Samuel Parker, later Bishop of Oxford (see No. 2), had been born and bred a Puritan, and Marvell was first to encounter him c. 1662 at the home of their common acquaintance John Milton. Having taken orders in the Anglican church in 1664, he then became a high-churchman and vigorous opponent of the nonconformists. It was following on his publication of three works—A Discourse of Ecclesiastical Polity (1670, which was answered by the dissenting minister John Owen); A Defense and Continuation of the Ecclesiastical Politie (1671, attacking Owen); and the ‘Preface’ to Bishop Bramhall’s Vindication of Himself (1672)—that Marvell, although a layman, chose to enter the controversy with his two-part Rehearsal Transpros’d, deriving his title and the nomination of ‘Mr Bayes’ (originally for Dryden among others) from the Duke of Buckingham’s farce The Rehearsal (performed 1671).
The unlicensed first part, published anonymously in the autumn of 1672 with a mock imprint, elicited a half-dozen replies, all of which Marvell alludes to in the second part (pp. 174-6). Despite its anonymity, the identity of the author was clearly recognized, as the punning allusions in the replies to it attest. Part Two, published over Marvell’s name in 1673, effectively silenced Parker.