« Cartwright, Peter Cartwright, Thomas Carus, Paul »

Cartwright, Thomas


Leader of the Puritan Party (§ 1).

Controversial Writings (§ 2).

Minister in Antwerp (§ 3).

Again in England (§ 4).

Attitude Toward the Brownists (§ 5).

1. Leader of the Puritan Party.

Thomas Cartwright, English Puritan and Presbyterian, was born in Hertfordshire 1535; d. at Warwick Dec. 27, 1603. He was matriculated as a sizar of Claire Hall, Nov., 1547, and as a scholar at St. John's College, Cambridge, Nov. 5, 1550. Being a Protestant and refusing to return to the Roman Church, he was debarred from the university during Mary's reign (1553–59). In 1560 he became a minor fellow of Trinity College, and on Apr. 6 of the same year a fellow of St. John's College; in Apr., 1562, a major fellow of Trinity College. In 1567 he took his bachelor's degree, and in 1569 was chosen Lady Margaret professor of divinity, and began to lecture on the Acts of the Apostles. His lectures were exceedingly popular, and made a profound impression in favor of his distinctively Puritan views, but created a storm of opposition from the Prelatical party, headed by Dr. Whitgift. This conflict, under these two great champions, continued to grow more and more severe, and was continued by their successors in two great parties in the Church of England—the Presbyterian and the Prelatical. The Puritan platform is well stated in the six propositions which Cartwright delivered under his own hand to the vice-chancellor, the grounds of his persecution by the Prelatists:

1. That the names and functions of archbishops and archdeacons ought to be abolished. 2. That the offices of the lawful ministers of the Church, viz., bishops and deacons, ought to be reduced to their apostolical institution: bishops to preach the word of God, and pray, and deacons to be employed in taking care of the poor. 3. That the government of the Church ought not to be entrusted to bishop's chancellors, or the officials of archdeacons; but every church ought to be governed by its own ministers and presbyters. 4. That ministers ought not to be at large, but every one should have the charge of a particular congregation. 5. That no man ought to solicit, or to stand as a candidate for the ministry. 6. That ministers ought not to be created by the sole authority of the bishop, but to be openly and fairly chosen by the people.

2. Controversial Writings.

Having been deprived of his professorship Dec. 11, 1570, and of his fellowship at Trinity College in Sept. 1571, Cartwright went to the Continent, and in Geneva conferred with Beza and other chiefs of the Reformed Churches. He was prevailed upon by his friends to return in Nov., 1572. An Admonition to Parliament for the Reformation of Church Discipline had been issued by his friends John Field and Thomas Wilcox, for which they had been cast into prison. Cartwright espoused their cause, and issued The Second Admonition, with an Humble Petition to Both Houses of Parliament for Relief Against Subscription, 1572. Whitgift replied in An Answere to a Certen Libell, Intituled An Admonition to the Parliament, 1572. Cartwright 431rejoined in A Replye to an Answere Made of M. Doctor Whitegifte Againste the Admonition to the Parliament, 1573. This was a renewal of the old discussion on a larger scale, going to the roots of difference; Cartwright and the Puritans contending that the church government and the discipline, as well as the doctrine, must be reformed according to the Scriptures. The discussion took a wide range—as to the standard of church government, the choice of ministers, the offices of the Christian Church, clerical habits, bishops, archbishops, the authority of princes in matters ecclesiastical, confirmation, etc. Whitgift replied in A Defense of the Ecclesiasticall Regiment in Englande Defaced by T. C. in his Replie againste D. Whitgifte, 1574, and also The Defense of the Answere to the Admonition, against the Replye of T. C., 1574, pp. 812, folio.

3. Minister in Antwerp.

An order for Cartwright's apprehension was issued Dec. 11, 1574; but he fled to the Continent, and became minister of the English congregation of merchants at Antwerp and Middelburg. In 1576 he went to the isles of Jersey and Guernsey, aided the Puritans there in settling the discipline of their churches, later returning to Antwerp, where he preached for several years. While abroad, he wrote the Second Replie of Thomas Cartwright Agaynst Maister Doctor Whitgiftes Second Answer Touching the Churche Discipline, 1575, and also The Rest of the Second Replie, 1577. He, in 1574, prepared also a preface to the Latin work of William Travers, and translated it under the title A Full and Plaine Declaration of Ecclesiasticall Discipline owt off the Word off God and off the Declininge off the Churche off England from the Same, 1574, which still more embittered his foes. In 1583, at the solicitation of the Earl of Leicester, and Lord Treasurer Burleigh, and a large number of Puritan friends, he undertook to write a confutation of the Rhemish version of the Scriptures, which took him many years; but he was prevented by the ecclesiastical authorities of England from publishing his work. The year before his death, however, his Answere to the Preface of the Rhemish Testament, 1602, was issued; but the work itself, not until 1618, under the title A Confutation of the Rhemists Translation, Glosses, and Annotations on the New Testament, so farre as they containe Manifest Impieties, Heresies, Idolatries, etc., fol., pp. lviii., 761, xviii., Leyden. In 1584 he was invited to the divinity chair in St. Andrews, Scotland, but declined.

