John Wycliffe


John Wycliffe was born in a small town in Yorkshire. He studied at Merton College, Oxford, under Bishop Thomas Bradwardine from Wales, who lived an upright life and strongly believed that Scripture was to be the rule for life, not tradition, and that we are saved by sovereign grace. Bradwardine wrote: “As in the times of old, 450 prophets of Baal strove against a single prophet of God: so now, O Lord, the numbers of those who strive with Pelagius against thy free grace cannot be counted. They pretend not to receive grace freely, but to buy it. The will of men (they say) should precede and thine should follow: theirs is the mistress and thine the servant…Alas! Nearly the whole world is walking in error in the steps of Pelagius. Arise, O Lord, and judge thy cause.” The plague struck England in 1348, taking about half the population. This caused Wycliffe to fear for his eternal state and seek the Lord. He began to study the Bible and spend long hours in prayer. Wycliffe was renowned for being well educated, even Knighton, who was one of his sworn enemies, wrote of him that he was “second to none in philosophy, in scholastic discipline altogether incomparable.” Wycliffe became warden of Canterbury College in 1365 where he threw himself into teaching theology and Scripture. “His biblical and philosophical studies, his knowledge of theology, his penetrating mind, the purity of his manners, and his unbending courage, rendered him the object of general admiration.”-J.H. Merle D’Aubigne In 1373 Pope Urban V summoned Edward III to recognize himself as the sovereign of England and to pay the pope rent for the use of England in the amount of 1,000 marcs a year. Wycliffe wrote much defending the right of the king to resist the Pope, and worked to stir up parliament to stand with the king, the parliament which supported the king against the pope was known throughout England as the ‘Good Parliament’. Wycliffe wrote “The Gospel is the only source of religion. The Roman pontiff is a mere cut-purse and far from having the right to reprimand the whole world, he may be lawfully reproved by his inferiors and even by laymen.” Wycliffe was patronized by John Gaunt, Edward III’s third son and one of the most powerful men during the end of Edward’s reign and the beginning of Richard II’s reign. The more Wycliffe studied the Bible, the more he began to question the teachings of Rome and write against them.

  1. He denied the pope’s supremacy, and was opposed to any person assuming the title and authority of being the head of the church. “…It is blasphemy to call any head of the church, save Christ alone.”
  2.  He condemned the hierarchy of bishops, asserting, “that in the time of the apostles there were only two orders, viz. priests and deacons; and that a bishop doth not differ from a priest.”

  3. He was for having ministers maintained by the voluntary contributions of the people, and not by tithes settled on them by law.

  4. He was also against prescribed forms of prayer, especially the imposing of them. He wrote, “To bind men to set and prescript forms of prayers, doth derogate from that liberty God hath given them.”

  5. He denied transubstantiation. “The host is neither Christ nor any part of Christ, but the effectual sign of him.”

  6. He rejected baptismal regeneration, and believed infants did not need to be baptized.

  7. He believed the Scripture is the only rule for right worship and practice in the church.

    Wycliffe saw the need for England to have an English Bible, so he translated the Bible out of Latin into English. His aide Nicolas Hereford did much of the work of translating the Old Testament. The translation included a long preface, in which he severely rebuked the corruption of the clergy, condemned the worshipping of saints and images, denied transubstantiation and exhorted all people to study the Scripture. Papal bull after papal bull was issued against Wycliffe, five of them in one month; but he quietly persevered, preparing his Bible for the common people. His translation of the Bible was completed in 1380. He took the greatest pains to make it plain, casting aside all foreign terms and scholastic words and using the language of the common people. In 1381 Wat Tyler led a bloody rebellion against heavy taxation. The government harshly crushed it, killing many peasants and laborers thought to have taken part in the uprising. This failed rebellion caused many hopeless commoners to be open to the message of the Gospel. Wycliffe had hundreds of copies made of his translation, all hand copied. He also trained lay preachers to take the Bibles and go through out all England two by two preaching the Gospel. People flocked to hear the Word preached. These preachers and their followers became known as Lollards. Queen Anne began daily reading a copy of Wycliffe’s Bible. Wycliffe’s Bible was revised soon after his death by Purvey, one of his followers. His Bible and its revision were spread all over England. We know that it was still being read by the people up until the printing of Tyndale’s Bible Some of the wording of Tyndale’s Bible came straight from Wycliffe’s translation and was carried over into the Authorized King James Version. One example of this is the use of the words mote and beam in one’s eye. Within a few years half of the people of England became Lollards; their most rapid growth was from 1390 to 1425. The clergy were so alarmed that they dispatched the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London to the King in Ireland, to entreat him to immediately return to England and protect the church which was in danger of destruction. “As soon,” says a contemporary historian, “as the king heard the representation of the commissioners, being inspired by the divine spirit, he hastened into England, thinking it more necessary to defend the church than to conquer kingdoms.”  In 1382, a bill passed the House of Lords and was signed by King Richard II to suppress heretics. A council was held at Blackfriars, on June 11th, 1382, to condemn Wycliffe and his sect. During the proceedings of the council a terrible earthquake took place, which was seen as God’s disfavor on their actions, but they did not let this prevent them from framing many articles against Wycliffe. Wycliffe worked quietly as the priest at Lutterworth until his death in 1384.


    The Lollards

The origin of the name Lollard is uncertain and historians have held to four main theories as to its source.  

  1. Walter Lollard, a Waldensian preacher from Germany, who wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation, came into England about the year 1315, during the reign of Edward III, and preached the Gospel. In 1322 Lollard was burned at the stake in Cologne for his faith. Most older historians believed that this was the origin of the name Lollard.

  2. From low Dutch lullen — to sing in a low tone or mutter, as at funerals, where they soothed by slowly sung dirges, from which we get the word lullaby. Lollards were thought to mutter. Most modern authors favor this as the source of the name Lollard.    

  3. From the Latin lolium, meaning weed, tares amongst wheat.

  4. From the Latin word laudare; to praise.


“The disciples of Wickliffe are men of a serious modest deportment, avoiding all ostentation in dress, mixing little with the busy world, and complaining of the debauchery of mankind. They maintain themselves wholly by their own labour, and despise wealth, being fully content with bare necessaries. They are chaste and temperate; are never seen in taverns, or amused with the trifling gaieties of life; yet you find them always employed, either in learning or teaching. They are concise and devout in their prayers,... They never swear; speak little; and in their public preaching lay the principal stress on charity.” –A Catholic contemporary author

In 1394 the Lollards petitioned parliament by nailing 12 articles on the doors of the House of Commons, in which they attacked the pope, transubstantiation, celibacy of the clergy, holy pilgrimages, image worship, confession, indulgences, and the use of crucifixes, oil and incense in worship. When the crown was usurped by Henry IV, in gratitude to the clergy, who assisted him in taking the crown, he granted them the authority to execute Lollards. William Sawtre was the first Lollard martyr, being burnt in London in 1400.

John Badly, a Lollard, was brought before Archbishop Arundel, March 1, 1409, on the charge of heresy. He was put into an empty barrel and burnt in Smithfield, in the presence of the Prince of Wales, later King Henry V, who at the stake offered him a yearly stipend from the treasury if he would recant.

The Lollards’ Tower still stands as a monument to their miseries and to the cruelty of their implacable enemies. This tower is part of Lambeth Palace and was set aside as a torture chamber for Lollards by Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Sir John Oldcastle, a member of Henry V’s court, was a zealous Lollard. He spent large amounts of money collecting and transcribing the works of Wycliffe, which he dispersed among the common people. He financially supported many Lollard preachers in many parts of the country, particularly in the dioceses of Canterbury, Rochester and Hereford. For his labors he was hung by an iron chain round the waist and roasted to death in 1417.

120 people were imprisoned for being Lollords from 1428-1432.  Many of them were burnt alive, three of which were Father Abraham, William White and John Wadden.

William Tylesworth was burnt at Amersham in 1506 for being a Lollard, his only daughter forced to light the fire.

In the reign of Henry VIII on May 2nd, 1511, six men and four women were burned at the stake as Lollards. In 1523 the Bishop of London wrote of Lutheranism that “it is not a question of some evil novelty, but only that new arms are being added to the great band of Wycliffite heretics.”

