Sectarian Groups

Johanna Harris

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern English Literature and Religion

Published in print June 2017 | ISBN: 9780199672806
Published online August 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191822537 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Sectarian Groups

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This chapter discusses the grey areas between conformity and separatism, and the problem of Puritanism in this context, beginning with the radical inheritances of England’s earliest underground separatist Protestant congregations in 1560s London, the evolved separatism of Dorothy Hazzard’s Bristol house church, and the connections between the Leveller Katherine Chidley, the Independent William Greenhill, and the Fifth Monarchist Anna Trapnel, as an example of the points of unity felt by believers across a spectrum of occasional conformity and radical puritan dissent. It highlights Lord Brooke’s 1641 description of the subtle degrees of separation between ‘Conformist’, ‘Non-Conformist’, ‘Separatist and Semi-Seperatist’ (sic). He argues that the 1640s saw a coalescence of underground dissent with evolved sectarianism, largely enabled by Civil War conditions and Cromwellian rule, resulting in more free and strident expressions of the individual right to read and interpret Scripture, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Keywords: sectarian; Puritan; Protestantism; radical; Lord Brooke; Thomas Edwards; Dorothy Hazzard; Katherine Chidley; Anna Trapnel; William Greenhill

Article.  8040 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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