1509–1659 (with Henry Woudhuysen, 1992).

Marion O’Connor is Reader at the University of Kent. She has pub-


lished widely in the field of Renaissance theatre and theatre history.
Her publications include: Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History &
Ideology, co-edited with J.E. Howard (1987; 2005); William Poel and the
Elizabethan Stage Society (1987); an edition of The Witch for the ‘Collected
Works of Thomas Middleton’ (Oxford University Press, 2007); and edi-
tions of The Court Beggar and The Queen's Exchange for the AHRC-funded
online ‘Plays of Richard Brome’ (http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/brome,
2010). She is currently preparing editions of works by Rachel Fane and
Thomas Heywood. Recent articles have been published in English Literary
Renaissance (2006), A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works (2003), and The
Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage (2002).

Diane Purkiss is Tutor and Fellow in English at Keble College, Uni-


versity of Oxford. She has researched and published widely on the areas
of women’s writing, the dissolution of the monasteries, Shakespeare,
Renaissance drama, the English civil wars, Milton, witchcraft, histo-
riography, feminist theory, classical myth, children in early modern
England, and British children’s literature (including co-authoring the
Corydon trilogy (2005–7). Her most recent publications include The
English Civil War: A People’s History (2006) and Literature, Gender, and
Politics during the English Civil War (2005).
Sarah C. E. Ross is Lecturer in English and Media Studies at Massey
University, New Zealand. She has published articles on several early
modern women writers in Literature Compass (2005), Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography, Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Writing: Selected
xviii Notes on Contributors

Papers of the Trinity-Trent Colloquium (2004), Reading Early Modern Women:


Texts in Manuscript and Print, 1500–1700 (2003) and The Library (2001).
She has recently completed an edition of Katherine Austen’s Book M for
Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, and she is working on a
book on Women, poetry and politics in Britain, 1603–1688.

Elizabeth Scott-Baumann is Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at


Wadham College, University of Oxford and Research Fellow at Wolfson
College, University of Oxford. She has published articles in Literature
Compass, Women’s Writing, APPOSITIONS: Studies in Renaissance/Early
Modern Literature and Culture, the Blackwell Encyclopedia of English
Renaissance Literature (forthcoming) and Mihoko Suzuki ed., Ashgate
Critical Essays on Women Writers in England, 1550–1700: Volume 5: Anne
Clifford and Lucy Hutchinson (2009). She is working on a monograph
entitled Forms of Engagement: Women, Poetry and Culture, 1640–1680.

Nigel Smith is Professor of English at Princeton University and Co-


Director of the Center for the Study of Books and Media there. His recent
publications include Is Milton Better than Shakespeare? (2008) and the
Longman Annotated English Poets edition of Andrew Marvell’s Poems
(a TLS ‘Book of the Year’, 2003), as well as Literature and Revolution in
England, 1640–1660 (1994), and Perfection Proclaimed: Language and
Literature in English Radical Religion 1640–1660 (1989). He is the editor of
George Fox’s Journal, the Ranter pamphlets, and with Timothy Morton,
Radicalism in British Literary Culture, 1650–1830 (2002). He has books
forthcoming on Marvell’s life, an anthology of seventeenth-century radi-
cal literature, the Oxford Companion to Milton (both edited with Nicholas
McDowell), and a study of the relationship between the state and literary
production in early modern Europe.

Susan Wiseman is Professor of Seventeenth-Century Literature at


Birkbeck College, University of London. She has published Aphra Behn
(1996, 2007), and Conspiracy and Virtue: Women, Writing and Politics in
Seventeenth-Century England (2006).
List of Abbreviations

BL British Library
BL Add. MS British Library, Additional MS
BLJ British Library Journal
Bodl. Bodleian Library, Oxford
CUL Cambridge University Library
CSPD Calendar of State Papers Domestic
DNB Dictionary of National Biography
EHR English Historical Review
ELR English Literary Renaissance
ELH English Literary History
EMS English Manuscript Studies
Folger Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC
PMLA Publications of the Modern Language Association
HJ Historical Journal
HLQ Huntington Library Quarterly
HMC Historical Manuscripts Commission
HWJ History Workshop Journal
JBS Journal of British Studies
JHC Journal of the House of Commons (London: History of
Parliament Trust, 1802)
LPL Lambeth Palace Library
MP Modern Philology
MSS Manuscripts
NA National Archives, Kew
NLS National Library of Scotland
ODNB Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. H. C. G.
Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004);
online edition, ed. Lawrence Goldman, January 2008.
[http://www.oxforddnb.com]
OED Oxford English Dictionary
P&P Past and Present
PMLA Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America
PRO Public Record Office, Kew
PRO SP Public Record Office, State Papers
RES Review of English Studies
RO Record Office

xix
xx List of Abbreviations

RQ Renaissance Quarterly
SCJ Sixteenth Century Journal
SJ Sidney Journal
STC Short Title Catalogue

Original spelling has been retained throughout in quotations, unless


specified by the individual author of the essay.
1
Introduction
Johanna Harris and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

The jacket to this book depicts Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, in


a dramatically feathered classical helmet, a transparent bodice above
thickly swathed skirts labelled ‘depe pink’, ‘deep murrey’, and ‘skie color’,
and with sword in hand.1 Her costume, Inigo Jones’ design for her role
as Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons, in Ben Jonson’s Masque of Queenes
(1609), does not exactly correlate with what the term ‘puritan woman’
might bring to mind. Nor does it seem the epitome of a feminine intel-
lectualism. Although Jonson commented, in relation to this scene in
the ‘House of Fame’, that the twelve masquers therein presented by the
masculine ‘Heroic Virtue’ were allocated their parts ‘rather by chance,
then by election’,2 Barbara Lewalski has contended that Russell’s role ‘is
not likely to be accidental.’3 Indeed, Jonson continued that ‘yet it is my
part to justify them all: and then the lady that will own her presentation,
may’. Of Penthesilea, he remarked specifically, echoing Justin: ‘She is no
where named but with the preface of honor and virtue; and is always
advanced in the head of the worthiest women.’4
Lucy Russell’s portrayal encapsulates why we need to revisit the critical
conceptions of some remarkable women in early modern England. The
categories of ‘puritan women’ and ‘intellectual culture’ have remained
stubbornly distinct in modern scholarship, despite the significant gains
made in each field of study. Lucy Russell’s part as both heroine in a Stuart
masque and patron to its author, in conjunction with Jonson’s cynical
allusion to election and the allocation of artistic roles, invites us to recon-
sider the way some early modern women identified their puritanism as
provoking and stimulating, rather than complicating or repressing, their
vibrant participation in intellectual communities and cultures.
The purpose of this collection of essays is to reveal how the intellec-
tual contributions (in literary, educational, artistic, political, theological
1
2 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

and scientific contexts) of several early modern women – some familiar,


others less so – can be characterised by their identification with puri-
tanism. It is a response to the residual double prejudice endured by the
scholarship of women and of puritanism in early modern studies: first,
that early modern women were excluded from a public sphere of intel-
lectual thought and culture; and secondly, that puritanism itself was
hostile to both popular culture and high art. These prejudices are mul-
tiplied by the prevailing popular stereotype about puritan attitudes to
gender, presuming that domestic hierarchies both dominated within the
household, and were the mark of a patriarchal theology which applied
to all spheres of cultural interaction. The puritan women presented here
provide ample evidence to challenge such lingering preconceptions.5
They affirm that such women played a lively and often indispensable
part in the production and reception of what scholars now investigate
as the public sphere of early modern intellectual culture.
The intellectual history of puritanism has shifted radically since crit-
ics such as John W. Draper were able to describe seventeenth-century
puritans as ‘inarticulate in the fine arts’.6 If a puritan aesthetic of plain-
ness and simplicity is now accepted, this is no longer seen as restrictive,
and great diversity has been identified within puritan styles of both
art and devotion.7 However, claims that puritanism was anti-literary,
inward-looking and iconoclastic also seem to have had some endur-
ing legacies, including a scholarly neglect of the puritan women acting
within recognised spheres of intellectualism.8 Theories of both women’s
writing and intellectual culture have often seen royalism and the court
as the most productive frameworks for creativity in the early modern
period.9 The voluntary or enforced movement of ‘puritan’ affiliates away
from courtly circles of influence in the 1620s and 1630s amid the rise
of Laudianism has led to the deduction that puritanism increasingly
discouraged women from writing, and from intellectual participation
generally.
This collection builds on the recent critical developments which
strongly challenge these preconceptions and legacies. Together these
fourteen essays provide a variegated history of religious belief and
cultural practices, and contribute some new, and some significantly
enhanced, case studies for consideration within the scholarly field of
early modern intellectualism. The theological foundations of puritan
beliefs, the ideals of marriage and domestic structures seen in practice,
and the development of puritan networks, indicate that it was a move-
ment that was highly supportive of women’s direct and influential
involvement in their intellectual surroundings.
Introduction 3

The first anthology explicitly devoted to establishing a female canon


of literature in the early modern period, Kissing the Rod: An Anthology
of Seventeenth-Century Women’s Verse, was published in 1988.10 Three
years earlier, the historian of nonconformity, Richard L. Greaves, wrote
of the concept of ‘a partnership between the sexes’ in English puritan-
ism. Greaves implied that puritanism articulated an ideology which,
while purposefully geared towards ‘the propagation of the gospel’, also
fostered a cultural milieu strikingly conducive to women’s intellectual
lives. This ‘partnership’ concept, Greaves remarked,

received concrete expression as Puritan women actively catechised


children and servants, using their patronage to provide benefices
to Puritan ministers, intervened on their behalf at the royal court,
encouraged the publication of godly literature, and even demon-
strated in public on behalf of their cause. A handful even made their
own translations of the writings of Protestant reformers.11

The ‘handful’ was a nod to the prominence of women such as Anne


Lock and Anne Bacon at the literary forefront of Elizabethan England’s
strengthening identification with a more radical and continental Protes-
tantism. Greaves anticipated a perspective on puritan women which
has taken some time to filter into the literary history of women’s writ-
ing, and particularly into the ‘canon’ of early modern women writers.
The achievements of anthologies such as Kissing the Rod are not to be
underestimated – they have introduced a generation of students to the
riches of early modern women’s writing, particularly to their poetry and
life-writing. The evocative depictions of women poets as ‘all untrained,
ill-equipped, isolated and vulnerable’,12 however, permitted Virginia
Woolf’s now infamous assertions about the embattled, prohibited status
of early modern women writers to prevail for longer than necessary.13
Consequently, studies of early modern women have often located their
intellectual lives primarily in the context of responses to societal, politi-
cal, or theological oppression. Thus, the names of proto-feminists such
as Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, and Aemilia Lanyer, are among the
most familiar figures in early modern women’s literary culture.14
The essays here build upon the interdisciplinarity now innate to schol-
arship of the early modern period and the important recent research
that has acknowledged a place for certain early modern women in
distinct intellectual cultures. For instance, David Norbrook has ana-
lysed women’s part in republican thought and in a wider ‘Republic of
Letters’; Susan Wiseman, Hilda Smith and Mihoko Suzuki have positioned
4 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

seventeenth-century women writers within political discourse; and Smith,


Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton have revealed women’s role in philo-
sophical and scientific thought.15 The essays also build upon the archival
achievements of Margaret Hannay and Barbara Lewalski, among others,
to emphasise further evidence that translation and patronage were both
crucial cultural tools and literary arts.16 At the opening of our chrono-
logical spectrum, Mary Sidney Herbert’s psalms are read as autonomous
poems as well as skilful paraphrases and, as Greaves signalled, Anne
Bacon’s 1564 translation from Latin of John Jewel’s Apologie of the Church
of England, endorsed and published by Archbishop Matthew Parker,
became one of the central texts defending Elizabethan Protestantism.
Nearing the end of this timespan, Katherine Ranelagh combined her
interests in the politics of puritanism and contemporary developments
in experimental science, challenging the modern conception that sci-
ence became masculinised in the seventeenth-century, and that faith
inhibited a spirit of rigorous empirical enquiry.17 Across the early mod-
ern period, puritanism fostered artistic endeavour and intellectual curi-
osity as much as iconoclasm.
Placing these case studies within a framework of intellectual culture
not only further enhances what scholarship on writers such as Francis
Bacon, Thomas Hobbes and Andrew Marvell has long realised about
early modern culture, but designates puritan women with more appro-
priate agency within this culture. For early modern thinkers the disci-
plines of classics, history, theology and literature were not distinct, and
neither was literary expression contained by notions of either public
(printed) or private (introspective) genres. This collection builds on
such scholarship to provide evidence of women’s equally varied cul-
tural engagement; for women as linguistically talented as Anne Bacon
or Anne Lock, language was no barrier to continental or classical texts,
and women’s intellectual activities were sensitive to puritan culture’s
local, national, and international dimensions.18 Scientific experimenta-
tion and theological writing could be co-ordinated in the same physical
space, as for Ranelagh in the home which she shared with her brother
Robert Boyle, a founding member of the Royal Society.
By focusing on the contributions of puritan women to intellectual
culture, literary and historical perspectives of early modernity can be
enriched. Until recently, when literary and cultural historians have dis-
cussed the intellectual milieux and achievements of early modern women,
they have associated them with court culture. Carol Barash focused
on women poets who were members of the court or among its active
supporters, such as Katherine Philips, Aphra Behn, and Anne Finch.19
Introduction 5

Erica Veevers’ study of the court of Henrietta Maria revealed connec-


tions between the intellectual culture of préciosité and Catholicism, and
women’s subversive involvement in both, while Hero Chalmers explored
the importance of royalist affiliation and iconography to seventeenth-
century women writers.20 Other studies, such as Elaine Beilin’s collection
on learned Renaissance women who ‘set out’ to write, acknowledged
their pious and feminine Protestantism in post-Reformation England
but did not elucidate the particularities of their religious convictions. For
example, the anonymous voice of the writer of advice, ‘M.R.’, was styled
as exemplary of ‘Puritan’ doctrine’s ‘cramping of education and imagina-
tion’, fully circumscribing women’s private and public lives.21
Alongside its courtly focus, scholarship in the 1990s saw an increased
interest in dissent, broadening the critical focus on early modern women.
Studies by Nigel Smith, among others, helped to heighten the profile of civil
war prophetesses including Trapnel and radical Quakers such as Margaret
Fell.22 The extremes of royalist gentlewomen and sectarian radicals seen
here provide a fascinating range for students of early modern women’s
writing, but they have also contributed to an unnecessary binary which
ignores crucial middle ground. Puritan women writers certainly feature in
wider genre studies, such as in James Daybell’s collection of essays on letter
writing, Sharon Cadman Seelig’s study of life writing, Erica Longfellow’s
monograph on women’s religious writing, Susan Wiseman’s study of
women and political writing, and Jennifer Richards and Alison Thorne’s
collection on women and rhetorical discourse.23 Undeservedly, however,
puritan women have not received a literary study of their own.24
This collection aims to give the significant puritan women studied here
the broader audience they deserve: Lynne Magnusson brings to our atten-
tion Anne Bacon’s magnificent and mostly unpublished prose, while
Danielle Clarke provides a rich new reading of Mary Sidney Herbert.25
Diverse genres of writing are explored, including the letters of Mary
Vere, Brilliana Harley and Katherine Ranelagh, the sonnets of Elizabeth
Melville and Anne Lock, Jane Lead’s extraordinary prophecies and Lucy
Hutchinson’s epic poetry, as well as the malleability of cultural forms,
such as the evidence of Lock’s sonnets being set to music. For all the
women included in this collection, puritanism endorsed and propagated
their full intellectual participation.

Puritanism

In 1649, the Tewkesbury minister John Geree identified Mary Vere as shar-
ing membership with him in ‘the way that hath been called Puritanisme’.26
6 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Geree is renowned for his retrospective efforts to claim the more moder-
ate Elizabethan expressions of the movement for his definition of puritan
‘character’,27 but around the same time (the chronological midpoint of
this volume, the 1640s and 1650s), Lucy Hutchinson described her hus-
band as ‘branded […] with the reproach of the world, though the glory of
good men, Puritanisme’.28 Contention over the meaning of this originally
derisive term is as lively in current scholarship as it was in Stuart England,
and the (still) leading scholars of the movement, Patrick Collinson and
Peter Lake, have debated the extent to which the origins of puritanism
can only be defined in terms of what it was not; that is, we remain at an
historiographical impasse where articulating a monolithic definition is
not only supremely difficult but fundamentally inappropriate.29
The birth and development of puritanism, the distinctions between
its moderate and radical strains, and in particular its relationship to
Calvinism, are all dimensions of this ongoing historical debate. S. R.
Gardiner’s famous ‘Puritan Revolution’, though enormously stimulating
to historical interpretation, has now been vigorously challenged,30 and
subsequent studies have shown that stereotyped definitions (employed
in conventional ‘Anglican’ and ‘Puritan’ binaries, for example) not only
fail to appreciate the distinctive changes puritanism underwent paral-
lel with the ecclesiastical challenges of the Elizabethan and particularly
Stuart reigns, but obfuscate the contested status of the label itself, even
in its contemporary setting.31 Collinson, and other distinguished histo-
rians of English puritanism, such as William Lamont, Nicholas Tyacke,
Kenneth Fincham and Lake, have addressed the contested domination
of Calvinism in pre-Civil War Protestantism, arguing that in the face
of resurgent Arminianism in Charles I’s Laudian Church, Calvinists
were being redefined as puritans.32 Certainly, as Tyacke has argued,
challenges to William Haller’s ‘rise of Puritanism’ thesis and resistance
to teleologies in historical scholarship have ‘deflated’ puritanism as a
‘revolutionary force’.33 The time has indeed come ‘to restore Puritanism
to its rightful place of political and religious importance’.34 This collec-
tion concurs with Tyacke and his forebears that a movement of reform,
generated by the ‘hotter sort’ of Protestants, and conveniently entitled
‘puritanism’, is traceable from the mid to late-sixteenth century. It
found notable (eventually ‘moderate’) expression during Elizabeth’s
reign, was far from dead during the reign of James after the rejection of
the Millenary Petition, and accumulated intensity as well as some more
radical elements and proponents, during Charles I’s reign and beyond.35
Significantly, the studies of Collinson and Tyacke, among others, have
identified the centrality of many women to this movement.36
Introduction 7

However, just as there was no clear contemporary definition, neither


should we use puritanism simply as a tool for such ‘larger projects’ as
clarifying the cultural interplay of politics and religion in early modern
England, of the cultural origins of colonial America, of the cultural ‘spirit’
of modernity, or of the confessional character of modern reformed theol-
ogies.37 Puritanism did not matter to the women studied in this volume
merely because it provided a means for understanding their historical,
social, and political circumstances. As the diversity and span of history
incorporated here demonstrates, each woman’s distinctive puritanism
was an overt influence upon her intellectual development and active cul-
tural engagement, rather than passively inflected because of this engage-
ment. Her puritanism should not be the excuse for the critical neglect of
her intellectualism, nor viewed as the hurdle she had to overcome, and
thus marking her cultural defiance. This collection builds on scholarship
which redefines the meditative puritan woman; the puritanism revealed
here is variously mainstream and orthodox, radical and polemical, and
disputes the notion that such women conceived of their identity purely
in the terms offered by gender distinctions. It thus argues against the
idea that it was only later radicalised or sectarian religious culture which
positively facilitated greater female intellectual activity. The imperatives
behind the integral engagement of these women in their intellectual
communities, we suggest, may be precisely linked to their puritanism.38
As a whole, this collection of essays therefore testifies to the complex-
ity of early modern puritanism. The chapters range chronologically
and geographically, across social classes and political inclinations, and
across academic disciplines: history, literature, theology. They highlight
the insufficiency of recent feminist scholarship in contending with
this range, but also clarify how puritanism, as both a ‘movement’ and
a ‘style’, altered throughout the period between 1558 and 1680.39 As a
result, each contributor has retained their own stylistic conventions in
their approach to puritanism. No attempt has been made to systematise
a capitalised ‘Puritan’ or lower-case ‘puritan’ across the chapters, nor to
impose conformity to one definition. Approaching the material in this
way, we believe, more accurately reflects the complexity of puritanism
for modern scholarship, and each contributor has individually addressed
what made the early modern woman in their focus notably ‘puritan’.40

Intellectual culture

The study of intellectual thought is now a central concern of enquiry in


the history of early modern politics and religion. The impact of scientific
8 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

movements, of developments in mathematics,41 and of debates in legal


and political theory have been given centrally important places, and
are essential aspects of intellectual historical enquiry into early modern
English and continental politics and culture.42 The landmark research
and methodology of, and responses to, Quentin Skinner, in particular,
have transformed the joint studies of early modern intellectual and
political thought. Skinner’s research on Thomas Hobbes’ intellectual
milieu, classical republicanism and the origins of the English Civil War,
has refocused attention on how political ideas emanated from classical
influences.43 But it is also important to acknowledge religious outlook
as often concomitant with the development of political thought, featur-
ing on the same trajectory of early modern intellectual appropriations
of classical moral and political sources.44 As the chapters here on Anne
Bacon and Brilliana Harley reveal, the writings of puritan women can
provide excellent evidence of the combination of classical influences
with religious understanding to define a specifically early modern puri-
tan intellectual outlook.
In terms of studies of women in early modern society generally, the
critical notion of intellectual culture helps to challenge stereotypical
demarcations of their ‘private’ and ‘public’ participation. It emphasises
the active intellectual engagement of puritan women within their wider
cultural context, and in so doing challenges some tendencies to study
women’s writing and women’s history in isolation from those of men.
The multiple networks which emerge here, whether of correspondence,
patronage, translation or manuscript circulation, provide a range of
intellectual cultures from the intimate, familial and domestic, through
the sociable, to an identifiably public sphere.
As recent important studies have revealed, probably the largest propor-
tion of early modern women participated in literary endeavour through
manuscript circulation and in contexts of collaborative exchange.45
A major insight into intellectual culture is provided through coteries,
family networks, and correspondences, all the evidence for which exists
primarily in manuscript form. Thus, a large part of the ‘writings’ consid-
ered in this collection were not published in print, and yet received wide
dissemination.46 Recognising that Anna Trapnel, Anne Bradstreet, Lucy
Hutchinson and Jane Lead published their writings, and were recognised
by their peers as pioneering in doing so, other chapters here provide
introductions to exciting, newly discovered manuscript writers, such as
Elizabeth Melville and Elizabeth Isham. These contexts of intellectual
networks and collaborative exchange also ensure that studies of puri-
tan women’s intellectual activism must include non-literary forms of
Introduction 9

participation: several women are included by whom we have no extant


texts, but who did leave evidence of pivotal and influential interaction
in their intellectual spheres. In many cases, it was their specific support,
patronage and intellectual engagement which facilitated the writings
and intellectual endeavours and achievements of others.
Three strands of enquiry are drawn together in this volume: puritan-
ism, gender, and intellectual culture. In combination, these strands have
remained unexplored yet yield challenging findings which call for the
re-evaluation of established binaries and of enduring preconceptions,
and thus generate multiple avenues for further research.47 The breadth
of chronology and of definitions of puritanism aims to encompass the
contribution of the most significant and high profile women, such as
Lock, Sidney Herbert, and Ranelagh, who stood at the centre of the most
significant intellectual circles of the period, alongside those women more
usually remarked upon for their marginal sectarianism, such as Trapnel
and Lead. The diversity of this volume therefore aims to be faithful to
the early modern period, when the categories of writer, scientist, theo-
logian, and poet overlapped and when communities of knowledge and
their participants were united by networks of manuscript circulation
and of print, of patronage, friendship, and faith.

Notes
1. Inigo Jones, ‘Penthesilea’, from The Masque of Queens (1609). Devonshire Col-
lection, Chatsworth. Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the
Chatsworth Settlement. See also Stephen Orgel and Roy Strong, The King’s
Arcadia: Inigo Jones and the Stuart Court (London: Arts Council of Great Britain,
1973), I. pp.135–6.
2. Ben Jonson, The Masque of Queens; Celebrated from the House of Fame (Whitehall,
Feb. 2, 1609), The Works of Ben Jonson, ed. William Gifford (London: Edward
Moxon, 1848), pp. 572–3.
3. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Writing Women in Jacobean England (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 101.
4. Jonson, The Masque of Queens, in Works, ed. Gifford, pp. 572–3.
5. Patricia Crawford’s Women and Religion in England 1500–1720 (London:
Routledge, 1993), for example, retains an influential position in the schol-
arship of early modern women, but its binaries regarding puritan women’s
domestic and social experiences can be challenged productively.
6. See John W. Draper, The Funeral Elegy and the Rise of Romanticism (New York:
The New York University Press, 1929), p. 63, and compare, for example,
N. H. Keeble, The Literary Culture of Nonconformity in Later Seventeenth-Century
England (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1987).
7. See Peter Lake and Michael Questier (eds), Conformity and Orthodoxy in the English
Church, c. 1560–1660 (Suffolk: Boydell, 2000) on a move from categories to styles
10 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

of piety, Andrew Cambers, ‘Reading, the Godly, and Self-Writing in England,


circa 1580–1720’, JBS (2007) 46, 796–825, and N. H. Keeble, ‘Puritanism
and Literature’ in John Coffey and Paul C. H. Lim (eds), The Cambridge
Companion to Puritanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008),
pp. 309–24. For excellent studies of puritan women which focus on geo-
graphical, religious and political particularity, see Micheline White, ‘Women
Writers and Literary-Religious Circles in the Elizabethan West Country:
Anne Dowriche, Anne Lock Prowse, Anne Lock Moyle, Elizabeth Rous, and
Ursula Fulford’, Modern Philology, 103 (2005), 187–214, Melissa Franklin
Harkrider, Women, Reform and Community in Early Modern England: Katherine
Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, and Lincolnshire’s Godly Aristocracy, 1519–1580
(Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2008), and Julie Crawford’s analysis of Yorkshire
puritan activism in ‘Reconsidering Early Modern Women’s reading, or How
Margaret Hoby Read Her De Mornay’, HLQ, 73 (2010), 193–223.
8. Peter C. Herman sees the poetry of Milton, for instance, emerging from
within a radical protestant culture deeply imbued with anti-poetic sentiment,
which he explains as antipathy to images, fiction and pleasure. See Herman,
Squitter-Wits and Muse-Haters (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1996).
9. Catherine Gallagher, ‘Embracing the Absolute: The Politics of the Female
Subject in Seventeenth-Century England’ Genders, 1 (1988), 24–39; Carol
Barash, English Women’s Poetry, 1649–1714: Politics, Community, and Linguistic
Authority (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996); Hero Chalmers, Royalist Women
Writers, 1650–1689 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004). See also Linda Levy Peck,
The Mental World of the Jacobean Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1991).
10. Germaine Greer, Jeslyn Medoff, Melinda Sansone, and Susan Hastings (eds),
Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Women’s Verse (London:
Virago Press, 1988).
11. Richard L. Greaves (ed.), Triumph Over Silence: Women in Protestant History
(Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1985), p. 6.
12. Kissing the Rod, p. 1.
13. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (London: Hogarth Press, 1929);
Margaret Ezell, ‘The Myth of Judith Shakespeare: Creating the Canon of
Women’s Literature’, New Literary History, 1990 (21), 579–92.
14. Supported, for example, by other anthologies such as Paul Salzman (ed.),
Early Modern Women’s Writing: An Anthology 1560–1700 (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2000).
15. See David Norbrook, ‘Women, the Republic of Letters, and the Public Sphere
in the mid-Seventeenth Century’, Criticism 46 (2004), 223–40; Norbrook,
‘“Words more than civil”: Republican Civility in Lucy Hutchinson’s “The
Life of John Hutchinson”’, in Jennifer Richards (ed.), Early Modern Civil Dis-
courses (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), pp. 68–84; Susan Wiseman,
Conspiracy & Virtue: Women, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); Wiseman, Hilda Smith and Mihoko
Suzuki (eds), Women’s Political Writings 1610–1740 (London: Pickering &
Chatto, 2007), 4 vols; Hilda L. Smith, Reason’s Disciples: Seventeenth-Century
English Feminists (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982); Lynette Hunter,
The Letters of Dorothy Moore, 1612–64: The Friendships, Marriage, and Intellectual
Life of a Seventeenth-Century Woman (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004); Lynette
Introduction 11

Hunter and Sarah Hutton (eds), Women, Science and Medicine 1500–1700:
Mothers and Sisters of the Royal Society (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1997).
16. Margaret P. Hannay, Silent But for the Word: Tudor Women as Patrons, Trans-
lators, and Writers of Religious Works (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press,
1985); Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Writing Women in Jacobean England (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).
17. Carolyn Merchant argued for the Royal Society as an instrument of science
becoming masculinised in the mid-seventeenth century: Merchant, The
Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (San Francisco:
Harper San Francisco, 1990, first pub. 1980). Her work has been followed and
nuanced by Bordo, Keller and Sawday: Susan Bordo, The Flight to Objectivity.
Essays on Cartesianism and Culture (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1987); Evelyn Fox
Keller, Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,
1985); Jonathan Sawday, The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body
in Renaissance Culture (London: Routledge, 1995). However, in their volume
of essays, Hutton and Hunter have excavated evidence of women’s roles
in scientific, herbal, medical and chemical experimentation and writing at
the mid-seventeenth century, including Lady Ranelagh. See Lynette Hunter,
‘Sisters of the Royal Society: The Circle of Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh’,
in Hunter and Hutton (eds), Women, Science and Medicine, pp. 178–97.
18. See Jane Stevenson, Women Latin Poets: Language, Gender, and Authority, from
Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
19. Carol Barash, English Women’s Poetry, 1649–1714: Politics, Community and
Linguistic Authority (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
20. Erica Veevers, Images of Love and Religion: Queen Henrietta Maria and Court
Entertainments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Hero Chalmers,
Royalist Women Writers 1650–1689 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Studies of court culture which do not focus on women include Linda Levy
Peck, Court Patronage and Corruption in Early Stuart England (London: Routledge,
1991) and Malcolm R. Smuts, Court culture and the Origins of a Royalist Tradition
in Early Stuart England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987).
21. Elaine V. Beilin, Redeeming Eve: Women Writers of the English Renaissance
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), pp. xiii–xxiv, 283.
22. Nigel Smith, Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical
Religion 1640–1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989); Nigel Smith, Literature and
Revolution in England, 1640–1660 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).
23. James Daybell (ed.), Early Modern Women’s Letter Writing, 1450–1700
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001); Sharon Cadman Seelig, Gender and
Autobiography in Early Modern Literature: Reading Women’s Lives 1600–1680
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Erica Longfellow, Women
and Religious Writing in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2004); Susan Wiseman, Conspiracy and Virtue: Women,
Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2006); Jennifer Richards and Alison Thorne (eds), Rhetoric, Women and
Politics in Early Modern England (London: Routledge, 2007).
24. Micheline White’s forthcoming collection of essays will include several
essays on puritan women (Anne Lock, Anne Dowriche, Lady Russell, and
Lady Bacon): White (ed.), English Women, Religion, and Textual Production,
1500–1625 (Farnham: Ashgate Press, forthcoming).
12 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

25. For example, Suzanne Trill, ‘Sixteenth-Century Women’s Writing: Mary


Sidney’s Psalmes and the “Femininity” of Translation’ in William Zunder and
Suzanne Trill (eds), Writing and the English Renaissance (London: Longman,
1996), pp. 140–58; Danielle Clarke, ‘The Politics of Translation and Gender
in the Countess of Pembroke’s Antonie’, Translation and Literature 6 (1997),
149–66; Margaret P. Hannay, ‘“Bearing the livery of your name”: The Countess
of Pembroke’s Agency in Print and Scribal Publication’, Sidney Journal 18
(2000), 1–34; ‘Spectres and Sisters: Mary Sidney and the “Perennial Puzzle”
of Renaissance Women’s Writing’, in Gordon McMullan (ed.), Renaissance
Configurations: Voices/Bodies/Spaces, 1580–1690 (London: Macmillan, 1998),
pp. 191–211; Trill, ‘Engendering Penitence: Nicholas Breton and “the Coun-
tesse of Penbrooke”’, in Kate Chedgzoy, Melanie Hansen, and Suzanne Trill
(eds), Voicing Women: Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern Writing (Keele:
Keele University Press, 1996), pp. 25–44.
26. John Geree, Katadynastes: Might Overcoming Right (London: for Robert
Bostock, 1649), fols A2r–A3v. See also the chapter by Jacqueline Eales in this
volume.
27. John Geree, The Character of an Old English Puritane or Nonconformist (London:
W. Wilson for Christopher Meredith, 1646).
28. Lucy Hutchinson, Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, ed. James Suther-
land (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 17.
29. See Patrick Collinson, ‘Antipuritanism’, in Coffey and Lim (eds), The Cam-
bridge Companion to Puritanism, pp. 19–33; Peter Lake, ‘“A charitable Christian
hatred”: the godly and their enemies in the 1630s’ in Christopher Durston
and Jacqueline Eales (eds), The Culture of English Puritanism (Basingstoke:
Macmillan, 1996), pp. 145–83.
30. Samuel Rawson Gardiner (ed.), The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan
Revolution, 1625–1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 3rd edn, 1906).
31. Basil Hall, ‘Puritanism: the Problem of Definition’, Studies in Church History
III (1965), 283–96; Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary
England (London: Secker and Warburg, 1964), pp. 15–30; Perry Miller, The
New England Mind, Vol. I: The Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1939); Peter Lake, Anglicans and Puritans?: Presbyterianism
and English Conformist Thought from Whitgift to Hooker (Boston and London:
Unwin Hyman, 1988); Patrick Collinson, Godly People: Essays on English
Protestantism and Puritanism (London: Hambledon Press, 1983).
32. For example, Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (London:
Jonathan Cape, 1967), The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society,
1559–1625 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982); William Lamont, ‘The Puritan
Revolution: a Historiographical Essay’, in J. G. A. Pocock (ed.), The Varieties
of British Political Thought 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1993), pp. 119–45; Nicholas Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of the
English Arminianism c. 1590–1640 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987); Kenneth
Fincham (ed.), The Early Stuart Church, 1603–1642 (Basingstoke: Macmillan,
1993); Peter Lake, ‘Calvinism and the English Church 1570–1635’, Past and
Present 114 (1987), 32–76.
33. Nicholas Tyacke, Aspects of English Protestantism (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 2001), p. 61; William Haller, The Rise of Puritanism (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1938).
Introduction 13

34. Nicholas Tyacke, ‘The Legalizing of Dissent, 1571–1719’, in Ole Peter Grell,
Jonathan I. Israel, and Nicholas Tyacke (eds), From Persecution to Toleration:
The Glorious Revolution and Religion in England (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1991), p. 18.
35. The challenges to Tyacke’s thesis, maintaining the notion of an Anglican-
Puritan dichotomy, have been largely directed by Peter White and Kevin
Sharpe: White, Predestination, Policy and Polemic: Conflict and Consensus in the
English Church from the Reformation to the Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1992); Sharpe, The Personal Rule of Charles I (New Haven;
London: Yale University Press, 1992).
36. Nicholas Tyacke, The Fortunes of English Puritanism, 1603–1640 (London:
Dr. Williams’ Trust, 1990); Patrick Collinson, ‘The Role of Women in the
English Reformation Illustrated by the Life and Friendships of Anne Locke’
in Collinson, Godly People, pp. 273–287; Collinson, ‘John Knox, the Church
of England and the Women of England’ in Roger A. Mason (ed.), John Knox
and the British Reformations (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), pp. 74–96. See also,
for instance, J. T. Cliffe, The Puritan Gentry: the Great Puritan Families of Early
Stuart England (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984); Paul Seaver, The
Puritan Lectureships: the Politics of Religious Dissent, 1560–1662 (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 1970).
37. These interpretations of puritan historiography are helpfully outlined by
Coffey and Lim (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism, pp. 7–9.
38. Ann Hughes, ‘Puritanism and gender’, in Coffey and Lim (eds), The Cambridge
Companion to Puritanism, pp. 294–308.
39. See David Como, Blown by the Spirit: Puritanism and the Emergence of an Anti-
nomian Underground in Pre-Civil-War England (Stanford, CA: Stanford University
Press, 2004); Lake and Questier (eds), Conformity and Orthodoxy.
40. Similarly, each contributor has made their own decision about how to refer
to their subjects, whether by married or maiden name, inherited or marital
title, generally keeping to the name and title each woman would have rec-
ognised and used herself.
41. Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle,
and the Experimental Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989); John
Rogers, The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry and Politics in the Age of Milton
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996); Stephen Clucas (ed.), John Dee:
Interdisciplinary Essays in Renaissance Thought (Dordrecht: Springer, 2006);
John Brooke and Ian Maclean (eds), Heterodoxy in Early Modern Science and
Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Ian Maclean, The Renaissance
Notion of Woman: A Study in the Fortunes of Scholasticism and Medical Science in
European Intellectual Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).
42. Noel Malcolm and Jacqueline Stedall, John Pell (1611–1685) and His Corres-
pondence with Sir Charles Cavendish: The Mental World of an Early Modern
Mathematician (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Ian Maclean, Inter-
pretation and Meaning in the Renaissance: The Case of Law (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1992).
43. See, for example, Quentin Skinner, Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of
Hobbes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Skinner, The Foun-
dations of Modern Political Thought, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1978); David Armitage, Armand Himy, and Quentin Skinner (eds),
14 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Milton and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995);


Quentin Skinner, ‘Classical Liberty and the Coming of the English Civil War’,
in Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner (eds), Republicanism: A Shared
European Heritage, Vol. II: The Values of Republicanism in Early Modern Europe
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 9–28.
44. See, for example, Jonathan Scott, ‘What Were Commonwealth Principles?’,
Historical Journal 47:3 (2004), 591–613; Anne McLaren, ‘Rethinking Republi-
canism: Vindiciae, contra tyrannos in context’, Historical Journal 49:1 (2006),
23–52; Margo Todd, Christian Humanism and the Puritan Social Order
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
45. Groundbreaking work by Peter Beal, Harold Love, Arthur Marotti, Margaret
Ezell and others revealed the vital importance of manuscript as a form of
publication, and these developments triggered the discovery and analysis of
women’s manuscript writing. Peter Beal, Index of Literary Manuscripts, 2 vols
(London: Mansell Publishing, 1987); Peter Beal, In Praise of Scribes: Manuscripts
and Their Makers in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1998); Harold Love, Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1993); Arthur Marotti, Manuscript, Print, and the English
Renaissance Lyric (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1995); Margaret
Ezell, Social Authorship and the Advent of Print (Baltimore and London: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1999).
46. The Perdita Project directed by Elizabeth Clarke has compiled a database
of the wealth of women manuscript writers, and in 2005 an anthology of
some of their findings was published, including three of the women repre-
sented here: Sidney Herbert, Southwell and Hutchinson. Jill Seal Millman and
Gillian Wright (eds), Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Poetry (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 2005).
47. In her landmark collection of essays of the 1980s, Hannay drew together
multiple modes of women’s writing and cultural engagement: Hannay (ed.),
Silent but for the Word (1985).
2
The Exemplary Anne
Vaughan Lock
Susan M. Felch

The title page of John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments (see Illustration 1) has
long been read as an icon of the Reformation in England. The images
on the left side of the page ascend toward the right hand of God as
the faithful congregation gathers for worship, the martyrs play their
triumphant trumpets amidst the flames that consume them, and the
church triumphant is crowned with glory beneath the heavenly rain-
bow. On God’s left hand, angels bar the gates of heaven to those who
have participated in the celebration of the mass and in an assortment of
Roman Catholic religious practices. Central to the lower two scenes are
images of women. On God’s right hand, women sit close to the pulpit;
one holds an open book, presumably the Bible, on her lap. On God’s
left hand, women look toward a line of pilgrims or finger their rosary
beads.
The image of the faithful Protestant reading woman is made even
more central in the famous woodcut of Latimer preaching before
Edward VI included later in Actes and Monuments (see Illustration 2).1
In this crowded scene, the woman seated at the center of the woodcut
seems almost surreally serene and detached, singled out both by the
space around her image and by her fixed attention on the book. Yet
simultaneously she is incorporated into the setting of public worship. As
Micheline White has argued, the female participant in worship, and by
extension (I would argue) the reading woman in Actes and Monuments, is
an emblematic Protestant figure because, along with Tyndale’s proverbial
ploughboy, she represents the exemplary layperson.2 This iconic reading
woman contravenes the 1543 ‘Act for the advauncement of true religion,’
which forbade most laypersons to read the English Bible, particularly in
public.3 The Foxe woodcuts thus underscore the Edwardian fulfillment
of the Reformation so incompletely inaugurated by Henry VIII.
15
16 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Illustration 1 Woodcut: John Foxe, Actes and Monuments of these latter and per-
illous dayes touching matters of the Church (London: John Day, 1563), STC 11222,
titlepage. Reproduced by permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

If any individual woman from the sixteenth century might claim to


be the emblematic layperson of Foxe’s woodcuts, that woman would be
Anne Vaughan Lock. Born a year after Elizabeth I, Lock’s life was nearly
coterminous with that of her monarch, stretching from a childhood that,
like Elizabeth’s, was saturated with the Lutheran-inflected piety of the
Henrician court (particularly under Katherine Parr) through exile in
Geneva during Mary Tudor’s reign to participation in the struggle for
the soul of the English church that culminated in the Marprelate con-
troversy and its aftermath. As an exemplary layperson, Lock not only
The Exemplary Anne Vaughan Lock 17

Illustration 2 Woodcut: Latimer preaching before Edward VI, John Foxe, Actes
and monuments of these latter and perillous dayes touching matters of the Church
(London: John Day, 1563), STC 11222, p. 1353. Reproduced by permission of the
Bodleian Library, Oxford.

studied the scriptures, but taught them as well; she not only read the
Word of God but also attempted to live it out by engaging the politi-
cal, intellectual, and religious cultures of her day. It was not an empty
sobriquet that John Field offered when he called her in 1583 ‘no young
scholler’ in the school of Christ.4
Lock was born in 1534 to Stephen Vaughan, a London mercer, and
Margaret Gwynnethe, both of whom served in the court of Henry VIII
and his succession of wives. Her own marriage in 1551 to Henry Lock
aligned her with a more socially prominent family, but one that like
her own had long ties to the Protestant cause. Lock’s increased social
prominence also brought her into contact with the Scottish reformer
John Knox, whom she and her husband hosted during his visits to
London. Although Knox was nearly twenty-five years older than Anne
Lock, it appears that Lock often served as surrogate mother and spiritual
counselor to the anxious Knox. You displayed, he noted in one letter,
‘a speciall care over me, as the mother useth to be over hir naturall
child,’ and later he thanked her for advice and ‘comfort.’5
18 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Knox’s anxiety increased exponentially when Edward VI died on


6 July 1553 and his sister Mary Tudor came to the throne. Knox, like
many other prominent Protestants, fled to the Continent to escape arrest,
settling eventually in Geneva, from whence he continued his correspond-
ence with Lock. One of the earliest letters, urging Lock and her sister-in-
law Rose Hickman to leave England where they were under suspicion
and increasing pressure to conform, is particularly significant for con-
firming the reputation Lock already had acquired as a godly layperson.
Although Knox begins with a putative recognition of male headship
in marriage, noting that the women should make the decision to leave
only ‘by the consall and discretioun of those that God hath apoyntit
to your heidis (your husbandis I meane),’ he continues with this direc-
tive: ‘call first for grace by Jesus to follow that whilk is acceptabill in his
syght, and thairefter communicat with your faithfull husbandis.’6 Knox
takes for granted Lock’s status and vocation as a spiritual person, able
to access directly the divine will. Not only is her primary allegiance to
God, rather than to her husband, but she is also urged in the face of
a difficult decision to seek guidance from God without benefit of an
intermediary: ‘[T]han sall God, I dout not, conduct your futsteppis, and
derect your consallis to his glorie.’7 In later letters, Knox continued to
urge Lock to judge spiritual matters for herself, to remind her that she
was ‘not voide of the spirit of the Lord Jesus,’ and to release her from
dependence on his advice ‘farther than I prove by evident Scripture.’8
Nor did he segregate his male and female friends by gender. After Knox
returned to Scotland and found himself pressed for time, he often wrote
only to one of the ‘brethren of Geneva,’ among whom he counted Lock,
asking them to pass his news along to other friends.9
Lock’s decision to leave England and travel to Geneva with her two
small children and a maid may or may not have been made with her
husband’s consent, but when she returned to London in the summer
of 1559, she immediately stepped back into the life of a prosperous
merchant’s wife. It is entirely possible that Henry Lock had urged his
young family to travel to the Continent for their own safety, while he,
as eldest living son and de facto head of the extended family, remained
in London to look after the Lock business interests. There is no record
of unusual strain in their marriage, and a copy of Anne’s first book now
housed at the British Library is signed in Henry’s hand, Henrici Lock ex
dono Annae, uxoris, suae, 1559.10 His will, proved on 31 October 1571
leaves to Anne, rather than to their surviving children, ‘my worldelie
goodes whatsoever they be.’11 Although the evidence is slight, it points
The Exemplary Anne Vaughan Lock 19

toward the Lock marriage as one that realised the companionate ideal
proposed by Protestant marriage manuals.
Yet on her return, Lock also brought with her the status of being a
Marian exile as well as a commitment to the Calvinist theology she had
imbibed in Geneva and connections to the more progressive London
churches. Furthermore, there is evidence from Knox’s letters that Lock,
like her parents before her, continued to have significant access to
the court. On 18 November 1559, the same day Knox sent a letter to
William Cecil asking for English support of the Scottish revolution, he
also appealed to Lock to intervene at court for funds that would ‘keepe
souldiours and our companie togither,’ adding that ‘I cannot weill write
to anie other.’12 That Knox would write matching letters to one of the
queen’s chief counselors and to Lock speaks volumes about his confi-
dence in her political astuteness and connections.
Although Lock was unable, or unwilling, to procure the needed funds
for Knox, she did enter into court politics with the publication of her
own first book, Sermons of John Calvin, upon the songe that Ezechias made
after he had bene sicke, and afflicted by the hand of God, conteyned in the 38.
Chapiter of Esay (1560). Dedicated to Katherine Brandon Bertie, the dowa-
ger duchess of Suffolk and herself a Marian exile, the book was cast in
the form of a New Year’s gift and may well have been intended to reach
not just the duchess but also the Queen herself. As Rosalind Smith
notes, the preface ‘mobilizes a female patron to put political pressure
upon the sovereign through a persuasive rhetoric of service and duty,
which is analogous to that practiced in male patronage relationships.’13
The book itself was composed of the translation of four Calvin sermons,
which Lock may well have heard for herself in Geneva when they were
delivered in November 1557, prefaced by the dedicatory letter and com-
pleted with the first sonnet sequence written in English. The volume as
a whole was both a handsome present to a fellow Protestant and a bold
presentation of Calvinist doctrine.
In the dedicatory preface, Lock aligns herself and the duchess with
those who, as exiles, have persevered in the face of trials, perhaps in
distinction from the ‘Nicodemites’ who remained in England during
Mary’s reign. Yet her tone admonishes rather than congratulates. Despite
Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, England has much to learn from
Calvin’s ‘most perfect school of Christ’ in Geneva. As Knox had noted
in a letter to Lock dated 15 October 1559, the revised Book of Common
Prayer posed a dilemma for the returning exiles, who had to decide
whether or to what extent they would participate in the ‘mingle mangle’
20 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

of public worship which it enjoined.14 As was his custom, Knox coun-


seled Lock to evaluate the situation for herself:

Nather my penne, nather yit my presence, can prescribe unto you


how farre yee are addebted to expone your self to daungers for
these imperfectiouns in religioun which ye cannot remedie; but yee,
directing your heart to advance God’s glorie, sall be instructed by
his Holie Spirit how farre yee may condescend, and how farre ye are
bound to abstaine.15

Despite Knox’s claim that she could not ‘remedy’ the ailments of the
English church, that is precisely the challenge Lock set herself in the
dedicatory preface of her 1560 book. England, she intimates, is weak
and ill and as such stands in need of good medicine, the sound doctrine
that God himself prescribes, Calvin ‘compounds’ as skillful apothecary,
and Lock then packages into an ‘Englishe box’ suitable for the duchess –
and by extension the Queen herself – to ingest.
Although the rhetoric of the individual soul predominates in the pref-
ace, larger concerns are never far from Lock’s mind. Hezekiah, after all, is
not merely a representative ‘everyman’ but also a royal sinner whose dis-
belief and consequent illness bode ill for the nation. In Calvin’s sermons,
in the notes to the Geneva Bible, in Lock’s preface, and in the sonnets
that conclude the volume, Hezekiah is consistently linked with the
archetypal royal sinner and penitent, King David himself. And David,
as English people well knew, had long been identified with Henry VIII.
Now as his daughter begins her reign, Lock presents this ‘Englishe box’
to the duchess not as a private gesture but as a courtly New Year’s gift,
a public offering in a public space.16
With these resonances in mind, Lock concludes her dedicatory letter
to the duchess of Suffolk by turning to the current situation: England
in early 1560, not yet two years after the accession of Elizabeth and the
disputed revision of the Book of Common Prayer, its memory still alert
to the Marian persecutions. A relapse, Lock warns, is more dangerous
than an original illness, whether that relapse occur ‘by surfit or misde-
menour’ (8), an admonition to Elizabeth and her counselors that is sur-
prisingly direct. Yet, she assures the duchess, it is also true that ‘to this
Physician with this medicine, no disease never so long rooted, never so
oft retourned, is uncurable. Beyng then thus muche beholden to this
Physician we must nedes confesse that we owe unto him our life and
health, and all that we be or have’ (8). Although the disease of unbelief
or half-hearted faith is not incurable, its relief demands admission of
The Exemplary Anne Vaughan Lock 21

guilt, and the model for such admission is laid out in the sonnets on
Psalm 51 that conclude the volume.
The twenty-one sonnets that comprise the psalm paraphrase, along
with the five-sonnet narrative introduction, draw on the humanist genre
of scripture paraphrase Lock had utilised in the preface, as well as on
Calvinist doctrine and traditional re-workings of this popular peniten-
tial psalm – particularly as mediated by Thomas Wyatt.17 Lock is clearly
aware of sonnet conventions as she constructs her sighing, introspective
narrator. Yet the narrator of the introductory sonnets, a penitent sinner
hauled to the very gates of hell by her own conscience and Despair’s
accusations, displays both a sonnet persona and a psalmic persona.
The sonnet persona invokes the courtly rituals of the jousting tourna-
ment and is consumed by sighs, trembling limbs, and eyes ‘Full fraught
with teares and more and more opprest / With growing streames of the
distilled bryne’ (62). The psalmic persona, however, grieves not for an
unattainable lover or even for an unattainable God, but rather over sins
that seem to be the ‘markes and tokens of the reprobate’ (63). The sins
themselves are not enumerated, enabling the narrator’s voice to speak
not just for herself but rather for all the individual ‘I’s’ who hear or
pray the succeeding psalm. In her penultimate sonnet, Lock prays that
Jerusalem ‘with mighty wall / May be enclosed under thy defense’ (71), a
prayer that would have resonated with the returning Marian exiles who
hoped to find in their new Queen Elizabeth a resurrected Nehemiah.
Lock’s continued concern about the internal and external threats of
‘myning fraude or mighty violence,’ her plea that the church stand ‘in
despite of tyrannie,’ and her confidence that ‘Jerusalem’ will once again
prove to be ‘[a] safe abode for them that honor thee’ (71) appear to
reference both the previous reign of Mary and current worries over the
less-than-rigorous stance of Elizabeth’s Protestantism, as suggested by
the revisions to the Book of Common Prayer.
In the final sonnet, the individual heart is multiplied exponentially
as ‘Many a yelden host of humbled hart’ gather to praise ‘The God
of might, of mercie, and of grace’ (71). Although the vision sounds
eschatological, Lock specifies the place of thanksgiving as ‘thy hill’
and ‘thy walled towne,’ locations that, in the previous sonnet, are tied
to the restored English church. By concluding her psalm with a call
for national thanksgiving – it is the people who cry, ‘We praise thee,
God our God: thou onely art / The God of might, of mercie, and of
grace’ (71) – Lock, like Wyatt before her, acknowledges that her agenda
reaches beyond personal piety to critique the political and religious
cultures of her day.18
22 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Whether or not the Queen read Lock’s admonitions or placed herself


in the role of a royal penitent, other members of the court took note
of ‘A.L.,’ as she signed the preface. By the early 1570s Lock was firmly
ensconced within the circle of the formidable Cooke sisters: Mildred,
Anne, Elizabeth, Katherine, and Margaret. They may have facilitated
her acquaintance, after the death of her husband Henry, with Edward
Dering, a gifted Greek scholar, a fellow of Christ’s College in Cambridge,
and a reader at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Dering had risen to noto-
riety in 1570 when, shortly after the collapse of the Northern Rebellion,
he preached a sermon at Court that, rather than praising Elizabeth for
her political and military triumph, lectured her on her responsibilities
as Supreme Governor of the Church. Citing one of Elizabeth’s favorite
texts, Psalm 44.22 ‘Tanquam ovis, as a sheep appointed to be slain,’
which the Queen had taken as a reference to her own trials under Mary
Tudor, Dering warned Elizabeth to ‘Take heed you hear not now of the
prophet, Tanquam indomita iuvenca, as an untamed and unruly heifer.’19
Understandably, Elizabeth took umbrage at being compared to a cow
and promptly cancelled Dering’s preaching privileges.
Dering’s was only one of the opening sallies in the escalating tension
between the emerging puritan party and the crown. In 1572, a bill in
Parliament authorising bishops to allow deviations from the Book of
Common Prayer failed, largely on the queen’s initiative, prompting the
London churches to consider adopting the Genevan Confession of Faith
written by John Field and Thomas Wilcox, both of whom were sentenced
to prison in October of that year. The following May, Dering himself was
examined by the Council in Star Chamber and, although he escaped
imprisonment, many of his fellow nonconformists did not. In the midst
of this turmoil, efforts were made to mollify the queen, not least by
appealing to her royal heritage and love of learning. The prayerbook of
the Lady Elizabeth Tyrwhit, who had been long associated with the
Queen’s stepmother Katherine Parr and was a former governess of the
Queen herself, was rushed into print in 1574 and Lock’s 1560 book,
which had been reprinted in 1569, was reissued the same year.20 Prior to
that, in 1572, the Cooke sisters, Dering, and Lock had compiled a multi-
lingual manuscript, replete with illuminations, an Italian encyclopedia
written by Bartholo Sylva and an extensive set of dedicatory poems
that was presented to Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, still a rising star
at court and himself an emerging puritan patron.21 Lock’s contribution
to this manuscript, Giardino cosmografico coltivato, was a four-line Latin
simile written in elegiac meter that punned on Sylva’s name, comparing
the reading of his book to walking through a forest, as well as on four
The Exemplary Anne Vaughan Lock 23

words – Luminaque, colore, exculta, replete – which could be read either as


literary terms (ornament, style, cultivation, completion) or as descrip-
tions of the shadowy grove Lock invokes.
By 1576, such displays of learning had earned for Lock public recogni-
tion of her place in the intellectual cultures of her day. In that year James
Sanford, a collector and translator of foreign proverbs, acknowledged her
in a dedicatory preface as a ‘gentlewoman’ famous for her learning.22
What prompted the dedication was an attempt on the life of Christopher
Hatton, captain of the royal guard, a favorite of Elizabeth, soon to become
a member of the Privy Council (1577), and no friend of the emerging
puritans. The would-be assassin, Peter Birchet, had the misfortune of mis-
taking Sir John Hawkins for Hatton and attacking the former as he walked
along the Strand in London. When arraigned, Birchet made it clear that
he had meant to kill Hatton, whom he regarded as ‘an enemy of the
Gospel.’23 In compensation for this ill-fated affair, Sanford constructed a
preface, dedicated to Hatton, that extolled the virtues of Queen Elizabeth
as an embodiment both of Plato’s philosopher king and the biblical
Solomon. At the same time, he positioned Elizabeth within a company
of learned and eloquent women, both classical and contemporary, who
could serve as exemplars for and peers of the Queen. The list of learned
women culminated in this statement: ‘Englande hath had and hath at this
day noble Gentlewomen famous for their learning, as the right honorable
my Lady Burleigh, my Lady Russel, my Lady Bacon, Mistresse Dering, with
others’ [A4r]. ‘Mistresse Dering’ was, of course, Anne Lock; ‘Lady Burleigh’
was Mildred Cooke Cecil; ‘Lady Russel’ was Elizabeth Cooke Hoby Russell;
and ‘Lady Bacon’ was Anne Cooke Bacon. Sanford thus recast the iconic
Protestant woman not merely as reader but as learned author, offering as
models for the Queen herself four women who were leaders within the
emerging puritan party. Few lines could more successfully or economi-
cally have positioned Lock, and the Cooke sisters, as central to the intel-
lectual cultures of their day.
Although Sanford’s preface was published during a ‘goodlie space
of quietnesse’ which ensued in the mid 1570s, during which Edmund
Grindal was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, such peace was
short-lived.24 1577 saw yet another crisis after Grindal was placed under
house arrest for refusing to suppress the ‘prophesyings’ or preaching
workshops that encouraged biblical literacy and circumvented the offi-
cial books of homilies.
Tensions between Queen and Parliament and between the conserva-
tive and puritan parties escalated after the accession of John Whitgift
as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1583. By 1590, in the aftermath of the
24 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Marprelate Controversy and the death, exile, and imprisonment of many


puritan leaders, Lock took up her pen to translate Jean Taffin’s Des
Marques des enfans de Dieu et des consolations en leurs afflictions, a work
addressed to the immigrant French church in the Netherlands which
was suffering under the continued Catholic–Protestant wars in which
both Leicester and Sir Philip Sidney had recently lost their lives. The
translation, dedicatory preface addressed to Anne Russell Dudley, the
countess of Warwick, and concluding poem on ‘The necessitie and ben-
efite of affliction’ all explicate Hebrews 12:6 by arguing that ‘the afflic-
tions of this world are manifest tokens to the children of God, of his
favour and love towards them, and sure pledges of their adoption’ (76).
While offering a message of hope to Lock’s struggling co-religionists, the
volume as a whole suggested that the English church hierarchy – and
by extension the Queen herself – were little better than the papal power
England was resisting on the Continent.25
The dedicatory preface makes explicit Lock’s expectation that her
book could and would intervene in political culture as it urged the
Countess of Warwick to use her position as a ‘light upon an high candle-
sticke, to give light unto manie’ (77). Although Lock’s famous statement
from this preface – ‘Everie one in his calling is bound to doo somewhat
to the furtherance of the holie building; but because great things by
reason of my sex, I may not doo, and that which I may, I ought to doo,
I have according to my duetie, brought my poore basket of stones to
the strengthning of the walles of that Jerusalem, whereof (by grace) wee
are all both Citizens and members’ (77) – may be read as expressing
disappointment with imposed gender restrictions, the rhetorical stress
of the sentence falls on Lock’s trenchant claim to be both ‘Citizen and
member’ of God’s holy building.
Lock may have died shortly after the publication Of the Markes and
certainly before 1602, when Richard Carew praised her posthumously as
‘a Gentlewoman suppressing her rare learning, with a rarer modesty &
yet expressing the same in her virtuous life and Christian decease.’26
She gathered other accolades as well. Of the Markes was republished at
least seven times in the next forty-five years and Andrew Maunsell’s
1595 catalogue of English books listed the volume four times: under its
title, topic, French author, and English translator, thus granting equal
prominence to Taffin and Lock.
Such recognition extended beyond the borders of England, particu-
larly to Scotland. Christopher Goodman, an associate of Lock in Geneva,
a member of the ‘brethren’ to whom Knox sent his circular letters, and
a guest preacher at Exeter cathedral (probably at the invitation of Lock),
The Exemplary Anne Vaughan Lock 25

arranged to have Lock’s sonnet sequence on Psalm 51 set to music.


