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1. Reconstructing early-modern religious lives: the exemplary and the mundane
I/ Negociating uniformity and conformity

Living out nonconformity: Restoration ministers and their diaries

La non-conformité vécue : les ministres de la Restauration et leurs journaux privés


En 1662, le Parlement adopta un « Acte d’Uniformité » pour imposer la conformité ecclésiastique. Les pasteurs reçurent l'ordre de déclarer devant leur congrégation leur « assentiment et consentement » au Livre des Prière Publiques de 1662. La loi impliquait la fin des bénéfices cléricaux pour ceux qui refusaient de s’y soumettre et trois mois d’emprisonnement si un pasteur continuait à prêcher. Refusant tout compromis, certains pasteurs changèrent de profession ou prirent le risque de fonder des Églises séparées. Cependant, certains continuèrent d’officier au sein de l’Église nationale. Cet article révèle d'abord certaines caractéristiques communes à trois pasteurs nonconformistes, qui expliquent leur refus de se conformer. Deuxièmement, il s’attache à déterminer pour ces pasteurs les circonstances personnelles, les réseaux et les qualités qui ont servi à ces pasteurs pour poursuivre leur ministère au sein de l’Église d’Angleterre après 1662. C’est au travers leurs autobiographies et de leurs journaux privés que cet article analyse les récits personnels de Ralph Josselin (Essex), Edmund Trench (Kent), et Oliver Heywood (Yorkshire).

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1Receiving the Royal Assent on 19 May 1662, the Act of Uniformity presented a barely-modified edition of The Book of Common Prayer, and required that every clergyman with a living should declare “his unfeigned assent, and consent to the use of all things in the said Book” to his congregation at a Sunday service before St Bartholomew’s Day (24th August 1662). Episcopal ordination was also demanded. Those who refused to conform faced ejection from their living and three months imprisonment if they continued to preach. They would be treated as dead (BHO Uniformity of Publique Prayers, articles II, XVII and III). Legally speaking this meant that a new minister could be recruited to a living, but it also provided a useful rhetorical device for the ejected clergy, the so-called Bartholomeans (Appleby 5). As John Oldfield of Derbyshire declared in a farewell sermon on 17th August 1662, “I hope it may be said of us as of Abel, Heb. 11.4, though we are dead, we yet speak” (England’s remembrancer 265, Appleby 11). This article attempts to show how some did.

2The Presbyterians, often represented by Richard Baxter, refused to abandon the national church and continued to seek comprehension through negotiations with the King and his ministers However, the Cavalier Parliament, the aggressively anti-Puritan Archbishop of Canterbury, Gilbert Sheldon, and their allies sought to impose uniformity with even greater vigour through further penal laws and a resolution to enforce those laws (Keeble 27, Appleby 5).

3Within this context of judicial constraint and national debate, ministers and people were finding strategies and techniques to continue their lives as they thought best. This article considers three nonconforming clergymen who, though legally excluded, found ways to continue their ministries within the national church. The ministers are Ralph Josselin (1616-1683) of Earls Colne (Essex), Oliver Heywood (1630-1702) of Coley Chapel, Halifax (Yorkshire) and Edmund Trench (1643-1689) of Hackney (Middlesex) and Kent. Josselin was 14 years older than Heywood, who was 13 years older than Trench. Thus, they each began their ministry under very different conditions: Josselin in 1640 under Charles I and Archbishop Laud before the outbreak of the Civil War, Heywood in 1650 under the Commonwealth, and Trench in the 1670s under Charles II. They ministered in three different parts of England and their family contexts were dissimilar. Apart from the fact that they were all university-trained ministers, what they had in common was that they all refused to comply with the 1662 Act of Uniformity. This meant that they all suffered adversely from Restoration ecclesiastical policy, and yet, as their diaries attest, they all managed to minister to some degree within the Church of England after 1662. Josselin kept his living. Heywood, though deprived of his living, had opportunities in his travels to preach in some parish churches. And Trench, while never ordained, preached to conforming parishioners in the family chapel and participated in the ministry of his local parish.

4Whilst referring to the general ecclesiastical context, the focus of this article is the ministers’ subjective writings in the form of their diaries. What the diary offers is a personal experience of history which mixes public events with personal experiences without a notion of teleology, “a combination of forms of explanation that mingle, both the particular and the general, the personal and the public” (Doll and Munns 11, 103). Evidence has also been taken from Heywood’s autobiography of his earlier life since his diary entries only start in March 1666 and similarly from Josselin’s autobiographical section which covers his life up to August 1643. Nonetheless, this article relies mostly on personal diaries.

5The diary of Ralph Josselin is the only one for which a reliable contemporary edition exists, a 1976 edition produced by the Cambridge professor of anthropology, Alan MacFarlane. For Oliver Heywood, passages will be taken from the 1882 autobiography and diary edited by Joseph Horsfall Turner. Turner was a Yorkshire teacher, antiquarian, local historian and prolific writer of Yorkshire’s past. Demonstrating his dedication to learning and Christian values, he founded the Albert Academy and the YMCA in Brighouse (Calderdale). His four volumes dedicated to Heywood are subtitled “illustrating the general and family history of Yorkshire and Lancashire” which indicates one of his main concerns. The manuscripts of Heywood’s diaries are now in the British Library, but it has not been possible this year to access them. For Edmund Trench, text will be used from a very early edition of selected passages from his diary produced in 1693 by fellow non-conforming minister, Joseph Boyse. Although Boyse was born in Leeds, he grew up in Massachusetts, and then after studying at dissenting academies, his first experience of ministry was in Glassenbury with Edmund Trench. He later moved to Ireland where he was minister for forty-five years (Gordon). Also involved in this edition were the London publishers Thomas Parkhurst and Jonathan Parkhurst, who were both responsible for publishing numerous dissenting works. Unfortunately, there is no extant manuscript of Trench’s diary.