Richard Hunne

On Saturday, March 29th, 1511, Richard Hunne held a funeral at Whitechapel for his infant son Stephen, who had died when only 5 weeks old. Thomas Dryffeld, who was the administering priest, in accordance with Roman canon (church) law, demanded Hunne give him the christening gown that the baby was wrapped in as part of his pay for performing the service. But Hunne, though one of the wealthiest merchant-tailors in London, refused to turn the gown over to Dryffeld, based on his interpretation of the civil law in England. Hunne was protesting the canon law that stated that the priest who buried someone was entitled to the deceased’s most valuable possession; this law had caused much grief and sometimes great hardship to many families. Hunne argued that since Stephen was a baby under civil law he owned nothing and thus the priest had no right to it. This was not Hunne’s first protest against the church. Shortly before his son’s funeral he had lent a large sum of money towards defeating a clergyman in the courts on behalf of a less able man named William Lambert. The case involved the rents from certain tenements in West Cheap, London, to which the priest of St. Michael Cornhill, John Wardroper, and his churchwardens were claiming the title. Richard Hunne lived in Bridge Street, which was a Lollard center in London, his house stood just yards north of London Bridge, and his interest in the abuses of clerical privilege was very much heightened by the fact that he was Lollard. One of Hunne’s neighbors, Joan Baker, the wife of Gervais Baker, also a merchant-tailor, had just been sent to the Lollard Tower for her beliefs. Many Lollards were part of the Merchant-Tailor Guild of London, which would later play an important role in smuggling William Tyndale’s Bible into England and covering the cost of its printing. Hunne was known to sit daily reading his Bible in his shop and sharing the Gospel with people as they came and went over London Bridge. Soon after Hunne’s disagreement with Dryffeld, which had become known all over London, parliament began to debate a bill, which would be passed in November of 1512, that would place all clergymen under the authority of the civil laws of England, which at the time they were exempted from, and would force all offending priests to be tried before a civil court instead of an ecclesiastical court. On Monday, April 26th, 1512, Thomas Dryffeld struck out against Hunne by citing him before the Bishop of London’s court, which turned the case over to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth. Hunne was summoned before the Lambeth court in April, 1512. When before the court Hunne again refused to turn over the gown or the worth of the gown in silver to Dryffeld, who in turn demanded that the judge, Tunstall, excommunicate Hunne. Tunstall sidestepped the demand by ruling that he was hearing the case “out of court” and that Hunne had neither disobeyed the court nor showed contempt for the court, therefore excommunication was not appropriate. Hunne, having lost the case, nevertheless left the court still refusing to pay the fee and entirely unhindered in his freedom. He was not even required to pay the usual court costs. On December 27th, 1512, a day known as the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, Richard Hunne along with friends and servants returned to Whitechapel and entered the church where his son Stephen was buried. The chaplain, Henry Marshall, spotted Hunne among the congregation and suddenly brought the service to a halt. Then, in the ensuing silence, Henry Marshall proceeded to solemnly pronounce the following deadly words in a loud voice: “Hunne, thou art accursed, and thou standest accursed! Go thou therefore out of the church, for as long as thou art in this church I will say no evensong nor service!” Marshall, in cursing Hunne, had himself acted outside even the laws of the Church, for under canon law the only occasion upon which any church service could be brought to a stop was if an excommunicated man had entered the church. Hunne then hired Richard Hawlis to bring a case against Marshall for criminal slander. The judge sided with Hunne, but the details of recompense dragged on in court for two more years, because the judge, and those above him, understood the earth shaking ramifications of ruling in favor of Hunne against a priest, placing the king’s law over the law of the pope, and allowing a priest to be charged in a civil court. While Hunne’s suit was being heard in London, in Rome the 5th Lateran Council was in progress, presided over by Leo X. In direct response to Hunne’s case and parliament’s bill, the council issued a decree claiming that clergy were exempt not only from punishment by the secular courts, but even from trial before them. The current practice of the English courts, which was to try clerical offenders and only permit them to plead their office of clergy after conviction, was clearly incompatible with the law of pope. Before Hunne’s case was concluded he was arrested for heresy, and sent to St. Paul’s Lollards Tower. A month after Richard Hunne’s arrest, on Thursday, November 23rd,1514, Henry VIII summoned parliament to discuss the previous act concerning clerical immunity, and to see whether it should become permanently embodied in English law. On December 3rd, 1514 Hunne was murdered in his cell. The murderers tried to make it appear as though it was an act of suicide, but they left too many clues that it was not, one of them even forgot his cloak in the room. A wave of rage and indignation swept through out London as people learned of Hunne’s murder and the attempted cover up by the church officials. In an attempt to show the people that Hunne was a heretic and not to be pitied, Hunne’s Wycliffe Bible was put on display and the preface of the Bible, which argued that everyone should have access to the Bible in their own language, was printed and distributed throughout London. The very public case of Richard Hunne was one of the events that paved the way for the Reformation in England.


John Colet


In 1511, John Colet, Dean of St. Paul’s, was appointed to preach the Good Friday sermon before Henry VIII, who was preparing to invade France. Colet boldly spoke out against taking up arms for ambitious reasons. Colet was known to say “I admire the writings of the apostles, but I forget them almost, when I contemplate the wonderful majesty of Jesus Christ.” He set aside preaching on the texts prescribed by the church and began preaching through the Gospel of Matthew. He also preached on the need for reform in the church. In one sermon Colet said, “We see strange and heretical ideas appear in our days, and no wonder, but you must know there is no heresy more dangerous to the church than the vicious lives of its priests. A reformation is needed; and the reformation must begin with the bishops and be extended to the priests. The clergy once reformed, we shall proceed to the reformation of the people.” Colet translated the Lord’s Prayer into English for his congregation to say, in direct opposition to the church’s “Latin-only” policy, he also preached and held services in English. He set up and funded St. Paul’s School for the purpose of teaching the Scripture. William Lily became the first head-master of this seminary, which was the first “public school” in England that taught Greek. William Grocyn, who both studied and taught at St. Paul’s, became the first Englishman to teach Greek at Oxford University. William Warham Archbishop of Canterbury protected Colet from those in the church who sought to stop his work. Colet did not live long enough to join in the Reformation’s break with Rome, dying in 1519, but his work did much in preparing English scholars for that break.   


William Tyndale


Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire and entered Oxford University at a very young age, where he was known as a superb student and a man of pure character. He began studying Erasmus’s Greek New Testament and then began to give lectures on what he learned. These lectures were too pure in doctrine for those at Oxford, soon he moved to Cambridge. Tyndale became close friends with Thomas Bilney and John Fryth, and spent much time study his Bible and praying with them. He also became friends with Thomas Arthur, Thomas Cranmer, Myles Coverdale, Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer, all of these men would meet at the White Horse Inn to discuss matters of doctrine. Sir John Walsh of Sodbury Hall in Gloucestershire hired Tyndale as a tutor for his children. Being well liked by his master Tyndale usually ate at his table, where he met abbots, deacons, archdeacons, doctors and other learned men, with whom he entered into many discussions on the writings of Luther and Erasmus which gave him the opportunity to open the Scripture and share what God’s Word had to say.  During these discussions Tyndale exposed the manifold errors of the Roman church and made many enemies among the clergy and doctors. There was pressure put on Tyndale and the Walshes for him to keep quiet on his views. Tyndale for some time had been a friend of an old doctor, who lived nearby and had been arch-chancellor to a bishop, to whom Tyndale often sought counsel on Scripture and those things on his heart and mind. He sought counsel of this gentleman as the disfavor of the clergy increased. The doctor responded by saying: “Do you know that the Pope is the very Antichrist which the Scripture speaketh of? But beware what ye say, for if you shall be perceived to be of that opinion, it will cost you your life. I have been an officer of his, but I have given it up and defy him and all his works.” Soon after this Tyndale was in the company of a learned man, and while discussing the Scripture with him the man burst out with “We were better be without God’s law than the Pope’s.” To which Tyndale replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws, if God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than thou dost.” Soon after this, in 1523, Tyndale left the Walsh family because of the danger of falling into the hands of the local clergy. Tyndale went to London where he spent much time in public preaching. One of those that heard him preach, Humphrey Monmouth, who had come to know the Gospel under Dean John Colet’s preaching, opened his home for Tyndale to stay in. Tyndale’s friend John Fryth joined him in London and they both tirelessly worked for six months on translating the New Testament from Greek into English. During this time the persecution of Protestants greatly increased in London and Luther’s works were being publicly burned. Tyndale stated: “If, to possess the works of Luther exposes one to the stake, how much greater must be the crime of translating the Scriptures!” Therefore he set sail for Hamburg, while at sea his translation work was lost during a storm. William Roye, formerly a Franciscan friar in Greenwich, joined him in Hamburg and the two restarted the labor of translating the Bible. In 1524 the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were printed and sent to Humphrey Monmouth to distribute. After traveling to visit Luther in Wittenberg, Tyndale went to Cologne where he had printed 3,000 copies of his English New Testament, which were all destroyed by the authorities. Tyndale then went to Worms in 1525 where he had printed 1,500 copies which reached England. In the preface to the Bible he wrote: “Give diligence unto the words of eternal life, by the which, if we repent and believe them, we are born anew, created afresh and enjoy the fruits of the blood of Christ.” The Bibles were smuggled into London and put in Thomas Garret’s house. Thomas quietly worked to distribute them throughout London, Cambridge and Oxford. While distributing Bibles in Oxford Garret was arrested and thrown into prison. In 1528 John Fryth joined Tyndale in Marburg to help with the printing of Bibles. In 1529 Tyndale met and worked with Myles Coverdale who was working on translating the Bible into English as well. Tyndale then traveled to Antwerp where he stayed in a house that an Englishman, Thomas Poyntz, kept as a lodging house for English merchants. While in Antwerp he printed more Bibles. The night that the Bibles were smuggled out, he prayed: “O, God, draw this sharp sword from the scabbard. Strike, wound, cut asunder, the soul and the flesh, so that man being divided in two, and set at variance with himself, may be in peace with Thee to all eternity.” In 1534 John Rogers joined him to help translate the Old Testament and Myles Coverdale also rejoined him to help with the translation process. Soon after this Henry Phillips came from England. Phillips was tall, very handsome, well learned and had the manners and appearance of a gentleman. Tyndale quickly became friends with Phillips despite Poyntz’s counsel and misgivings about Phillips’ character and motives. Tyndale got Phillips a room near him and took him fully into his confidence. One day Phillips suggested that they go out for dinner. As they left Ponyntz’s house they passed through a narrow passage and Phillips, being the taller of the two, insisted that Tyndale go through first. Phillips had arranged for two soldiers to lay in wait at the end of the passage to capture Tyndale. Tyndale was thrown into prison in Brussels. Thomas Ponyntz tirelessly labored for Tyndale’s release while Phillips just as zealously worked for Tyndale’s death. Phillips was also able to secure Ponyntz’s arrest, who was imprisoned for 13 weeks until he was miraculously able to escape and flee to England. Rogers was able to save the work done on the Old Testament, which was just about ready to be printed. While Tyndale was imprisoned he did all he could to share the true Gospel with those in the castle. His trial lasted about a year and a half. On Friday, October 6th, 1536 William Tyndale was burned at the stake. He calmly said: “I call God to record, that I have never altered, against the voice of my conscience, one syllable of his Word. Nor would do this day, if all the pleasures, honors and riches of the earth might be given me.” As the executioner tied him to the stake Tyndale cried out, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!”    