During his tenure as minister of Holy Trinity, the parish church of
St. Andrews, Scotland, Goodman commissioned Andro Kemp, the song
schoolmaster, to compose a polyphonic, four-part setting which is pre-
served in a set of manuscript partbooks compiled by Thomas Wode that
are now collectively known as the St. Andrews Psalter.27 Although the
Psalter was not used in public worship, Wode noted that ‘cunning men
and learnit’ had mastered its songs, which suggests that Lock’s sonnets
enjoyed a musical rebirth in private homes in Scotland.
Fifty years later, another Scottish Protestant, the Lady Margaret Cun-
ningham, also drew comfort and inspiration from Lock’s works, to which
she apparently had access.28 In a 1607 letter to her difficult and erratic
husband, James Hamilton of Evandale, Lady Margaret imitates both the
form and the content of Lock’s own writings. First, she urges James to
return to faith and good words, laying aside temptations to lethargy,
wickedness, and self-indulgence. As Lock had reminded the Countess
of Warwick that ‘the Lord (exalting to an higher place of dignitie than
many other) hath set [you] up, as it were a light upon an high can-
dlesticke, to give light unto manie’ (77), so Lady Margaret calls on her
husband to ‘hide not the Lord’s talent, but putt it to the profite of your
own comfort, and the comfort of others.’29 She then punctuates her
admonition with three sonnets, similar in form to Lock’s 1560 sonnets
but in tone to her 1590 poem. Most strikingly, Lady Margaret concludes
her letter with a direct quotation from Lock’s 1590 preface:

My heart I beseech you accept of thir unformall lynes in good part


for I would willingly be a helper to the work of your salvation for
I am bound to do what in me lyes to the furtherance of the same but
alace it is litle or nothing that I can do which I hope ye will consider
in respect of my weak sex but I pray God that every one of us accord-
ing to that measure of grace the Lord hath given us, may bring our
poor basket of stones to the strengthning of the walls of Jerusalem
whereof (by grace) we are all both citizens and members.30

Cunningham’s quotation, which is unusual in providing unambiguous


evidence of a women’s literary and theological tradition, serves as a
posthumous tribute to Lock’s powerful influence within the intellectual
cultures of her day and to her recognised status as an exemplary lay-
person. In less than half a century, Foxe’s reading woman had become
the learned puritan writer, her good medicine and basket of stones both
cure and building blocks of the British church.
26 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Notes
1. John Foxe, Actes and Monuments of these latter and perillous dayes touching mat-
ters of the Church (London: John Day, 1563), p. 1353.
2. Micheline White, ‘Protestant Women’s Writing and Congregational Psalm
Singing: From the Song of the Exiled “Handmaid” (1555) to the Countess of
Pembroke’s Psalmes (1599),’ Sidney Journal 23 (2005), 61–82.
3. Anno tricesimo quarto et quinto Henrici octaui Actes (London: Barthelet, 1543),
A4r.
4. John Knox, A notable and comfortable exposition of M. John Knoxes, upon the
fourth of Mathew (London: Robert Walde-graue for Thomas Man, 1583), A3r.
5. John Knox, The Works of John Knox, ed. D. Laing, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: Thomas
George Stevenson, 1846–164), 4:220; 6:103.
6. Knox, Works, 4:219; 221.
7. Knox, Works, 4:221.
8. Knox, Works, 6:14; 79; 84. Knox’s valuing of godly women as fellow recipi-
ents of God’s favor is of a piece with, rather than in contrast to, his reckless
denunciation of Roman Catholic female monarchs in Knox, The first blast of
the trumpet against the monstruous regiment of women (Geneva: J. Poullain and
A. Rebul, 1558); see Susan M. Felch, ‘The Rhetoric of Biblical Authority: John
Knox and the Question of Women,’ SCJ 26 (1995), 807–24.
9. Knox, Works, 6:21; 77.
10. Anne Vaughan Lock, The Collected Works of Anne Vaughan Lock, ed. Susan
M. Felch (Tempe, Az: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies,
1999), 1. Parenthetical page citations refer to this volume.
11. PRO 39 Holney (1571), fol. 289r.
12. Knox, Works, 6:101.
13. Rosalind Smith, ‘“In a mirrour clere”: Protestantism and Politics in Anne
Lok’s Miserere mei Deus,’ in Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (eds),
‘This Double Voice’: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England (New York:
St. Martins, 2000), pp. 41–60.
14. Knox, Works, 6:83.
15. Knox, Works, 6:84.
16. See Jane Donawerth, ‘Women’s Poetry and the Tudor-Stuart System of Gift
Exchange,’ in Mary E. Burke et al. (eds), Women, Writing, and the Reproduction
of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press,
2000), pp. 3–18.
17. Smith comments that by combining sonnet and psalm paraphrase, Lock
‘out-tropes’ Wyatt (Smith, ‘ “In a mirrour clere” ’, p. 52).
18. For a discussion of how Lock’s sonnets mirror and extend Wyatt’s political
perspective, see Christopher Warley, ‘“An Englishe box”: Calvinism and
Commodities in Anne Lok’s A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner,’ Spenser Studies
15 (2001), 205–41.
19. Edward Dering, A Sermon preached before the Quenes Maiestie (London: Iohn
Awdely, 1570), B3. Dering changes the masculine iuvenculus indomitus of the
biblical text to the feminine form, indomita iuvenca, translates it as ‘heifer’ rather
than ‘calf,’ and intensifies the rebuke with the second adjective, ‘unruly.’
20. Lady Elizabeth Tyrwhit, Morning and euening prayers, with diuers psalms himnes
and meditations (London, 1574); see Elizabeth Tyrwhit, Elizabeth Tyrwhit’s
The Exemplary Anne Vaughan Lock 27

Morning and Evening Prayers ed. Susan M. Felch (Burlington, VT: Ashgate,
2008). For evidence of the 1569 edn, see Andrew Maunsell, The first part of
the catalogue of English printed bookes: which concerneth divinitie (London: Iohn
Windet [and James Roberts], 1595), C2r. The single extant copy of Lock’s
second edition (STC 4451) was destroyed in the Second World War, and no
facsimile survives.
21. CUL MS Ii.5.37, described by Louise Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart Women Writers
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 39–45; 256 notes 10–11.
22. Ludovico Guicciardini, Houres of recreation, or afterdinners, which may aptly be
called The garden of pleasure (London: Henry Bynneman, 1576), A4r.
23. John Strype, The Life and Acts of Matthew Parker (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1831), 2:327; this account is taken from the Burghley manuscripts; see also
William Camden, The historie of the life and reigne of…Elizabeth, late Queene of
England (London: Benjamin Fisher, 1630), 2:62–3.
24. Josias Nichols, The plea of the innocent wherein is auerred; that the ministers &
people falslie termed puritanes, are iniuriouslie slaundered for enemies of troublers
of the state ([London]: J. Windet?, 1602), 9; cf. Patrick Collinson, ‘John Field
and Elizabethan Puritanism,’ in Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism
and Puritanism (London: Hambledon Press, 1983), p. 350.
25. See Micheline White, ‘Renaissance Englishwomen and Translation: The
Case of Anne Lock’s Of the markes of the children of God,’ ELR 29 (1999),
375–400.
26. Richard Carew, The Survey of Cornwall (London: John Haggard, 1602), 109v–
110r; cited in Micheline White, ‘Women Writers and Literary-Religious
Circles in the Elizabethan West Country: Anne Dowriche, Anne Lock Prowse,
Anne Lock Moyle, Ursula Fulford, and Elizabeth Rous,’ MP 103 (2005), 202.
27. Thanks to Jamie Reid Baxter and Jane Dawson for pointing me towards the
St. Andrews Psalter, which is organised into three parts: a complete metrical
psalter, a set of eighteen canticles, and an eclectic collection of songs which
include Lock’s sonnet. The heading to the sonnet reads, ‘Maister gudman
sumtyme minister of Sanctandrous gave this letter to Andro Kempe, maister
of the sang Scule, to set it in four pairtis; It is verray hard till it be thryse
or four tymis weill and rychly sung’ (BL Add. MSS 33933, fol. 52b). That
Christopher Goodman ‘gave’ the sonnet to Kemp tells us nothing of its
authorship, but simply indicates that he authorised the piece to be set to
music. See also Jamie Reid Baxter, ‘Thomas Wode, Christopher Goodman
and the Curious Death of Scottish Music,’ Scotlands (1997): 1–20.
28. Thanks to Jill Seal Millman and the Perdita Project for pointing me towards
Lady Margaret Cunningham.
29. NLS MS 906, fol. 12r.
30. NLS MS 906, fols 12v–13r.
3
The Countess of Pembroke and
the Practice of Piety
Danielle Clarke

One of the Countess of Pembroke’s most notable textual habits was


that of revision; to the regret of many editors, she was also an assidu-
ous reviser of others’ writings, notably those of her brother, Philip. The
extension of her literary practices beyond the parameters of her ‘own’
work has resulted in such activities sometimes being viewed negatively,
as a distraction from the task of unearthing what Sir Philip Sidney
actually wrote, cleansed of the accretive layers that led Ringler to brand
her – not affectionately – as an ‘inveterate tinkerer’, and who, in Freer’s
words, was ‘congenitally incapable of leaving a poem long enough to
produce a definitive copy’.1 The dismissive tone of these comments
reflects a prevalent attitude to female authorship prior to the extensive
rehabilitation of Renaissance women writers that marked much of the
scholarship of the 1980s and 1990s, one that more recent work, particu-
larly on manuscript materials, is finally beginning to displace. A series
of developments in the theorization of textuality and authorship have
started to unsettle notions of singular authorship, in ways that make
it possible to situate the Countess’ work within the broader context of
Renaissance habits of composition and production. The Psalter, by the
Countess’ own admission, is a composite work, a form of aesthetic com-
pilation, where the input of the individual is ultimately subordinated to
the work, and finally, to God.
The editors of the authoritative Clarendon edition of the Countess
of Pembroke’s works are less judgemental and more judicious than
Ringler’s generation, arguing for the absolute authority of the Penshurst
manuscript as copy-text, asserting that the other sixteen extant manu-
scripts represent ‘a series of copies made during various stages of revi-
sion’,2 whilst acknowledging the intrinsic merit of some of these variant
versions and printing many of them in a highly useful appendix. These
28
The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 29

‘stages of revision’ are represented as being sequential, linear and suc-


cessive,3 and are organised as preceding and succeeding the Penshurst
manuscript, whilst acknowledging some inevitable uncertainties about
dating and which manuscripts can be said to be authorial. The textual
complexity of the psalm manuscripts is compounded by the loss of (con-
jecturally) three working copies, which Rathmell argued were kept at
the Countess’ different residences, and by the role played by scribes in
the transmission of the Psalter during and after its composition. The
editors establish the Countess’ reputation as a poet, defying the ‘tink-
erer’ moniker, suggesting that her revisions ‘invariably represent stylistic
improvements rather than indecision’,4 or as a form of progress towards
the high point of textual stability and stylistic finality represented by
the Penshurst manuscript. I want to argue in this essay that there is per-
haps an alternative explanation for Mary Sidney’s extensive re-workings
of the Psalms, one which is neither based on the negatively (and implic-
itly gendered) notion of ‘indecision’ (the Ringler School), nor upon the
chronological and teleological rationale of ‘stylistic improvements’ (the
Clarendon School), suggesting, rather, that her working habits owe a
great deal to the kinds of textual engagements associated with the prac-
tice of piety, activities that were strongly advocated by puritan thinkers
for the spiritual development and well-being of women. Such habits
suggest an ongoing concern with practice and process, of which the
Penshurst manuscript is but one highly significant expression. For the
Clarendon edition, the 1599 Penshurst presentation copy is the pivot
upon which all textual criticism of the Sidney Psalter turns; clearly, this
manuscript is the logical choice for copy-text, and carries undoubted
authority and this essay in no way seeks to dispute that interpretation.5
However, the Countess of Pembroke’s habits of revision have received
relatively little critical attention, beyond the immensely complex labour
of the compilation and collation of manuscript variants; in other words,
whilst a great deal of invaluable textual and editorial work has been
done, there is a relative paucity of interpretation of what these textual
habits might mean, and how and why the Countess of Pembroke might
have learned these highly sophisticated textual and linguistic practices.
The Countess of Pembroke’s apparent refusal to commit to ‘a defini-
tive copy’ is less of a problem and more of an interpretive puzzle for
non-editors; my argument here is that such practices are central to the
Countess’ poetics and her piety. Such revisions and re-workings when
removed from the editorial framework of a doctrine of final intentions
and from a concept of authorship based upon the individual, provide
interesting evidence of, on the one hand, the ways in which modern
30 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

bibliographical theory can obscure the subtleties of early modern tex-


tual production, and, on the other, a unique opportunity to investigate
the ways in which the Countess of Pembroke’s habits are, in themselves,
evidence of her ideological, theological and political commitment.6
I wish to argue in this essay, drawing primarily on the textual evidence
of the various manuscripts of the Sidney Psalter, that whilst Mary
Sidney’s literary talent marks her out as an exception in the early mod-
ern period, her practices ally her with the kinds of literate virtue frequently
advocated for women in sermons and exemplary texts. This suggests, in
turn, that Mary Sidney, like many other women in the period, turned
methods for compiling, assimilating and reproducing written materials to
specific account, and that these methods were learned not through the
formal reproduction of rhetorical culture that characterises the Renaissance
schoolroom, but through autodidactic engagement with what was to hand,
specifically in non-institutional household spaces, and through blood and
kinship networks. In other words, writing is a family affair, and is thus nec-
essarily constrained by the ideologies governing family formation.7
What then, were the kinds of literate habits that a pious woman of
some education might embrace? Whilst it has become conventional to
represent female literacy in the Renaissance as a site for ideological con-
testation, almost a form of resistance in itself, evidence from both pre-
scriptive texts and a range of materials written by women suggest that
literate practices were actively encouraged for some women, and that it
was specifically marshalled to the end of reproducing and reinforcing
established and conventional social roles. Within the highly cultured
and self-consciously Protestant crucible of the Sidney household, it is
clear that literacy was assumed to be a skill that girls would acquire.
Mary Sidney’s mother (also Mary) was an articulate letter writer and
petitioner,8 as well as being fluent in Italian. In her immediate family,
the young Mary Sidney, and her sister, Ambrosia, had the learned exam-
ple of their Dudley aunt, Lady Jane Grey, commemorated in the ‘two
books of Martirs’ purchased in 1573 for the household at Ludlow.9 Mary
Sidney’s subsequent writing career conclusively proves her to be not
only fully literate, but adept in the kinds of advanced rhetorical codes
that are such a prominent feature of early modern discourse. Yet her
highly sophisticated linguistic and stylistic skills were not acquired in
any systematic way, as Margaret Hannay’s reconstruction of the Sidney
children’s education suggests, and her knowledge of ‘the standard ele-
ments of the humanist curriculum’10 were likely to have been absorbed
through independent reading, and through discussions and exchanges
with her brothers. The listing of ‘2 bookes of prayer for Mrs Marye and
The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 31

Mr Robert’ together with the likely inclusion of prayer books, psalters,


sermons and other books connected with reformed thought would
seem to confirm Hannay’s conjecture that ‘[h]er education would have
had a strong Protestant emphasis’.11 The intellectual milieu that Mary
Sidney grew up in had a clear investment in the doctrine of predestina-
tion, attested to both in the particular cast that the Countess adds to
her psalm versions, and in the theological position of at least one of
the texts that she chose to translate, de Mornay’s Discourse of Life and
Death. However, there is no suggestion of non-conformity, although
the chaplain at Wilton House from 1581–82, Gervase Babington, was a
committed Calvinist. The adherence to various forms of literate practice
in the furtherance of moral and spiritual commitment is a key topos in
accounts of pious women committed to the more ascetic forms of Prot-
estantism, as we will see. Yet despite the absence of any clear associa-
tion between the Countess and Puritanism in terms of nomenclature,
many of those in her intellectual circle and her extended family were
closely associated with radical Protestantism, producing translations,
commentaries, texts and sermons that were common currency amongst
the devout and godly.
The creation of the Sidney Psalter is itself strong evidence of the com-
mitment to reformed theology on the part of the Wilton circle, given
the centrality of the Book of Psalms to Protestant thought. One of the
reasons for the high value placed upon the Psalter was its role in help-
ing the individual articulate his or her spiritual relationship with God;
David’s varied and multiple pleas to God for help, mercy, vengeance,
were widely seen as valid examples upon which individual believers
might model their own prayers. By association, the practice of psalm
singing quickly acquired a distinctly partisan cast, and was closely linked
to resistance to oppression on the part of continental Protestants – the
Huguenots and Genevan exiles in particular.12 These two groups were
also closely associated with the Sidney circle; De Mornay and Languet
were friends of Sir Philip, and Hannay suggests that the Countess of
Pembroke likely entertained De Mornay at Wilton or Baynard Castle in
1577 and 1578.13 As Hannay’s scholarship on the Psalms conclusively
demonstrates, the sources, commentaries and other Biblical texts that
Mary Sidney consulted in the course of producing her psalm versions
themselves carried a distinctly Calvinist tinge, deriving for the most part
either from Huguenot scholars, or scriptural authorities who had been
exiled on the continent in the reign of Mary I. Her key source for the
core of the paraphrases was the Geneva Bible of 1560, with its subtly
subversive commentaries; this was supplemented by Golding’s translation
32 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

of Calvin’s commentaries on the Psalms, and a translation of Théodore de


Bèze’s Psalms and commentaries, undertaken by Anthony Gilby. Whilst
there is no concrete evidence of a link between Sir Philip Sidney and
Golding, the latter nevertheless presented his translation of De Mornay’s
A Worke concerning the trewness of the Christian Religion (1587) as having
been completed at the poet’s own request.14 Gilby is widely assumed to
have played a central part in the translation of the Geneva Bible, and his
translation of Bèze’s psalter and commentary is a major source and model
for the metrical psalms in the Sidney Psalter, as Hannay states:

The Sidneys’ use of these particuar Psalms constitutes not merely a


logical choice of the most accurate translations and the most poetic
model, but also a passionate involvement in the religious struggle
symbolized by the Huguenot Psalms. These works, the products of
the Genevan Protestant community, had been directly or indirectly
sponsored by the Dudley/Sidney alliance.15

The Earl of Leicester was a key figure common to several of these pro-
ductions, but other members of Mary Sidney’s extended kinship and
patronage network were also involved; Gilby’s Psalmes of David (1580)
was dedicated to Mary Sidney’s aunt, the Countess of Huntingdon. The
association of the Countess of Pembroke with this ideological and
theological network is further attested to by some of the texts that were
dedicated to her: Gervase Babington’s A Briefe Conference (1583); Breton’s
works, Auspicante Jehova (1579), A divine poeme (1601), and The Pilgrimage
to Paradise (1592); Abraham Fraunce, The Countesse of Pembrokes Emanuel
(1591), and Robert Newton’s The Countess of Montgomeries Eusebia (1620).
Although the evidence cannot be anything other than circumstantial,
Mary Sidney’s intimate acquaintance with the key sources for the pro-
duction of the Sidney Psalter strongly suggests that her spiritual activi-
ties would have included the kinds of exercises advocated and eulogised
by a range of texts and sermons in the sixteenth and seventeenth cen-
turies. Babington’s text, A briefe Conference betwixt mans Frailtie and Faith
advocates the kind of meditation on the word that has a direct bearing
on the Countess of Pembroke’s composition methods and revision hab-
its in her psalm versions. Arguing for the profit to be derived from the
word of God, Babington states

if wee reade if over ten thousand times our selves, heare it of others
carefully & continually, and yet feele not the sweete spirite of the
Lorde by it secret power, as it were with a dropping dewe, piercing
The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 33

and mollifiyng [sic], shaking and comforting our soules by the same,
assuredly we want what we seeme to have, and for all our reading or
hearing of it, neverthelesse it remaineth a sealed booke unto us.16

That the Countess of Pembroke is identified specifically with this kind of


spiritual activity is indicated later in Babington’s preface, when he calls
upon God ‘to strengthen you still in that happie course of the studie of
his worde, and all other good learning’.17 Despite a considerable degree
of critical and historical scepticism not only about the incidence of
female literacy, but also about the cultural value placed upon women’s
ability to read, qualitative evidence suggests that in some social groups
women’s ability to read, write and catechise was highly valued. Positive
evaluations of a skill that was often seen as encouraging women to move
beyond their allotted status within patriarchal culture inevitably tend to
reinforce social norms about women’s roles, suggesting that reading is
a skill that is useful to the bringing up and instruction of children, and
to the maintenance of household virtue and female chastity. Yet it is
clear from accounts of exemplary women that literacy often transcends
these circumscribed functions, permitting the acquisition of verbal and
interpretive skills that move beyond the purely instrumental. Whilst a
woman of the Countess of Pembroke’s status and background would
have been given a good basic education, it seems clear that the acquisi-
tion of the advanced literacy skills clearly evident in her writings was
a matter of context and exposure rather than systematic training. The
same might be said for a range of literate women, mostly from radical
Protestant households, praised specifically for their literacy skills. From
the early 1600s onwards, a range of early modern funeral sermons on
women begin to formulate a series of conventions for assimilating
reading and writing ability into the inherited catalogues of wifely or
daughterly virtue largely derived from the book of Proverbs, Chapter 31
in particular.18 Most of these sermons attest to a high value placed upon
female literacy as practiced in the spheres of home and parish, but also
suggest that forms of textual production and reception that formed part
of the repertoire of literate activity disseminated through school and
university training are applied specifically to scripture and theological
texts. Barlow, for example, notes that Lady Strode ‘was a Notary, and
tooke the Sermons which she heard, by her owne penne’. These were
then relayed to her maid-servants by way of catechising; she also focused
on her own soul, spending ‘three or foure houres in her private Closet
every day, in Reading, Meditating, Praying, and Writing. But what was
the subject? for otherwise to write is no great commendation’.19 Reading
34 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

is an activity that attracts praise, as do some forms of writing. Annotation


for the purpose of subsequent meditation is deemed of value, as William
Crompton’s commendation of Mary Crosse suggests:

many use their booke a little on the Lords day, turne to places, cited,
as if they would note them for future meditation: but returning home,
the booke is laid up in a spare roome, nere troubled more till some
servant come to shake off the dust, that it be fit for publike use in the
eye of the Church.20

These activities are the logical extension of a twin emphasis within Pro-
testantism of reading the Bible rhetorically, and meditating upon the
word, often using diary entries, more formal meditations or annotation
as a means to this end.21 The crucial point about such processes, how-
ever, is that they were not finite, nor fixated upon a temporal end-point;
rather they were intended to be life-long practices, a form of quotidian
reflection that would become the habitus of the individual. As such,
these household practices carry with them an inherent textual instabil-
ity that is integral to their purpose. A few brief examples will illustrate
this point. Lady Hobart, for example, engaged in

a Course of Prayer (in conformity to Davids Copy, Morning and Evening


and at Noontime; Reading some portion of Scripture, twice each day, and
expounding it, as my leisure would allow me) Catechizing once every
week, or stricter observation of the Lords dayes, and Repetitions of Ser-
mons both on that, and other dayes, when we had attended upon the
publick Ordinances.22

The practice of reading was inextricably bound up with the identifica-


tion of passages and subjects for private meditation, and as such parallels
the methods of inventio encouraged by mainstream rhetorical training.
Lady Guilford, for example, prayed from six to eight in the morning:

part of which time was spent in Reading the New-Testament, with


Annotations upon it; and wherever she lighted on a passage applica-
ble to her self, or fell in with relations of Great and Exemplary Men,
she would pitch on them for Subjects of her ensuing Meditation.23

The writings of Lady Margaret Hoby reveal a complex system of record-


ing and noting reading, meditation, prayer, sermons and lectures. The
diary fragment dating from 1599–1605 provides evidence of more than
The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 35

one kind of engagement.24 One of her most frequently recorded acts


is the writing of notes into her Bible, and also into her ‘testamente’.25
The testament may well be the same thing as her Bible (‘reed of the bible
and testament’),26 although they are occasionally mentioned in the same
entry as if they are distinct entities: ‘I wrett out notes in my testement’
and ‘then I wret notes out into my bible’.27 These notes are frequently
garnered from texts read aloud in the household: ‘I wrett my notes in
my testament, which I geathered out of the Lector the night before’.28
Sometimes these notes clearly arise from tasks set by Hoby’s chaplain:
‘I reed of the testement, and wrett notes in itt and upon Perknes’.29
Occasionally, Hoby specifies what she has been reading: ‘I wrett in my
testement notes upon James’, or ‘I reed of the testement, and wrett notes
in itt and upon Perknes’.30 Hoby not only reads and interprets scripture
and commentaries, but sometimes reports the recording of freer kinds
of spiritual engagement: ‘to my Closit, wher I praied and Writt some
thinge for mine owne privat Conscience’.31 Some of these are clearly
directed by Rhodes ‘wret a medetation made by Mr Rhodes’ and ‘againe
wrett some medetation in to my book framed by Mr Rhodes’.32 These
literate activities are both repetitive and reiterative, and as such, the
material processes of writing and recording are a form of meditation,
a way of fixing God’s word in the soul and memory.
Reading, meditating and writing formed one powerful means by
which the divine complexity of the Psalter might be understood, and the
Countess of Pembroke’s multiple versions of this key text attest to her
application of the household practice of literacy to a mainstream – and
finally, public – text. The process of composition appears to have had a
great deal in common with the kind of engaged meditation encouraged
by Protestant clergymen. The Clarendon editors rightly suggest that the
‘composite readings’ that the Countess produces from her sources mean
that ‘she must have worked with them open before her’;33 equally, she
may well have known some of the texts from memory. But the activity
of minute comparison and the consultation of key authorities appears
to have been a key component of women’s spiritual activity: Frances
Hobart, for example ‘had furnished her self with a large library of English
Divines, which cost her not much less than 100 l. of which she made
a daily use’.34 Elizabeth, Lady Cutts was said to have ‘made her heart
Bibliothecam Christi, a Library of Christ’ through her reading of ‘books of
Piety and Devotion’.35 One of the Countess of Pembroke’s main stylistic
habits is that of restatement, repetition and variation, suggesting a sus-
tained effort at rewriting, working through different versions not only
to arrive at the most felicitous expression, given the poetic agenda of
36 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

the Psalter, but also to continually reflect and meditate upon the word.
It seems reasonable to accept the Clarendon editors’ broad reconstruc-
tion of Mary Sidney’s working methods, but I wish to suggest here that
such methods are perhaps more noteworthy and interesting than has
often been allowed, representing as they do an autodidact application
of mainstream rhetorical method to a divine project undertaken in a
largely domestic setting, and intended for a readership of individuals
linked to the project by dint of kinship, sympathy or allegiance. It seems
that the Countess generally started by creating a composite paraphrase,
using her key English sources (the Book of Common Prayer and the
Geneva Bible), next adopting metres from the Marot/Bèze Psalter and
finally then moving into the series of stylistic variations that character-
ise the relationship between the extant manuscripts that carry authorial
authority. As Hannay et al. outline,

She frequently replaced the wording of the Coverdale Psalter with


more precise or imaginative terms, relied on the Geneva Bible where
it differs from the Psalter, expanded metaphors, supplied tighter con-
nections between images that seemed unrelated in her originals, incor-
porated metaphors and interpretations from scholarly commentaries,
and added rhetorical flourishes, such as figures of repetition, allitera-
tion, word play, and rhetorical questions.36

I want to conclude by suggesting that these multiple forms of repetition


might be seen as central to an entwined heritage of both poetic varia-
tion (copia) and divine meditation based upon the incorporation of the
word of God. Rather than viewing the Countess’ literary activities in
relation to the Psalter as a form of deferral or delay (an unwillingness to
make a commitment to a particular expression or articulation), it seems
valid to see her variations as part of a practice of piety as well as of poet-
ics. The pre-eminent textual authority of the Penshurst presentation
copy is in no way challenged by such a reading; indeed, it suggests that
the Countess of Pembroke was acutely sensitive to the specific occasion
and audience for which this manuscript was prepared.37 Psalm 44, for
example, demonstrates the close relationship between different psalm
versions, but also the powerful effect of alterations in word order, pat-
tern and emphasis. Whilst A and B use different rhyme schemes, and
the version in B retains more of the phrasing of the Countess’ sources,
a comparison illustrates the way in which Mary Sidney reflects and var-
ies her own draft. The opening lines (‘Our Fathers lord by hearing/ Have
made us understand’)38 for example, in B paraphrase the Book of Common
The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 37

Prayer’s ‘We have heard with our ears, O God, oure fathers have told us’
(44:1). Frequently the variations take the form of intensifying a given
phrase by means of using a verb, for example, in lines 33–4, B has ‘Now
Thou aloof does hover/ And dost us quite disgrace’, whilst A uses ‘grieving
us with all disgrace’,39 allowing the emergence of aural patterning of ‘gr’
and ‘s’ sounds. At line 48 by contrast, metrical considerations appear to
dictate the revision. B reads ‘Base, worthless, vile, despised’ (7 syllables),
whereas A revises to ‘gracelesse, worthlesse, vile, dispised’ (8 syllables).
The creation of verbal patterning is a notable feature of the Countess’
revisions, suggesting a proximity to her sources that enables her to treat
them almost as concrete accretions of sound and meaning, and permit-
ting her to see both vocabulary and more complex images as plastic and
malleable. In lines 37–40 for example, she builds upon hints and sugges-
tions in B to create a more pointed and varied sequence of images in A.
First of all, the version in B:

Thou makest us shew our back for face


To men with malice boyling
Whose troops upon our goods do tread
At their owne pleasure spoyling40

In A this becomes

Back wee turne, that turned face,


flieng them, that erst wee foiled:
Loe our goods (o changed case!)
spoil’d by them, that late wee spoiled.41

Here it is possible to track a series of stylistic changes, where the Countess


moves key words from one position to another (‘back’ and ‘face’); makes
explicit what was implicit (‘flieng them’); adds rhetorical patterns, such
as diacope and epanalepsis; all forms of heightening that emerge specifi-
cally from the processes of reflection and revision.
In many cases, the differences between the versions in B and those in
A is rather more pronounced, but once again, these separate realisations
of a single meditative act illustrate that the Countess of Pembroke’s
process of literary production is not purely linear, and that changes and
emendations are often undertaken to the end of creating a varied and
copious version of the Psalter, rather than being focused purely at the
individual level of each specific Psalm. This point is particularly true of
metrical variations, where Mary Sidney attempted to avoid the repetition
38 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

of any stanzaic form. In the case of Psalm 62, for example, both stan-
zaic form, metre and rhyme are significantly altered. In B, the psalm is
organised into sestets, rhymed pentameters, abbabb. In A these have
become octaves, eight syllables to a line, rhymed ababacac. Yet B, with
Woodforde’s attempt to transcribe what was clearly a messy manuscript,
as befits a working copy, without an altogether clear form of notation
to identify which revisions succeeded other revisions, provides tantalis-
ing evidence of the Countess’ writing practice. In the case of Psalm 62,
the version A is clearly aesthetically and stylistically superior, with its
extended ludic repetitions. Stanza 3 deftly recapitulates Stanza 1, the
first quatrain being a straightforward repetition:

Yet shall my soule in silence still


on god my hope attentive stay:
yet hee my fort, my health, my hill,
remove? O no: not move I may.42

Both articulations of this stanza prompt different responses, the first filled
with despair (‘How long then shall your fruitlesse will/ an enimy soe farr
from fall’, ll. 5–6), the second with hope and fortitude (‘My god doth me
with glory fill/…to him I clime, in him I arme’, ll. 21, 24). In B, however,
whilst the choice of words differs, the basic pattern of repetition is set,
where lines 19–24 works a series of close variations on lines 1–6. This sug-
gests that the structural patterning for each psalm was worked out from
the earliest stages, following the model set out in the sources. Each sestet
in B roughly corresponds to a quatrain in A with consequent compres-
sion and intensification of key images, thus the analogy between the self-
destructive force that is envy and an old wall that collapses under its own
weight reduces from an overtly signalled simile

As aged walls, whose crooked backs do bend


By their own weight, or hedges thoroughly
Windshaken so, they standing seem to ly.43

to a compressed metaphor, ‘you rotten hedg, you broken wall’.44

Manuscript B contains one of several notes by Woodforde throughout


the manuscript that represent his attempt to record as faithfully – if
bad-temperedly – as possible what he saw in front of him.45 Lines 14–15
in B read ‘They see I do to Excellency ascend/ And therefore thus my
ruin still entend’.46 This is a revision of apparently earlier lines, ‘Sure that
I faln may not again ascend/ To tread me lower yet they do intend’.47 To use
The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 39

Woodforde’s phrasing, these were ‘expungd’ by which he presumably


means deleted. The second of these two lines had been altered to ‘And
therfore thus my treacherous fall intend’. The word ‘treacherous’ was ‘blot-
ted out’ and the word ‘greater’ put in its place. The word ‘greater’ was
finally replaced by ‘ruin’ in this version, and in A the rhyme scheme is
abandoned entirely and the idea of ascent and descent is resolved into
more concrete terms:

Forsooth that hee not more may rise


advaunced eft to throne and crowne:
to headlong him their thoughtes devise,
and past reliefe to tread him down.48

What we can see here is a series of apparently minor revisions – none of


them results in a substantive alteration in meaning – that taken together
suggest a minute focus on details of phrasing and vocabulary on the one
hand, and a broader view of the structural underpinning of the psalm
version on the other. The continual comparison and testing of different
ways of rendering the key ideas recalls both methods of exegesis and
rhetorical practice that were not unique to the Countess of Pembroke,
but were increasingly viewed as central to the expression of female piety
in radical Protestant circles in early modern England.

Notes
1. This impulse towards the preservation of Sir Philip Sidney’s writings moti-
vated Samuel Woodforde to transcribe the manuscript now known as B,
Bodleian Rawlinson 25. See Danielle Clarke (ed.), Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney
and Aemilia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets (Harmondsworth: Penguin,
2000), p. 169 and p. 394; William A. Ringler (ed.), The Poems of Sir Philip Sidney
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), p. 502; Coburn Freer, Music for a King: George
Herbert’s Style and the Metrical Psalms (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1972), p. 74.
2. Mary Sidney Herbert, The Collected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of
Pembroke, eds Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon and Michael G. Brennan,
2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 2:337, my emphasis. Subsequent ref-
erences are to CW.
3. However, in parallel traditions, see stemma, CW 2:346.
4. CW 2:339, emphasis added.
5. See Works.
6. See Alan Stewart, ‘The making of writing in Renaissance England: re-thinking
authorship through collaboration’, in Tom Healy and Margaret Healy (eds),
Renaissance Transformations: The Making of English Writing 1500–1650 (Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press, 2009).
40 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

7. See Rebecca Krug, Reading Families: Women’s Literate Practice in Late Medieval
England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002).
8. See Margaret P. Hannay, Philip’s Phoenix: Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 44.
9. Hannay, Philip’s Phoenix, p. 25.
10. Hannay, Philip’s Phoenix, p. 27.
11. Hannay, Philip’s Phoenix, p. 27.
12. See Works 2:1–8.
13. Hannay, Philip’s Phoenix, p. 61.
14. ‘Golding, Arthur’, ODNB.
15. Hannay, Philip’s Phoenix, p. 86.
16. Gervase Babington, A briefe Conference betwixt mans Frailtie and Faith (London:
Henry Midleton for Thomas Charde, 1583), fols ¶2v–¶3r.
17. Babington, A briefe Conference, fol. ¶¶r.
18. For a useful listing of such sermons to 1640, see Eric J. Carlson, ‘English Funeral
Sermons as Sources: The Example of Female Piety in Pre-1640 Sermons’, Albion
32 (2000), 567–97.
19. John Barlow, The True Guide to Glory (London: Thomas Snodham for
Nathaniel Newberry, 1619), pp. 48–9.
20. William Crompton, A Lasting Jewell, for Religious Woemen (London: W. Stansby
for Edward Blount, 1630), fol. F2r.
21. See Marie-Louise Coolahan, ‘Redeeming Parcels of Time: Aesthetics and
Practice of Occasional Meditation’, Seventeenth Century 22:1 (2007), 124–43.
22. John Collinges, The Excellent Woman: Discoursed more privately from Proverbs
31. 29, 30, 31 (London: [s.n.], 1669), p. 18.
23. Philip Horneck, A Sermon on the Death of the Right Honourable Lady Guilford
(London: for Edmund Rumball, 1699), p. 8.
24. Margaret Hoby, The Private Life of an Elizabethan Lady: The Diary of Lady
Margaret Hoby 1599–1605, ed. Joanna Moody (Stroud: Sutton Publishing,
1998). Subsequent page references are to Hoby, Diary.
25. Hoby, Diary, p. 28.
26. Hoby, Diary, p. 69.
27. Hoby, Diary, p. 8.
28. Hoby, Diary, p. 15.
29. Hoby, Diary, p. 59.
30. Hoby, Diary, pp. 58, 59.
31. Hoby, Diary, p. 59.
32. Hoby, Diary, pp. 35, 51.
33. CW 2: 11.
34. Collinges, The Excellent Woman, p. 26.
35. John Provoste, A Sermon on the Occasion of the Death of the Right Honourable
Lady Cutts (London: by E. J. for S. Loundes, 1698), p. 28.
36. CW 2: 13.
37. See Danielle Clarke, ‘Nostalgia, Anachronism and the Editing of Early
Modern Women’s Texts’, TEXT: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual
Scholarship 15 (2003), 187–209.
38. CW 2: 255, ll. 1–2.
39. CW 2: 36, l. 34.
40. CW 2: 255.
The Countess of Pembroke and the Practice of Piety 41

41. CW 2: 36.
42. CW 2: 69, ll. 17–20.
43. CW 2: 264, ll. 10–12.
44. CW 2: 69, l. 8.
45. Woodforde refers to ‘this tiresome task of transcribing’, see Clarke (ed.),
Renaissance Women Poets, p. 169.
46. CW 2: 264.
47. CW 2: 264.
48. CW 2: 69, ll. 9–12.
4
Imagining a National Church:
Election and Education in the
Works of Anne Cooke Bacon
Lynne Magnusson

The trueth of diuine matters…doth not depende vppon


mens persons… Shee is not borne with men, neither
shall she die with them.
(The Vnlawfull Practises of Prelates)

Over a period of fifty years, stretching across three reigns, from 1548
when she translated sermons by Bernardino Ochino, until 1597 when she
solicited Essex’s support for a nonconformist preacher, Anne Cooke Bacon
put her gifts of mind, humanist learning, and language arts to active use
to advance ‘right reformation’ in England. This essay explores the intel-
lectual coherence and consistent humanist basis of her contribution,
especially in the 1580s and 1590s, the period of her widowhood when
she is identified with the radical puritan ministers and their defeated
presbyterian cause. It falls into three parts: first, I consider Lady Bacon’s
recognised contribution through translation to the establishment of the
Elizabethan church, with attention to the Apologie…of the Churche of
Englande of 1564, its context, and its afterlife; second, the perception
that, as a widow in the 1580s and 1590s, her patronage of radical preach-
ers goes hand in hand with her descent into a kind of zealotry at odds
with her earlier repute for learning; and third, the evidence countering
this perception provided by her letter to Lord Burghley in 1585 calling
for a fairer hearing of the radical puritan cause. My argument is that the
combined ideals in her education of civic humanism and Calvinist elec-
tion shaped for her an energising sense both of a significant personal
vocation and of an effectual imagined community in which she and all
the faithful – learned and unlearned, gentlefolk and commoners – could
be contributing participants. That is, humanism and protestantism opened
up the prospect and possibility of a reformed church and social order,
42
Election and Education in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 43

a reformed English nation, with imagined roles and relationships that


motivated her actions and shaped her identity. She might be regarded
as an exemplary member of a church never fully erected, an exemplary
citizen of a state that never came fully into being.
Louise Schleiner demonstrated Anne’s early orientation to a specific
protestantism seen in her engagement with the sermons of the charis-
matic foreigner and evangelical preacher, Bernardino Ochino, which she
translated from Italian as a young woman of about twenty at the outset
of Edward VI’s reign. What Schleiner’s analysis captured is the sermons’
intense communication about the new Calvinist ideas of predestina-
tion and election not as abstract theology but as a proffered mode of
confident identity. Recurrent, intimate, second-person-singular address
operates as a beckoning or interpellation, appealing to the reader to
self-identify as ‘that redeemed, effectuous “thou”’.1 This powerful evan-
gelical message about elect status, Schleiner argued, ‘in some measure
counteracted the silencing import’ of Anne Cooke Bacon’s identity as
a woman.2 Furthermore, I would add, it imparted to her a sense of
vocation, a validating conception of labour in God’s vineyard as public
benefit: the elect ‘walke accordyng to the vocacion of god…they laboure
also to drawe [theyr brethren] to Christ, and moue them to haue the
spirite’.3 This summoning to an active vocation helped to resolve the
early modern contradiction between the educating of the gifted female
humanist and the denying her of any prospect of office or public place
to do the good in society that Erasmus and Colet’s civic humanism
programmatically raised as its goal in founding schools for boys like St
Paul’s. I hope to show how this identity sustains her fearless actions in
support of radical puritanism even in the later years of her widowhood,
including civic ‘speech acts’ informed by her humanist learning, like
her 1585 epistle to Burghley. Let me begin, however, with the instance
in which her intellectual labour was directly recognised as having pub-
lic benefit – the publication in 1564 of her translation from Latin into
English of John Jewel’s An Apologie or answere in Defence of the Churche
of Englande.

This ‘publike worke…truely and wel translated’

Anne Bacon’s words were acknowledged as supplying the English voice


for the official defence of the newly established Elizabethan church.
Indeed, surprisingly, while the dedicatory letter by M. C. – regularly
identified as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker (‘Matthue.
Cantuar.’) – testifies to the approval of ‘bothe the chiefe author of the
44 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Latine worke and I’, ‘the right honorable learned and vertuous Ladie
A. B.’ is the only contributor to the project who is unmistakably identi-
fied and given explicit credit. Emphasising the importance of having
this ‘publike worke…truely and wel translated’, the letter-writer declares
how ‘By…your trauail (Madame) you haue expressed an acceptable
dutye to the glorye of GOD, deserued well of this Churche of Christe,
[and] honourablie defended the good fame and estimation of your
owne natiue tongue.’4 To the translation she brought not only the fruit
of her exceptional humanist training in classical languages and church
fathers but also the humanist emphasis on rhetoric. Her rare stylistic
ability infused the unwieldy sentence structures and deficient vocabu-
lary of mid-sixteenth-century Early Modern English with architectural
grace and vividness. In The Recreations of his Age, her husband, Sir Nicholas
Bacon, the Lord Keeper and himself an admired rhetorician, had iden-
tified Seneca as his own favoured classical model and Cicero as his
wife’s.5 The syntactic framing of the Apologie shows her to be an artful
English Ciceronian, able to orchestrate the complex balance and paral-
lelism of the work’s graceful and elaborate rhetorical periods and to
enliven them with startlingly fresh diction while resisting the stylistic
excesses that were ultimately to lead her son, Francis Bacon, to berate
English Ciceronians for ‘hunt[ing] more after words than matter’.6 For
Lady Bacon as translator, and for churchmen and privy councillors eager
to still dissension and to defend with clarity the consensual doctrine
of the new-formed church, the ‘matter’ – ‘Gods worde’ and how ‘our
Religion’ and ‘all truth and Catholyke doctrine’ could be ‘proued out of
[th]e holy Scriptures’7 – had primacy. Parker asserted, above all, that
her ‘cleare translation’ had delivered Jewel’s text and church doctrine
from ‘the perrils of ambiguous and doubtful constructions’.8 Women’s
writing is often associated with marginal or anonymous voices, but
here Bacon’s work was celebrated for producing the unanimous voice
for a church countering charges from Rome of heresy and schism and
confidently pronouncing, as a unified spiritual community, what ‘wee
beleeue’, what ‘we make no doubt’ of.9 The dignified effect of this com-
munal voice is hard to exemplify briefly: one can relish its resonant
Ciceronianism by turning to the opening vision of the church’s relation
to a personified female figure, elaborating an ‘olde complaint…that the
Truth wandereth here and there as a straunger in the world, & doth redily
fynde enemies and slaunderers amongst those that knowe her not’.10
Of course, Parker’s letter also patronises, shrinking, even as it praises,
Bacon’s role in the erection of the new church, turning her ‘labour’
into a praiseworthy ‘occupienge [of] your time’ and avoidance of ‘vain
Election and Education in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 45

delights’, a ‘modest’ pattern for ‘all noble gentlewomen’.11 Furthermore,


while her translation is the one consistently included when this work
is reprinted, separately or amalgamated into editions of Jewel’s Defence
of the Apologie (1567), with both works being placed by official order
in ‘all cathedral and collegiate churches’, her role falls quickly out of
view. Even though the 1562 Latin Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae is most
probably the work of a committee, co-ordinated by Anne Bacon’s brother-
in-law, William Cecil, the Queen’s Principal Secretary, it is only John
Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury and the work’s defender against the Catholic
attacks that immediately proliferate, who is identified on the title page
and congratulated for ‘this excellent fruit,’ ‘your Apology’, in a letter
by Peter Martyr that replaces the dedication to Lady Bacon.12 In read-
ing women’s history, the comments and half-truths of enemies can
sometimes be as revealing as the praise of friends in recapturing the
force of an action or a speech act, and while most traces of activity by
Anne or her sister Mildred in this period from 1559 to 1564, when their
husbands and expatriate friends were busy erecting the church’s frame,
have been erased, it is worth quoting the comments made in print in
1592 by the Catholic expatriate, Richard Verstegan: ‘The apologie of
this Church was written in Latin, & tra[n]slated into English by A.B.
with the comendatio[n] of M.C. which twaine were sisters, & wives
vnto Cecill, and Bacon, and gaue their assistance and helping hands, in
the plot and fortification of this newe erected synagog.’13 In wanting to
denigrate the Apologie by pointing to female collaboration in its produc-
tion, he inadvertently restores the centrality of the sisters’ involvement
in the establishment of the Elizabethan church.

Reversals and the late Elizabethan afterlife of the


‘Apologie’

It may come as a surprise that any Elizabethan woman writer could have
been in a position to hear (or hear of) her own published words quoted
twenty-five years later in an important public arena before a vast crowd.
Nonetheless, in 1589, in a sermon Richard Bancroft preached against
‘precisians’ or ‘puritans’ at Paul’s Cross, Anne Bacon could have heard
his high praise for the role of the Apologie in the inauguration of the
Elizabethan reformed church, when all the reformed ‘Churches in
Europe…did on our behalfe clappe as it were their hands for joie.’14 She
would have heard her own English words cited, without attribution
but with approbation, setting forth the officers of the true church: ‘We
beleeve that there be divers degrees of ministers in the church: wherof
46 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

some be Deacons, some Priests, some Bishops: to whom is commited


the office to instruct the people, and the charge and setting foorth
of religion.’15 But, in the context of Bancroft’s attack, on ‘our English
Factioners’ and ‘Geneuian Proselites’, here and in his extended 1593
A Suruay of the Pretended Holy Discipline,16 her words were being deployed
as political speech acts turned against her imagined church and the
community of learned and godly ministers she communicated with
and supported, men like Theodore Beza in Geneva on the international
scene, Thomas Cartwright, Walter Travers and Thomas Wilcox on the
national scene, and William Dyke and Percival Wiburn in her local
Hertfordshire context. In the 1580s, what the puritan nonconformists
with whom Lady Bacon joined forces were calling for was the further
reform of church government, the ‘discipline’ they understood as the
necessary twin of reformed ‘doctrine’. As Bancroft put it, the group he
was hunting down, striving to silence and eradicate, ‘allow[ed]’ the
same division of offices ‘for the very platforme of their desired govern-
ment’ as the Apologie. But, he claimed, not only did the English presby-
terians make their case through ‘peruerse wrestings’17 of Scripture but
also of the very words of the Apologie that were said by Parker to have
escaped the ‘perrils of ambiguous and doubtful constructions’ by means
of Bacon’s scholarly labours: their ‘exposition’ of the roles of ‘Bishops’,
‘priests’, ‘elders’ and ‘deacons’ were ‘co[n]trarie to the profession which
hitherto we have made to all the world’. ‘Whether the Apologie, haue
that meaning’, he rebuts their accounts of lay officers, ‘the meanest of
any sense at all, may iudge.’18 Bancroft accuses his presbyterian oppo-
nents of striving for ‘the alteration of a Monarchy into a popular state’;19
of allowing both ‘[l]earned and unlearned’, women and men, ‘to write’
and debate scripture; of being addicted, like ‘false prophets’, to restlessly
‘searching’ but ‘never attain[ing]’ the wandering Truth;20 of becoming
entangled in conflict and contradiction amongst themselves over ‘so
grosse an absurdity’ as ordained Widows ‘accompted in the number
of Church gouernors’;21 in sum, of seeking to have ‘al things turned top-
sie turuie’.22 According to Bancroft and his ally, Archbishop Whitgift,
the puritans arguing for a reformed church ‘discipline’ were putting the
English national church in peril and creating the kind of divisions the
Apologie had aimed to heal.
It is easy enough to see how a humanist reformer well acquainted with
the Apologie might respond. In the view of the ‘learned godly’, it was the
bishops who had changed, led since 1583 by Whitgift with his subscrip-
tion demands, ex officio oath, suspensions, deprivations, and imprison-
ments of those learned preachers who aimed to equip with knowledge
Election and Education in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 47

of ‘God’s word’ even the ‘meanest’ men and women of whom Bancroft
spoke so contemptuously. It was the bishops, in Lady Bacon’s vivid
diction, who were ‘[b]ackgon’,23 exerting worldly power in ways that
contravened the Apologie’s commitment that an Elizabethan ‘Byshop’
would be ‘a name of labour and not of honour’: ‘excepte he instructe
the people, excepte he warne them and teache them, wee say [th]at
he ought not of right once to bee called a Byshop, or so much as an
elder’.24 Much of what Bancroft objects to in the methods of the radi-
cal puritans – their restless search for truth, their debates in struggling
to draft and confirm a consensual ‘discipline’, their inclusive dialogues
about scripture, their efforts to model national church reform on the
apostolic church – Lady Bacon could quite legitimately have regarded
as consonant with the lessons of protestant-oriented humanist reform.
And, ironically, it is Bancroft who provides clear evidence in Chapter XIX
of his Suruay on the role of the ‘Widow’ raised in 1 Timothy 5 that the
Elizabethan puritans actively debated (even if they finally rejected) the
idea of a female church governor. Anne Bacon clearly took an interest in
that imagined church reform, for ‘widow’ (often inscribed in Greek!) is
the ‘style’ or title she frequently takes as her signature in letters oriented
to religious affairs or to the instruction or admonition of straying church
members, as if she acts not only out of her elect vocation but also as a
prospective church officer.25 Of course, it is possible to take my point
too far, for what the Elizabethan churchman interpreted as schismatic
and seditious, it is easy for us today to idealise as open dialogue, point-
ing in the enlightened direction of a ‘popular state’. Given the puritan
emphasis on ‘admonition’, their rigid regulation of personal behaviour,
and their insistence against women baptising even in emergencies, had
an Elizabethan presbyterian system been fully instituted, it would have
been harder to idealise or to feminise. But my point is that Anne Bacon
was empowered by an imagined institution, a society always only in
prospect.
Bancroft’s appropriation of language from the Apologie in the context
of this argument between the settled Elizabethan church and the still
imagined church provides a fascinating chapter in the afterlife or recep-
tion history of her scholarly translation. The case is still more interest-
ing when we see how ‘ABacon, widow’, was an active player in this
conflict, striving to validate her labour in God’s vineyard and to make
‘effectual’ use of the ‘gyfts’ ‘God hath bestowed’26 – her learning, intel-
ligence, political acumen, and language arts as well as her wealth, influ-
ence, and standing. Her feeling was clearly that if anyone had shifted,
it was the conservative Bishops, not her!
48 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

‘Cranky dame’ or humanist reformer?

While Lady Bacon’s activist patronage of the radical puritan cause dur-
ing her widowhood is generally acknowledged, thanks largely to the
work of such historians of nonconformity as William Urwick and Patrick
Collinson, troublesome questions about the perception of her role remain.
We can see this in Collinson’s own indecision and shifting assessment. In
one context, he has praised her as a beacon of enlightenment, sustaining
a thriving radical puritan culture in Hertfordshire in the 1590s when it
had been driven underground elsewhere; in another context, he has char-
acterised her as a dotty old woman, ‘the cranky dame of Gorhambury’
notorious for her ‘bigoted puritan partisanship’.27 She is recognised as a
patron and zealous supporter – sheltering deprived ministers, securing
them positions, and supplying money to sustain the learned men around
her, who, it is taken for granted, generated the ideas, wrote the treatises,
filled the ministerial offices (even the contested offices), and engaged in
political action aimed at transforming church government and the social
order. If in Bacon’s own day, extremes of type-casting feminising praise
and derogatory caricature obscure her accomplishments, in our day key
critical questions remain unasked and unanswered.28 Did her puritan
patronage in the 1580s and 1590s go hand in hand with a rejection of
or wasting away of her intellectual potential? Did the scholarly projects
of this formidably learned woman evaporate with her evangelical zeal
when widowhood freed her to take independent action? Did she discard
her humanist ideals and rhetorical art in the later stages of her service to
the reformation cause? The implicit answer has been ‘yes’, perhaps partly
because, while we have her letters in this period, we have no published
or extended ‘works’.
Collinson’s own work may inadvertently point one possible way for a
countervailing direction in research, when he agrees with William Urwick
and Albert Peel that the collection of materials constituting A Parte of a
Register was likely prepared or completed under Lady Bacon’s patronage in
the Gorhambury circle for surreptitious publication either in Middelburg
or Scotland in 1593.29 Aimed at documenting persecutions and at print
publicity for suppressed puritan arguments about ‘discipline’, the Register
was both a scholarly project and a bold form of political action. On the
title page, ‘the pure worde of God’ was deployed as a potent speech act,
with Luke 19:14, ‘We will not haue this man to raigne ouer vs’, aimed
against Archbishop Whitgift’s despotic exercise of power, and Luke 19:40,
‘I tell you that if these should holde their peace, the stones would crye’,
an eloquent defiance of silencing. The book was threatening enough to
Election and Education in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 49

the church establishment to become the object of polemical attacks and


policing action by Bancroft. He tried but clearly failed to prevent its distri-
bution, for a considerable number of copies survive, although his efforts
did prevent publication of ‘The Second Parte of a Register’, still extant as
a manuscript collection in Dr Williams’s Library. I have elsewhere noted
Bacon’s secretive mention in a letter of 3 July [1593] to her son Anthony
of ‘two kallendres’, delivered to London for his viewing and to be ‘very
saffly returned’, which may refer to the manuscript ‘Registers’.30 It is
quite remarkable, if the project was completed as many claim under Lady
Bacon’s roof, that scholars have never even asked whether the writing of
this accomplished scholar and English stylist might be among the unat-
tributed works – dangerous but well-reasoned writings like The Vnlawfull
Practises of Prelates, which denies ‘men’s’ grasp of Truth31 – or even the
paratextual speech acts, which reflect upon the silencing of voices. When
hypothetical authors are proposed, they are invariably male. A search
for Bacon’s lost ‘works’, whether single-authored or collaborative, is not
within the scope of this short essay. Instead, to exemplify how she put
her humanist learning to effective use in the puritan cause, let’s consider
the political rhetoric of her best-known short text of the 1580s. That is,
her letter of 26 February 1585 to Lord Burghley proposing a conference or
hearing before Queen Elizabeth or the Privy Council for the ‘great cause’
of ‘those learned that labour for right reformation’.32

Civic humanism and the epistle to Burghley

David Norbrook has outlined an approach to the intellectual and politi-


cal culture of humanism that reads texts as situated speech acts, active
interventions in contemporary debates, reminding us that speech-act
theory ‘can be seen as a reinvention of rhetoric, that central art of civic
humanism’.33 In Anne Bacon’s letter to Burghley, humanist education
is put to use not as a virtuoso display of linguistic capital but instead as
political speech action by a skilled practical rhetorician, well versed in
classical oratory but also possessing the political acumen to adapt her
persuasion to the immediate Elizabethan context. No simple private
letter to a brother-in-law urging the personal agenda of a religious
enthusiast, this is a learned epistle aimed at public benefit by a spokes-
person with detailed insider knowledge both of the intellectual position
of the extreme wing of the godly party and of the state of play as the
puritans pursued a variety of goals and strategies during the 1584–85
parliament. My contextual analysis of the epistle will focus on three
rhetorical elements: first, the classical principle of kairos or timeliness;
50 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

second, essential to Elizabethan courtly persuasion, the issue of ‘access’;


and, third, the construction of ethos, the speaker’s authority.
A key consideration in classical rhetoric, elaborated by Cicero and
Quintilian, is kairos, timeliness or opportune occasion. It concerns how
‘a given context for communication both calls for and constrains one’s
speech’, and it relates also to decorum of speaker and addressee.34 The
decorum of Elizabethan women’s suitors’ letters typically involves pre-
dictable deference scripts, in which strategies for abasing the speaker
combine with strategies for elevating the addressee, including apologies
for troublesome intrusion.35 Bacon’s opening preamble gestures at apol-
ogy, but she is by no means repeating a standard script. Instead, like a
skilful orator, she situates her intervention in relation to kairos, both in
terms of the timeliness of her intrusion into Burghley’s schedule and for
broaching the ‘great cause’ of her godly party:

I know well, mine especial good Lord, it becometh me not to be


troublesome unto your Honour at any other time, but now chiefly
[in] this season of your greatest affairs and small or no leisure; but yet
because yesterday’s morning speech, – as, in that I was extraordinarily
admitted, it was your Lordship’s favour, – so, fearing to stay too long,
I could not so plainly speak, nor so well perceive your answer thereto
as I would truly and gladly in that matter, – I am bold by this writing
to enlarge the same more plainly and to what end I did mean.
If it may like your good Lordship, the report of the late conference
at Lambeth hath been so handled to the discrediting of those learned
that labour for right reformation in the ministry of the Gospel that it
is no small grief of mind to the faithful preachers…36

There has been confusion about the timing and occasion of this letter,
since, while the letter is docketed as received on 26 February 1584/85,
Bacon refers here to the aftermath of the two-day Lambeth conference
that had been held in December 1584. At that brief meeting, the non-
conformist preachers, Walter Travers and Thomas Sparke, had been
permitted to debate contentious passages in the Book of Common Prayer
with Whitgift (Archbishop of Canterbury), Sandys (Archbishop of York),
and Cooper (Bishop of Lincoln), in the presence of the Earl of Leicester,
Burghley, Walsingham, and Lord Grey of Pirgo, although with disap-
pointing results, publicised as their failure.37 Lady Bacon’s address to
Burghley two months later may look like an untimely action, as if she
is out of touch and only belatedly raising a stale issue when Burghley is
busy with parliamentary affairs. On the contrary, the letter provides a
Election and Education in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 51

timely defence of the Lambeth presenters and her correct identification


of the present moment in the unfolding of the 1584/85 parliament as
critical – precisely when the Queen was intervening to bestow the mani-
fest signs of approval on Whitgift’s policies that secured his ascendancy
over his opponents. What made it extraordinary that Lady Bacon had
been admitted on the morning of 25 February to speak on puritan
business with Lord Burghley was that this was either the very day or
(depending on the variable parliamentary reports) within days of when
the Queen’s chief councillor had been tasked to bend to the Queen’s
will and join with Whitgift in delivering to the Commons the Lords’
long-awaited but disheartening response to their sixteen-article peti-
tion grieving Whitgift’s requirement of clerical subscription to articles of
faith not prescribed by statute, use of the ex-officio oath, and abuses of
ministerial appointments.38 This petition, with widespread support in
the Commons, represented, on the whole, a moderate case for church
reform, focused on improving preaching in the huge number of par-
ishes lacking learned clergy. Burghley had spoken first, delivering to the
Commons’ representative the negative response the Queen required
while offering some hope that Convocation would redress legitimate
grievances. Whitgift followed, demolishing any such likelihood as he
refuted article after article.39 Such a sharp denial of even the modest
requests of parliamentarians signalled the strong likelihood of defeat for
the wider puritan campaign of 1584/5, which included, in addition to
the cautious efforts at Lambeth and in parliament, a flood of published
writings declaring, as Bacon’s letter puts it, ‘the state of their, yea God
his cause’ and making the more radical demands for the presbyterian
reform of church government discussed earlier in this essay. Thus, her
intervention, calling for a renewed hearing under fairer conditions than
Lambeth, refusing ‘the bishops for judges, who are parties partial in
their own defence’, and appealing to ‘her Majesty and her honourable
wise Council’,40 is carefully timed, in full knowledge of the precarious
state of play, as a bid to open up a new field upon which to advance
the struggle.
Related to kairos or timeliness, and directly affecting the efficacy in an
Elizabethan court context of civic speech actions like Bacon’s epistle, are
questions of access, both to key players and to efficacious networks. It
would be a mistake to assume that, as Lord Burghley’s sister-in-law, she
had ready access to his attention at this time on controversial matters of
church and state, and this letter hints strongly at strategic work to gain
a hearing on 25 February and to have her letter brought to his attention
on the next day.41 Beyond the fact that she is interfering in public affairs,
52 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

relations between the Cecils and Bacons seem to have cooled since the
close collaboration of the early 1560s. We hear nothing of Anne Bacon’s
interactions with her sister Mildred in the 1580s, and it seems probable
that religious difference has created distance, given Mildred’s evident
allegiance by this time to the established church and her friendships
with orthodox churchmen, including Whitgift, who writes with warm
affection to her son Robert after her death about Mildred’s kindnesses
towards him.42 Strong testimony about the larger pattern and recogni-
tion in the puritan community of Lady Bacon’s active campaigning in
response to Whitgift’s policies comes from Nicholas Faunt, secretary to
Francis Walsingham, writing from Whitehall on 12 March 1583/4 to
her son in France, Anthony Bacon: ‘having observed many testimonies
of her said sincere and most christian affection, I cannot but praise
the Lord for the same…The Lord raise up many such matrons for the
comfort of his poor afflicted church, assuring you, Sir, that I have been
a witness of her earnest care and travel for the restoring of some of [the
deprived ministers] to their places, by resorting often unto this place to
sollicit those causes, whom otherwise I have not often seen in court’.43
We find clear evidence of a strategic dimension even in Lady Bacon’s
approaches to Burghley in a undated letter to her son Anthony of the
next decade (ca. 1593), touching on how she cultivated bonds with his
various secretaries to deliver letters and press her causes: ‘I have wayted
at my lord thresurer to have it delivered this night…I dyd not vse
Mr Maynard, but another whome I have vsed when occasion served.’44
Nor did she depend solely on her brother-in-law in soliciting her reli-
gious causes. For example, however much she cautions her sons about
the potential harm in making overly close alliances with the Earl of
Essex in the 1590s, she nonetheless makes use of him in pursuing her
suits on behalf of puritan ministers, gaining access both through the
mediation of her sons and by cultivating her own relation with him.
Her strategic activities bear out the claims she makes to Anthony about
her rare expertise in court politics: ‘I think for my long attending in
coorte and a cheeff counsellors wyffe: few preclarae feminae meae sortis
[distinguished women of my lot] are able or be alyve and judg of such
proceadings and worldly doings of men.’45
Despite these qualifications, when her 1585 letter repeatedly refers
to ‘the substantial and main ground’ of ‘this great cause’ and how
well it can be warranted ‘by the infallible touchstone of the Word’,46
without ever specifying what the cause is, it may seem that, in calling
for the ‘learned’ men to be heard, she is not herself fully apprised of
the issues. On the contrary, a well-informed member of a collaborative
Election and Education in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 53

network, she knows what she is talking about. The kairos of classical
rhetoric calls for attentiveness not only to what occasions but also to
what constrains speech, and, in the immediate political context, a bold
campaign to transform church government is a dangerous enterprise on
which to provide signed written evidence. In the 1590s when this cam-
paign has gone completely underground, Bacon’s letters to Anthony
directly urge secrecy about her dangerous collaborative activities; this
earlier letter exercises a related kind of politic self-censorship. Her argu-
ments about the Lambeth conference show her close familiarity with
specific ‘writing[s]’ circulating at this time which focus on instituting a
reformed ‘discipline’.47
In Anne Bacon’s lifelong orientation to the work of reformation, elec-
tion and education come together to frame an uncommon sense of female
vocation and identity. This is evident in the rhetorical construction of the
relational dynamic in the letter, or of ethos (the speaker’s authority) and
pathos (the wished-for effect on the reader). Addressing her brother-in-
law in his capacity as a public official and negotiating across a religious
and political divide, Lady Bacon constructs her rhetorical authority in a
way that works to mitigate the threat of her radical politics even while it
reinforces an assertion of vocation based in that radical politics:

For mine own part, my good Lord, I will not deny, but as I may I hear
them in their public exercises as a chief duty commanded by God to
widows, and also I confess as one that hath found mercy, that I have
profited more in the inward feeling knowledge of God his holy will,
though but in a small measure, by such sincere and sound opening of
the Scriptures by an ordinary preaching within these seven or eight
years, than I did by hearing odd sermons at Paul’s wellnigh twenty
years together.48

Still informed by the ‘liuely fayth’ associated with election in the


Ochino sermons, her identity is affirmed in relation to an imagined
church order that involves its congregation members in participatory or
dialogic expounding of scripture (the ‘public exercises’ or ‘prophesyings’
outlawed within the established church since Archbishop Grindal’s time
in the 1570s) and acknowledges a special role for ‘widows’. The action
of rhetorical persuasion imagined as the goal of the epistle and also as
the desired goal of the proposed puritan conference is represented as
dependent not merely on the authority and skill of the rhetor but also
upon a corresponding Protestant or specifically Calvinist construction
of the persuasiveness of God’s word. The listener’s yielding of ‘a quiet
54 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

and an attentive ear’ is requisite, but, even then, the interpretation of


rhetorical action treads a fine line between claiming the absolute per-
suasiveness of ‘the Word of God’ and maintaining God’s free agency.
For Burghley as a reader of her letter, it will be ‘as God shall move your
understanding heart’ and, for her Majesty, if she permits ‘quiet and
convenient audience’ for the learned ministers’, her ‘heart is in God his
hand to touch and to turn’.49 The letter deploys and reinterprets the
persuasive force of rhetorical action that is at the heart of the humanist
educator’s ideal of public benefit, eliding rhetorical persuasion and the
infusion of ‘inward feeling knowledge of God his holy will’. Thus, Anne
Bacon negotiates a rhetoric to encompass the complexities of Calvinist
persuasion. Even in expressing her affectionate respect for her brother-
in-law, she ‘labour[s] to drawe [him] to Christ’, as Ochino’s sermon had
described the task of the elect: ‘I wish from the very heart that to your
other rare gifts sundry-wise, you were fully instructed and satisfied in
this principal matter, so contemned of the great Rabbis, to the dishon-
ouring of the Gospel so long amongst us.’50
Emphasising plain-speaking, this letter, like the English Apologie, aims
at clear and unambiguous communication about religious truth. The
stylistic craft of the writer is still evident in a fresh and articulate English
syntax: with Senecan concision, the writing vividly conveys the unfair
treatment of puritans at Lambeth, with ‘now some one, then some two,
called upon a sudden unprepared to foreprepared to catch them’,51
while still incorporating Ciceronian elements in abbreviated form to
structure its proposals. But it does not aim at stylistic virtuosity or the
display of learning. It aims at a use of language and learning to effect
a public benefit, to erect and reform a national church not by violent
rebellion but by persuasive speech acts, rhetorical action to ‘move…
understanding heart[s]’. We need not concur with Lady Bacon’s beliefs
to recognise and admire how her vivid apprehension of her own elec-
tion permitted her to live out fearlessly the sense of vocation and public
service (however ultimately disappointing its outcome) that a humanist
education both idealised and denied to most women.

Notes
I am grateful to Johanna Harris and Elizabeth Scott–Baumann for encourage-
ment, to Paul Stevens for advice, and to SSHRC and the Killam Foundation for
research support.
1. Louise Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart Women Writers (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1994), p. 37.
Election and Education in the Works of Anne Cooke Bacon 55

2. Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart Women Writers, p. 39.


