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Henry Jacob

(c. 1563—1624) semi-separatist minister


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Henry Jacob died in London. The son of John Jacob, a yeoman from Cheriton, Kent, he attended St Mary Hall, Oxford, matriculating in 1581, and graduating BA in 1583, MA in 1586. Jacob worked zealously to purify the English Church. At the outset he opposed separatism, but circumstances and the weight of separatist arguments, which he first attempted to refute, gradually won him over to the other side. His change was not complete, and the sort of separatism he championed has been variously described as ‘moderate separatism’, ‘semi-separatism’, ‘nonseparatist congregationalism’ and ‘occasional conformism’. Prominent among the circumstances that brought about his change of mind was having to maintain a Christian congregation in exile. Jacob's zeal in advocating reform led to imprisonment and finally, in 1606, to exile in the Netherlands, where he remained for the next ten years, living in Middleburg and Leiden. There he became the centre of a circle of Puritan divines who shared his opinions, and who were appropriately called ‘Jacobites’. Among them were William Ames, Paul Baynes, William Bradshaw and Robert Parker. John Robinson, minister of the Pilgrim church in Leiden, also came under his influence. When he returned to England in 1616, Jacob's purpose was not to reform the existing English Church but to establish an independent church that would remain in communion with it. This he accomplished in Southwark. In 1622 he travelled to Virginia and established a settlement there, eponymously named Jacobopolis.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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