Cartwright, Thomas

, a puritan divine of great learning and eminence, was born in Hertfordshire, about the year 1535. Having been kept at a grammar-school till he was fit for the university, he was sent to Cambridge, where he was admitted into St. John’s college in 155O. He applied himself to his studies with uncommon assiduity; and being possessed of excellent natural parts, he made great proficiency in learning, in acquiring which, it is said, that he allowed himself no more than five hours sleep in the night, and that he adhered to this custom to the end of his life. Upon the death of Edward VI, when he had been about three years at the university, he quitted it, and became clerk to a counsellor at law: but this did not prevent him from continuing to prosecute his former studies, in which he took more delight than in the profession of the | law. He remained in this situation till the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth; when the gentleman under whom he was placed as a clerk, having met with Dr. Pilkington, master of St. John college, Cambridge, he made him acquainted with his strong attachment to literature. In consequence of this the doctor desired to have some conversation with Mr. Cartwright; when, being convinced of his great abilities and attainments, he offered to take him back again to St. John’s, to which his master consented. He accordingly returned to the university; and in 1560 was chosen fellow of that college. About three years after he was removed to a fellowship in Trinity college; where, on account of his great merit, he was shortly after made one of the eight senior fellows. In 1564 queen Elizabeth visited the university of Cambridge, and remained there five days, viewing the several colleges, and hearing public speeches and disputations. Mr. Strype says, that the ripest and most learned men were selected for the disputants, and Mr. Cartwright being one of these, appears on this occasion to have greatly distinguished himself. In 1567 he commenced bachelor of divinity; and, three years after, was chosen to be lady Margaret’s divinity-reader. It is particularly mentioned, that he read upon the first and second chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, and performed it with such acuteness of wit, and such solidity of judgment, as excited the admiration of his hearers. He also became so famous as a preacher, that when it came to his turn to preach at St. Mary’s church, the sexton was obliged to take down the windows, on account of the multitudes that came to bear him.

Mr. Cartwright took occasion, in his lectures, to deliver his sentiments on church-discipline; which being unfavourable to the established hierarchy, public accusations were soon exhibited against him though Mr. Strype says, “that he had indeed a great party in the university, and some of them men of learning, who stuck close to him, exceedingly admiring him; though some of them, better informed, fell off afterwards.” Archbishop Grindal wrote a letter to sir William Cecil, chancellor of the university, on the 23d of June 1570, requesting him to take some speedy course against Mr. Cartwright; alleging, that in his readings he daily made invectives against the external policy, and distinction of states, in the ecclesiastical government in consequence of which the youth of the | university, who frequented his lectures in great numbers, “were in danger to be poisoned with a love of contention and a liking of novelty.” He therefore recommended, that the chancellor should write to the vice-chancellor, to enjoin silence upon Cartvvright and all his adherents, both in schools and pulpits; and afterwards, upon examination, and hearing of the matters before him, and some of the heads of houses, to reduce the offenders to conformity, or to expel them out of the colleges, or the university, as the cause should require; and also that the vice-chancellor should not suffer Mr. Cartwright to take his degree of D. D. at the approaching commencement, for which he had applied. Dr. Whitgift also zealously opposed Cartwright, and wrote another letter to the chancellor upon the occasion, communicating to him not only what Cartwright had “openly taught,” but also “what he had uttered to him in private conference.