3. Ochino in Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart Women Writers, p. 38.
4. John Jewel, trans. Anne Cooke Bacon, An Apologie or answere in Defence of the
Churche of Englande (London: Reginald Wolfe, 1564), ‘Epistle’, n.p.
5. Nicholas Bacon, The Recreations of his Age (Oxford: Daniel Press, 1903), p. 27.
6. Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, in Brian Vickers (ed.), The Major
Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 139.
7. Apologie, sig. B5.
8. Apologie, ‘Epistle’.
9. Apologie, sigs. B7v, C7v.
10. Apologie, sig. A1.
11. Apologie, ‘Epistle’. See also Mary Ellen Lamb, ‘The Cooke Sisters’, in Margaret
P. Hannay (ed.), Silent But for the Word (Kent: Kent State University Press,
1985), pp. 107–25.
12. John E. Booty, John Jewel as Apologist of the Church of England (London: SPCK,
1963), pp. 6–7 and 36–55; for Martyr’s letter, see Hastings Robinson (ed.), The
Zurich Letters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1842), pp. 339–41,
and John Jewel, trans. Anne Cooke Bacon, An Apologie or answere in Defence
of the Churche of Englande (London: I[ames R[oberts] for Thomas Chard,
1600).
13. Richard Verstegan, Declaration of the True Causes of the Great Troubles
([Antwerp?: by J. Trognesius?], 1592), p. 12. Jane Stevenson, Women Latin
Poets (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 267, considers seriously the
idea that the M.C. of the ‘Epistle’ could be Mildred Cecil.
14. Richard Bancroft, A Sermon Preached at Paules Crosse the 9. of Februarie…
Anno. 1588 (London: by E. B[ollifant] for Gregorie Seton, 1589), p. 51.
15. Bancroft, Sermon, p. 99; Apologie, C1v.
16. Richard Bancroft, A Suruay of the Pretended Holy Discipline (London: John
Wolfe, 1593), p. 56.
17. Bancroft, Suruay, p. 56.
18. Bancroft, Suruay, p. 196.
19. Bancroft, Suruay, pp. 58, 56.
20. Bancroft, Sermon, pp. 41, 38.
21. Bancroft, Suruay, p. 217.
22. Bancroft, Suruay, p. 3.
23. LPL MSS 653, fol. 362.
24. Apologie, sig. C2v.
25. See Lynne Magnusson, ‘Widowhood and Linguistic Capital’, ELR 31 (2001),
pp. 3–33, esp. pp. 27–33.
26. LPL MSS 654, fol. 43.
27. William Urwick, Nonconformity in Herts. (London: Hazell, Watson, and
Viney, 1884), esp. pp. 75–96; Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Move-
ment (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967), esp.
pp. 439–41; Collinson, ‘Sir Nicholas Bacon and the Elizabethan Via Media’,
HJ (1980) 23, 255–73, esp. pp. 270–1.
28. Alan Stewart, ‘The Voices of Anne Cooke, Lady Anne and Lady Bacon’, in
Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (eds.), ‘This Double Voice’ (Houndmills:
Macmillan, 2000), pp. 88–102, thoughtfully addresses ways her ‘activities
have been systematically written out’ of the record (p. 95).
56 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

29. Collinson, Elizabethan Puritan Movement, p. 440; Urwick, Nonconformity,


p. 86; Albert Peel (ed.), The Second Parte of a Register, a calendar of MSS, vol. 1
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), pp. 13–14.
30. LPL MSS 653, fol. 317. See Magnusson, ‘Widowhood’, p. 30.
31. The Vnlawfull Practises of Prelates (London: R. Waldegrave, first printed
ca. 1584); rpt. in A Parte of a Register, pp. 280–303.
32. BL Lansdowne MS 43, fols. 119–20; quoted from James Spedding (ed.), Letters
and the Life Vol. I, in The Works of Francis Bacon, Vol. VIII (London: Longman,
1861), pp. 40–2.
33. David Norbrook, Writing the English Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1999), p. 11.
34. Gideon O. Burton, ‘Silva Rhetoricae’, [http://rhetoric.byu.edu].
35. Lynne Magnusson, ‘A Rhetoric of Requests’, in James Daybell (ed.) Women
and Politics in Early Modern England, 1450–1700 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004),
pp. 51–66.
36. Spedding (ed.), Letters and the Life, p. 40.
37. Collinson, Elizabethan Puritan Movement, p. 269; Conyers Read, Lord Burghley
and Queen Elizabeth (London: Jonathan Cape, 1960), p. 298.
38. Read, Burghley, p. 302; Collinson, Elizabethan Puritan Movement, pp. 282–5;
Simonds D’Ewes, The Journals of All the Parliaments during the Reign of
Elizabeth (London: John Shirley, 1682), pp. 346–61.
39. Collinson, Elizabethan Puritan Movement, p. 284.
40. Spedding (ed.), Letters and the Life, p. 41.
41. For the view that Bacon was ‘extraordinarily admitted’ not to an interview
with Burghley but to a session of the Commons, see Stewart, ‘Voices’, p. 97.
42. Sheridan Harvey, ‘The Cooke Sisters: A Study of Tudor Gentlewomen’,
unpublished PhD Dissertation, Indiana University, 1981, p. 210.
43. Thomas Birch, Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, vol. 1 (London:
A. Millar, 1754), p. 48.
44. LPL MSS 653, fol. 330.
45. LPL MSS 651, fol. 156 (12 May 1595).
46. Spedding (ed.), Letters and the Life, p. 41.
47. In particular, it echoes The Vnlawfull Practises of Prelates [1584/5] and the
preface to A Briefe and Plaine Declaration (1584).
48. Spedding (ed.), Letters and the Life, p. 41.
49. Spedding (ed.), Letters and the Life, p. 41.
50. Spedding (ed.), Letters and the Life, pp. 41–2.
51. Spedding (ed.), Letters and the Life, p. 41.
5
Anne, Lady Southwell:
Coteries and Culture
Elizabeth Clarke

Any discussion of the coteries in which a writer is involved is depend-


ent on historical evidence, and one limiting factor in any discussion of
Anne Southwell is the lack of evidence about her in the historical record.
One scholar has gone so far as to declare that one of the writing circles
in which it is claimed that Southwell took part in her youth is entirely
invented.1 Judgements about Southwell’s literary activities in her later
life in Acton are necessarily speculative: Jean Klene imagines ‘a social
life in Acton which included evenings of literature and music’, whereas
Erica Longfellow, noting that Acton was ‘little more than a hamlet’ and
that in any case neither Anne Southwell nor Henry Sibthorpe are listed
among ‘notable and influential residents’, finds their collection of her
poetry in Folger MS V.b.198 not so much a record of her intellectual
achievement but a mark of their literary ambitions as a couple.2 The
following discussion, then, is based on the evidence of literary collabo-
ration, sources and ideology within the two manuscripts left by Anne
Southwell. In discussing any religious writer of the seventeenth century
it is important to think about the ecclesiastical terminology under con-
sideration. Jean Klene, Anne Southwell’s editor, remarks that ‘no-one
would have mistaken her for a Puritan’ on the basis of the inventory of
her clothes in the Folger manuscript of her works, Folger MS V.b.198.3
Yet in the drafts to her Decalogue she talks about ‘the pouristan fayth’.4
This word was glossed by Klene as ‘protestant’, but Anne Southwell was
clearly happy to describe her own faith as ‘puritan’. What kind of a
Puritan is Anne Southwell?
The first two books in the booklist in the Folger manuscript are Calvin’s
Institutes and Calvin’s sermons, and Southwell’s Calvinist beliefs are clear
from her Decalogue poems which constitute the major part of her poetic
work: the Folger manuscript has poems on six of the Commandments,
57
58 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

whilst the British Library manuscript, Lansdowne MS 740, contains


re-drafted versions of Precepts 3 and 4.5 She frequently uses Calvinist
terminology such as ‘the elect’ and returns to the concept of total
depravity again and again. Her discussion of predestination is strictly
Calvinist in that she accuses all those who question double predestina-
tion as presumptuous.6 There is an indication that she was going to
insert into her poem on the First Commandment ‘A note of <for> gods
providence freewill and predestenation taken out of Saynt Augusten’7
which might be referring to the discussion on predestination and free-
will in book 7 of Augustine’s Confessions, clearly signposted in these
Calvinist terms in the 1631 translation of the Confessions.8 She is vitri-
olic in her anti-Catholicism, and denounces ‘papistrye’:

& now on pilgramages they must runne,


& stripp & whipp & fast & goe to masse,
& fee ech saynt till they bee quite undone..
Rome holdes not upp more fopperyes then this land.9

There is evidence that the Decalogue poems were begun whilst she was
living with her first husband in Ireland, and exposure to Catholic prac-
tice seems to have sharpened her disdain for it. She looks ahead to the
prospect of an Irish funeral with comic dread:

Yf in Hibernia god will have mee dye,


I cannot have your capon eaters knell,
yet for a pound Ile have a hundred crye,
& teare theyr hayres like furyes sent from hell.
poore wretched soules, they’r <are> full of such madd fittes,
the Pope doth cozen them of wealth & wittes.10

Fortunately, Anne Southwell’s discursive poems on the Decalogue give her


the opportunity to express her opinion on most doctrines, so we have a
pretty clear idea where she stands. She says that ‘I by books have travelled
all the world/to find out the religions of all landes’ and this perhaps
explains her discussion of the Family of Love, who come in for sarcastic
and hostile treatment, perhaps through the reading of books such as the
anonymous 1622 publication of A discovery of the abhominable delusions
of those, who call themselves the Family of love. The second of her stanzas
on the Family of Love is in a section of drafts which ‘though crossed
out are fit to stand’.11 This same reinstated section throws some light on
just how Puritan she is – the answer is, not very. In several stanzas she
Anne, Lady Southwell: Coteries and Culture 59

attacks those who glory in their purity, who ‘burye theyr talent & reject
theyr frends’. Her most bitter comment is reserved for those who would
set up ‘sectes & schismes’:

Tis most pure pietye makes them move all


The corner stone, all though the fabric fall12

A Calvinist who is moderate in ecclesiastical matters, like George Herbert,


she sees the true church as defined by Catholics on one side and schismatics
on the other: but these ‘deformed reformers of the word’ who hate bishops
‘hurte the publick peace’ more than ‘popish bulles or Roman sword’.13
All this puts her in the mainstream of English religion in the Jacobean
period, and helps to illuminate the problem with using the word ‘Puritan’
in the early seventeenth century, when James I used it as an insult for
those that he perceived to be politically threatening. In fact among the
books that Anne Southwell has read may be Basilikon Doron, where criti-
cism of ‘Puritanes’ follows condemnation of the Family of Love.14 The
reason why I would like to claim a ‘Puritan intellectual culture’ for Anne
Southwell is that she shared many preoccupations, particularly in her
literary works, with those who would later, after the deliberate polaris-
ing of the Church of England by William Laud, so well described by
Anthony Milton, be classed as Puritan.15 At this early stage, this is seen
in her preoccupation with observation of the Sabbath, which was to
be an important ecclesiastical battle in the first half of the seventeenth
century. One of the commandments treated in both the Folger and the
Lansdowne manuscripts is number four, spelt out in full in the title of
the Lansdowne version but referred to in the earlier version in the Folger
manuscript simply as ‘Thou shalt keepe holy the saboth daye’. It is hard
to avoid the conclusion that this debate is provoked by James I and his
Declaration of Sports in 1618: it is clear that her instinctive loyalty to the
king (she is consistently appreciative of loyalty in general, and of James I
in particular) is somewhat at odds with her more Puritan understanding
of what observation of the Sabbath entails. Anne Southwell has a poem
for the fourth precept in both the Folger and the Lansdowne manu-
scripts, although there are huge differences between them. The first ten
stanzas in both are identical, and both contain this stanza, which is diffi-
cult to see as anything but a response to James I’s Declaration of Sports:

Nor art thou bid to sleepe out this high day


To sing, daunce, game or guezzell out thy time,
But in gods vineyard thou art willed to stay.16
60 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

James I’s Declaration was specifically in the context of rebuking ‘some


Puritans and precise people’ that he had met in his recent 1617 progress
through Lancashire. It lists activities to be considered lawful on the
Sabbath, most of which Anne Southwell would not approve:

dauncing, either men or women, Archerie for men, leaping, vaulting, or


any other such harmlesse Recreation, nor from having of May-Games,
Whitsun Ales, and Morris-dances, and the setting up of Maypoles and
other sports therewith used.17

James had intended his Declaration to be read out in pulpits in 1618,


but it met huge Puritan opposition and was short-lived, although his
son was to see more effect with its reissue in 1633. However, the issue
of observation of the Sabbath was clearly controversial and became one
of the key issues separating Puritan and Arminian.
Anne Southwell’s writings, then, show a committed Calvinism and a
moderate attitude to religious politics in the early seventeenth century,
and in this she is typical of many members of the Church of England
in the Jacobean period. There is no hostility to Puritans by name, but a
deep suspicion of those sectarian interests that she sees as undermining
the State. Her church connections, after her marriage to Henry Sibthorpe
and her move to England in 1628, tell the same story of moderation.
After a short stay in Clerkenwell, she lived in Acton, close to St Mary’s
Church.18 The largely absent rector was Daniel Featley, who had already
been in trouble with James I for licensing books with an extremely
Puritan view on the Sabbath.19 His virulent anti-Catholicism was turning
into an anti-Arminianism that would make him an enemy of Archbishop
Laud. However, his 1626 Ancilla Pietatis, an uncontroversial book of pri-
vate devotion, was becoming a Church of England classic when Anne
Southwell met him. The curate Roger Cocks, whose epitaph for Anne
Southwell is collected in the Folger manuscript, was clearly less of a
controversialist, but the doctrine on show in his poetic Hebdomeda
Sacra: A weekes devotion published in 1630 is in the mainstream of
Reformed Christianity. It is a re-telling of the events of Christ’s nativ-
ity, with some vividly-realised episodes such as the paranoia induced
at Herod’s court by news of the birth of the new King. The concern
about tyranny at court, and the existence of court ‘parasites’, mirrors
Anne Southwell’s contemptuous descriptions of the court: clearly both
authors have a lively suspicion of court culture.20 It is difficult to equate
Cocks’ views of Herod with any particular view of Charles I, although
so soon after Charles’ tempestuous dissolution of Parliament in 1629,
the fact that Cocks commends Herod for summoning a Parliament to
Anne, Lady Southwell: Coteries and Culture 61

discuss a course of action has a telling resonance. On the same page he


announces that a King’s command is not more important than God’s, a
view that was to become controversial later in the century.21 There is an
affecting description of the heartbreak induced by the massacre of the
innocents: perhaps the most effective passage is the one where Rachel,
a bereaved mother, refuses to listen to the platitudinous comfort on her
child’s death, the likes of which was ubiquitous in Puritan culture in the
widest sense in the early seventeenth century.22
It is a measure of the fact that both Cocks and Featley were orthodox
Church of England in 1620s ecclesiology that they both got into serious
trouble in the 1640s, after Anne Southwell’s death. Roger Cocks denied
the Sacrament to the radical Sir Edward Peyton when he refused to kneel,
and their subsequent controversy was published. A discourse concerning
the fitnesse of the posture necessary to be used in taking the bread and wine
at the sacrament (1642) was Peyton’s defence of the Puritan position that
he had the right to partake standing or sitting. To buttress his argument
he cited Augustine, Tertullian, Calvin, Bullinger, Beza, Perkins, and oth-
ers. Roger Cocks responded in An Answer to a Book Set Forth by Sir Edward
Peyton (1642) in a very tightly argued treatise that showed familiarity
with all the theologians his opponent cited. Both writers agreed that
kneeling was a ‘thing indifferent’: the difference between their two posi-
tions centred on conformity. ‘Hath the King, hath the Church no author-
ity in these things?’ asked Cocks, a statement that in 1642 put him in
the anti-Puritan camp.23 It is no coincidence that Peyton’s pamphlet was
not licensed for the press but that Laud’s chaplain and censor approved
Cocks’ pamphlet even as his authority was terminally waning. On 10th
November 1642 a group of soldiers vandalised St. Mary’s, Acton, attack-
ing the symbols of a non-Puritan practice, the communion rails, the font
and the stained glass windows.24 By this time Featley, despite his long
history of anti-Laudian controversy, was seen as an enemy of Parliament
and the Puritans: he favoured bishops, and loyalty to the King.
Near the end of Precept 4 in the Folger manuscript Anne Southwell
expresses her loyalty and praise to her king, a loyalty that is implicit
throughout, although she does supply warnings to any king who dis-
graces his high position.25 The king she praises is clearly James I, although
Jean Klene argues that Southwell and her husband altered subsequent
drafts because they were aimed at Charles I; nevertheless, she specifi-
cally refers to James’ 1597 work, Daemonologie, in the later Lansdowne
manuscript:26

Witnesse that prynce that governs bryttan now


that blest Augustus that all peacefull king
62 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

as knees and harts, so all witts to him bowe


whose toong doth flow like a selestiall spring
...
Witnesse his books, his woorks, his piety27

What impresses Southwell is the mixture of religion and rhetoric of


which James I, for her, is such a prominent example. The reconciling of
spiritual pursuits with intellectual ones is clearly a pre-eminent interest
of hers. When she begins her Decalogue poetry with her poem on the
first commandment – ‘Thou shalt have noe other gods before mee’ – it
is no wonder that in the first ten stanzas she discusses the correct stance
to take in reconciling eloquence and religion.28 Her ambition to dip her
pen in ‘heavens Selestiall Springes’ is expressed in the first stanza: how-
ever, divine inspiration seems in opposition to ‘artes proude carieers’.
Her similarity to George Herbert in preferring Jordan to Helicon is strik-
ing: she might well have known his poetry. No. 105 on the family’s
booklist is ‘The Temple in Sacred Poems in Octavo’. Jean Cavanaugh
points out that she could not have seen an octavo edition, but all sev-
enteenth-century editions of The Temple are in duodecimo, so whoever
wrote the list probably got the size wrong.29 She condemns secular –
and fictional – poetry like Ovid’s works, or even Seneca’s: she rejects
romances about medieval knights. What she really despises is a mixture
of sacred and secular – ‘heavens milke with aconite of hell’. Solomon’s
poetry is the best, ‘the gravest, Smoothest, highest style’. She describes
knowledge as an ‘usher’ into the way of godly poetry.
This comment appears to be illustrative of a change in Anne Southwell’s
attitude to wit and rhetoric, attested to by her comment in Precept 3,
‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lorde thy god in vayne’ from the
Lansdowne manuscript. Here she confesses to a rather different attitude
to courtly writing in her youth:

This flattering [altered to ‘flouting’ by Sibthorpe] is a colt


that ever winches
whome I have longe since tyed unto the racke
when first I backed this jade hee dashed at princes
& almost broke my neck from off his back.
his sire is pride, a sanguine witt his damme
to hell hee must, for out of hell hee came.30

This mention of a youthful past when she was involved in courtly,


and it seems, satiric rhetoric is intriguing in the light of Jean Klene’s
Anne, Lady Southwell: Coteries and Culture 63

identification of writing by Anne Southwell included in a 1614 publi-


cation mostly devoted to Thomas Overbury’s poem ‘The Wife’ (A wife
now the Widdow of Sir Thomas Overburye). From verbal parallels and from
the initials A. S. at the end of certain entries in the rhetorical ‘Newes’
game transcribed at the end of Overbury’s poem Jean Klene has sug-
gested that Anne Southwell was one of the players in this game, which
involves displays of wit and verbal dexterity, and which included John
Donne, Sir Thomas Overbury, Cecily Bulstrode and Sir Thomas Roe.
John Considine has disputed this but other scholars date this manuscript
early in the seventeenth century and are happy to accept Jean Klene’s
attribution.31 Sarah Ross’ discovery that Anne Southwell was involved
in marriage negotiations for Anne, the only daughter of Robert Carr
and Francis Howard, who were also living in West London in the late
1620s in some obscurity, somewhat strengthens the case that she was
part of the Overbury circle, as does the fact that she wrote an epitaph
for the disgraced Countess when she died in 1632.32 If it is true that
Anne Southwell took part in humorous, topical rhetorical games it adds
poignancy and a personal dimension to her acknowledgement that it is
impossible for a woman to have ‘a sanguine witt’ and still be accounted
virtuous: ‘a sanguine woman is of all accurst’ she writes, whilst conced-
ing that for a man, this is the best disposition to have, particularly if you
have ambitions to be a poet.33 It seems that at some point she decided
on a reformation of her own rhetoric, a process for which she uses the
metaphor of the change of one mount – the frisky colt – for another,
the ‘sluggish asse’. This renunciation of this courtly if scurrilous mode
of writing ‘at his prancing wittes make sport’34 is perhaps behind the
prayer for mediocrity she makes in the Folger manuscript. ‘Let mee be
of thy Court’, she asks God:

Tis not my ayme to make a flight soe large


A lower strayne my humble thoughts intend
Only to give the eares a friendly charge.35

This decision perhaps explains the change from lyric poetry, which is
well represented at the start of the Folger manuscript, to the rather plod-
ding metre of the Decalogue poems, which are clearly her life’s work,
and which are in the six-line stanza form so typical of religious poetry
in the early seventeenth century. Fortunately, lyrical examples of her
wit are preserved in the Folger manuscript, which includes the exqui-
site ten-line poem ‘All married men desire to have good wifes’ which
has attracted modern attention as an example of what Jean Klene calls
64 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

‘her feminist ideas’.36 In this poem, as in her ‘Decalogue’, she engages


fiercely with an anonymous 1595 Latin text, Disputatio nova contra
mulieres, qua probatur eas homnes non esse, in which it was asserted that
women have no souls.37
The addressees of poems in the Folger manuscript show a kind of
ex-patriot English cultural milieu operating in Ireland: she writes a humor-
ous verse epistle to Bernard Adams, bishop of Limerick (1566–1625) and
was clearly very friendly with Cassandra MackWilliams, wife of Sir
Thomas Ridgeway, whom Anne might have known from Devonshire days
but who like Sir Thomas Southwell took part in the planting of Ireland
in the early seventeenth century, although his location in the north of
Ireland may have meant that the two friends did not see each other
much – Anne seems to have lived in Castle Poulnelong, County Clare.
It is to Cassandra MackWilliams, her ‘worthy Muse’, that Anne writes a
remarkable prose letter, copied into the Folger manuscript, in defence
of poetry. The tone of the letter assumes an exchange of ideas marked
by wit and repartee. It seems Cassandra has expressed a preference for
prose, so that Anne calls her ‘a sworne enemye to Poetrie’ although it is
hard to take seriously the motives Anne ascribes to her, that her ances-
tors preferred prose and that she thinks ‘Poesye is a fiction, & fiction is a
lye’. To this last she ripostes that ‘Imagination goes before Realitye’.38 As
Philip Sidney said in his Defence of Poesy, ‘[Nature’s] world is brasen, the
Poets only deliver a golden’: poetry can describe a world that is better
than the real one.39 Like him, Anne Southwell thinks ‘it is the subject
that commends or condemns the art’: she specifies that she is talking
about ‘devine Poesye’, as Philip Sidney was, and attacks Venus and Adonis
as ‘wanton’ and Hero and Leander as ‘a busye nothing’. She mentions the
author of the Psalms as ‘that sweete singer of Israel’, echoing Sidney’s
praise of David. To prove her point she embarks on an extended display
of wit: metaphorically taking Cassandra MackWilliams by the hand, she
shows that the very creation is a kind of ‘verse’: God balances his com-
position with each of the four humours, and his power, mercy and wis-
dom are ‘as it were the Comma, Colon, & Period to every stanzae’. This
imaginative habit of using poetry as a kind of metaphor for creation is
repeated in the Folger version of Precept 4 in a description of God:

his actions bound as rules of poesye


his moods, tropes, figures, deeds of charity.40

In a series of metaphors in her letter, she shows that poetry is the


greatest of arts: it is the silken thread which binds all the other pearls
Anne, Lady Southwell: Coteries and Culture 65

together: it is a kind of universal harmony: ‘the other artes are but Bases
and Pedestalles, unto the which this is the Capitall’.
Victoria Burke has suggested that Roger Cocks is the ‘noble Neighbour’
referred to on fol. 26r of the Folger manuscript in a passage which sug-
gests literary collaboration on sacred verse centred on St. Mary’s Church,
Acton, where Daniel Featley was rector in the 1630s and Roger Cocks
was the curate. These are Southwell’s lines:

Let your cleare Judgement , and well tempered soule


Condemne, amend, or satisfye this scrole
T’wi’ll proove your fairest Monument and when
your Marble ffailes, live with the best of men
If you have lost your fflowing sweet humiddities
and in a dust disdaine these quantities
Pass it to our beloved Docter Featlye
his tongue drpps honnye, and can doe it neatlye.41

Daniel Featley was largely non-resident at Acton but the years that
Southwell attended his church, from 1628 to 1636, saw the flowering
of his reputation as a Puritan divine. He continued to be well-known as
an author of sermons and anti-Arminian tracts. In ‘The Life and Death
of Dr. Daniel Featley’, published by his nephew John and dedicated to
Charles II in the doomed hope that the new king would further the
Reformation of the Church of England, his rhetorical credentials are
highlighted: at the age of twelve he ‘frequently, wittily and elegantly
composed’ Latin and Greek verses.42 At Roger Cocks’ college, Trinity,
Cambridge, Cocks found himself one of a number of aspiring poets,
as the Cambridge collection of elegies for Prince Henry in which he
appears alongside George Herbert makes clear.43 In fact Trinity must
have been quite a school for sacred poets at the end of the first decade
of the seventeenth century – Giles Fletcher was a Fellow there at the
same time. The sense that Anne Southwell gives of the importance
of her own verse – ‘T’wi’ll proove your fairest Monument’ – is rather
belied by the superior quality of Cocks’ own 1630 poetic volume, Heb-
domada Sacra, which references classical and patristic sources. In the
dedicatory poem Cocks shows the same concern about the uses to
which poetry is put, and the morality of its subject-matter, as Anne
Southwell’s poetry does.

Poetry (noble Lord) in these loose times


Wherin men rather love, then loath their crimes
66 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

If hand in hand with piety she goe


(Though without blushing she her face may show)
Finds but cold welcome, such things onely take
As flatter greatnesse, or fond fancie make.44

The dedicatee of Cocks’ volume was James Stanley, future Earl of Derby,
whose devotional manuscript writings make clear a theological position
that defended the liturgical and theological compromise of the Church
of England during James’ reign. Like so many of his persuasion he was
to oppose Charles I and Archbishop Laud in their ecclesiastical policy to
separate Puritans from the moderate Calvinists of the Church of England:
but his instinctive loyalty led him to fight, badly, on the Royalist side in
the Civil War.45 In his second dedicatory poem, ‘To the Reader’, Cocks
laments the lack of commendatory verse to his volume, but in her manu-
script Anne Southwell supplied this poem in praise of it:

The blessedst babe yt ere did womb adorne


is by thy pen pourtray’d a curious mirror
Embellished wth Lillyes whose support
are verdant pedestalls & doe import
Goodness & constancy must grow together.46

This emblematic description of representation as a mirror embellished


with lilies and their support of green leaves is surely drawing on Cocks’
own lines:

Christ a Lilly is, but such as grows


In the low valley of an humble minde.47

Cocks reads the story of the Magi following the star as an example of
the same exemplary humility in learned men: ‘but to know/Christ, is
more worth then art can show’.48
Francis Quarles, one of Anne Southwell’s literary heroes, and desig-
nated by Robert Wilcher an anti-Laudian until at least the mid-1630s,
was also very careful to specify that he was writing for godly reasons.
Dedicating Sions sonnets to the Marquess of Hamilton in 1625, he
contrasts his project of paraphrasing the Song of Songs with other
less holy types of poetry. ‘Had these Lines beene loose, and lascivious,
I had either pickt out a lesse honorable Patron, or stood to the courtesie
of every wanton Reader’ he announces.49 In his Preface to the 1621 ver-
sion of the story of Esther, Hadassa: or The history of Queene Ester with
Anne, Lady Southwell: Coteries and Culture 67

meditations thereupon, diuine and morall he suggests that a serious moral


purpose has implications for poetic style:

A Sober vaine best suits Theologie: If therefore thou expectst such


elegancy as takes the times, affect some subject as will beare it. Had
I laboured with over-abundance of fictions, or flourishes, perhaps
they had exposed me, censurable, and disprized this sacred subject:
Therefore I rest more sparing in that kind.50

Anne Southwell finds in Francis Quarles, Anthony Wood’s ‘old puri-


tanical poet’, somewhat of a role model in poetic practice.51 The Folger
manuscript contains an acrostic poem on the letters of the poet’s name.
The first half of the poem is in praise of Quarles’ ‘brave Muse’ who is
‘quaintest of all the Heliconian train’, superior to the Muse that inspires
every other art. His poetry is ‘a new Creation’, echoing the activity of
God himself, the Poet whom Southwell describes in her prose letter, add-
ing immortality and life to everything his pen touches. Anything secu-
lar, by contrast, is merely ‘loose ballads or Hyperbolizeinge Ryme<s>’.
The poem continues with two very powerful images for the force of
poetry. It is described as a crystal clear liquid which can be diverted
into ‘sulphrous channells’ – in other words, the divine power of poetry
can be made to ‘stincke’ in the service of secular love poetry or pan-
egyric. Finally, poetry is described as a phoenix which is only at home
in ‘Jehovah’s brest’; only in His service will she prove ‘immaculate and
blest’. The first line of the poem, ‘F<w>yne would I dye whil’st they
brave muse doth live’, which stands apart from the other fourteen as
a kind of title, implies that she is comparing herself with Quarles as a
poet, to the greater credit of Quarles: she only asks to be allowed to die
in the presence of Quarles’ holy Muse.52
Much of Anne Southwell’s writing reveals that she is very self-
conscious about her role as a poet. In several stanzas of her Decalogue
she explains that she is careful about her choice of style. Even to use
rhyme is clearly a move that can lead to criticism. She explains that she
is not ‘affected unto ryme’ but uses it as a device to aid the memory.
However, Southwell describes rather well how poetry can be used to
give truths more impact and make them more beautiful:

Nor marres it truth, but gives wittes fire more fuell


& from an Ingott forms a curious Jewell.

It is only ‘amorous Idiotts’ who disgrace poetry by ‘making verse the


packhorse of theyr passion’: she declares that secular love poetry is like
68 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

a cloud which ‘may dimme the sunne but not deface it’.53 In her prose
letter she says ‘Can a cloud disgrace the sun? Will you behold Poesye in
perfect beautye’.54 In the letter, the ‘perfect beauty’ is seen in the Psalms
of David: in the Decalogue she goes on to echo the Song of Songs.
Poetry is the fittest and most beautiful vehicle for Gods love:

Nor marvell I that love dothe love this fashion


To speak in verse, yf sweet & smoothly carried
To true proportions love is ever maryed.55

Poetry, love and truth make the most powerful rhetorical combination,
one that God is not ashamed to own in the Bible.
On the basis of Anne Southwell’s writings, then, I have situated her as
a Calvinist conformist in the pre-war Church of England. Her attitude to
intellectual pursuits, and to poetry in particular, is one of cautious enthu-
siasm: alongside her close collaborator Roger Cocks, and the poet George
Herbert, she wrestles with the problem of employing rhetorical sophisti-
cation in religious verse, although her preferred solution as shown in her
Decalogue poems is more Puritan than either of theirs in its distrust of
learning and the techniques of poetry. Even if we dismiss the extravagant
epitaph in St. Mary’s Church, Acton, as Henry Sibthorpe’s bid for prefer-
ment, as Erica Longfellow would have us do, the testimony of Roger
Cocks, ‘a true lover and admirer of her vertues’, is surely to be accepted:

The South winde blewe upon a springing Well,


swell
Whose waters flowed & the Sweet streames did,
To such a height of goodnes that they lent
The lower playnes a feeding Nourishmt.56

As is perhaps fitting for an exemplary woman, there is no explicit men-


tion of her poetic achievement here: but the paraphrase of Canticles 4:16
hints at a spiritual inspiration, the South wind, for a fertile rhetorical
and intellectual talent, in a line that is a pun on Anne Southwell’s name.
Her manuscript poetry shows that she was indeed a ‘springing Well’ of
wit, intelligence and pre-Civil War Church of England spirituality.

Notes
1. John Considine, ‘The Invention of the Literary Circle of Sir Thomas Overbury,’
in Claude Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (eds), Literary Circles and Cultural
Communities in Renaissance England (Columbia: University of Missouri Press,
2000), pp. 59–74.
Anne, Lady Southwell: Coteries and Culture 69

2. Erica Longfellow, ‘Lady Anne Southwell’s Indictment of Adam,’ in Victoria


Burke and Jonathan Gibson (eds), Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Writing:
Selected Papers from the Trinity/Trent Colloquim, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004),
p. 113.
3. Jean Klene, ‘“Monument of an Endless affection”: Folger MS. V.b.198 and
Lady Anne Southwell,’ in Peter Beal and Margaret J. Ezell (eds.), English
Manuscript Studies 1100–1700 Vol. 9 (London: British Library, 2000), p. 176.
4. Jean Klene (ed.), The Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, Folger MS. V.b.198
(Tempe, Arizona: Medieval and Renaissance Text Society, 1997), p. 74.
5. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 99.
6. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 133.
7. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 54.
8. William Watts, Saint Augustines confessions translated: and with some marginall
notes illustrated. Wherein, divers antiquities are explayned; and the marginall
notes of a former Popish translation, answered (London: [n.p.], 1631). ‘The Con-
fession of St. Augustine’ is no. 76 in the family booklist (p. 101).
9. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 131.
10. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 132.
11. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 159.
12. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 159.
13. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 159.
14. James I, Basilikon Doron (London: F. Kyngston for I. Norton, 1603), p. 7.
15. See Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: the Roman and Protestant Churches
in English Protestant Thought, 1600–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2002).
16. This is the Lansdowne manuscript version (p. 144: for Folger MS version see
p. 62). See Jill Seal Millman and Gillian Wright (eds.), Early Modern Women’s
Manuscript Poetry (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005), p. 60.
17. James I, The Kings Maiesties declaration to his subjects, concerning lawfull sports
to be used (London: Bonham Norton and Iohn Bill, 1618), p. 7.
18. Klene, ‘ “Monument of an Endless affection” ’, p. 176.
19. ‘Daniel Featley’, ODNB.
20. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, pp. 148, 150: Roger Cocks, Hebdomada
sacra: A weekes devotion: or, Seven poeticall meditations (London: F. Kyngston
for H. Seile, 1630), pp. 26–7.
21. Cocks, Hebdomada sacra, p. 29.
22. Cocks, Hebdomada sacra, pp. 64–5. See Elizabeth Clarke, ‘“A Heart terrifying
Sorrow”: the deaths of children in women’s manuscript writing,’ in Gillian
Avery and Kimberley Reynolds (eds), Representations of Childhood Death
(Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 65–86.
23. Cocks, Hebdomada sacra, p. 5.
24. ‘Daniel Featley’, ODNB.
25. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 136.
26. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 139. See Klene, ‘“Monument of an
Endless affection” ’, p. 171.
27. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 70.
28. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, pp. 45–6.
29. Sister Jean Carmel Cavanaugh, ‘The Library of Lady Southwell and Captain
Sibthorpe’, Studies in Bibliography (1967) 20: 244–6.
70 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

30. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 138.


31. See Louise Schleiner’s treatment of the ‘coterie’ in Louise Schleiner, Tudor
and Stuart Women Writers (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994),
pp. 107–34.
32. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 34.
33. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 157. See Henry Peacham, Minerva
Brittana (London: printed by Wa: Dight, 1612), p. 127. For further discussion
of this point see Elizabeth Clarke, ‘Anne Southwell and the Pamphlet Debate:
the Politics of Gender, Class and Manuscript’ in Cristina Malcolmson and
Mihoko Suzuki (eds), Debating Gender in Early Modern England 1500–1700
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), pp. 44–5.
34. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 138.
35. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 46.
36. Klene, ‘“Monument of an Endless affection” ’, p. 179. This poem is also
edited in Millman and Wright (eds), Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Poetry,
p. 62.
37. S. Alsop, ‘Literary Fruits of the Womb: The Body and Soul of Mothers’ Legacies
in Early Seventeenth-Century England,’ unpublished MA by research thesis,
University of Warwick, 2008, p. 18. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book,
p. 155.
38. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 4.
39. Philip Sidney, An apologie for poetrie (London, by James Roberts for Henry
Olney, 1595), fol. C1v.
40. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 69.
41. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, pp. 40–1.
42. John Featley, ‘The life and death of Doctor Daniel Featley’ in Doctor Daniel
Featley revived: proving, that the Protestant church (and not the Romish) is the
onely Catholick and true church (London: [s.n.], 1660), p. 8.
43. Epicedium Cantabrigiense (Cambridge: C. Legge, 1612), p. 105.
44. Roger Cocks, Hebdomada Sacra (London: F. Kyngston for H. Seile, 1630), A3r.
45. ‘James Stanley, seventh earl of Derby’, ODNB.
46. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 28.
47. Cocks, Hebdomada Sacra, p. 8.
48. Cocks, Hebdomada Sacra, p. 11.
49. Francis Quarles, Sions sonnets (London: W. Stansby for T. Dewe, 1625), fol. A3r.
50. Quarles, Hadassa: or The history of Queene Ester (London: [F. Kingston] for
Richard More, 1621), fol. A3r.
51. Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, 3rd edn, 3.648. The current entry on
Quarles for the ODNB reassesses this judgement and decides that Quarles is ‘a
moderate protestant’ who after 1641 adopted constitutional royalism, which
Anne Southwell might well have done. ‘Francis Quarles’, ODNB.
52. All references to this poem are taken from Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace
Book, pp. 20–1.
53. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 152.
54. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 5.
55. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 152.
56. Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, p. 113.
6
Godly Patronage: Lucy Harington
Russell, Countess of Bedford
Marion O’Connor

Among the Cecil papers at Hatfield House is a sheet of verses which on


internal evidence can be dated between July 1618 and March 1620. These
verses mock contemporary figures as devotees at several shrines. One
cult centres on Lucy Harington Russell, Third Countess of Bedford:

As I went to Bedforde Howse


to yt puritan shrine
mett twise begger Hamleton
and a freinde of mine
mett I weake Lorde Chamberlaine
Doncaster there was he
mett I proude Lorde Arundell
foolish Montgomery.
in counsell thease vndertakers breake
ye Spanish matche and ye truce
The puritans offer golde and pearle
wth sacrifices to st Luce1

Bedford House stood on the north side of the Strand, the bottom
boundary of twenty-seven acres then owned by the Russells in what is
now central London.2 Built and furnished during the minority of the
Third Earl by his aunt and guardian Anne Russell Dudley, Countess of
Warwick, the mansion was evidently not to Lady Bedford’s taste. She
preferred Fisher’s Folly, an earlier Elizabethan architectural extrava-
ganza which her mother acquired in fashionably suburban Bishopsgate
and renamed Harington House in 1616. But whether or not Bedford
House was ever Lady Bedford’s favourite residence in London, the verse
libel accurately records the company she chose to keep in 1618–20.
71
72 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

The visitors encountered at ‘that Puritan shrine’ were her friends and
fellow ‘undertakers’, with whom she had much in common culturally,
politically and ideologically.
Of the five men sacrificing to St. Luce, two were cradle cultists. William
Herbert (1580–1630), Third Earl of Pembroke and from 1615 to 1626 Lord
Chamberlain, and his brother Philip Herbert (1584–1650), First Earl of
Montgomery, later Fourth Earl of Pembroke, were her second cousins. Lucy
Sidney Harington, the grandmother with whose name Lady Bedford was
christened in January 1581, was the sister of their maternal grandfather.
Evidently admiring the elder Herbert brother and enjoying his company,
Lady Bedford collaborated with him on projects, patronage, marriage
brokerage, and property. The manor of More Park in Hertfordshire, her
best-loved house, was transferred to him in the last months of her life.3
William Temple praised as hers the gardens which he saw at More Park
in the 1650s, but documentary evidence suggests that these were at
least partly Pembroke’s work: if so, credit has been misplaced between
friends.4 Her direct relationship with Montgomery involved less collabo-
ration but extended to his wife, Susan Vere Herbert.
All three cousins took up the option on literary (in the broadest sense)
patronage which was part of the Sidney inheritance. Although less than
either of the Herbert brothers’, the scale of her patronage is impressive.5
Lady Bedford was the dedicatee of over fifty works printed between 1594,
the year of her marriage, and 1627, the year of her death. Early dedica-
tions come mainly from poets (including translators): Michael Drayton,
John Dowland, Ben Jonson, Samuel Daniel, George Chapman, Amelia
Lanier, John Davies, Richard Sylvester, and then Francesco Peretto and
Patrick Hannay. Later dedications come mainly from clerics (again
including translators): John Burges, Thomas Cooper, Nicholas Byfield,
Abraham Jackson, Daniel Dyke, Clement Cotton, Cornelius Burges. The
list of her literary clients (whether poets or clerics or both) is longer
than for any other woman of her time, royalty excepted; and the tally
rises further when account is taken of writers who addressed her in work
which circulated in manuscript: Esther Inglis, Giacomo Castelvetro,
Robert White, her distant cousin Sir John Harington and – the client
with whom she is most often bracketed – John Donne.6
Pembroke, Montgomery and Lady Bedford came from the ruling-class
faction that had supported the Earl of Essex in the previous reign, pro-
moted the accession of James Stuart to the throne of England, and cul-
tivated the Cecils until Salisbury’s death in 1612. By contrast, James Hay
(c. 1580–1636), Lord Doncaster, later Earl of Carlisle, and James Second
Marquess Hamilton (1589–1625) were among the courtiers who had
Godly Patronage: Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford 73

followed the new king from Scotland. Hay and Lady Bedford are both
associated with expensive entertainments, especially court masques. She
was variously involved – as organiser, talent-promoter, and dancer – in
Queen Anne’s masques early in the reign. She appeared in: A Vision of
Twelve Goddesses in January 1604; The Masque of Blackness in January
1605, Hymenaei in January 1606; The Masque of Beauty in January 1608,
when her younger sister Frances Harington Chichester also danced;
and The Masque of Queens in February 1609. The first masque on this
list was scripted by Daniel, at Lady Bedford’s recommendation, and the
others by Jonson, with whose masques she is particularly associated.
(Of forty-five women who danced in Jonson’s court masques, only
two – the Queen and Lady Montgomery – are known to have danced in
as many as Lady Bedford.) As for Doncaster, The Lord Hay’s Masque, by
Thomas Campion, was among the celebrations for his first wedding, in
January 1607. Ten years later, a widower pursuing a second bride, Hay
entertained the French ambassador extraordinary with a lavish supper
and a masque, Lovers Made Men, by Jonson: Lady Bedford presided over
these festivities at the Wardrobe, of which Hay was extravagant Master.
She was reported to be ‘Lady and mistris of the feast, as she is of the
managing of his love to the earle of Northumberlands younger daugh-
ter’.7 Six months before Doncaster married Lucy Percy, Lady Bedford
organised her last masque, Cupid’s Banishment, performed in May 1617
before Queen Anne in the Great Hall at Greenwich Palace.
The queen’s death in 1619 ended Lady Bedford’s position, maintained
since 1603, at court. Yet it distressed her less than the sudden death of
Hamilton in March 1625, a few weeks before King James’s. Relatively
new in 1618, the association between countess and marquess was an
alliance of interests which became, at least by her account, close friend-
ship. As with Pembroke and on some of the same things, she often collab-
orated with Hamilton. In 1618 he took over her shares in the Bermuda
Company: the land to which they would have entitled her thus came
to bear his name, but the adjacent strait retained her family’s. She
pursued, unsuccessfully, a match between her thirteen-year-old niece
and his twelve-year-old son. Often seen together, Lady Bedford and
Hamilton shared a passion for collecting art. It has been suggested that
he kept his collection in London at Harington House, from which his
funeral procession departed for Scotland.8 Only two portrait miniatures
have been identified from Lady Bedford’s own collection; but that she
commissioned paintings by Daniel Mytens (a portrait of Pembroke) and
by Nathaniel Bacon is very probable, as recent scholarship has shown.9
Certainly she commissioned work from Nicholas Stone and Nicholas
74 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Briot: Briot’s 1625 silver medal of her profile survives; and her 1616 order
for a Harington family tomb, never completed, is recorded in Stone’s
notebooks.10
The last man whom the verse libel from 1618–20 situates at Bedford
House was a rival collector of art: Thomas Howard (1585–1646), four-
teenth Earl of Arundel, later Earl of Norfolk. Early in March 1618 Lady
Bedford accused Arundel of having just played ‘a tricke…to the cusning
me of some pictures promissed me’.11 The cry of foul play here could
be jocular: it is uttered in a postscript which is heavy with hyperbole,
and she would later write more respectfully about Arundel.12 Arundel
and Pembroke were brothers-in-law, and Lady Bedford was on good
terms with Lady Arundel, a Roman Catholic. Neither did religious dif-
ference disrupt the warm partnership between Lady Bedford and Jane
Drummond Ker, Countess of Roxburghe – one English and Protestant,
the other Scottish and Catholic – over their thirteen-and-a-half years of
collaboration as Ladies of the Queen’s Bedchamber. The Queen herself,
after all, entertained Roman Catholic associations; and the souring of
Lady Bedford’s opinion of the Queen’s court, perhaps even of Anne
herself, was not on their account but because of Her Majesty’s dismissal
of Lady Roxburghe.
The verse libel does not include the owner of Bedford House among
the men whom it imagines to be worshipping at ‘that Puritan shrine’.
Edward Russell, Third Earl of Bedford, had been permanently and severely
incapacitated by a riding accident in July 1613. He probably never
regained use of his limbs. He certainly never wrote again: after that
date, wherever his signature ought to appear on a document, it is either
missing or can be seen, on close scrutiny, to have been counterfeited
with a carved wooden stamp. And whenever after that date the Third
Earl of Bedford is reported to be doing something, it may be presumed
that he was proceeding by proxy, usually his wife. The consequences can
be anomalous: one letter, written wholly in Lady Bedford’s hand and
bearing her signature, is signed off ‘Your loving father’. Such substitu-
tions anticipate, albeit in reverse, recurrent misidentifications of Lady
Bedford’s correspondence: holograph letters bearing her signature, even
her seal, have been catalogued as her husband’s. After their deaths in May
of 1627, the Bedfords were interred separately – she with the Haringtons
at Exton in Rutland, he with the Russells at Cheynies in Buckinghamshire,
neither with so much as an inscription, let alone monument – but they
have been buried together in archives.
The earl’s injury was but one in a series of personal catastrophes which
beset the Bedfords in the middle years of their marriage. Having borne
Godly Patronage: Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford 75

a son and heir in January 1602 only to bury him a month later, Lady
Bedford gave birth in 1610 to a daughter who died within hours. In
1611 she miscarried, probably at a fairly late stage: medical records,
which survive for Lady Bedford from the aftermath of this miscarriage
until weeks before her death, suggest that it left her sterile at an early
age. From November 1612 through February 1613 she was desperately
ill from other causes. Her father, John first Lord Harington of Exton,
died suddenly in August 1613, en route home with Lady Harington
from escorting Princess Elizabeth to Heidelberg. Her brother John, Lord
Harington’s heir and only living son, died less than six months after
their father. The elder Harington left huge debts which he had incurred
in promoting his own dynastic interests and then, as Governor of
Princess Elizabeth, in protecting the Stuarts’. The younger Harington,
by all accounts a model of Puritan virtues, left a will requiring the debts
to be paid and the estate to be unequally divided between his sisters and
also a legal instrument binding his mother, as executor, to carry out his
honourable instructions. These violations of patriarchal norm offended
the heirs male of the first Lord Harington’s younger brothers, both of
whom also died in 1613/14, ‘a fatall yeare to that familie’.13
As for the gold and pearl which the libel imagines Puritan devotees
to be offering ‘with sacrifices’, pearl drop-earrings are conspicuous on
many images of Lady Bedford, and in 1618 she was in acute need of
gold. Indeed, she was then negotiating with her husband’s first cousin
and heir apparent, Francis Lord Russell, for the transfer to him of the
Russell estate within the lifetime of the Third Earl of Bedford, Edward
Russell. Enormous in geographical extent, that estate had been in debt
when the Second Earl died in 1585, and the debts had escalated in
subsequent years. Lord Russell was concerned to preserve and improve
the estate for his own heir. The Third Earl and his Countess had no liv-
ing child nor any prospect of producing one. Completed in 1619, their
bargain with the Fourth-Earl-in-Waiting gave them payment of debts to
date, a lifetime annuity fixed as the income of the Russell estate at the
time of its transfer, and right of abode in Bedford House for the rest of
their lives.14
Votive offerings of gold and pearl, then, would certainly have suited
the mistress of Bedford House in 1618–20. But, Saint Luce? That Lady
Bedford promoted George Villiers over Robert Carr, opposed the Spanish
marriage and championed the hopeless cause of the Palatinate is evi-
dent. Political Protestantism, which was another part of her heritage as
Harington by birth and Russell by marriage, is insufficient warrant for
counting her among the Calvinist elect. There are some second-hand
76 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

clues. The record of clerical patronage indicates that Lady Bedford and
her husband sustained their families’ preferences among preachers; and
the dedications offered by her clients in religion give some evidence of
her religious practices. As with patronage literature in general, however,
such evidence is unevenly reliable: dedications may be offered from a
distance, as a bid for attention; and even where the client has an estab-
lished connection to the patron, flattery remains a possibility. In 1615
Richard Bruch addressed Lady Bedford and her mother on the remote
grounds that ‘having liued some yeeres in the place neere where your
Honours kept your residence, and hearing diuers well affected people
testifie of your loue to Religion, your pious hearts, and godly conuer-
sation, I thought good…to giue a testimony therof’.15 That same year
Byfield, observing from a closer vantage point as Vicar of Isleworth and
thus as dependant and chaplain to the Bedfords at Twickenham, praised
their Reformed religiosity:

The loynes of the poore daily blesse your Honors, and their mouthes
daily pray for you…your Lordship hath much confirmed the per-
swasion of your religious disposition by your daily and affectionate
respect of the word of God and prayer in priuate, since the Lord hath
made you lesse able to resort more frequently to the publike assem-
blies. And Madam, what thanks can wee euer sufficiently giue vnto
God for that rare and worthy example, with which your Ladishippe
doth comfort and incourage the hearts of many, in your care of Gods
sabaoths, & in your neuer-failing attendance vpon the ordinances of
God, with the congregation, morning and euening, not only in your
owne person, but with your whole familie.16

In July 1617 Byfield attributed his production of another book to the


fact that his patrons’ absence from Twickenham for most of the previ-
ous year had left him at leisure and without auditors, ‘hauing suffred
an involuntary vacation in my weeke-daies attendance in your Honors
family, and an extreame losse in the want of diuers of my cheefe hear-
ers’.17 John Burges in 1624 acknowledged himself to be ‘owing to your
honours…more than to all the world beside’.18 (The obligation was
mutual: Burges had ministered to the ailing Lady Bedford in 1612/3 and
to her dying brother in 1614.) John Burges’ son-in-law Cornelius hailed
the Third Earl of Bedford and ‘his most Noble and religious Consort’
as ‘Persons of eminent respect for learning, judgment and religion’.19 Con-
temporaneous dedications, however, are perhaps more equivocal about
the Bedfords’ personal devotion and domestic discipline. In 1618 Roger
Godly Patronage: Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford 77

Jackson addressed Gods Call for Mans Heart to them, ‘not that there is
any thing in it which you knew not before…but to put you in minde
of your knowledge, that you doe not forget to practise it…to sing vnto
[God], pray vnto him, heare his Word, and receiue his Sacraments with
your hearts and soules’; and in 1625, dedicating the English translation
of a Latin prayerbook to Lady Bedford, Jackson reminded her of the
necessity of prayer and averred, ‘I doubt not of your Honours continuall
daily practice therein’.20 Again in 1618, Jeremiah Dyke, dedicating two
treatises to her, tactlessly – or tellingly – neglected to exclude either
Bedford House or Harington House from his condemnation of disorder
in ruling-class households:

Most great houses haue the ornaments of Chappels but few the hon-
our of Churches. So irreligious and irregular are the followers of many
great personages, that they seeme to metamorphose their Masters
houses, as the Iewes did the Lords House, which should haue been
an house of prayer, into a den of thieues…Let a seruant faile in the care-
lesse performance of his place, in the neglect of his Masters profit;
nay, if but a paltry dog, or hawke be vnfed, or misdieted,…oh the
blusters and terrible thunder-cracks of fierce and furious language
that ensue. But let a seruant be ignorant, a neglecter or despiser of
Gods worship, a swearer, a Sabbath-breaker, a drunkard, an vncleane
person, yet, I will not say against such there is no law, but against
such there is no anger, no rebuke, no censure, no making the family
Church-like in the excommunication, and eiection of these Satyres,
and Ostriches…In too many families Venus hath her Altars in the
Chambers, & Bacchus his Sacrifices in the Butteries.21

This may well have been how Bedford House was (mis)regulated in the
1590s. A clerical dedication to the Bedfords in 1600 hints that they were
having entirely too much fun for their own eternal good; and there is
abundant evidence that the Earl’s relatives despaired of goings-on in his
household then and through the early Jacobean years.22 Later, however,
the picture changes. There is a glimpse of Lady Bedford, once again
desperately ill (smallpox, which would leave her half-blind and badly
scarred), receiving the last rites according to the Reformed dispensation,
which required company for reception of the Eucharist: ‘The Countesse
of Bedford was lately at the last cast and no hope of life left, insomuch
that receving the communion in companie of the Lord Chamberlain,
Marquis Hamilton and others as her viaticum, she gave over the world
and tooke her leave.’23
78 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Whatever the regulation of her household, and whatever her own


religious practice, Lady Bedford left compelling evidence of her religious
beliefs. A single poem has been ascribed to her in the Donne apocrypha,
and seventy of her letters survive. The earliest two are from 1596, when
she was fifteen years old. The body of each is in a professional secretary
hand, but the signature matches what Lady Bedford inscribed on letters
and documents over the next thirty years. Traces of experimentation and
uncertainty in the 1596 specimens suggest the writer’s lack of practice
in the signature befitting her new status. Rank had its responsibilities,
among them keeping Cecils sweet. Writing to Burghley from the Berties’
Willoughby House in the Barbican on 16 March 1596, young Lady
Bedford reported the apprehension there of a self-confessed Jesuit and a
man suspected of having crossed the Channel with him.24 Eight months
later, writing from Cheynies, she recommended her letter-bearer,

this pore man John Wheatley that (by your good furtherance) he is
in great hope to receve some rewarde for his service done in the
discoveringe of divers seminaries, and the rather vpon my reporte
of his behaveour beinge in my house, where stayinge (though not as
my servaunt) he governed him selfe for that tyme both well and reli-
giouselye, and shewed a great desire euery waye to serve his countrie:
If by your good meanes he may obtayne some rewarde belonge (as it
is geven out) to such servis, you shall performe in a verie honble &
charitable Accion, and I shall thinke my selfe beholdinge, and he
bounde to pray for your hon.ble estate.25

The anti-papal zeal of these letters is a characteristic of a political Protes-


tantism which lasted Lady Bedford’s lifetime. (A 1621 letter from her
mentions ‘our Spaniolised papists’.26) But what is more important is that
in these two early letters, the second especially, she enacts the social rela-
tionship which shaped her personal history and informed her ideology –
patron and client. The adolescent aristocrat-by-marriage writes as
both: in recommending Wheatley, she writes as patron about her client;
and in addressing Burghley, she writes as client to her patron. Favours
are sought; and if they are granted, obligations will be incurred.27
Both patronage relationships and Calvinist belief are deeply inscribed
throughout the letters which Lady Bedford wrote to Jane Meautys
Cornwallis Bacon. Jane Meautys had served with her in Queen Anne’s
court and then, as Lady Cornwallis, had lived in Fisher’s Folly, the house
which in 1616 became Harington House. The temporal span of Lady
Bedford’s surviving letters to her is from 1614, when their addressee’s
Godly Patronage: Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford 79

second marriage, to Nathaniel Bacon, removed her to rural Suffolk, to


1626, when their writer was awaiting medical treatment but anticipating
her own death fourteen months later. These thirty-four letters display
greater informality and intimacy than others: Lady Bedford is writing
to an old friend. But she is also writing as that friend’s social superior,
capable of securing favours by virtue of her position in the Queen’s
court and (as is emphasised in those letters written after that posi-
tion had ended) her good connections with men of influence, notably
Pembroke and Hamilton. She repeatedly reminds Lady Cornwallis, and
Sir Nathaniel through her, of her ability to act as their personal lobbyist,
zealous and reliable. The phrasing of these reminders is remarkable both
in its syntactical convolutions and in the recurrence of a striking word
or its cognates: ‘ceremony’. Concluding the body of one letter, Lady
Bedford assures Lady Cornwallis of ‘my care to satisfie you, who shall
never have cause to acuse me of leaveing you unsatisfied (howsoever
I may faile in seremonis) in any real proofe I may give you that I am
unchangeably your…freind’.28 Apologising for tardiness in responding
to a missive from Lady Cornwallis, Lady Bedford beseeches her to

be more confident in my love to you then to suspect the clination


thereof upon the omission of any seremony, wch I confese I am often
guilty of towards my freinds, though never willingly of any such
neglect as may give them a just cause to suspect me; wch you shall
never have, but all the proofes in my power that I am as much as you
can wishe, or is in me too bee to any, your…freind29

In another, Lady Bedford acknowledges a debt of gratitude ‘which


though I confes myselfe faulty in expressing seremoniously, yet will I
never be found gilty of neglecting any real proofes I may give therof’.30
Reciprocity of service is in play: evidently responding to Lady Cornwallis’
having cried off a visit, Lady Bedford writes ‘I cannot so easily forgett
the many proofes I have had of your affection as for the omission of any
seremony to suspect itt’.31 The recurrent antithesis between ‘ceremony’
and ‘real proof’ signals that the former word comes from the Reformed
lexicon, where it signifies an empty ritual, a false representation – in
particular, a Roman Catholic sacrament or its Anglican remnant. The
mutual obligations of patronage and friendship are spoken in the lan-
guage of Reformed religion: the utterance of courtiership is inflected by
Calvinism, or at least anti-Catholicism.
The linguistic exchange operates in the other direction: Calvinist predes-
tination is spoken in the language of courtiership. Named in twenty-two
80 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

of Lady Bedford’s letters to Lady Cornwallis, God is implied in another


two by the phrase ‘I hartely pray for…’. The ten ‘Godless’ letters are
short ones setting appointments, making arrangements or covering the
transmission of something. The letters in which God is mentioned most
often – seven times in a single letter from early September 1616 – tend to
be full of explanation, encouragement and/or consolation. Sometimes
the invocations are formulae such as ‘I thank God’, ‘God knows’ or
(much more often) ‘God willing’. Variations on the ‘Deo volente’ theme
are eloquent in their expectation of divinely-sent trouble: ‘if the hand of
God Almighty imposes not the contrary’;32 ‘do I not doubt by the assist-
ance of Almighty God I shall ere long overcome difficulties’.33 Elsewhere
Divine unwillingness is not anticipated but remembered: ‘If God con-
tradicted not my purpose’; ‘it pleased God to order it otherwise’;34 ‘if
it had pleased God to have longer spared us’;35 and – an excruciat-
ing contrary-to-fact conditional statement – ‘if God had continued
me a mother’.36 That He did not is construed as assistance from the
Almighty, and any inclination to see it otherwise is a fault needing
correction: suffering is heaven-sent for human edification and divine
glorification. The response to the nearly coincident deaths of her own
mother and of the Pembrokes’ only child is: ‘God, that sees no afflic-
tion to work sufficiently upon me, hath…added another’.37 Prince
Charles’s return from Spain with Buckingham but without the Infanta,
and in himself ‘the most improved man that ever I saw’, shows that
‘the only Wyse God, who brings light out of darkenes, can favour ws by
ways wee could not imagine could have prodused such happy effects’.38
Syntax is strained by the paradoxes of faith: ‘that I have not according
to my promis performed ther hath binne no fault in my will, nor other
hindrance then His that disposeth of His, att His, not our pleasure’.39
Divine dispensation stretches human endurance and eludes human
understanding:

I feele so to the quicke this last affliction God hath pleased to lay
upon me as no worldly comfort will ever be able to prevaile against
itt, for I have lost the best & worthiest freind that ever breathed…
nor can I ever by any sorrow satisfie my oune hart that itt is such as
I ought to have for such a heavie crosse, which yett I trust will be a
means to fitt mee the sooner for heaven, because I am sure nothing
on earth well ever be able to recover much hold on me; not that God
hath not yett in mersie leaft me freinds I love better then ever I did
myselfe, but this hath made mee see that I must have the best freinds
in the world but to loose them I know not how soone.40
Godly Patronage: Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford 81

In this last letter, one of two responding to Hamilton’s death on Ash


Wednesday of 1625, Lady Bedford almost forgets that she is writing to
a living friend as well as about a recently deceased one, and her recov-
ery of balance is clumsy. Usually, however, she keeps her courtly poise,
remembers the obligations of her relationship to the living friend and
undertakes to do her service. Lady Cornwallis, frightened for her con-
sumptive husband’s life, is encouraged:

have pacience & afflict not your selfe while god I hope intends yow
your harts desier, not to take from you yett that yow hold so deare,
who have already learnt so well to submit your will to his as so sharpe
a presept needs not, to teach you obedience; but, howsoever the only
wyse God shall please to deale with you, you shall have my infirme
prayers that he will never leave to speake peace unto your soule,
nor to give you joyefull assurances of His favor; whearof (if it be His
will) I beseech Him now as an earnest to hear what you aske for your
husband.41

The Calvinist urges submission to Divine Providence, but the courtier


appeals, on behalf of her friend, to Divine Patronage.