Thomas Bilney


At a very early age Bilney entered Cambridge University from which he received a doctorate in law. Bilney was very concerned about the state of his soul, spending much of his time in confession and prayer and fasting. He lost weight and became poor in paying priests for their services. One day in 1516 he overheard a friend discussing Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, which had just been printed for the first time. Though afraid of falling into heresy by reading it, Bilney secretly bought a copy of this illegal book. He shut himself in his room and opened the volume, his eyes falling on I Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” After reading the verse several times he turned to Christ and his burdens were lifted and he was filled with wonderful joy. He began reading and studying his Bible. Once he embraced the true Gospel he was used in bringing many of his friends and fellow students to Christ, among them Thomas Arthur and Hugh Latimer. Bilney sought out the men that gathered at the White Horse Inn to discuss matters that were not allowed in the class room. When William Tyndale came to Cambridge he joined Bilney in his work of spreading the Gospel and they were soon joined by eighteen year old John Fryth. When confronted about his preaching on salvation without being ordained and in contradiction to the teaching of the ordained priest, he replied, “What would be the use of being a hundred times consecrated, were it even by a thousand papal bulls, if the inward calling is wanting? To no purpose hath the bishop breathed on our heads if we have never felt the breath of the Holy Ghost in our hearts?” After saying this he went to his room and going down on his knees he pleaded with the Lord to pour out His Spirit on him. Upon arising from prayer he cried out “A new time is beginning, the Christian assembly is about to be renewed, Jesus Christ, he is king and it is he who will call the true ministers commissioned to evangelize his people.” This time of prayer was before Luther nailed up his 95 Theses. After a time he left the university to devote himself to teaching and preaching throughout the countryside, accompanied and aided by Thomas Arthur. Cardinal Wolsey, who held great sway in England, ordered Bilney and Arthur imprisoned, and on November 27th, 1527 had them tried at Westminster Abbey. After several hearings, under pressure from friend and foe Bilney recanted, did public penance and was released. He returned to Cambridge in a state of despair at his own weakness. After seeking forgiveness from the Lord and receiving peace from Him he traveled to his home town in Norwich, Norfolk to preach the Gospel. Large crowds gathered to hear him preach. In 1531 he was recaptured in Norwich where he was tried and on August 19th, 1531 he was burned at the stake outside the city gate in a valley known as Lollards’ pit. He hugged and kissed the stake thankful that the Lord had given him a second chance to stand for His name and as the flames consumed him he kept calling out the name of Jesus.



John Fryth


John Fryth was the son of an innkeeper in Sevenoaks, Kent, who entered Cambridge to study mathematics. At Cambridge Thomas Bilney, who had recently come to salvation, befriended Fryth and sought to bring him to salvation. After a time of struggling with the truth of the Gospel William Tyndale led him in surrendering his life to Christ at the age of eighteen. He soon joined Bilney and Tyndale in spreading the Gospel throughout Cambridge. Fryth was always a gentle and peaceful defender of his faith, not given to fiery discourse. Soon after this he entered Cardinal Wosley’s College in Oxford. In 1525 he was imprisoned for going to London for six months and helping Tyndale work on translating the New Testament into English. Fryth was put into a dark foul smelling cell under the college where he spent the next three years. After he was finally released in 1528 he fled to Marburg where he helped Tyndale by managing the printing of the Bibles thus freeing Tyndale to focus on translation. Fryth followed Tyndale to Antwerp where he married. He also worked on writing pamphlets on matters of doctrine to be sent into England. During this time he rejected infant baptism. Fryth returned to England in 1532 and began going house to house sharing the Gospel. Sir Thomas Moore had him tracked down and imprisoned in the Tower of London. During Fryth’s imprisonment he was able to write and he was befriended by many powerful people who were in favor of reform, among them were Sir Thomas Moore’s son-in-law, Rastell, Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer. During his trials he readily confessed to opposing the doctrines of the Roman church. John Fryth was burned at the stake on July 4th, 1533 at Smithfield, along with a twenty-four year old admirer of his, Andrew Hewet.  His public and widely known death did much to help spread the Reformation in England.  


John Rogers


John Rogers was born in Birmingham and went to study at Cambridge from which he graduated in 1526. In 1534 he traveled to Antwerp as a chaplain to English merchants. While there he met Myles Coverdale and William Tyndale who led him out of Roman darkness to salvation. He helped Tyndale with his translation of the Old Testament. In 1536 when Tyndale was killed Rogers was able to save Tyndale’s work on the Old Testament. In 1537 he married Adrianna de Weyden with whom he had eleven children. Taking Tyndale’s unfinished work and filling in the missing books with Coverdale’s translation Rogers had it printed by his wife’s uncle under the name of the Matthew’s Bible, a code name for Tyndale’s Bible. Cranmer was able to secure a license for printing the Matthew’s Bible in England. The Matthew’s Bible was used in the preparation of the Great Bible in 1539 and the Authorized Version of 1611. In 1540 Rogers went to Wittenberg where he became good friends with Philip Melanchthon. He returned to England in 1548 and began to preach. When Mary was crowned he preached a sermon warning the people against popery and ten days later he was put under house arrest. In 1554 he was sent to Newgate prison where he was confined with John Hooper and John Bradford. John Rogers was burned at the stake on February 4th, 1555.


Myles Coverdale


Myles Coverdale was born in the North Riding of Yorkshire. At a young age he became an Augustinian monk and was ordained as a priest in 1514 in Norwich. He was a member of the Augustinian monastery in Cambridge and heard first-hand Erasmus’s appeal to the authority of the Bible. Robert Barnes who was the prior of the monastery in Cambridge became reformed and began teaching the true Gospel and in 1520 led Coverdale to salvation. Coverdale joined Bilney and Tyndale in meeting at the White Horse Inn to discuss the Scripture. In 1527 he was briefed by Thomas Cromwell about plans for an English Bible which Coverdale passionately believed was needed. In 1528 Coverdale left the priesthood and became preaching the Gospel in Suffolk. In 1529 he was forced to flee for his life to Hamburg where he joined Tyndale in Bible translation work. He then traveled to Antwerp where he worked as a press corrector for a printing press until 1534 when he rejoined William Tyndale, helping him and John Rogers in translation work. In 1535 he was approached by Thomas Cromwell who asked him to prepare an English Bible. Coverdale, unlike Tyndale, did not translate from the Greek and Hebrew but from the German Luther Bible, the Zurich Bible and the Latin Vulgate Bible. He also incorporated much of Tyndale’s translation work; this Bible was known as the Coverdale Bible. In 1539 Coverdale oversaw the work on the Great Bible, known as such because it was printed in such a large volume. In preparing the Great Bible Coverdale mostly used the Matthew’s Bible, which was the work of Tyndale and Rogers, instead of his own translation. After the death of Henry VIII Coverdale returned to England, where Queen Catherine Parr put him over the management of her alms to the poor and he was made a chaplain to Edward VI. In 1551 Coverdale was made the Bishop of Exeter but when Mary was crowned he was imprisoned. Because Coverdale’s wife was related to the chaplain to the King of Denmark Mary had him released to appease Denmark. After being released Coverdale took his family to Denmark and then to Geneva where he served as an elder in the English church there which at the time was being pastored by John Knox. Coverdale joined a group working on a new English translation, the Geneva Bible, which included Christopher Goodman, William Cole, John Knox, Thomas Sampson and William Whittingham, Calvin’s brother-in-law. The Geneva Bible was the first widely distributed English translation and it became the Bible of the Puritans, because it contained Reformed and Calvinistic notes. When Elizabeth came to the throne Coverdale returned to England where he served as a Puritan minded pastor until his death in 1568.   


Nicholas Ridley


Nicholas Ridley was born in Northumberland near the Scottish border. In 1518 he entered Cambridge University, where he distinguished himself as a student of great diligence and ability. He joined the men that met at the White Horse Inn to discuss Scripture, though unlike most that gathered there it was not until later that he began to reject the errors of Rome. In 1532 he was made chaplain of the university, in 1537 he became Archbishop Cranmer’s chaplain, in 1540 he was made Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge and then the chaplain to Henry VIII in the same year and in 1547 he was made Bishop of Rochester. In 1545 he finally renounced the doctrine of transubstantiation after having studied and wrestled with it for many years. In 1550 Edward VI made Ridley Bishop of London. Ridley worked closely with Cranmer to advance the Reformation throughout England, often advising Cranmer on the course he should take in directing the Reformation. Ridley did much of the work on drafting the Book of Common Prayer and the Forty-Two Articles which was the source of the less Calvinistic Thirty-Nine Articles, the doctrinal standard for the Anglican Church. Edward VI highly respected Ridley and followed his counsel closely, including setting up grammar schools and Christ’s Hospital. When Mary came to the throne Ridley was imprisoned in the Tower of London and then transferred to Oxford, where, on October 16th, 1555, he and Hugh Latimer were burned together at the stake.  