Mr. Cartwright vindicated his conduct in a letter to sir William Cecil, dated the 9th of July; in which he declared his extreme aversion to every thing that was seditious and contentious, and affirmed that he had taught nothing but what naturally flowed from the text concerning which he had treated. He observed, that when an occasion offered itself of speaking concerning the habits, he had waved it: though he acknowledged that he had taught, that the ministry of the church of England had declined from the ministry of the ancient and apostolical church, and that he wished it to be restored to greater purity. But these sentiments, he said, he had delivered calmly and sedately, and in such a manner as could give offence to none but the ignorant or the malignant, and those who were eager to catch at something to calumniate him. He asserted, that he had the utmost reason to believe that he should have obtained the testimony of the university in favour of his innocence, had not the vicechancellor denied him a congregation. He solicited the protection of the chancellor, so far as his cause was just; and transmitted to him a testimonial of his innocence, signed by several learned members of the university, and in which his abilities, learning, and integrity, were spoken of in very high terms. After this he was cited to appear before Dr. Mey, the vice-chancellor of the university, and some of the heads of houses, and examined upon sundry articles of doctrine said to be delivered by him in his public | lectures, and which were affirmed to be contrary to the religion received and allowed by public authority in the realm of England; and it was demanded of him, whether he would stand to those opinions and doctrines, or whether Le wuuid renounce them. Mr. Cartwright desired that he might be permitted to commit to writing what his judgment was upon the points in controversy; which being assented to, he drew up six propositions to the following purport, and which he subscribed with his own hand: “I. The names and functions of archbishops and archdeacons ought to be abolished. II. The offices of the lawful ministers of the church, viz. bishops and deacons, ought to be reduced to the apostolical institution: bishops to preach the word of God and pray, and deacons to be employed in taking care of the poor. III. The government of the church ought not to be entrusted to bishops chancellors, or the officials of archdeacons; but every church should be governed by its own minister and presbyters. IV. Ministers ought not to be at large, but every one should have the charge of a certain flock. V. No man should solicit, or stand as a candidate for the Ministry. VI. Bishops should not be created by civil authority, but ought to be openly and fairly chosen by the church.” Propositions also which were said to be dangerous and seditious were collected out of Mr. Cartwright’s lectures, and sent to court by Dr. Whitgift, to incense the queen and chancellor against him; and he was forbidden by the vice-chancellor and heads of the university to read any more lectures till they should receive some satisfaction that he would not continue to propagate the same opinions. He was also prevented from taking his doctor’s degree by the authority of the vice-chancellor: which appears to have given great umbrage to many in the university, and to have occasioned a considerable disturbance. In 1571 Dr. Whitgift became vice-chancellor of the university; and by his influence more rigorous statutes were procured for its government; and Mr. Cartwright was deprived of his place of Margaret- professor. But he still continued senior tellow of Trinity-college; though the fol* lowing year he was also deprived of his fellowship; it being alleged that he had forfeited it by not entering into priest’s orders in due time, in conformity to the statutes. Being thus driven from the university, and out of all employment, he travelled beyond sea, where he became acquainted with the most celebrated divines in the several protestant | universities of Europe, with many of whom he established a correspondence. They appear to have entertained a very high esteem for him; and the celebrated Beza, in a letter to one of his English correspondents, expressed himself thus concerning him: “Here is now with us your countryman, Thomas Cartwright, than whom I think the sun doth not see a more learned man.” While he was abroad, he was chosen minister to the English merchants at Antwerp, and afterwards at Middleburgh, where he continued two years, with little or no profit to himself; though his labours as a preacher are said to have been extremely acceptable and successful. But the importunity of his friends in England at length prevailed on him to return again to his native country.