Notes
1. Hatfield MS 140.125 [BL Microfilm M/485/34]. The reference to ‘Doncaster’ –
Hay’s title from July 1618 until September 1622 – supplies the terminus a quo,
while a later reference to ‘Fotherby’ puts the probable terminus ad quem in
March 1620, when death ended Fotherby’s brief tenure as Bishop of Salisbury.
My attention was drawn to these verses by a paper which Helen Payne gave
at the Institute of Historical Research in March 1998, and I am grateful to
Dr Payne for sending me a copy of it.
2. See Francis H. W. Sheppard (ed.), Survey of London XXXVI: The Parish of
St. Paul Covent Garden (London: Athlone Press, 1970) 23: 205–7 and Plate 1.
3. PRO IND: 1/17233, fol. 242.
4. See William Temple, ‘Upon the Gardens of Epicurus; or, Of Gardening, in the
year 1685’, The Works of Sir William Temple (London: T. Woodward, 1750),
II, 170–90, pp. 185–6; Robert Clutterbuck, The History and Antiquities of the
County of Hertford (London: Nichols, Son & Bentley, 1815) I, 195.
5. The indispensable finding aid for literary patronage as recorded in Early
Modern printed texts is Franklin B. Williams, Jr., Index of Dedications and
Commendatory Verses in English Books before 1641 (London: Bibliographical
Society, 1962). An early survey of Lady Bedford’s literary patronage was:
Florence Humphreys Morgan, A Biography of Lucy Countess of Bedford, the Last
Great Literary Patroness, unpublished Ph.D. (English) dissertation, University of
Southern California, 1956. More recent and better known is: Barbara Lewalski,
82 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

‘Exercising Power: The Countess of Bedford as Courtier, Patron, and Coterie


Poet’, Chapter 6 in her Writng Women in Jacobean England (Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1993), 94–123. For William Herbert, see: John
Richard Briley, A Biography of William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke, unpub-
lished Ph.D. (English) dissertation, University of Birmingham, 1961; and
Michael G. Brennan Literary Patronage in the English Renaissance: the Pembroke
Family (London: Routledge, 1988).
6. Donne’s name has dominated posthumous accounts of Lady Bedford since the
early 1680s, when it was noted that although she had ‘died without Issue…
her memory still survives, highly Celebrated in Dr. Donnes Poems’ ( James
Wright, The History and Antiquities of the County of Rutland [London: B.Griffin,
1684; facsimile edition E P Publishing Ltd., East Ardsley, Wakefield, 1973],
p. 49). (In the 1685 essay which is cited in Note 4 above, William Temple
referred to her as ‘the Countess of Bedford, esteemed among the greatest
Wits of her Time, and celebrated by Doctor Donne’.) Their living relationship
lasted long enough, and was well enough documented, to have occasioned
extensive and often impressive study – most notably, by Patricia Thomson,
R. C. Bald, Margaret Maurer, Arthur Marotti, Ted-Larry Pebworth, Paul R. Sellin
and Cedric Brown. Indeed, a narrative of Lady Bedford’s intellectual culture
and her Calvinism could be mapped through reference to Donne’s work and
work on Donne: such, however, is not the route of the present essay.
7. John Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, 22 February 1617, in John Cham-
berlain, in N. E. MacLure (ed.), The Letters of John Chamberlain (Philadelphia:
American Philosophical Society, 1939), II, 54–7, p. 55.
8. Karen Hearn, ‘Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford, as Art Patron &
Collector’, MA thesis, Courtauld Institute University of London, 1990, p.41;
revised as ‘A Question of Judgement: Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford,
as Art Patron and Collector’, in Edward Chaney (ed.), The Evolution of English
Collecting: Receptions of Italian Art in the Tudor and Stuart Periods (New Haven
& London: Yale University Press, 2003), 221–39, especially pp. 227–8.
9. Chaney (ed.), The Evolution of English Collecting, pp. 228, 238, n. 54, and
references cited there; 225; 227.
10. See Duncan Robinson, ‘Recent Acquisitions (1995–2004) in the Fitzwilliam
Museum, Cambridge’, The Burlington Magazine CXLVI (2004), 505–25, espe-
cially p. 508; Nicholas Stone, in Walter L. Spiers (ed.), The Notebook and
Account Book of Nicholas Stone, Master Mason to James I and Charles I (Oxford:
Walpole Society, 1919), pp. 47–8, 111.
11. Lady Bedford to Lady Cornwallis, holograph letter dated at Bedford House
7 March [1618], Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 81v. This and all subsequent
quotations from Lady Bedford’s letters to Lady Cornwallis within this essay
are reproduced by courtesy of Essex Record Office.
12. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fols. 105,123v.
13. John Chamberlain at London to Dudley Carleton at Venice, 3 March 1613/4,
in Chamberlain, The Letters of John Chamberlain, I, 516.
14. See Devon Record Office, L1258, Russell Estate Papers (Devon), General
Evidences, Bundle 4, Nos. 13, 15 and 17. I am grateful to Dr. Diane Duggan
for drawing this material to my attention and sharing her transcript of part
of it with me.
Godly Patronage: Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford 83

15. Johann Gerhard, The soules watch: or a day-booke for the deuout soule…
Englished by R[ichard] B[ruch] (London: Thomas Snodham for Roger Jackson,
2nd edn, 1615), fol. A3.
16. Nicholas Byfield, An Exposition vpon the Epistle to the Colossians (London:
T.S[nodham & Edward Griffin] for Nathaniel Butter, 1615), fol. ¶5v.
17. Nicholas Byfield, Sermons Upon the First Chapter of the first Epistle generall of
Peter (London: Edward Griffin for Nathaniel Butter, 1617), fols ¶2v–3.
18. Thomas Wilcox, The Works of that Late Reverend and Learned Divine,
Mr. Thomas Wilcocks (London: John Haviland, 1624), fol. A3v.
19. Cornelius Burges, A Chaine of Graces, drawne out at Length for Reformation of
Manners (London: J.H[aviland] for Samuel Man, 1622), fol. A4v.
20. Abraham Jackson, Gods Call for mans Heart (London: T.S[nodham] for Roger
Jackson, 1618), fol. A2v; Johann Gerhard, Gerards [sic] Prayers, or, A Daily
Exercise of Piety…Translated into English by R. Winterton (London: for Roger
Jackson, 1625), fol. A3.
21. Daniel Dyke, Two Treatises…(London: G.P[urslowe & W. Stansby] for Robert
Mylbourne, 1618), fols A2v–3v.
22. Thomas Wilcox, The Substanec [sic] of Christian Religion (London: Arn[old]
Hatfield for Felix Norton, 1600), fols A2–6. Records of Anne Russell Dudley’s
and William Lord Russell’s attempts to impose order and economy upon
the household of the Third Earl survive in his papers at Woburn. For an
accessible summary, see Margaret M. Byard, ‘The Trade of Courtiership: The
Countess of Bedford and the Bedford Memorials: a family history from 1585
to 1607’, History Today ( January 1979), 20–8.
23. John Chamberlain at London to Dudley Carleton at the Hague, 15 July 1619,
in The Letters of John Chamberlain, II, 250–3 (p. 250).
24. Hatfield MS 31/19 [BL Microfilm M/485/7].
25. Hatfield MS 46/74 [BL Microfilm M/485/9].
26. PRO SP 84/103/213–4 (fol. 213), holograph letter to Dudley Carleton from
Lady Bedford, dated at Harington House, 5 November [1621].
27. I am here indebted to Linda Levy Peck, Court Patronage and Corruption in Early
Stuart England (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990), especially pp. 13–29.
28. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 61.
29. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 76.
30. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 105.
31. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 65.
32. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 83.
33. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 62.
34. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 60.
35. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 122v.
36. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 92v.
37. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 95.
38. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 110.
39. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 71.
40. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 117.
41. Essex RO MS D/DBy/C/19, fol. 119.
7
‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’:
Mary, Lady Vere
Jacqueline Eales

At her death aged ninety, Mary, Lady Vere was celebrated as a famous
‘Protestant Dorcas, full of good works, and alms-deeds’. Throughout
her long life, Vere had consciously moulded herself as a godly woman
whose personal motto, God will provide, was to be found written in her
own hand ‘in the front of most of her books in her closet’.1 Religious
piety could, as Peter Lake has argued, allow women to exercise ‘personal
potency’ and at her funeral Vere’s authority within puritan circles was
duly recognised by the preacher. In his funeral sermon William Gurnall
recalled that ‘few ever exceeded her, in loving and honouring’ the
‘faithful ministers of Christ’ and described her zeal in finding ‘able and
faithful ministers for those livings she had in her dispose’.2
Vere’s example demonstrates how a woman could position herself as
an intellectual patron at the centre of a high profile puritan and Parlia-
mentarian family network in the seventeenth century. Her reputation
within these circles is attested in the correspondence she held with
leading puritan clerics and with members of her family. Both writing
and receiving letters provided early modern women with a particularly
important form of intellectual and political influence since they were
excluded from so many formal and informal arenas of male society and
her letters provide valuable evidence about Vere’s intellectual interests.3
Further evidence about her role as a patron can be found in the dedica-
tions made to her by clerical authors over a span of nearly 45 years. The
rare survival of the diary of one of her chaplains also confirms the role
of Vere as the patron and friend of a wide circle of puritan ministers,
whilst also revealing that the relationship between a minister and his
patron was not always harmonious.4
These sources demonstrate that Vere’s personal piety was constructed by
herself and others as part of the wider genre of puritan intellectual culture
84
‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’: Mary, Lady Vere 85

with its shared religious values and modes of expression. Especially for
the laity, the distinctiveness of Puritanism lay not so much in rarefied
theological debates about Calvinist predestination, but in the modes
they adopted for observing their faith. This included an intense round of
household and private worship, which reinforced the sense of belonging
to a restricted godly community marked out for salvation or, in Calvinist
terms, election. Intellectually puritanism also rested on a fundamentalist
interpretation of the word of God, which led some puritans into noncon-
formity over scruples about church ceremonies, liturgy and governance.5
As a woman Vere was able to play a specific role within puritan intel-
lectual culture by preserving godly values among her family and by
patronising puritan clerics.6 Moreover, the defence of family interests
and the maintenance of her religious faith were the two principal factors
which legitimated an early modern woman’s agency and Vere was able
to draw on both of these factors to play a conspicuously independent
role amongst the godly community.7 Vere’s puritanism can be traced not
only through her own expressions of personal piety, but also through
her family’s intellectual, political and religious affiliations, which con-
nected her to the leading seventeenth century nonconformist and mod-
erate puritan circles in London and the provinces. The spiritual traditions
of Vere’s family were central to her influence within puritan intellectual
culture and she made a particular point of celebrating the long-standing
Protestant credentials of the Tracys, her paternal family. In 1608, when
she made a gift of a book to Sir Thomas Bodley’s library, she asked that
she should be described in the inscription as the daughter of Sir John
Tracy: ‘filia Io. Tracy de Tuddington Militis’.8 She also ‘took much delight’
in the story of her ancestor William Tracy, who was mentioned in Foxe’s
Book of Martyrs and whose remains were burnt after Archbishop Warham
declared that his will was heretical in 1532. In this way the Protestant
tradition within her family could be traced back to the earliest days of
the English Reformation.9
Following her second marriage in 1607 to the renowned general Sir
Horace Vere, Mary Vere also became closely associated with political sup-
port for the international Calvinist cause, which was widely endorsed
by the puritans in the face of limited practical aid from either James I
or Charles I. Sir Horace had already established his military reputation
in the Dutch wars against Catholic Spain and his status as a national
hero would later earn him burial in Westminster Abbey.10 During their
married life the couple spent much of their time in the Low Countries,
where Sir Horace was appointed governor of the garrison town of Brill
in 1610 and governor of Utrecht in 1618. Between 1620 and 1622 the
86 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

general commanded the English volunteer force in the Palatinate and


later he commanded an English brigade in the Prince of Orange’s army.
The combination of Dutch religious tolerance and the freedom from
strict religious conformity afforded by army life allowed the Veres to
patronise a succession of puritan, nonconformist chaplains, who had
fled the strict uniformity increasingly imposed in England. The couple
also sought out the ministry and friendship of puritan clerics in England,
many of whom criticised the crown for not offering stronger political
and military support to the European Calvinist communities during
the Thirty Years War. Amongst these men the Veres’ joint reputations as
godly supporters of international Calvinism was unparalleled.11
Vere was widowed in 1635, but through the marriages of her five
daughters and of her niece, Brilliana Conway, she was also brought into
close contact with the parliamentarian opposition to the crown in the
1640s. In particular she was associated with the Presbyterian party, which
opposed the execution of Charles I. In 1637 Vere’s daughter Anne mar-
ried Thomas Fairfax, the future commander-in-chief of the New Model
Army and fourteen years earlier Vere had brokered the marriage between
Brilliana Conway and the leading Parliamentarian, Sir Robert Harley.12
Her influence with the Parliamentarians is reflected by Vere’s nomina-
tion in 1643 as governess of two of the King’s children. Clarendon later
recorded that she was chosen for this role because she was ‘much in their
[Parliament’s] favour’, but she refused the charge.13 In January 1649, on
the eve of the regicide, the Presbyterian cleric John Geree urged Vere and
her daughter Ann Fairfax to persuade Sir Thomas Fairfax to save the life
of Charles I.14 This was a forlorn plea, but Mary Vere would maintain her
reputation as a central figure in puritan and parliamentarian circles until
her death in December 1671.
Arguably Vere’s greatest success as a patron of the clergy came in
1624, when she was able to obtain the Archbishopric of Armagh for the
Irish bishop James Ussher through the influence of her brother-in-law
and secretary of state, Sir Edward Conway. Her actions in promoting her
protégé to a powerful court contact were typical of the age and dem-
onstrate the ways in which elite women, as well as men, participated
in patronage politics.15 Ussher subsequently wrote to thank her and
emphasised that he was a ‘mere stranger’ to Conway and ‘no otherwise
made known unto him but by what you (out of the abundance of your
affection) have been pleased to deliver concerning me’.16 Despite his
episcopal career, Ussher was highly regarded by puritans and in the
early 1640s he advised the king and parliament on possible religious
compromise.17 In 1624 Vere also successfully made use of her personal
‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’: Mary, Lady Vere 87

connections with Secretary Conway to promote John Davenport, as


vicar of St Stephen, Coleman Street in London.18 Although Davenport
protested his conformity in 1624, he was a critic of the crown’s lack of
support for the international Calvinist cause and in 1633 he emigrated
to the Netherlands to avoid the demands of the Laudian regime.19 After
he moved to Boston in 1637 Davenport and Vere maintained their cor-
respondence for another decade during which time he became a leading
proponent of congregationalism in New England. In a letter addressed
to Vere at the Hague in 1628 Davenport remarked on her public posi-
tion as the wife of a national military and godly hero, telling her that
‘the whole countrye lookes upon your personall carriadge, and upon the
ordering of your family’. Davenport’s letters to Vere also contained spir-
itual guidance, particularly on the deaths of Vere’s sons-in-law, Sir Roger
Townshend in 1637 and Oliver St. John in 1639.20
Such letters illustrate what Tom Webster has called the social world
of the saints ‘comforting each other in a separation from profane
sociability’.21 This is also apparent in Vere’s correspondence with other
clerics including the nonconformists John Burgess and William Ames,
who served as Sir Horace’s chaplains between 1605 and 1622, Nicholas
Byfield, the vicar of Isleworth in Middlesex, and John Dod, an acknowl-
edged and long-lived leader of the puritan clergy. In 1618 Burgess wrote
a letter of spiritual counsel to Vere, in which he referred to her deliver-
ance from melancholy and beseeched God to continue her good health
and ‘cheerfulness of mind’. The spiritual counselling of the laity through
the medium of letter writing was an important element in the cultural
construction of the godly community, yet it is important to note that the
clergy could receive counsel in this way from the laity as well. Burgess
was thus willing to receive spiritual support from Vere, who was regarded
as well practised in the demands of the genre. In 1621 he informed Vere
of the ‘bitter calamity’ of the death of his wife and later wrote her a
lengthy and heartfelt letter about the loss of his companion of ‘above 30
years together’, in which he observed that Vere had done well to remind
him ‘of our duties of submitting willingly to the hand of God’.22
Vere’s melancholy was also the subject of letters of spiritual counsel
from one of the foremost leaders of the puritan clergy, John Dod, whose
long career had started under Elizabeth I. By the early 1640s when Dod
was in his early nineties, he was seen as the living embodiment of
the links between the Parliamentarians and the foundation of English
Puritanism. Dod was a specialist in supporting the spiritually afflicted
and in his letters he noted that Vere was ‘naturally addicted unto mel-
ancholy’ and comforted her on the deaths of her brother in 1617 and
88 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

of her son by her first marriage in 1623. In a letter written in December


1642 when he was 92, Dod offered before his death to ‘resolve you of
any doubts or questions in your heart’. Like many of her clerical corre-
spondents, Dod noted that ‘I make mention of you daily in my prayers’.
Such prayers were an additional link in the intellectual construction
and validation of the godly community and the expectation was that
Vere would similarly pray for her correspondents.23
Mary Vere’s reputation as ‘Deliciae Cleri, The Ministers Delight’, as
Gurnall phrased it, was brought to wider public attention by the number
of clerics who dedicated their works to her and she encouraged a variety
of their religious works into the press. In 1618 Nicholas Byfield dedicated
his Directions for the Private Reading of Scriptures to Mary and Horace Vere
as his parishioners, because they had previously been pleased to ‘desire
and accept directions of this kinde from me in writing’.24 In 1622, when
he published some of his sermons as The Rules of a Holy Life, Byfield dedi-
cated them to Mary Vere, who had heard ‘the preaching of them with
special attention, and have been a principall perswader to have them
published for the common good’.25 In 1623 Thomas Gataker dedicated
The Ioy of the Iust to the couple as eminent persons for ‘place and pietie’
and in 1630 Richard Sibbes dedicated his sermons on Matthew 12, The
Bruised Reede and Smoaking Flax to them both for they were exemplary in
all ‘religious courses, both in your places likewise having been imploied
in great services for the common good, so that not only this, but forraign
states are bound to bless God for you both’.26 Like so many of Vere’s cleri-
cal contacts, Gataker and Sibbes were both critics of the government over
the issue of the international Calvinist cause.27 As a widow Vere contin-
ued to be regarded as an important patron. In the early 1650s Thomas
Watson, the Presbyterian cleric, who had acted as Vere’s chaplain in the
mid-1640s, and Thomas Washbourne, a Gloucester cleric and an ardent
royalist, both made it clear in dedications to her that she had encouraged
them to publish their devotional works. By that time it was not surpris-
ing that Vere should be the patron of a royalist for many Presbyterians
were alienated by the Cromwellian regime and were united with the
royalists in their abhorrence of the execution of Charles I in 1649.28
Vere’s personal piety and her concern for the international Calvinist
cause are revealed more fully in her letters to her family. An undated let-
ter written to her two eldest daughters Elizabeth and Mary develops the
themes of female and of household piety and exhorts them to pray to
God, to read their bibles diligently and to observe what they read. They
should learn some sentence of scripture by heart every day ‘yt yow may
be stired wth ye good word of god, wch will directe yow in your carriage
‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’: Mary, Lady Vere 89

in his life & build yow up to life eternall’. Her letters written to her
son-in-law Roger Townshend, also reveal how well respected the Veres
were in the Hague. In January 1629 Vere was asked by James I’s daugh-
ter, the Queen of Bohemia, to stand as a deputy to the Duchess of
Richmond as godmother to ‘ye little young princess’ Charlotte. In April
1629 she reported that her husband was to go ‘next week into ye field’,
but it is clear that even then she was not inured to fears for her hus-
band’s life and sought comfort in her religious beliefs: ‘what a continu-
all care & feare his absence will breede in me yow will easily conceave,
but I must as cheerfully as I can commend him to my good God, who
hath hitherto preserved him & delivered me from my feares, wch must
teache me ever to depend upon him in faith’. Vere also took refuge in
her faith in 1632 when she reported the death of Townshend’s newborn
child: ‘God in his wisdome manifested his will, unto wch I hope you
will submit as to ye hand of a father’. In addressing Townshend, Vere
cast herself as his ‘loving mother’, which gave her the latitude to advise
and counsel the younger man. Later that year she asked Townshend’s
opinion whether, having returned to England, she should wear mourn-
ing for the King of Bohemia ‘because by reason of ye Princesses being
with me, I have had a greater interest there, then many yt do mourn’.29
The reference to the princesses suggests that Vere may have had a hand
in their upbringing while she was in the Hague and in turn this may
explain why she was chosen as a potential governess to Charles I’s chil-
dren in 1643. Vere certainly took a number of children into her house-
hold including a daughter of her niece, Brilliana Harley.30
Vere was also very interested in news of the continental warfare because
of its implications for the international Protestant cause and the presence
of a newsletter in Sir Robert Harley’s papers concerning the actions of the
Protestant allies in 1620, which was endorsed with the words ‘from my
Lord General Vere to his Lady, news’, suggests that the information she
received was shared within the wider family.31 In November 1633 she
observed that in Germany affairs were ‘in reasonable good state’ despite
the activities of the duke of Feria, who had withdrawn into Burgundy.
This interest continued after the death of her husband and in 1637 she
informed Sir Ferdinando Fairfax of a Swedish victory against imperial
forces which ‘will hinder the Emperor’s design to send forces against the
Low Countries’.32
This early period of Vere’s widowhood is also illustrated briefly in
the diary of her chaplain Samuel Rogers, who joined her household
in Hackney in December 1637 at the age of 24 and whose diary ends
in December 1638. It is unclear how long Rogers continued as Vere’s
90 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

chaplain for in the early 1640s John Wallis, the mathematician, was
acting as her chaplain. Rogers had previously served as household chap-
lain to Lady Margaret Denny in Bishops Stortford, where he had been
at odds with her over her swearing and one of her servant’s drunken
behaviour. His description of the Denny household, which Rogers
regarded as a ‘barren rotten company’, provides a valuable comparison
with the more godly regime of Vere’s household.33 Nevertheless, in time
he also found fault with his new mistress. Rogers’ diary depicts some
of the potential tensions in the relationship between clerics and their
patrons, which were not so readily expressed in other written genres.
It is worth noting that Rogers also appeared to have been particularly
unsympathetic towards women and may have found dealing with a
socially superior female patron problematic.
Poised between two households headed by women, Rogers wrote in
his diary just before he left Bishops Stortford that ‘my mind is surely
agitated through the filthy, and minimally noble customs of women’.
At first, however, his ministry at Vere’s house was rewarding and he
remarked on how different Vere was to Margaret Denny. Vere was an
example of ‘pious humility’ and an ‘honourable matron’ and, just as we
have seen in her correspondence with puritan ministers, Vere was able
to offer Rogers mutual spiritual support as he confided to her that he
was ‘under a pressing load’, she was ‘much consolation’ to him while he
‘consoled her in turn’. Rogers also recorded the visits of puritan divines
to the household including Obadiah Sedgewick, a former chaplain to
Sir Horace Vere. During a debilitating illness, which afflicted him from
February to May 1638, Rogers was visited by John Dod, who had proba-
bly been summoned by Vere, for he had attended the sick beds of many
of the godly. Yet, as he recovered, Rogers became increasingly critical of
Vere and her female circle, describing himself as ‘sadded’ through the
‘darke, dusty, dulsome carriage of these women’.
The death of his sister Mary cast Rogers into greater spiritual turmoil
and a rebuke from Vere for being too long at prayer was greeted with
private anger – ‘my heart boiles ag[ainst] her most bitterly: a sad w4m1n
[woman], that will have her w3l [will], and will not give an 4inch
[inch]’. He criticised Vere and her kinswoman Lady Anne Wake for
lacking the simplicity and fervency of ‘poore ones’ and dismissed them
rudely in his diary as housewives – ‘these 2 husw3f2s’. Yet Rogers’ final
entry about Vere concerns a successful religious fast in the household
and refers to his consolation in matters concerning himself and the
wider puritan community – ‘concerning me, the family…Lady Vere, of
our church, and the Scottish church’.34
‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’: Mary, Lady Vere 91

William Gurnall’s funeral sermon for Lady Vere The Christian’s Labour
and Reward fleshes out the godly household regime barely hinted at by
Rogers.35 Gurnall’s construction of Vere matches what we know of her
life from other sources, but it also contains some notable omissions, for
‘godly lives’ were not intended to be pure biographies, they were fash-
ioned as an edifying example of godliness to be disseminated largely
in print.36 Gurnall does not mention, for example, the influence that
Vere had on the piety of the children she had raised, although this was
a crucial aspect of her influence as the matriarch of a puritan family
network. Nor is there any reference to her parliamentarian connections,
an omission which is understandable, for after the Restoration the puri-
tans were at pains to portray themselves as moderates and many such
puritan lives edited out references to the civil wars. Gurnall started by
listing ‘her graces’, which included the fear of God, her zeal in worship,
her love of God, her charity, her sincerity and her humility. He described
her as a constant attender at public worship and a frequent partaker of
the ‘lords supper’. Twice a day the family gathered to worship, to hear
the Bible read and to sing a psalm. On the Sabbath the sermon was
repeated in the family and as we know from Rogers’ diary this task fell
to Vere’s chaplain. Vere then called her servants to give an account of
what they remembered and after supper the servants sang a psalm when
Vere joined them. She also retired to her closet, ‘which was excellently
furnished with pious books of practical divinity’ twice a day, where she
‘redeemed much pretious time, in reading the holy scriptures and other
good books’.
Strikingly Gurnall compared Vere to John Dod, since their long lives
taught both of them patience in their yearning for Heaven, ‘this gracious
Lady knew so much of Heaven, as made her stay here tedious to her’.
In a reference perhaps to her earlier bouts of melancholy Gurnall noted
that in spite of these graces, Vere humbly believed that she ‘was useless,
and unprofitable’. In her final days her pain was strong, but her ‘patience
stronger’ and her last words were ‘how shall I do to be thankfull? How
shall I do to praise my God?’ As we have noted, in constructing this
image of Vere as an extraordinarily pious woman, Gurnall was participat-
ing in a formulaic genre, but he was also addressing a congregation of
those who knew her well including her daughter Elizabeth, the Countess
of Clare, who had attended her death bed. Yet Gurnall was confident
that his pen portrait would be recognised, for few had a ‘higher testi-
mony for piety…than she hath from all that dwelt under her roof’.
Vere’s funeral was attended by Ralph Josselin, the minister of Earls
Colne in Essex, who recorded in his diary that on 10th January 1672 he
92 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

was at Castle Hedingham ‘at the funeral of the good Lady Vere, who
lived beloved and blessed of God. 90 yeares. Died lamented of all’.37 The
immense importance of Vere’s reputation to the puritans is reflected in
the way in which Vere’s reputation was commemorated in print after
her death. Gurnall’s sermon was published in 1672 accompanied by a
series of epitaphs by five other ministers.38 Her godly reputation was fur-
ther enhanced by the inclusion of her funeral sermon in Samuel Clarke’s
last publication, Lives of sundry eminent persons in this later age (1683).39
Gurnall’s funeral sermon for Vere fits well with Clarke’s selection of
godly lives, which were in part intended to establish the moderation of
the puritan tradition and which Clarke himself edited to this end.40
As we have seen from her correspondence with puritan ministers and
the books dedicated to her, it was not just in death that Vere’s importance
to the godly community was recognised. Although John Geree did not
know her personally, in his dedication to her of Might Overcoming Right
in 1649 he recorded her ‘deserved fame for…eminency and sincerity in
religion’. Geree linked himself and Vere for their lengthy service to God
‘after the way that hath been called Puritanisme’ and further linked
her to the dissenting tradition by referring to the afflictions that the
church courts used to impose on ‘men of my principles’. Throughout
her lifetime and after her death, Vere’s role in the preservation and dis-
semination of puritan intellectual culture was widely recognised and
celebrated. Her patronage of godly ministers and of their publications
had helped the survival and consolidation of Puritanism from the reign
of James I, through the crisis of civil war and into the years of non-
conformist realignment under Charles II. Her cultivation of puritan
religious traditions within her own household and wider family was
also a crucial element in the continuation of Puritanism from the end
of Elizabeth’s reign and into the Restoration period. In addressing Vere,
Geree thus noted that she had been ‘spiritually in Christ long before
me’ and he acknowledged Vere as ‘an ancient mother in our Israel’.
This was a remarkable accolade, which had previously been accorded to
Elizabeth I.41 Now Geree used the phrase ‘our Israel’ in a restricted sense
to denote the puritan tradition and the community of the godly. To the
puritans it was a fitting tribute to Vere’s lengthy role as both matriarch
and patron within seventeenth century puritan intellectual culture.

Notes
1. I am grateful to Frank Bremer, Andy Hopper, Peter Lake, David Trim, and
Tom Webster for their advice and help with references and quotations for
‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’: Mary, Lady Vere 93

this essay. I am also grateful for permission to quote from Lady Vere’s letters
from the Newcastle Collection in the Manuscripts and Special Collections,
University of Nottingham. William Gurnall, The Christians Labour and
Reward (London: [n.p.], 1672), pp. 141, 126.
2. Peter Lake, ‘Feminine Piety and Personal Potency: the Emancipation of
Mrs Ratcliffe’, Seventeenth Century 2:2 (1987), 143–65; Gurnall, The Christian’s
Labour, pp. 138–9, 130.
3. James Daybell (ed.), Early Modern Women’s Letter Writing, 1450–1700 (Basing-
stoke: Palgrave, 2001); Jane Couchman and Ann Crabb (eds), Women’s
Letters Across Europe, 1400–1700: Form and Persuasion (Aldershot: Ashgate,
2005); James Daybell, Women Letter Writers in Tudor England (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2006).
4. Tom Webster and Kenneth Shipps (eds.), The Diary of Samuel Rogers, 1634–
1638 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004).
5. See Christopher Durston and Jacqueline Eales, ‘Introduction: The Puritan
Ethos’, in Durston and Eales (eds.), The Culture of English Puritanism, 1560–
1700 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996), pp. 1–31.
6. See Jacqueline Eales, ‘A Road to Revolution: The Continuity of Puritanism,
1559–1642’, in Durston and Eales (eds), The Culture of English Puritanism,
pp. 184–209.
7. For an expanded discussion of the themes of women’s defence of family
and faith see Jacqueline Eales, Women in Early Modern England, 1500–1700
(London: UCL Press, 1998).
8. G. W. Wheeler (ed.), Letters of Sir Thomas Bodley to Thomas James (Oxford:
Bodleian Library, 1985), p. 175. I am grateful to David Trim for this reference.
9. Gurnall, The Christians Labour, pp. 126–7. The importance of the Protestant
Tracy family tradition to Lady Vere was recorded as early as 1611 in Henry
Hexham’s dedication to Vere of his translation of Polyander’s A Disputation
against the Adoration of the Reliques of Saints Departed (Dordrecht: George
Walters, 1611).
10. S. L. Adams, ‘The Protestant Cause: Religious Alliance with the Western
European Calvinist Communities as a Political Issue in England, 1585–1630’,
unpublished DPhil. Thesis, University of Oxford, 1973.
11. For Sir Horace Vere see ‘Sir Horace Vere’, ODNB.
12. For the Fairfaxes see Andrew Hopper, Black Tom: Sir Thomas Fairfax and the
English Revolution (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007); for the
Harleys see Jacqueline Eales, Puritans and Roundheads: the Harleys of Brampton
Bryan and the Outbreak of the English Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press, 1990).
13. JHC, Vol. II: 1640–1643, p. 148; Edward Hyde, The History of the Rebellion
and Civil Wars in England, re-ed. W. D. Macray (Oxford: [n.p.], 1888),
vol. IV, p. 237.
14. John Geree, Katadynastes: Might Overcoming Right (London: for Robert
Bostock, 1649), Dedication, fols. A2r–A3v.
15. For women’s involvement in early modern patronage politics see Barbara
Harris, ‘Women and Politics in Early Tudor England’, HJ 33 (1990): 259–81,
and Caroline Bowden, ‘Women as Intermediaries: an Example of the Use of
Literacy in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries’, History of
Education 22 (1993), 215–23.
94 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

16. BL Add. MS 4274, fol. 32r.


17. For Ussher see Alan Ford, James Ussher: Theology, History and Politics in Early
Modern Ireland and England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
18. Isabel M. Calder (ed.), The Letters of John Davenport Puritan Divine (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1937), p. 19.
19. National Archives SP 16/252/55.
20. Calder (ed.), The Letters of John Davenport, pp. 19, 27–33, 38–40, 56–65, 75–7,
81–3.
21. Tom Webster, Godly Clergy in Early Stuart England: the Caroline Puritan Move-
ment c. 1620–1643 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 284.
22. For Burgess’ letters to Vere see BL Add. MS 4275, fols 8, 61–8. I am grate-
ful to Peter Lake for allowing me to use his transcripts of letters in BL Add.
MS 4275.
23. For Dod’s letters to Vere see BL Add. MS 4275, fols 182–90.
24. Gurnall, The Christians Labour, p. 139; Nicholas Byfield, Directions for the
Private Reading of Scriptures (London: E.Griffin for N.Butter, 1618), fols
A2–A4.
25. Nicholas Byfield, The Rules of a Holy Life (London: Ralph Rounthwaite, 1622),
pp. 403–9. See also Nicholas Byfield, A Commentary: or Sermons upon the
Second Chapter of the First Epistle of St. Peter (London: Humfrey Lownes for
George Latham, 1623), fols A3–4, dedicated to the Veres by Byfield’s widow.
26. Thomas Gataker, The Ioy of the Iust (London: Iohn Hauiland for Fulke
Clifton, 1623), fol. A1–A3; Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reede and Smoaking
Flax (London: for R. Dawlman, 1630), fols A5–a2.
27. Isabel M. Calder, Activities of the Puritan Faction of the Church of England,
1625–1633 (London: S.P.C.K. for the Church Historical Society, 1957).
28. Thomas Watson, The Christians Charter Shewing the Priviledges of a Believer
(London: by T.M. for Ralph Smith, 1652), fols A3–b1; Thomas Washbourne,
Divine Poems (London: for Humphrey Moseley, 1654), fol. A5r; William
Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (London: [n.p.], 1662), fols A3–4
is also dedicated to Vere.
29. Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham,
Newcastle Collection 15404; copies of Vere’s letters are unfoliated at the back
of this volume.
30. Eales, Puritans and Roundheads, pp. 25–6, 42.
31. Eales, Puritans and Roundheads, p. 94.
32. Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham,
Newcastle Collection 15404, unfoliated; G. W. Johnson (ed.), The Fairfax
Correspondence (London: R. Bentley, 1848) vol. 1, p. 313.
33. Webster and Shipps (eds.), Diary of Samuel Rogers, p. xlviii, xxxii, xxxiii.
34. Webster and Shipps (eds.), Diary of Samuel Rogers, pp. 123, 128–31, 135–7,
139, 142, 150, 158, 160, 163–4, 167, 170. For Dod’s attendance in 1612 at
the death bed of Thomas Peacock, Sir Robert Harley’s choice of minister at
Brampton Bryan, see Eales, Puritans and Roundheads, p. 50.
35. Gurnall, Christians Labour and Reward, pp. 125–54.
36. Patrick Collinson, Godly People, pp. 499–525; Lake, ‘Feminine Piety and
Personal Potency’.
37. Alan Macfarlane (ed.), The Diary of Ralph Josselin, 1616–1683 (London: for
the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1976), p. 562.
‘An Ancient Mother in our Israel’: Mary, Lady Vere 95

38. Gurnall, Christians Labour and Reward, unpaginated.


39. Samuel Clark, Lives of Sundry Eminent Persons in this Later Age (London:
Thomas Simmons, 1683), pp. 144–51.
40. For Clarke’s editing of women’s godly lives see Jacqueline Eales, ‘Samuel
Clarke and the ‘Lives’ of Godly Women in Seventeenth Century England’,
in W. J. Sheils and D. Wood (eds.), Women in the Church, (Oxford: for the
Ecclesiastical History Society by Basil Blackwell, 1990), pp. 365–76.
41. Geree, Might Overcoming Right, fols A2r–A3v; see also, for example, John
Chardon, A sermon Preached at Exeter (London: Iohn Danter, 1595), p. 35,
where he asked for God’s mercy in allowing Elizabeth to live and reign long
as ‘an old mother in Israel’.
8
‘Give me thy hairt and I desyre
no more’: The Song of Songs,
Petrarchism and Elizabeth
Melville’s Puritan Poetics
Sarah C. E. Ross

Our map of puritan theological, literary, and intellectual cultures in


early modern Britain, and our sense of women’s place in these cul-
tures, is incomplete without a discussion of the Scottish poet Elizabeth
Melville, Lady Culross (c. 1582–1640).1 Melville has long been known
as the author of Ane Godlie Dreame, a 480-line dream-vision poem first
printed in Scots at Edinburgh in 1603 and republished at least thirteen
times down to 1737 in Scots and in English (the first English version was
1604).2 We have also long known that Melville had a reputation for her
devout poetry before 1603. Alexander Hume, minister of Logie dedicated
his Hymnes, Or Sacred Songs (1599) to her ‘because I know ye delite in
poesie your selfe, and as I vnfainedly confes, excelles any of your sexe
in that art, that euer I hard within this nation. I haue seene your com-
positiones so copious, so pregnant, so spirituall, that I doubt not but it
is the gift of God in you’.3 Hume’s description of Melville as a prolific
and accomplished spiritual poet has recently been validated. Jamie Reid-
Baxter uncovered in 2002 a large cache of verse at the end of a bound
manuscript volume of sermons by Robert Bruce, the ‘father’ to the early
covenanting movement banished from Edinburgh in 1600.4 The twenty-
nine poems in the Bruce manuscript, ranging from sonnets to extended
verse meditations,5 can confidently be ascribed to Melville. Reid-Baxter’s
discovery of the Bruce manuscript verse has, furthermore, facilitated the
attribution to Melville of several other lyrics in disparate print and manu-
script sources: we are now aware of 3500 ‘new’ lines of Melville’s verse.6
Elizabeth Melville’s extended poetic oeuvre proves her to be a prolific
and significant puritan woman writer, at the same time as it radically
deepens our understanding of her puritan poetics. Melville’s manuscript
poetry is more devotional in tone than the explicitly exhortative Ane
96
Elizabeth Melville’s Puritan Poetics 97

Godlie Dreame,7 and it reveals a remarkable diversity of tone and form,


and of generic and technical experimentation. Melville draws exten-
sively on the discourse of the Song of Songs to construct Christ as the
heart and soul’s absent but only true lover; in doing so, she echoes the
sacred parodies of the Scottish Gude and Godlie Ballatis and draws on
the English amatory poetry of Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe and
the Elizabethan sonneteers. Melville rewrites the tropes of Elizabethan
pastoral and Petrarchan poetics in sacred parodies of her own, and she
reinscribes Petrarchan forms with devotion in three sequences of origi-
nal devotional sonnets. Melville’s devotional verse blends poetic and
Biblical, secular and sacred, Scottish and English influences, creating
a richly intertextual but new and distinctive puritan poetic. Melville
played a vocal poetic and epistolary role in early Scottish puritanism
from the 1590s to the 1630s, addressing sonnets to John Welsh (the
son-in-law of John Knox and himself a radical minister) and Andrew
Melville (the leading Presbyterian, her distant relative) on their impris-
onments in 1605 and 1606;8 writing letters to the radical minister John
Livingstone in the 1620s and 1630s;9 and writing to Samuel Rutherford,
the leading Presbyterian minister and theologian, during his banish-
ment to Aberdeen in 1636 and 1637.10 Melville is very clearly a Scottish
poet, but the wide range of poetic texts and traditions on which she
draws demands that she be included in broader discussions of early
modern women’s writing. This essay, in the context of this volume, aims
to bring Melville into conversation with her English as well as Scottish
counterparts, facilitating an exploration of puritan women’s intellectual
cultures in seventeenth-century Britain as a whole.
Melville’s two opening poems in the Bruce manuscript focus, as
does Ane Godlie Dreame, on the pilgrimage of the puritan soul in the
wretched world.11 ‘Ane Anagram: Sob Sille Cor’ is the opening sonnet,
and the anagram, repeated in lines 1 and 14, makes Melville’s author-
ship clear. ‘Sob Sille Cor’ is an anagram for ISBEL COLROS, Isobel being
a common Scottish variation on Elizabeth.12 The sonnet is governed
by the desire of the ‘sille cor’ (silly heart, with ‘silly’ meaning simple,
ignorant or lowly)13 and the ‘sorrowing saull’ (5) to see Christ: in his
absence from the world, the speaker’s heart and soul can only ‘lerne for
to lament’ (10). The heart and soul’s yearning for Christ, ‘the sicht that
thou desyris’ (1), also governs the second poem in the Bruce manuscript,
a dixain (essentially a sonnet minus one quatrain). The poem operates
this time according to an acrostic on ISABELL COR (‘Isabell heart’), and
echoes the exhortation of the previous sonnet: ‘Above the cludis thy
soaring saull asspyris / Bot be content a lytill time to stay’ (3–4).
98 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

These opening poems’ preoccupation with the pilgrim heart and soul,
and with Christ as their only true love, pervades Melville’s Bruce manu-
script verses. The third poem is an untitled series of twenty dixain stan-
zas, each of which addresses in alternation the speaker’s heart and soul.
‘O Pilgrime pure quhat mervell tho thou murne / Thy deirest spous hes
now forsaikin thee’, the poem opens, and the pilgrim heart and soul
are lost in the ‘vaill of wo’ (54) that is the world, mourning for Christ,
their absent spouse. Christ as the bridegroom of the individual heart
and soul is a vital trope in the devotional poetics of the period, across
the denominational spectrum, but it is for Melville a governing motif,
recurring in a wide variety of tones and modes, from fleeting reference
in Ane Godlie Dreame (in which Christ announces ‘I am thy spouse’
[130]) to extended explication in ‘O Pilgrim Pure’. Melville does not
typically eroticise Christ the lover, as have writers from the Catholic
Robert Southwell to the Protestant Aemilia Lanyer;14 to the Scottish
pastor-poet (and Elizabeth’s distant relative) James Melville and Samuel
Rutherford, well-known for his ‘mystical erotic language’.15 The trope
of Christ as the lover serves rather in her verse to express the extreme
bereftness of the godly soul which is, in the world, ‘Most lyke ane wofull
wedow left alone’ (6). Melville’s use of the trope is not obviously gen-
dered, the last phrase notwithstanding. David Mullan, via Susan Felch,
has discussed the Calvinist quest for ‘ungendered Christian godliness’,16
and Melville’s images of the pilgrim heart and soul, yearning for their
spouse, implicitly espouse this ungendered quest.
Melville’s fourth poem in the Bruce manuscript invokes Christ as the
lover and spouse at the same time as it evidences Melville’s engagement
in Scottish and English poetic cultures. Christ himself speaks the poem’s
opening stanza (and the three following):

Give me thy hairt and I desyre no more


sayis chryst my spous and harkin quhat I say
I am a spirit then must thou me adore
in treuth and spirit if thow wold me obey
I cald thee home quhen thow was gone astray
and eased thee quhen thou wes loden sore
with small ado my wages thou may pay
give me thy hairt of thee I ask no more.

Melville’s ventriloquisation of Christ as he speaks to the beloved is


a striking poetic enactment of the Song of Songs, but it is not new.
Melville’s ‘give me thy hairt of thee I ask no more’ (8), which becomes
Elizabeth Melville’s Puritan Poetics 99

a recurring refrain in the eighth line of each stanza spoken by Christ, is


borrowed from a lyric in the Scottish Gude and Godlie Ballatis, in which
each stanza, also spoken by Christ, concludes ‘Gif me thy hart, I ask no
moir’.17 That Melville drew on this volume of Psalm paraphrases, godly
lyrics and godly ballads in the Scots vernacular is unsurprising, as it was
enormously popular and influential. The Gude and Godlie Ballatis also
exemplifies a Scottish taste for rewriting secular lyrics as sacred ones.18
It includes several adaptations of secular songs and ballads for spiritual
uses, its Preface explaining that when ‘zoung personis’ hear the Scriptures
‘sung into thair vulgar toung or singis it thame selfis with sweit melo-
die, then sal thay lufe thair Lord God with hart and minde, and cause
them to put away baudrie & vnclene sangis’.19 ‘Away vaine World’,
a lyric occurring at the end of several editions of Ane Godlie Dreame,
has been claimed for the Scottish court poet Alexander Montgomerie in
part because it is a contrafactum or sacred parody, a mode in which he is
known to have engaged.20 ‘Away vaine World’, however, is almost cer-
tainly Melville’s. It parodies ‘Farewell Sweet Love’, a song published by
the English lutenist Robert Jones in 1600 (two years after Montgomerie’s
death) and quoted by Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and Melville’s manu-
script poetry contains several parodies of this kind.21
‘Give me thy hairt’ reveals Melville not only interacting with Scots
poetry and poetic practices, but drawing on the English sonneteers
in order to engage in a thoroughgoing devout rewriting and critique
of secular Petrarchan poetics. She moves in the fifth stanza of the
poem from ventriloquising Christ to summing up the import of his
speech:

Heir Chryst our spous most plainlie he doth say


No man can serve two maisteris and remaine
in thair service them both for to obey
bot ane of them of force he must disdaine
by this his speache so easie sweit and plaine
we wretches may most cleirlie understand
that none can serve this world so falss and vain
bot they ar forcit to braik the lordis command.

She goes on to declare ‘It is most trew that all men do desyre / to feill that
joy sent doun from hevin above’ (57–8), in what can only be a deliber-
ate allusion to Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella sonnet 5, with its distinctive
trochaic opening and its interrogation of earthly versus heaven-sent
beauty.22 Sidney’s Astrophel is torn between the Platonic love to which
100 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

he ought to aspire, and the lust for Stella which reiterates itself with
redoubled force in the final half-line of the sonnet (‘and yet true that I
must Stella love’). Melville rewrites Astrophel’s anguish, acknowledging
that men desire ‘thair hairtis for to be set on fyre / and kendled up with
fervent zeall and love’ (59–60), but making plain that Christ is the only
true source of such love. The godly whom she addresses must ‘thair hairt
remove / from erthlie cairis and bid thair lustis adew’ (61–2). Melville
alludes repeatedly to Petrarchan tensions between pleasure and pain –
‘falss is that pleasure that is mixt with paine’ (79) – and the worldly
lover is commanded ‘hencefurth [to] have thy passiounis at comand /
and leave that world tho utheris lovis it so’ (151–2). Melville’s ‘seamless
allusive weave’ to appropriate S. M. Dunnigan’s apt description of the
scriptural allusion in her verse,23 takes in not only scriptural texts and
contemporary Scottish poetry, but secular English Petrarchism which
she inverts and reinscribes with her Lord and godly love. Notably, Mary
Sidney also parodies her brother’s Astrophel and Stella sonnet 5 in her
paraphrase of Psalm 73.24 The two women’s sacred parodies differ in
feel and focus, but it is a tantalising possibility that the mutual borrow-
ings are not coincidental, and that Melville may have had access to the
Sidney Psalms in manuscript in the 1590s.25
One of Melville’s most intriguing and consummate rewritings of secular
amatory poetics is a sacralised version of Marlowe’s ‘Passionate Shepherd
to his Love’. ‘A Call to Come to Christ wrote by my lady Culross’ is con-
tained not in the Bruce manuscript but in the manuscript miscellany of
an eighteenth-century Scotswoman, Elizabeth Bruce Boswell.26 Melville’s
version of Marlowe’s much-loved verse ventriloquises Christ, the shep-
herd par excellence:

Come live [with me] and be my love


And all these pleasurs thou shalt prove
That in my word hath warned thee
O loath this life and live with me

This life is but a blast of breath


Nothing so sure as dreadfull death
And since the time no man can know
Sett not thy love on things below

For things below will wear away


And beutie brave will soon decay
Look to that life that last[s] for ever
And love the love that failes the never
Elizabeth Melville’s Puritan Poetics 101

I never failed the in thy need


I call I cry ye come with speed
Come near and gain a crown of Glore
Give me thy heart I seek no more

Thy heart is mine I bought it deir


Then send it not a whooring here
This lawless lust and love prophane
Such pleasures false shall end in pain

Should pleasures false posesse thy heart


Since thou and they with pain must part
Then think upon these pleasures pure
That shall forevermore endure.

The lyric continues for fifteen stanzas in all, as Marlowe’s catalogue of


pastoral pleasures is replaced with a simple, but elegant and touching,
evocation of Calvinist doctrine and the sacred pleasures of adherence
to it.27 ‘A Call to Come to Christ’ is preceded in the Boswell manuscript
by a prose piece entitled ‘Observations upon effectuall calling’, which
explicates the doctrine of the ‘call’ on which the lyric revolves: ‘That all
Gods people are effectually called of God in time befor they beleive’.28
The call, a crucial stage between election and justification in the godly
life,29 is here being defined, and the prose passage goes on to describe
that ‘this call is the very voice of God to a sinner’, a doctrine which
clearly underpins Melville’s ventriloquisation of Christ in the opening
stanzas of her poem. While this prose piece has been placed alongside
the poem not by Melville but by the Boswell manuscript’s eighteenth-
century compiler, it reveals a reading of the lyric as a poetic actualisa-
tion of Calvinist doctrine.
Melville’s rewriting of ‘The Passionate Shepherd’ exemplifies her use of
the images and techniques of amatory verse even as she critiques secular
Petrarchism. The ‘Call to Come to Christ’ is unusual among Melville’s
lyrics in acknowledging the pleasure of life in the world and its ‘beu-
tie brave’, but Christ the speaker insists that these ‘things below will
wear away / And beutie brave will soon decay’. ‘[L]awless lust and love
prophane / [and] pleasures false’ are juxtaposed with ‘pleasures pure / That
shall forevermore endure’. Melville draws heavily on Marlowe’s imagistic
and verbal structures as she creates Christ’s ‘speache so easie sweit and
plaine’ (to borrow her phrase from ‘Give me thy hairt’), but the condition-
ality of response implicit in Marlowe’s lyric is replaced in Melville’s with
certainty. Christ’s call is delivered only to the Elect, and the Elect will by
102 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

definition respond to it. Melville interlinks the last and first lines of each
stanza, creating a corona that tropes in formal terms the ‘crown of Glore’
that Christ offers to the beloved (15),30 and there is a deft handling of
metrical demands. Blending the language and tropes of the Canticles and
a conviction of election with the phrasing of sixteenth-century amatory
poetry, Melville’s ‘Call to Come to Christ’ is a unique Calvinist addition to
the literary history of reply and response to Marlowe’s lyric.
Melville engages not only in the practice of sacred parody, but in a
thoroughgoing appropriation of Petrarchan modes and forms for devo-
tion. The Bruce manuscript poetry includes several devotional sonnets,
and three original devotional sonnet sequences (two of three and one
of seven sonnets), for which there is very little precedent in English or
Scottish poetry before the 1590s. Anne Lock had published her Meditations
of a Penitent Sinner, a sequence of 26 sonnets paraphrasing Psalm 51, with
her translations of Calvin in 1560,31 and Lock’s son Henry published
sacred sonnets in the 1590s.32 Wyatt and Philip Sidney both wrote Psalm
paraphrases as well as sonnet sequences,33 and Barnabe Barnes’ A Divine
Centurie of Spirituall Sonnets appeared in 1595. But the closest parallels
to Melville’s original devotional sonnet sequences are to be found in
Scottish poetry. Alexander Montgomerie produced a sequence of devo-
tional sonnets before his death in 1598, and James Melville appended
a devotional sequence of ten ‘sundry sonnets’ to the second part of his
Spirituall Propine (1598).34 Roland Greene has discussed Anne Lock’s use
of the sonnet, the technology of Petrarchism, for Calvinist devotional
purposes in terminology which is useful here. He explores the value that
Petrarchan poetics place on ‘invention’ and on the individual psyche,
describing these as deeply antithetical to Calvinist values of plainness
and, in the words of Charles Lloyd Cohen, ‘identity certainty’ (that is,
identity less individual than defined by a certainty of sinfulness and a
monofocal search for signs of election).35 Greene defines Lock’s sequence
according to its refusal of invention, expanding and reiterating Psalm 51,
and its unequivocal turn to the Lord. Elizabeth Melville, like Anne Lock,
adapts the technology of Petrarchism for Calvinist devotional purposes,
but in creating original devotional sonnet sequences and engaging more
extensively in Petrarchan psychological representation, she not only
engages in poetic invention of a different order, but takes further than
Lock and most other poets before her the use of Petrarchism to articulate
the relationship between Christ and the believer.
I will discuss here only Melville’s third sonnet sequence in the Bruce
manuscript, a series of seven sonnets which juxtapose the turmoil of
sinful worldly experience and the life of the flesh with the certainty of
Elizabeth Melville’s Puritan Poetics 103

Christ’s love. ‘Quho can conceave the wisdome love and grace / That did
vouchsaif to creat ws of noucht’ (1–2), the opening sonnet begins,

O Lord thou by thy sone ws boucht


and ws redeim’d by his death fearce and fell
then since this work all utheris dois excell
in wisdom, micht, bot speciallie in love
grant that in us thy spirit Lord may expell
distrust and fear that we thy love may prove. (7–12)

Melville’s first and second sonnets establish a confidence in Christ’s love


which acts as an opening framework for the sequence, but sonnets three
through five explore the conflicted experience of loving Christ while
living in the flesh. Sonnet three likens the speaker to ‘The sensuall sow’
whose ‘filth I far exceid’ (1), and Melville’s sacralised version of Sidneian
aspiration towards higher things informs the sonnet’s exploration of
conflicting desires: ‘bot I alace quho heicher sould aspyre / in lothsum
lustis my lyf hes long mispent’ (5–6). She opens the sestet with a turn
from ‘the myre’ (8) of her fleshly existence to the Lord: ‘o then quhat
caus have I for to lament / my bypast lyfe and humblie for to pray /
unto the Lord’ (9–11). Melville uses the ninth line of the Petrarchan
sonnet form to address Christ in lament, a turn echoed in the sixth
sonnet in her series, line nine of which is ‘if ye complaine he constant
sall remaine’ (9). Margaret P. Hannay has argued for the entwining of
the Petrarchan and Psalmic genres of complaint, the ‘praying plaints’
of the Psalms being ‘almost indistinguishable from those of the disap-
pointed lover’;36 in the case of Melville’s devout sonnets, complaint to
Christ is at once that of a Petrarchan lover and predicated on a certainty
of response that only Christ can offer.
Melville draws extensively on the language and paradoxical structures
of Petrarchism to articulate the turmoil of worldly life, as her fourth
sonnet illustrates most clearly:

In brittil bark of fraill fant feble flesch


my sillie saul with contrair windis is tost
calms me corrupt, in stormis I frett and fasch
in rest I roust, in trubell all seimis lost
no hold I have nor beild quhairof to bost
my skill is small the schaldis and rockis ar ryfe
the storme of sin still dryvis on liward cost
no anker servis bot hop to save my lyve
104 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

alace my sinis have raisd this storm and stryfe


quhilk none can swage bot Jesus Chryst alone
he can and will at neid these stormis reprove
thocht he delay till the thrid watche be gone
cum Jesus say tak courage it is I
tho first I fear yit will I death defy.

The ‘sillie saul’ so familiar from Ane Godlie Dreame is, in this sonnet, torn
and ‘tost’ by paradoxical ‘contrair[ies]’: one wind ‘calms me corrupt’, but
its antithetical storm causes her to ‘frett and fasch’. Melville expresses
these contraries in balanced lines (see lines three and four), juxtaposi-
tion being reinforced through her typically Scottish use of alliteration
(see line 3). She turns in line ten to Christ who, alone, can ‘swage’ her
turmoil and fear, and in line fourteen, internal alliteration and balanced
clauses express her turn from worldly fear to a defiance of death. Sonnet
five, immediately following, operates on the same pattern of Petrarchan
paradoxes, reinforced through balanced phrases and alliteration, articu-
lating worldly turmoil:

In sence of sin void of all sence of grace


my lothsum lyfe bot peace or Licht I lead
quhen licht dois ryse then banischt is my peace
quhen peace I have then dois my licht clene faid. (1–4)

The Petrarchan trope of being at war with oneself is encapsulated in line


five, ‘thus sin hes put me with my self at fead’, before the sestet offers
resolution: ‘Lord schaw thy love on me pure wofull wicht / and wasche
me cleine quho greivouslie hes sind’ (11–12). In the sonnet’s final cou-
plet, the use of balanced phrases to articulate contraries is transformed
into alliterated, iterated and rhymed phrases which enforce a sense of
steadiness in Christ’s love: ‘then grace and peace sall fill my hairt with
joy / thy licht and micht sall still be my convoy’ (13–14).
Petrarchan paradoxes articulate in Melville’s sonnet sequence the tumult
and irresolution of ‘my lothsum lyfe’; however, unlike amatory sequences
such as Sidney’s in which resolution is only ever fleeting, Melville’s
sonnets turn towards the consummate resolution in Christ’s love. Such a
turn operates not only within individual sonnets, but across the sequence
as a whole, which moves from confidence in ‘godis great love and cair’
(Sonnet 2, line 1), to fraught articulation of ‘this plicht’ as a sinful
being (Sonnet 5, line 9), to renewed and triumphant confidence in the
sequence’s final sonnet, which exhorts the reader to ‘Tak courage then and
Elizabeth Melville’s Puritan Poetics 105

be no more so sad / lift up your hairt your heritage is hie’ (1–2). Melville
uses the Petrarchan sonnet sequence to explore and express worldly tribu-
lation and ultimately, to iterate the ‘store of glore’ to which the Elect must
constantly look: ‘be not cast doun think on that endles lyfe / that glorious
croun is worth ane greater stryfe’ (Sonnet 7, lines 13–14). Melville’s tumul-
tuous central sonnets express a psychology more conflicted and indi-
viduated than Anne Lock’s, and her alliteration and interlocking Scottish
rhyme scheme attest a more consciously literary level of invention and
intricacy; this conflicted subjectivity makes all the more vital the speaker’s
repeated turn to the reassurance of election and Christ’s love.
There is yet far more to be written about Elizabeth Melville, this prolific
and accomplished Scottish poet, most obviously in terms of lyric subjec-
tivity; the wide and diverse influences on her poetry; her engagement
with Scottish poets and theologians; and the manuscript circulation of
her work. Here, the focus has been on her ‘new’ devotional verse and on
exploring her engagement with Scottish and English poetry in her crea-
tion of a distinctly Calvinist poetic. Melville expresses her dedication to
Christ not only through the language and tropes of the Song of Songs,
but through sacred parodies and a reinscription of Petrarchan love.
She critiques the secular desires of lyrics such as Marlowe’s ‘Passionate
Shepherd’, even as she borrows and adapts their language and tropes; her
sacralisation of Petrarchan poetic modes extends into the composition
of original devotional sonnet sequences which are at once run through
with Petrarchan paradox and deeply Calvinist in the speaker’s unequivo-
cal turn, as a member of the Elect, to the Lord. Elizabeth Melville’s
devotional poetry is a major addition to the corpus of early modern
British women’s poetry: richly intertextual, it reveals a delight in poetic
language, its imagery and intricacies, that reminds us of the oxymoron
always potentially inherent in the category ‘puritan poetics’. Melville’s
devotional poetry also reminds us that we need to look beyond narrow
definitions of ‘English’ literature in the early modern period: it indicates
the breadth and diversity of puritan women’s intellectual cultures in
Scotland and in England, and the complex and intricate ways in which
one puritan woman poet was able to meld them.

Notes
Thanks to Elizabeth Clarke and Jamie Reid-Baxter for commenting on earlier
versions of this essay.
1. Elizabeth Ewan et al. (eds), The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), pp. 262–3.
106 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

2. Jamie Reid-Baxter (forthcoming), Elizabeth Melville: Poems and Letters. I am


enormously grateful to Jamie for sharing his work-in-progress with me.
3. Alexander Hume, Hymnes, Or Sacred Songs, wherein the right vse of Poesie may
be espied (Edinburgh: Robert Walde-graue, 1599).
4. David Mullan, Scottish Puritanism, 1590–1638 (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2000), p. 17.
5. New College Library, Edinburgh, MS Bru 2, pp. 170–84. The poems are likely
to date from the 1590s (Reid-Baxter [forthcoming]).
6. Jamie Reid-Baxter, ‘Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross: 3500 New Lines of Verse’,
in Sarah M. Dunnigan, C. Marie Harker and Evelyn S. Newlyn (eds), Women
and the Feminine in Medieval and Early Modern Scottish Writing (Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 195–200.
7. See, for example, D. Delmar Evans, ‘Holy Terror and Love Divine: The Pas-
sionate Voice in Elizabeth Melville’s Ane Godlie Dreame’ in Dunnigan et al.
(eds), Women and the Feminine, pp. 153–61.
8. National Library of Scotland, MS Wod. Qu. XXIX, fol. 11r; Reid-Baxter
(forthcoming). The sonnet to Welsh is anthologised in Germaine Greer (ed.
et al.), Kissing the Rod (London: Virago, 1988), p. 33; and Jane Stevenson and
Peter Davidson (eds.), Early Modern Women Poets (1520–1700): An Anthology
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 118–19.
9. University of Edinburgh Library, MS La. III. 347. Eight of twelve letters in
this manuscript are published in William K. Tweedie, Select Biographies 2 vols,
vol. 1 (Edinburgh: for the Woodrow Society, 1845), pp. 349–70.
10. Andrew A. Bonar (ed.), Letters of the Rev. Samuel Rutherford (Edinburgh:
William Whyte, 1848), pp. 107–10, 130–2, 335–8, and 435–8.
11. See Mullan, Scottish Puritanism, p. 4 and Ch. 4.
12. Reid-Baxter (forthcoming).
13. OED (online), 3a and 3b.
14. Erica Longfellow, Women and Religious Writing in Early Modern England
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 82–3.
15. Mullan, Scottish Puritanism, pp. 160–1. A mystical eroticism is present in
Melville’s astonishing extended poem, Loves Lament for Christs absence
(National Library of Scotland, MS Wod. Qu. XXVII, fols 199v–206r). Reid-
Baxter (forthcoming) has noted striking similarities between this poem
and Rutherford’s letters and sermons, and argues on that basis that Loves
Lament may be considerably later than the Bruce MS poems, as it is likely
that Melville only came to know Rutherford in the late 1620s. Loves Lament
deserves extended attention which I cannot give it here.
16. Mullan, Scottish Puritanism, p. 159.
17. Alexander F. Mitchell (ed.), A Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs,
Commonly Known as ‘The Gude and Godlie Ballatis’ (New York and London:
Scottish Text Society, 1897), pp. 236–7.
18. The practice was not purely Scottish: Robert Southwell rewrote Dyer’s secular
‘He that his mirth hath lost’; and R. J. Lyall describes the contrafactum as
favoured by Catholic writers, in Lyall, Alexander Montgomerie: Poetry, Politics,
and Cultural Change in Jacobean Scotland (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Centre for
Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005), p. 315.
19. Mitchell (ed.), Godly and Spiritual Songs, p. 1.
20. Lyall, Alexander Montgomerie, pp. 300–1.
Elizabeth Melville’s Puritan Poetics 107

21. Jamie Reid-Baxter, ‘The Songs of Lady Culross’ in Gordon Munro et al.(eds),
Notis musycall: Essays on Music and Scottish Culture in Honour of Kenneth Elliott
(Glasgow: Musica Scotica Trust, 2005), pp. 143–63.
22. ‘It is most true, that eyes are form’d to serve / The inward light: and that the
heavenly part / Ought to be king’ (1–3). Astrophel and Stella was published in
1591, after extensive circulation in manuscript.
23. Dunnigan, quoted in Evans, ‘Holy Terror and Love Divine’, p. 154.
24. ‘It is most true that god to Israell, / I meane to men of undefiled hartes, /
is only good, and nought but good impartes’ (1–3): Margaret P. Hannay,
‘Joining the Conversation: David, Astrophil, and the Countess of Pembroke’,
in Zachary Lesser and Benedict S. Robinson (eds.), Textual Conversations in the
Renaissance: Ethics, Authors, Technologies (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), p. 124.
25. A ‘complete manuscript’ of the Sidney Psalms ‘seems to have been circulat-
ing at Wilton by 1594’: Mary Sidney Herbert, The Collected Works of Mary
Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, vol. 2, eds Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J.
Kinnamon and Michael G. Brennan (Oxford: Clarendon, 1998), p. 340.
26. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Boswell
Collection, Gen MSS 89, Series XV, Box 105, Folder 1925, item 5.
27. Marlowe’s lyric appeared in print, along with Ralegh’s reply, in the 1600
edition of Tottels Miscellany, but its accepted composition date is 1588:
Patrick Cheney, ‘Career Rivalry and the Writing of Counter-Nationhood:
Ovid, Spenser, and Philomela in Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His
Love” ’, ELH 65 (1998), 523–55, n. 2. Verbal echoes between Melville’s ver-
sion and her own manuscript poetry, almost certainly of the 1590s, suggest
that she may have known Marlowe’s poem before 1600.
28. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Boswell Collection, Gen MSS 89,
Series XV, Box 105, Folder 1925, item 4.
29. Barbara Lewalski, Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Lyric (Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979), pp. 15–16.
30. Thanks to Jamie Reid-Baxter for pointing this out to me.
31. See Anne Vaughan Lock, The Collected Works of Anne Vaughan Lock, ed. Susan
M. Felch (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies,
1999), including pp. liii–lviii for the authorship debate.
32. Henry Lok, Sundry Christian Passions Contained in Two Hundred Sonnets
(London: Richard Field, 1593); and Lok, Ecclesiastes, otherwise called The
Preacher (London: Richard Field, 1597).
33. The two genres’ interrelated development is fruitfully discussed by Hannay,
‘Joining the Conversation’, and Rosalind Smith, ‘“In a mirrour clere”:
Protestantism and Politics in Anne Lok’s Miserere mei Deus’, in Danielle Clarke
and Elizabeth Clarke (eds), ‘This Double Voice’: Gendered Writing in Early
Modern England (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 41–60.
34. See Lyall, Alexander Montgomerie, pp. 302–3 for interrelationships between
the two men’s sonnet sequences.
35. Roland Greene, ‘Anne Lock’s Meditation: Invention Versus Dilation and
the Founding of Puritan Poetics’ in Amy Boesky and Mary T. Crane (eds)
Form and Reform: Essays in Honour of Barbara Kiefer Lewalski (Newark, DE:
University of Delaware Press, 2000), pp. 153–170 (pp. 153, 165).
36. Hannay, ‘Joining the Conversation’, p. 116.
9
‘But I thinke and beleeve’:
Lady Brilliana Harley’s Puritanism
in Epistolary Community
Johanna Harris

Early modern English puritanism has been described as a movement


that was ‘intellectually consistent’.1 The letters of Lady Brilliana Harley
(c. 1598–1643) and the discernible intellectualism of her outlook testify
to her full expression of this consistency. Her ‘intellectual culture’ was
engendered by her radical Protestant heritage, consolidated by her mar-
riage to Robert Harley in 1623, and influenced by their Elizabethan-style
international Calvinism which advocated continual reform within the
established Church. Central to all these factors was a puritan cultural
‘style’ (as some historians have phrased it) geared to the pursuit of rig-
orous theological, intellectual and spiritual edification, affirming recent
scholarly assertions on the superior importance of ‘the daily consequences
of Puritan pastoral divinity’.2 Letter writing was of the essence in such
‘daily consequences’: it was central to the practical needs of uniting and
maintaining a self-identifying community, and was a factional means
of negotiating and defining doctrinal orthodoxy within the commu-
nity itself.3 Rethinking the generic limitations erroneously guiding our
expectations of early modern letter writing (particularly the unhelp-
ful binary of public/private), alongside the intellectual interaction that
epistolary communication provided men and women, will reveal that
the intellectual consistency of Lady Brilliana Harley’s puritanism was
both practically and ideologically embodied in the very genre with
which the largest portion of her literary endeavour was occupied: letter
writing.4
Harley’s commonplace book, her husband’s 1637 library inventory
at Brampton Bryan, dedications made in her honour, and the accounts
of others in her clerical and lay puritan network, cumulatively deline-
ate a culture in which her intellectual capabilities were exercised and
extended.5 But it is the prolific scale of her letter writing (nearly four
108
Lady Brilliana Harley and Epistolary Community 109

hundred letters between 1622 and 1643) that especially demonstrates


how she articulated and characterised her puritanism in this often under-
estimated, highly ‘literary’ form of composition. Earlier assessments
portrayed these letters as archetypal of the puritan mother and wife, or
as a peculiar representation of ‘an unusual home of unusual children’.6
However, closer examination reveals that Harley’s epistolarity neatly
integrated humanist-imbued classical influences with fervent biblicism.
Her mark on English literary posterity testifies, firstly, to her astute
contributions to early modern intellectual culture, and secondly, to the
extensive network of letter writing integral to the sustenance of the
puritan community in early Stuart England. Letter writing was as pivotal
a feature of the interactive nature of puritan cultural style as gatherings
for lectures, conferences and conventicles, fasting and prayer.7 With the
insights of Harley’s letters and of those around her, this genre emerges
as a centrepiece for the early Stuart puritan community’s mutual encour-
agement and identity, a ‘culture’ in which the ‘intellectual’ and ‘spir-
itual’ were not mutually exclusive.
As a daughter of Sir Edward Conway and his wife, Dorothy Tracy,
Brilliana was extensively connected to courtly networks, and her com-
monplace book evidences many of the central components of a classical
and Christian humanist education. As the wife of a leading parliamen-
tarian, she maintained a keen interest in Civil War debates, speeches and
legislation, and her letters display a mind – and pen – stimulated by the
literary, political, theological, and cultural controversies of her revolu-
tionary world.8 Harley’s letters address the increasingly fraught disputes
over ecclesiastical authority implicitly related to the outbreak of war,
and she displays a sharp awareness of the Arminian threats to her well-
formulated Calvinist position. Beyond showing merely personal interest
in her husband’s involvement in the 1641 ‘root and branch’ bill, she
discussed the legitimacy of episcopal rule, using her letters to negoti-
ate a distinctive ‘puritan’ identity. As a mother, she capitalised on the
opportunities for intellectual discourse offered by her eldest son Edward’s
undergraduate years at Magdalen Hall, Oxford from 1638, and contin-
ued a lively discussion of books and ideas during his subsequent years
in London and with the parliamentary army. Primarily with ‘Ned’, but
also with Sir Robert, tutors, and ministers, she participated in a vibrant
world of reading and book exchange, theological discourse, literary
emulation, and factional political alliance and argument. As the Lady
of the Harley estate, she managed its day-to-day affairs on behalf of its
oft-absent knight, within complex, ideologically-divided Herefordshire.
Ultimately, she heroically orchestrated Brampton Bryan’s defence during
110 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

two royalist sieges during which her letters, including to her besiegers
and to Charles I, disclose a woman well-versed in the political and legal
languages of ‘nature, of reason, and of the land’, and conversant in the
rhetorical dimensions implicit to effective epistolary expression.9
Letter writing is necessarily collaborative: a correspondence shows
more than one author involved in the evolution of a literary ‘compo-
sition’, and the genre has been rightly recognized for its integral role
in fostering communities of intellectual exchange in the early modern
period.10 Since its classical inception it has been an intrinsically dialogic
form – a literary simulation of spoken presence – and even when only one
side of a correspondence survives it is still possible to trace rich lines of
intellectual activity. For early modern women particularly, contributions
to the evolution of ideas are measured more justly where their epistolary
activity is included. Harley’s letters demonstrate that her mental world
was recorded, sustained, and challenged because of the continual engage-
ment the genre provided. It transformed individual contemplation into
reasoned intellectual conversation. The epistolary genre is pivotal for trac-
ing puritan intellectual culture and its interrogation and dissemination of
ideas; beyond this, however, it was unprecedented in its intrinsic ability
to simultaneously collaborate intellectualism with spiritual discourse.
Early in 1633, the puritan lecturer John Stoughton wrote to his friend,
Peter Thatcher, about Sir Robert Harley:

…you shall find a worthy, Religious, and louing Patron and frend of Sr
Robert, and such as I haue not found many like in all these respects,
and beside potent in his country for your countenance and protec-
tion… Sweet and humble in his con[si]deration for your comfort and
converse and free of his heart and purse and I heare his Lady (for
I know her not but by report through those had experience of him as
my parishioner and next neighbour) rather transcends him.11

The report of Harley’s ‘transcendence’ over her husband in all the ways
of godly patronage and character provides an unusual insight into the
interaction between genders within English puritanism, indicating she
was widely known, concerned for the welfare of the ministry in her
county, active in religious and intellectual ‘converse’, and individually
generous with her time and money. Essentially, she was as transcend-
ent in her public commitment to puritan ministry and intellectual
discourse as in personal piety.
Harley’s father, writing to his new son-in-law, maintained that her
intellectual stimulation was contingent to a good marriage in that ‘her
Lady Brilliana Harley and Epistolary Community 111

health’ was ‘the fruite of a good constitucon of boddie; contentmt &


receaving its growth, and conservacon from the virtue of the mind’.12
This was evidently observed as fourteen years later Harley’s religiously
conformist brother, Edward, Lord Conway, wrote to Sir Robert:

I doe not finde disorder in Religion onely, now condition is free from
it, and in your howse the order of things is inuerted, you write to
me of cheeses and my Sister writes about a good scholler, but I will
take things as I finde them and remoue noething out of the place
I finde it in, therefore I thanke you for my three cheeses whitch came
to me very well…13

Conway’s letter confirms that there was an intellectual consistency to


the Harleys’ puritan outlook: the ‘disorder’ characteristic to the house-
hold – their distinct brand of radical Protestantism – was facilitating the
freedom of his sister’s scholarly enquiry, and challenging conventional
epistolary conversation. Her intellectual discourse through letter writ-
ing paralleled her strident puritan convictions, and was demonstrated
not only within marriage but in wider critical forums.14 Harley’s com-
monplace book positioned marriage as a metaphor of international Pro-
testantism in which the godly cleaved to one another. Innumerable
letters therefore demonstrate her concerns for beneficence to preach-
ers, the emerging prevalence of Arminian doctrine and the association
being alleged between Calvinism and political dissent, and the impact
of this perception upon the refugee Calvinist communities abroad.15
In Notestein’s words, Harley inherited ‘more than wealth and position’;
her lineage ensured ‘intelligence, ingenuity and initiative’.16 Returning to
England around the age of eight, she would have had some memory of the
international flavour of her Calvinist heritage; her father’s second mar-
riage to Katherine West and ambassadorships in Brussels and Prague reit-
erated the family’s continental interests.17 Her maternal line, the Tracys of
Toddington in Gloucestershire were renowned for their Tudor religious
activism. Harley’s great-grandfather was the William Tracy recorded in
Foxe’s Actes and Monuments, posthumously exhumed and burnt at the
stake for his strident defence of the Lutheran understanding of justifica-
tion by faith.18 His will garnered much attention from the early reform-
ers who carried copies at the risk of being charged.19 This heritage of
outspoken reformed Protestant polemic continued in his son: Richard
Tracy’s first publication, The profe and declaration of thys proposition: fayth
only iustifieth (c. 1533), reinforced the same ‘godlye understanding’ of
justification, and further tracts focused on other controversial topics of
112 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

reform including the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper, an anti-


episcopal attack deriding clerical misuse of persuasive words in theo-
logical debate which guided congregations into heresy, and a rejection
of transubstantiation doctrine.20 In remarkable circumstances, Richard
Tracy’s The Preparation to the Crosse and to Death (1540) was discovered in
the belly of a ‘Cod-fish’ in Cambridge and immediately reprinted as Vox
Piscis in 1626. A letter from Samuel Ward to James Ussher described the
rediscovery as a possible ‘special admonition to us at Cambridg’. Ussher
was closely associated with Lady Mary Vere (Harley’s aunt) and a corre-
spondent of Sir Robert, suggesting this contemporary event reinscribing
the fame of Harley’s exceptional Protestant heritage was unlikely to have
missed her attention.21 Ussher wrote to Lady Vere in 1628 exhorting
her to have ‘a Posterity live on Earth’: ‘from Generation, to Generation’
those descending from her mother (Harley’s grandmother) should ‘keep
her Name, and Pretious Example, alive…’, confirming the eminent Tracy
lineage was widely acknowledged.22
Harley was unlikely to have been ignorant of these works by her
ancestors, nor of the important issues of Protestant debate they addressed.
They gave her a tradition of translating religious outlook into practi-
cal literary expression, and the polemical expressions of fortitude and
defiance in her letters were rooted in the complex ideological tensions
facing Tudor Protestantism.23 Many similar concerns found particular
embodiment from the mid-1620s onwards, especially in the crystalliz-
ing disparity her puritan community observed between Arminian and
Calvinist influences upon ecclesiastical hegemony under Laud. For
example, Harley’s letters advertised a corporate response to the ‘debate
about bischops’: she referred to ‘the errors of thos that terme themselves
the fathers of the church’, and drew biblical equivalency with Israel’s
persecution: ‘I hope it will be with them as it was with Haman; when
he began to falle, he feell indeede’. Mischievously implying Haman’s
hanging on the gallows, she possibly also implied his penultimate
humiliation of conceding to bow at the feet of Israel’s saving queen,
Esther. Harley’s acutely symbolic inference potentially indicted royal
endorsement alongside episcopal ceremonialism.24
In 1639, Harley articulated model puritan advice for a coherent intel-
lectual and spiritual life. ‘After discours’, she advised Ned to

obsarue what knowledg you weare abell to expres, and with what
affection to it, and wheare you finde yourself to come short, labor
to repaire that want; if it be in knowledg of any point, reade some-
thinge that may informe you in what you finde you know not.25
Lady Brilliana Harley and Epistolary Community 113

Harley claimed this was ‘the rule I take with meself’, and advocated it
for all ‘wise men and women’. The extent of her book exchanges and
reading, gleaned through her letters to Ned and Sir Robert, and her com-
monplace book, in summary ranged from the classical moral philosophy
of Seneca and Cicero, to the foundations of international Calvinism in
Beza, Musculus and Calvin, enriched by Perkins and across the spec-
trum of mainstream and radical Protestant theology. She read ecclesias-
tical history in Eusebius and Josephus, the Jesuit Caussin’s devotional
The Holy Court (1639), popular world history through Raleigh, and the
explorative fiction of Francis Godwin’s Man in the Moon (1638) in its
year of publication, proposing comparison with Don Quixote.26 Her
reading indicates proficiency in Italian, French and Latin, at least, and
unsurprisingly, her phraseology resembles the biblical.
Theologically, her reading was more concerned with biblical exposi-
tion, sermons and treatises, than with stereotypically ‘puritan’ classics
of domestic advice. Influential was probably Thomas Pierson, the rec-
tor of Brampton Bryan during the first decade of her marriage, and an
exemplar of Cambridge puritanism under Laurence Chaderton.27 Aside
from his sermons and books prior to publication, Harley had access
in his extensive library to a goldmine of the most seminal works of
Elizabethan puritanism, and in him a personal resource for intellectual
engagement of the highest calibre in puritan scholarship; Pierson had
edited works of the fêted author of Calvinist puritan divinity, William
Perkins.28
Harley read critically to be equipped on points of both historical and
contemporary theological difference, including traditional disputes
with papists. Not restricting her reading to the scholarly hegemony of
Calvinist doctrine, she interrogated the very origins of Protestantism.
In a 1639 letter to Ned she responded to having read ‘the life of Luther,
rwite by Mr. Calluen’, and included with the letter her own translation
of the life. Though her translation (most probably from French into
English) remains lost, her letter demonstrates preparedness to interact
with primary critical sources of her ideological heritage and context,
including Erasmus’ account of Luther:

I did the more willingly reade it [Luther’s life], because he is generally


branded with ambistion, which caused him to doo what he did, and
that the papis doo so generally obrade us that we cannot tell wheare
our religion was before Luther; and some haue taxt him of an imte-
perat life. Theas resons made me desire to reade his life, to see vpon
what growned theas opinions weare built.
114 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Determining that the criticisms of Luther had been ‘fallsly…raised’,


Harley’s translation addressed only what could not be accessed in the
readily available ‘booke of Marters’. She independently evaluated the
evidence before her, indicating an openness to what Luther’s doctrinal
position and the evidence of his life and literary output could contrib-
ute to her own intellectual milieu: ‘in Luther we see our owne fasess; they
that stand for the old truee way they bring vp nwe doctrine, and it is
ambistion, vnder the vaile of religion’. From the same evidence, how-
ever, she drew observations that clarified her theological position in the
context of the legalism challenging the Church, diverting it from the
original principles of Protestant (and Tracy) reform:

all [Luther’s] fasting and striknes, in the way of Popery, neuer gaue him
peace of concience; for he had greate feares tell he had thoroughly
learned the doctrine of justification by Christ alone; and so it will be
with vs all; no peace shall we haue in our owne righteousness.