Hugh Latimer


Hugh Latimer was born in Leicestershire to a poor hard working yeoman and entered Cambridge University in 1505. He was a very serious minded student. He was greatly concerned when he heard that heresy was being spread among some of the students at Cambridge. He spoke out against anyone who read and studied Erasmus’s Greek New Testament. He also delivered a violent Latin speech against Philip Melanchthon and his doctrines. Thomas Bilney sought Latimer out saying “For the love of God be pleased to hear my confession.” Latimer, believing that Bilney was prepared to recant his “reformed heresy”, was willing and glad to listen. Bilney went down on his knees and began giving his testimony of salvation and the joy and peace that the Lord had given him. Latimer’s heart was melted, he began to weep and he fully embraced the Gospel. He began meeting with Bilney, Tyndale, Ridley and others at the White Horse Inn to study the Scripture, and he quickly rejected the errors of Rome to an even fuller extent than many of those he studied with. Latimer began forcefully and eloquently preaching the Gospel from the university pulpit. He also joined Bilney in visiting and preaching to the poor. The Bishop of Ely hearing of Latimer’s preaching barred him from the university pulpit but Robert Barnes the prior of the Augustinian monastery in Cambridge opened his pulpit to him. The only thing that prevented Latimer from being arrested was his outspoken support of Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon which gained him the king’s favor, who in 1531 appointed Latimer as a pastor in Wiltshire. He spent the next few years boldly preaching and trying to avoid imprisonment. In 1535 Latimer was tried, excommunicated and imprisoned until the king forced his release and made him Bishop of Worcester. As Bishop he continued as an able student, preacher, pastor and reformer. In 1536 Archbishop Cranmer had Latimer preach before the Convocation of the Clergy at which time he preached a forceful and searching sermon. In 1539 Latimer spoke out against the Six Articles that Henry VIII had drawn up as a statement of faith after breaking with the pope but which maintained many popish doctrines. His public resistance cost him his bishopric and he was forced into quiet retirement until 1546 when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. In 1547 as soon as Edward VI was declared king Latimer was released and offered back his bishopric which he declined. He labored to help Thomas Cranmer in bringing reform to the Church of England. Latimer preached twice a week and during the later part of Edward’s reign he became one of the young king’s favorite preachers. In 1553 when Mary came to the throne he was promptly imprisoned in the Tower of London where he was confined in the same cell as Thomas Cranmer, John Bradford and Nicholas Ridley. On October 16th, 1555 Latimer and Ridley were burnt together at the stake. As the fire was kindled Latimer cried out to his friend “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out!”       


John Bradford


John Bradford was born into a wealthy family in Manchester and was sent into the army. He then decided to pursue a career in law but changed his mind after being converted through the testimony of Thomas Sampson who was a good friend of his. Bradford sold many of his costly possessions, giving the money to the poor, and then he entered Cambridge University to study for the ministry. He studied under Martin Bucer, the Swiss reformer who had come to teach at Cambridge. Bucer had a great impact on Bradford’s thinking. He also became friends with Nicholas Ridley, who ordained him in 1550 and recommended Bradford to Edward VI to be chosen as one of six traveling evangelists who were to travel throughout England preaching the doctrines of the Reformation. Bradford wrote many letters, sermons, pamphlets and essays, many of them on false Roman doctrines, repentance and prayer. When Mary came to the throne Bradford was arrested and sentenced to death. He was burned at the stake at Smithfield on July 1st, 1555. A nineteen year old apprentice John Leaf was burnt at the same time for his faith. Before being tied to the stake Bradford cried out to the large crowd that had gathered, “O England, England, repent thee of thy sins, repent thee of thy sins. Beware of idolatry, beware of false antichrists, take heed they do not deceive you.” He turned to Leaf saying to the young man, “Be of good comfort, brother, for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night.”       


John Hooper


John Hooper was the only son of wealthy parents who lived in Somerset. He studied at Oxford and after graduation became a monk in the order of Cistercian, which stressed a rigorous life style. When Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries in England Hooper returned to Oxford. He was a diligent student of the Scripture, especially Paul’s epistles, through which he learned of the errors of Rome and became a zealous promoter of the Reformation. Hooper also read the writings of Zwingli and Bullinger. In 1540 he fled England in fear for his life. He stayed in Strasburg and Bâle. In 1546 Hooper traveled to Zurich where he became a good friend of Bullinger and where he married a French woman, Anna de Tzercles, who proved to be an excellent help-meet. Hooper returned to England in 1547. Jan Laski, the great reformer from Poland, who oversaw the churches of foreigners in London during Edward VI’s reign, became a very close friend of Hooper. In 1551 Hooper was made the Bishop of Gloucester. Hooper was an excellent, powerful and popular preacher. He worked to bring about reform in his diocese and to train the 311 clergymen under his charge, who were for the most part woefully ignorant of the Bible and basic Christian doctrines. Hooper desired to see the Anglican Church conform to the Reformed churches of Zurich and Geneva. He is seen as an early leader in what was to become the Puritan movement in England. When Mary came to the throne Hooper knew his life was in danger but he said: “Once I did flee and took me to my feet. But now, because I am called to this place and vocation, I am thoroughly persuaded to tarry, and to live and die with my sheep.” In 1554 during Mary’s reign Hooper was imprisoned for 17 months, tried and sentenced to death for his beliefs. Tradition says that he wrote these lines of poetry with a piece of coal on his cell wall:


Content thyself with patience

With Christ to bear the cross of pain:

Who can or will recompense

A thousand-fold, with joy again.

Let nothing cause thy heart to fail:

Launch out thy boat, hoist up thy sail,

Put from the shore;

And be thou sure thou shalt attain

Unto the port, that shall remain

For evermore.


Fear not death, pass not for bands,

Only in God put thy whole trust;

For He will require thy blood at their hands,

And thou dost know that once die thou must,

Only for that thy life if thou give,

Death is no death, but amens for to live.

Do not despair:

Of no worldly tyrant be thou in dread;

Thy compass, which is God’s Word, shall thee lead,

And the wind is fair.


On February 9th, 1555, before a crowd of about 7,000, Hooper was burned at the stake. He was in the flames an agonizing 45 minutes before he finally died, praying aloud to the Lord as long as he was able.    


Thomas Cranmer



Thomas Cranmer was born in Asloskton, Nottinghamshire, the second son of a small land owner. In 1503 at the age of 14 he entered Cambridge University, where he studied scholastic authors. In 1511 Cranmer received a fellowship and began studying Erasmus and other humanists. In 1515 he lost his fellowship because he married. His wife, Joan, died in childbirth a year after their marriage at which time Cranmer’s fellowship was restored. In 1517 Cranmer began reading Luther’s writings and took three years to intensely study the Scripture, seeking to know if Luther’s or the pope’s teachings aligned with the Bible. In 1520 he joined the group of men, made up in part of Bilney, Tyndale, Latimer, Coverdale and Ridley, who met at the White Horse Inn to discuss Luther and the Scripture. In 1520 he was also ordained and became a university preacher and in 1523 he received a Doctorate of Divinity from Cambridge. By 1525 Cranmer was privately praying for the abolition of the papacy. When Henry VIII desired to divorce Catherine of Aragon, Cranmer was very outspoken in his belief that the marriage, though sanctioned by the pope, was unlawful, because Catherine was the widow of Henry’s older brother Arthur. In 1529 Cranmer’s justification of the king’s divorce reached Henry, who ordered him to write a defense of the divorce. From 1530 until 1532 Cranmer was sent to France, Germany and Rome arguing before princes, kings, the emperor, the pope and his papal court for the lawfulness of Henry’s divorce. While meeting with Lutheran princes he met reformer Andreas Osiander and his niece, Margaret, who Cranmer secretly married in 1532 and with whom he had three children. On January 25th, 1533 Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn who was already pregnant with the future Queen Elizabeth. In March of 1533 Cranmer was made Archbishop of Canterbury, and in May he proclaimed the annulment of Henry and Catherine’s marriage and announced Henry’s marriage to Anne valid. In 1536 Cranmer annulled Henry’s marriage to Anne based on a rumor that she had been unfaithful which freed Henry to marry his new interest Jane Seymour. After encouraging Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves Cranmer supported the king’s divorce from her a few months later. Cranmer also played a role in the trial and execution of Henry’s wife Catherine Howard. Besides supporting Henry in his many marital upheavals Cranmer worked with Thomas Cromwell to bring about reform in the church. He supported the printing of the Bible in English and abandoned the teaching of transubstantiation. Though many of Cranmer’s enemies tried to convict him of heresy Henry’s unwavering trust and favor of Cranmer kept him safe. When Henry died Cranmer was beside him holding his hand. As a sign of grief at the king’s death Cranmer grew a beard which he kept for the rest of his life. During Edward VI’s reign Cranmer joined Edward’s proctors, first Edward Seymour and then John Dudley, in their efforts to make the Church of England Reformed in doctrine and practice. He was greatly influenced and aided by Bishops Latimer and Ridley, who were both committed to Protestantism. Cranmer worked to produce the Book of Homilies, to help pastors to preach, and the Book of Common Prayer, which first appeared in 1549 and was then revised to be more Reformed in 1552. In 1553 he published his Forty-Two Articles as the confession of faith of the Anglican Church. When Edward died Cranmer supported Lady Jane Grey’s proclamation as queen. When she was quickly deposed by Mary Cranmer was arrested for treason and heresy. After a long imprisonment and strenuous trial Cranmer signed a recantation of his Protestant beliefs which he was to read at his execution on March 21st, 1556. But instead of publicly recanting his faith as he stood by the stake he forcefully proclaimed: “I come to the great thing that so much troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that ever I did or said in my life. And that is setting abroad in writing contrary to my conscience and the truth; which now I here renounce and refuse as things written with my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart and written for fear of death, to save my life if it might be. And that is all such bills and papers which I have written and signed with my hand since my degradation; wherein I have written many things untrue. And, forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, my hand therefore shall be first burnt. And as for the Pope, I utterly refuse him as Christ’s enemy and Antichrist, with all his false doctrine.”   He then held his right hand in the flames until it was burned to a stump, after which he was bound to the stake and died in the flames.         