6These diaries clearly have very different editorial histories and precautions need to be taken when reading side by side a contemporary edition, a Victorian abridgement and a late-seventeenth century text. Taking that into consideration, I would like to address two questions: first, what were the characteristics of these ministers which led them not to conform; and secondly, what were the circumstances, relationships and personal qualities which helped them continue? The chronological focus is the 1660s and 1670s.

1. Characteristics of these non-conforming ministers

7The Reverend Ralph Josselin was born near Chelmsford, Essex, in 1616 into a yeoman family. He grew up in Hertfordshire, studied at Cambridge University (1-3) and received Episcopal ordination in Peterborough Cathedral in 1640 as a minister (7-8). He spent the last 42 years of his life as incumbent of Earls Colne, Essex, ministering there until his death in 1683. Oliver Heywood was born in 1630 in Bolton, Lancashire, into a yeoman family. He studied at Cambridge University, was appointed curate in Coley, Halifax, and then received a classis ordination in Bury, Lancashire in 1652. Ministering in an abundance of places across Yorkshire and Lancashire, Edmund Calamy states soberly “that some thousands were indebted to his ministry for deep and abiding impressions of divine things” (vol iii 430). Edmund Trench was born in 1643 into the gentry, to a London physician and a merchant’s daughter (18-19). He had the privilege of studying at Cambridge, Oxford and Leyden, and though he was never ordained, he exercised a well-recognised ministry in Kent.

8Although these ministers were different, common characteristics can first be observed about their families and their early experiences, which may have been factors in influencing them not to conform. Edmund Trench and Oliver Heywood were careful to show that they were third generation members of the godly community. Trench began a passage about his family:

My Grand-father was Edmund Trench, a younger son of a Norfolk Gentleman, Converted about the 16th Year of his Age to the Faithful Service of God, by the Labours of Mr Furnace, noted for Piety and Painfulness in those parts. (4)

9Similarly, Heywood describes his “dear and precious grand-father … who lived soberly and civilly […] and did not expresse any forwardnes in Religion”, until his conversion in Bury, Lancashire:

when he was 60 yeares of age going to Bary-fair where Mr Paget preached, he went into the church, heard him, god laid hold on his hart, convinced his conscience, and brought him savingly home to himself. (94-95)

10Both Trench and Heywood insisted on their upbringing within the community of the godly. Trench wrote long and admiringly about his father who as a child was, “addicted to Seriousness, Study, and Piety”, as a student was maligned as a “Puritan as they call’d him” and as a father “careful for our Souls and Bodies, sparing for nothing needful in Temporals, or Spirituals” (7-10).

11Heywood treasured the Calvinist influence of his pious mother:

my dear mother did zealously and familiarly presse upon me truths of the greatest concernment, as the preciousnes of the soul, the misery of man by nature, the necessity of conversion, the brevity of life, and importance of eternity &c. (155)

12She would take him to hear various preachers in the vicinity. His father accompanied him to Cambridge, where he left him careful instructions for his daily devotions (Heywood 160).

13Apart from their family situations, the ministers had similar personal experiences in their early lives. Josselin and Heywood highlighted their spiritual orientation in their childhood. Josselin “had a singular affection to the historyes in the bible” (2), while Heywood had profound emotional experiences which led him to question his spiritual need:

I have long agoe when I was a child found the lord awakening my conscience, & shaking the foundations of my soul with strange & strong confusions, convictions, & convulsions [...] I saw my selfe graceles, Christles, & therby hopeles & helpless. (134)

14Both Josselin and Heywood recorded childhood aspirations for the ministry. Josselin wrote: “I confesse my childhood was taken with ministers and I heard with delight and admiracion and desire to imitate them from my youth, and would be acting in corners” (1).

15Heywood as a little child “delighted in imitating preachers in acting that part among my playfellows”. An old lady hearing him read with “a strong voice” asked if he would become a preacher to which he gave an assured but qualified reply, “yes if I might be a good one” (157).

16All three diarists are unanimous in narrating significant and defining spiritual experiences in their youth or young adulthood. Heywood explained the steps of a process which led him to obedience to God where he could finally say, “I desire to make it my dayly busines to set the lord always before mine eyes, and walk as in his presence alone as wel as in company” (138). Trench confessed his dissolute existence at Cambridge, “entangled with bad Company … drawn once and again to Gluttony and Drunkenness, Swearing and Cursing, and at last to making (as they called it) indeed to stealing” (20). Later, when his father sent him to Oxford his spiritual condition changed: with candour he revealed that spending time with, “some who were too excessively debauch’d […] stirred in me some abhorrence” (21-22) leading him to seek more pious company and making changes in his life. He was reminded of the godly principles of his upbringing which became “vigorously active for Repentance and fruitful Obedience”. Regarding his habit of stealing, he was struck “like Thunder” by a phrase of St Augustine’s transcribing the words in Latin, “Non remittitur peccatum, nisi restituatur ablatum” (the sin is not absolved until the possessions are restored); his conscience became sensitive to restoring anything he had stolen and to dishonesty in general.