The reading life and book exchanges that can be traced through Harley’s
correspondence with Ned also demonstrate how letters enabled spiritual
edification in co-operation with intellectual exposition. While letters
materially conveyed a personal comfort or surrogate presence, they
were crucial repositories for allowing Harley to give her intellectual
endeavour practical application. Through setting her aforementioned
translation in conjunction with her letter, Harley showed there was a
wider contemporary context for her intellectualism, where the purpose
was edification, and the literary method was letter writing: ‘Thus, my
deare Ned, you may see how willingly I impart any thinge to you, in
which I finde any good’.29 Ned’s ‘good’ was his personal spiritual sus-
tenance, but implicit to this was her earlier injunction that ‘all that
knowe good shold expres it in doing good’.30 Harley knew that Ned
would communicate with his tutor, and so it was in conjunction with
others that she sought to defend their moderate puritan identity within
the established Church. Arguably more prolifically than print, letters
were a primal ‘style’ of puritan literary culture, serving the dual purposes
of intellectual and spiritual edification.
A bilingual French and English edition of Seneca’s moral epistles was
one of the foremost points of reference in Harley’s commonplace book
aside from the Bible, Calvin, and Perkins, and her active intellectual
engagement with Senecan moral philosophy was articulated in her let-
ters to Ned. Analysing the morality of anger, for instance, she compared
notes of a sermon by Thomas Case with Seneca’s comparison between
Lady Brilliana Harley and Epistolary Community 115

love and hate as sources of anger. While the outworkings of such anger
did not entirely conform (Seneca argued that anger be avoided because
the ‘actor’ cannot be predicted, whereas Case argued anger was to be
directed at sin alone), Harley focused on the correspondence between
her classical and Christian humanist sources.31 Reviewing an unnamed
book Ned had sent, she drew on her knowledge of Senecan philosophy
to complement her practical experience and spiritual insight:

the subiet is very needful to be knowne, and the aughter of it, is of


judgement, therefore I beleeue he has doun it well. The wellknowe-
ing how fure our pastions are good and how fure euill, and the right
way to goworne them is dificule; and in my obseruation I see but
feawe, that are stutidious to gouerne theaire pastions, and it is our
pastions that trubells our selfs and others.32

Harley’s Senecan references demonstrate how puritan intellectualism


blended classical morality with the critical use of history, for spiritual
growth. Noting Seneca’s spatial location when composing his fictional
Epistulae Morales (to Lucilius), she used specific knowledge of the text to
instruct Ned in being resolute in his godly identity in his new, morally
challenging environment of Oxford: ‘in his cuntry howes he [Seneca]
liued priuetly, yet he complaines that when he came to the courte, he
found a tickeling desire to like them at court’.33 Like Seneca’s dialogic
epistolarity, Harley recognized the moral purpose of epistolary conver-
sation, and synthesized biblical precepts for godly living with classical
expositions of morality.34 Furthermore, the circumstances of Seneca’s
suicide informed her responses to contemporary political events in a
simultaneously classical and Calvinist approach, advocating the purpose
of history was to learn from examples.35 When Thomas Wentworth was
executed in 1641, Harley noted he ‘dyed like a Seneca, but not like one
that had tasted the mistery of godliness’. In elucidating a contemporary
vision of justice, Harley’s ideological framework incorporated historical
example into a grander biblical narrative of election: ‘My deare Ned, let
theas examples make you experimentally wise in Gods word, which has
set forth the prosperity of the wicked to be but for a time’.36
Puritan intellectual culture, seen through Harley’s specifically episto-
lary literary style, was firmly located in early modern humanist frame-
works for ethical behaviour and thought without compromising biblical
imperatives for living. Her intellectualism, like her puritanism, was cen-
tred on the principle of community. The literary ‘stoicism’ of her intel-
lectual community, in her sustained reference to Senecan epistolarity
116 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

throughout her intellectual formation, and in the dialogic nature of letter


writing, posits an early case for the influence of stoic philosophy upon
the puritan community’s corporate literary experience and discourse.
Harley’s letters reveal an outlook that did not just privately instruct the
individual for public performance; they actually functioned like a stoic
community of ongoing literary conversation. Moreover, she replicates a
Senecan style evident in the apostolic letters of the early church.37 This
specific literary embodiment of stoicism can be seen distinctly through
Harley’s puritan intellectual culture and expression: the exchange of
words, letters, and books was an act of public interaction, even ‘combat’.38
It reveals a literary and moral debt to classical humanism not just in
political terms but in its factional reinforcement and spiritual edification
of Harley’s puritan community.
Letter writing was specifically recognised as integral to puritanism’s
expression of intellectual and spiritual community. Alongside her known
personal acts of patronage, Harley’s epistolary intellectual contributions
to puritan culture were for the edification of the ‘communion of Saints’,
where apostolic living superseded instructions on gendered behaviour.
The puritan John Ley acknowledged that his godly network appreciated
and learned from the ‘excellent endowments’ of women like Harley and
Jane Ratcliffe, ‘both intellectual and Morall’.39 Both intellectual inter-
course and spiritual insights were approved through apostolic prec-
edent, no less: ‘an Apollos an Eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures
might not disdaine to learne of such a Priscilla’, suggesting a community
strikingly advanced in its expression of a biblical egalitarianism.40
Robert Horn’s previously unnoticed dedication of The History of the
Woman of Great Faith (1632) to Harley also emphasizes the observance of
her own godly practices by others and for their benefit, including through
her literary expression.41 Horn, the puritan incumbent at Ludlow, wrote:

you are the obseruation and speech of many, of so many as know


you, and the grace of God in you…Worthy Madame, you haue runne
well, few of your sexe, and sort better. Keepe on as you doe, there is
no standing till you be as your father in heauen would haue you to
be, perfect as he is.42

The biblical focus of Horn’s treatise was the faith of the Canaanite
woman (Matthew 15:22), who refused to ‘lose all interest to [God’s]
Table’. The woman’s words inspired the Book of Common Prayer’s confes-
sion before receiving the sacraments, but Horn’s appropriation of the
Lady Brilliana Harley and Epistolary Community 117

account in the context of his dedication to Harley makes explicit that


the great faith of a woman was consonant to the godly community’s
corporate participation in acts of worship, reiterating Harley’s leading
position within the puritan community.43
Knowledge and subsequent intellectual development were key to
Harley’s theology, and it was the unique characteristics of the epistolary
genre that enabled her to communicate the fruits of her intellectual-
ism. Horn’s treatise had encouraged an atmosphere of imitative, even
competitive, fruitfulness within the godly community, and of continual
reform: ‘if the Woman be more religious then the Man, it should make
him to runne: & where the simple in knowledge can say more then
the learned, it should make them to blush’.44 Her critical reading and
appetite for intellectual engagement was tuned to be for the benefit of
others around her, but also stimulated by the nature of this spiritual and
intellectual community’s geographic dispersal.
Indeed, Harley’s reading of Thomas Goodwin’s mainstream puritan
treatise, The Returne of Prayers (1636), stimulated discussion on the sub-
ject of prayer with Ned’s tutor, Edward Perkins, in both verbal and epis-
tolary forms. She wrote to Ned,

In the basket with the appells is ‘the Returne of Prayer.’ I could not
find that place I spake of to your tutor, when he was with me; but
since, I found it, and haue sent the booke to you, that he may see
it, and judg a littell of it; for my part, I am not of that openion, that
God will not grant the prayer of others, for the want of our joyeing
with the rest, or that God dous stand vpon such a number; but I am
perrentory, but upon good reson I hope I shall yeald: but I thinke and
beleeue, that none joyne in prayer with others but thos that simpa-
thise on with another; for it is not the consenting to, but the ernest
desireing of the same.45

Neither distance nor preclusion from the Oxford establishment dis-


couraged Harley from engaging in theological debate and asserting her
reasoned position, beyond one specified recipient. Her comments even
suggest a greater confidence in her epistolary expression than her spoken
eloquence, given that she had capitalised upon having the time to search
for the relevant passage to her discussion with Perkins. Not to be ignored,
however, is that Harley’s subject for debate in this letter, factional unity
represented through joint prayer, illustrates how pertinent was the issue
of determining puritan identity and unity of practice. To Harley, the
118 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

connection forged through letter writing enabled much of this unity to


continue, and this distinct puritan identity to be maintained.
This chapter contributes to a reassessment of the active role played by
puritan women in early modern intellectual culture, highlighting that
models of female puritan piety often underestimate the wider ideologi-
cal context of these activities. While vibrant intellectual cultures were
often fostered by women through patronage and their roles in manu-
script composition and dissemination, through reading and sharing
of knowledge and ideas, and through their engagement with contem-
porary political and theological currents and discourses, much of this
can only be marked and measured through epistolary evidence. The
letters of Harley and her network portray an intellectual community
whose religious and political discourse through the epistolary form
fostered a milieu of knowledge transmission and the sharing of experi-
ence that included men and women equally. Recognising the embry-
onic relationship between the epistolary genre and intellectual culture
is vital, therefore, to acknowledging the prolific writings of Harley, spe-
cifically, strategically, and never apologetically, in the form of letters.

Notes
1. Patrick Collinson, ‘Towards a Broader Understanding of the Early Dissenting
Tradition’, Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism
(London: Hambledon, 1983), p. 534.
2. Andrew Cambers, ‘Reading, the Godly, and Self-Writing in England, circa
1580–1720’, JBS 46 (2007), 796–825. Other illuminative examinations of this
‘style’, but which have generally neglected letter writing in their surveys,
include Diane Willen, ‘ “Communion of the Saints”: Spiritual Reciprocity and
the Godly Community in Early Modern England’, Albion 27:1 (1995), 19–41,
and Diane Willen, ‘Thomas Gataker and the Use of Print in the English Godly
Community’, HLQ 70:3 (2007), 343–64.
3. David Como, ‘Women, Prophecy, and Authority in Early Stuart Puritanism,’
HLQ 61:2 (2000), 203–4.
4. The only detailed historical study based upon Harley’s letters is Jacqueline
Eales, Puritans and Roundheads: the Harleys of Brampton Bryan and the outbreak
of the English Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
5. Nottingham University Library, Manuscripts Department, Portland MSS,
Commonplace Book of Brilliana Conway, 1622 (hereafter, ‘Commonplace
Book’); BL Add. MS 70001, fols. 328r–335v.
6. ‘Harley, Lady Brilliana’ DNB (1995); Wallace Notestein, English Folk: A Book of
Characters (London: J. Cape, 1938), p. 273.
7. On these features, see Patrick Collinson, From Cranmer to Sancroft (London:
Hambledon Continuum, 2006), pp. 101–28, and Patrick Collinson, The Religion
of Protestants: the Church in English Society, 1559–1625 (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1982), pp. 132–3.
Lady Brilliana Harley and Epistolary Community 119

8. Jacqueline Eales, ‘Patriarchy, Puritanism and Politics: the Letters of Lady


Brilliana Harley (1598–1643)’, in James Daybell (ed.), Early Modern Women’s
Letter Writing, 1450–1700 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 143–58.
9. Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Bath Preserved at Longleat, Wiltshire
(London: HMC, 1904), I, pp. 1–39. For analysis of these letters, Susan
Wiseman, Conspiracy & Virtue: Women, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-
Century England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 60–79.
10. For example, Lisa Jardine, Erasmus, Man of Letters: The Construction of
Charisma in Print (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).
11. BL Add. MS 70002, fols 80r, 81r.
12. BL Add. MS 70001, fols 112r, 113r.
13. BL Add. MS 70002, fols 171r, 172r.
14. Through her brother, Harley was connected to one of the finest private
libraries collated in Britain: see H. R. Plomer, ‘A Cavalier’s Library’, The
Library 18:2 (1904), 2nd series, 158–72.
15. Commonplace Book, fols 176r–177r. For example, Letters XII–XIII, XXV–XXVI,
XCVII, XCIX, CI, CXXIII. On the Harleys as patrons to puritan ministers, see
Thomas Gataker, A Good Wife Gods Gift: and, A Wife Indeed. Two mariage ser-
mons (London: Iohn Hauiland for Fulke Clifton, 1623), ‘Epistle Dedicatorie’;
Jacqueline Eales, ‘A Road to Revolution: The Continuity of Puritanism,
1559–1642’, in Jacqueline Eales and Christopher Durston (eds), The Culture
of English Puritanism, 1560–1700 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 1996), pp. 191–2,
197. Such characteristics were taken seriously by Sir Robert Harley as early as
1621, in his draft letter to Sir Horace Vere on the ‘Character’ of a puritan: BL
Add. MS 70001, fols. 47r–48r. See Jacqueline Eales, ‘Sir Robert Harley, K.B.,
(1579–1656) and the “Character” of a Puritan’, British Library Journal XV:2
(1989), 134–57.
16. Notestein, English Folk, p. 228. For essential biographical detail, see Eales,
Puritans and Roundheads, pp. 11, 21–2; ‘Lady Brilliana Harley’, ODNB; T. T.
Lewis (ed.), Letters of the Lady Brilliana Harley (London: Camden Society, 1854,
1st series, 58), xii–xiii. Subsequent references to this edition appear as ‘Letters’.
17. ‘Edward Conway’, ODNB; Ann Hughes, Politics, Society and Civil War in
Warwickshire, 1620–1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987),
pp. 25–6, 88–9.
18. John Foxe, Actes and Monvments (London: Iohn Daye, 1584), p. 1042;
‘Richard Tracy, William Tracy’, ODNB.
19. Including The testament of master Wylliam Tracie esquire, expounded both by
Willism Tindall and Iho[n] Frith (Antwerp: H. Peetersen van Middelburch?,
1535). It was also appended to several editions of John Wycliffe, Wycklieffe’s
wicket (London: J. Daye, 1546); ‘Richard Tracy, William Tracy’, DNB.
20. Richard Tracy, The profe and declaration of thys proposition (London:
E. Whitchurch, 1543), fols Aiii(r)–Aiii(v); A bryef and short declaracyon made,
wherebye euerye chrysten man may knowe, what is a sacrament (London: Robert
Stoughton, 1548); A most godly enstruction and very necessarie lesson to be
learned of all christen men and women, before they come to ye Communion of the
bodie & bloud of our saviour Christe Jesus (London: John Daye and Wyllyam
Seres, 1548); ‘Richard Tracy, William Tracy’, DNB.
21. Richard Tracy, Vox Piscis: or, The book-fish (London: Humphrey Lownes, John
Beale, and Augustine Mathewes, 1626). Ward’s letter to Ussher is found in
120 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Richard Parr, The life of the Most Reverend Father in God, James Usher (London:
Nathanael Ranew, 1686), C–CI, pp. 344–5.
22. William Gurnall, The Christians Labour and Reward (London: [n.p.], 1672),
‘Epistle Dedicatory’; ‘Mary Vere’, ODNB. On Harley’s relationship with Lady
Vere, BL Add. MS 70003, fol. 259.
23. See ‘Richard Tracy’, ODNB, for further examples of Tracy’s strongly evangeli-
cal activism.
24. Letters XCVII, XCIX, CIV; Esther 3:2; 7:8, 10. On the bill, see Eales, Puritans
and Roundheads, pp. 110–16.
25. Letters LIII.
26. BL Add. MS 70002, fols 72r, 73r; Letters XXII.
27. On Pierson and the Harleys, see the funeral sermon for Sir Robert Harley:
Thomas Froysell, Yadidyah or, The beloved disciple (London: by M. S. for
Thomas Parkhurst, 1658), pp. 98–109. Also Jacqueline Eales, ‘Thomas Pierson
and the Transmission of the Moderate Puritan Tradition’, Midland History 20
(1995), 75–102; Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement, p. 125.
28. Sir Robert was one of four local gentlemen responsible for Pierson’s circu-
lating library bequeathed for use by clerics in the region. On the library,
see Conal Condren, ‘More Parish Library, Salop’, Library History 7:5 (1987),
141–62. See also ‘Thomas Pierson’, ODNB; Eales, Puritans and Roundheads,
pp. 55–6.
29. All from Letters XL.
30. BL Add. MS 70118, fols 2v–3r.
31. Commonplace Book, fols. 135r, 137r, 138r; fols. 154r–155r; Seneca, Letters from
a Stoic: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, trans. Robin Campbell (Harmondsworth:
Penguin, 1969), XVIII, p. 69; John M. Cooper and J. F. Procopé (eds), Seneca:
Moral and Political Essays, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995),
pp. 1–116; Margo Todd, ‘Seneca and the Protestant mind: The Influence
of Stoicism on Puritan Ethics’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschidite 74 (1983),
182–99.
32. Letters LXXXII.
33. Letters XVI. For an interesting comparison, see Seneca, Epistle XVIII, upon
which Harley commented extensively in her Commonplace Book, fol. 135f.
34. Margo Todd has specifically noted this indebtedness in Harley’s com-
monplace book: Todd, Christian Humanism and the Puritan Social Order
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 95.
35. See, for example, the method advocated by the staunchly Calvinist Camden
Professor of History at Oxford during Ned’s time, Degory Wheare: ‘Diagory
Wheare’, ODNB.
36. Letters CXVIII.
37. Marcus Wilson, ‘Seneca’s Epistles to Lucilius: A Revaluation’, in John G. Fitch
(ed.), Seneca (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 61.
38. Andrew Shifflett, Stoicism, politics, and literature in the age of Milton
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 5–6, 9–17, 26.
39. John Ley, A Patterne of Pietie. Or, the Religious life and death of that Grave and
gracious Matron, Mrs. Jane Ratcliffe, widow and citizen of Chester (London:
F. Kingston for R. Bostocke, 1640), fols A3v, A5r, A4v, A3r. For evidence of
Harley’s patronage, see Letters XCII; BL Add. MS 70105, fol. 22; Eales, Puritans
and Roundheads, p. 65.
Lady Brilliana Harley and Epistolary Community 121

40. Peter Lake, ‘Feminine piety and personal potency: the ‘emancipation’ of Mrs
Jane Ratcliffe’, Seventeenth Century 2:2 (1987), 146; Ley, A Patterne of Pietie,
fols. A4r, pp. 25–7, 45–51, 61.
41. ‘Robert Horne’, ODNB.
42. Robert Horn, The History of the Woman of Great Faith (London: T. H[arper] for
Philemon Stephens and Chr. Meridith, 1632), Epistle Dedicatory.
43. On the Lord’s Supper’s importance to the puritan community, see Arnold
Hunt, ‘The Lord’s Supper in Early Modern England’, P&P 161 (1998), 9–83.
44. Horn, The Woman of Great Faith, pp. 42, 72–3.
45. Letters XLIX; Thomas Goodwin, The Returne of Prayers (London: [M. Flesher]
for R. Dawlman and L. Fawne, 1636).
10
‘Take unto ye words’: Elizabeth
Isham’s ‘Booke of Rememberance’
and Puritan Cultural Forms
Erica Longfellow

In the opening paragraph of her autobiographical ‘Booke of Remember-


ance’ (1638–9), Elizabeth Isham (1608–54) echoed the words of Psalm 71
in a bold statement of vocation: ‘yet unto Olde age and gray head O God
forsake me not but \untill/ that I have decleared thine arme unto this
generation and thy power to them that shall come’.1 But if in these
words she placed her literary effort alongside the evangelism of the
psalmist, she was quick to clarify that her own anticipated audience was
much more circumscribed. ‘not that I intend to have th[is] published’, she
explains in the margin, ‘but to this end I have it in praise a than[k]fullnes
to God. and for my owne benefit. which if it may doe my Brother or his
children any pleasure I think to leave it them. whom I hope will charita-
ble censure of me’.
Of course, such claims need not deter us; it has become a common-
place of feminist scholarship that when early modern women abjure
an audience for their writing they are clearly protesting too much, and
it would be easy to assume that we should not take Elizabeth Isham at
her humble word.2 Yet, tempting as it is to imagine Isham’s generically
groundbreaking ‘Booke of Rememberance’ reaching a wide and appreci-
ative audience, the evidence doesn’t support any such claim. The manu-
script was preserved by the family along with hundreds of other letters
and papers from the time, and there is no evidence that it was ever read
or circulated. Unlike Hutchinson, Lock, or Sidney Herbert, Isham had
no circle of influential acquaintances outside of her family who might
be assumed to have read and transmitted her manuscript, and she
herself unambiguously and repeatedly asserts in that manuscript that
she prefers ‘the Sweetnesse of a privat liffe’ with her family on their
Northamptonshire estate.3 Compared with the writings of other women
discussed in this book, Elizabeth Isham’s ‘Booke of Rememberance’
122
Elizabeth Isham and Puritan Cultural Forms 123

appears to be a historical branch line, a curious text that ultimately had


little influence on the main lines of literary history.
Yet in some ways it is its curious isolation that makes Elizabeth Isham’s
‘Booke of Rememberance’ so extraordinary, and merits it a place in a
study of women who contributed to puritan intellectual culture. The
‘Booke of Rememberance’ is arguably the first text in English that is rec-
ognisably autobiography in the modern sense: a retrospective, chrono-
logical narrative that appears to describe the development of a unified
self.4 Isham begins at the beginning and continues until her own present,
in the process writing more than fifty thousand words of narrative and
marginal commentary, all for the purposes of documenting her own
self. She covers topics rarely discussed by her contemporaries, including
the details of her childhood, her own emotional development and the
complex relationships of her family members. She seems quite unaware
of the commonplace restrictions on women’s speech and intellectual
engagement. To a twenty-first-century reader, this seemingly ordinary
woman appears to embody the modern self so many scholars have
searched for, and failed to discover, in the early modern period.5
Isham’s unusual ‘Booke of Rememberance’ could not be said to have
influenced any later autobiographical texts, nor to have been influenced
by those of her contemporaries; but it is the relative isolation of both
Isham and her ‘Booke of Rememberance’ that enables us to analyse how
a puritan education, derived from family and local clergy and an exten-
sive library, could enable a woman to develop independent modes of
thinking and to invent a genre to examine her own spiritual, emotional
and intellectual journey. Unlike the other women of this volume, Isham’s
motives for writing were neither social nor, for the most part, political.
They were theological and intellectual, and thus enable us to tease out
what was purely intellectual about puritan women’s culture as distinct
from the social and political ambitions that were fundamental for the
other women of this study. Isham’s engagements with puritan cultural
forms and her attempts to apply them to her own life prove to be a
model of the puritan intellectual style: wide, careful, and questioning
reading, explicitly reasoned decision-making about matters of both faith
and politics, and the practice of self-examination and experimentation
with self-examination in writing.
Kimberly Anne Coles has recently argued that the reformation polem-
icists of the sixteenth century utilised images and narratives of religious
women as ‘ideal figures of political and religious disruption’ in a way
that ‘opened space for the empowerment of women within the written
culture of the Reformation.’6 This paper contends that Elizabeth Isham
124 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

is one of the heirs of this cultural transformation, empowered to read,


reason and write without the expected constraints of gender. The paper
elucidates the influences on Isham that encouraged her to embrace a
puritan intellectual style and to put that style to work in her unique
autobiographical narrative. Puritanism provided both the ingredients
and the impetus for Isham’s generic inspiration, so that her life and
writing stand as evidence of the scope and range of intellectual engage-
ment among puritan laity, both male and female.
Elizabeth Isham was nurtured in a family that was both devout and
bookish, and that dual inheritance of devotion and learning suffuses her
‘Booke of Rememberance’.7 Isham recalls her uncle Sir Justinian Lewyn
showing off ‘a Psalme Booke (which he carried about him) of my
Granfather Leowens underlineing in divers places, wherein he delighted
saying that it did him more good that his father was religious then all the
land which he left him’.8 Religious teaching, and religious books, were
a vital and valued part of the Lewyn-Isham patrimony; the family not
only reaped recreation and spiritual sustenance from their reading, but
also strengthened ties across the generations. Elizabeth Isham records
gifts of books from every family member, and remembers not only her
uncle’s prized book, but her grandmother reading to her ill mother, and
the discovery of her grandmother’s books, ‘wherein she much delighted
and I gathered spirituall flowers out of the garden of her sweetnes’.9 The
fact that a book had been owned and annotated by a dear relative only
increased its value; in the same passage in which Isham recalls receiving
her mother’s copy of Henry Bull’s Christian praiers and holy meditations
(first printed 1568), she reports that her grandmother continued to use
her grandfather Thomas Isham’s annotated copy of the same book.10
The books passing from one generation of Ishams to the next formed
an exemplary godly library. Most hailed from the mainstream of English
Protestantism at the time, establishment Calvinists and moderate puritans,
with the occasional voice from the more radical puritan end, ‘the presiser
sort’ as Isham called them.11 Isham quotes from or mentions more than
four dozen books in her ‘Booke of Rememberance’, including both the
Geneva Bible and the Authorised Version; the Book of Common Prayer; col-
lections of sermons, prayerbooks, catechisms and other Christian hand-
books, and secular and devotional poetry. Her father forbade the reading
of plays, and although her brother would secretly circulate accounts of
the magician John Dee, the raciest items in his sister’s library were Ovid’s
Metamorphoses; Sidney and Spenser, which some discouraged as ‘Bookes
of love’; and the bloody accounts of the Protestant martyrs in John Foxe’s
Actes and Monuments, which she admits ‘made me mallancoly’.12
Elizabeth Isham and Puritan Cultural Forms 125

The godly character of Isham’s library appears not to have limited


her intellectual inquiry. On the contrary, her carefully chosen reading
had prepared her to be exposed to a wider range of literature. In spite
of hearing conflicting opinions of the appropriateness of Sidney and
Spenser, she judged that a right-minded reader would be able to benefit
from them without being tainted by any improper content. ‘the vertu-
ous may suck hunny \as/ out of the same flower’, she concludes, ‘better
then /about as well as\ the vicious suck poison; according to there owne
braine’.13 Isham’s reading may not have promoted heterodox thinking,
but it did encourage her to question what she read and heard, and to
use reason to weigh the merits of an argument, no matter how persua-
sively presented. From a conformist puritan foundation, she attempted
to judge both the written and spoken word for herself, lamenting that
she too often could ‘despise plannes14 because I have found the golden
chaine of Eloquence to be more atractive to draw’ but at times most val-
ued those ‘which I have heard but meanly esteemed of’.15 Significantly,
her reading did not include any books that specifically instructed women
in their religious duties, such as Vives’ Instructio[n] of a Christen woma[n]
(1529), Bentley’s The monument of matrones (1582), or Stubbes’s A christal
glasse for christian women (1592), or any of the domestic handbooks such
as William Gouge’s Of domesticall duties (1622) or even A godly forme
of houshold gouernment (1630) by Robert Cleever and John Dod, who
was well known to the Isham family. The influence of these books on
women writers was undoubtedly complex and not always straightfor-
wardly oppressive, but the fact that Isham was not familiar with any of
them helps explain why, as we shall see, she displayed little awareness
of gendered restrictions on women’s intellectual activity.
As well as shaping her intellectual style, Isham’s reading also provided
her with the framework of self-examination that underpins her ‘Booke of
Rememberance’. Her library included several puritan guides that encour-
aged believers to practice frequent self-examination in order that they
might be both conscious of their sins and assured of their election.16
George Webbe typically advised believers, ‘IN thy Bedde before thou fall
asleepe, looke backe vnto the former workes of the day; call thy soule to
a scrutinie, to giue vp an account how thou hast spent the day past, how
thou hast past it ouer: And how farre thou hast walked with God.’17
For the most part, the guide writers did not anticipate or expect that
self-examination would lead to the greater emotional introspection that
makes Isham’s ‘Booke of Rememberance’ appear so startlingly modern.
Understanding the self was not about recognising how the self was dis-
tinct but about fitting it into a specific model of the Christian life, the
126 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Calvinist salvation narrative. Following this model would seem to leave


little room for individuality, but the human conscience was rarely as
transparent as the guides imply. By encouraging greater consciousness of
the self yet simultaneously promoting a model of the self that did not fit
many individuals’ experience, the guides to self-examination provided
writers such as Elizabeth Isham with a vocabulary and an opportunity to
express emotion. Richard Rogers, for example, emphasised the Christian
duties of ‘obseruing our selues’ and ‘keep[ing] our heartes in frame’.18
Rogers – whose own exemplary journal was circulated among godly
clergy – was explaining how Christians could test whether they were
genuinely repentant, and thus of the elect, but in practice observations
of the self and the frame of the heart expanded beyond a strict account-
ing of what was sinful and what lawful.19 Nehemiah Wallington’s
anguished accounts of his ‘distrackted’ grief over the deaths of his
children and Dionys Fitzherbert’s attempts to attribute her episode of
madness to spiritual causes are both examples of how self-examination
was transformed by the pens of the faithful.20
When Elizabeth Isham described her response to the anniversary of
her sister’s death, for example, she recounted in close detail each change
in her emotions, in particular her confusion about her suicidal thoughts
and whether, as a Christian, she should desire death. The acknowledg-
ment of her own failure was part of her posture as a humble sinner,
but it also required her to document her ever-changing inward state in
great detail. This section, like all of her confessions, was shaped by fre-
quent references to scripture that place her experience within a broader
Christian context, and the influence of the guides to self examination is
evident in the words she uses at the beginning of this section: ‘I return
to exammination of my selfe’.21
We can trace the development of this passage in the partial drafts of
her ‘Booke of Rememberance’ that Elizabeth Isham wrote in the blank
space around a letter from her sister-in-law Jane. The drafts provide evi-
dence of how Isham went about the task of examining her self, and indi-
cate once again the willingness to evaluate and revise that distinguishes
her puritan intellectual style. The passages are organised not chronologi-
cally but thematically: the verso of the sheet contains sections scattered
throughout the ‘Booke of Rememberance’, but all referring to family
illness and death, while the sections copied around the direction all
relate to conscience and religious practice.22 These groupings suggest
that Elizabeth Isham did not begin at the beginning when drafting her
life narrative, but rather set herself devotional topics, the better to ‘make
good use of’ her own experiences of God’s providence.23 In preparing her
Elizabeth Isham and Puritan Cultural Forms 127

fair copy, Isham rearranged these passages in chronological order, and


carefully revised them, principally by changing the passages of reflec-
tion so that they did not refer to ‘the Lord’ in the third person, but –
like St Augustine’s Confessions – were addressed directly to God.24
Augustine’s Confessions proved to be a seminal influence on Elizabeth
Isham’s experimentation with the new genre of autobiography. Of the
other puritan self-writings from the time to survive, the only life nar-
ratives are Lady Grace Mildmay’s brief account that treats events the-
matically rather than chronologically, and Rose Thurgood and Cecily
Johnson’s conversion narratives.25 It took Elizabeth Isham to combine
the self-scrutiny and emotional vocabulary of puritanism with the
example of a long chronological life narrative she found in Augustine’s
Confessions, newly available in a Protestant English translation in 1631.26
‘Confession’ in this period usually meant either an admission of guilt or a
statement of faith, not a narrative of the self in the modern sense of ‘con-
fessional autobiography’. St Augustine’s Confessions encompassed both
early modern meanings: a confession of sin and a confession of faith.27
Isham’s debt to Augustine is both considerable and unusual. When
other puritans at the time were reading the Confessions primarily to sup-
plement Augustine’s later anti-Pelagian accounts of original sin, Isham
is influenced by the shape of Augustine’s narrative of the reformed
life, which she quotes or refers to more than two dozen times.28 In her
‘Booke of Rememberance’ the style of the opening prayer, the ordering
of the narrative, the use of the phrase ‘I call to mind’ to introduce nota-
ble events, the frequent interruption of the narrative with confession
of sin, the significance of a mother to the development of faith, even a
specific episode of youthful transgression involving the theft of pears,
all these are borrowed from the Confessions.29
In recounting her version of the pear story, Isham even borrowed the
unusual word ‘lickorishnesse’ from the 1631 translation of Augustine
to describe her desire to steal.30 But despite all of these parallels, Isham
did not follow Augustine slavishly; she ignored other key episodes in
his account and put her own particular spin on the pear-stealing story.
Augustine wrote of being influenced by bad companions, but Isham’s
experience was specifically solitary: her ‘lickorishnesse’ was to open her
mother’s closet, and once she had she stole fruit from it.31 Augustine’s
youthful transgression served as a reminder of how much he loved sin
for the sake of it. Isham’s ‘closet’ stealing was also the beginning of an
awareness of her own sins, but simultaneously enabled her to begin the
course of devotional reading and prayer that would come to define her
life and lead to the composition of her ‘confessions’.
128 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Isham’s intellectual style was influenced not only by her godly read-
ing but by contact with clergy and laity who ‘expounded’ to her on
points of puritan doctrine, such as the Rector at Lamport, Daniel Baxter,
the curate, Thomas Bunning, and a neighbour, Mrs Nichols.32 The great-
est influence of this sort, who was probably responsible for the more
puritan elements of her doctrine and piety, was John Dod (1550–1645),
by this time an elder statesman of the puritan movement who was
under the protection of the Drydens of Canons Ashby, on the other
side of Northamptonshire.33 Dod was introduced to the family around
1618 when Isham’s mother, Lady Judith, began to suffer from religious
melancholy, and his influence on the young Elizabeth is evident in the
number of times the adult writer mentioned his visits to her family.
Dod, she wrote, ‘hath a singuler gift in comforting afflicted consciences
above any I know’, and was the only one able to persuade Lady Judith to
leave her chamber after a long, self-imposed confinement.34 He shaped
the young Elizabeth’s understanding of the faith, her piety, and even
her daily habits, setting her Bible readings and quizzing her on them,
rebuking her for eating fruit when she should have been fasting, and
criticising her gambling. The adult Elizabeth was conscious of how influ-
enced she had been, commenting that she valued Dod’s ‘delightfull easey
way’ of explaining using the most comforting scripture passages, and
even remarking that she continued to avoid fruit even when tempted.
Nevertheless, she was careful to establish that she was no slavish dis-
ciple, disagreeing with Dod’s prohibition on playing at cards even for
negligible amounts, and asserting that ‘I am not of there opinion who
extole Mr Dod above all others’, a position that she justified using Dod’s
own teaching:

for it is a hard mater to make comparison. for so I should doe without


my knowledge: every owne hath his proper gift of God one after this
maner, and another after that neither bind I my selfe to the privat
opinion of any. I know there is none but hath there infirmities, as Mr
Dod excellenly expounded James the v.[and] the 17.

Dod’s most significant influence may have been this habit of encouraging
independent thought and disdain for the ‘privat opinion’ of others.35
Dod was later instrumental in brokering a marriage between Elizabeth
Isham and John Dryden the younger, cousin of the poet and grandson
of Dod’s protector, Sir Erasmus Dryden, one of those Isham described
as ‘more precise’ than her own family.36 Isham desired to remain single
and responded ambivalently to the protracted, and ultimately failed,
Elizabeth Isham and Puritan Cultural Forms 129

marriage negotiations, eventually falling in love with the young man


but remaining uncertain about entering into marriage.37 In the ‘Booke
of Rememberance’ she defended her behaviour during the affair and
in its ugly aftermath, when accusations flew between the families as to
who had behaved less honourably.38
The habit of evaluating her own actions is evident throughout the
‘Booke of Rememberance’, and is frequently couched in the language of
self-examination. Isham remembered, for example, deciding to ‘exam-
ine my selfe’ when her sister reported rumours about her aversion to
marriage. Isham recognised at the time that her decision had pitted
her against her father, and carefully asserted that she had not violated
Numbers 30, which gave fathers the right to allow or disallow the vow
of an unmarried daughter.39 But, if she would not vow, she neverthe-
less felt that her ‘owne naturall inclination’ against marriage was strong
enough that she ‘was forced to withstand his desire’.40 The strength of
her desire forced Isham to negotiate between the demands her faith
placed on her as a daughter and the duties of her own vocation. As she
asserted in a marginal note,

alwaies when I would doe any thing and douted whether I should or
no perform it being assured that it was good. I desired of God that
I might doe it. and though I thought it unlawfull to vow. yet I thought
it lawfull to desire that if it might be granted or if a single life migh
[sic] be more acceptable to thee that I might lead it.41

Isham’s puritan intellectual style enabled her to reason her way through
the conflict between her duty as a woman and her duty as a Christian.
By refusing to vow, she submitted to her father’s authority, but never-
theless her ability to resist her father’s plans, even without a vow, served
as proof that her desire for a single life was sanctioned by a higher
authority.
Such determinedly independent reasoning is also evident in Isham’s
attitude toward religious controversies of the time. In subtle details she
distinguished herself from ‘the presiser sort’ and defended a more mod-
erate Protestant piety. For example, she praised the celebration of feasts
as a means of teaching and inspiring faith; and although she refused to
embroider images of Christ herself, she confessed ‘I liked some picktures
of our saviour well’.42 She took it upon herself to catechise the servants,
using the old catechism ‘which is now injoyned’ because the itinerant
servants were confused by the wide variety of modern catechisms used
in different parishes.43 In a marginal note she expressed regret for having
130 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

doubted the value of ‘apparel and musike and church cerimonies’ –


matters of great controversy in the 1630s – and she referred to commun-
ion as the ‘Blessed Sacrament’ that played an important, if not central
role in her devotional life.44 When national debates about these issues
contributed to the outbreak of civil war shortly after Isham finished
her ‘Booke of Rememberance’, she remained firmly royalist and found
herself on the opposite end of the political divide from her ‘presiser’
Northamptonshire neighbours.45 Ironically, the evidence of the ‘Booke
of Rememberance’ suggests that it may have been her early exposure
to a puritan intellectual style that gave Elizabeth Isham the intellectual
determination to choose another path in later life.
That intellectual determination is particularly striking from a woman
writer. Part of the process of self-examination involved admitting fail-
ure, but Isham never attributed her failures to her gender, or offered any
of the usual protestations about being a weak woman from whom no
better could be expected. She rarely mentioned her gender in relation to
her education, her reading, or her intellectual inquiry; other than remark-
ing that her father forbade plays – without specifying whether that
prohibition fell on her brother as well – she never implied that gender
limited her intellectual choices.46 She certainly may have internalised
and naturalised gendered restrictions, but the fact that the image she
presented of her intellectual self was not strongly gendered is in itself
significant. In a single aside she hypothesised that her brother, ‘being a
man had more strenght and learning to withstand’ the religious tempta-
tions that plagued her, and in a later marginal note she explicitly men-
tioned conventional limitations on women’s intellectual engagement.47
Commenting on a passage in which she had meditated on the duties of
spiritual inheritance, with reference to Psalm 119, a lengthy thanksgiv-
ing for God’s law, she writes:

I call to mind the 32 verse for as I told my b[rother] I thought I was


the more tried for much knowledge yet did I not wish lesse contrary
to the minde of those that say it is not good for a woman to be too
Bookish for if I had not had knowledge especially of thy word I had
perished in my affliction. psal 119.9248

Along with many of the other women in this book, Elizabeth Isham used
the demands of her faith to contradict the conventional wisdom that
women’s intellectual enquiry ought to be limited, that it was ‘not good
for a woman to be too Bookish’. Her intellectualism may at times have
led her to greater trials than those more simply-minded, but it had also
Elizabeth Isham and Puritan Cultural Forms 131

preserved her in a faith grounded in greater understanding. As through-


out her ‘Booke of Rememberance’, it is faith, not gender, that is the key
to her well-examined self-image, her remarkable choice to write her
own life story, and her willingness to question even the puritanism that
had first formed her.

Notes
1. Elizabeth Isham’s ‘Booke of Rememberance’ is now in Princeton University
Library, Robert H. Taylor Collection MS RTC01 no. 62, fol. 2r, hereafter cited
in the text as ‘Princeton’. An online old-spelling edition of Isham’s writ-
ings is available at [http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ren/projects/isham/],
edited by Elizabeth Clarke, Erica Longfellow, Jill Millman and Alice Eardley,
funded by a British Academy Larger Research Grant. Elizabeth Clarke, Erica
Longfellow and Alice Eardley are also preparing a modernised version of the
text for the Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series, Centre for Reformation
and Renaissance Studies, Toronto, forthcoming 2011. Isham is quoting Psalm
71.18 in the Geneva translation.
2. Lucy Hutchinson’s prefaces adopt a rhetorical posture of humility that was
common for both male and female writers – and went unremarked when
Order and Disorder (1679) was attributed to her brother. Erica Longfellow,
Women and Religious Writing in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2004), pp. 204–5.
3. Princeton fol. 21r.
4. The most influential definition of autobiography is Georges Gusdorf, ‘Conditions
and Limits of Autobiography’ in James Olney (ed. and trans) Autobiography
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), pp. 28–48. Gusdorf’s model
has been criticised as presupposing a unified self that is often unattainable
for women; see especially Shari Benstock, ‘Authorizing the Autobiographical’
in Shari Benstock (ed.), The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women’s
Autobiographical Writings (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
1988), pp. 10–33. Michelle Dowd and Julie Eckerle summarise the implications
of these theories for early modern texts in the Introduction to their volume,
Genre and Women’s Life Writing in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate,
2007), pp. 2–4.
5. Adam Smyth, for example, cautions those who expect to find ‘a glimpse of a
coherent, self-reflexive subjectivity that is in the process of emerging’ in early
modern life writings. Adam Smyth, ‘Almanacs, Annotators, and Life-Writing
in Early Modern England’, ELR 38 (2008), 200–44.
6. Kimberly Anne Coles, Religion, Reform, and Women’s Writing in Early Modern
England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 6.
7. For histories of the Isham family see Isaac Stephens, ‘The Courtship and
Singlehood of Elizabeth Isham, 1630–1634’, HJ 51 (2008), 1–25; Mary E. Finch,
The Wealth of Five Northamptonshire Families 1540–1640 (Oxford: Northampton-
shire Record Society, 1956), pp. 6–37; and Sir Gyles Isham, (ed. and Introduction)
The Correspondence of Bishop Brian Duppa and Sir Justinian Isham 1650–1660
(Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire: Northamptonshire Record Society, 1955).
132 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

8. Princeton fol. 13v.


9. Princeton fols 4v, 5r. Elizabeth Isham wrote two lists of her books on the verso
of letters she received, now in the Isham family papers in Northamptonshire
Record Office, Isham Correspondence MSS IC 4829 and IC 4825. She also
notes when she was given books in the ‘Booke of Rememberance’.
10. Princeton fol.16v.
11. Princeton fol. 9r. I understand moderate puritanism, as Peter Lake defined it,
as resting in ‘a capacity, which the godly claimed, of being able to recognize
one another in the midst of a corrupt and unregenerate world. That capac-
ity, in turn, rested on a common view of the implications of right doctrine,
both for the private spiritual experience of the individual and for the col-
lective.’ Peter Lake, Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 282. By establishment Calvinists
I intend those divines who held official office while ‘sharing much with their
puritan confreres but in no sense puritans themselves’, such as John King,
a significant influence on Elizabeth Isham. James S. McGee, ‘On Misidentifying
Puritans: The Case of Thomas Adams’, Albion 30 (1998), 401–418 (404).
12. Princeton fol. 26r. Northamptonshire Record Office, Isham Correspondence
MS IC 272, Arthur Dee to Mr Aldrich, 1649.
13. Princeton fol. 26r.
14. Plainness.
15. Princeton fol. 35v.
16. Isham’s booklists, in Northamptonshire Record Office Isham Correspondence
MSS IC 4829 and IC 4825, included John Dod, Ten sermons tending chief-
ely to the sitting of men for the worthy receiuing of the Lords Supper (London:
William Hall for Roger Jackson, 1609); John Abernethy, A Christian and
heavenly treatise containing physicke for the soule (London: I. Beale for John
Budge, 1615); and John Preston, The saints daily exercise (London: W. L. for
N. Bourne, 1629). The family library surviving at Lamport Hall includes
several similar books not in Isham’s booklists, such as Arthur Dent, The
plaine mans path-way to heauen (London: for Robert Dexter, 1602).
17. George Webbe, ‘A short Direction for the dayly exercise of a Christian’, in
William Perkins, et al., A garden of spirituall flowers (London: W. White for
T. Pavier, 1610), fols F6r-v.
18. Richard Rogers, ‘A Direction vnto true happines’, in William Perkins et al.
A garden of spirituall flowers (1610), fols A8v, Br.
19. Portions of Richard Rogers’s journal are preserved in Doctor Williams’s
Library, Baxter MS 61.13, and are known to have circulated.
20. Nehemiah Wallington, Guildhall Library MS 204, p. 409. Dionys Fitzherbert’s
account of her religious melancholy, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 154
and MS e. Mus. 169, and Lambeth Palace Library MS Sion arc L.40.2 E47.
Kathryn Hodgkin’s edition of Fitzherbert’s account is forthcoming from
Ashgate, and she kindly allowed me to read the informative Introduction.
For further discussion of autobiographical genres in this period, see the
essays in Dowd and Eckerle, Genre and Women’s Life Writing; Sharon Cadman
Seelig, Autobiography and gender in early modern literature: reading women’s
lives, 1600–1680 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); and
Kate Hodgkin, Madness in Seventeenth-Century Autobiography (Basingstoke:
Macmillan, 2007).
Elizabeth Isham and Puritan Cultural Forms 133

21. Princeton fol. 33r.


22. Northamptonshire Record Office, Isham Correspondence MS IC 4344.
23. Princeton fol. 11v.
24. Alice Eardley, ‘“Like hewen stone”: Augustine, Audience and Revision in
Elizabeth Isham’s “Booke of Rememberance” [c. 1639]’, in Anne Lawrence-
Mathers and Phillipa Hardman (eds), Women and Writing, c.1340–c.1650:
The Domestication of Print Culture (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2010),
pp. 177–95.
25. Lady Grace Mildmay’s autobiographical reflections are in the Northamp-
tonshire Studies Collection in Northamptonshire Central Library. They
have been rearranged and edited in Linda A. Pollack (ed.), With faith and
physic: the life of a Tudor gentlewoman, Lady Grace Mildmay, 1552–1620 (New
York: St Martin’s, 1995). Rose Thurgood and Cecily Johnson appear to have
been influenced by continental traditions in writing their early examples of
the conversion narrative. Naomi Baker (ed.), Scripture Women: Rose Thurgood,
‘A Lecture of Repentance’, and Cicely Johnson, ‘Fanatical Reveries’ (Nottingham:
Trent Editions, 2005).
26. Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Augustines confessions translated, trans. William
Watts (London: John Norton for John Partridge, 1631).
27. Although the fair copy of her own narrative bears the label ‘Booke of
Rememberance’, in another manuscript Isham referred to the narrative as
her ‘confessions’. Northamptonshire Record Office, Isham of Lamport MS IL
3365.
28. Mary A. Papazian, ‘The Augustinian Donne: How a “Second S. Augustine”?’
in Mary A. Papazian (ed.) John Donne and the Protestant Reformation: New Pers-
pectives (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2003), pp. 66–89, esp. 67–9.
29. Princeton fols. 2v, 4v, 26v.
30. Princeton 10r. Augustine writes that he and his youthful companions stole
many pears, ‘not for our lickerishenesse, but even to fling to the Hogs’; Saint
Augustines confessions translated, Book II, ch. 4, 79.
31. The closets at Lamport Hall appear to have served multiple functions; see
Lena Cowen Orlin, ‘Gertrude’s Closet’, Shakespeare Jahrbuch, 134 (1998),
44–67.
32. Princeton fols. 15v, 13r, 12r.
33. ‘John Dod’, ODNB.
34. Princeton fol. 11v. Tom Webster, Godly Clergy in Early Stuart England: The
Caroline Puritan Movement c. 1620–1643 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1997), pp. 52–3.
35. Princeton fol. 13r, 15r.
36. Princeton fol. 23v.
37. Princeton fol. 21v–24r.
38. Princeton fol. 23r. See Northamptonshire Record Office, Isham Correspon-
dence MSS IC 189–191 and IC 193. Elizabeth Isham does not mention
Dod’s involvement in her own account of the affair in her ‘Booke of
Rememberance’ (Princeton fols. 21v–24r). Isaac Stephens, ‘The Courtship
and Singlehood of Elizabeth Isham, 1630–1634’, p. 17.
39. Numbers 30:3–5, Authorised Version.
40. Princeton fol. 29r.
41. Princeton fol. 29r.
134 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

42. Princeton fols 8v and 31r.


43. Princeton fol. 25r.
44. Princeton fols 31v, 34v, 36v.
45. Elizabeth Clarke discusses the evidence for Isham’s increasing royalism
and Laudianism after she finished the ‘Booke of Rememberance’. Elizabeth
Clarke, ‘What kind of a puritan is Elizabeth Isham?’, a paper given at the
workshop ‘Elizabeth Isham at Princeton’, 7–8 September 2007. The abstract
of the paper is available at [http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ren/projects/
isham/workshop/clarke].
46. Princeton fol. 26r.
47. Princeton fol. 24v.
48. Princeton fol. 27v. Psalm 119.32; Psalm 119.92. Geneva translation.
11
Anne Bradstreet’s
Poetry and Providence:
Earth, Wind, and Fire
Susan Wiseman

To what extent can we say there was an intellectual culture specific to


puritanism? This question has exercised historians including Christopher
Hill, Patrick Collinson, Raphael Samuel.1 This collection’s ambition to
explore these questions situates it at a busy crossroads. The issues it
impacts on include: the history and historiography of puritanism; the
question of the category of ‘intellectual culture’; the place of gender in
both puritanism and in the historiography of puritanism. Historically,
accounts of puritan culture have emphasised either its tendency to fos-
ter a social programme of godly reformation or the moment of (depend-
ing on your point of view) the collapse of the national church or the
flowering of the sects in the 1640s. Thus, while John Stachniewski
rightly noted the difficulty of grasping puritanism’s ‘experiential actual-
ity’ and that ‘[m]uch (too much) comment has simply refused to face
Calvinist extremism, to inhabit imaginatively its assumptions about the
world’, as he also reminded readers that was true once the sects were
excluded from analysis.2
This essay explores connections between Anne Bradstreet’s poems,
modes of providential storytelling and thought, and actual events
which befell New England settlers, and other people’s reactions to those.
Bradstreet’s writings make her a case study in ‘puritanism’. At the end
of her life, in her legacy for her children, she wrote, ‘I…came into this
country, where I found a new world and new manners, at which my
heart rose.’ She continues, ‘But after I was convinced it was the way of
God, I submitted to it and joined the church at Boston.’3 Her poetry
marks the nature of this process (submission or accommodation?) and
Bradstreet’s use of her intellectual resources are further illuminated by

135
136 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

being set beside the experiences and writings of some of her contem-
poraries.
Bradstreet set off in John Winthrop’s fleet in April 1630 – ‘[w]hen
England began to decline in Religion’.4 For these migrants, physical
distance perhaps presented an alternative to a continued internal exile
from the Church. Certainly, many fled the reforms and pursuit of arch-
bishop Laud. In terms of puritan intellectual culture – taking that term
as designating together religious, political, and, where appropriate, liter-
ary developments – the meaning of emigration was both productively
and problematically ambiguous. Physically distant from England, the
new communities did not have to confront an immediate need to sepa-
rate from either church or government in the old country – but they
were distant, almost exiled, from friends and family and those others
who fled with them agreed on what they were flying from, not neces-
sarily on how the new world should, or could, be.
From about 1630 to the early Restoration, the growing settlements of
New England present a particular case, almost experiment, in Puritan
culture with its own internal patterns, phases, rules, crises and gender-
dynamics as well as complex and shifting relations with England.
Geographically, the personae of Bradstreet’s story tend to inhabit those
settlements from Boston to the north (Andover, Newbury, Ipswich –
where she and her husband spent their lives) and London, Newbury,
Berkshire and perhaps Wiltshire in old England. In these places Bradstreet
produced both The Tenth Muse (1650) and, the main focus of this essay,
manuscript prose and poetry some of which found its way into the sec-
ond edition of the The Tenth Muse but some of which did not.

II

Thou mighty God of sea and land,


I here resign into Thy hand
The son of prayers, of vows, of tears,
The child I stayed for many years.
Thou heard’st me then and gave him me;
Hear me again, I give him Thee.
He’s mine, but more, O Lord, Thine own.
For sure Thy grace on him is shown.
No friend have I like Thee to trust,
For mortal helps are brittle dust.
Preserve, O Lord, from storms and wrack,
Protect him there and bring him back,5
Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence 137

So wrote Bradstreet some thirty years after her arrival in this new and
troubling world. With a characteristic directness that locates it some-
where between a prayer and a poem, Bradstreet’s simple language estab-
lishes a clear, yet complex, situation. Her son, like all children, is more
God’s than hers. If it is God’s will to take him then she will have to
submit and it will indeed be for the best. She feels that this son is God’s
all the more acutely because he is her firstborn – the child for whom
she waited long. Yet, as she hints, his appearance, as a gift from God,
makes him specially precious to her. She and God can share him com-
fortably when he is alive, but the prospect of a dangerous sea voyage
reminds her of God’s prior claim. The poem acknowledges God’s rights
but, also reminding the almighty of her son’s partaking his grace, begs
him to preserve the boy. Although it ends with submission (‘Thy will be
done’), the poem remains disturbed. If her son must die, she begs God
to ‘Persuade my heart I shall him see / Forever happified with Thee.’
The poet seems to need God’s persuasion to believe an afterlife, at least
a benign afterlife. So the end of the poem turns to Bradstreet’s struggle
to have faith.
The poem follows a familiar circuit of doubt and resolution. Part of its
purpose seems almost to be to prove that the sufferer is elect precisely
because she takes the appropriate Calvinist route through the forest of
doubt. In following the dynamic of how an elect Christian should deal
with providence – that is, in what it shares with many other poems
attempting to come to terms with doubt and fear through Calvinist-
approved patterns of self-examination – it takes us to the heart of a
puritan culture that is both methodologically simple, even banal, and,
contingently, deeply frightening for the subject. Clearly, to follow the
appropriate pattern of thought in relation to the fear is not at all, neces-
sarily, to allay that fear; rather the aim is to put the fear to work by scru-
tinising it for signs of the health, or otherwise, of the poet’s (and perhaps
reader’s) soul. Bradstreet’s writing is marked by an intense, though simul-
taneously quotidian, providentialism. God’s relentless overseeing and
direction of earthly dealings underpins much of Bradstreet’s writing.
That it is a sea voyage which turns Bradstreet towards her need to be
known by God, and to be able to know, and submit to, his will is also
suggestive of the interrelated physical and providential circumstances of
New England. The boundless terror of the ocean set providential think-
ing at play. Specifically, the nagging knowledge that the sea had the
absolute and final say on all plans to leave New England haunted those
who had crossed the Atlantic westwards and might, as many did, long
to return. The substantial New England contribution to the providential
138 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

literature of shipwreck hints at the extent to which the sight and sound
of the ocean must have tinged with fear the settlers’ dreams of comfort.
Part of the providential literature, Increase Mather’s Providences (1684)
took as its first providence a shipwreck from August 1635, soon after
Bradstreet moved to new England. Mather reminds the reader of earlier
sea texts – Mandeville’s non-providential marvels, Hackluyt voyages,
and the more closely similar James Janeway’s Legacy in which a provi-
dential sermon offers a concluding drama to New England shipwrecks.6
Snatching survivors from the jaws of death to be examples of God’s
goodness, providential narrative shapes the sea’s power into some-
thing logical and godly. Man’s task becomes to understand it aright.
Accordingly, Mather’s text is apparently clear about the implications of
the shipwreck – the point is the deliverance of the survivors. Yet this
certainty is produced from a text which, written soon after the event, as
so often, is less interpretatively footsure.
Anthony Thacher’s letter to his brother Peter, a minister in Salisbury,
describes the hurricane and shipwreck as ‘such sad news as never
before this happened in New England’. ‘The story’, he writes, ‘is thus.’7
Making the Atlantic crossing with his Wiltshire cousin Joseph (or pos-
sibly John) Avery or Avary, the two bind themselves and their families
together in a ‘league of perennial friendship’ – ‘never to forsake each
other to the death’.8 An instance of the phenomenon charted by Susan
Hardman-Moore whereby unsettled settlers sought to bind themselves
to others in attempts to reinforce the will to make way in the new and
hostile world of New England, events were to lend the ‘league’ signifi-
cance.9 Arriving safe in New England, at Avery’s instigation, they ‘went
to Newberry to Mr Parker and others of his acquaintance, intending
there to sit down and plant’. But, repeatedly solicited, Mr Avery even-
tually agrees to go as minister to Marblehead to a community in need
of a minister yet also unappealing to him because a fishing settlement.
A pinnace was sent for them and they embarked – with ‘all and every
one of our families with all our goods and substance’.
This is when the hurricane struck. The crew were washed away, and
the Thacher and Avary families left alone in the cabin of the wild ship.
In Thacher’s account, this is when they canvassed the state of their
souls. Thinking Thacher was about to leave, Avary ‘said unto me “Oh,
cousin, leave us not. Let us die together,” and reached forth his hand
unto me.”’ Thacher recounts, ‘“The Lord is able to help and deliver us.”
He replied, saying, “True, cousin, but what His pleasure is, we know not;
I fear we have been too unthankful for former mercies.” ’10 And, as they
discuss their faith, a ‘mighty wave’ sweeps Thacher overboard and on
Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence 139

to a rock where four of them – Avery, his eldest son, Thacher and his
daughter – are flung, only to be tossed again into the sea. At last, failing,
Thacher was ‘violently thrown grovelling on my face’ and ‘crept forth
to the dry shore’ where he finds his wife. Rescued two days later, having
survived using salvage from the shipwreck and resourcefulness, Thacher
wrote of his spiritual agony for his lost children – ‘yet I see their cheeks,
poor silent lambs, pleading pity at my hands’.
Thacher was compensated financially by the General Court of Massa-
chusetts and (lest he forget?) he was given the island onto which he was
driven. The names ‘Thacher’s Woe’ and ‘Avary His Fall’, which Thacher
chose for the fatal topography evoke misery, not providence.11 Thacher’s
description of the tempest, apparently composed soon after the events,
is much less certain about what God’s actions were or how they were
to be interpreted than Mather’s providential retelling. Thacher does
not explicitly reject a providentialist reading, rather, as his foreground-
ing of his dialogue with Avery on the nature of providence at the very
height of the storm suggests, he sees the dense difficulty of finding
God’s purpose.
Thacher’s text is comparable to Bradstreet’s poem in that she fears
the very horror he knew, and she too struggles to know God’s purpose
through the seas. Yet, there are other ways in which these texts can be
considered within the same frame. The shipwreck was a major and recent
event when the Dudley and Bradstreet families moved to Ipswich in the
autumn of 1635. Dudley was governor during the year in which the
grant of land to Thacher was made. So, it is almost certain that she would
have known the story. That in the 1680s a version close to Thacher’s
was in print indicates that it was circulated and, indeed, the fullest ver-
sion we currently have is in one of the artisan Nehemiah Wallington’s
notebooks.12 Neatly copying Thacher’s letter into a notebook which
includes correspondence with his friend, James Cole, who emigrated to
New England, Wallington’s collection suggests that the shipwreck, or
rather the rescue, was considered providential. Unfortunately, Wallington
passes over the letter’s source, but, given that he copied the text in
London, Bradstreet too, may have seen a manuscript version.
As it happened, God, or the ocean, did not take Bradstreet’s loved
child or her husband; her son came home, safe, in 1661. Yet, though
not traumatised as Thacher must have been, she too is aware that if God
decides to take away her loved ones or her possessions her ghastly task
is to find a way to understand what in her and her world might have
provoked those actions. She engages these concerns again as, though
her son returns, safe, no sooner is he back than her husband sets sail.
140 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

In ‘Upon My Dear and Loving Husband His Going Into England Jan. 16,
1661’. She writes, ‘Unthankfulness for mercies past / Impute Thou not
to me’ (ll. 24–5). Like Thacher’s letter, this poem canvasses the author’s
heart for past sins. She can submit obediently, but fears that God’s face
eludes her. Again and again, the plain language of Bradstreet’s poems
name an intense struggle to believe. Asserting that God ‘Remember,’ his
‘folk whom Thou / To wilderness has brought’ she vows that if reunited
with her husband her days ‘Shall consecrated be’ to God’s praise.
Turning to another context of Bradstreet’s poetry, we can speculate
that she may have had another reason to think of Avery’s ordeal as she
writes her later poems on disaster anticipated, averted, and – sometimes –
understood. Many of Bradstreet’s poems commemorate her family. If we
look at Bradstreet’s immediate family – father, husband, children – we
see the emergence of a ruling dynasty; yet, this narrative is produced
by excising family members that don’t fit. At least two of Bradstreet’s
female kin seem to have reacted very differently from the poet to the
intellectual culture of puritanism: her sister, Sarah and her aunt by
marriage – Elizabeth Avery.13
The case of Elizabeth Avery takes us to the heart of splits in the reli-
gious culture that New, as old, Englanders found hard to deal with. The
daughter of an eminent preacher and emigrant, Robert Parker, with a
sister, Sarah (married to the Wiltshire clergyman John Woodbridge),
Elizabeth Avery embraced free grace and wrote prophesies. Apparently
active in Oxford when John Lambert was governor, she witnessed
debates between Presbyterians and independents there.14 In 1647, the
same year that Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse was probably brought to London
by John Woodbridge, her radical Scripture-Prophesies Opened were pub-
lished.15 The two women published. Bradstreet to family praise, Avery
to condemnation. The men of Newbury, Massachusetts, – Noyes, Parker
and others – commented positively on Bradstreet’s writing while con-
demning Avery’s writing and conduct.16
Could Elizabeth Parker, later Avery, have married into a branch of
the family of the minister shipwrecked in 1635? Although, of course,
Avery died and so did all his ‘family’ (his immediate family?) given
that Elizabeth’s sister Sarah Parker twice married men from Wiltshire
(Woodbridge, then Baylie) it seems possible that her sister Elizabeth
Parker also married into a Wiltshire family. Several Averys can be found
in New England. A William Avery is listed as resident in Ipswich in 1637,
after Newbury is settled and he is mentioned after the Rev. Thomas
Parker.17 So, while Elizabeth Parker’s husband Timothy Avery may be
from an entirely different family, there are Averys in and around Newbury
Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence 141

New England in the 1630s and, in England in the 1640s, Timothy


Avery seems to appear in exactly the location to which the Parkers and
Woodbridges were drawn before they left England and on their return –
Newbury, Berkshire. There are definitely Averys in New England in the
next generations.18 It is possible, then, that Elizabeth Parker’s husband
Timothy Avery, whether from England or New England, was bound by
family to an event which was understood as a founding providence of
New England’s narrative.
While Bradstreet’s familial connection to the shipwreck remains a mat-
ter of possibility, the relationship of her writing to that of her relative,
Avery, independently illuminates the distinct implications of puritan
intellectual culture and, particularly, to the reassurances and torments
of Calvinist doctrine and congregational practice. Certainly, Thomas,
Elizabeth Parker’s unmarried brother, and a minister at Newbury, New
England, thought that his sister had crossed far to the wrong side of the
antinomian divide in her refusal of ordinances and apparent disobedi-
ence to her husband. The intensity of experience suggested in Avery’s
prophecies would have reminded him of the antinomian controversy of
the 1630s. One of the most famous events of the colony’s early years,
and one which came close to destroying it, the antinomian controversy
and fear of its return shaped the thinking of New England settlers in the
1640s and 1650s.
In 1637 the interpretation of the relationship between two aspects of
Calvinism – grace and predestination – had provoked gravely divisive
dispute. John Cotton preached free grace – that ‘assurance of salvation
could come in an instant, by direct revelation from the Holy Spirit’.
By contrast, Thomas Sheapard emphasised ‘intense personal discipline
and self-scrutiny, to prepare the heart for God’s work’.19 The tensions
between these twin strands of thinking were dramatised when follow-
ers of Cotton, particularly controversially Anne Hutchinson, took up
and exaggerated Cotton’s ideas. By January 1637 the Bay Colony put
Hutchinson and others on trail and there ensued excommunications,
flights to England, banishment. Splits between Roxbury and Boston
congregations grew likely to tear apart the colony – a vivid sign of the
potential of Calvinist doctrine of grace and predestination to gener-
ate terrifying inward, and therefore outward, danger in the already
uncertain New England community. Moreover, while the antinomian
controversy seems to have formalised the dominance of the congrega-
tional structures that constituted the ‘New England Way’ it was far from
the end of dissent. If Newbury, where Bradstreet’s sponsors Parker and
Noyes lived, followed a kind of Presbyterianism, on the other hand the
142 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

1630s radicals disenchanted with the rule of Laud, or terrorised by his


agents, had held to diverse paths.20 However, like gathered churches in
old England, but with a specific inflection, the context of New England
famously produced many churches founded on covenants of believers
and into which believers were admitted after being tested. Unlike par-
ish churches, these ‘planted’ churches made each their own rules and
held the settlers close together in like-thinking and like-worshipping
communities which tended to rule out and reject both the laxer sort of
Christian and those who, like Anne Hutchinson or Elizabeth Avery, had
a different apprehension of how grace might come to the Christian.
Avery and Bradstreet’s distinct resolutions of spiritual crisis indicate
their distinct understandings of the tasks of faith. As has been discussed
elsewhere, Avery rejected public forms and embraced free grace. From
some perspectives this looked like a faith overcome by inadequately mar-
shalled spiritual experience.21 Contrastingly, Bradstreet pointedly notes
that in her ‘experiences’ of God’s ‘gracious dealings’, he ‘hath never
suffered me long to sit loose from Him, but by one affliction or other
hath made me look home, and search what was amiss’. Faith is tutored
by her reading of God’s actions in the world – ‘I have no sooner felt my
heart out of order than I have expected correction for it’. Sometimes ‘He
hath smote a child with sickness, sometimes chastened by loss in estate’.
Subtly working with the appropriate method, she weaves an intellectual
fabric out of her experiences of God and her world. Her experiences
respond to God’s moment by moment judgement on the state of her
soul, yet:

Many times hath Satan troubled me concerning the verity of the


Scriptures, many times by atheism how I could know whether there
was a God; I never saw any miracles to confirm me, and those which
I read of, how did I know but they were feigned? That there is a God
my reason would soon tell me by the wondrous works that I see, the
vast frame of heaven and the earth, the order of all things, night and
day, summer and winter, spring and autumn, the daily providing of
this great household upon earth, the preserving and directing of
all to its proper end. The consideration of these things would with
amazement certainly resolve me that there is an Eternal Being.