Thomas Cromwell


In 1520 Thomas Cromwell began working for Cardinal Wolsey as a solicitor and in 1525 he was sent to dissolve some lesser monasteries. After Wolsey fell into disfavor in 1529 Cromwell entered parliament where his abilities gained the notice of Henry VIII, who in 1530 included Cromwell in his council. He gained many offices and privileges in the coming years. When the pope refused to annul Henry VIII’s first marriage, Cromwell became the master mind behind the plan to separate the Church of England from Rome and make Henry the head of the new Anglican Church. His plan was implemented in 1534 with the passage of the Act of Supremacy. It is unclear what Cromwell’s personal religious beliefs were, but he believed that a purer church free from Roman rule was good politically and economically for the nation. From 1536-1540 Cromwell tirelessly worked to dissolve all the monasteries in England, confiscating all their wealth and property for the king. Cromwell was appointed the king’s deputy as head of the church and labored to bring about radical reform in the church. This caused him to fall into disfavor with the king who wanted freedom from the pope’s authority but not from his doctrine and practice. After pressuring the king into marrying the Protestant, Anne of Cleves, whom the king greatly disliked, Cromwell fell into great disfavor with the king and was soon arrested and on July 28th, 1540, he was executed.         


Henry VIII

reign 1509-1547

During the first years of Henry VIII’s reign the then handsome and athletic king involved his court in lavish pageantry and supported and pursued Renaissance art and literature, while trying to advance his power by invading Scotland and France. The persecution of the Lollards increased under Henry and in 1521 Henry wrote a book against Luther and his teachings. The ruthless and ambitious Thomas Wolsey Archbishop of York, who had become good friends with Henry, was made Chancellor of England. As the Reformation began to spread in England Wolsey, who had been made a Cardinal, became the arch-enemy of the movement, wielding his great power to murder Lollards, suppress reformed writings and put a stop to William Tyndale’s labors to translate and distribute the Bible in English. Henry’s disfavored wife Catherine of Aragon, who was the widow of his older brother Arthur, had been unable to produce a male heir and Henry, who was always a philanderer, desired to marry his latest favorite, the beautiful and popular twenty-year old Anne Boleyn, who was the younger sister of one of Henry’s former mistresses. The pope was unwilling to annul Henry’s marriage and Wolsey, torn between his role in the church and in the state, fell into disfavor, was removed from power and soon died. Thomas Cromwell who in 1532 had taken control of the king’s council advised Henry to break with Rome freeing him to divorce Catherine and marry Anne. On January 25th, 1533 Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn who was already pregnant with the future Queen Elizabeth. In May of 1533 the newly appointed Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, proclaimed the annulment of Henry and Catherine’s marriage and announced Henry’s marriage to Anne as valid, to which the pope reacted by excommunicating Henry and the English church. In 1534 with the passage of the Act of Supremacy Henry was declared the head of the English church and Cromwell and Cranmer began the work of closing the monasteries and reforming the church. Under this reform Henry was pressured to license the Great Bible, the work of William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale, and ordered the Injunctions of 1536, which required a copy of the Great Bible to be chained to every pulpit in England. Thomas Cranmer wrote a preface to the Great Bible laying out the need for everyone to know and study the Bible. Through the Injunctions of 1538 Henry required the priest to read from the Great Bible every Sunday. Though these reforms were carried out Henry was still opposed to the Protestant Reformation, and sought to suppress Lutherans, Lollards and Anabaptists. Much of Henry’s reign was filled with the suspicion and execution of advisers and continual marriage difficulties; marrying Jane Seymour after having Anne Boleyn who had been framed as an adulteress executed, after Jane’s death he went on to marry and divorce Anne of Cleves, marry and then execute the young and promiscuous Catherine Howard, then marrying Catherine Parr, and through it all sporting with many other women at court. He died holding the hand of Thomas Cranmer, who was one of the few favorites to survive to the end of Henry’s reign.    


Edward VI

reign 1547-1553

The Reformation made great strides during young Edward VI’s reign. From 1547-1549 Edward’s uncle Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, ruled as Protector. Seymour favored a moderate Protestantism and worked for reform through Thomas Cranmer. In 1549 John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, took control and, in agreement with Edward’s own strong religious beliefs, moved the Anglican Church in a more Reformed, Low-Church, Calvinistic and Puritanical direction. The Sternhold and Hopkins’s Psalter, first published in 1547, became the standard song book of the Anglican Church. The king enjoyed and supported the preaching of Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, John Knox and John Hooper. Cranmer’s Calvinist Forty-Two Articles became the confession of the Anglican Church and the Book of Common Prayer became the order for all religious services. Edward also took a personal and active role in setting up boys’ schools and hospitals. Just as the devout king began to take a more active role in the kingdom and the church he died of tuberculosis.       



Lady Jane Gray

reign July 9th-19th, 1553

Lady Jane Gray was the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister Mary. She grew up in the home of Catherine Parr, the widow of Henry, who was remarried to Thomas Seymour the brother of Edward VI’s mother Jane. After Catherine’s death Thomas Seymour unsuccessfully worked to secure Jane’s marriage to Edward VI. Jane was beautiful, intelligent, studious, modest and a very puritanical Protestant.  In May of 1533 Jane was married to Guilford Dudley, the son of the powerful Duke of Northumberland. When Edward VI died on July 6th, 1553, the seventeen year old Jane was made queen. She was crowned out of a well founded fear of having the English Reformation destroyed and based on the argument that Mary, the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, was illegitimate because the marriage of her parents was biblically unlawful, and that Elizabeth was also illegitimate being conceived out of wedlock. After ten days Mary was able to easily depose Jane, having her, her husband and her father put in the Tower of London. Lady Jane and her husband were both beheaded on February 12, 1554, stirring up much popular sympathy. She became revered as a Protestant martyr.             


Bloody Mary

reign 1553-1558

Mary was at first greeted by the English people who did not want to see her lose her right to the throne, but they soon learned what a harsh and ruthless ruler she was. She was a fanatical Catholic bent on entirely destroying the English Reformation. The English Church was returned under the tyranny of Rome. Many Protestant leaders were martyred, turning the English people against Mary and increasing Protestantism’s popularity among the common people. The harder Mary worked to stamp out the Reformation the more the people turned to it. Mary also married the tyrannical and cruel Philip II of Spain who was active in the mass slaughter of Protestants in the Netherlands. When she died childless the people rejoiced to be free from Bloody Mary, as she had become known.   


Elizabeth I

reign 1558-1603

Elizabeth, a moderate but staunch Protestant, again severed the English Church’s ties to Rome. Throughout her reign she worked to maintain a High-Church Anglicanism, which angered both Catholics and Puritans, but appealed to most Englishmen who adored their queen for allowing so much religious freedom and freeing them from Catholic rule. During Elizabeth’s reign Spain was prevented from invading England, in part by a gracious act of God Who sent a storm to destroy the Spanish fleet, which was poised to attack. The nation grew greatly in wealth and power under Elizabeth. By having Mary Queen of Scots executed Elizabeth not only protected her own throne but she also secured Protestantism in Scotland.  In a less Calvinistic revision of Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles, the Thirty-Nine Articles became the confession of faith of the Anglican Church and a moderate edition (less Puritan than the edition of Edward VI’s reign) of the Book of Common Prayer became the standard for worship. During the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign she allowed less religious freedom and began to crackdown on Puritans, Separatists and Anabaptists, which led to a few executions.         

John Foxe


John Foxe entered Oxford at the age of 16 where through the study of Scripture he came to Christ. In 1547 he became a tutor to the Earl of Surrey’s children. He was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church and began collecting source documents on pre-reformation anti-papist English martyrs. When Mary came to the throne Foxe, a committed Protestant, left for the continent, where he stayed in Frankfurt, where he was part of John Knox’s church, and then in Basle. While in Basle friends began sending him documents concerning the many Protestant leaders being slaughtered by Mary, and he commenced writing his famous martyrology, Actes and Monuments, better known as The Book of Martyrs, which was first printed in 1559. Foxe returned to England where he collected many more documents and firsthand accounts of the martyrdoms under Mary, which he used in a greatly enlarged edition of his The Book of Martyrs, which was printed in 1570. Foxe was a staunch Puritan and besides compiling the history of martyrs he also preached further reform in the church. In 1575 when Elizabeth condemned to death some Anabaptists, Foxe wrote several letters trying to save their lives. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was placed in most Anglican churches and was widely bought throughout England. It inspired all Protestants in their continued fight against Rome and Puritans who were persecuted for working to complete the reformation of the English Church. The Book of Martyrs also helped give Englishmen a distinctively Protestant identity.               