17Josselin narrated his experience of making a covenant with God. After his studies, with no parents to support him, he was experiencing financial difficulties. As Rosemary O’Day has pointed out, starting out into ministry in the 1630s was not easy: “many graduates were assuming temporary posts of very little status or income” (21). His curate, Mr Thornbeck, put him in touch with some people who were looking for a schoolmaster’s assistant. After one abortive voyage, for which Josselin carefully noted the expenses which consumed his meagre resources, he was forced to borrow to make the journey for a similar position near Bedford. Crossing the Great Ouse at Huntingdon, he identified with Jacob crossing the River Jordan, to go to a new country. Poor, friendless and heading into the unknown, he considered “what a plentifull returne Jacob had” and there he committed his life to God again:

I stayd and went softly and made this Covenant. with god to serve him, and whatever became of mee, to use no unlawfull and dishonest way for my substance or preferment. in this my sad heart was somewhat cheard. (6)

18As their lives progressed other common characteristics emerged such as Josselin and Heywood’s links with Puritan clergy. When Josselin visited his father in Steeple Bumpstead, Essex, he contrasted the family worries with the pleasure of listening to the preacher: “When I came to Bumpstead I heard Mr Borradale with delight; whom god used an instrument to doe [mee] good” (3). Mr Borradale was a nonconforming minister well-known to the ecclesiastical authorities. According to Tom Webster, he was one of two ministers investigated during a visitation in Essex in 1634. He distributed William Prynne’s tracts across Essex and in 1637 was suspended temporarily for nonconformity (243). Later, when Josselin was looking for a new living in 1640, it was Samuel Wharton of Felsted who proposed Earls Colne. Wharton had been involved with fellow Puritan ministers in 1631 to force a confrontation with Archbishop Laud during his visitation of Essex (Donagan 408, note 112).

19Heywood noted his appreciation for the preacher, Samuel Hammond: “I cannot but with thankfulness acknowledge him a profitable instrument for much good to my soul” (160). His gratitude, however, may be understated if we compare his declaration to that of the Cambridge University Transactions: “there was at that time at Cambridge a person who had probably a greater influence over Mr. Heywood than any other person living or dead. This was Mr. Samuel Hammond, the preacher at St. Giles’s” (516).

20Referring to Hammond, Calamy stated that, “It was generally allowed, that there was not a more successful minister in Cambridge, since the time of Perkins.” At the Restoration, he was lecturer in Newcastle, never working as a parish priest again. He “would not use the rites and ceremonies of the church of England” (vol iii 76). Although philosophy and humanist literature were part of the curriculum at Trinity College, Heywood preferred the practical divinity of well-known Puritan writers: “Perkins, Bolton, Preston, Sibs” (Heywood 162, Hammond 51).

21In contrast to parallels which we have seen in terms of religion, their political convictions could not have been more diverse. Josselin was a committed parliamentarian, accompanying the roundhead army on at least two occasions as chaplain and prayerfully recording the progress of the parliamentarian side (43, 10 July 1645, 26, 31 Oct 1644). His brief matter-of-fact entry shows no compassion for Charles I: “Heard K C was executed, but it was uncertaine, he was adjudged to dye Jan. 27. 1648 (155, 31 Jan 1649). A few days later he uncharacteristically expressed great emotion as to what would happen next in the country: “the lord hath some great thing to doe, fear and tremble att it oh England:” (155, 4 Jan 1649). At the Restoration, he wrote about “this difficult houre” (463, 2 May 1660) and it was clearly an unpleasant situation to accept (463, 6 May 1660, 13 May 1660). In this edition of Heywood’s diary there is little about his political allegiance, but in other writings he expressed joy when he heard General Monk declaring for the King, and the imminent arrival of Charles:” After a dark and gloomy winter comes a heart-reviving spring” (Hunter 119). This edition of Trench’s diary makes no mention of his political opinions, and since we have no other record it is impossible to know what Trench thought of the political situation; the only national event recorded is the plague of 1665 (Trench 13).

22Politics aside, there was much to unite them in refusing to conform, which legally excluded them from ministering in the Church of England. Nevertheless, all three ministers continued in various ways to reach communicants of the Church. Before examining how they achieved that it is worth observing the diverse attitudes of Josselin, Heywood and Trench towards the established Church.

2. Attitudes towards the established church

23Ralph Josselin expressed sadness that because of Restoration church policy, the people were like sheep losing their “shepheards”, although there was some hope of royal indulgence:

hoping god will make way for my liberty, and many others, my soule trusts in him. sad to see how the shepheards are scattered… some hope given as if there would bee indulgence given to ministers for the present until the return of parliament. (491-492, 24 August 1662)

24His intention for staying in his living had nothing to do with the unity of the church but that he “may worke” and continue his ministry. There is no indication that he would start a dissenting society: “now I am left alone of the nonconformists, what god will do with mee I know not. I trust he will bee a hiding place, and help me that I may worke, and not wound my spirit” (Josselin 493, 9 Nov 1662), and “oh spare me for my ministerial worke” (493, 16 Nov 1662).

25When Oliver Heywood was excommunicated from the Church of England, he saw it as Satan’s work which God used for good. He did not express any love for the national church but for the “people of god”: “satan is overshot in his owne bow, that wch was intended for my greatest ignominy is turned to my greatest glory, and hath set the people of god upon owning me and praying for me more then ever,” (182).

26When Heywood had the opportunity to preach in Church of England chapels, rather than focusing on a theoretical unity of the established church, he was enthusiastic about the “cal to preach” to “a great number of good people”. He did not appear to make a distinction between conforming parishioners and dissenters:

I had again another cal to preach at a place called Shaw chappel in Lane : wch I willingly embraced, and there preached (octob 11 1663) the whole day without any disturbance, where (tho it was a very rainy day) were gathered from many parts a great number of good people, and there was visible stirrings of affections, and who knows but the lord might doe much good. (184)

27Edmund Trench’s motivation in Glassenbury was first to do “good”, which probably meant to preach and do pastoral work: “On my return, I set about doing good in the Family and Neighbourhood, having seriously consider’d my Duty to God, my Superiours, and others, and likewise their Circumstances among whom I was then to live” (Trench 53, 29 May 1676).

28His aim was to minister to people whose parish did not provide a ministry: “professing I would not keep up a separate Congregation, but only while it appear’d expedient help for such as were so ill provided” (Trench 54, 29 May 1676).