Is He truly ‘such a God as I worship in Trinity’? Although experiencing


such doubt ‘thousands of times’, her ‘God hath helped me over’.22 For
all the retrospective distance, Bradstreet is dealing with experiences and
paradoxes at the heart of Calvinism and, particularly, the New England
Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence 143

way. Despair and reason coagulate as reasons for atheism and the athe-
ism she is drawn to is a complete denial that there is a God. Immediate
spiritual experience requires analysis and reason assists Bradstreet’s return
to faith. Doubting intangibles and invisibles, she binds herself to faith
through reason, argument, evidence and a providential understanding
that God had taught her through affliction. Thus, from the perspective
of those involved in the New England way, Bradstreet and Avery seem
to take up two, polar opposite, positions offered to women by the anti-
nomian controversy of the 1630s. While Bradstreet and Avery might
have shared some experiences, some theology, yet their processing and
interpretations are markedly different. Bradstreet embraced church mem-
bership that effected and strove to stabilise distinction between the godly
and others.23
Geographical and temporal contrasts with old England are revealing
here, as New England’s spiritual and intellectual culture took a slightly
different course. Thus, a 1653 history of New England emphasises that
women, particularly Anne Hutchinson, were important problems in the
controversy and in the early narratives of New England. We can trace
the mythologisation of their part as Hutchinson became ‘a Woman,
even the grand Mistris of all the rest, who denied the Resurrection from
the dead, shee and her consorts mightily rayling against learning’ as
well as propounding a materialist view that there were ‘no other Devills
but wicked men, nor no such thing as sin’.24 Of the present, by contrast,
we read that the ‘Church of Christ here’ is now ‘exact in their conver-
sation,’ free from ‘the Epidemicall Disease of all Reforming Churches,’
led by a ‘pious, Learned and Orthodox Ministry’.25 If in the 1650s New
England could be asserted as a safe haven of orthodoxy, that assertion
was a response to the spiritual shipwreck of the 1630s, itself strongly
associated with women. Nobody wanted to revisit such chaos. Although
‘radical’ challenges to congregationalism continued (we remember Roger
Williams), past antinomian trauma also played into a narrative of con-
temporary stability – particularly in comparison to old England.
To turn to the 1640s. Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston, at Westminster,
wrote to John Winthrop in March 1647 that ‘I acknowledg myselfe a
presbiterion (yet such a one as can and doe hartely loue an humble
and pious independent such I meane as are with you for ours differ
much generally from them)’. Were he to be in New England he would
‘joyne with you’. For him there is no ‘set forme of dysipline’. English
‘Independents’, however, ‘shelter and countenance, for all Heresyes’.26
From the vantage point of this Westminster Presbyterian, during the
struggles of 1647, the New England way seemed remote but stable, and
144 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

demonstrated a similar ‘style’ of working with religious experience. As


Peter Lake notes, predestinarianism – a theological tenet – did not directly
imply one particular practice of piety.
As one cleric wrote, ‘What is our whole life but a continued deliver-
ance?’ – men were ‘daily delivered’ in that ‘our houses are freed from fir-
ing, or goods from plundering, or our bodies from danger’.27 A world in
which God had turned away his attention is here presented as terrifying
indeed – all restraining logic lies in God’s grand, mysterious plan, deflect-
ing chaos from his loved elect. Without him, things would dissolve into
elemental terror – often expressed by both fire and sea.28 While there is
a case for seeing Bradstreet’s later poems as more intimate, unreservedly
‘personal’ than The Tenth Muse we can also see them as working with the
problematic of providence.29
Bradstreet’s ‘Verses Upon the Burning of Our House July 10th 1666’
starts with the subject asleep – ‘In silent night when rest I took’. Inter-
rupted by shrieks:

I, starting up, the light did spy,


And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my distress
And not to leave me succorless.
Then, coming out, beheld a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest his name that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.30

Having spared her son from shipwreck, God sets Bradstreet the task
of accommodating herself to his will. Immediately, like the imperilled
Thacher and Avery, before she even identifies the damage, Bradstreet’s
poem shows her asking God for succour – strength, it seems, to face
the wreck of her home and to react as a Christian. Thus, the poem
presents a division in her reaction; though she could ‘no longer look’,
in another way, it is a scene of triumph in that she is able to submit
herself to God’s will.
At times Bradstreet seems indeed on the brink of questioning the
providential narrative. But is there really an outside of that narrative
available to the imagination of these poems? Chaos? For Bradstreet,
perhaps, women like Anne Hutchinson, Elizabeth Avery showed the
spiritual peril of the unstructured plunge towards grace as spiritually
Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence 145

dangerous – a leap into despair. (And she can hardly have missed its
social consequences.)
Bradstreet asserts explicitly that Satan tempted her to atheism and,
as frightening, to ask ‘why may not the Popish religion be the right?’
Bradstreet’s poems don’t take us on a journey into that experience.31
Rather than finding in these poems Bradstreet on the brink of aban-
doning her faith, or her providential reading of the world, I would
suggest that the need to persevere in faith – every day sinning, probing,
repenting, renewing, and, perhaps, writing – structures each poem, sug-
gesting a topic, and a path. If the elect must, in theory, do nothing but
observe the unfolding of God’s purpose yet to do so requires energetic,
detailed attention. Bradstreet takes moments when her life touches
potentially providential events and uses the thought patterns of elec-
tion to probe those events and to torture, indeed, her soul into the cor-
rect reaction – but to torture a soul deserving of correction. Put another
way, most of Bradstreet’s poems are not postcards from the edge. They
do tell us where the edge is (for the elect) but they are posted on the
trip back – at the point at which the experience has meaning because
it has been successfully subject to interpretation. Under such terms ter-
rible, maybe unassuaged, doubts can be left in, like the workings in a
complex sum.
Bradstreet’s providential thinking finds echoes, albeit less complex
and sophisticated, in her local world. John Dane, an Englishman, was
by 1638 living in Ipswich New England and his manuscript book of
providences was preserved at his death in 1684. Dane, like Bradstreet,
seeks to wrest productive knowledge from catastrophe:

In sixty one, my house was burnt, as neere as I can Remember; and


it was a most vialant fier. At that time I could not but take note
of seuerall providensis concurring with. I doe not know that I did
murmer at it, but was silent loking up to god to santifie it to me. It
pleased god to stur up the harts of my loving friends to help me in
the careyng on of another32

John Dane’s second providence is that although his corn was burned, his
pigs were still able to eat it - so he had ‘good porke for the workemen to
carey on the work.’ Dane writes, ‘All’s for the best. / Let us by faith assured
be /That from such storms thou’lt set us free’. While both authors may be
drawn to fire by experience but also because of the importance of cata-
strophic happenings in the available providential literature, their under-
standing of providence and how to read it are very clearly different.
146 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

III

What does Bradstreet’s case suggest about the contribution of puritan


women to seventeenth-century intellectual culture, and how we can
understand puritan culture as both specific and part of a wider world?
Bradstreet invites us to consider the powerful forces driving what we
might call ‘puritan’ intellectual culture as both stabilising and extreme –
on the one hand coherent and fostering forms of social unity and, on
the other, isolating its subjects in struggle with their faith, at times to
the point of trauma.
First, examined from the point of view of the study of women’s writ-
ing, the evidence of responses to Bradstreet and Avery from the same
group of men is unusual and illuminating. However, as we have seen,
from the point of view of the storms and tensions within the religious
settler cultures of New England, Bradstreet and Avery represent posi-
tions that their contemporaries and scholars find readily identifiable
as constellated by the ‘antinomian controversy’. Returning to gender,
then, we find that women were key examples in the 1630s antinomian
drama and that the gendered, as well as the spiritual, dimensions of that
controversy played into New England responses to English radicalism
of the next decade. Examining Avery and Bradstreet and responses to
them as aspects of the political, religious, social and theological cul-
ture of New England puritanism we get a slightly different view – they
seem, almost, to take up overdetermined – in the sense of familiar and
pre-designated – positions in the problems of puritan practice.
In terms of the charge that Bradstreet does not respond to her environ-
ment, situating Bradstreet in the relatively specific cultures of puritanism
(including responses to antinomianism and providential narratives)
suggests that her writings do respond, strongly, to the dominant inter-
pretative frames her culture offered to interpret her environment. She
addresses what she, not later interpreters, saw as the issues and possi-
bilities of puritan New England. Shipwreck, fire, loss bring together the
question of how the puritan subject can know God’s world aright – it is
this, not landscape per se, that shaped Bradstreet’s experience.
Finally, returning to puritanism, Nicholas Tyacke has traced the impor-
tance of congregationalism to the writings of William Ames and Paul
Baynes, arguing that the ‘visible church’ consists of a society of believ-
ers, bound together by covenant’.33 As Tyacke notes, in the Jacobean
and Caroline periods suggests a ‘radical puritan continuum’, albeit with
‘incoherence’. Moreover, domestic ‘religious constraints’ contrasted New
England’s experimental possibilities.34 Tyacke reminds us of radicals’
Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence 147

solidarity in 1640 during outraged debate over Bishops. Within certain


strains of Calvinist thinking there existed tendencies towards church
government, or an emphasis on grace, which might have quite radi-
cally distinct outcomes for individuals, and simultaneously there were
intense bonds and tensions between English and New English. The
way Bradstreet’s texts articulate experiences fit into a wider, sometimes
polemical, context. Returning to Stachniewski’s point, as Ann Hughes’
important work indicates, and as Bradstreet’s relationships suggest, godly
puritans cannot be wholly isolated from ‘radicals’.35
We can see a continuity of puritan experience, yet, because of differ-
ences in temporal sequences, distance, anxiety, and non-religious fac-
tors, differences loomed large for contemporaries. Periods of adherence
to ‘heart religion’ (in New England), the free grace debate and emergence
of gathered churches (in old England) occurred at different times and
played out in different ways. As Tyacke notes, in the 1630s, while for
some New England was the only ray of hope, simultaneously some
English puritans feared separatism’s revival ‘masquerading as a national
church’.36 Such uncertainties provoked misunderstandings, in the period
we have examined those were exacerbated by the fast pace of events and
the slow movement of letters. Haller, Tyacke and Lake have cogently
argued for a continuity of puritan thinking, maintained sometimes quite
self-consciously, from the Elizabethan to the Jacobean period and on
into the 1640s.
As we can see, it seems likely that the culture of providential interpreta-
tion and self examination, combined very possibly with readings on the
interpretation of natural events in terms of providence shape the writings
considered here. The texts suggest that Bradstreet did, pace her critics,
respond to new England – just not to the ‘America’ of some of our modern
myths. Her poems explore precisely the literary histories and interpretive
frameworks of Atlantic puritanism. In terms of a specific intertwining of
religious, social, and literary cultures there is little doubt that Bradstreet
should be considered an Atlantic and a New England poet.

Notes
1. See, for example Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down (London:
Maurice Temple Smith, 1972); Patrick Collinson, The Religion of Protestants
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1982); Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1990); on the modern ‘invention’ of puritanism see
Raphael Samuel, ‘The Discovery of Puritanism, 1820–1914’ in Jane Garnett
and Colin Matthew (eds), Revival and Religion Since 1700 (London: Hambledon
Press, 1993), pp. 201–47.
148 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

2. John Stachniewski, The Persecutory Imagination (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991)


p. 52.
3. John Harvard Ellis (ed.), The Works of Anne Bradstreet (Charlestown: Abram
E.Cutter, 1867), p. 5.
4. T. H., A History of New England (London: Nathaniel Brooke, 1653/4), fol.
B1r.
5. Ellis, Works, pp. 24–5.
6. James Janeway, Legacy to his Friends Containing Twenty Seven Famous Instances
of Gods Providences in and about Sea Dangers and Deliverances (London:
Newman, 1674), p. 89.
7. Everett Emerson (ed.), Letters From New England (Cambridge Ma.: Massa-
chusetts University Press, 1976), pp. 167–74; p. 168.
8. On John or Joseph see James Savage, The New England Historical and
Genealogical Register, 5 volumes (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical
Society, 1906), I, p. 82.
9. Susan Hardman-Moore, Pilgrims: New World Settlers and the Call of Home (New
Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 88–90; Letters, p. 168.
10. Emerson, Letters, p. 170; p. 171.
11. Now ‘Thacher’s Island’ and ‘Avery’s Fall’. Emerson, Letters, p.174.
12. Sloane MSS 992, fol. 2; fols 109–16.
13. On Bradstreet’s sister see Winthrop Papers (Boston: Massachusetts Historical
Society, 1947) v, pp. 143–4; pp .69–70; pp. 188–9. See Elizabeth Wade White,
Anne Bradstreet: The Tenth Muse (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971),
pp. 174–7.
14. See William Harbutt Dawson, Cromwell’s Understudy (London: William
Hodge, 1938), pp. 41–3.
15. Elizabeth Avery, Scripture-Prophesies Opened (London: Giles Calvert, 1647),
p. 15.
16. Susan Wiseman, Conspiracy and Virtue: Women, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-
Century England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 181–209. I am
very grateful to Tim Wales for his help with this research.
17. Joseph B. Felt, History of Ipswich, Essex and Hamilton (Cambridge, Mass.,:
privately printed, 1834), pp. 2, 10.
18. John Farmer, A Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New England
(Lancaster, Massachusetts: [n. p.], 1829), p. 21. Farmer gathers several Averys:
Christopher (fl. 1646), Thomas (fl. 1659), James (fl. 1648), John /Joseph [the
wrecked], John (d. 1654), William (fl. 1638, Ipswich) and the William Avery
of the Artillery Company. See Oliver Ayer Roberts, History of the Military
Company of Massachusetts (Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1895–7), 2, p. 195;
p. 177; p. 267.
19. Hardman-Moore, Pilgrims, p. 6.
20. Hardman-Moore, Pilgrims, pp. 54–73.
21. See also Kate Hodgkin, Madness and Seventeenth-Century Autobiography
(Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2007), pp. 1–9.
22. Ellis, Works, pp. 5–6.
23. Peter Lake, ‘Calvinism and the English Church’, Past and Present 114 (1987),
32–77; 39.
24. T. H., History, p. 97.
25. T. H., History, p. 67.
Anne Bradstreet’s Poetry and Providence 149

26. Letter from Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston to John Winthrop, Winthrop Papers,
V, pp. 144–5. On Barnardiston as puritan, Nicholas Tyacke, Aspects of English
Puritanism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), p. 123.
27. John Beadle, The Journal or Diary of a Thankful Christian (London: Printed
by E. Cotes for Tho. Parkhurs, 1656), quoted William Haller, The Rise of
Puritanism (New York: Harper & Row, 1957), p. 97.
28. Walsham, Providence, pp.117–24 and passim.
29. See e.g. Wade White, Anne Bradstreet, p. 199.
30. ‘Here follows some verses’, Ellis, Works, pp. 40–2.
31. Ellis, Works, pp. 5–6.
32. John Dane, A Declaration of Remarkable Providences by John Dane of Ipswich.
1682 (Boston: Samuel Drake, 1854), p. 13.
33. Nicholas Tyacke, The Fortunes of English Puritanism (London: Dr Williams
Trust, 1990), p. 12; p. 17; Haller, Puritanism, pp. 75, 79, 105.
34. Tyacke, Fortunes, pp. 17; pp. 20–1.
35. Ann Hughes, Gangraena and the Struggle For the English Revolution (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2004).
36. Tyacke, Fortunes, p. 18; Hardman-Moore’s recent research contrasts with
earlier assumption and interpretation in her insistence that most ministers
emigrating to new England came from ‘a ministry deeply rooted in parish
pulpits’. Hardman-Moore, pp. 19, 29; pp. 23, 47.
12
Viscountess Ranelagh and the
Authorisation of Women’s
Knowledge in the Hartlib Circle
Ruth Connolly

In late 1658, the Hartlib circle was in crisis. Two of their figureheads were
aging and ill and their financial as well as political patrons were strug-
gling to assist them. Its long-held ideal of European Protestant unity was
imploding on the battlefields of Northern Europe and panicky members
were still considering plans to support a military attack on the Vatican.1
In a moment in which he despaired for the future of Protestantism, an
emotion heightened by news of Oliver Cromwell’s death, Peter Figulus, a
senior figure amongst the circle at Amsterdam, translated and circulated
amongst his correspondents a series of letters from another member,
Lady Katherine Jones, Viscountess Ranelagh, which had been sent to
him by the circle’s principal secretary and founder Samuel Hartlib.2 These
letters, composed eighteen months earlier, perhaps directly to Hartlib,
would see her hailed by her European readers as a ‘sybila’ whose powerful
and erudite arguments could justify the network’s principles and renew
their ambitions.3
Ranelagh’s letters are written between 20 October 1656 and 19 February
1657 and, in the form in which they now exist in the Hartlib Papers,
bear the hallmarks of a collaborative publication. They are scribal copies of
letters to an unspecified addressee, the originals of which passed through
Hartlib’s hands. Her addressee is male and his name is not recorded
but the physical manuscripts HP 39/2/56A–59B and HP 39/2/50A–55B
include a scribal copy of her signature ‘K Ranalaugh’.4 The physical
manuscripts’ evidence indicates that a careful collation and transcrip-
tion of her letters had been made, intended for formal distribution
among members with no personal knowledge of Ranelagh. One version
consists of four separate letters of steadily increasing length, suggesting
that portions of the originals may have been excised during the proc-
ess either of translation or transcription. There are three copies of this
150
Viscountess Ranelagh and Women’s Knowledge 151

text in the archive, in two different hands, and a fifth letter exists in
a single copy.5 All the letters are in German and whilst Ranelagh may
have composed the originals in German herself there is no supporting
evidence that she knew that language.
Ranelagh’s letters presented a powerful argument warning of the
dangers of over-reliance on public office-holders to achieve the circle’s
aims, which seemed both prescient and convincing, since it was made
more than two years before the events which justified it. However, it
is arguably not a coincidence that it is a female member of the circle
who produces this argument. Ranelagh’s ongoing desire to move the
circle away from a reliance on such patronage may also be a reaction
to the experience in the 1640s of another female member of the cir-
cle, her relative Dorothy Moore, rather than a farsighted prediction
of events two years in the future. Moore found her arguments to the
circle on the absolute necessity of women’s service for the success of
reform were lost in the circle’s drive to win Parliament’s backing for its
proposals.6 Ranelagh’s case against another such alliance in the 1650s
may be intended implicitly to create the circumstances in which wom-
en’s authority might be exerted as well as to demonstrate the futility
of relying on narrow politico-religious platforms to create universal
Christian reform.
Ranelagh’s prominence within the Hartlib circle and more generally
amongst her contemporaries arose as a product both of background
and opportunity. She was born at Youghal, County Cork on 22 March
1614/15, the daughter of the richly ambitious Kentish planter Richard
Boyle.7 Ranelagh seems to have inherited the family tendency to relent-
less self-improvement. Whilst the level of formal education she received
is difficult to establish, she was throughout her life an auto-didact, learn-
ing Hebrew for instance in the 1650s and the emergent experimental
philosophy of the Hartlib circle was well suited to her prodigious abili-
ties.8 References in the archive of the Hartlib circle to work Ranelagh
undertook, instigated or encouraged encompass experiments in early
chemistry and medicine; legal and Scriptural studies and debates on
economic and agricultural reforms. She also had a particular interest in
expanding girls’ access to education.9
The Hartlib network encouraged such intellectual dynamism in its
members since its founding belief was that knowledge needed to be
reformed in order to demonstrate the unity and interrelationship of all
branches of it, a project developed by the Czech educational reformer
Jan Amos Comenius.10 The ‘Hartlib circle’ as it is now described and
as I use it here refers specifically to Hartlib’s regular correspondents
152 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

in Britain, Ireland and Europe, all of whom circulated their writings


through him for transmission to his other contacts or for publication
in script or print. But Hartlib and his co-founders Comenius and John
Dury perceived the establishment of a tightly linked network of support-
ers as no more than a preliminary to beginning the real work, which
was to draw all of society into a collective personal and social reforma-
tion. The real ‘Hartlib circle’ as they understood it was an international
Protestant communion defined by its communicative potential: that is
by its members’ willingness to speak to each other across doctrinal,
political and religious divides. The active members of this communion
were described as the ‘Saints’, an elect who would readily recognise and
embrace the value of the process, but the circle simultaneously drew
on the long-standing idea of Christians as comprising Christ’s body on
earth in order to stress that this was an enterprise which puts its empha-
sis on the unity, interdependence and knowledge of all believers.11
This inclusive terminology was also intended to encompass the
knowledge of women and the female members of the circle themselves
sought to establish a practical outlet for their abilities.12 Moore, Hartlib’s
close friend and an early member, told Ranelagh in 1643, in a letter
also transmitted to and preserved by Hartlib, that all Christians must
employ themselves in practical services that benefit the entire Christian
community:

which I conceive every Member of Christ ought to propose unto


themselves as their Duty without excluding our Sex, who (because
God hath not appointed them, administrators of his word and
ordinances in the Church, nor of Iustice and Commanding Politick
Government of a republicke) many are apt to thinke us alltogeather
incapable of such service as I now speake off, but vntill you can
proove us incapable of that honour of being members of that body
I must believe that every Member in his owne station may bee prof-
fitable to the rest.13

Moore represents both processes as interdependent: failure to increase


the opportunities available to women will weaken the foundations
on which the Kingdom of Christ must be built. But tensions within
this position soon emerged: Moore staked women’s crucial importance
within this new movement of reform on a doctrine of women’s par-
ticularity: since women are essentially different from men, they are
possessed therefore of quite different gifts, and this ‘makes it impossible
for a man to carry out or represent the spiritual calling of a woman’.14
Viscountess Ranelagh and Women’s Knowledge 153

Moore perceived in the inclusive ideals of the Hartlib circle and the
opportunities it offered for women something which could balance out
the exclusionary nature of church and state offices and argued that the
reformation will not be achieved unless the circle, as the group seeking
to drive that reform, accepted that women’s distinctive gifts both merit
and require their expression in a visible service equivalent to that of
ministers and magistrates.
There is evidence that Dury in particular agreed with this argument
but he and Hartlib also were convinced that their aims could be achieved
only through the backing of the public authority in Parliament and
they appealed directly to that institution after the end of the first Civil
War.15 They published Considerations tending to the happy Accomplishment
of England’s Reformation in Church and State, a work written by Dury and
edited by Hartlib in May 1647.16 The text made the case that Parliament
now had a mandate to reform the kingdom and put forward the circle’s
own position and proposals for the MPs’ consideration and support.17
But this appeal to public authority also threatened to marginalise women’s
role in the circle, which had already come under some public scrutiny
due to the close relationship of Dury and Moore. She felt compelled,
she claimed, to break her intention of never marrying again and accept
Dury’s offer of marriage after their collaboration sparked a minor scan-
dal and Hartlib, Dury, Moore and Ranelagh became involved in a rushed
and anonymous print publication which sought to defend both the
marriage and the friendship that preceded it.18
A decade later Ranelagh’s letters are openly interrogating the Consi-
derations’ conception of a Christian communion by exposing the wide
gap between it and the circle’s own initial ideals in letters which Hartlib
sends to Figulus at a point when the circle’s disappointment in their
erstwhile political saviours is at its strongest. This method of circulation,
through selected extraction, is typical of Hartlib and its conveyance
in scribal copies gives it overtones of confidentiality and of increased
importance in comparison to print as this is the form of publication
Hartlib uses for particularly important and sensitive information.19 The
letters’ content echo the arguments of the Considerations on many points,
particularly in terms of its view of the appropriate role for ministers and
magistrates in a reformed communion, but the conclusions Ranelagh
draws are significantly at odds with those made in the political and
religious ferment of 1647. Whilst the timing of publication responds to
a moment of particular crisis, their composition is part of a dialogue in
which Ranelagh, probably is in correspondence here with Hartlib, works
to reshape the circle’s ethos back towards the principles of the early
154 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

1640s, when the circle’s interpretation of the means of achieving reform


potentially held as much potential for women as it did for men.
Ranelagh’s strategy is to analyse the circle’s apparent venture into
advocating military attacks as a route to interrogating the dangers of
over-reliance on those who are in positions of political and religious
power. The letters speak to the irony of the fact that whilst John Dury
was in Europe proposing closer working relationships between Prot-
estant churches, a number of the countries with whose churches he
was negotiating were teetering on the edge of warfare, a conflict which
had broken out when Figulus reads her letters nearly two years later.20
She deals firstly with the likely consequences for Protestantism of the
continuation of the political and military aggression in Northeastern
Europe, which began in July 1655 when Sweden unilaterally invaded
the Commonwealth of Poland–Lithuania to start a war which subse-
quently drew Brandenburg, Denmark, Russia and Austria into a five-
year conflict.21 Ranelagh’s verdict on these events in December 1656 is
uncompromising:

I see from your last that the greediness within human souls is spread-
ing across the world. It causes wars and battles in the fields, turning
them into fields of blood, and entire countries into Golgotha. Surely,
since the kings and princes of this world use their powers and for-
tunes to such ruinous ends, it shows clearly that they have committed
their power to the Beast of the Apocalypse, and that they use their
powers rather as Deputies of the Prince of Darkness.22

This equation of military with diabolical power underpins the remain-


der of her analysis which points out that getting caught up in civil
concerns has been and will be fatal to the wellbeing of the body of
Christ on earth. Christians cannot use military or political means to
effect real change since these are carnal weapons, which will infect their
users, however pure their intentions and Christians are more vulner-
able than most to making the error of thinking otherwise. She insists
that Dury, armed with the spirit, will deal a greater blow to the Papal
Antichrist than any military alliance and then refers explicitly to a plan
for a military attack against the Papacy, almost certainly that proposed
by another circle member Georg Horn, who told Hartlib he intended
to argue for ‘a War to be made against the Pope, & the Lawfullness,
necessity & possibility of that War, & of the Advantages, which the
Christian World will gain by it’, a proposal which caused interest, alarm
and self-searching in equal measure within the circle.23 In these extracts,
Viscountess Ranelagh and Women’s Knowledge 155

Ranelagh firmly rejects Horn’s idea and with it the design of getting
overly involved in political machinations in Europe as utterly detrimen-
tal to the circle’s aims and whilst they rightly aspire to the overthrow of
the Papacy, force will not achieve this:

I am of the opinion that our friend strengthened in his faith and


circling among the churches, will perhaps give a more fatal blow to
Rome and the whole anti-Christian hierarchy, with the guidance of
the spirit and the power of God’s word than any fleet or army could,
however strong they may be.24

Ranelagh returns the emphasis to spiritual rather than physical com-


bat and asserts that Dury’s desire to reconcile the Protestant churches
offers a greater threat of destruction to the Papacy than military force,
because his weapons are those which will truly undermine the Papal
edifice: humility and faith in God’s providential power and word. In
this argument, it is the lone individual, possessed of spiritual strength,
rather than the gathered armies possessed of none, who has the capac-
ity finally to destroy the Anti-Christian spirit of Rome.
This marks an overt challenge to the circle’s position in the Consi-
derations which also drew on the idea of the ‘Protestant Cause’, which
conceived of all Protestant denominations as part of a universal church
but presumed the accompanying political imperative of a united aggres-
sive self-defence against the forces of Popery.25 The Protestant ideal of
a pan-European brethren united against Popery is continued here with
unshakeable certainty but accompanied by a repudiation of the belief
that Protestant unity should include an aggressive (as opposed to defen-
sive) military policy directed against Catholic powers.26 In Ranelagh’s
view, physical force will destroy the outer shell but leave the real evil
untouched and Horn’s plans to defeat the outward forms of Papal power
will in fact fail to uproot its spirit since it relies on weapons which
embody carnality rather than spirituality:

My dear sir, please tell me: with what has God promised to destroy
his enemies? Is it not with the sword of his mouth and the whole
glory of his future? Is not his word the sword of his mouth, and is this
not the armour and weapons which, in the Scriptures, are said to be
powerful enough to overthrow everything that rebels against God?27

Here Dury’s work is also treated, in an explicit echo of Chapter 6 of


Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, as a supersession of older, more violent
156 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

ways of enforcing Christian power, as representing the necessary tri-


umph of the spirit over the law, or of the word over the sword. The
implication is that the circle’s interest in military action is utterly ret-
rogressive and ungodly. But she then goes on to argue that support for
a particular church discipline to the exclusion of all others, however
politically pragmatic it might be, will also pose real problems for a ref-
ormation that seeks to found itself on the principle of universal com-
munication of knowledge.
To explain this claim, she firstly reaffirms the primacy of individual
conscience in determining the form of worship in which a Christian
participates. This argument immediately raises the problem which had
proved insurmountable in the 1640s and 1650s which is how to marry a
religious ethos which emphasises this personal spirit-led approach with
the laws governing religious expression without running into two prob-
lems: either enforcing a particular form on all regardless of claims of
conscience or renouncing all regulation potentially leading to the open
practice of heresy.28 Ranelagh’s solution is to make clear that the godly
community in its ideal is one accepting of the fact that differing degrees
of grace will inspire differing forms of worship and it is not within
human capacity to decide which form indicates a greater level of grace
in its adherents: ‘there are no authorities or servants of the church who
are allowed to call themselves Christian, who could themselves exercise
power over the internal and essential part of religion without feeling
the prick of conscience.’29 This is a much stronger statement than the
hopeful arguments made by Considerations which suggested that those
who peacefully dissented from some particulars of the Covenant, might
be allowed to do so. From Ranelagh’s point of view, forcing an alter-
native form of worship on someone who truly believes that the form
does not reflect the promptings of grace is another violent appropria-
tion of the spiritual by the carnal. Ranelagh insists, in terms which this
time reiterates the arguments of the Considerations, that this is truly
unchristian:

In a similar manner, the power over religious matters, which is


argued about between authorities and preachers, will not be found
by either of the two, but in the Lord Christ, who will forever be the
living head of the body of His church, and […] who possibly has not
left any other work for the magistrates and preachers than that they
should let the people of God under their care and through their aid
live a quiet, calm, and peaceful life in all godliness and compassion,
to which both should exhort and encourage them.30
Viscountess Ranelagh and Women’s Knowledge 157

This is the circle’s argument as Dury and Hartlib made it ten years previ-
ously, but now conditioned by criticism of both civil and ecclesiastical
authorities’ misdirected zeal in religious matters which does not seek a
true Christian communion but rather a veneer of unity, brought about
by force and maintained by fear. The implication of her arguments is
that the network’s reliance on institutionalised political authority is
seriously misplaced.31
Her first step in conceptualising how this communion should work
is by considering the ideal relationship between a Protestant state and
conscientious Protestant dissenters. Within any broad-based union,
as she perceives Protestantism to be, there will always be smaller
groups of more dedicated persons, who might infuse the whole with
grace if they place their knowledge in the service of the people and
if, in turn, their beliefs are afforded a greater degree of toleration, this
should not place them in opposition to an institutional church. If these
people are people of God, they are sufficiently enlightened and suf-
ficiently self-disciplined to demand and deserve – indeed are entitled
to – a right of voluntary association and they in turn will accept the gov-
ernance of the civil law which protects them. It is in the energy, prin-
ciples and dedication of all godly people that the body of the Church
militant on earth can be discerned, a church which does not have an
institutional existence, but arguably draws on the practices of all the
Protestant churches and congregations. These practices, when exam-
ined and sifted out, will each demonstrate elements of truly Christian
behaviour for all the godly whilst also being complete in themselves for
their adherents.
This strongly tolerationist viewpoint suggests why she so ardently sup-
ports Dury’s labours to reconcile the Protestant churches and reminds
the circle why they also should continue to do so. The true Protestant
godly are revealed by their deeds and a shared belief in the fundamen-
tals of their faith and, though separated, they are assuredly not divided
by differing forms of worship or points of doctrine. The issue of force –
whether legal or physical – becomes a key stumbling block. Compelled
worship both closes down the true expression of spirituality but it also
exaggerates and elevates minor differences into major problems which
become matters not just for ministers but for magistrates too. The work
of the reformation will be hindered until this element is removed from
spiritual labours and Christians also cease to regard it as a viable politi-
cal option when driving forward a renewed reformation. This desire to
resort to force in religion is symptomatic of a wider European malaise in
which military strength is used as a casual substitute for spiritual power,
158 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

turning fields into Golgothas and feeding rather than suppressing the
monstrosities of Papal dominion. Its usurpation of personal conscience
and union with Hapsburgian expansionism epitomise the anti-Christian
spirit which the first Reformation revealed in all its iniquity and tyranny.
All plans like Georg Horn’s will do is repeat the error.
What Ranelagh is doing when she outlines this ideal of Christian
communion is renewing the purpose of the Hartlib circle. It too sought
to build another reformation on the endeavours of single individuals
and small groups and, by reminding her readers of the similar labours
of Paul, she endorses in the face of difficult odds the approach, methods
and rationale of the Hartlib circle. Her letters reiterate the importance
of the communication of knowledge and the bridging of gaps between
Protestant powers by God’s servants who should know that even when
their nations are locked in military conflict that they should never be at
spiritual war. The practical dedication to service of the circle is a micro-
cosm wherein a holy commonwealth can see the principles of its own
ideal functioning embodied. But the network can represent this only if
it remains free from political entanglements and so can truly reflect the
body that it is trying to create.
Ranelagh’s argument is that the Hartlib network may itself serve as a
model for reform but only if it abjures the narrow political and doctrinal
boundaries in which public authority will seek to enclose its endeavours.
The potential for the success of this approach is further underlined by
the fact that the intellectual network is also capable of doing something
else which political and ecclesiastical offices cannot and which is essen-
tial for the success of reform: it can integrate the knowledge of women
into its practical projects and theological vision. The scribal publication
of Ranelagh’s letters and the respect with which they are received indi-
cates that she continued to exert a personal authority with the circle.
Indeed so far reaching are the implications of Ranelagh’s arguments that
only a figure certain of her position and seniority in the network could
have made it. Ranelagh’s reconstruction of the circle’s duty of service is
endorsed by her peers in an implicit rejection of the arguments of Georg
Horn, who seeks to perpetuate the relationships that Ranelagh casts
off. Clearly part of this acceptance is the timing of the publication: as
far as the circle was concerned, this argument’s moment had come but
underlying the acceptance of the argument is a willingness to recognize
Ranelagh as someone entitled to rearticulate the circle’s doctrine of
reform in order to again fit it to the new world in which it found itself.
Her image of the communion of saints is one which has the intellec-
tual network of the Hartlib circle as its model for its interactions. In this
Viscountess Ranelagh and Women’s Knowledge 159

scenario, the work of reform is then securely rooted in concrete daily


interactions between and among men and women which transcend the
geographical, doctrinal and political. Both the circle’s most prominent
female members argued persuasively that the circle needed to ensure
that any proposed reforms would create conditions in which women’s
knowledge and ideas might have the same practical effects as men’s did.
Ranelagh recognises as Moore did that societal restrictions on women
could weaken the impact of their authority but Ranelagh makes this
a support for her wider argument that truly universal reform can take
place only outside institutional limits.

Notes
1. For details of this see Samuel Hartlib, published on CD-ROM, The Hartlib
Papers (Sheffield: HROnline, Humanities Research Institute, University of
Sheffield, 2002), HP 9/17/15A-16B, HP 9/17/27A-28B, HP 9/17/51A–52B. All
further references will be to this edition.
2. See ‘Jones, Katherine, Viscountess Ranelagh’, ODNB; Ruth Connolly, ‘A Pros-
elytising Protestant Commonwealth: The Political and Religious Ideals of
Katherine Jones, Viscountess Ranelagh’, The Seventeenth Century, 23 (2008),
244–64; see Carol Pal’s unpublished doctoral thesis, ‘Republic of Women:
Rethinking the Republic of Letters, 1630–1680’ (Stanford University, 2007);
Elizabeth Taylor-Fitzsimon, ‘Conversion, the Bible, and the Irish language:
The Correspondence of Lady Ranelagh and Bishop Dopping’, in Michael
Brown, Ivar McGrath and Thomas P. Power (eds), Converts and Conversion
in Ireland, 1650–1850 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2005), 157–82; Lynette Hunter,
‘Mothers and Sisters of the Royal Society: The Circle of Katherine Jones,
Lady Ranelagh’, in Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton (eds), Women, Science
and Medicine 1500–1700 (Stroud: Sutton, 1997), pp. 178–97. A sense of her
contemporary reputation is given in Gilbert Burnet, A Sermon preached at the
Funeral of the Honourable Robert Boyle (London: printed for Richard Chiswell
and John Taylor, 1692).
3. Peter Figulus, letter to Samuel Hartlib, 29 November 1658. Hartlib Papers
9/17/51A–52B: 51A.
4. The translations offered here are from a base translation made by me and
revised by Kirsten Rebien at Stanford University. I would like to thank Dr. Carol
Pal for her assistance and for supplying me with a copy of the revisions.
5. See Viscountess Ranelagh to unknown correspondent, 20 October 1656 – 18
January 1657. Hartlib Papers 39/2/50A–51A; 39/2/52A–53B; 39/2/60A–61B;
Viscountess Ranelagh to unknown correspondent, 19 February 1657. Hartlib
Papers 39/2/60A–61B.
6. For Moore, see The Letters of Dorothy Moore, 1612–64: The Friendships, Marriage
and Intellectual Life of a Seventeenth-Century Woman, (ed.) Lynette Hunter
(Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).
7. For the family see Nicholas Canny, The Upstart Earl: A Study of the Social
and Mental World of Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork, 1566–1643 (Cambridge:
160 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Cambridge University Press, 1982) and Patrick Little, Lord Broghill and the
Cromwellian Union with Ireland and Scotland (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004).
8. William Robertson, The first Gate, or, The Outward Door to the Holy Tongue
(London: Humphrey Robinson and G. Sawbridge, 1654).
9. For example see Hartlib’s work diaries, Ephemerides, 1650 Part 2 [February–
May] 28/1/49B–60A: 59 and the letters at HP 39/3/25A–27B; HP 12/23A–26B;
HP 25/5/1A–12B; HP 62/18/1A–4B; for her interest in education see the
correspondence in Letters of Dorothy Moore, pp. 86–8. The original letter is
entitled ‘Of the Education of Girls’, BL Sloane MSS 649, fols 203–5.
10. See J. T. Young, Faith, Medical Alchemy and Natural Philosophy: Johann Moriaen,
Reformed Intelligencer, and the Hartlib Circle (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998); Mark
Greengrass, Michael Leslie and Timothy Raylor (eds), Samuel Hartlib and Uni-
versal Reformation: Studies in Intellectual Communication (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1994); Stephen Clucas, ‘Samuel Hartlib’s Ephemerides, 1635–
59, and the Pursuit of Scientific and Philosophical Manuscripts: the Religious
Ethos of an Intelligencer’, The Seventeenth Century, 6 (1991), 33–55; Charles
Webster, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform (London: Duck-
worth, 1975); Hugh Trevor-Roper, ‘Three Foreigners: The Philosophers of the
Puritan Revolution’, Trevor-Roper (ed.), Religion, the Reformation and Social
Change (London: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 237–93.
11. Samuel Hartlib, ‘A Further Discoverie of the Office of Address in Scribal
Hands B & E’ in Hartlib Papers, 47/10/2A–55B:15A.
12. But for the slippages in this rhetoric see Hilda L. Smith, All Men and Both Sexes:
Gender, Politics and the False Universal in England 1640–1682 (Pennsylvania:
Penn State University Press, 2002).
13. Letters of Dorothy Moore, pp. 18–19; The text of this letter is taken from a
scribal copy in the Hartlib papers, Dorothy Moore to Viscountess Ranelagh,
8 July 1643 Hartlib Papers P 21/7/1A–2B. For a discussion of similar argu-
ments made by dissenting women see Katharine Gillespie, Domesticity and
Dissent in the Seventeenth Century: English Women Writers and the Public Sphere
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
14. Letters of Dorothy Moore, p. xliii.
15. See John Dury, Madam, although my former freedom (London: [n.p.], 1645),
fol. A1r. Copies of the manuscript letters which comprise this work are in
Hartlib Papers 3/2/92A-94B; 3/2/11A-B and 3/2/145A-B. Another letter by
Moore to Ranelagh is erroneously attributed in Wing to John Dury. See
John Dury, Madam, ever since I had a resolution (London: [n.p.], 1645). BL
Shelfmark E 288 [14]. A manuscript copy of this letter is in the Hartlib Papers
3/2/118A–121B.
16. Samuel Hartlib, Considerations tending to the happy Accomplishment of England’s
Reformation in Church and State (London: [n.p.], 1647) The London bookseller
George Thomason writes May 1647 on the title page of his copy, now in the
British Library Shelfmark: E.389 [4].
17. Hartlib, Considerations, pp. 14–16; for the stress on Parliament as the essential
driving force of reformation see pp 31–37. Robert Ashton, Counter-Revolution:
The Second Civil War and its Origins (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994),
pp. 276.
18. Dorothy Moore, Letter to Viscountess Ranelagh 23 January 1645 Hartlib
Papers 21/7/5A–6B. Hunter, pp. 57–8. Dorothy Dury, Letter to Samuel Hartlib
Viscountess Ranelagh and Women’s Knowledge 161

28 March 1645 Hartlib Papers 3/2/103A–104B; Letters of Dorothy Moore,


pp. 64–6.
19. Mark Greengrass, ‘Samuel Hartlib and Scribal Communication’ Acta Comeniana
12 (1997), 47–62 (p. 51).
20. Anthony Milton, ‘ “The Unchanged Peacemaker”? John Dury and the Politics
of Irenicism in England, 1628–1643’, in Samuel Hartlib, ed. Greengrass, Raylor
and Leslie, pp. 95–117.
21. Robert I. Frost. The Northern Wars, 1558–1721 (Harlow: Longman, 2000). In
1658, Figulus’s weekly letters to Hartlib contained regular updates on the
progress of the war. See Hartlib Papers 9/17/6A–B to 9/17/53A–54B.
22. Hartlib Papers 39/256B 31 December 1656.
23. Hartlib Papers 1/3/1A–4B, 16 June 1655; Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, p. 280.
24. Hartlib Papers 39/2/60A, February 19 1657.
25. Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: Roman and Protestant Churches in
English Protestant Thought, 1600–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1995), pp. 377–417.
26. But for evidence that she could also hold the opposing view see her remarks
to Henry Oldenburg in London, Royal Society Library MS 1, fols 190r–194v:
fols 190v. The letter exists as a copy extract in Oldenburg’s hand under the
heading ‘Ex Litt. M. Ra.’
27. Hartlib Papers 39/2/60A February 19 1657.
28. For context see Andrew R. Murphy, Conscience and Community: Revisiting Toler-
ation and Religious Dissent in Early Modern England and America (Pennsylvania:
Penn State University Press, 2001) pp. 75–122 and John Marshall, Locke,
Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2006) and David Lowenstein, ‘Toleration and the Specter of Heresy
in Milton’s England’ in Milton and Toleration, ed. Sharon Achinstein and
Elizabeth Sauer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 45–71.
29. Hartlib Papers 39/2/57B, 14 January 1657.
30. Hartlib Papers 39/2/57B, 14 January 1657. See John Coffey ‘Puritanism
and Liberty Revisited: The Case for Toleration in the English revolution’,
Historical Journal 41 (1998), 961–85.
31. For a description of the persistent religious and political tensions which
were re-emerging in England as these letters were being circulated, see Gary
S. DeKrey London and the Restoration, 1659–1683 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2005), pp. 3–64.
13
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography
Diane Purkiss

Anna Trapnel’s utterances were shaped – though not dictated – by the


godly networks around her. Each choice she made narrowed the subse-
quent choices available to her. Her prophecies were an outcome of her
dense network of godly interactions.1 Those interactions were socially
shaped by her encounters in and outside church, and physically shaped
by the geography of her London. By tracing the places and the people
she mentions in The Cry of a Stone and her other writings, we can begin
to reconstruct who and how and where she knew, and how the net-
works which embraced her forged her ideas. In this essay, I will explore
the way Trapnel’s godly intellect and doctrine were shaped by London –
not as a whole city, site of urbanisation, but as the series of village-like
fragments. Some were only the size of a street. London itself might well
have boasted a quarter of a million people, but Trapnel’s own London
was a series of thin slices through those swarms and herds. She partook
of discursive, intellectual and literary networks with were created in
parishes, and by their leading clergy and lecturers. It was Trapnel’s pre-
cise locations within London which allowed her to become a voice for
radicalism.
Any university-educated godly London minister had a huge range of
contacts and networks ready-made; political, personal, and practical, and
as godly ministers deprived of their livings because they failed to con-
form to the Laudian reforms flocked to London, they flocked together.
Trapnel was quadrupally an outsider: she had no university education,
she came from an unscripted and makeshift part of London so that she
was cut off from guild networks and elite parish social networking, she
was not a clergyman; she was a woman. At the same time she was the
product of a network, a godly network, which Peter Lake has identified

162
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 163

as the London Puritan underground, or ‘a world of godly seeking’ that


involved the careful build-up of godly networks through ideas, texts and
individuals.2 This loose and secret network stretched across London. As
the civil war began and congregations shook off Laudian vicars, and
invited in lecturers, the godly network expanded. This often led to
splits, and the development of separatist congregations who held con-
venticles or ‘gathered churches’ outside parish churches; these gathered
churches could also divide further. Rather than simply attending parish
church, the godly were able to pick and choose from these alternatives.
Such new venues allowed laymen to preach, so that separatism thus
meant more exposure to radical preaching, increasing and accelerating
radicalisation.3
The result for the individual could be a series of stepping stones to
radicalism, rather than a single conversion experience to godliness. A
godly family – like the Trapnels – who might leave an infant unbaptised
might become sternly anti-Laudian and thus make contact with other
people still more godly, and might then be forced to become sectarian,
and thus through the experience of the gathered church and of lectur-
ing might move to Independency and eventually separatism, even the
extreme separatism exemplified by the Fifth Monarchists. However, this
trajectory was not inevitable. Many godly parishioners stopped short
of separatism, and many more of Independency. There was room for
agency and choice. This journey from godliness into separatism hap-
pened to Anna Trapnel. As we trace her movements across the physical
expanse of Greater London, we also witness a series of theological steps
into greater radicalism.
Trapnel lived most of her life east of the line of Fish Street and
Bishopsgate Street, and her hearers came from the same area: Hackney,
Tower Hill.4 Yet over the course of her active ministry, she moved stead-
ily westwards as resident and worshipper/parishioner. Beginning her life
in Poplar, to the east of the city walls, she made her way westwards to
the Minories, also outside the walls, and then to Mark Lane, just to the
west of Tower Hill. Her meeting-hall in Lime Street was only a block or
two from there.5 What governed her westward movement? Her theo-
logical steps from godliness into radical sectarianism were intertwined
with her westward progress physically.
Trapnel was affiliated with a parish rather further west than where
she lived, the parish of AllHallows the Great, whose church was in
Upper Thames Street. While she had an association with it, she sought
out its ‘gathered church’ in their separate and more easterly meeting
164

Illustration 3 Map of London from An exact Delineation of the Cities of London and Westminster and the Suburbs thereof, together wth ye
Burrough of Southwark and all ye Through-fares – Highwaies Streetes Lanes & Allies wth in ye same. Composed by a scale and ichnographi-
cally described by Richard Newcourt…Willm., Faithorne sculpsit.] A scale of yards, 800[⫽ 140 mm] (1658; BL shelfmark Maps R.17.a.3)
Reproduced by permission of the British Library.
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 165

place in Lime Street, because she was following the leader of that gath-
ered church, a man named John Simpson.6 To understand Trapnel and
Simpson, we need to understand the place where she was born and
raised. She describes her own conversion experience as due to an extreme
and single event:

When I was about fourteen years of age, I began to be very eager and
forward to hear and pray, though in a very formall manner; Thus
I went on some years, and then I rose to a higher pitch, to a more
spiritual condition…. I followed after that Ministry that was most
pressed after by the strictest Professors, and I ran with great violence,
having a great zeal, though not according to knowledge …7

It is striking that she stresses the departure from formal prayer and into
a world dominated by sermons and preaching as a turning-point. Of
particular note to her is hearing Hugh Peters speak:

providence ordered that I should hear Mr Peters speak … though I


thought myself in a very good condition before, yet now it seized
upon my spirit, that surely I was not in the covenant… I then went
home full of horror, concluding myself to be the stony ground Christ
spoke of in the parable of the sower … I ran from minister to minister,
from sermon to sermon8

When did Trapnel hear Hugh Peter/s, a figure of significance to many


godly seekers who ran from sermon to sermon? He was important to
parliamentarian military leaders – especially Fairfax and Cromwell – who
relied upon him for counsel and publicity. Peters was an accomplished
polemicist who made many enemies among those he opposed. Because he
travelled with the Parliamentarian armies to Lyme (May 1644), Bridgwater
( July 1645), Bristol (August), Winchester Castle (October) Dartmouth
( January 1646), and perhaps most crucially, Cornwall in 1646, it is hard
to imagine when Trapnel might have heard him before the New Model
Army’s entry into London. But Peters repeatedly hurried to Westminster
to deliver reports on the army’s doings: in June 1644, October 1645,
January 1646, and March 1646. He was dispatched to win support in
crucial areas. It seems unlikely that this included Stepney, a stronghold
of Parliamentarian support, but Trapnel might have heard him preach
in the City of London, and if so the likely occasion can be pinpointed.
In the autumn of 1646, Peters participated in a campaign championing
the Independents in the army, and fled London for the army in June
166 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

1647. If Trapnel heard him preach as part of this campaign, it may be


that it is to Peters that she owes her interest in army affairs, though
other factors may have also come into play, such as the number of New
Model recruits from her own part of London.9
But Trapnel was there to hear Peters because of her own spiritual
background, and to understand that, we must look farther back, to
the personnel of her own parish, St Dunstan Stepney. The key figures
are the man she calls ‘Mr [William] Greenhill, preacher at Stepney’, as
well as the man she refers to as ‘Mr John Simpson’, whom she associ-
ates with AllHallows the Great; it is less often noted that he also had a
longstanding association with the parish where Trapnel began her life.
The crucial moment in Trapnel’s religious evolution was probably when
William Greenhill became the afternoon preacher to the congregation at
Stepney. Greenhill was a controversialist: consistently anti-Presbyterian,
he preached before the House of Commons in April 1643, and his ser-
mon was published by command of the house, with the title ‘The Axe at
the Root’. One remark he made seems especially significant for Trapnel’s
trajectory: ‘partial reform makes way for future desolation’.10 In 1644 he
was present at the formation of the congregational church in Stepney,
and became its first pastor. Parliament made him chaplain to three of the
king’s children; was he good with the young? In 1654 he was appointed
by the Protector one of the ‘commissioners for approbation of public
preachers’, known as ‘triers’. It was also probably Cromwell that ensured
his appointment as vicar of St. Dunstan in 1652, the old parish church of
Stepney, while he also continued pastor of the gathered church. He was
ejected immediately after the Restoration in 1660, but remained pastor
of the independent congregation till his death on 27 September 1671.
When in Cry of a Stone Trapnel refers to him as a ‘preacher at Stepney’, she
plainly refers to the gathered church, which indicates her own adherence
to the Stepney Independents. Yet even Stepney parish was godly. In 1641
Stepney produced the first call to allow parishes to appoint their own
lecturers. William Greenhill established the gathered church in 1644.
The other and arguably more important influence on Trapnel was John
Simpson, a native son of Stepney. He matriculated at Exeter College,
Oxford, in 1631, and from 1642 he held lectureships at St Dunstan’s
and St Botolph’s Aldgate, becoming notorious as one of the leading
antinomian preachers in the city. Trapnel recalls hearing him preach in
January 1643:

The time, the year 164[3]; the day, the first of the first month, called
January, it being the first day of the week, commonly called the Sabbath
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 167

day, which was indeed a Lord’s day to my soul. While Mr John Simpson
was preaching from that scripture in the 8 of Romans, the words are
these, Now if any man hath not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.11

Trapnel does not tell us exactly what Simpson said, observing only
that ‘many sermons he preached from that scripture’, but the fact that
she remembers that it was he who was preaching must be significant.
She adds that she was called into Stepney (from Poplar) by her needs,
where she lodged with her aunt and uncle, and that her aunt urged her
to see herself as married to Christ now her mother was dead, a sugges-
tive remark that may point to these relatives as the means by which
Trapnel came to attend Simpson’s sermons.12
Listening to Simpson meant becoming radical. The fact that he was
banned from preaching meant that simply going to hear him set his
listeners beyond the norm. In October 1643 the Commons took away
his lectureship at Aldgate and banned him from preaching; the ban
was not lifted till October 1646, but Simpson ignored it, so Parliament
ordered his arrest in February 1644 after he clashed with a Presbyterian,
and he was soon in trouble again for preaching that Christ was to be
found even ‘in hogs, and dogs, or sheep’.
We know he was important to Trapnel because he was also a lecturer at
AllHallows the Great. So he is the obvious connection between Stepney
and AllHallows, the link that united the church of Trapnel’s youth with
the church she references in her writings of the 1650s. When Simpson
became pastor of the gathered congregation at AllHallows the Great
in 1647, he became the clue that would lead Trapnel to London. What
Trapnel joined was the gathered congregation Simpson had created,
only tenuously linked with the physical church and parish of AllHallows
in Upper Thames Street. Which London church you attended – and
whether it was the parish church or the unregulated ‘gathered church’ –
could make an enormous difference to the kinds of ideas to which you
were exposed. There were approximately thirteen ‘Independent’ con-
gregations meeting in London around 1646.13 Individual preachers and
indeed pamphleteers were as influential as any parochial congregation.
Independent-minded churchgoers could ‘graze’, go from one parish to
another, one lecturer to another, tasting and trying.
Henry Jessey was another of Simpson’s friends and Trapnel’s visit to his
protégée the fasting prophet Sarah Wight in 1647 was one of the events
which greatly influenced her. This may have come about through the
link between Simpson and Jessey.14 Simpson remained a frequent lec-
turer at AllHallows, and in December 1651 he joined Christopher Feake
168 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

in calling a meeting at AllHallows to rally support for the millenarian


cause. It was here that the Fifth Monarchist movement was born, with
AllHallows its centre and Feake and Simpson its first leaders.15 Trapnel’s
memory of Simpson’s sermon on the text from Romans makes more
sense in the light of the Declaration of Diverse Elders and Brethren of 1651,
which argued for the limitation of the franchise to ‘visible saints’. This is
the kind of millenarian thinking that Trapnel retrospectively detects in
the text which distinguishes between those fully in the spirit of Christ
and those shut out.
Another influence on Trapnel emerges when we learn that Simpson
placed no trust in Oliver Cromwell as the instrument of God, report-
ing visions displaying Cromwell’s greed and his imminent downfall.
When Cromwell became Protector in December 1653, Simpson and
Feake attacked him ferociously at AllHallows. They were arrested in
January 1654 – the very moment at which Trapnel began her 11-day
trace at Whitehall. Both men were held in Windsor Castle. Marchamont
Nedham reported that without Simpson and Feake AllHallows was
‘a dull assembly … for they were the men who carried it on with heat’.16
At first both continued to preach against the regime from prison: crowds
flocked to hear them, and this must have been inspirational for Trapnel.
Again, their preaching struck a firmly elitist note: ‘the wicked, ungodly,
unbelieving men shall be raised as slaves and vessels’.17 But Simpson
may have compromised. In July 1654 the Council ordered his release,
on condition that he did not come within ten miles of London. Yet in
December 1654 he reappeared at AllHallows and denounced Cromwell’s
church settlement. Summoned before Cromwell, Simpson accused him
of treason for taking the government upon himself. Cromwell dismissed
him with a caution. In December 1655, Simpson denounced Cromwell
as a tyrannical usurper, and allowed A Word for God, by Vavasor Powell,
to be read out to the congregation. After this exploit, he went into hid-
ing but was eventually captured.
Trapnel’s mention of him as the leading light of AllHallows in Cry of
a Stone therefore coincided with this peak of radicalism, when he was
still the darling of his gathered flock. However, when Simpson emerged
from gaol again, things had changed. News spread that he had abruptly
reversed his political stance and was now willing to accept the regime.
This conversion provoked anger among some of his former supporters.
When he preached restraint at AllHallows in February 1656, the meeting
broke up in confusion. Part of his gathered congregation accused him of
apostasy, and in 1656, following an acrimonious dispute, a new church
was formed. He was generally known as an Anabaptist, but though he
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 169

ridiculed infant baptism he insisted that adult baptism was also unnec-
essary. His power as a preacher was widely recognized, and he remained
true to his faith in the holy spirit as the sole guide for believers.18 He
guided Trapnel not only to London and to AllHallows, but to an antino-
mian reading of those places and the events associated with them.
Living ‘with Mrs Harlow in the Minories’ exposed Trapnel daily to a
powerful series of physical parables that could easily be translated into
her understanding of history as providential.19 The Minories, just outside
the eastern wall of London, was called that after their creators, the sorores
minores or Poor Clares, and remarkably, some of their convent buildings
still stood, transformed into apartments.20 Because this providential
history could still be traced, it acted as a kind of manifest destiny for
Protestants.21 The Minories also had a rough reputation: in Davenport’s
A New Trick, Slightall looks for an impudent woman, and sends for one
‘in Turnball, the Bank side, or the Minories’.22 The site of Trapnel’s first
prophecy-related fast was Mart Lane/Mark Lane; she says she is ‘keeping
of [her] bed’, which probably means she lived there. Though she writes
of it as Mark Lane, it was also called ‘Mart Lane’.23 Trapnel may have
known nothing of this, but her conspicuous refusal to consume is also a
refusal of the town’s abundance she saw all around her.24
Trapnel would have passed a number of churches on her way to
Upper Thames Street, and another range of choices on her journey
to Lime Street.25 Near Lime Street were St Dionis Backchurch, on the
corner of Fenchurch Street and Lime Street, and St Benet Gracechurch,
called Grasschurch after the herb market which stood near to it. There
is also the church of St Mary Axe. The fact that she bypassed them
all rather than simply attending her local parish church as she had
in Stepney shows that she had become a discerning and demanding
Independent, seeking a like-minded preacher and congregation with
whom to worship.
Living in London, Trapnel began to read its streets as inscribed with
godly destinies. Some weeks prior to the New Model Army’s bloodless
entry into London on 6 August to quell counter-revolution and mob
rule she predicted their ‘coming-in Southwark-way’

it was first said to me that they were drawing up toward the city (I not
knowing anything of it before) and that there was a great hubbub in
the city, the shops commanded to be shut up. Upon this I went down,
and enquired of the maid of the house whether there was any stir in
the city. She answered me, “You confine yourself to your chamber, and
take no notice of what is done abroad. We are commanded,’ said she,
170 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

‘to shut up our shops, and there are great fears among the citizens,
what will be the issue, they know not.’ With that I answered,. “Blessed
be the Lord that hath made it known to so low a servant as I.”; then
repairing to my chamber again, I looked out at the window, where
I saw a flag, at the end of the street. This word I had presently upon
it, “Thou seest that flag, the flag of defiance is with the army, the King
of Salem [i.e. Jesus Christ] is on their side, he marcheth before them,
he is the captain of their salvation.” At the other end of the street, I,
looking, saw a hill (it was Blackheath); it was said to me, “Thou seest
that hill, not one but many hills rising up against Hermon Hill, they
shall fall down and become valleys before it.” It was then said unto
me, “Go into the city and see what is done there.”26

Trapnel has learnt to discern events by direct sayings or words, and she
has learnt to interpret the physical landscape of London in biblical terms.
The passage moves easily from quotidian reality to biblical referencing,
sometimes giving words both meanings. Take, for example, Trapnel’s
reference to herself as ‘so low a servant’; this is not an internal reflection,
but a statement to the maid. The word servant echoes the Magnificat,
which itself echoes a prophecy by the significantly-named Hannah,
when the Virgin Mary says that she is the ‘handmaid’ of the Lord, whose
lowliness he has regarded.27 Focusing on this undoubted spiritual inter-
pretation, commentators have overlooked the social referencing; Trapnel
is also saying she is literally a servant, something already manifest in the
fact that ‘the maid of the house’ is giving her orders. Just as Trapnel is
both a lowly servant and the Lord’s handmaid, so Blackheath is both the
Hermon Hill of Psalm 89 and itself, a rallying point for rebels and outsid-
ers from the Middle Ages, where Wat Tyler’s Peasants’ Revolt gathered in
1381, and Jack Cade’s Kentish rebellion in 1450. Traversed by Watling
Street carrying stagecoaches en route to the Channel ports, it was also
the haunt of highwaymen. But it guarded the way to the promised land;
the city of London, but more importantly the New Jerusalem, whose
king led the army, and whose appearance is forecast by the collapse of
Hebron Hill/Blackheath into valleys, a collapse that itself presages the
Army’s victory over the ‘malignant’ royalists then in temporary control
of London. Just as Trapnel’s visions allow her to triumph over the maid,
embodiment of the unlawful directive to shut up shop and thus ignore
the army, so the army too will triumph. For Trapnel, landscape and peo-
ple are linked in providential history as it unfolds.
There is another possible network which Trapnel does not reference.
AllHallows Parish Church was close to Paul’s Yard and Cornhill. This
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 171

brought her into contact with printers and booksellers, on which the
radical sects depended. In particular, as Ann Hughes notes, booksell-
ers made for contact between otherwise isolated sects and sectarians.28
They were places to browse, buy or borrow books, for conversation, for
contacts with the provinces. Networks formed around the printers who
printed godly sermons, prophecies and exhortations. A godly congre-
gation might count a friendly secret printer among its own members.
But the press and the godly bookseller also had physical and geographi-
cal form; like the church and parish, the bookseller could become a
place to encounter new contacts, and exchange ideas. Examining the
printers and booksellers known to have been associated with the Fifth
Monarchists allows us to see Trapnel as caught up in a series of writing
and religious sites which might not otherwise be visible. Her printed
writings, too, were able to circulate in ways that even she could not,
creating new associations among her readers.29
How might such networks have sprung into being and function?
A clue survives:

The information of George Morris of the Tower of London gent.


taken the 3d of Aug. 1656 Saith, that this morning he was at a private
meeting in Coleman-street, and did there hear Thomas Venner pray
to the people there assembled; and during the time of his being
in the said prayer, three several persons having bundles of printed
papers in their arms, distributed to each of the people there assem-
bled one.30

A gathered church could be a site for the distribution of subversive liter-


ature, creating a new network of print. It may have been for just such an
audience that Strange and Wonderful News from White-hall was produced.
Usually condemned as exploitative by Trapnel scholars, this short pam-
phlet becomes comprehensible if we see it as designed for rapid and
secret distribution and assimilation. Strange and Wonderful News from
White-hall was produced for Robert Sale, and we know of nothing else
said to be sold by him; this may point to the clandestine nature of his
dealings with Trapnel and her supporters.31 Cry of a Stone was printed
anonymously, and no bookseller is named on the title page.
Such caution becomes easier to understand when we examine the
career of Thomas Brewster, the bookseller named on the title pages of
both Report and Plea and Legacy for Saints. Brewster, whose shop was
Paul’s Yard, was a known radical, and Trapnel’s connection with him
points to another and most important example of her godly networks,
172 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

which intersected with her other godly circles. In 1654, Brewster had
also been responsible for the appearance of Mr. Vavasor Powells impartial
triall, a defence of Powell, whose trial Trapnel had marked with her
prophetic trance at Whitehall, as well as attacks on the Quakers and
defences of other radical sects. Brewster’s bookshop sold diverse works:
some supporting the decision to return the Jews to England, notably
one by Henry Jessey, a sermon by radical preacher Thomas Lambe, army
news pamphlets, Tom May’s History as satirized by Andrew Marvell, a
work by the very Marchamont Nedham who had spied on Trapnel’s
gathered church, and explications of Hermes Trismegistus and of Para-
celsus. Widely known as a dangerous radical, Brewster’s eventual trial
for sedition is reported in An exact narrative of the tryal and condemnation
of John Twyn for printing and dispersing of a treasonable book.32 As this
pamphlet recounts, he was tried for having printed and published The
Speeches and Prayers of ten of the regicides who had been executed in
1660. Brewster was one of the leading members of the ‘Confederate
Knot’ of radical stationers who had been targeted the previous autumn
by Roger L’Estrange, the Surveyor of the Press. Brought to trial at the
Old Bailey, Brewster was additionally accused by the King’s Serjeant, Sir
William Morton, of having ‘caused to be imprinted, maliciously, falsly,
and scandalously’, The Phoenix, a compilation of materials relating to
the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. Brewster’s intention, Morton
asserted, was ‘to withdraw the people from their Allegiance’ to the king.
Brewster died in prison in April 1664, leaving his business to be run by
his widow.33 That Trapnel’s writings were among Brewster’s stock is not
only a sign of her own radicalism; it is also a sign that she was in contact
with other overtly political agitators through Brewster and his shop.
If we now look at the printers and booksellers involved with Trapnel’s
godly guide John Simpson, similar networks of godly and radical writing
spring into focus. Of especial interest is Simpson’s connection with the
Simmons printers, who were (among other radical writings) the print-
ers of Milton’s divorce tracts. They also printed Simpson’s The perfection
of justification maintained against the Pharise in 1648. This could mean
a link, however tenuous, between Trapnel’s circle and Milton; at least,
it shows that their circles overlapped.34 They also printed some work
by William Greenhill, Trapnel’s other godly guide, and mystical works
which might have influenced her, including Jakob Böhme’s Mysterium
Magnum, and Henry Jessey’s The exceeding riches of grace…. Mris. Sarah
Wight, the record of Wight’s prophecies which influenced Trapnel
profoundly, accompanied as they were by fasting.35 Simpson also used
several other booksellers, like Samuel Speed. Here Trapnel could have
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 173

browsed a very wide range of texts from Agrippa to the very popular
Plain mans path-way to heaven. Other works by Simpson and Greenhill
were sold by other Cornhill booksellers, bringing Trapnel into contact
with the full range of London bookshops and their contents.36
Don McKenzie reminds us that the word text derives from texere, to
weave.37 To trace the clues Trapnel has left across London is to understand
what her weavings are made from. Her weaving, her text, is made up of
the threads of others; she herself is woven by others but also by herself.
This analogy is one the artisans of her radical congregation would have
understood. Ultimately it was their sense of the physical reality of things –
the good sense of where to go, the doubling of a hill as a sign from the
Bible and a bad place at night – that enabled Trapnel to develop her radi-
cally physical form of prophecy, a form in which body was engaged as
much as mind. It led her to interpret her own text as a story from the
Bible long known but now at last made true in the London around her.