Richard Hooker


At the age of fifteen Richard Hooker entered Oxford University, where he studied, among other works, Calvin’s Institutes and was taught a defense of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. Through the study of early church fathers, renaissance authors, and medieval scholars, Hooker rejected his earlier held dogmatic Calvinism. He was elected master of Temple Church, where he preached alongside staunch Calvinist and Low-Churchman, Walter Travers. Where Travers wanted the Anglican Church to become more like the Reformed churches of Geneva, Hooker desired to maintain much of the doctrine and practice of Rome. In 1591 he left his post at the Temple Church to focus on his writing. His most important work was Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Politie, a defense of High-Anglicanism against Calvinist Puritanism. High-Anglicanism stresses the need for bishops, liturgy, vestments and the centrality of Communion in the worship service, usually coupled with an emphasis on free-will and works above sovereign grace in salvation. Hooker did not believe that the Bible was the sole authority in the church, but that the Bible, the church officials, and church tradition stood as a three-fold authority over church matters. Hooker’s work became one of the foremost theologies of High-Anglicans for many generations.       




Thomas Cartwright


In 1553 when Mary took the throne Cartwright was forced to leave Cambridge University where he was studying. When Elizabeth was crowned he returned to Cambridge. After finishing his theological studies Cartwright became a teacher at the university. During this time he showed himself to be an out spoken Puritan, Presbyterian and Calvinist. He zealously taught the need to purge the Anglican church of Roman high-church traditions, remove the bishops and work for simple unadorned worship. This outspoken energetic zeal kindled a fire in the hearts and minds of many young men who would become future Puritan leaders. Cartwright traveled to Geneva to study under Theodore Beza. He returned to England in 1572 but was soon forced to flee to Antwerp. In 1576 Cartwright helped organize Huguenot churches in the Channel Islands. In 1585 he returned to London, and spent the next few years in and out of prison for preaching Puritanism. He died in 1603.

Richard Rogers


In 1574 Richard Rogers became a preacher in the village of Wetherfield. He set up a school in his home to teach young men and labored to bring those in his parish to a personal knowledge of the Gospel. Rogers wrote a book on practical godly living, The Seven Treatises, which was very popular among the Puritans and went through many printings. Those who knew him best attested to the fact that Rogers exemplified the godly life that he wrote about in all aspects of his life, as a pastor, father of a large family, a schoolmaster, a farmer and a student of God’s Word.

John Greenham


John Greenham worked as a tutor at Cambridge University until 1570 when he took up a pastorate in the village of Dry Drayton near Cambridge. He was very generous to the poor and was an excellent counselor and encourager to those around him. Many young men, desiring to grow in their faith and prepare for ministry, gathered around Greenham. He was Reformed and Nonconformist in his belief and practice, which drew the criticism of some, but both his non-combative nature and the help of powerful friends kept him out of harm’s way.       

William Perkins


William Perkins ministered at Cambridge. He wrote many works; among the most influential to the Puritan movement was his exposition on the subject of preaching, The Art of Prophesying. Perkins was an eloquent speaker and he used his gift to preach the Gospel to large crowds and in prisons. It was said that in his sermons he preached all law and all grace at the same time, showing the sinner his utter sinfulness and the endless grace of a loving God.  

Laurence Chaderton


Laurence Chaderton was raised in a strong Roman Catholic family and was disinherited when he embraced the Gospel and showed himself to be a Puritan. When Sir Walter Mildmay founded Emmanuel College at Cambridge he chose Chaderton to be the headmaster, a position he filled for forty years. Chaderton preached for fifty years at St. Clement’s Church in Cambridge. When he retired from preaching forty ministers pled with him not to stop his ministry as they had all been saved under his preaching.   

Edward Dering


Edward Dering entered Cambridge at the beginning of Mary’s reign. As a young man he had a fervent faith and was passionate about the truth of salvation from sin. Dering was esteemed as one of the foremost Greek scholars and orators of his time, and in 1564 was chosen to deliver a speech in Greek before Queen Elizabeth when she came to visit Cambridge University. He had the respect of the Archbishop of Canterbury and was called on to preach at several important state functions. Around 1569 he became deeply concerned about the ignorance, superstition and moral baseness of most of the clergy in England. On February 25th, 1570 he preached before Queen Elizabeth in her chapel and forcefully reproved her for not doing her duty as the head of the English church by allowing many unfit ministers into Anglican pulpits. This sermon created quite a sensation and was printed and re-printed many times, helping with the rise of the Puritan movement. While Dering’s popularity increased among those with a passion for the purity of the church his influence among the leading clergy and the Queen’s court declined and the Queen tried to discreetly have him silenced to no avail. The bishop of London who at the time desired true reform in the church opened the pulpit of St. Paul’s in London to him for a time, where he preached a powerful series on the Book of Hebrews. In 1571 Dering married Anne Locke, an admirer of John Knox who had spent time sitting under his preaching in Geneva. Besides ministering through preaching, Dering ministered through an extensive correspondence. He died of tuberculosis in 1576.        

John Dod


John Dod entered Cambridge University a rebel against God and man, but while there he was converted and wondrously transformed. Becoming a preacher, for twenty years he ministered in Hanwell, Oxfordshire, and was very popular. Beginning in 1604 he experienced fierce persecution for his Puritan preaching. Dod preached twice on Sunday and once during the week. He also opened his home to many people for fellowship, training and counsel. Many Puritan pastors, including ones considering immigrating to America, sought out Dod for counsel.      



Robert Browne

In 1572 Browne graduated from Cambridge University, where he had been influenced by Puritan Thomas Cartwright. For awhile Browne preached at St. Mary’s Church, Islington, where he strongly taught Puritan doctrines. In 1578 he returned to Cambridge and came under the influence of Richard Greenham, Puritan rector of Dry Drayton. Browne came to the conclusion that working to purify the Anglican Church from within was futile and that true believers should separate from the corrupt church. In 1581 Browne worked to set up a Separatist church in Norwich, for which he was promptly arrested. After being released he and his followers fled to the Netherlands. He soon returned to England and labored to establish Separatist congregations. During this time he was imprisoned 32 times for his teaching. Browne published many works advancing congregationalism and separatism; some of his most important works were A Treatise of Reformation Without Tarrying for Any, Four Causes of Separation, and The True Church and the False Church. Browne later turned his back on his separatist views and re-entered the Church of England, turning on his former followers who were still called Brownists. The Brownists grew into the Congregational or Independent church from which the English Baptists would come. 


John Greenwood and Henry Barrowe

Henry Barrowe graduated from Cambridge in 1569, while John Greenwood studied at Cambridge in the 1570s and 80s. Both were strong Puritans who became strict Separatists. Greenwood was ordained as a chaplain in 1581, but shortly afterwards rejected his own ordination by a state church as biblical unlawful. In 1581 Barrowe was imprisoned after preaching a radical Puritan sermon; he was soon released and worked pastoring secret Separatist congregations out in the country. In 1586 Greenwood became the leader of a Separatist church in London. He was imprisoned in Fleet Prison. Barrowe came to visit him and soon joined him as a fellow inmate. While in prison the two were able to work together writing many Separatist tracts, which were smuggled into the Netherlands where they were printed and then smuggled back into England. Greenwood and Barrowe believed that state churches were illegitimate and that local congregations should be independently ruled by elders, unlike the Brownists who believed that state churches were legitimate, but that the Church of England was too corrupt to be reformed, and that Separatist congregations should be ruled by democratic rule.  On April 6th, 1593 both men were hanged together for their beliefs and writings. 


John Robinson


Born in Sturton-Le-Steeple in Nottinghamshire John Robinson entered the University of Cambridge in 1592. While at Cambridge he became a Puritan in his beliefs. In May, 1598, he was admitted a Fellow of his college and ordained a priest of the Church of England and became a lecturer in Greek. In August, 1603, Robinson became associate pastor of St. Andrew’s Church in the Norwich, which was mostly made up of Puritans.  Since college Fellows were prohibited from marrying, Robinson resigned his so that he could marry Bridget White in 1604. After refusing to support James I’s Book of Canons, he left his post and began preaching privately in Nottinghamshire. In 1607 he joined a Separatist congregation in Scrooby of about one hundred members that met in the home of William Brewster, an old friend of Robinson who he had met when they were both at Cambridge. John Robinson soon joined Richard Clyfton and William Brewster in leading the growing congregation, which was preparing to flee to Amsterdam. In 1608 they arrived in Amsterdam and shortly went to Leiden, where Robinson would pastor for the rest of his life. He studied at the University of Leiden and worked to write and print 62 essays on Separatism and pure worship. In 1619 a core of his congregation immigrated to what became New England. Robinson had hoped to follow after a few years but he became ill and died in 1625. Less abrasive and more stable and productive than many Separatist leaders, such as Browne, Robinson left an enduring mark on Separatists in England and America. 