Very severe measures had now been adopted for several years against the puritans; on whose behalf a piece was published, intituled, “An admonition to the parliament;” to which were annexed, A letter from Beza to the earl of Leicester, and another from Gualter to bishop Parkhurst, recommending a reformation of church discipline. This work contained what was called the “platform of a church;” the manner of electing ministers; their several duties; and arguments to prove their equality in government. It also attacked the hierarchy, and the proceedings of the bishops, with much severity of language. The admonition was concluded with a petition to the two houses, that a discipline more consonant to the word of God, and agreeing with the foreign reformed churches, might be established by law. Mr. Field and Mr. Wilcox, authors of the admonition, and who attempted to present it to parliament, were committed to Newgate on the second of October 1572. Notwithstanding which, Mr. Cartwright, after his return to England,“wrote” a second admonition to the parliament,“with an humble petition to the two houses, for relief against the subscription required by the ecclesiastical commissioners. The same year Dr. Whitgift published an answer to the admonition: to which Mr. Cartwright published a reply in 1573; and aboat this time a proclamation was issued for apprehending him. In 1574 Dr. Whitgift published, in folio,” A defence of the answer to the admonition, against the reply of T. C.“In 1575 Mr. Cartwright published a second reply to Dr. Whitgift; and in 1577 appeared,” the rest of the second reply of Thomas Cartwright, against master Doctor Whitgift’s | answer, touching the church discipline.“This seems to have been printed in Scotland; and it is certain, that before its publication Mr. Cartwright had found it necessary to leave the kingdom, whilst his opponent was raised to the bishopric of Worcester. Mr. Cartwright continued abroad about five years, during which time he officiated as a minister to some of the English factories. About the year 1580 James VI. king of Scotland, having a high opinion of his learning and abilities, sent to him, and offered him a professorship in the university of St. Andrew’s; but this he 'thought proper to decline. Upon his return to England, officers w.e re sent to apprehend him, as a promoter of sedition, and he was thrown into prison. He probably obtained his li­* berty through the interest of the lord treasurer Burleigh, and the earl of Leicester, by both of whom he was favoured: and the latter conferred upon him the mastership of the hospital which he had founded in Warwick. In 1583 he was earnestly persuaded, by several learned protestant divines, to write against the Rhemish translation of the New Testament. He was likewise encouraged in this design by the earl of Leicester and sir Francis Walsingham: and the latter sent him a hundred pounds towards the expences of the work. He accordingly engaged in it; but after some time received a mandate from archbishop Whitgift, prohibiting him from prosecuting the work any farther. Though he was much discouraged by this, he nearly completed the performance; but it was not published till many years after his death in 1618, fol. under the title” A Confutation of the Rhemish Translation, Glosses, and Annotations on the New Testament.“It is said, that queen Elizabeth sent to Beza, requesting him to undertake a work of this kind; but he declined it, declaring that Cartwright was much more capable of the task than himself. Notwithstanding the high estimation in which he was held, and his many admirers, in the year 1585 he was again committed to prison by Dr. Aylmer, bfshop of London; and that prelate gave some offence to the queen by making use of her majesty’s name on the occasion. When he obtained his liberty is not mentioned: but we find that in 1590, when he was at Warwick, he received a citation to appear in the starchamber, together with Edmund Snape, and some other puritan ministers, being charged with setting up a new discipline, and a new form of worship, and subscribing their names to stand to it. This was interpreted an | opposition and disobedience to the established laws. Mr. Cartwright was also called upon to take the oath ex officio; but this he refused, and was committed to the Fleet. In May 1591 ije was sent for by bishop Ay liner to appear before him, and some others of the ecclesiastical commissioners, at that prelate’s house. He had no previous notice given him, to prevent any concourse of his adherents upon the occasion. The bishop threw out some reproaches against him, and again required him to take the oath ex officio. The attorney general did the same, and represented to him” how dangerous a thing it was that men should, upon the conceits of their own heads, and yet under colour of conscience, refuse the things that had been received for laws for a long time.