29He expressed his total rejection of separating from the national church by categorically identifying the dissenting movement as being led by evil spirits and motivated by sinful attitudes:

Troublesome censorious dividing Spirits had occasion’d more thought of those unhappy Controversies about Forms, Ceremonies, Church-Government etc. And I was still more satisfied, even when most serious, that the bitter extreams of Dissenters, (as well as of rigid Conformists) were very displeasing to God: That Spiritual Pride, narrow-spirited mistakes, and grievous wresting of the holy Scriptures, were the evil roots of unchristian Divisions and real Schisms: I was much troubled at such Uncharitable and Love-killing Principles and Practices. (Trench 55, 20 September 1676)

30These various attitudes towards the Restoration Church of England remind us that we should be careful when using strict denominational labels. Now, the factors which enabled them to continue ministering to communicants of the Church will be examined.

3. Regional godly traditions

31Both Josselin and Heywood ministered in areas were many people shared their godly values. This would have provided some protection from the authorities, local officials who would turn a blind eye, willing hearers and various forms of practical support. The Puritan MP, John Hampden, called Essex, where Josselin lived, “the place of most life of religion in the land” (Hunt x). Long before the Continental Reformation, there had been Bible-reading, sermon-preaching groups; Lollards were burnt in Colchester in the 15th century, and Lollardy seems to have survived underground in north Essex until merging with Lutheran-inspired movements (Hunt 87). In the late 16th century and early 17th century, the county was the most common destination for graduates of Emmanuel College (Webster 36) while the institution itself had been founded by an Essex man, Sir Walter Mildmay, born six miles from Josselin’s place of birth. When Thomas Hooker was lecturer in Chelmsford in the late 1620s, “men and women flocked to Hooker’s lecture from all parts of Essex” (Hunt 196). Hooker also attracted promising younger ministers who wanted to be trained by him. The most powerful man in the county was the Puritan, Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, whose residence, Leez Priory, is 20 miles from Earls Colne. According to John Adamson, he was one of the most powerful nobles in the country, involved in persuading the Scots to rebel against Charles I and triggering the Civil War (52). Until he died in 1658, Warwick had supported the Puritan network of ministers and influenced many souls in the county. His retinue of family and followers, not least Mary Rich, the wife of his second son, Charles 4th Earl of Warwick, continued to support godly ministers at Leez Priory after the Restoration (Cambers 49).

32Similarly, Yorkshire and Lancashire, where Heywood ministered were counties with large numbers of Puritans. Heywood’s hometown of Bolton was described by Royalists as “the Geneva of Lancashire” (Thomas 17). In Lancashire: Its Puritanism and Nonconformity, the Victorian minister and academic, Robert Halley explained the Puritan legacy dating from Elizabethan times: “The Lancashire Puritans disliked the surplice, and would not wear it. They disapproved of the sign of the cross in baptism, and their ministers would not use it […] They would not kneel at the sacrament” (88).

33Elizabethan Lancastrians produced many eminent ministers: Lawrence Chadderton, the distinguished Master of Emmanuel College (91); Richard Midgley and his son Joseph of Rochdale (89); and the larger-than-life Richard Rothwell of Bolton: “So impressive, searching, heartrending was his preaching that frequently his hearers, stricken with a conviction of sin, cried out in the church, reproaching themselves, or praying for mercy” (93).

34In Jacobean times, there were several Puritan ministers of note including Mr Hubbert, whose ministry was appreciated by Oliver Heywood’s grandmother, not to mention Thomas Paget, whom her husband heard preach at Bury fair “and from that time he set his face heavenward” (131). In Toxteth, Liverpool, the local Puritan laity erected a chapel, inviting young Richard Mather to teach their children. Under the influence of the congregation and with their support, he prepared for the ministry at Oxford. When he returned, the Bishop of Chester cheerfully ordained him in spite of Mather’s and the chapel’s nonconformity. However, when Archbishop Laud took office and Richard Neile seconded him in York, there was no escaping the severity of Church discipline, and Mather left for America. The Puritan laity of Toxteth continued as best as they could while their legacy influenced the New World.

35As for Halifax, Samuel Thomas provides a useful overview of the town which helps to explain why Heywood persisted in his ministry there despite the measures taken against him: Halifax was a sprawling parish with difficult roads divided into three districts. These three districts provided additional chapelries of which Coley was one. Due to the economy of the land and the clothing industry, the lower and middling classes were relatively independent of the gentry. The residents willingly provided financial support to the ministers in the chapelries. In the case of Coley, the parishioners voluntarily contributed two thirds of Heywood’s income. Owing to previous strong preaching ministries, Puritan influence in Halifax was strong and during the Civil War, the town was staunchly Parliamentarian (Thomas 12-16). Other parts of Yorkshire also had numbers of nonconformists, for example, the Puritans in Bramhope near Leeds, who in 1649 built the Puritans Chapel. Today the building still goes under that name. but at the Restoration, it was integrated into the Church of England (Bramhope).

4. Connections and acquaintances

36In terms of influential residents, both Josselin and Trench had strong ties with members of the county elite. Trench, born into the gentry, married a Baronet’s daughter from Glassenbury in Kent. He was careful to mention that he chose Bridget Roberts for her good character: “there was desirable assurance of Piety, Humility, good Temper, Industry, and Frugality” (Trench 52, 11 Dec 1674). She would no doubt have been lovingly supportive of his ministry, but her family connections opened the door to a wider public for his ministry. The Roberts’ house had its own chapel and the family and other locals preferred to worship there than at the church two miles away at Goudhurst. (Trench 53, 29 May 1676). Trench had already been a guest in Glassenbury, possibly as a guest preacher, but now a member of the family, he became much more involved in the religious life of the neighbourhood. Other nonconforming ministers were welcomed including Joseph Boyse, who edited his diary. Trench’s brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Roberts, 4th Baronet of Glassenbury, later a member of Parliament became a supporter of toleration and equality for nonconformists on a national level. He was probably “an archetypal ‘middle way’ Protestant, for whom church organization mattered less than genuine religious belief” (History of Parliament “ROBERTS, Sir Thomas, 4th Bt. (1658-1706), of Glassenbury, Kent”).

