The Puritan Gentry Besieged, 1650-1700

The Puritan Gentry Besieged, 1650-1700

The Puritan Gentry Besieged, 1650-1700

The Puritan Gentry Besieged, 1650-1700

Synopsis

The latter half of the seventeenth century saw the Puritan families of England struggle to preserve the old values in an era of tremendous political and religious upheaval. Even non-conformist ministers were inclined to be pessimistic about the endurance of 'godliness' - Puritan attitudes and practices - among the upper classes. Based on a study of family papers and other primary resources, Trevor Cliffe's study reveals that in many cases, Puritan county families were playing a double game: outwardly in communion with the Church, they often employed non-conformist chaplains, and attended nonconformist meetings.

Excerpt

This is the final volume of a trilogy on the Puritan county families of the seventeenth century. The Puritan Gentry (1984) destroyed the myth that godliness was exclusively the preserve of ‘the middling sort’, though it also highlighted the conflict between religious impulses and class values. Along with other works which appeared about the same time Puritans in Conflict (1988) restored religion to its rightful place as one of the most potent factors in the Civil War.

The last chapter of Puritans in Conflict was entitled ‘The Twilight of Godliness’. This was not intended to be a personal judgment but simply a reflection of the pessimistic views expressed by such contemporary commentators as Lucy Hutchinson and Richard Baxter. One of the main reasons why I embarked on this further phase of the study was that I was anxious to know what happened to the Puritan county families of 1642 during the half-century following the execution of Charles I and the establishment of a republic. Was their commitment to the cause of ‘true religion’ a purely temporary phenomenon which failed to survive the political developments of the turbulent years between 1648 and 1660 or the intellectual or social climate of Restoration England? In addition, I wanted to assess the impact, in religious terms, made by the new families which were entering the ranks of the country gentry. In the event this volume is mainly concerned with the gentry who occupied a position in the religious spectrum between conventional Anglicans (i.e. Anglicans who were fully satisfied with the ecclesiastical settlement of 1662) and Protestant separatists (i.e. sectaries who would have nothing to do with the established Church). Puritans had always been regarded as dissidents who wished to purify the Church from within and it had

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.