Academic journal article Early Modern Literary Studies

Seraphic Companions: The Friendship between Elizabeth Gauden and Simon Patrick

Academic journal article Early Modern Literary Studies

Seraphic Companions: The Friendship between Elizabeth Gauden and Simon Patrick

Article excerpt

1. Introduction - Elizabeth Gauden and Simon Patrick

Elizabeth Gauden and Simon Patrick, in all likelihood, met at church - at St. Mary's, Battersea or at St. Paul's, Covent Garden in Royal Westminister. Elizabeth Gauden was a London parishioner, who lived with her family in Clapham. Simon Patrick was a London clergyman. He was the vicar of Battersea from 1657 until 1675 and the rector of St. Paul's in the years 1662 to 1689.1 Elizabeth Gauden and her husband Denis might have invited Patrick as the vicar of a neighbouring parish into their house - as parishioners did. Or else, Elizabeth Gauden might have listened to Patrick's sermons at St. Paul's and approached him as her spiritual advisor.2 How and wherever they might have first established their contact, the preconditions for their acquaintance and their ensuing friendship were a combination of local and religious aspects: Gauden and Patrick got to know each other as they were part of the same local Christian community. The parish presents the early modern community, locally and religiously defined, whose male and female members were accessible to one another as potential candidates for more affectionate personal relations. The community of parishioners was one pool from which individual friends and companions - eligible by social status and personal inclination - could be chosen.3 The personal friendship and spiritual companionship between Elizabeth Gauden and Simon Patrick is based on their common religious beliefs, their Christian way of life. The importance that religion plays as a regulating, disciplining, and motivating force in their everyday lives and thus in the practice of their friendship cannot be overestimated. The letters that they exchanged testify to their preoccupation with religious - theological and devotional - issues in the practice of their friendship and their lives.4 As they conducted their friendship for long stretches of time through their epistolary communication, their spiritual companionship transcended the confines of their local and social community.

Elizabeth Gauden's life centred in Clapham, south of the Thames. Clapham Parish Register records her marriage - as Elizabeth Clerke - to Denis Gauden (d. 1688) in 1653 and her burial on 2 May 1684.5 Elizabeth Gauden's husband was Navy Victualler from 1660 until 1677. In 1667 he was knighted. He held important offices in the City of London: he was an alderman and a Sheriff. By 1663, Denis Gauden had almost finished building a great mansion in Clapham, then Surrey. The diarist Samuel Pepys, who was connected to Denis Gauden professionally through his post at the Navy Office, offers insights into the Gaudens' social and musical family life in his diary on 25 July 1663, introducing Elizabeth Gauden in the middle of her family: 'When I came to Mr. Gaudens, [...] I saluted his lady, and the young ladies, he having many pretty children, [...] After dinner by Mr. Gaudens motion, we got Mrs. Gauden and her sister to sing to a viall'.6 However, while Pepys depicts Elizabeth Gauden centre-stage in a merry, sociable scene of private evening entertainment, the correspondence with Simon Patrick focuses more on theological issues and questions of devotional practice. As the eighteenth-century antiquarian William Cole remarked when he glanced at the correspondence in search for anecdotes and historical information in 1779, the letters contained 'nothing but plain Directions for Conduct in Life & Consolations under the Misfortunes incident to it'.7 Samuel Knight (1677/78-1746), prebend of Ely, and first posthumous commentator on Patrick's papers, characterised Elizabeth Gauden after his reading of her letters as 'a very ingenious as well as a pious person'.8

Simon Patrick (1626-1707) was a liberal Anglican divine, parish priest in London and a Royal Chaplain in 1671. He became Bishop of Chichester in 1689 and held the bishopric of Ely from 1691 until his death in 1707.9 All his professional life, Patrick was a clergyman and head of a local religious community. …

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