Anabaptists in England can be divided into two groups, ‘the native Anabaptists’ and ‘the foreign Anabaptists’. The native English Anabaptists came mostly from the Lollards, but also from the remnants of the Celtic Church and English Waldensians as well. These native Anabaptists were Reformed in their theology and were centered in west central England and Wales. The foreign Anabaptists were Dutch, Flemish and Swiss refugees whose beliefs reflected that of the various Anabaptists in Europe and were centered in Kent and London. The foreign Anabaptists were able to convert many English, especially in Kent.

“The first Christians who dwelt in this land were of the same faith and order as the churches now called Baptist. All along our history from Henry II to Henry VIII there are traces of the Anabaptists, who are usually mentioned either in connection with the Lollards or as coming from Holland. Despite their being doomed to die, almost as soon as they landed, they continued to invade this country to the annoyance of the priesthood and hierarchy.” -C.H. Spurgeon

Simon Fish and James Bainham, in the year 1525, belonged to an Anabaptist church located in Bow Lane, London. Fish was a theologian and a pamphleteer. He was denounced as a damnable heretic, and in 1531 he died of a plague. His wife, who was suspected of heresy, married Bainham. James Bainham was a barrister in Middle Temple and a knight. He demanded that only believers should be baptized in this militant church and so was burnt for heresy in 1532 in Smithfield.

An Englishman writing in 1531 to Erasmus of the great numbers of the Anabaptists in England, wrote “It is not astonishing that wood is so dear and scarce, the heretics cause so many holocausts and yet their numbers grow”.

Foxe records that in 1535, according to the registers of London, nineteen ‘Anabaptists’ were put to death in various parts of the realm, and that fourteen Hollanders were burnt in pairs in England.

Robert Cooke was a celebrated Baptist who lived during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. He was connected with the court for more than forty years. He was ardent in his opinions, full of debate, eloquent and well educated.

Henry VIII published a proclamation on November 16th, 1538, condemning all Anabaptists and their books.

In 1548, Anabaptist congregations gathered at Booking and Feversham, among which were many English names. Sixty of their members were arrested; and Henry Hart, who was known to be “strict and holy in life but hot in his opinions”, Humphrey Middleton, Cole of Feversham and Brodbridge, four of their ministers, were made prisoners. Middleton was martyred in the reign of Edward IV, and when Archbishop Cranmer threatened him with death he replied: ‘Reverend sir, pass what sentence you think fit upon us. But that you may not say that you were not forewarned, I testify that your turn may be next.” Another preacher in Kent was John Kemp who “was a great traveler abroad in Kent, instructing and confirming the gospellers”.

Anne Askew was an Anabaptist and a lady of rank. She helped to circulate the Bible and other religious books privately in the palace. The lord mayor demanded of her: ‘Sayest thou that the priests cannot make the body of Christ?’ She answered: ‘I say so, my lord; for I have read that God made man, but that man can make God I have never yet read.’ Q. ‘What if a mouse eat of the bread after the consecration? What shall become of the mouse, thou foolish woman?’ Ans. ‘What shall become of her, say you, my lord?’ He replied: ‘I say that that mouse is damned!’ She rejoined, ‘Alack, poor mouse!’ When condemned to be burnt in 1546, she was carried in a chair to the stake. There a written pardon was offered to her from the king if she would recant, but she calmly turned her eyes away, and fell in the flames.

Joan Boucher of Kent was an Anabaptist, a lady of note, possessing large wealth, and well known at the palace in the days of Henry VIII and Edward VI. With her friend Anne Askew she was devoted to the study and circulation of Tyndale’s Bible translation. She was charged with various ‘heresies’ and arrested. Amongst other things, she denied that the Virgin Mary was sinless by nature, insisting that like other women she needed to rejoice “in God her Saviour”. Joan did not deny the humanity of Christ, but she did believe, as did many other Anabaptists of her day, including Menno Simons, that Christ was created inside Mary, not deriving any of his humanity from her, who was simply a conduit through which he was brought into the world. She was burned on May 2, 1550 for these beliefs.

Hendrick Terwoort was Flemish by birth and known for his sharp mind. In his early twenties he rejected infant baptism and came to the belief that a Christian should not take oaths or bear arms. He set up a prosperous goldsmithing business in England. At the age of 25 he married and some 10 weeks after the wedding was imprisoned. Jan Pieters, also a Flemish immigrant, was imprisoned at the same time. He was an elderly man, very poor and had nine children still at home. His first wife had been martyred in Flanders for being an Anabaptist, his second wife was the widow of a martyr. Both men were sentenced to death. As they went forth, Jan Pieters said, “The holy prophets, and also Christ, our Saviour, have gone this way before us, even from the beginning, from Abel until now.” They were burned at Smithfield on June 22, 1575.

Most of the Particular or Calvinistic Baptists who arose in the 1630s, from whom the majority of Baptist churches today derive their origin, came out of the English Separatist movement and not from the Anabaptist groups of the 1500s. A few of them did come from old Lollard congregations, they also seem to have been influenced by Menno Simons’ writings on baptism. Some of the foreign Anabaptists groups did join the General or Free Will Baptists who organized themselves at the beginning of the 1600s under the leadership of John Smyth, who came from an English Separatist church.


“Albeit the King’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and oweth to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations, yet nevertheless for corroboration and confirmation thereof, and for increase of virtue in Christ’s religion within this realm of England, and to repress and extirpate all errors, heresies, and other enormities and abuses heretofore used in the same; be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that the King our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, Kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted, and reputed the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England, called Anglicana Ecclesia…Kings of this realm shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain, and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts, and enormities…” -The Act of Supremacy (1534)

The Thirty-Nine Articles (1563)

Article 6 Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite as necessary to salvation.

Article 12 Of Good Works

Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree discerned by the fruit.

Article 23 Of Ministering in the Congregation

It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same….

Article 25 Of the Sacraments

Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession; but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith in him. These are two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the gospel, that is to say, baptism and the supper of the Lord….

Article 32 Of the Marriage of Priests

Bishops, priests and deacons are not commanded by God’s law to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better godliness.

Article 34 Of the Traditions of the Church

It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or utterly like, for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever through his private judgment willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like, as he that offendeth against the common order of the church and hurteth that authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren. Every particular or national church hath authority to ordain, change and abolish only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

Article 38 Of Christian Men’s Goods, Which Are Not Common

The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast; notwithstanding, every man ought of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.

Lambeth Articles. Cambridge University became the center of Calvinistic and Low-Church doctrine, led by Thomas Cartwright, William Perkins and William Whitaker. In response to an attack on Calvinism from within the university, William Whitaker drew up a statement of Calvinistic doctrine, which was adopted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift, at Lambeth. Richard Fletcher Bishop of London and Richard Vaughan Bishop Elect of Bangor also joined in signing these articles. Queen Elizabeth was not pleased that the bishops had acted without her permission and ordered it recalled. At the Hampton Court Conference, in the beginning of James I’s reign, Puritan leaders unsuccessfully tried to have the Lambeth Articles added to the Thirty-Nine Articles. At the Synod of Dort in 1619 the English delegates presented the Lambeth Articles as the Anglican statement on the doctrines of salvation. Puritans and the Irish Anglicans became the only ones to hold these articles as authoritative. 


The Lambeth Articles (1595)

  1. God from eternity hath predestinated certain men unto life; certain men he hath reprobated.

  2. The moving or efficient cause of predestination unto life is not the foresight of faith, or of perseverance, or of good works, or of any thing that is in the person predestinated, but only the good will and pleasure of God.

  3. There is predetermined a certain number of the predestinate, which can neither be augmented nor diminished.

  4. Those who are not predestinated to salvation shall be necessarily damned for their sins.

  5. A true, living, and justifying faith, and the Spirit of God justifying, is not extinguished, falleth not away; it vanisheth not away in the elect, either finally or totally.

  6. A man truly faithful, that is, such a one who is endued with a justifying faith, is certain, with the full assurance of faith, of the remission of his sins and of his everlasting salvation by Christ.

  7. Saving grace is not given, is not granted, it not communicated to all men, by which they may be saved if they will.

  8. No man can come unto Christ unless it shall be given unto him, and unless the Father shall draw him; and all men are not drawn by the Father, that they may come to the Son.

  9. It is not in the will or power of every one to be saved.



Davydd Ddu [David Black], of Hiraddug, on the borders of Cardiganshire, and Dr. John Kent, of Grismond, in Monmouthshire, distinguished themselves as reformers, and by their preaching and writing wrought much good in Wales. Davydd Ddu translated part of the Bible into Welsh, which was widely circulated. Dr. Kent, who was a respected bard, labored with his pen, in prose and verse, to reclaim the clergy from their indolence and vices, which he manfully exposed. Both Ddu and Kent were accused of being magicians and there are many traditions about their disputes with familiar spirits and their cleverness in cheating the devil.

Revivals took place in several cloisters and many of the monks came out from behind their walls and let their light shine before men. From the monastery of Margam, in Glamorganshire, a large majority of the monks left and joined the reformed movement. Thomas Evan ab Rhys was a monk from this monastery. He traversed throughout the hills and valleys of Wales to call his countrymen to awake to righteousness.