37In spite of Josselin’s yeoman background, he developed acquaintances with people of higher social status and in particular the Harlakendens. As mentioned above, Josselin was welcomed by Richard Harlakenden whose grandfather had acquired the manor of Earls Colne and Colne Priory at the end of the 16th century (Hunt 27). According to William Hunt, Thomas Shepherd “made converts among the Harlakendens” in the mid-1620s, but the family may have adopted Puritan values before, since Richard was already at Emmanuel College in 1623. (Venn vol. 2 pt. 1 307). Josselin not only received regular practical support from Richard Harlakenden, they also became friends: “I enjoyed the society of my dear Friend Mr H” (28, 20 Nov 1644). Richard Harlakenden had considerable influence in the county: in 1646 he was county Sheriff (Venn vol. 2 pt. 1 p 307) and during the civil war he was “Major of the Horse by the Country” (30, 18 Dec 1644). When he needed a friend at the Restoration, Josselin was there for him: “Mr R.H. in great agony of heart sent down for me, weeping, apprehending himself lost for ever. I feared his head most … I lay with him that night. god gave him rest, and I hope in time perfect health” (476, 25 Feb 1661).

38The Harlakendens represented a considerable power in North Essex forming numerous marriage connections with notable families: one of Richard’s daughters married a gentleman from Great Bromley Hall in North East Essex and another wealthy lawyer and landowner who acquired “considerable amounts of property in Essex and Suffolk” (French 99). In addition, there were Richard Harlakenden’s numerous cousins and eight siblings, most of whom were married (Josselin 666).

39Apart from the Harlakendens, Josselin received financial support from other helpful people: “in the Country I must confesse I had many private guifts” (11). Perhaps this support included Sir Thomas and Lady Honywood resident at Marks Hall, 5 miles from Earls Colne. They were first mentioned in 1644 in connection to a Puritan event they were hosting: “keeping a day of Humiliation at my Lady Honywoods” (15, 29 March 1644). Later that year Josselin accompanied Sir Thomas’s regiment: “first week I rid forth to Sir Tho: Honywoods Regiment, to Newport Pannel” (15, 1 July 1644). In 1646, Josselin baptised their daughter, Martha: “Went to my Lady Honywoods, met good and honourable company, baptised my Ladies daughter Martha, the first person of that quality” (58, 22 April 1646). As well as Colonel in the East Essex regiment of foot during the Civil War, Sir Thomas was MP for Essex twice in the 1650s and sat in Richard Cromwell’s House of Lords. At the Restoration, Sir Thomas was not troubled by the new government, but he only lived until 1666 (Cokayne vol. 4 p 614). The family appear quite frequently in his diary, including descriptions of Lady Honeywood’s kindness: “at Markshall, dispatched divers affairs for my Lady, she showed much kindness to me and my children” (Josselin 555, 20 Sept 1670).

40Heywood made high-born acquaintances, who would have appreciated his ministry. For example, when he began his ministry tour in 1665, he stayed with the Stanleys of Audley, who were related to the Earl of Derby. Heywood spoke “to him seriously and with respect to the state of their soules and the good of the family” (Heywood 223). When he was first summoned to appear before the consistory court in York, he had support from Lady Anna Watson of York whose husband had been Lord Mayor, but to no avail. He was suspended by the archbishop’s chancellor on 29 June 1662 (Heywood 179-181, Ellery 11, note 10).

41Within Heywood’s circle of acquaintances, there was a nonconforming minister who maintained his living due to the support of influential people; it was Mr Swift of Penistone, South Yorkshire. According to Joseph Hunter, since the principal families in the parish were Puritans and supported Swift, he held the parish for the rest of his life without subscribing or using the Book of Common Prayer (Hunter 156). Edmund Calamy added that since it was a small parish there were no conforming ministers wishing to take it over (vol iii 43).

42Puritan ministers generally had frequent interactions with each other. On this subject, however, each of our diarists presented their colleagues in different ways. After the Restoration, Josselin did not mention any exchanges with his colleagues, but only referred to them distantly. In the beginning of November 1662, he recorded the arrest of a minister 10 miles away in Suffolk, but was grateful that “through mercy I am quiet” (493, 2 Nov 1662). He mentioned replacements for ejected ministers in neighbouring parishes and claims “now I am left alone of the nonconformists”. Heywood expressed a much closer relationship with his fellow ministers. After being suspended and then excommunicated, he rejoiced in the comfort he received from God and the friends that God inspired to help him, including ministers, such as his father-in-law, John Angier, who welcomed him to the parish church in Denton: “for tho I be excommunicated yet the lord stirred up my dear father Angier to admit me to the sealing ordinance of the lords supper as wel as to hearing the word” (183).

43When the Five-Mile Act was passed in 1665 (BHO, An Act for restraining Non-Conformists from inhabiting in Corporations art. II), Heywood decided to set off on an itinerant preaching tour of Lancashire and Yorkshire, but he did not go alone. He first headed for Denton and then continued the journey with his father-in-law to share the ministry. They stayed two nights with Mr Hides of Norbury who was infirm and his sister dumb and lame where they “prayed, and met with god” (Heywood 223). He also shared the ministry with his brother, Nathaniel, who had been ejected from his living in Ormskirk, West Lancashire: “the week after on munday night my dear brother came to us, having preacht in publick at Bramley on the Lords day, he preacht with us on thuesday,” (Heywood 257, July 1668). Heywood collaborated with ministers outside his family too, attending a Sunday service where the minister, Mr. Hall was a “conformist” and with whom they shared a private fast: “we spent the day very sweetly Mr. Hall, his son, my father Angier, and I spoke from a scripture and prayed” (224, 10 April 1666). These exchanges were no doubt times of comfort, and encouragement for Heywood.