4. Again in England.

In 1585 Cartwright returned to England without the royal permission, and was apprehended by Bishop Aylmer of London and cast into prison, where he remained from April until June, when he was released through the influence of his powerful friends, and the Earl of Leicester appointed him master of a hospital which he had founded at Warwick. His preaching was opposed by his enemies, but without success, until 1590. During this time he went over a great part of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The latter was published in 1604 under the title Metaphrasis et homiliæ in librum Solomonis, qui inscribitur Ecclesiastes, 4to; the former in 1617, Commentarii succincti et delucidi in Proverbia Solomonis, 4to. He is said to have been the first preacher in England who practised extempore prayer before sermon, although he usually employed forms of prayer. During this period the ecclesiastical conflicts waxed hotter and hotter. The Puritans had been making rapid progress. The first presbytery was organized at Wandsworth within the Church of England in 1572. Classes were rapidly organized in all parts of England, but secretly. In 1583 a rough draft of a book of discipline was drawn up by Thomas Cartwright and Walter Travers, and at an assembly held either at London or Cambridge it was resolved to put it in practise. It was revised at a national synod in London (1584), and referred to Mr. Travers "to be corrected and ordered by him." It was then passed around the various classes. It was adopted and subscribed by an assembly of all the classes of Warwickshire in 1588, and then by a provincial synod in Cambridge; and by 1590 the Directory had spread all over England, and was subscribed to by as many as 500 ministers. The episcopal party were greatly alarmed, and determined to arrest Cartwright with the other leaders and to destroy as large a number of copies of the Holy Discipline as possible. A few copies were, however, preserved, two copies in manuscript, one in the British Museum, another in Lambeth Palace, in Latin, entitled Disciplina ecclesiæ sacra. These were discussed and the Lambeth manuscript published by F. Paget in his Introduction to the Fifth Book of Hooker's Treatise, London, 1899, pp. 238 sqq. An edition in English with slight modifications was issued in 1644 by authority of the Long Parliament, entitled A Directory of Church Government anciently contended for, and as farre as the Times would suffer, practised by the first Non-Conformists in the Daies of Queen Elizabeth. Found in the study of the most accomplished Divine, Mr. Thomas Cartwright, after his decease; and reserved to be published for such a time as this.

5. Attitude Toward the Brownists.

The discussion between the Presbyterians and the Prelatists was complicated by the Brownist party and the Marprelate tracts, which bitterly satirized the bishops. Cartwright took strong ground against the Brownists and their doctrine of separation, and opposed the Marprelate method of controversy; but it was the policy of the Prelatists to make the Puritans bear all the odium of the weaker and more obnoxious party. Manuscripts of Cartwright against the Brownists are preserved and lately published (see Browne, Robert). In May, 1590, he was summoned before the High Commission, and committed to the Fleet. He and his associates were confronted with thirty-one articles of charges, afterward increased to thirty-four, besides articles of inquiry. He was willing to reply to the charges, but refused to give testimony against his brethren. He was then summoned before the Star Chamber with Edmund Snape and others; but the case never reached an issue. Powerful friends worked in his behalf, and 432he was finally released from prison in 1592, on the promise of quiet and peaceable behavior, in broken health. From 1595 to 1598 he lived on the island of Guernsey, and afterward at Warwick. To a bitter attack, he wrote A Brief Apologie of Thomas Cartwright against all such slaunderous Accusations as it pleaseth Mr. Sutcliffe in his Severall pamphlets most injuriously to load him with, etc., 4to, pp. 28, 1596. In the main, the Presbyterian churches of Great Britain and America still stand by his principles.

Other works besides those mentioned in their historical connections were published after Cartwright's death by his disciples: A Catechisme, 1611; A Treatise of the Christian Religion, 1611 (anonymous), 2d ed., 4to, 1616, edited by William Bradshaw; A Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians, 1612; Harmonia Evangelica, Amsterdam, 4to, 1627; Commentaria Practica in totam Historiam Evangelicam, 1630, 3 vols., 4to. See also Puritans, Puritantism, § 7.

C. A. Briggs.

Bibliography: C. H. and T. Cooper, Athanæ Cantabrigienses, ii. 360–366 London, 1861; B. Brook, Lives of the Puritans, ii. 138 sqq., 3 vols., ib. 1813; idem, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Thomas Cartwright, ib. 1845; F. L. Colvile, Worthies of Warwickshire, pp. 92–100, 878, ib. 1870; J. B. Mullinger, History of the University of Cambridge, ib. 1888; DNB, ix. 226–230.

« Cartwright, Peter Cartwright, Thomas Carus, Paul »
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