“Mr. Cartwright assigned sundry reasons for refusing to take the oath; and afterwards desired to be permitted to vindicate himself from some reflections that had been thrown out against him by the bishop and the attorney general. But to this bishop Aylmer would not consent, alleging,” that he had no leisure to hear his answer,“but that he might defend himself from the public charges that he had brought against him, by a private letter to his lordship. With this Mr. Cartwright was obliged to be contented, and was immediately after again committed to the Fleet. In August 1591 he wrote a letter to lady Russel, stating some of the grievances under which he laboured, and soliciting her interest with lord Burleigh to procure him better treatment. The same year king James wrote a letter to queen Elizabeth, requesting her majesty to shew favour to Mr. Cartwright and his brethren, on account of their great learning and faithful labours in the gospel. But he did not obtain his liberty till about the middle of the year 1592, when he was restored to his hospital at Warwick, and was again permitted to preach: but his health appears to have been much impaired by his long confinement and close application to study. He died on the 27th of December 1603, in the 68th year of his age, having preached a sermon ou mortality but two days before. He was buried in the hospital at Warwick. He was pious, learned, and laborious; an acute disputant, and an admired preacher; of a disinterested disposition, generous and charitable, and particularly liberal to poor scholars. It is much to be regretted that such a man should have incurred the censure of the superiors either in church or state; but inuovations like those he proposed, and adhered to with | obstinacy, could not be tolerated in the case of a church establishment so recently formed, and which required every effort bf its supporters to maintain it. How far, therefore, the reflections which have been cast on a the prelates who prosecuted him are just, may be safely left to the consideration of the reader. There is reason also to think, that before his death Cartwright himself thought differently of his past conduct. Sir Henry Yelverton, in his epistle to the reader, prefixed to bishop Moreton’sEpiscopacy justified,“says that the last words of Thomas Cartwright, on his death-bed, were, that he sorely lamented the unnecessary troubles he had caused in the church, by the schism, of which he had been the great fomenter; and that be wished he was to begin his life again, that he might testify to the world the dislike he had of his former ways In tnis opinion, says sir Henry, he died; and it appears certain, that he abated something of the warmth of his spirit towards the close of his days. When he had obtained his pardon, of the queen, which, as sir George Paule asserts, was at the instance of aichbishop Whitgilt, Cartwright, in his letters of acknowledgment to that prelate, vouchsafed to stile him a” Right Reverend Fatner in God, and his Lord the Archbishop’s Grace of Canterbury.“This title of Grace he often yielded to Whitgift in the course of their correspondence. Nay, the archbishop was heard to say, that if Mr. Cartwright had not so far engaged himself as he did in the beginning, he verily thought tnat he would, in his letter time, have been drawn to conformity: for when he was freed from his troubles, he often repaired to the archbishop, who used him kindly, and was contented to tolerate his preaching at Warwick for several years, upon his promise that he would not impugn the laws, orders, and government of the church of England, but persuade and procure, as much as he could, both publicly and privately, the estimation and peace of the same. With these terms he complied; notwithstanding which, when queen Elizabeth understood that he preached again, though in the temperate manner which had been prescribed, she would not permit him to do it any longer without subscription; and was not a little displeased with the archbishop, for his having connived at his so doing. Sir George Paule farther adds, that, by the benevolence and bounty of his followers, Mr Cartwright was said to have died rich. Besides the pieces already mentioned, Mr. Cartwright was | author of the following works: 1.” Commentaria practica in totam historiam evangelicam, ex quatuor evangelistis harmonice concinnatam,“1630, 4to. An elegant edition of this was printed at Amsterdam, by Lewis Elzevir, in 1647, under the following title:” Harmonia evangelica commentario analytico, metaphrastico, practice, illustrata,“&c. 2.” Commentarii succincti & dilucidi in proverbia Salomonis,“Amst. 1638, 4to. 3.” Metaphrasis & homiliae in librum Salomonis qui inscribitur Ecclesiastes,“Amst. 1647, 4to. 4.” A Directory of Church Government,“1644, 4to. 5.” A Body of Divinity," Lond. 1616, 4to. 1


Biog. Brit, and Index. Clarke’s Lives of thirty-two English Divines. Zouch’s edition of Walton’s Lives. —Strype’s Parker, pp.311, 312,347. 419, 463, 476. —Strype’s Grimlal, p. 161. —Strype’s Whit^ft, p. 19, 47, 50, 63. 2*4, 225, 253, 335, 336, 360, 366, 434, 354 -- —Strype’s Annals see Index. Peck’s Desiderata. Fuller’s Ch. History and Worthies.