44Heywood was well-known in his region and having got lost one Sunday, he walked to the village of Holmfirth where the minister did not hesitate to invite him to preach. The intention of this anecdote demonstrates three things: how God guided the circumstances, how Heywood’s ministry was appreciated by ministers and people alike and how he enjoyed impunity: “both the preacher and several of the people gave me a cal to preach that afternoon, wch I did, and found sweet inlargemts in that worke, and tho my adversarys have heard of it, yet have not assayed to molest me for it”( 184).

45Heywood celebrated both the complicity between ministers and the spontaneity of his ministry. One day Heywood visited Mr Swift, the nonconformist of Penistone mentioned above. Although Heywood wanted to listen to his friend, it was Swift who insisted on Heywood preaching.

46There were ministers, however, who disapproved of Heywood and in particular Richard Hooke, the vicar of Halifax, who preached against him and even incited his parishioners and the authorities to acts of persecution (Thomas 69). Heywood’s diary rarely mentions his enemy but the following passage not only discredits Hooke, but also the judgement of the Church:

being at Shibden hall to visit a friend there I was desired to tarry dinner, they had invited some friends, amongst the rest Mr Hooke vicar of Halifax, who would not stay dinner, because as he sd he was bound up bv his canons not to eat with an excommunicate person, and tho he would have gone away yet I rather quit the place, then that he should either loose his dinner, or be defiled, or his conscience perplexed. (90)

47Edward Trench showed much deference to parish priests, as he did in Hackney: “[I] thought my self oblig'd not to refuse any inoffensive opportunity of doing good by Preaching, where it was wanted, particularly for our aged Vicar Mr. Timpson” (Trench 51, 28 July 1674) He revealed that he was careful not to offend the local ministers around Glassenbury, and was encouraged because he “had no trouble, nor heard of any dislike from the more conformable Neighbours” (54, 29 May 1676).

  • 1 An apparitor was the servant or attendant of a civil or ecclesiastical officer.
  • 2 A presbiter was an official in the local church.

48Although of a lesser status, parish officials could also protect or impede the ministry as Josselin and Heywood attest. Josselin highlighted the support of his churchwarden, who refused to buy copies of the Book of Common Prayer: “The apparitor1 at towne with service books, he asked 8s. for them. so our Churchwarden bought none” (, 491,16 Aug 1662). Later, Josselin heard of some parishioners wanting to report him, and he was relieved to show in his diary entry that there was no-one of influence: “speech of a plot but no presbiter2 in it” (493, 16 Nov 1662).

49Heywood on the other hand recorded how his churchwarden, Stephen Ellis, got him suspended. In 1661 Ellis handed him the Book of Common Prayer at the beginning of a service. Heywood’s refusing it led to a summons to York consistory court, which is surprising since it was not yet clear that the prayer book was legal again (Keeble 12). Heywood implied that it was a trap:

Upon the 25 of August 1661 Stephen Ellis and too others had procured one Robert gibson a church-warden living in Lightliffe to tender to me an old common-prayer book, wch he had begd of his mother the week before. (179)

50In June 1664, it was a churchwarden, who took the initiative to invite him: “I preacht at motram church upon the invitation of the churchwarden, and with the consent of the vicar (tho a conformist) who was there and heard me both ends of the day, and was very desirous to have me come again” (189).

51Whilst considering influential people, we should not forget the ordinary parishioners or hearers who provided the audience for ministers. Mistakenly considered just passive listeners, their choices and actions were vital for a preacher to preach, and the three ministers had varying success. Starting with Josselin, apart from specific friends, Josselin did not mention an affective relationship with his parishioners or any particular following. Trench’s diary remarks subtly that people appreciated his ministry: for the sake of church unity, he sometimes sent people away who were attending his meetings (54, 29 May 1676). When he lived in Brenchley, he was embarrassed at people coming to his house after the morning service to attend his family duties: “Many come and partake of what I customarily do in my Family on the Lord’s Days, after publick Service. I may not exclude ‘em, though uninvited” (82, 29 January 1687). One could ask what precisely made them come. When Trench left Brenchley in October 1688, he was touched by the affection of those he had helped: “I had the blessing of the Poor I left” (95, 11 October 1688).

52Heywood’s text reveals many signs of deep mutual affection between him and his hearers. When he left Coley following the passing of the Five-Mile Act, the evidence of his close relationship with his parishioners was that saying good-bye to everyone “was a considerable days-work” (223). He was a well-known and appreciated minister receiving hospitality in countless homes where neighbours came to hear him preach. This begs other questions: why did they take the risk; did they expect impunity in their neighbourhood and what did they hope to gain from such meetings?

53At the end of 1667, he was invited to preach in the parish of Bramley, near Leeds. Although there is no mention of who invited him, Heywood recorded that many parishioners came: “the next morning we set out while it was dark and injoyed the benefit of a publick chappel, where god sent in a numerous congregation, opened a doore of liberty” (Heywood 247). A fortnight later, he preached in the parish of Bramhope, just north of Leeds: “on saturday I went to Bramhup and preacht publickly in the chappel on the lords day, being Decemb 8, and had a large auditory, and a good oppertunity of doing good” (247). Since Bramhope Puritan Chapel had recently been taken over by the Church of England, it was likely that the congregation were more in tune with a preacher like Heywood.