Notes
1. Trapnel’s life is still under-researched, but see Hilary Hinds edition of Cry of
a Stone (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2000).
All further references will be to this edition. See also Hilary Hinds, ‘Sectarian
Spaces: The Politics of Space and Gender in Seventeenth-Century Prophetic
Writing’ Literature and History, 13 (2004), 1–25; Susan Wiseman, Conspiracy
and Virtue: Women, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2006); Rachel Trubowitz, ‘Female Preachers and Male
Wives’, in James Holstun (ed.), Pamphlet Wars: Prose in the English Revolution
(London: Cass, 1992), pp. 112–133; Matthew Prineas, ‘The Discourse of Love
and the Rhetoric of Apocalypse in Anna Trapnel’s Folio Songs’, Comitatus:
A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 28 (1997), 90–110; Katharine
Gillespie, ‘Anna Trapnel’s Window on the Word: The Domestic Sphere of
Public Dissent in Seventeenth-Century Nonconformity’, Bunyan Studies: John
Bunyan and His Times, 7 (1997), 49–72.
2. Peter Lake, The Boxmaker’s Revenge: ‘Orthodoxy’, ‘Heterodoxy’ and the Politics of
the Parish in Early Stuart London (Manchester: Manchester University Press,
2001), p. 183.
3. Keith Lindley, Popular politics and religion in Civil War London (Aldershot:
Scolar Press, 1997); Christopher Durston, ‘Puritan rule and the failure of
cultural revolution’ in Christopher Durston and Jacqueline Eales (eds), The
Culture of English Puritanism, 1560–1700 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996),
pp. 210–33.
4. Cry, p. 9.
5. Perhaps the ultimate expression of this westward trend was her mission to
Cornwall.
6. Paul Seaver, The Puritan Lectureships: The Politics of Religious Dissent, 1560–
1662 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1970) and below, note 15.
174 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

7. A Legacy for Saints (London: published for T. Brewster, at the three Bibles in
Pauls Church-yard, near London-House, 1654), p. 1. All references will be to
this edition.
8. Legacy, p. 2.
9. On Peters, see ODNB, and Richard L. Greaves and Robert Zaller (eds.),
Biographical Dictionary of British Radicals in the Seventeenth Century (Brighton,
Sussex: Harvester Press, 1982–1984); Seaver, The Puritan Lectureships,
pp. 81–3.
10. On Greenhill, see Greaves and Zaller (eds.), Biographical Dictionary; Seaver,
The Puritan Lectureships; ODNB; and Murray Tolmie, The Triumph of the
Saints: the Separate churches of London, 1616–1649 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1977), p. 76.
11. Legacy, p. 8.
12. Legacy, p. 8.
13. Ann Hughes, Gangraena and the Struggle for the English Revolution (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 171.
14. Henry Jessey, The exceeding riches of grace…Mris Sarah Wight (London:
Printed by Matthew Simmons for Henry Overton […] Popes-head-Alley,
1648).
15. Bernard Capp, The Fifth Monarchy Men: A Study in Seventeenth-Century English
Millenarianism (London: Faber, 1972).
16. CSPD, 7 February 1654.
17. John Simpson, The great joy of saints in the great day of the resurrection (London:
[n.p.], 1654).
18. Thurloe State Papers; Humphrey Hathorn, The Old Leaven Purged Out
(London: [n. p.], 1658); J. A. Dodd, ‘Troubles in a City Parish under the
Protectorate’, EHR, x (1895), 41–54; Richard L. Greaves, Saints and Rebels:
Seven Nonconformists in Stuart England (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press,
c. 1985).
19. Cry, p. 7.
20. Walter Thornbury, ‘Aldgate, the Minories and Crutched Friars’, Old and New
London, 2 (1878), 245–250. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?
compid=45094
21. Philip Schwyzer, ‘The Beauties of the Land: Bale’s Books, Aske’s Abbeys, and
the Aesthetics of Nationhood’ RQ , 57 (2004), 99–125.
22. Robert Davenport, A New Tricke to Cheat the Divell (London: printed by John
Okes for Humphrey Blunden, 1639).
23. John Stow, A Survey of London: Reprinted from the Text of 1603, with introduc-
tion and notes by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1971), p. 151.
24. Henry Harben, A Dictionary of London (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1918).
25. On London churches as physical entities, see Robert Wilkinson, Londina illus-
trata: graphic and historic memorials, 2 volumes (London: The author, 1819–25);
Gordon Huelin, Vanished churches of the city of London (London: Guildhall
Library publications, 1965).
26. Cry, p. 7. There is evidence of the accuracy of this account: A Letter from Mr.
Rushworth to Mr. Frost: ‘SIR, We have just now Intelligence, that the Enemy
hath quit Rochester, and is drawn out towards Gravesende, with Intention
to march to Blackheath. Look to the City and Southwarke’, Journal of the
Anna Trapnel’s Literary Geography 175

House of Lords, 10: 1648–1649 (1802), 300–302. http://www.british-history.


ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=32824
27. Hannah: I Samuel 2:1–10. Magnificat: Luke: 1 46b–47.
28. Hughes, pp. 145–50.
29. Stephen J. Greenberg, ‘Dating Civil War Pamphlets, 1641–1644’, Albion 20
(1988), 387–401. On the book trade during the Civil War, see C. Blagdon, ‘The
Stationer’s Company in the Civil War’, Library 5th series 13 (1958), 1–17.
30. A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, 7 vols. (London: Printed for the
executor of F. Gyles, 1742), 5, pp. 272–87 for August 1656.
31. ‘Robert Sale’ might be a pseudonym.
32. London, 20th and 22th of February, 1663/4.
33. See H. R. Plomer, Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers...1641–67 (London:
Bibliographic Society, 1907); Peter W. M. Blayney, ‘The Bookshops in Paul’s
Cross Churchyard’, Occasional Papers Bibliographic Society, 5 (1990); Peter
W. M. Blayney, ‘John Day and the Bookshop That Never Was’, in Lena
Cowen Orlin (ed.), Material London, ca. 1600 (Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2000), pp. 322–28; Martin Dzelzainis ‘ “The Feminine
part of Every Rebellion”: Francis Bacon on Sedition and Libel, and the
Beginning of Ideology’, HLQ, 69 (2006), 139–152; Plomer, pp. 31–2, 42–3
and 98.
34. On Matthew Simmons, see Don McKenzie, ‘Milton’s Printers: Matthew, Mary
and Samuel Simmons,’ Milton Quarterly, 14 (1980), 87–91, and D. M. Wolfe
(general ed.), Complete Prose Works of John Milton, 8 volumes (New Haven:
Yale University Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1953–1982), espe-
cially Volume III, and Plomer, p. 164.
35. Trapnel is named in this text: ‘Mris Mary Leeb, Hanna Trapnel, Dinah the
Blackmore; and those that are named pag. 8. 9, 10. and many others.’
36. Aldis, Dictionary of Printers and Booksellers, p. 244.
37. Don McKenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts (London: British
Library, c.1986).
14
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and
Order and Disorder
Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

‘The Scripture is the best interpreter and reconciler of


itselfe’1

Lucy Hutchinson’s full corpus has only recently come to light, and she
now appears as one of the most talented, prolific and adventurous poets
of the seventeenth century. Hutchinson was a republican and religious
Independent, and her Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson has long
been a source for civil war historians, more recently demanding the inter-
est of literary scholars.2 Hutchinson has emerged as a major poet, and
several manuscripts have been discovered, re-attributed, or re-considered
in the past decade. Hutchinson’s ‘Elegies’ on her husband’s death have
received renewed attention, as has her translation of Lucretius’ De rerum
natura, one of the earliest into English.3 Alongside consummate classi-
cal translation, Hutchinson was also a political polemicist. Like many
firm supporters of the power of parliament, Lucy Hutchinson saw Oliver
Cromwell becoming a new tyrant with a different name. She wrote a
poem exposing Cromwell’s tyranny, and showing Hutchinson’s charac-
teristic hatred of political and literary duplicity.4 For Hutchinson, the
name ‘Puritan’ was a term of opposition, which she proudly embraced
for exactly the reasons it was used as a pejorative term. In Memoirs she
describes puritan being used as a label for any who voiced political dis-
sent, support for the godly and the honest, and opposition to ‘court
caterpillars’.5
Order and Disorder, a biblical epic published anonymously in 1679,
was long assumed to be by Hutchinson’s brother, Sir Allen Apsley, a
drunken royalist. The puritan, anti-monarchical, anti-courtly agenda
of Order and Disorder made Apsley’s sister a more likely candidate than
himself, and in the 1990s this poem was brought together with a much
176
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 177

longer unpublished version, and both were proven to be Hutchinson’s.6


The longer poem is in a leather-bound notebook which belonged to
Anne Rochester and is dated 1664 alongside her surname which may
suggest that Hutchinson was working on the poem up to fifteen years
before its partial publication.7
The focus of this essay will be Order and Disorder and the intellectual cul-
tures of biblical scholarship and political reading from which it emerges.
I will show how the poem challenges traditions of biblical poetry, how
Hutchinson reads the Bible in the poem, and the kind of politicized read-
ing of the Bible she inculcates in her readers. I will ask how Hutchinson
uses the genre of biblical epic to voice her critique of the Restoration
regime. I will also ask how she responds to the intellectual culture of the
1650s and 1660s which had seen developments in biblical interpreta-
tion, including historical and philological scholarship, as well as writing
under the Geneva Bible’s long shadow of influence. Hutchinson’s poem
pits itself against the culture and political framework in which she writes
through a subtly subversive use of marginal annotations. Hutchinson
denies interpretation, seeming to shut off interpretation, but the biblical
references in fact create a flexible and polysemous reading process. The
long-established hermeneutic of using the Bible as reconciler of itself is
harnessed to a radical poetics in her post-Restoration poem.

Hutchinson reading the bible

Hutchinson was was born in 1620 in the Tower of London where her
father, Sir Allen Apsley, was lieutenant. Her mother was Lucy St John,
a well-educated puritan. A curious episode in Hutchinson’s Memoirs
describes her parents’ belief, after dreaming of a star, that their daughter
would be of ‘extraordinary eminency’.8 Lucy Apsley enjoyed an ambi-
tious education with multiple tutors, and developed a passion for read-
ing. She met her future husband, John Hutchinson, through a series of
literary encounters. Both resided temporarily in Richmond and, before
their first meeting, John Hutchinson admired her Latin books and a
poem she had written. They were married in 1638 and, several years
later moved to the Hutchinson estate of Owthorpe, Nottinghamshire.
John Hutchinson was a puritan and parliamentarian, and took up the
post of governor of Nottingham Castle. Hutchinson’s Memoirs recounts
in detail her husband’s integrity through civil war, and his thoughtful
decision to sign the King’s death warrant. The Hutchinsons had enemies,
however, and though John Hutchinson was not executed with many
regicides at the Restoration, he was arrested in 1663 on suspicion of a
178 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Fifth Monarchist plot and died in prison in 1664. Memoirs shows Lucy
and John Hutchinson challenging and reaffirming each other’s religious
and political beliefs through reading and debate. Lucy Hutchinson
was influenced by the Independent minister and writer John Owen
(1616–83) who was to be regarded as one of the most prominent non-
conformist leaders.
As a young woman, Hutchinson’s mother had stayed in Jersey with
a French minister and his wife, and ‘was instructed in their Geneva
discipline’.9 The minister might well have used a French Geneva Bible,
and Lucy St John might have followed him in his choice of Bible as
she followed his instruction. Hutchinson may have inherited such a
Bible from her mother, as well as owning a more modern edition.10
Hutchinson’s education would also have equipped her to read Latin Bibles
if she wished. She skillfully translated De rerum natura and John Owen’s
Calvinist treatise Theologoumena pantodapa.11 Though Hutchinson does
not make clear which Bible she herself used, she did transcribe passages
from her husband’s Bible which he had marked while in prison. The
wording in this transcription shows that Lucy Hutchinson was defi-
nitely using both a Geneva Bible and an Authorised Version.12
The Geneva translation revolutionised access to the Bible in two major
ways; by translating the whole text, and by providing an explanatory
framework of glosses and interpretation. The notes were often, though
not always, Calvinist in tone, and Junius’s notes to the Book of Reve-
lation, which were included from 1599, added a far more strongly anti-
papal flavour to the account of Christian history.13 Many of the Geneva
Bible’s notes were cross references which inculcated a wide-ranging but
fairly self-contained scriptural reading process. Readers were encouraged
to interpret according to other passages within the Bible, rather than
being referred to the Church Fathers for interpretation.14 It was a text
embraced by many puritans for its liberation from clerical (and espe-
cially papal) interpretative monopoly. Even when preferring the Author-
ised Version for its translation, some puritans still drew on the Geneva
notes, sometimes using a an edition of the Authorised text with the
Geneva notes incorporated, as John Bunyan did.15
Lucy Hutchinson and her husband used the Bible to interpret their
own lives as they negotiated civil war, Commonwealth, Protectorate and
Restoration. The Bible is a forceful presence in both the images and nar-
rative of Memoirs. Hutchinson uses biblical passages and images to reflect
a providentialist view of contemporary events and she also frequently
portrays herself and her husband reading the Bible together, and engag-
ing with contemporary exegesis. While imprisoned, John Hutchinson
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 179

read the Bible almost constantly. He marked his favourite passages, and
collected them under headings, which indicate their political relevance
for him, such as ‘For the 30th of January’ (the anniversary of the King’s
execution), ‘Applicable Scriptures to the Prelates’ and ‘Upon occasion
of Robinsons lies told at Court’ (against John Hutchinson).16 Here he
uses the Bible to interpret current political events, and to resist certain
authorities.
Biblical epics of the seventeenth century were often inflected with
current scholarship. Renaissance humanism had seen the development
of scholarship focused on textual transmission, translation and corrup-
tion.17 This philological and textual analysis was usually applied to the
Bible with the pious motivation of getting as close as possible to the
true Word of God, but it had a dangerous potential to cast the Bible as
a text vulnerable to error. The mid-century saw an increasing interest
in biblical locations and dates. Walter Raleigh had been imprisoned in
the tower under Lucy Hutchinson’s father, and had been helped in his
experiments by her mother. His The Historie of the World in Five Books
provided maps of biblical geography, while James Ussher’s The Annals
of the World provided a biblical chronology.18 Many thinkers engaged
seriously in the construction of artificial languages, some of which
aimed to recreate an original language.19 Most provocatively, Isaac La
Peyrère brought pre-adamism, the belief in man before Adam and Eve,
to English readers in 1655, when his scandalous Prae-Adamitae was pub-
lished in an anonymous English translation.20 Some biblical poems in
the period drew on contemporary scholarship. The interpretative notes
to Abraham Cowley’s poem, Davideis, reflect these intellectual currents,
as he displays wide scholarship and explores various interpretative issues,
often revealing a delight in the multiplicity of views.21
Though propelled by different agendas, Socinians, Quakers and tex-
tual scholars all cast doubt on the integrity of scriptural texts, and on
the Bible as revelation. In 1656 the Baptist-turned-Quaker Samuel Fisher,
opponent of John Owen, asked provocatively of biblical texts,

Who was it God or Man, the Spirit in the Scripture it self, or the
Scribes in their Synods, Councels, and Consistories that so Authorized
or Canonized these, and expunged those? Was it not meer Men in
their Imaginations?22

Fisher’s emphasis on the role of inner light led him to denounce the texts
of scripture as moulded by power-hungry human authorities. In the same
decade, Hobbes would cast aspersions on the truth claims of all biblical
180 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

interpreters and even texts (admitting uncertainty about Moses’ sole


authorship of Genesis), though for almost the opposite purpose than
Fisher; advocating control of meaning in order to maintain control over
the nation.23
Hutchinson’s fellow Independent John Owen, whose lectures she prob-
ably attended, excoriated this trend for denying the Bible’s authority and
treating it as merely ‘inke and paper, skin of parchment, a dead letter’.24
In Order and Disorder Hutchinson similarly positions herself against con-
temporary trends in biblical exegesis as well as the Restoration regime. In
her religious commonplace book, she defends the integrity of scripture,
and affirms its ability to interpret itself,

I believe that the Scripture hath not its authority from any Churches
or men but from God alone who is the author of it and that the
Scripture is the best interpreter and reconciler of itselfe25

Order and Disorder shows Hutchinson undertaking the challenging project


of writing a biblical poem while also limiting man’s right to interpret and
understand God. She draws on the Reformed tradition of interpreting
scripture solely through itself, ‘sacra scriptura sui ipsius interpres’.26 In
Order and Disorder Hutchinson draws on this long-established, even con-
servative, tradition in reaction to scholarly trends. Her own use of the
Bible (in the margins) to interpret the biblical narrative (in the poem),
though, has a politically radical effect.

Order and Disorder and biblical knowledge

The mid-seventeenth century, then, saw conflicting models of biblical


exegesis, many of which drew on external evidence. Hutchinson responds
to such trends with denials of knowledge, as she reads and writes against
the historical and philological detail of Cowley. Hutchinson peppers
Order and Disorder with assertive statements of not knowing ‘Whether
he begged a mate it is not known’ (3. 312), ‘We are not told, nor will too
far inquire’(4. 305), ‘circumstances that we cannot know […] we will not
dare t’invent’ (4. 43–5) and ‘We can but make a wild, uncertain guess’
(5. 261). Hutchinson accepts those things we cannot know, and makes a
virtue of God’s mysterious ways,

But leave we looking through the veil, nor pry


Too long on things wrapped up in mystery

(1. 291–2)
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 181

Here the veil is both positive and negative. In the statement of belief
recorded in her commonplace book, Hutchinson asserts that because
God’s actions are ‘beyond the reach of our narrow understanding’, we
‘are not to prie into his hidden councells’ to determine whether we are
elect or reprobate. We must instead make a virtue of not knowing and
‘labour to make that election sure in our owne consciences’.27
In Order and Disorder Hutchinson acknowledges that our fallen per-
spective is veiled, God’s truth hidden, but also promises that these mys-
teries are

Reserved to be our wonder at that time


When we shall up to their high mountain climb.
(1. 293–4)

The stress on scripture alone was common to many Protestants but


became more controversial after the Restoration, as many divines recom-
mended recourse to skilled interpreters, and as sceptical scholarship on
biblical texts was increasingly available in the vernacular. Hutchinson’s
explicit refusals to speculate do not, however, entirely prevent her from
doing so, but she fervently refutes those thinkers and poets who try to
understand biblical narratives through historical possibility, not divine
truth. Hutchinson’s explicit denials of knowledge are one facet of this
refutation, and the material form of her poem is another, as the marginal
notes refer only to passages within the Bible, rather than the interpreta-
tive glosses offered by predecessors such as Abraham Cowley’s Davideis
and Guillaume Du Bartas’s Divine Weekes and Workes.

The Bible and the political margins

Hutchinson embraced the oppositional role of puritanism. Writing of


James I’s rule in Memoirs, Hutchinson claims, ‘a few were everywhere
converted and established in faith and holinesse, but at Court they
were hated, disgrac’d, and revil’d, and in scorne had the name Puritane
fix’d upon them’.28 She argues that James I was assisted by the devil and
‘employ’d a wicked cunning which he was master of, and called King-
craft, to undermine what he durst not openly oppose, the true religion;
which was fenc’d with the liberty of the people, and so link’d together
that ‘twas impossible to make them slaves till they were brought to be
idolaters of royalty and glorious lust, and as impossible to make them
adore these gods while they continued loyall to the law of and govern-
ment of Jesus Christ’.29
182 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Hutchinson was to see this pattern horribly repeated in the court of


Charles I, the overthrow of which she hoped would form a godly republic,
and again after the Restoration in the court of Charles II. Like Milton,
Hutchinson found herself writing against the Restoration under a censored
press, and both poets turned to biblical epic. Though theological differ-
ences certainly emerge, Hutchinson and Milton were both committed
republicans completing their biblical epics under Charles II, and using
the Bible to negotiate political alienation and defeat.30 With Paradise
Lost (1667), Milton transformed the seventeenth-century model of bib-
lical epic. It seems likely that Hutchinson would have read Paradise Lost
as soon as it was published, given her wide reading, their largely shared
political viewpoint, and some social connections.31
By 1679, politics was very much at issue in biblical poetry. Responses to
Paradise Lost in the 1660s show a readership alert to political resonance,
as one contemporary at least was concerned about the presentation of
Nimrod and perceived it as politically sensitive.32 John Beale, country
minister and Royal Society correspondent, wrote to John Evelyn that
‘Milton holds on to his old Principle’, citing the passage of Paradise Lost
concerning Nimrod and Babel.33 Beale objects to the lines which predict
Nimrod ‘Will arrogate Dominion undeserv’d’, that he ‘from Rebellion
shall derive his name’ and Michael’s defense of ‘Rational Libertie’.
These objections suggest that Hutchinson’s description of Nimrod
might have caused similar offence. She stresses not only Nimrod’s tyr-
anny but uses him as a brush with which to paint all monarchs,

Nimrod the regal title first assumed.


[…]
Thus the first mighty monarchs of the earth
From Noah’s graceless son derived their birth.

(10. 10, 19–20)

This canto was not published, and only exists in the manuscript version
of the poem. Nimrod does appear, however, unnamed, far earlier in her
biblical narrative and in the printed poem. Hutchinson’s strongest use
of Nimrod is a prophetic one. As she describes Eden’s idealised ‘pleasant
and noble shade’ and ‘crystal river’ in canto 3, she looks forward to the
kingdoms which will be divided by this river. The ruler of one of these is
Chus, Nimrod’s father. Hutchinson describes this kingdom as the place
‘Where tyranny first raised up her proud head’ (3. 174–5). She follows
this with a visceral image of the ravages of tyranny, who
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 183

[…] led her bloodhounds all along the shore,


Polluting the pure stream with crimson gore.
(3. 175–176)

Hutchinson uses the description of rivers not to locate Eden, as many


contemporary scholars of biblical geography and chronology did, but
to amplify her own political interests.34 She claims reliance on scripture,
and shows the same reliance with her use of biblical marginalia, though
here, as often, she uses the Bible more inventively than her denials of
knowledge suggest.
If Hutchinson had published her whole poem, lines such as the fol-
lowing would not have gone unnoticed. Ham finds his father Noah
drunk, inspiring a puritanical digression against drunkenness in which
Hutchinson’s loathing of the Restoration court is barely disguised,

Most other sins are punished in the event,


But this draws with it its own punishment;
Especially in princes, who thereby
Make themselves cheap, profane their majesty,
Expose their shame unto their subjects’ eyes,
Who, seeing their impotence, their rule despise.

(9. 181–6)

As implied by the title, Order and Disorder, and the 1679 subtitle The
World made and undone, the poem is structured on a pattern of diso-
bedience, punishment and renewal. Mankind breaks the contractual
relationship with God, falls into tyranny, is punished, then forgiven,
and order is restored. Noah’s shameful drunkenness triggers one of
the cyclical descents into hellish disorder. Hutchinson shows that the
court’s licentiousness and drunkenness will lead to a rise in the power
of ‘Hell’s malicious chief’ (9. 212). Such actions as Noah’s, the ‘Foolish
remissness or harsh tyranny,/ Or weak vice’ of a king give occasion for
rebellion. Though the phrase ‘gives occasion’ (9. 231) does not endorse
this rebellion, simply explains its cause, Hutchinson does not hold back
her contempt for unwise and licentious monarchy with the vehement
disgust of

When sin’s base slave struts in the great disguise

(9. 233)
184 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

As in Paradise Lost, the institution of monarchy itself is not wholly emp-


tied of meaning and authority, but it is shown to be currently corrupted
and usurped.
From Noah, Hutchinson goes on to describe an archetypal licentious
monarch, who, through his depravity and misrule,

[…] his own executioner becomes,


Cutting those rotten limbs off that were fed
With corrupt influence from the unsound head.

(9. 237–9)

The latent parallel to Charles I’s execution is accentuated by the


Leviathan-like image. Not only does Hutchinson allude to Charles’
responsibility for his fate, but she attacks seventeenth-century theories
of absolute monarchy.35 Hutchinson challenges monarchist images of
the body politic (King-as-head) with an image of the body diseased.
The marginal references of Order and Disorder do not simply gloss the
poem, but add layers of interpretation, and often political comment, to
the poem itself. The anti-courtly tone of the latter fifteen cantos is more
vehement, and the earlier cantos probably needed to be less strident in
order to be published. Hutchinson finds a different way of embedding
her critique in these more moderate cantos: the marginal notes. The
references to biblical passages often subtly amplify the anti-courtliness
of these more pragmatically restrained cantos, and the margins of the
poem provide a voice for those marginalised by the Restoration.
The very first marginal reference in Order and Disorder introduces
Hutchinson’s strategy of using the margins to politicize her poem. She
writes of the universal harmony of the world, in which ‘Mankind/Alone
rebels against his Maker’s will’ (1. 11). Here the margin sends the reader
to Isaiah 10. 5–7 with its vehement threat against any ‘dissembling
nation’, which will be trodden down ‘like the myre in the strete’. Here
God condemns a specific king, but Hutchinson would have found
these words painfully relevant to her own nation and time, which she
denounced in the preface as ‘this atheistical age’.36
Hutchinson compares royal courts to plants and men’s lives, saying
that

[…] like hasty lightning they


Flash out, and so forever pass away

(2.109–10)
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 185

The marginal note refers the reader to the Corinthians passage ‘If any
mans worke shall be burnt, he shall suffer losse: but he himself shall be
saved: yet so, as by fire’ (1 Corinthians 3. 15) which is a more potent
reminder of the hope that is only implicit in Hutchinson’s words; even
those Christians whose works are burnt will themselves be saved. Hutch-
inson writes against the Restoration, predicting that God’s fire will not
deem courts worthy to endure, and looking towards a time when God
will judge courts and kings with a purifying fire.
As Hutchinson narrates God’s mercy even at the Fall, she writes that
‘mortal toils’ cease at death. Her words evoke a sense of serene finality,
‘But there in everlasting quiet end’ (5. 246). She refers here to Matthew
10. 28, however, for which Tomson’s Geneva annotation calls not for
passive acceptance, but for political strength and resistance to tyranny,
‘Though tyrants be never so raging and cruell, yet we may not feare
them.’ This mention of political resistance could be coincidental to the
poem, but the next reference similarly has an annotation in the Geneva
Bible which interprets ‘troubling’ specifically as ‘the cruelty of tyrants’
( Job 3. 17–19). Hutchinson writes that ‘The utmost power that death
or woe can have/Is but to shut us prisoners in the grave’ (5. 249–250),
with prisoners meaning merely mankind imprisoned in flesh. When
the reader turns to the biblical reference, however, their reading of the
poem is changed as it connects the ‘prisoners’ of the poem directly to
an ‘oppressor’, and the Geneva annotation adds the specific presence
of ‘tyrants’ ( Job 3. 17–19). Using biblical references, Hutchinson moves
from figurative images of imprisonment to literal prison, tyrants and
oppressors. After her husband’s death in prison on suspicion of plotting
against the Restoration government, Hutchinson connects the language
of death and prison to tyrannical rule, and she uses the Bible and her
margins to share these associations with her readers. Hutchinson’s bib-
lical marginalia make her critique of courts more abrasive, while typo-
logical readings allow her to keep tyranny in the minds of the reader
even as they read of Eden, of mortality, or of harmony.

***
Hutchinson demands a reading practice self-contained within the Bible,
but ensures that this is also an active and even resistant process. Where
poets like Cowley and Guillaume Du Bartas had brought historical detail
to bear on their biblical narratives, Hutchinson stresses the limits of knowl-
edge, what is ‘not known’, that which ‘we cannot know’ or about which
we can only make ‘a wild, uncertain guess’. She fervently rejects some ele-
ments of her intellectual culture, the trend of philological, threateningly
186 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

sceptical thought and asserts her model of the self-evidencing Bible in its
place. Hutchinson voices her own doubt about our ability to reconstruct
so distant a past when we must instead rely on God’s revelation.
As so often with Hutchinson’s poetry, Order and Disorder presents an
apparent contradiction; it appears both more self-contained and more
open than its predecessors. Hutchinson closes down interpretation with
her assertive denials of knowledge, but her margins and biblical typol-
ogy present a different story. She encourages the reader to make imagi-
native leaps in order to connect the poem and its marginal references.
These two facets of her biblical reading are evident in her religious com-
monplace book where she asserts in the first person,

I firmly believe that the true saving knowledge of God is only taught
by that revelation he hath made of himselfe in his word37

Hutchinson asserts the primacy of the Bible, God’s unquestionable author-


ship, and the need to accept ‘things…misterious and darke’. She argues
firmly for the Bible as the only text necessary to interpret the Bible and
in Order and Disorder she inculcates such a practice in her own readers.
Denying conjecture, Hutchinson produces a ‘reverent view’

[…] fixed on what is true


And only certain, kept upon record
In the Creator’s own revealèd Word

(1. 176–8)

This fixity does not simply limit interpretation. The biblical references
often challenge or complicate the poem’s narrative, and they also amplify
its anti-courtly tone. Hutchinson uses the Bible against the political cul-
ture in which she writes. The Geneva Bible had provided a paradigm and
marked a radical change in reading practices since the sixteenth century.
Not only was it in the accessible vernacular but its layout invited personal
interpretation, often of an anti-authoritarian kind. Hutchinson’s typo-
logical reading of the Bible is politically dissenting. She disconnects bib-
lical passages from their immediate context, and forms a new meaning
in relation to her own text. Margin and printed text speak to each other,
and ‘dialogic tensions growing out of this conversation generate mean-
ings that are not strictly resident in either place’.38 Though Hutchinson
firmly closes down certain areas of speculation, she does present a poten-
tially flexible reading process through her biblical marginalia. Readers
are sometimes left to make their own connections between poem and
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 187

margins, as Hutchinson does not simply refer to the source of her narra-
tive. Instead, she suggests deeper connections between passages and events.
This is both pragmatic (avoiding censorship) and spiritual. The retreat to
typological readings allows the very hiddenness of truth to give hope at a
time when the victory of the godly seemed itself wretchedly hidden.

Notes
1. Lucy Hutchinson’s Religious Commonplace Book, Nottinghamshire county
archives, DD/Hu 3, p. 54. Many thanks to Nottinghamshire Archives for per-
mission to reproduce from the manuscripts. Hereafter, ‘Religious Common-
place Book’.
2. Lucy Hutchinson, Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, ed. James Suther-
land (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 284. Further references will
be to this edition.
3. David Norbrook, ‘Lucy Hutchinson’s “Elegies” and the Situation of the
Republican Woman Writer’, ELR 27 (1997), 468–521; Lucy Hutchinson’s
Translation of Lucretius: De rerum natura, ed. Hugh de Quehen (London:
Gerald Duckworth, 1996).
4. David Norbrook, ‘Lucy Hutchinson versus Edmund Waller: An Unpublished
reply to Waller’s “A Panegyrick to my Lord Protector” ’, The Seventeenth
Century, 11 (1996), 61–86.
5. Memoirs, p. 45.
6. David Norbrook, ‘Lucy Hutchinson and Order and Disorder: The Manuscript
Evidence’, English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700, 9 (2000), 257–91.
7. Osborn MS fb 100, James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection,
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Quoted here
from Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, ed. David Norbrook (Oxford:
Blackwell, 2001).
8. Memoirs, p. 287.
9. Memoirs, p. 284.
10. Milton, for instance, owned a family Bible, an Authorised Version, which
included births and deaths of family members J. Milton French, ‘Milton’s
Family Bible’, PMLA, 53 (1938), 363–6.
11. Lucy Hutchinson, On the Principles of Christian Religion, addressed to her
daughter and On Theology (London: Longman, 1817).
12. I compared Hutchinson’s wording with a 1560 Geneva Bible, a 1568 Bishops’
Bible, a 1599 Tomson’s Geneva Bible, a 1611 King James Bible, a 1649 anno-
tated King James Bible, and a 1653 ‘Quaker’ Bible published by Giles Calvert
(who was known to the Hutchinsons, and also published the last speeches of
the regicides). For a sustained study of how puritan women read the Geneva
Bible, see Femke Molekamp’s unpublished PhD thesis, The Geneva Bible and
the Devotional Reading and Writing of Early Modern Women (University of
Sussex, 2008).
13. Maurice S. Betteridge, ‘The Bitter Notes: The Geneva Bible and Its Annotations’,
Sixteenth Century Journal, 14 (1983), 41–62. See Peter Stallybrass, ‘Books and
Scrolls: Navigating the Bible’, in Jennifer Andersen and Elizabeth Sauer (eds.),
188 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

Books and Readers in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of


Pennsylvania Press, 2002), pp. 42–79; Elizabeth Tuttle, ‘Biblical reference
in the political pamphlets of the Levellers and Milton, 1638–1654’, David
Armitage, Armand Himy and Quentin Skinner (eds), Milton and Republicanism
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 63–81.
14. David Daniell, The Bible in English: Its History and Influence (New Haven and
London: Yale University Press, 2003), p. 307.
15. Maxine Hancock, The Key in the Window: Marginal Notes in Bunyan’s Narratives
(Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2000), p. 73.
16. Lucy Hutchinson, ‘The Life of Colonel Hutchinson’ followed by her tran-
scription of his notes in his copy of the Bible. MS DD/Hu 4, Nottinghamshire
Archives.
17. Jim Bennett and Scott Mandelbrote, The Garden, the Ark, the Tower, the Temple:
Biblical Metaphors of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe (Oxford: Museum of
the History of Science in association with the Bodleian Library, 1998), p. 171.
See also Ariel Hessayon and Nicholas Keene (eds), Scripture and Scholarship in
Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006).
18. Walter Raleigh, The Historie of the World in Five Books (London: Walter Burre,
1621); James Ussher’s The Annals of the World (London: J. Crook, 1658). In
Royal Society circles, intellectuals questioned and even denied the Genesis
narrative, partly through new palaeontological and geological research.
19. See Rhodri Lewis, Language, Mind and Nature: Artificial Languages in England
from Bacon to Locke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
20. Isaac La Peyrère, Men Before Adam (London: [n. pub.] 1655–6). See also William
Poole, Milton and the Idea of the Fall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2005), p. 76, and Bennett and Mandelbrote, The Garden, the Ark, p. 194.
21. Abraham Cowley, Poems written by A. Cowley (London: Humphrey Moseley,
1656).
22. Samuel Fisher, Rusticus ad academicos…or The rustick’s alarm to the rabbies
(London: Robert Wilson, 1660), p. 76.
23. Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck, (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2004), chapter XXXIII, ‘Of the Number, Antiquity,
Scope, Authority, and Interpreters of the Books of Holy Scripture’, p. 261.
24. John Owen, Of the Divine Originall, Authority, Self-Evidencing Light, and
Power of the Scriptures (Oxford: Thomas Robinson, 1659), fol. *3v. See ‘Lucy
Hutchinson’, ODNB.
25. Religious Commonplace Book, p. 54.
26. See, for example, Markus Wriedt, trans. Katharina Gustavs, ‘Luther’s theol-
ogy’, in Donald K. McKim (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 86–119.
27. Religious Commonplace Book, p. 63.
28. Memoirs, p. 43.
29. Memoirs, p. 44.
30. See David Norbrook, ‘John Milton, Lucy Hutchinson, and the Republican
Biblical Epic’, Mark R. Kelley, Michael Lieb and John T. Shawcross (eds.),
Milton and the Grounds of Contention (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press,
2003), pp. 37–63; See Susan Wiseman, Conspiracy and Virtue: Women, Writing,
and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2006), especially Chapter 5.
Lucy Hutchinson, the Bible and Order and Disorder 189

31. Most notably, both were friends with Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, who
assisted Milton at the Restoration, and to whom Hutchinson dedicated her
translation of Lucretius’ De rerum natura. See Lucy Hutchinson’s Translation of
Lucretius, ed. Hugh de Quehen.
32. Nicholas von Maltzahn, ‘Laureate, Republican, Calvinist: An early response
to Milton and Paradise Lost (1667)’, Milton Studies, 29 (1992), 181–98.
33. von Maltzahn, ‘Laureate, Republican, Calvinist’, p. 189.
34. Lucy and John Hutchinson knew, for instance, The Dutch Annotations Upon
the Whole Bible, translated by T. Haak, 2 vols (London: John Rothwell, Joshua
Kirton and Richard Tomlins, 1657), which describes how the river named as
Pison is an arm of the Euphrates which joins the Tigris and feeds into the
Persian sea and went on to influence Downame’s later Geneva annotations
which offers further information about Greek names, about points of con-
tention amongst historians and geographers pertaining to biblical history.
35. See Shannon Miller, Engendering the Fall: John Milton and Seventeenth-Century
Women Writers (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), Ch. 4.
36. Order and Disorder, p. 5.
37. Religious Commonplace Book, pp. 53–4.
38. William W. E. Slights, ‘ “Marginall Notes that spoile the Text”: Scriptural
Annotation in the English Renaissance’, HLQ, 55 (1992), 255–78 (p. 258).
15
Pregnant Dreams in
Early Modern Europe:
The Philadelphian Example
Nigel Smith

The subject of this investigation is the writings and activities of Jane


Lead (1624–1704), the later seventeenth-century leader of the Phila-
delphian Society. Her voluminous writings had a considerable influence
in northern Europe into the eighteenth century, and she was repub-
lished during the nineteenth century, down to the beginning of the last
century, and indeed in our own time. She is regarded by some as the true
originator of enlightenment mysticism, more usually associated with
Emanuel Swedenborg.1
While Jane Lead has recently found a receptive readership the detail
in her writing itself remains underappreciated. The context in which
Lead and the Philadelphian Society are usually placed is among other
followers of the German mystic Jacob Boehme (?1575–1624) who were
active during the commonwealth period but who then tried to put
Boehme’s mystical vision into some kind of practical realization during
the Restoration. Boehme’s vision put briefly consists of a notion that the
natural world is a continual ‘outpouring’ of God from the ‘abysse’ – the
location of the Godhead. In that ‘outpouring’, two spiritual worlds are
encountered, the light world and the dark world, equating with calm-
ness and violence, or good and evil (in Boehme’s cosmology, evil is now
outside the boundaries of the sacred, but was once as a form of energy
within it).2
Boehme had many followers, including Royalists, but these former
Commonwealth supporters (and in some cases radicals) were Behmenists
intent on producing a practical reformation that accorded with their
interpretation of their prophets’ writings.3 Purity of body and society was
their aim. Most continental Behmenists assumed something more – that
women were in fact embodiments of the virgin wisdom, and that the
Godhead embodied the feminine. This is to say that the ‘regendering’ of
190
Jane Lead and Early Modern Europe 191

society that their writing envisaged was part and parcel of a behavioural
reform, intended to change the world. More than the Quakers, whose
edge declined as sect became church with respect to the uncontested
elevation of the feminine, the Behmenists were effectively situationist
androgynisers, and they used dreams to reach this state of awareness.
These features are no less present in the writings of Jane Lead and the
Philadelphian Society, although they are inflected in rather different
ways, some even more intensely so with the idea of an androgynous God.
Lead came from a prosperous East Anglian merchant family, Anglicans
in the midst of Puritan heartland. She married her cousin William and
was a member of the enthusiastic diaspora in 1650s London. Already
in the earlier 1640s she had come under the influence of the Antinomian
sermons of Tobias Crisp. In 1663 she came into contact with Dr John
Pordage, the most profound of the first English Behmenist thinkers,
and a sometime associate of Ranters and Diggers. Pordage had sanc-
tioned a community of mystics and prophets, with an emphasis upon
women’s participation, at Bradfield, Berkshire, in the early 1650s, where
he was Rector. An investigation in 1654–5 resulted in Pordage’s ejection
from the living, after which he lived in London: he was found unsound
to propagate the gospel in Puritan terms. Like Lead, he came from a
wealthy merchant background, which provided the financial means for
a kind of household mysticism of which Jane Lead eventually became
the leader.4 Crisp and Pordage represent related strands of English radi-
cal Puritanism, the former promoting a kind of hyper-Calvinism that
led some of its adherents to practice ‘practical Antinomianism’ (free
love and swearing in the name of the Lord and in the firm belief that
noting could endanger one’s saved state), the latter questing after a mys-
tical revelation of God in the natural world. Each found themselves in
trouble with local authorities (in Pordage’s case a committee of Ejectors
in Berkshire, sanctioned by the government in Westminster). So did their
followers.
The group known as the Philadelphian Society was in place by 1670,
the year in which Lead was widowed and in which her visions began.
The group assumed an imminent inner enlightenment that would be
the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. Jane Lead
was their prophet, and although her earlier writings reveal the influence
of Pordage, she became the progressively stronger influence; Pordage
died in 1681. Unlike the vegetarian prophet Thomas Tryon, another dis-
ciple of Boehme with his own following in this period, Jane Lead did not
work, and she certainly did not travel: she stayed at home (in a series of
residences in east London) and had dreams.5 But in 1670, she had been
192 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

left destitute by her husband’s death (she lived at that point in ‘Mico’s
Colledge’, a refuge for widows): her visions of the Virgin Wisdom,
exhorting her to follow a virgin life, began in this period. In 1674, she
began to share a house with Pordage, and in 1697 she was given a house
in London by a German baron. She did not publicly manifest herself
as a prophet in a trance; she appears to have had no externalized body
language, unlike earlier mid-century prophets such as Hannah Wight
and Anna Trapnel. The religious practice of the Philadelphians was an
evolution of mid-century enthusiasm, and we might be reminded of this
by the public disturbances that greeted later Philadelphian attempts to
hold public meetings. Yet they were quite disconnected from the forms
of church organization of the Dissenters – the Puritans – to the extent
that they freely interacted with Anglicans in the 1680s and 1690s.
Thus Philadelphian female piety is quite distinctive from that of the
Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists, while being also clearly dis-
tanced from the Quakers. Indeed, it appealed to the esoteric tastes of
high church Anglicans like Richard Roach and even higher non-jurors
like Francis Lee, who would become Jane Lead’s son-in-law.
The heart of Lead’s vision is an apprehension of perfected bodies that
is detached from yet dependent upon the body language of the women
prophets. In her visionary language these perfected bodies stand in con-
trast to the damaged, torn and invaded bodies of the Puritans and those
of medieval tradition.6 Her visions often involve bodies that ascend in
various degrees towards the purely refined bodies that are able to share
in the Godhead. These bodies, big and small, together with the repeated
imagery of birthing, are as so many growing and glowing bodies in a
new spiritual revelation. Lead believed that she could change the world
with her dreams, and these in turn became salvation machines in her
theology: the pathway to potential universal salvation.
The appearance of bodies in her visions is a way of imagining future
redemption. Thus the vision of what appears to be the New Jerusalem
in The Revelation of Revelations (1683) is not a city but a collection of
‘perfected bodies beyond rapture’. In The Ascent to the Mount of Visions
(1699), after the womb of a mountain covering one quarter of the earth
explodes, a bright body descends from the mountain, conducting the
‘Magical Children’ (the Philadelphians) within it.7
This is undoubtedly Paracelsan, Hermetic and alchemical material,
and we learn that Lead’s words are indeed the ‘pure language of nature’
that had been lost at the Fall (elsewhere the original language is also dis-
cussed). To refine the human body in these terms requires the discovery
of the ‘All-healing Pool, where the corrupt and Putrifactious Matter, in
Jane Lead and Early Modern Europe 193

the Body Elementary may through the continual rising Spring of this
Water of Life, receive Clarifying and Healing – Ezek. 47:9: this River of
Life must never cease to run through the Corporeal Forms’.8 So this is
spiritual sanitation, fused with an optimism in the powers of medical
science: ‘there will also be outward Medicines discovered that have not
yet been, that will have a wonderful Efficacy for the preserving and for-
tifying Nature, and recovering the lost Paradisal Body’.9
Crises of birth become the way of describing imperfect or uncom-
pleted enlightenment. A vision in which ‘Almighty Strength’ becomes
stuck in the ‘place of breaking forth’ (i.e. the birth canal) intimates the
failure of people to understand this reality. Birth figures purification;
we should not be surprised by Lead’s accounts of disrupted birth or her
desire for patronage by mother Wisdom. The source in the Bible is the
woman clothed with the sun of Rev. 12, who is pregnant. Wisdom, or
Sophia, gives birth to a spiritualized Jane Lead (as reported in a vision
of Jane Lead), and she, Jane, in turn gives birth in her visions.10 Giving
birth is also a figure for having visions, as expressed in the writings of
another Philadelphian, Ann Bathurst.11 Dreams remembered by preg-
nant women are a prominent feature of early modern recorded dreams;
the dreams themselves were often understood to reveal the future lives
of their children.12 They connect with an older tradition of royal womb
dreams where succession anxieties are registered. But here Lead is mother
to redeemed posterity just as Wisdom is mother to her.13
In these circumstances, and, since the Philadelphians appear to have
practiced chastity, imagery of birthing, reproduction and the erotic is
relocated in a space in which it serves to describe perpetual spiritual
creations rather than earthly, mortal ones. A kind of alchemy under-
writes this. We all have inside us a ‘Mould and Paradisal Matter’ that
will be quickened by ‘that pure azure stream or breath.’14 Blue, azure is
associated with the alchemical catalyst that brings into life the elixir (or
a sapphire tree).15 Accordingly, Lead has a vision of a man ‘in a clear
blue Firmament, enclosed as in an oval frame, Rainbow-like’.16 This is a
sexed man, it would seem, visible from the loin upwards, but was miss-
ing legs and feet, although elsewhere Lead claimed that angelic beings
had no sexual differentia.17 Later in the passage we learn that this figure
is a vision of Jesus.
Finally, and perhaps with less intensity than in the foregoing mate-
rial, a new and purely spiritual generation of unbodied people are imag-
ined, who ‘have their concourse in the Mind after a magical manner’.18
All these ‘Nazarites’ spiritually communing with Christ are juxtaposed
with the arresting vision of Lead’s deceased husband appearing in bed
194 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

beside her: a visionary fictionalizing of sexual and marital incompat-


ibility. When, among other discourse, he ‘challenges (i.e., ‘calls for’;
OED v. 6) Conjugal Love’, and offers gold coins (an image of prostitu-
tion), he is judged by Jane as an inferior spirit; she expected a higher
revelation, and speculated that he had to be more refined before a higher
sexual union between them might take place (she later receives assurance
that by resisting this vision of her deceased husband’s approach, she
had proved herself a bride of Christ).19 By contrast, the union between
prophet and Wisdom is described as an erotic coming together of two
females; not lesbian but androgynous in its mixture of categories:

lustrous Presentation of her [Wisdom’s] perfect Comeliness and Beauty


into one Spirit I was all inflamed, making complaint, bemoaning our
selves, how we might possibly compass the obtaining this matchless
Virgin-Dove for our Spouse and Bride, who with her piercing fiery
Arrow of Love, had wounded us so deep, as no Cure throughout the
Circumference of this lower Sphere could be found.20

And it was also conceived of as maternal at the same time, so that ‘Lead’s
sophiology permitted a positive construction of femininity in which
womanhood itself achieves subjectivity.’21 At this stage, the dreams
persistently intimate the spiritualizing of Lead’s body: she is chased by
a horse and cart but it passes through her. Later we learn that this is the
cart of the mind and the horse of the will.22 Yet the enormity of this
component is not realized until the end of the book, where there is a
meek apology to the orthodox, for in supposing a new generation of
spirits, Lead has challenged the fundamental Christian concept of salva-
tion with herself and her dream life at the centre of redefinition.
Lead saw her work as an onslaught on ‘reason’: the investment in the
power of rationality that she equated with the world of men and which
variously may be taken to relate to various kinds of natural philosophy,
Anglican rationalism (Latitudinarianism), free thinking, Deism and
Hobbesian thought. In another image drawn from contemporary politics
she described her mysticism as involving a ‘beheading’ of pernicious rea-
son; its ‘excision’ permitted the possibility of a human reunion with the
Godhead.23 In other words, as she does elsewhere with the imagery of col-
onization and plantation, she takes explanatory indices from the material
world, with a sharp focus on recent traumatic events and ‘spiritualizes’
them, but without letting their material significance entirely fade.
Furthermore, in so distancing herself from extant conventions of
prophecy and its stage of performance, and in so extensively developing
Jane Lead and Early Modern Europe 195

Behmenist ideas and language, and utilizing the publishing opportuni-


ties that became available after the lapse of the Licensing Act in 1695,
Lead has begun to behave like a kind of prophetic ‘novelist’. The sur-
rounding material informing the prophetic narrative are the controver-
sial pamphlets concerning the Philadelphians, well established as a form
in post-Reformation publishing, and the journal, which carried reports
of other manifestations of spiritual awakening from across the world,
in addition to dialogues inculcating Philadelphian principles, and appro-
priately Leadian music and poems. The Theosophical Transactions imitates
the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and it established a
standard of Philadelphian taste. By contrast, many of Lead’s pieces of sin-
gle-sheet prophecy were lost in time, and it is only because John Pordage
and others transcribed so many into one continuous sequence that we
fortunately do have a rich collection.
Lead has been seen as a relatively conservative Behmenist because of
her emphasis upon chastity, and because her circle, with the exception of
Richard Roach, did not seem to acknowledge women as the incarnation
of Wisdom, as was the case with earlier continental Behmenists, even
if they did venerate female prophecy, and because her sense of agency
was so interconnected with that of the leading men in her circle.24 But
anyone who read her work seriously and sympathetically, or who heard
her enunciate visions, would have had to accept a conception of divine
immanence in the universe that was strongly pro-feminine and distinctly
against nearly all the prevalent sexual ideologies of the time. And as we
have seen, some of the public preaching of the Philadelphians was met
with violent hostility. Even at a relatively early stage, Sophia had become
in Lead’s imagination a ‘goddess’, reconciling the light and dark ele-
ments of the Godhead: ‘The Divine Wisdom kept all in their place and
station inviolated in himself.’25 There is even a claim that Wisdom will
excel the witness of Jesus (in effect, she becomes a feminine incarnation
of Christ), which parallels the claims made for the birth in the dreams
of a new generation of spirits. In effect, a feminized religion is founded,
with Sophia as the tutelary Other of Jane Lead’s dreams: it’s no surprise
that even those Anglican divines who were attracted by Lead’s message
did not exploit the possibilities of these insights. To suggest that women
have men in them, and men have women in them is to break down a
very basic gender division in early modern sexual ideology:

The Male has his Virgin in himself, and so from hence may multiply
a Spiritual Offspring, as was proposed in the first Adam. And on the
other hand, the Female Virgin shall have her Male Power and Spirit in
196 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

her self to bring forth in the like manner, according to the excellent
might of the God-Man so incorporating with the Virgin-mind. So that
here will be no dependency upon what is without themselves, each
one having the Deified Seed, to procreate these Angelical births from
themselves.26

As some of the extreme Quaker men like John Perrot used a feminine
identity to address Quaker women in their sisterhood, so some Phila-
delphians disregarded the male aspects of the unfallen Adam altogether.27
To achieve regeneration for these men was to become a (spiritual) woman,
even though Lead herself imagined a very obvious and traditional divi-
sion of roles in heaven for the gendered parts of the Godhead.
Jane Lead was not only blind for the last part of her life; she was of
course old, especially by seventeenth-century standards, and Pordage
was old too by the time he was fully associated with Lead. They were
well past reproductive maturity, but they had both lived through the
antinomian heyday of the late 1640s and early 1650s when sexual cou-
pling in the name of the Lord, or as a replication of the gendered nature
of the Godhead or unfallen, androgynous Adam, had been practised,
and was more commonly discussed as an outrageous heresy among the
godly.28 We can only speculate on what Lead’s activities may have been,
but it seems to me to be not impossible that her visions, all delivered
from her late forties onwards, are rooted in a memory of previous practi-
cal Antinomianism or contact with it.29 Perhaps the sensual elements in
her imagery support this, perhaps not. The visions suggest that the crea-
tion of the spirit race will be an escape from the fallenness that is earthly
sexuality into a spirit world where we are bi-sexual self-entities, male
and female. It is a vision that suggests a further imagined release from
the certainty of physical decay through aging into a transplanted vision
(transplanted into spirit worlds) of the sexual freedoms of the 1650s.
Phyllis Mack has recently characterized eighteenth-century religious
enthusiasm as a quest through experience for transcendence of bodily
limitations, rather than the decidedly in-the-body experiences and behav-
iour of their seventeenth-century predecessors.30 Jane Lead’s dreams
and visions are a middle state in which the dream remakes the body in
ideal imaginary terms, beyond the limits of its mortal constraints and the
orthodox modes of defining it.
That Wisdom after her third appearance said she would no longer
appear as a visible figure but would be a presence in Lead’s mind is also
important evidence of a kind of turning of prophecy and ecstasy to
conscience. Some of her followers claimed that Lead refused the title
Jane Lead and Early Modern Europe 197

of prophet. What then would have been the relationship between this
voluminous visionary writing whose author denied it prophetic status,
and the ‘seminaries’ for women (like Mary Astell’s Protestant nunneries)
that were recommended by some Philadelphians?31 Not Protestant nun-
neries but dream factories for enlightenment ladies.
The Philadelphian Society and Lead’s prophecies in particular also
had a following in northern Europe from the late seventeenth into the
eighteenth centuries, a feature that is little understood in the English-
speaking world. Lead was widely read and the English Philadelphians
may be regarded as a precursor of the German Pietist movement for
whom her writings remained important, as the autobiographies of the
early Pietists attest.32 Lead’s visionary writing connects with a Germanic
tradition of feminine piety and expression that at least at first glance
has little to do with English traditions. First of all, the sustained pres-
ence of the radical Reformation across northern Europe from the early
sixteenth century should be noted: the reformed theologies that main-
tained opposition to the mainstream Lutheranism and Calvinism that
were adopted variously as state churches across northern Europe. Hence
a poet like Anna Ovena Hoyers (1584–1655), also on the future read-
ing lists of the Pietists, maintained in her poetry a perspective derived
from Caspar Schwenkfeld (1489–1561) and his teaching that the true
believer ate the spiritual body of Christ.33 From this postulate followed
such positions as opposition to war, oath-taking, that the government
had no right to command one’s conscience, and the rejection of infant
baptism, outward church forms, and ‘denominations.’ Hoyers also read
David Joris (c. 1501–56) the Anabaptist, a strong believer in the teach-
ing of dream visions, and Valentin Weigel (1533–88), the spiritualist
follower of Paracelsus who imagined that the inner life of a pious person
consisted of God looking at himself.
While Hoyers’ poetry has a plainness that comes as some surprise after
her rich intellectual inheritance and exotic theological interests (much of
her writing was simple devotional literature for children), other learned
female mystics and spiritualists in the German-speaking world more
closely resemble Lead.34 Of these perhaps the most striking was Catharina
Regina von Greiffenburg. By any measure she was learned, producing
in voluminous writing, much of which was in verse, a discourse that
has clear affinities with Patristic and Scholastic traditions.35 She com-
manded scriptural (Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldaic, Greek) and modern lan-
guages (French, Italian, and Spanish). In her writing her body becomes
the centre of visionary insight and pious practice. Just as God brought
forth the incarnate Christ from the Virgin’s womb, so she asks Him to
198 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

bring forth in her body both the love and praise of Christ. The imita-
tion of Christ, whom she understood to be excelling all in suffering, was
re-expressed through her propensity for migraines and eye pain. This
psychosomatic configuration was processed through a deep knowledge
of mystical and meditative traditions that straddled the major confes-
sional divide of the time, extending to the Jesuits: Thomas à Kempis,
Francis of Sales and St. Ignatius Loyola. In Greiffenberg’s imagination
the female body becomes the body of Christ, in an anatomy of pain:

All limbs were working, the heart cracked by the effort of all this
energy. All veins and vigors of the bowels struggled and expelled
their potential. The brain dried all its moisture, so that the meninges
[membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord] almost burst,
the retina and the lens of the eye melted their liquids together, the
ears moved their hearing instruments, and the trachea of the nose
filled with blood, the throat suffocated from the rising vapours, the
vein of the tongue almost broke because of contraction, the teeth
were grinding and almost fell out because of the pain. What would
even the heart do? Alas! It wanted to break of a thousand tortures,
to shatter and to die away from the strong contraction, the coercion
and longing it had to suffer. The stomach shrank, the liver dwindled,
the milt turned to stone, the kidneys melted by unbearable suffering
(Translation: Burkhard Dohm).

Grieffenberg addresses Christ with the offer of substituting her pain for
His and through that to achieve unio mystica with the body of Christ.36
The body was seen as something that could become spiritualized or
angelic (if one followed like Milton or Anne Conway a monist view of
matter), just like the promise made to Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost
that they will become like angels if they remain unfallen, but yet in an
arena in which suffering rather than bodily perfection was paramount.37
In fact both Lead and Anne Conway influenced the German Pietists in
their view that pain was a purging of all bodies into a state ultimately
of grace or goodness; in this picture of the universe there is, as we have
seen already in Lead, no place for a perpetual hell. The body comes to
glow with divine presence, after the doctrine of the celestial flesh of
Christ, which, as we saw above, Schwenkfeld had made famous.
In this respect it may be that English feminine piety ‘caught up’
with continental, north European practice in order to make possible
a genealogy for the Pietists to follow: a genealogy in which visionary
women, distilling insight from dreams, called on a tradition of earlier or
Jane Lead and Early Modern Europe 199

other prophets in order to enhance their own authority, as well as new


accounts of the relationship between matter, mind and spirit, such as
Anne Conway’s, to help map pious experience. Lead is clearly of this tra-
dition but also exceeds its parameters, through the distinctiveness of her
visions, if not also her influence as prophet of the Philadelphian Society,
and through the instrumentality of the dream in the Philadelphian view
of salvation. The writings of Lead and the Philadelphians also break
the boundaries of what might conservatively be termed ‘intellectual.’
Belief in the teaching of dreams, even to such a degree as Lead did, is
not consistent with most seventeenth-century (or modern) definitions
of rationality – she was plain against it – but it is difficult too to deny
that this is intellection. Puritanism it was not; radical Puritanism or
enthusiasm it was, and one that attracted Anglicans and non-jurors;
mainstream Puritanism was a notably absent centreground.