5. Personal qualities

54Alongside the circumstances attending their ministry and the relationships they formed, the ministers’ diaries reveal personal qualities that would have contributed to their maintaining strong ties within the national Church. For example, each of the ministers displayed humility and similar expressions which balanced their eagerness to serve with consciousness of their own slight ability. Self-deprecation was common among seventeenth-century autobiographers and it is difficult to know when humility was genuine or simply conventional rhetoric. Heywood, however, usually expresses confidence except when describes the weakness he felt when he first took over the responsibility for the ministry at Coley:

the greatnes of the congregation, and their diligent intensiue attendance on ordinances, whom I saw scattered as sheep having no shepherd, and my hart compassionated them, tho I knew I was an unfit person to be their pastour. (Heywood 163)

55At the beginning of Trench’s ministry when he preached for the elderly vicar of his parish, he probably understated his abilities when he wrote that Mr Timpson “had sometimes no better [help] than mine” (Trench 51, 28 July 1674). When he married the daughter of a baronet, he claims that he was not seeking status: “I was little (if at all) affected with the Honour” (52, 11 Dec 1674). Trench often expressed willingness to serve and respect for others: “I set about doing good in the Family and Neighbourhood, having seriously consider’d my Duty to God, my Superiours, and others” (53, 29 May 1676), “My prayers were to know my Duty, and do it, pleasing God” (53, 29 May 1676). When he faced opposition, he was careful not to offend in return, nor identify the person who did him harm:

I had been Abus’d, Censured and Slandre’d […] I had Witnesses of my Integrity above and within, and in the confidence thereof was plain and free with the injurious Party, to whom I still return’d Good for Evil, Prayers, and Services for many and cruel Wrongs. (62 24 May 1680)

56This kind of attitude would have been conducive to resolving conflicts and opening up opportunities for later ministry, and on this occasion, there was a resolution: “The guilty at length exprest a great and sorrowful sense of what was past […] and promis’d what had flown out in Passion against Truth, should be rectified, and my Innocence clear’d” (62, 24 May 1680). Another expression of humility was his willingness to see his faults: “I am unfeignedly willing to know the worst of my self” (67, 7 Oct 1685).

57Josselin displayed humility when he was finally suspended in May 1663: “Mr Layfield tells mee (who was judge at the visitacon) that I am suspended” (498, 17 May 1663). The reaction noted was passive but hopeful: “gods will be done, I am a poore useless creature, and if god will have me laid by his will be done. I submit with patient quietnes, but my freedom I rather desire.” (498, 17 May 1663). His humble attitude may well have been a factor in him continuing, because a week later he mentioned “the yett liberty I have”. His freedom had been slightly curtailed though, since on 30th May 1663, the churchwardens presented the Book of Common Prayer for him to use, not that he minded using the prayer book occasionally.

58He was untroubled for another five months and then, one Sunday in October 1663, Josselin received a visit from a church official, who announced some action against him: “one with mee to tell mee of the apparitors intencion. I invited him to dinner he promiseth fairness,” (501, 4 Oct 1663). His nonaggressive, hospitable response may have saved him again, because he continued to hold services.

59He was occasionally summoned for not wearing the surplice as in 1669, 1676, 1678 and then in May 1680, and by then he probably agreed to wear it: His entry on that occasion, reveals his philosophy of humility and avoiding trouble: “rid to court, I avoided receiving articles, through gods goodness, I cast my care on him, he cared. the matter is the surplice, which I see no sin to use, and shall endeavour to live as quietly as may bee to the end of my race.” (628, 17 May 1680) Assuming this gentle attitude, he slipped through the regulating net to the end of his life.

60Respect for the national church would have been appreciated by officials even in conflictual situations. Heywood ignored the rules, Josselin was careful, but Trench repeatedly expressed his profound convictions about the unity of the Church. For this reason, he did not want to take people away from their parish services: “I drew none to our private Meeting, but blam’d such as came from good Ministers, professing I would not keep up a separate Congregation, but only while it appear’d expedient help for such as were so ill provided” (Trench 54, 29 May 1676).

  • 3 A “Professor” was a kinder word for a Puritan.

61He was upset by separatist groups as well as strict conformers, “that the bitter exrtremes of Dissenters, (as well as of rigid Conformists) were very displeasing to God” (55, 5 July 1677) and encouraged “Professors3”, to seek unity: “My Desires, Prayers, and Endeavours were, that Professors might have more sound Knowledge and Humility, and walk in the good ways of Catholick-Truth, Love, and Peace” (57, 22 Sept 1679).

62Money was part of the leverage of the state on ministers, not that they were paid directly from the national treasury, but they could be dislodged from their livings which provided tithes and grants by law. However, these ministers were either partly independent or were completely immune from this constraint.

63Individual wealth and economic ties within the local communities have not been sufficiently explored in the context of Restoration nonconformity. When Josselin was seeking a new parish, his financial condition was a revenue of £80 a year. Combining the tithes of £40, a contribution from the town and their own contribution, the Harlakendens matched his requirement. Moreover, it was not always easy for Josselin to obtain his dues from the parish and local landowners and this could create tensions. In November 1644, he had difficulty receiving his tithes. Some locals gave him less, because of their poverty. One wealthy gentleman from Halstead who possessed tithed land in the parish refused to pay all his share: “I was at Sir J: Jacobs, he went backe in some part from his promise to mee, but I know no remedye” (Josselin 29, 28 Nov 1644), but he did receive the remainder 6 weeks later (31, 13 Jan 1645).

64Josselin was an able farmer and an astute businessman, which enabled him to build up a considerable ownership of land around Earls Colne, acquiring much in the 1650s. By 1662 he probably owned about £1100 worth of land and his non-clerical income was about £80 per annum (MacFarlane 58, 36). Not only did this allow him some independence with regard to his parishioners, it also integrated him into the agricultural and economic life of the parish. In November 1662, when he was feeling the pressure of the act, he was careful to pay the “procurations”, a percentage of parish income reserved for the diocese. He was proud to produce a sum as large as that for much wealthier parishes and he noticed that “none of the nonconformists being cited appeared but only my selfe” (Josselin 493, 12 Nov 1662). The fact of his going and the amount he provided might have contributed to his survival and his diary entry records a sigh of relief: “I reckon that day a good day to mee” (493, 12 Nov 1662). Feeling the uncertainty of his situation, he moved out of the house provided for him by the parish: “wee begun to remove our things from the vicaridge to my own house on the green in earnest” (493, Nov 25). It may be that by reducing his material demands on the parish, he reduced any resentment from conforming parishioners.