Notes
1. See Julie Hirst, Jane Leade: Biography of a Seventeenth-Century Mystic (Aldershot
and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005); also Nils Thune, The Behmenists and the
Philadelphians; A Contribution to the Study of English mysticism in the 17th and
18th centuries (Uppsala: Almquist and Wiksells, 1948); B. J. Gibbons, Gender
in Mystical and Occult Thought: Behmenism and Its Development in England
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Ch. 7; Paula McDowell, The
Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace,
1678–1730 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. 167–79, pp. 196–200; Sylvia
Bowerbank, Speaking for Nature: Women and Ecologies of Early-Modern England
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), pp. 106–32, and her life
‘Jane Lead’, ODNB; Burkhard Dohm, Poetische Alchimie: Öffnung zur Sinnlichkeit
in der Hohelied- und Bibeldichtung von der protestantischen Barockmystik bis zum
Pietismus (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2000), Ch. 2.
2. Serge Hutin, Les Disciples Anglais de Jacob Bœhme aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles
(Paris: Éditions Denoë, 1960); Nigel Smith, Perfection Proclaimed: Language
and Literature in English Radical Religion, 1640–1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1989), Ch. 5. For Boehme’s biography and the interpretation of his works,
see Andrew Weeks, Boehme: An Intellectual Biography of the Seventeenth-Century
Philosopher and Mystic (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1991).
3. For a recent and welcome investigation of Boehme’s notions of paradisal
language in relation to the gendered work of Milton’s Paradise Lost, see
Kristen Poole, ‘Naming, Paradise Lost, and the Gendered Discourse of Perfect
Language Schemes’, ELR, 38 (2008), 535–60.
4. See Manfred Brod, ‘A Radical Network in the English Revolution: John
Pordage and his Circle, 1646–54’, EHR, cxix (2004), 1230–52; Manfred Brod,
‘The Seeker Culture of the Thames Valley’, in Mario Caricchio and Giovanni
Tarantino, eds., Cromohs Virtual Seminars. Recent historiographical trends of the
British Studies (17th–18th Centuries), 2006–2007: 1–10, http://www.cromohs.
unifi.it/seminari/brod.html. See also ‘John Pordage’, ODNB.
200 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

5. Nigel Smith, ‘Enthusiasm and Enlightenment: of food, filth and slavery’, in


Donna Landry, Gerald McLean and Joseph P. Ward (eds), The Country and
the City Revisited: England and the Politics of Culture, 1550–1850 (Cambridge
University Press, 1999), pp. 106–18; Tristram Stuart, The Bloodless Revolution:
A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times (London:
Harper Press, 2006), Ch. 5.
6. See Smith, Perfection Proclaimed, p. 80, p. 83; Hans-Jürgen Bachorski, ‘Dreams
that have never been dreamt at all: Interpreting Dreams in Medieval Litera-
ture’, History Workshop Journal, 49 (2000), 95–127, p. 109.
7. Jane Lead, The Ascent to the Mount of Visions (London: [n. p.], 1699), p. 4.
8. Lead, The Ascent to the Mount of Visions, p. 25.
9. Lead, The Ascent to the Mount of Visions, p. 27.
10. Wisdom (Greek ‘Sophia’; Hebrew ‘chokhmah’) is found in Hebraic and
Platonic mystical literature, sometimes located within, sometimes outside of
the Godhead, notably in Philo of Alexandria, and is particularly personified
in Gnostic writing. Lead would most probably have learned of her existence
in this tradition from Pordage.
11. Ann Bathurst, ‘Rhapsodical Meditations and Visions’, Bodleian Library,
MS Rawl. D 1262–63; Bowerbank, Speaking for Nature, p. 108. See also Avra
Kouffman, ‘Reflections on the Sacred: The Mystical Diaries of Jane Lead and
Ann Bathurst’, in Kristina K. Groover (ed.), Things of the Spirit: Women Writers
Constructing Spirituality (Notre Dame, IA: University of Notre Dame Press,
2004), pp. 97–110.
12. Patricia Crawford, ‘Women’s Dreams in Early Modern England’, History
Workshop Journal, 49 (2000), 134–5. See also Hester Pulter’s poetic visions
of her daughters, especially ‘On the same’, University of Leeds, Brotherton
Library MS Lt q 32, fols 17v–18v.
13. [Erra Pater], The universal interpreter of dreams and visions [...] To which
are added quotations from the most celebrated poet (Baltimore: printed for
Keatinge’s Bookstore, 1795), pp. 68–9.
14. The universal interpreter of dreams and visions, p. 202.
15. Andrew Marvell, Poems, (ed.) Nigel Smith (Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2003,
2006), p. 238, l. 675 n.
16. Lead, Fountain of Gardens, Vol. II (London: [n.p.], 1697), p. 218.
17. Lead, Fountain of Gardens, II, p. 145.
18. Lead, Fountain of Gardens, II, p. 279.
19. Lead, Fountain of Gardens, II, p. 372.
20. Lead, Fountain of Gardens, II, p. 106.
21. Gibbons, Gender in Mystical and Occult Thought, p. 146.
22. Lead, Fountain of Gardens, II, p. 381.
23. See further, Paula McDowell, ‘Enlightenment Enthusiasms and the Spectacular
Failure of the Philadelphian Society’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 35 (2002),
515–33.
24. Gibbons, Gender in Mystical and Occult Thought, pp. 150–51; ‘Richard Roach’,
ODNB.
25. Lead, Revelation of Revelations (London: A. Sowle, 1683), p. 35.
26. Lead, The Signs of the Times (London: [n. p.], 1699), p. 15.
27. See John Perrot, J.P. the follower of the Lamb (London: printed for Robert Wilson,
1661), pp. 3–4; Perrot, John, to all Gods imprisoned people (London: printed
Jane Lead and Early Modern Europe 201

for Thomas Simmons, 1660), p. 3; Perrot, John, the prisoner, to the risen seed of
immortal love (London: printed for Thomas Simmons, 1660), p. 6.
28. Gibbons, Gender in Mystical and Occult Thought, Chs 5 and 6.
29. The claim that she was rumoured to have given birth to a miraculous child
at Bayreuth is a confusion by the Piestist Spener, repeated by Gibbons, of the
likening in a letter of 1697 of the spiritual awakening to which she gave birth
to a miraculous birth in Gutenburg, Bayreuth (and which was related to a
hostile claim that she was expected to give birth literally and miraculously
in England): Theosophical Transactions (London: Philadelphian Society, 1697),
I, 46–8; Thune, The Behmenists and the Philadelphians, p. 128; Gibbons, Gender
in Mystical and Occult Thought, p. 151.
30. Phyllis Mack, ‘Religious Dissenters in Enlightenment England’, History Work-
shop Journal, 49 (2000), 1–23.
31. See Patricia Springborg, Mary Astell: Theorist of Freedom from Domination
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
32. See, e.g., Johanna Eleonora Petersen, The Life of Lady Johanna Eleonora
Petersen, Written by Herself, ed. and trans. Barbara Becker-Cantarino (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2005), pp. 15–17; p. 22; p. 93.
33. See Katharina M. Wilson, An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers,
2 volumes (Chicago, London: St James Press, 1991), I, pp. 572–3.
34. Jane Stevenson, Women Latin Poets: Language, Gender, and Authority, from
Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005),
p. 356.
35. For a fuller account, see Burkhard Dohm, ‘Concepts of the Body and Female
Spirituality in Baroque Mysticism and Pietism’ in Sara Poor and Nigel Smith,
eds, Mysticism and Reform 1400–1750 (Notre Dame University Press, forth-
coming).
36. Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg, Sämtliche Werke, ed. Martin Bircher and
Friedhelm Kemp, 10 volumes (Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprint, 1983), 9, S. 415.
Translation Buckhard Dohm, in Dohm, ‘Concepts of the Body’.
37. See Anne Conway, The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy,
trans. and ed. Allison P. Coudert and Taylor Corse (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996).
Afterword
David Norbrook

In taking stock of the excellent collection of essays you have just read,
at the cutting edge of current research, it may be useful to remember
the time-lag between the concerns of contemporary academia and those
of a wider public. If the early days of the printed book saw the simul-
taneous publication of some very new and some extremely time-worn
manuscripts, the internet is producing a similar phenomenon. You can
listen to the lives of Puritan women online. Not from the essays in this
volume, but from James Anderson’s Memorable Women of the Puritan
Times (1862).1
For the modern study of women’s history and culture, the turning-
point was the emergence of women’s studies departments in response
to feminist politics in the latter part of the last century. In their initial
phases, these movements projected a triumphalist narrative in which
women’s achievements were wrested from centuries of darkness. As
research has progressed, however, it has become clear that women’s
public or intellectual roles have been greater in the past than might have
been expected, and that there has also been a long tradition of chroni-
cling women’s achievements. What continues to mark out the history of
women as a relatively marginal enterprise is precisely the lack of conti-
nuity: whereas the main narratives of political history and of canonical
literary history have been long laid down, there is a continual process
of surprise as each new generation rediscovers significant women. And
indeed within a single generation there may be sharply divergent com-
munities of readers. While much academic work on women’s history has
been motivated with varying degrees of explicitness by a feminist agenda
(the interest being in Puritan women), for the readers of the current
reprint of Anderson’s book, the subject is Puritan women, seen not as
harbingers of historical change but as vindicators of an eternally present
202
Afterword 203

truth. The book belongs to a genre which has a much longer history
of enlisting women for confessional vindication, with parallels in John
Bale’s attempts to invoke a canon of reforming Protestant women to dis-
credit the traditional Catholic models of exemplary women.2 Anderson’s
book is well researched in terms of the manuscript and print resources
available at his time, but its concerns are not those of today’s scholarship.
He insisted that his women’s lives ‘relate rather to the domestic, than to
public events’, and reassured his readers that while some might indeed
have a controversial spirit, the majority were far from being ‘a sort of
ecclesiastical Amazons’; ‘they were not addicted to wrangling, content-
ing themselves with the arguments of godly living and good works’.3 In
researching the Puritan Robert Overton and his wife, I received a letter
from a descendant who was pleased to find his ancestor recorded but
distinctly uneasy that he might have held what he considered to be
unScriptural views on a woman’s divinely allotted place.
One response to The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women might be to
suggest that these different communities are in fact potentially converg-
ing. In the early phase of the ‘recovery’ of early modern women, a dom-
inant theme was the need to liberate their voices from the oppressive
framework of religious institutions which were considered inherently
patriarchal. In John Berryman’s Homage to Mistress Bradstreet that quest
was idiosyncratically eroticised, but Berryman’s desire to find a more
authentic woman behind her ‘bald / abstract didactic rime’ found a par-
allel in Adrienne Rich’s quest for aspects of Bradstreet’s later and more
personal poetry that could inspire today’s women writers.4 Though Rich
recognised positive aspects of the Puritan experience, for a long time the
negatives would be emphasised. Studies of gender ideology focussed on
the absence of strong feminine images in Reformed theology and reli-
gious practice. The closing of female religious houses and orders at the
Reformation undoubtedly led to a radical reshaping of the possibilities
open to women with intellectual ambitions – a reshaping chronicled by
Marvell in Upon Appleton House, with its sharp contrast between the idle
and lecherous women of the nunnery and Maria Fairfax’s diligent study
under (his own) male tutelage in the house built from its ruins. Similar
heightened patriarchal emphases have been found in civic humanist and
republican political culture, with its hostility to the feminising world
of royal households.5 The contributions of Catholics and royalists have
now received extensive attention, to the point where there is now a real
need to reassess the situation of Puritan women.
Asking a question as huge as whether Puritanism was ‘good for women’,
or better for women than Anglicanism or Catholicism, is perhaps unlikely
204 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

to produce fruitful results. Further archival research is likely to produce


more and more learned Puritan women, to which no doubt examples
from other denominations could be countered; and it always can be
questioned how far such examples were representative of their denomi-
nations as a whole. Constraints were always placed on women’s intel-
lectual activities both by ideological and institutional structures and by
structures of the family and child-rearing, but those constraints took
different shapes under different religious dispensations; and there were
always counter-possibilities for religious leaders of gaining a certain lus-
tre through the support of outstanding women. On an everyday basis,
there would always be cases of parents for whom pride in a daughter’s
accomplishments might outweigh the dictates of their society.
The present volume certainly does bring forward so many striking case
studies that we might question whether there was ever really a problem
about women and Puritanism. Were they not encouraged to read Scripture
and its commentators, to patronise learning, even to take the initiative
in political movements? There is something of a convergence here with
James Anderson. As so often where women in history are discussed, an
initial emphasis on the household is succeeded in his studies of par-
ticular women by an awareness of wider public and intellectual issues.
Anderson acknowledges, for example, that Brilliana Harley, ‘being a
woman of public spirit’, took ‘a deep interest in all…public events,
whether domestic or foreign’, and quotes at length from her letters on
these subjects. He records how Lucy Hutchinson, after reading widely
in contemporary controversies, changed her husband’s views on the
question of infant baptism.6 If some of Anderson’s contemporary read-
ers respond to Calvin as a barrier against certain unwelcome modern
ideas, there are also bridges being made with the concerns of academia.
The novelist Marilynne Robinson, who has powerfully evoked evan-
gelical ideas in her fiction, has also defended the Calvinist tradition as
a polemicist, from a somewhat more accommodating stance towards
modern liberalism and feminism, and offering a sympathetic reading of
the theological basis of Marguerite of Navarre’s writings.7
I shall return to some aspects of this convergence that may raise fur-
ther questions. To begin with, though, it is worth emphasising the range
of intellectual pursuits that have been brought to light in these essays.
Michèle Le Doeuff has recalled that the word ‘bluestocking’, from the late
eighteenth century applied derogatorily to learned women, had origi-
nated as a dismissive term for the plainly-dressed members of Cromwell’s
Barebones Parliament, and in a sense this collection redeems that proc-
ess.8 Many of these women had wider intellectual opportunities than
Afterword 205

might have been expected. It is true that women did not have access to
the universities and their libraries, prompting Martha Moulesworth (not
herself, it would seem, a Puritan) to ask why Latin learning was denied
them:

And whie nott so? the muses ffemalls are


and therefore of Vs ffemalles take some care
Two Vniuersities we haue of men
o thatt we had but one of women then[.]9

Though this plea was centuries from fulfilment, family libraries could
provide a strong basis for independent thought. It is refreshing to read,
in Erica Longfellow’s essay on Elizabeth Isham, that while she had a
significant library she did not own the conduct books which have often
been assumed to have dictated conformity and passivity for women;
this no doubt made it easier for her to reject ‘the minde of those that
say it is not good for a woman to be too Bookish’ (p. 130). Puritan
habits of intense self-scrutiny could generate intellectual independence
and, as Danielle Clarke shows, could overlap with humanist practices
of literary imitation and experiment. Frances Hobart could be praised
for assembling a library of divines worth nearly £100: a very substantial
sum, if a lot less than the £1,000 at which John Hutchinson valued his
father’s library.10 Lucy Hutchinson, Anne Bacon, Brilliana Harley, and
Lady Ranelagh were amongst those who came from or married into
families with very substantial libraries. Harley’s wide reading doubtless
helped to sustain the confidence with which she could imagine marital
relations as ones of equality (p. 110). Johanna Harris’s essay on Harley
reminds us that the libraries of local ministers might also be available.
Anne Southwell was able to build up a substantial library with her hus-
band. Mary Vere was amongst several women who were early donors of
books to the newly-opened Bodleian Library in 1608.11
In all this emphasis on learning, however, we should also bear in mind
the extent to which some forms of Puritanism could devalue the tradi-
tional hierarchies of institutionally governed knowledge. Most of the
women considered here belonged to a mainstream which defended the
existing academic universe, but the more radical sects might encourage a
heterodoxy which would have troubled many mainstream Puritans: wit-
ness Nigel Smith’s description of the remarkable ‘situationist androgy-
nisers’ of Jane Lead’s circle (p. 191). And for all Puritans, the sense of
momentous transcendental stakes that cut across secular hierarchies
made possible great confidence in denouncing texts and practices that
206 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

had centuries of tradition behind them; this could also produce a sense
of intellectual empowerment. Diane Purkiss’s striking account of the
geography of Puritan London shows how a very humbly-born woman
like Anna Trapnel could exercise her choice of congregation with great
assurance, and could connect with very wide intellectual networks through
the explosion of views in the printing presses. The Bible was being viv-
idly realised all about her.
It is a long way from Trapnel’s ballad-stanza prophesyings to Mary
Sidney’s virtuoso displays of multiple metrical versions of the same
Biblical content, but the new research in these essays does demonstrate
the leading role played by Puritanism in specifically literary achieve-
ments. Through the essays on Anne Vaughan Lock and Elizabeth Melville,
we can gain a new perspective on the history of the sonnet. Petrarch’s
sonnets have long been analysed as marking a new step in the history
of literary subjectivity, but the appropriation of this model for a dis-
tinctively Protestant subjectivity is still being explored. Lock’s fusion of
Petrarchan and psalmic voices is a striking instance, and it is fascinat-
ing to learn from Susan Felch that her sonnets were set to music for
performance in Scotland and imitated by Lady Margaret Cunningham.
Such Anglo-Scottish connections, Sarah C. E. Ross’s essay makes clear,
need much more attention, and we must eagerly await the full avail-
ability of more of Elizabeth Melville’s recently rediscovered verse. Anne
Southwell’s literary ambitions, Elizabeth Clarke shows us, were suf-
ficient to encompass a major shift from secular to religious genres.
Elizabeth Scott-Baumann’s illuminating analysis of Lucy Hutchinson’s
Order and Disorder shows how shared familiarity with the Geneva Bible
glosses could make possible a pointed dynamic of poetic allusion, as
complex in its way as the humanist protocols of classical allusion. Susan
Wiseman argues that theological issues, far from simply stifling Anne
Bradstreet’s ‘abstract didactic rime’, in fact inform the later and appar-
ently more personal poems.
Concentrating on a new canon of women writers alone, however, may
still undervalue the range of women’s activities. At a number of points,
the study of intellectual networks brings to light what might be termed
utopian moments, where the imperatives of spiritual communication
cut across social and gender hierarchies. Lynne Magnusson points out
that even where the discursive content of a text may seem conven-
tional, it can be deployed in speech-acts which push at traditional
boundaries. Widows like Lady Bacon could deploy the authority of a
woman who was no longer a feme covert, under her husband’s shadow,
and perhaps possessed of considerable secular wealth and standing. This
Afterword 207

authority could lead to claims of involvement in church government,


passing across received boundaries between public and private realms;
we can regard Bacon as ‘an exemplary citizen of a state that never came
fully into being’ (p. 43). Anne Lock proudly declares that her transla-
tion can help build the Jerusalem of which she is a citizen (though we
should also remember her initial qualification: ‘because great things
by reason of my sex, I may not doo’).12 Lock’s claim to citizenship is
especially interesting because she invokes a specifically female network
of connections. Lock addresses the Countess of Warwick, and her words
will in turn be taken up by Lady Margaret Cunningham. While Lock is
mustering Protestant commitment, Cunningham is claiming the author-
ity to reform her husband, but in each case traditional gender spheres
come under pressure. Ruth Connolly’s essay shows that women contin-
ued to raise such issues. At the start of the Civil War, we find Dorothy
Moore – the sister of Milton’s ‘Lycidas’ – debating widows’ status in
the early church. Her relative Lady Ranelagh claimed the authority to
redirect an influential international group of religious reformers, and
still more remarkably did so at the same time as she was affirming her
right to divorce her husband: she did not wish to wait for widowhood to
renounce her status of feme covert. It is intriguing that she was a friend
of Milton, the age’s most notorious advocate of divorce; but her views
on women’s leadership were clearly shaped by her long-standing cor-
respondence with Moore. By the late 1650s, of course, women from a
range of sects were extremely active in petitioning and prophesying.
This collection, then, opens up a fascinating range of intellectual
activities by Puritan women, and there is clearly much more to be done.
And yet that old question of limits and constraints will not quite go
away. One effect of this book might be to suggest that we should set
aside for good and all the suspicion of religion shown by those feminist
pioneers back in the last century: Puritanism has always been an empow-
ering force, and women have not faced any significant obstacles towards
intellectual independence. In that event, we would be returning to
something like the paradigm of Memorable Women of the Puritan Times,
albeit with a new richness of documentation. And yet that very rich-
ness may be in danger of producing a kind of optical illusion: the more
intensely we scrutinise previously lost manuscript sources, bringing to
light lost records of ideas and writings, the more we may lose sight of
the initial constraints on communication which these ideas faced. It is
not to disparage the achievements here presented to observe that they
do bear witness to such constraints. Only a minority of the women
represented here presented their views in print, and though some were
208 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

skilled in Latin, the language of the international republic of letters, the


works here considered are in English.13 We have, of course, learned a lot
in recent years about the importance of manuscript circulation in early
modern Europe, and women like Melville and Ranelagh could gain sig-
nificant reputation through this means. And yet there are reminders in
these essays that it could also be a constraint, and that women entering
print still normally needed to make some form of apologia. Magnusson
emphasises that some key evidence for Lady Bacon’s significant politi-
cal role comes from adversaries. The fact that she had translated the
Latin defence of the Church of England is dropped from later editions,
and the public was reminded of her agency by a Catholic who aimed
to discredit the Church by stressing the involvement of Bacon and
her sister. Wiseman points out that Bradstreet’s position was formed in
opposition to the antinomianism which had been espoused by promi-
nent women, including Anne Hutchinson and Elizabeth Avery. The
eagerness of a group of leading male clergymen to publish her Tenth
Muse may not have been a simple case of male appropriation of female
voices, but it may nonetheless have involved elevating one exemplary
woman to draw attention from more theologically threatening ones.
Lucy Hutchinson’s occlusion of her authorship of Order and Disorder
was so successful that as recently as ten years ago the poem was being
analysed for its deeply patriarchal ideology.14 It should be said, however,
that being the widow of a notorious regicide may have counted more
for her keeping the authorship anonymous than her gender; and by the
end of the period covered by this volume, more and more women are
venturing into print.
Patronage and intellectual networks indeed offered opportunities for
agency, but clearly also faced a backlash if they seemed too powerful.
Samuel Rogers could dismiss Lady Vere and a female ally, with an indig-
nation that splutters through his diary’s code, as ‘these 2 husw3f2s’
(p. 90). Again and again in this period we find a phenomenon that
may be labelled ‘triangulation’, in which women engage in correspond-
ence and debate through the mediation of men whose authority they
acknowledge; Moore and van Schurman seem to have corresponded
more with Rivet than with each other. The women writers often stud-
ied as a tradition in today’s courses seem very seldom to have referred
themselves back to female predecessors, being again and again hailed
as singular exceptions, so that it was hard to establish a sense of con-
tinuity. There are exceptions: this collection contains examples of sig-
nificant correspondences between women, notably that between the
Countess of Bedford and Jane Meautys Cornwallis Bacon, and some
Afterword 209

works dedicated by one woman to another, from public treatises to


the personal discourse on poetry sent by Anne Southwell to Cassandra
MackWilliams. No doubt careful research will bring further correspond-
ences to light. More often, however, we find networks like the Hartlib
circle, in which women could indeed wield considerable influence
throughout the republic of letters through carefully targeted manuscript
correspondence; but the cases of Moore and Ranelagh also illustrate the
drawbacks of the medium for those advocating change.
Moore engaged in an extended correspondence about woman’s role
in religion with the influential theologian André Rivet, in which Rivet
eventually gave up replying to her arguments. Lynette Hunter has
described this as ‘a moment of modern tragedy and a demonstration of
gender oppression’.15 What is particularly striking about this exchange
is that to a considerable degree it recapitulates an exchange between
Rivet and Anna Maria van Schurman, the most internationally cele-
brated woman intellectual of her day, in which Rivet had likewise faced,
and to a considerable degree evaded, claims for women’s rationality and
role in the republic of letters.16 Moore had encountered this exchange,
which had been published in Latin in 1639, and she may have had a
hand in its first English translation.17 When she wrote an enthusiastic
letter to van Schurman, the latter replied with praise of her learning and
expressed surprise that there had been any learned women in England
since Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth. But it was only through these
letters, which van Schurman included in later collections of her writings,
that Moore herself became widely known outside England. At least read-
ers were able to judge for themselves how well Rivet had handled van
Schurman’s arguments; Moore’s exchange with him, like Ranelagh’s later
attempts to shape policy, remained amongst Hartlib’s papers. In a letter
to Rivet, van Schurman praises Lucrezia Marinelli and Marie de Gournay,
pioneers of a pan-European movement to advance the status of learned
women;18 Moore’s letters, less willing to defend women’s champions
across confessional divides, remain largely on Scriptural terrain.
There are general differences between the British and Continental
situations which reflect factors far beyond religious ones, but there are
still questions to be raised about the specific contributions of Puritan
theology – or of different strands of Puritan theology – to the standing
of women and in particular of women writers. A striking feature of these
essays is their demonstration of the importance of a core of Calvinist
theology in uniting groups which might have differing sympathies on
details of ritual and church government – whether or not we term Lady
Southwell a Puritan, it was on theological grounds that she aligned
210 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

herself with ‘the pouritasn fayth’ (p. 57). The 1640s and 1650s saw
that core becoming eroded from radical as well as High Church direc-
tions, albeit bringing to the fore currents which, as David Como has
been showing, had a much longer genealogy. With Jane Lead and her
revisionary gendering of Biblical imagery, we seem to be on a different
terrain from the earlier figures in this volume. Lucy Hutchinson’s sense
of bitter isolation reflects the new vulnerability after the Restoration of
positions which had seemed taken for granted. Where with Lady Russell
the Calvinist terminology may sometimes seem a veneer for other lan-
guages of patronage, for many of the writers the doctrine of election
clearly worked to strengthen spiritual and intellectual confidence. If
without divine grace we are all worms, we are all equally so. And yet
there are signs in these essays of unease with this theological position
and its concomitant practices. As Longfellow shows, Elizabeth Isham’s
pioneering autobiographical narrative was informed by Puritan prac-
tices of self-scrutiny and self-criticism; and yet she did steadily distance
herself from the ‘preciser sort’. Wiseman argues that Bradstreet’s Puritan
culture could be ‘deeply frightening for the subject’, and reminds us of
John Stachniewski’s less affirmative view of Puritan theology as a potent
generator of a destructive melancholia. The anxieties were so profound
that they might generate Bradstreet’s poetry and yet make her shy
away from fully engaging with them: hence, perhaps, a certain residual
abstraction of the kind Berryman censured.
We may further ask how far Puritan culture might have limited intel-
lectual pursuits. The term ‘intellectual culture’ is used in this volume in
a broad sense to encompass theological and Biblical studies as well as
other branches of learning; but in practice, tensions could occur. The
old idea that women were ‘allowed’ to write about religion because it
was safe and unthreatening has been discredited; but Puritanism could
form a barrier against some contemporary sceptical currents of thought.
The modern term ‘intellectual’ tends to imply a break with the struc-
tures of the old academic system in which training for the church or
another profession worked against fully independent thought. It has
long been argued, often too simplistically, that seventeenth-century
English academia cut itself off from some new secularizing develop-
ments in the European republic of letters by its predominantly theologi-
cal concerns.19 The exception who as it were proves the rule is Thomas
Hobbes, who worked independently of academic and ecclesiastical struc-
tures and long after his actual exile from England was to a considerable
degree an intellectual exile. It is interesting that Margaret Cavendish,
Duchess of Newcastle, pre-eminently the most articulate British feminist
Afterword 211

writer of the mid-seventeenth century, was also perhaps as far removed


from Puritanism as it is possible to be; she was drawn to Hobbes and to
heterodox Continental writers who questioned the status of the Biblical
text and the account of the Creation in Genesis. Her feminism, as far as
it extended, did not need to trouble itself with a divine realm which as
far as she was concerned was an entirely separate sphere. The hostility
with which so many contemporaries greeted her views is likely to have
been compounded by the combination of feminism with irreligion.
Puritan intellectual culture strongly supported the absolute authority
of the Biblical text – just as many of today’s readers of James Anderson,
one may suspect, are ardent Creationists. And yet, as the case of Lucy
Hutchinson shows, there were Puritans who were keen to explore some
of the new ideas: in the 1650s she translated Lucretius’s De rerum natura,
the favoured text of the freethinking avant garde. That Hutchinson engaged
so closely with writings important to Margaret Cavendish without ever
mentioning her strikingly indicates the phenomenon of triangulation via
male writers. By the 1670s, Hutchinson was anguishedly recanting the
whole translation, and linking it with the female liability to intellectual
error to which, she believed, Paul had rightly called attention.20
Puritanism may not have been unequivocally enabling, but these essays
show that it was neither a monolithic entity nor an external force against
which learned women had to struggle; the label describes currents in
spirituality and public engagement which women helped to shape as
well as merely reflecting. Nor does a close study of individual cases
reveal a single and monolithic patriarchy. These essays are historically
particular and avoid projecting anachronistic concerns on to the seven-
teenth century. And yet, as Le Doeuff has shown, it can be analytically
distorting to seal off the past from the present. In some quantitative
historical survey, the contributions of these women, and their moments
of breaking with consensus, might appear relatively insignificant. The
essays in this volume are open to a different approach, highlighting
particular case studies and exploring complex ways in which discursive
and political structures might open up new forms of cultural agency,
whether positively or through contingent clashes of demarcation. These
strategies can be viewed in the longer-term perspective opened up by Le
Doeuff. Her approach coheres with that of the present volume insofar
as she rejects the currents within feminism which would identify the
intellect and rationality with a male order, and instead argues that the
male order over many centuries has in fact fallen down lamentably in
offering good intellectual positions for its defence. It is not just a matter
of contrasting the unenlightened attitudes of the seventeenth century
212 The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680

with our own time. Women like Vere were excited by the opening of
the Bodleian Library, but its historian finds it amusing to tell us that
it contains, as well as many of their donations, ‘a volume of curious
early specimens of worked samplers, humorously lettered on the back,
“Works of Learned Ladies”’.21 There is no unequivocal grand narra-
tive of progress: the Mitford sisters in the twentieth century, educated
at home, received a poorer education than many of the women dis-
cussed here, while some arguments against women’s learning that
were current in the seventeenth century have not entirely gone away.
Le Doeuff points to limits in even the most advanced seventeenth-century
champions of learned women such as van Schurman, who lays claim
to ‘a kind of “second rationality” for women that takes its principles
from elsewhere and adopts them as results’. And yet she also points to
Martha Moulsworth’s question: ‘And whie nott so?’.22 From a quantita-
tive point of view, a single exploratory ‘whie nott?’ may not loom very
large, as opposed to the normal, causal ‘why?’; but they are both good
questions.

Notes
1. James Anderson, Memorable Women of the Puritan Times, 2 vols (London,
Glasgow and Edinburgh: Blackie and Son, 1862; reprint, Morgan, PA:
Soli Deo Gloria, 2001); readings available at the time of writing at http://
puritanreadingsaloud.blogspot.com/.
2. Jennifer Summit, Lost Property: The Woman Writer and English Literary History,
1380–1589 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000),
pp. 138–57.
3. Anderson, Memorable Women of the Puritan Times, I, vii–viii.
4. John Berryman, Collected Poems 1937–1971, ed. Charles Thornbury (New
York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989), p. 135; The Works of Anne Bradstreet,
ed. Jeannine Hensley, foreword by Adrienne Rich (Cambridge, MA: Belknap
Press of Harvard University Press, 1967).
5. Diane Purkiss, Literature, Gender, and Politics during the English Civil War
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
6. Anderson, Memorable Women of the Puritan Times, I, 87, II, 68–71.
7. Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (New
York: Picador, 2005), pp. 150–226; cf. her novel Gilead (London: Virago,
2005).
8. Michèle Le Doeuff, The Sex of Knowing, trans. Kathryn Hamer and Lorraine
Code (New York and London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 1–2.
9. Robert C. Evans and Barbara Wiedemann (eds.), ‘My Name was Martha’:
A Renaissance Woman’s Autobiographical poem by Martha Moulsworth (West
Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill Press, 1993), p. 5.
10. Lucy Hutchinson, Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, ed. James
Sutherland (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 34.
Afterword 213

11. W. D. Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library Oxford, 2nd edition (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1890), pp. 419–24.
12. The Collected Works of Anne Vaughan Lock, ed. Susan M. Felch (Tempe, Az:
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1999), p. 77.
13. Lock and Anne Cooke Bacon are discussed by Jane Stevenson, Women Latin
Poets: Language, Gender, and Authority from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 267, 270–1; note her discussion
of the Quaker Latin poet Mary Mollineux (pp. 380–1).
14. Joseph Wittreich, ‘Milton’s Transgressive Maneuvers: Receptions (Then and
Now) and the Sexual Politics of Paradise Lost’ in John Rumrich and Stephen
Dobranski (eds), Milton and Heresy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1998), pp. 244–66.
15. Lynette Hunter, The Letters of Dorothy Moore, 1612–64: The Friendships, Marriage,
and Intellectual Life of a Seventeenth-Century Woman (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004),
p. xli.
16. For further discussion, see David Norbrook, ‘Autonomy and the Republic of
Letters: Michèle Le Dœuff, Anna Maria van Schurman, and the History of
Women Intellectuals’, Australian Journal of French Studies, 40 (2003), 275–87,
and ‘Women, the Republic of Letters , and the Public Sphere in the Mid-
Seventeenth Century’, Criticism, 46 (2004), 223–40; Carol Pal, ‘Forming
familles d’alliance: Intellectual Kinship in the Republic of Letters’, in Julie D.
Campbell and Anne Larsen (ed.), Early Modern Women and Transnational
Communities of Letters (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 251–80.
17. Samuel Torshell, The Womans Glorie (London: G. M. for John Bellamie, 1645),
pp. 34–72, translating van Schurman’s correspondence with Rivet. Torshell
was a chaplain to Charles I’s daughter Elizabeth; the overall supervision of
the royal children’s education was entrusted to John Dury, Dorothy Moore’s
husband.
18. Anna Maria van Schurman, Whether a Christian Woman should be Educated
and Other Writings, ed. Joyce L. Irwin (Chicago and London: University of
Chicago Press, 1998), p. 55.
19. Mordechai Feingold, ‘The Humanities’, in The History of the University of
Oxford, iv: Seventeenth-Century Oxford, ed. Nicholas Tyacke (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1997), pp. 211–357 (262–5).
20. Lucy Hutchinson, On the Principles of the Christian Religion, Addressed to her
Daughter, and On Theology (London: Longman, Hurst, 1817), pp. 5–6.
21. Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library, p. 67.
22. Le Doeuff, The Sex of Knowing, pp. 24, 117.
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Index

Adams, Bernard, 64 Bacon, Nathaniel, 73, 79


Ames, William, 87, 146 Bacon, Sir Nicholas, 44
Anderson, James, 202, 203, 204, 211 Bale, John, 203
antinomian controversy, 141, Bancroft, Richard
143, 146 and attacks on puritanism, 45–6, 47
Apsley, Sir Allen, Jr, 176 and suppression of the Register, 49
Apsley, Sir Allen, Sr, 177 Barash, Carol, 4
Astell, Mary, 197 Barlow, John, 33
Augustine, St, 127 Barnardiston, Sir Nathaniel, 143
authorship, and notions of, 28 Barnes, Barnabe, 102
Avery, Elizabeth, 140–1, 142, 143 Bathurst, Ann, 193
Avery, Timothy, 140–1 Baxter, Daniel, 128
Avery/Avary, Joseph (or John), 138–9 Baynes, Paul, 146
Beale, John, 182
Babington, Gervase, 31, 32–3 Bedford, Countess of, see Russell,
Bacon, Anne, 3, 4, 5, 42–3 Lucy, Countess of Bedford
and authority of, 206–7 Behmenist movement, 190–1
and letter to Lord Burghley, 49–54; Behn, Aphra, 3, 4
access, 51–3; aim of, 54; ethos Beilin, Elaine, 5
(speaker’s authority), 53–4; kairos Berryman, John, 203
(timeliness), 50–1, 53; as political Bertie, Katherine Brandon, Dowager
speech action, 49; rhetorical Duchess of Suffolk, 19
persuasion, 54; style of, 54 Beza, Theodore, 32, 46
and library access, 205 Bible
and A Parte of a Register, 48–9 and biblical poetry, Hutchinson’s
and patronage of radical puritanism Order and Disorder, 176–7, 180–6
during widowhood, 48–9 and Geneva translation, 32,
and personal vocation, 43 178, 186
and response to attacks on and reading of, 32–3, 34–5
puritans, 47 and Renaissance humanist
and role in establishment of scholarship, 179
Elizabethan church, 44–5 and scholarly doubts over scriptural
and translation of An Apologie... integrity, 179–80
of the Churche of Englande, 43; and study of geography and
minimizing of role in, 44–5; chronology of, 179
praise of, 43–4; reception history, Birchet, Peter, 23
45–7; style of, 44; used in attacks bluestocking, 204
on puritanism, 45–6 Boehme, Jacob, 172, 190
and translation of Ochino’s Book of Common Prayer, and Marian
sermons, 42, 43 exiles, 20
Bacon, Anthony, 52, 53 booksellers, and London networks,
Bacon, Francis, 4, 44 170–2
Bacon, Mildred, 45, 52 Boswell, Elizabeth Bruce, 100

239
240 Index

Boyle, Richard, 151 Carew, Richard, 24


Boyle, Robert, 4 Carr, Robert, 63, 75
Bradstreet, Anne, 8, 206 Cartwright, Thomas, 46
as case study in puritanism, 135–6 Case, Thomas, 114–15
and doubt and resolution, 137, 142–3 Castelvetro, Giacomo, 72
and emigrates to New England, 136 Cavanaugh, Jean, 62
and family commemoration in Cavendish, Margaret, 3, 210–11
poems, 140 Cecil, William, 19, 45
and intellectual culture, 146 Chaderton, Laurence, 113
and perseverance in faith, 145 Chalmers, Hero, 5
and providentialism in writings, Chapman, George, 72
137, 144–5, 147 Charles I, 85, 86, 182, 184
and reception of writings, 140 Charles II, 182
and response to puritan cultural Chichester, Frances Harington, 73
frames, 146 Cicero, 50
and sea voyages, poems on fears of, Clarke, Samuel, 92
136–7, 139–40 Cleever, Robert, 125
and struggle to have faith, 137, 140 Cocks, Roger, 60–1, 65–6, 68
and The Tenth Muse, 136 Cohen, Charles Lloyd, 102
and Thacher shipwreck, 139, 141 Cole, James, 139
and ‘Upon My Dear and Loving Coles, Kimberly Anne, 123
Husband His Going Into collaborative exchange, 8
England’, 140 Collinson, Patrick, 6, 48, 135
and ‘Verses Upon the Burning of Comenius, Jan Amos, 151, 152
Our House’, 144 Como, David, 210
Breton, Nicholas, 32 congregationalism, 146–7
Brewster, Thomas, 171–2 Considine, John, 63
Briot, Nicholas, 73–4 Conway, Anne, 198, 199
Bruch, Richard, 76 Conway, Brilliana, see Harley, Brilliana
Bull, Henry, 124 Conway, Sir Edward, 86, 109, 110–11
Bulstrode, Cecily, 63 Cooke, Anne, 22, 23
Bunning, Thomas, 128 Cooke, Elizabeth, 22, 23
Bunyan, John, 178 Cooke, Katherine, 22
Burges, Cornelius, 72, 76 Cooke, Margaret, 22
Burges, John, 72, 76, 87 Cooke, Mildred, 22, 23
Burghley, Lord, and Anne Bacon’s Cooper, Thomas, 72
letter to, 49–54 Cotton, Clement, 72
Burke, Victoria, 65 Cotton, John, 141
Byfield, Nicholas, 72, 76, 87, 88 court culture, 4–5
court masques, 73
Cade, Jack, 170 Cowley, Abraham, 179, 181, 185
Calvinism Crisp, Tobias, 191
and Anne Lock, 19 Crompton, William, 34
and Anne Southwell, 57–8, 59, 60 Cromwell, Oliver, 150, 166, 167,
and Mary Vere, 85, 86, 88 168, 176
and puritanism, 6 Crosse, Mary, 34
and unifying effect of, 209–10 Cunningham, Lady Margaret, 25–6,
see also puritanism 206, 207
Campion, Thomas, 73 Cutts, Lady Elizabeth, 35
Index 241

Dane, John, 145 Fincham, Kenneth, 6


Daniel, Samuel, 72 Fisher, Samuel, 179
Davenport, John, 87 Fitzherbert, Dionys, 126
Davenport, Robert, 168 Fletcher, Giles, 65
Davies, John, 72 Foxe, John, 124
Daybell, James, 5 and portrayal of women in Actes
De Mornay, Philippe, 31, 32 and Monuments, 15, 16, 17
Declaration of Sports (1618), 59–60 Fraunce, Abraham, 32
Denny, Lady Margaret, 90 Freer, Coburn, 28
Dering, Edward, 22 funeral sermons, and women, 33
Dod, John, 87–8, 90, 91, 125
Donne, John, 63, 72 Gardiner, S R, 6
Dowland, John, 72 Gataker, Thomas, 88
Draper, John W, 2 gathered churches, 163, 165, 166,
Drayton, Michael, 72 167, 171, 172
Dryden, Sir Erasmus, 128 gender
Dryden, John, 128 and Behmenist movement, 190–1
Du Bartas, Guillaume, 181, 185 and Isham’s ‘Book of
Dudley, Anne Russell, Countess of Rememberance’, 130–1
Warwick, 24, 71 and Lead’s breaking down of
Dudley, Robert, Earl of Leicester, 23, 32 divisions, 195–6
Dunnigan, S M, 100 and puritanism, 203, 207;
Dury, John, 152, 153, 154, 156 partnership of the sexes, 3;
Dyke, Daniel, 72 stereotype of attitudes, 2
Dyke, Jeremiah, 77 Geneva Bible, 32, 178, 186
Dyke, William, 46 Genevan Confession of Faith, 22
Geree, John, 5–6, 86, 92
Edward VI, and death of, 18 Gilby, Anthony, 32
elect/election, 43, 58, 85, 126, 137, Godwin, Francis, 113
145, 152, 181, 210 Golding, Arthur, 31–2
emigration, and puritan intellectual Goodman, Christopher, 25
culture, 136 Goodwin, Thomas, 117
L’Estrange, Roger, 171 Gouge, William, 125
Evelyn, John, 182 Gournay, Marie de, 209
Greaves, Richard L, 3
Fairfax, Ann, 86 Greene, Roland, 102
Fairfax, Sir Ferdinando, 89 Greenhill, William, 166, 172, 173
Fairfax, Thomas, 86 Greiffenburg, Catharina Regina von,
Faunt, Nicholas, 52 197–8
Feake, Christopher, 167–8 Grindal, Edmund, 23–4
Featley, Daniel, 60, 61, 65 Gurnall, William, 84, 88, 91
Felch, Susan, 98 Gusdorf, Georges, 131 n4
Fell, Margaret, 5 Gwynnethe, Margaret, 17
feminine piety, and Germanic
tradition, 197–8 Haller, William, 6
Field, John, 17, 22 Hamilton, James, 2nd Marquess of,
Fifth Monarchists, 163, 168, 171, 177–8 72, 73
Figulus, Peter, 150 Hannay, Margaret, 4, 30, 31, 32,
Finch, Anne, 4 36, 103
242 Index

Hannay, Patrick, 72 Hartlib circle


Hardman-Moore, Susan, 138 and appeal to Parliament, 153
Harington, Sir John, 72 and crisis in, 150
Harington, Lucy Sidney, 72 and extent of, 151–2
Harley, Brilliana, 5, 86, 89, 204 and founding belief, 151
and advice for coherent intellectual and inclusive terminology of, 152
and spiritual life, 112–13 as international Protestant
and classical morality, 115 communion, 152
and critical use of history, 115 and Ranelagh: argues against
and debate about bishops, 112 reliance on institutionalised
and defence of Harley estate, 109–10 political authority, 151, 154,
and engagement with 157, 158; argues against support
contemporary controversies, for particular church discipline,
109–10 155; breadth of interests, 151;
and intellectual culture, factors emphasis on spiritual combat,
shaping, 108 155; integration of women,
and intellectual engagement, 109 158, 159; letters distributed
and leading position in puritan among, 150, 153; opposition to
community, 116–17 aggressive military policy, 154–6,
and letter writing, 108; edification 157–8; primacy of individual
of ‘communion of Saints’, 116; conscience, 155; prominence
intellectual engagement through, within, 158; renewing purpose of,
110; intellectual exposition, 114; 158; reshaping ethos of, 153–4;
puritan unity and identity, 117– state-dissenter relations, 157;
18; reading life, 113–14; scale toleration, 157
of, 108–9; significance of, 109, and women in, 152–3, 158, 159
118; spiritual edification, 114; Hatton, Christopher, 23
theological debate, 117 Hawkins, Sir John, 23
and library access, 205 Hay, James, Lord Doncaster, 72, 73
and marriage as metaphor for Henry VIII, 15
international Protestantism, 111 Herbert, George, 59, 62, 68
and Protestant family heritage, Herbert, Mary Sidney, 4, 5, 100, 206
111–12 and acquisition of linguistic and
and puritan convictions, 111 stylistic skills, 30–1, 33
and puritan cultural style, 108 and education, 30–1, 33; Protestant
and puritan intellectual consistency, emphasis, 31
108, 111 and literate practices, 28, 29;
and reading of: extent of, 113; furtherance of moral spiritual
Luther, 113–14; theology, 113 commitment, 31; significance
and reputation of, Stoughton’s of, 29–30, 36, 39; variations and
report of, 110 alterations, 36–9
and Senecan moral philosophy, and piety, 29
114–15 as poet, reputation of, 29
and stoicism, 115–16 and radical Protestant intellectual
and theological debate, 117 circle, 31
and works dedicated to, 116 and Sidney Psalter: Calvinist
Harley, Sir Robert, 86, 110 influences on, 31–2; as composite
Hartlib, Samuel, 150, 152, 153, work, 28; composition process,
156, 209 35–6; Penshurst manuscript,
Index 243

28, 29; reasons for high value and Order and Disorder: attribution
placed upon, 31; variations and to, 176–7; contradictory nature
alterations, 36–9; versions of, of, 186; denials of knowledge,
28–9 180–1; loathing of Restoration
and spiritual activities, 32–3 court, 183; marginal notes, 181;
Herbert, Philip, 1st Earl of monarchy’s corruption, 183–4;
Montgomery, 72 origins of tyranny, 182–3; poetic
Herbert, Susan Vere, 72 allusion, 206; politicization
Herbert, William, 3rd Earl of through biblical references, 183,
Pembroke, 72 184–5, 186; portrayal of Nimrod,
Hickman, Rose, 18 182; scripture’s interpretation
Hill, Christopher, 135 through itself, 180; structural
Hobart, Lady Frances, 34, 35, 205 pattern of, 183
Hobbes, Thomas, 4, 8, 179–80, 210 as political polemicist, 176
Hoby, Lady Margaret, 34–5 as republican, 182
Horn, Georg, 154–5, 158 and translations by, 176, 178, 211
Horn, Robert, 116–17 Hutton, Sarah, 4
Howard, Francis, 63
Howard, Thomas, 14th Earl of Ignatius Loyola, St, 198
Arundel, later Earl of Norfolk, Inglis, Esther, 72
71, 74 intellectual culture of early modern
Hoyers, Anna Ovena, 197 period
Hughes, Ann, 147, 171 and court culture, 4–5
Hume, Alexander, 96 and emigration, 136
Hunter, Lynette, 4, 209 and intellectual networks, 8–9
Hutchinson, Anne, 141, 142, 143 and letter writing, 110, 118
Hutchinson, John, 177–8 and limiting effects of puritanism,
and Bible reading, 178–9 210–11
Hutchinson, Lucy, 5, 6, 131 n2, 204 and nature of, 4
and the Bible: defends integrity of and puritan women, 4, 8
scripture, 180, 185–6; denials of and puritanism, 135
knowledge, 180–1, 185; Geneva and women’s contribution to, 3–4, 8
Bible, 178; political use of, 183, intellectual thought, and study of in
184–5, 186; primacy of, 186; early modern period, 7–8
reading of, 178 inventio, 34
and biblical poetry, 182; politics Isham, Elizabeth, and ‘Book of
in, 182 Rememberance’
and birth of, 177 and attitude towards contemporary
and emergence as major poet, 176 religious controversies, 129–30
on James I’s rule, 181 and desire for single life, 128–9
and library access, 205 and Dod’s influence on, 128
and marriage, 177; death of and empowerment of, 124
husband, 177–8 and expression of emotion, 126
and meaning of ‘puritan’, 176 and faith, 131
and Memoirs of the Life of Colonel and family background, 124
Hutchinson, 176; Bible’s presence as first English autobiography, 123
in, 178–9 and gender, 130–1
and oppositional role of puritanism, and influence of Augustine’s
181 Confessions, 127
244 Index

Isham, Elizabeth, and ‘Book of Laud, William, 59


Rememberance’ – continued Le Doeuff, Michèle, 204, 211, 212
and intellectual determination, 130 Lead, Jane, 5, 8
and limited readership of, 122–3 and androgynous God, 191
and marriage negotiations, 128–9 and The Ascent to the Mount of
and motives for writing, 123 Visions, 192
and pear-stealing story, 127 and background of, 191
and planning and arrangement of, and breaking down of gender
126–7 divisions, 195–6
and puritan intellectual style, 123 and breaking of boundaries of
and reading of, 124–5, 205 intellectualism, 199
and royalism, 130 as conservative Behmenist, 195
and self-examination, 125–6, and enlightenment mysticism, 190
129, 130 and feminized religion, 195
and statement of vocation, 122 and influence of, 190, 199;
and value of, 123 northern Europe, 197–8
and influences on: John Pordage,
Jackson, Abraham, 72 191; Tobias Crisp, 191
Jackson, Roger, 76–7 and onslaught on reason, 194
James I, 59, 85 and Philadelphian Society, 191; as
and Anne Southwell’s loyalty to, prophet of, 191
61–2 and preservation of prophecies, 195
and Declaration of Sports (1618), as prophetic ‘novelist’, 194–5
59–60 and refuses title of prophet, 197
and Lucy Hutchinson on, 181 and residences of, 191–2
Janeway, James, 138 and The Revelation of Revelations, 192
Jessey, Henry, 167, 171, 172 and visions of, 191, 192;
Jewel, John, 4, 43, 45 construction of femininity, 194;
Johnson, Cecily, 127 crises of birth, 193; deceased
Jones, Inigo, 1 husband in bed, 193–4; dreams
Jones, Robert, 99 and salvation, 192; escape from
Jonson, Ben, 1, 72 earthly sexuality, 196; perfected
and court masques, 73 bodies, 192–3; remaking the
Joris, David, 197 body, 196; rooted in practical
Josselin, Ralph, 91–2 Antinomianism, 196; spiritualizing
of body, 194; unbodied people,
Kemp, Andro, 25 193; Wisdom, 194, 195, 196
Ker, Jane Drummond, Countess of Lee, Francis, 192
Roxburghe, 74 letter writing
Klene, Jean, 57, 61, 62–3, 63–4 and collaborative nature of, 110
Knox, John, and Anne Lock, 18, 19, 20 and dialogic form, 110
and puritan community, 108,
Lake, Peter, 6, 84, 132 n11, 144, 162–3 109, 116
Lambe, Thomas, 171 and puritan cultural style, 109, 114
Lambert, John, 140 and puritan intellectual culture,
Lambeth conference (1584), 50, 51, 110, 118
53, 54 and significance of, 118
Lamont, William, 6 and spiritual counselling, 87
Lanyer, Aemilia, 3, 72, 98 and women’s use of, 84
Index 245

Lewalski, Barbara, 1, 4 MackWilliams, Cassandra, 64, 209


Lewyn, Sir Justinian, 124 manuscript circulation, 8, 14 n45,
Ley, John, 116 208
libraries, and women’s access to, 205 Marguerite of Navarre, 204
literacy, and women, 30 Marinelli, Lucrezia, 209
value placed upon, 33–4 Marlowe, Christopher, and Melville’s
Livingstone, John, 97 version of ‘The Passionate
Lock, Anne Vaughan, 3, 4, 5 Shepherd’, 100–2
and access to the court, 19 Marprelate Controversy, 16, 24
and birth of, 17 Martyr, Peter, 45
and Calvinism, 19 Marvell, Andrew, 4, 172, 203
and claim to citizenship, 207 Mather, Increase, 138
and death of, 24 Maunsell, Andrew, 24
as exemplary lay person, 16–17, 26 May, Tom, 172
and Giardino cosmografico coltivato, 23 Meautys, Jane (Lady Cornwallis),
and influence of, 25–6 78–81
and John Knox, 18, 19, 20 meditation, and Protestantism, 32,
and literary achievements, 206 34–5
and Of the Markes, 24 Melville, Andrew, 97
and marriage, 17–18, 19 Melville, Elizabeth, 5
and Meditations of a Penitent and ‘A Call to Come to Christ’,
Sinner, 102 100–2
and public recognition in and Ane Godlie Dreame, 96
intellectual culture, 23, 24–5 and assessment of, 105
and returns to England, 18 and borrowings from Gude and
and Sermons of Calvin, 19; preface, Godlie Ballads, 98–9
19–21, 25; sonnets, 21–2, 25 and Bruce manuscript verse:
and travels to Geneva, 18 discovery of, 96; ‘Give me thy
Lock, Henry, 17, 18–19, 22, 102 hairt’, 98–100; pilgrimage of the
London puritan soul, 97–8; third sonnet
and AllHallows the Great, 163, sequence, 102–5
166, 167; Fifth Monarchists, 167 and Christ as bridegroom, 98
and gathered churches, 163, 165, and devotional verse, 96–7, 105;
166, 167, 171, 172 appropriation of Petrarchan
and independent congregations, modes and forms, 102–5
167 and early Scottish puritanism, 97
and London Puritan underground, and engagement with poetic
162–3 culture: English, 99–100; Scottish,
and the Minories, 169 98–9
and New Model Army’s entry and literary achievements, 206
into, 169 and ‘Observations upon effectuall
and printer and bookseller calling’, 101
networks, 170–2 and parodies, 99, 100
and Stepney parish, 165–7 and sacralised version of Marlowe’s
Longfellow, Erica, 5, 57, 68 ‘The Passionate Shepherd’, 100–2
Luther, Martin, 113–14 and works dedicated to, 96
Melville, James, 98, 102
Mack, Phyllis, 196 Mildmay, Lady Grace, 127
McKenzie, Don, 173 Milton, Anthony, 59
246 Index

Milton, John, 172, 182, 198, 207 Peters, Hugh, 165–6


Montgomerie, Alexander, 99, 102 Peyrère, Isaac La, 179
Moore, Dorothy, 151, 152–3, 159, Peyton, Sir Edward, 61
207, 209 Philadelphian Society, 190
Morris, George, 171 and androgynous God, 191
Morton, Sir William, 172 and appeal to high church
Moulsworth, Martha, 205, 212 Anglicans, 192
Mullan, David, 98 and breaking of boundaries of
Mytens, Daniel, 73 intellectualism, 199
and disconnection from Puritans,
Nedham, Marchamont, 168, 172 192
New England and inner enlightenment, 191
and antinomian controversy, 141, and northern European following,
143, 146 197–8
and differences with old England, and publications of, 195
143, 147 and religious practice of, 192
and experiment in puritan culture, see also Lead, Jane
136 Philips, Katherine, 4
and planted churches, 142 Pierson, Thomas, 113
and providential literature of Pietists, 197, 198
shipwreck, 137–9 poetry
and puritan emigration to, 136 and Anne Southwell’s defence of,
and religious divisions, 141–2 64–5
and religious stability, 143–4 and Roger Cocks on, 65–6
and settlers’ fear of ocean, 137–8 see also sonnets
and Thacher shipwreck, 138–9 Poor Clares, 168
Newton, Robert, 32 Pordage, John, 191, 192, 195, 196
Norbrook, David, 3, 49 Powell, Vavasor, 168, 172
Notestein, Wallace, 111 pre-adamism, 179
predestination, 31, 43, 58, 79, 85,
Ochino, Bernardino, 42, 43 141, 144
Overbury, Thomas, 63 printers, and London networks,
Overton, Robert, 203 170–2
Owen, John, 178, 179, 180 Protestantism
and Bible reading, 32–3, 34–5
Parker, Matthew, 4 and exemplary layperson, 15
on Bacon’s translation of Apologie... and meditation, 34–5
of the Churche of Englande, 43–4, providential literature, 137–9, 144–5,
44–5 147
Parker, Robert, 140 Psalms, and significance to Protestant
Parker, Sarah, 140 thought, 31
Peel, Albert, 48 puritan women
Pembroke, Countess of, see Herbert, and antinomian controversy, 146
Mary Sidney and authority of, 206–7
Perdita Project, 14 n46 and Behmenist movement, 190–1
Peretto, Francesco, 72 and constraints on, 204;
Perkins, Edward, 117 communication, 207–8
Perkins, William, 113 and correspondence between,
Perrot, John, 196 208–9
Index 247

and correspondence through male Quakers, 191


mediation, 208, 209 Quarles, Francis, 66–7
and court culture, 4–5 Quintilian, 50
and empowerment of, 123–4,
206, 207 Raleigh, Walter, 179
and intellectual contributions of, Ranelagh, Katherine, 4, 5
1–2, 204 and authority of, 207
and intellectual culture of early and background and education,
modern period, 3–4, 8 151
and intellectual networks, 8–9, and breadth of interests, 151
208–9 and Hartlib circle: argues against
and intellectual opportunities, reliance on institutionalised
204–5; library access, 205 political authority, 151, 154, 157,
and literary achievements, 206 158; argues against support for
and partnership of the sexes, 3 particular church discipline, 155;
and pressure on traditional gender emphasis on spiritual combat,
spheres, 207 155; integration of women,
and puritan theology, 209–10 158, 159; letters distributed
and scholarly neglect of, 2, 5 among, 150, 153; opposition to
and scholarly prejudices, 2 aggressive military policy, 154–6,
and women’s history, 202–4 157–8; primacy of individual
as writers in early modern period, 3 conscience, 155; prominence
see also puritanism within, 158; renewing purpose of,
puritanism, 5–7 158; reshaping ethos of, 153–4;
and Bancroft’s attacks on, 45–6, 47 state-dissenter relations, 157;
and Calvinism, 6 toleration, 157
and contention over meaning of, 6 and letters of, 150–1
and denouncing of traditional and library access, 205
knowledge, 205–6 Ratcliffe, Jane, 116
and distinctiveness of, 85 Reid-Baxter, James, 96
and fundamentalism, 85 rhetoric, and kairos (timeliness), 50
and gender ideology, 203 Rich, Adrienne, 203
and historical debate over, 6 Richards, Jennifer, 5
and intellectual consistency, 108 Ridgeway, Sir Thomas, 64
and intellectual culture, 135 Ringler, William A, 28
and intellectual empowerment, 206 Rivet, André, 208, 209
and intellectual involvement of Roach, Richard, 192, 195
women, 2, 204 Robinson, Marilynne, 204
and limiting of intellectual pursuits, Rochester, Anne, 177
210–11 Roe, Sir Thomas, 63
and moderate puritanism, 132 n11 Rogers, Richard, 126
and partnership of the sexes, 3 Rogers, Samuel, 89–90, 208
and reform of church government, Ross, Sarah, 63
46 Royal Society, 11 n17
and scholarly prejudices, 2 Russell, Edward, 3rd Earl of Bedford, 74
and stereotype of attitudes towards Russell, Lucy, Countess of Bedford
gender, 2 as art collector, 73–4
and women’s history, 203 and Arundel (Thomas Howard), 74
see also puritan women and burial of, 74
248 Index

Russell, Lucy, Countess of Bedford – and reasons for high value placed
continued upon, 31
and collaboration with Hamilton, 73 and variations and alterations, 36–9
and company kept by, 71–2 and versions of, 28–9
and court masques, 73 Simmons, Matthew, Mary and Samuel
and death of children, 74–5 (printers), 172
and dedications to, 76–7 Simpson, John, 165, 166–8, 172
and finances, 75 Skinner, Quentin, 8
and ill health, 75, 77 Smith, Hilda, 3, 4
and letters of, 78–9; to Lady Smith, Nigel, 5
Cornwallis, 78–81 Smith, Rosalind, 19
and misidentification of Smyth, Adam, 131 n5
correspondence, 74 sonnets
and mockery of cult centred on, 71 and Anne Lock, 21–2, 25
and patronage relationships, 78–9 and Elizabeth Melville, 102–5
and portrayal as Queen of the Southwell, Anne, 209
Amazons, 1 and ‘All married men desire to have
and religion, 75–7; beliefs, 78; good wifes’, 63–4
mention of God in letters, 79–81 and anti-Catholicism, 58
and scale of patronage, 72 and assessment of, 68
Rutherford, Samuel, 97, 98 and Calvinism, 57–8, 59, 60
and change in attitude towards wit
Sabbath, and Anne Southwell, 59–60 and rhetoric, 62–3
St Andrews Psalter, 25, 27 n27 and church connections, 60–1
St John, Lucy, 177 and Family of Love, 58
St John, Oliver, 87 and Francis Quarles, 67
Sale, Robert, 171 and lack of historical evidence, 57
Samuel, Raphael, 135 and library of, 205
Sanford, James, 23 and literary ambitions, 206
Schleiner, Louise, 43 and literary collaboration, 65
Schurman, Anna Maria van, 208, and loyalty towards James I, 61–2
209, 212 and moderate attitude towards
Schwenkfeld, Caspar, 197, 198 religious politics, 60
Sedgewick, Obadiah, 90 and Overbury circle, 63
Seelig, Sharon Cadman, 5 and poetry: defence of, 64–5;
self-examination, and puritan guides force of, 67; love poetry, 67–8;
to, 125–6 praise of Cocks’ poetry, 66; self-
Seneca, 114–15 consciousness as poet, 67; uses of,
Sheapard, Thomas, 141 67; as vehicle of God’s love, 68
shipwrecks, and providential and puritanism, 57; extent of, 58–9
literature of, 137–9 and reconciling intellectual and
Sibbes, Richard, 88 spiritual pursuits, 62
Sibthorpe, Henry, 57, 60, 68 and renunciation of courtly mode
Sidney, Sir Philip, 28, 64, 99–100 of writing, 63
Sidney Psalter and Sabbath observation, 59–60
and Calvinist influences on, 31–2 and suspicion of court culture, 60
as composite work, 28 Southwell, Robert, 98
and composition process, 35–6 Southwell, Sir Thomas, 64
and Penshurst manuscript, 29 Sparke, Thomas, 50
Index 249

speech-act theory, 49 and radical form of prophecy, 173


Speed, Samuel, 172 and radicalising of, 167
Stachniewski, John, 135, 147, 210 and Stepney parish, 165–6;
Stanley, James, 66 Greenhill’s influence, 166
stoicism, 115–16 Simpson’s influence, 167–8
Stone, Nicholas, 73 and Strange and Wonderful News
Stoughton, John, 110 from Whitehall, 171
Strode, Lady, 33–4 and westward movement through
Suzuki, Mihoko, 3 London, 163
Swedenborg, Emanuel, 190 Travers, Walter, 46, 50
Sylvester, Richard, 72 Tryon, Thomas, 191
Tyacke, Nicholas, 6, 146–7
Taffin, Jean, 24 Tyler, Wat, 170
Temple, William, 72 Tyrwhit, Lady Elizabeth, 22
Thacher, Anthony, 138–9
Thatcher, Peter, 110 Urwick, William, 48
Thomas à Kempis, 198 Ussher, James, 86, 112, 179
Thorne, Alison, 5
Thurgood, Rose, 127 Vaughan, Stephen, 17
Townshend, Sir Roger, 87, 89 Veevers, Erica, 5
Tracy, Dorothy, 109 Venner, Thomas, 171
Tracy, Sir John, 85 Vere, Sir Horace, 85–6
Tracy, Richard, 111–12 Vere, Mary, 5, 112, 205
Tracy, William, 85, 111 and clerical patronage, 86; James
Trapnel, Anna, 5, 8, 192 Ussher, 86; John Davenport, 87;
and AllHallows the Great, 163, Samuel Rogers, 89–90
166; Fifth Monarchists, 163; and death of, 91
Simpson’s influence, 168 and diary of her chaplain, 89–90
and conversion experience, 165–6 and family Protestant traditions, 85
and Cry of a Stone, 162, 166, 168, and funeral of, 91–2; Gurnall’s
171 sermon, 84, 91
as demanding Independent, 169 and influence among
and gathered churches, 165, 166, Parliamentarians, 86
167, 171, 172 as intellectual patron, 84
and hears Hugh Peters, 165–6 and interest in continental
and influence of godly networks, warfare, 89
162 and letter writing, 84; family
and interpretation of London’s letters, 88–9; spiritual counselling,
physical landscape, 169–70 87–8
and London Puritan underground, in Low Countries, 85–6
162–3 and melancholy, 87–8, 91
and London’s influence on, 162 and personal motto, 84
in the Minories, 169; first prophecy- and piety of, 84, 85, 88–9;
related fast, 169 household regime, 91
as outsider, 162 and posthumous commemoration,
and predicts New Model Army’s 92
entry into London, 169–70 and puritan intellectual culture,
and printer and bookseller 84–5; significance within, 92
networks, 170–2 and second marriage, 85
250 Index

Vere, Mary – continued Wight, Hannah, 192


and support for international Wight, Sarah, 167, 172
Calvinism, 85, 86, 88 Wilcher, Robert, 66
and works dedicated to, 88, 92 Wilcox, Thomas, 22, 46
Verstegan, Richard, 45 Williams, Roger, 143
Villiers, George, 75 Winthrop, John, 136, 143
Wiseman, Susan, 3, 5
Wake, Lady Anne, 90 Wode, Thomas, 25
Wallington, Nehemiah, 126, 139 women, see puritan women
Wallis, John, 90 women’s history, 202–3
Walsingham, Francis, 52 and confessional vindications,
Ward, Samuel, 112 203
Washbourne, Thomas, 88 and liberation of women’s voices,
Watson, Thomas, 88 203
Webbe, George, 125 and puritanism, 203–4
Webster, Tom, 87 and ‘recovery’ of early modern
Weigel, Valentin, 197 women, 203
Welsh, John, 97 women’s studies, and emergence of,
Wentworth, Thomas, 115 202
West, Katherine, 111 Wood, Anthony, 67
White, Micheline, 15 Woodbridge, John, 140
White, Robert, 72 Woodforde, Samuel, 38–9
Whitgift, John, 24, 46, 51 Woolf, Virginia, 3
Wiburn, Percival, 46 Wyatt, Thomas, 21, 22