65Trench was a gentleman of independent means since his father had bequeathed a considerable estate: “his Estate having been preserv’d and encreas’d through great hazard and losses without worldly Policy (Trench 18), including an estate called “Duckets”, which meant that he could dispense with the necessity of finding a clerical living.

66Since Heywood was not wealthy and had lost even the modest income from Coley, the question arises as to how he survived materially. He addressed this question by relating an anecdote:

Whiles I was musing and pondering how to get my rent discharged and had no way at this time but to borrow it, there comes a dear friend to me and brings me five pounds, wch did furnish me with an overplus besides my rent, it was a seasonable token sent to me by a liberal hand, yet I own god chiefly in it, who cares for me. (185)

67He was therefore able to live by voluntary contributions which he ascribed to God’s provision, his needs being frequently met in ways he least expected (185).

68Finally, we come to the exercise of faith, for which Josselin and Heywood provide examples but in different ways. As we have seen, Josselin often expressed his submissiveness, but his diary also reveals his perseverance. His regular Sunday entries from August 1662 continue with an attitude of gratefulness rather than fear, often including one of his regular expressions like “god good to mee and mine in outward mercies” (493, 9 Nov 1662). Exceptionally, on 5 November 1663, he referred to the subject of his sermon: “preacht from Joel 2.32 to a small audience of the churches troubles before her deliverance, by which it seemeth not to bee so near at hand as some apprehend” (502, 5 Nov 1663). Joel 2.32 includes the phrase, “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (KJV). Josselin was lucid enough to understand that comprehension was not imminent and asked God to grant him patience.

69The passing of the Penal Laws placed nonconforming preachers in considerable risk of fine and imprisonment, but Heywood preached regularly. He related that others like him were taken by soldiers, and since he often held meetings at home, his house was carefully watched. (Heywood 183). He recorded one dangerous occasion in August 1663, when he was warned of soldiers coming to arrest him at home. Heywood was proud of his loyalty to God and King, so rather than fleeing, which would have conceded guilt, he “staid and slept as sweetly as ever I did in al my life without the least molestation” (183). The first entry of the diary describes the departure from his house as stipulated by the 1665 Five Mile Act. The redactors of the law would have been shocked at the result, since Heywood set off across Lancashire and Yorkshire to preach. In two months, he had preached in ten different places and sometimes several times in the same place. The 1664 Conventicle Act stipulated an escalation of fines for attending illicit religious meetings, starting at £5 for a first offence, but Heywood continued his ministry and his hearers continued to attend. He also returned to Coley now and then, where he would have been liable for a £40 fine (BHO An Act to prevent and suppresse seditious Conventicles art. II). In January 1668 he was back in Coley staying with friends and there, on Sunday 5th he and his supporters displayed their audacity to the extreme: Heywood preached in his old chapel:

I preacht at Coley chappel in publick Mr Hoole having given notice the day before that he would be absent, I took advantage of the vacancy, we concluded of it but within evening the night before, and the mrng was exceeding windy so that few could hear the bell, but in the afternoon there was a very great assembly, the Lord graciously assisted, it was a good day, and for the essue of it, the will of the Lord be done. (248, 5 Jan 1668)

70His faith also enabled him to not worry about the consequences.


71Studying the diaries of Restoration ministers first reveals that there were common characteristics among those unlikely to conform: a godly family heritage, childhood aspirations for the ministry, conversion experiences and connections to other Puritan ministers. These characteristics seem to have been even more important than later political affiliations or even allegiance to a national church. Secondly, the diaries give evidence as to the reasons why such ministers were able to maintain their ministries at the Restoration: Josselin and Heywood’s areas of activity had strong godly traditions; Josselin and Trench had good relationships with local dignitaries; the ministries of Trench and especially Heywood were so appreciated that the label of nonconformist was of little relevance to their hearers; Josselin was a well-established member of the farming community; finances were not a problem for Trench and Heywood and even Josselin had a reasonable income in addition to his clerical living; Trench and Josselin acted with considerable modesty and humility towards the authorities; Trench was passionate about church unity; Josselin’s patience and perseverance helped him get through the most stressful times and Heywood’s audacity led him to take risks without worrying about the consequences. It can be seen therefore, that the personal and sequential qualities of a diary help not only to understand an individual life but in the case of these nonconformists ministers to develop a more authentic understanding of lived nonconformity in terms of the subtle interplay between individual and collective actions and between local and national events.

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1 An apparitor was the servant or attendant of a civil or ecclesiastical officer.

2 A presbiter was an official in the local church.

3 A “Professor” was a kinder word for a Puritan.

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Colin HARRIS, « Living out nonconformity: Restoration ministers and their diaries »E-rea [En ligne], 18.1 | 2020, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2020, consulté le 08 décembre 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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Aix Marseille Univ, LERMA, Aix-en-Provence, France
Colin Harris is a teacher (contractual PRAG) at the Department of English Studies at Aix-Marseille University giving lessons in civilisation and linguistics. He is a third year doctoral student at LERMA (UR 853) working on the diaries of 17th-century English Puritan ministers.
Colin Harris est PRAG contractuel (civilisation et linguistique) au Département d’Études du Monde Anglophone d’Aix-Marseille Université et doctorant en 3e année de thèse au LERMA (UR 853). Ses recherches portent sur les journaux des pasteurs puritains du XVIIe siècle.

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