In 1533 Henry VIII broke with Rome and three years later, in 1536, Wales was fully united with England, giving the people equal rights with the English under the law, but making it illegal to hold services in the Welsh language. At the time almost all the people of Wales only spoke Welsh and very few of them were able to read any language. The language barrier prevented much spreading of the Reformation teaching in the county. When a copy of the Great Bible was placed in every church in England and Wales in 1539, it did not benefit the Welsh population. It made little difference to the Welsh people if they heard a Latin Roman Mass or an English Protestant Homily, they could not understand either. Outside of the church the people practiced a religion that was a mixture of Roman superstition and ancient Druid rites.  

Bishop Robert Farrar, Bishop of Saint David’s, the most prominent diocese in Wales, helped spread Protestantism in Wales. During Bloody Mary’s reign he was imprisoned at King's Bench at the same time as John Bradford who encouraged him in his faith. Farrar was burned at the stake for his faith.

Edmwnd Prys


Edmwnd Prys was appointed Archdeacon of Meirionnydd in 1576. He was proficient in eight languages, including Hebrew, and was a competent poet in the traditional Welsh strict metres. He wrote a Welsh Psalter, which became widely used after it was printed with Davies’ translation of the Book of Common Prayer in 1621.

William Salesbury


William Salesbury was born in the parish of Llansannan, Conwy. By 1540 he had moved to Plas Isa, Llanrwst, and married Catrin Llwyd. He then went to Oxford University, where he studied Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and became familiar with the writings of Martin Luther and William Tyndale, which brought him to a reformed persuasion. While at Oxford he also learned the art of printing. In 1547 Salesbury produced an English-Welsh dictionary and a book of 930 Welsh proverbs by Gruffudd Hiraethog. In 1550 Salesbury printed A Brief and a Plain Introduction, Teaching How to Pronounce the Letters in the British Tongue, Now commonly Called Welsh, which contained a comparative study of Welsh sounds with Hebrew and Greek, plus an examination of the Latin element in Welsh. In 1550 he also published in Welsh and English an attempt to justify Protestant doctrine in favor of clerical marriage to the Welsh and English by establishing precedent for it in the “ancient law” of a Welsh king. During Mary’s reign he went into hiding in Llanrwst. Salesbury’s motto became “Mynwch yr yscrythur lan yn ych iaith”, “Insist on having Holy Scripture in your language”. In 1563, through the labors of Salesbury and some of his friends, parliament ordered the bishops of Wales and Hereford to see that a Welsh translation of the Bible, Book of Common Prayer and administration of the sacraments be ready by March 1st, 1567. Salesbury worked with Richard Davies, Bishop of St. David’s, who translated 1 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter and Thomas Huet, Precentor of St. David’s, who worked on Revelation, to prepare a translation of the New Testament from the original Greek into Welsh. Salesbury was responsible for the remaining books, as well as being the editor. The New Testament was published on October 7th, 1567, with an introduction which argued that the new Protestant religion restored to the Welsh people their ancient Celtic Church. Salesbury also translated the English Book of Common Prayer into Welsh, which was published in 1567. Salesbury’s last recorded work was Llysieulyfr (which means “Herbal”), which gave the Latin, English and Welsh names for healing herbs, with a description of the plant, where the herbs are found, when they appear, and what helpful properties they possessed.

John Penry


John Penry was born in Cefn Brith, Brecknockshire, Wales. He was a prominent Anglican-Puritan minister from Brecknockshire in Wales, highly educated and a respected preacher at both the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. He married Eleanor, with whom he had four daughters, Deliverance, Comfort, Safety and Sure-Hope. He left the Anglican Church in 1586 to become a Baptist preacher. Penry began traveling throughout Wales preaching the Gospel and organizing Baptist churches. He was noted for piety, ministerial gifts and zeal for the welfare of his countrymen. There were several Baptist churches already in Wales such as the Ochon, Chapel-y-ffin and Hill Cliffe churches, which traced their beginnings back to early Lollard mission work in Wales and some claimed to go back even farther to the Celtic Church. Baptist and other Dissenting churches did better in Wales than the Anglican Church in bringing people out of Roman darkness. He was put to death by hanging for his beliefs in 1593 at the age of 34. On the scaffold he triumphantly shouted, “Victory, victory, victory, through the blood of the cross! O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?” Penry paved the way for a more complete Reformation in Wales in the next century. In 1646 Vavasor Powell, a Calvinistic Baptist minister, began traveling throughout Wales preaching, baptizing and planting churches. There were about 20,000 members in the churches he planted and thousands more were saved under his ministry. Powell led the first wide spread Reformation among the common people of Wales, turning them away from Rome. 

Richard Davies


Richard Davies was born in north Wales, and was educated at New Inn Hall, Oxford. He became vicar of Burnham, Buckinghamshire in 1550. Being Reformed he took refuge in Geneva during the reign of Mary. On his return from Geneva, he served on a commission which visited the Welsh dioceses. He was, in January 1560, consecrated bishop of St. Asaph, from whence he was transferred, early in 1561, to the bishopric of St David’s. As a bishop, Davies was an earnest reformer, very industrious, and active, but not very scrupulous with regard to the property of the church. He was a member of the Council of Wales, and he was very friendly with Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury. Assisting William Salesbury in translating the New Testament into Welsh, Davies also did some work on the Welsh translation of the Book of Common Prayer. He helped to revise the Bishops’ Bible of 1568, being responsible himself for the book of Deuteronomy and 2nd Samuel. He died in November 1581, and was buried in Abergwili church.


William Morgan


 William Morgan was born in 1545 in Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant, in the parish of Penmachno, near Betws-y-Coed, North Wales. He was probably educated at Gwydir Castle, near Llanrwst, along with the children of the Wynn family. He married Ellen Salesbury. Morgan then went to St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he studied a wide range of subjects including philosophy, mathematics and Greek. He graduated BA in 1568 and MA in 1571, followed by seven years of Biblical studies, including a study of the Bible in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic and the works of the church fathers and contemporary Protestant theologians. He graduated BD in 1578 and DD in 1583. At Cambridge he was a contemporary of the Welsh poet Edmwnd Prys, who later assisted Morgan with his translation of the Bible. In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Morgan was a clergyman of the Church of England, having been ordained in 1568 by the Bishop of Ely. His first parish was that of Llanbadarn Fawr, which he gained in 1572, and in 1575 he moved to Welshpool, and then became vicar of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in 1578, where he did his Bible translation. After the death of his first wife he married Catherine ap Richard ap John, by whom he had one son, Evan, who later became vicar of his father’s old parish of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant. In 1579 he became rector of Llanfyllin, which he held while being vicar of nearby Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant. Morgan was still at Cambridge when William Salesbury published his Welsh New Testament in 1567. While he was pleased that this work was available, Morgan firmly believed in the importance of having the Old Testament translated into Welsh as well. He began work on his own translation of the Old Testament in the early 1580s and published this, together with a revision of Salesbury's New Testament, in 1588. In 1599 Morgan published a revision of the Welsh Book of Common Prayer. William Morgan was appointed Bishop of Llandaff in 1595 and moved to the bishopric of St. Asaph in 1601. He died on September 10th, 1604. The Welsh Bible had enormous influence, helping establish Protestantism among the Welsh people as well as preserving a high standard for written Welsh.


In 1541 the Irish Parliament passed the Crown of Ireland Act, which strengthened English rule over it, officially made Henry VIII King of Ireland, renamed the country the Kingdom of Ireland and declared Henry the head of the Church in Ireland. George Browne, Archbishop of Dublin, was the main force for reform. Henry’s authority as head of the church was only respected in and around Dublin and in a few isolated areas where a clan chief was in favor of reform or thought it expedient to side with England. Henry worked to close the monasteries but by his death only about half of them were closed and most of their wealth went to the Norman-Irish lords instead of the king’s coffers as the wealth of the English monasteries had done.  During Edward VI’s reign an attempt to introduce truly Protestant bishops and liturgy was met with great resistance even by those that were willing to accept the king of England as the head of the church in place of the pope. In 1551 a printing press was established in Dublin which worked to print the Book of Common Prayer. During Mary’s reign English plantations were first established, mostly in south-western Ireland. In 1560 under Elizabeth I’s rule the Irish Act of Uniformity was passed, which made it illegal to be part of any church but the Protestant Church in Ireland, violation of this act was punishable by death. When Philip II of Spain began to wage war against England, he and the pope supported the rebellion of powerful Irish nobles in the Desmond Rebellions (1569-1583) and the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603). The linking of Protestant belief and English rule, combined with the stubborn superstition of the Irish, caused the people to be very closed to the truth of the Gospel. Though some Irishmen embraced the truth, most of the Protestants in Ireland were either government officials or English, and, later, Scottish settlers. To reach the Irish with the Gospel an Irish Gaelic printing press was established in 1571 under the auspices of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. In 1592 Trinity College of Dublin, which became very Calvinistic, was established for the training of Protestant ministers. The first translation of the New Testament into Irish Gaelic was completed in 1603 and Richard Boyle, a very powerful advancer of Protestantism and English rule in Ireland, financed the printing of the Gospels into Irish Gaelic. William Bedell, Bishop of Kilmore, translated the Book of Common Prayer into Irish Gaelic in 1606. The Irish Gaelic Old Testament, translated by William Bedell in the 1630s, was not printed until 1680. As the English fought to establish their authority in Ireland, the Scottish Ulster Plantations were established in 1607 in the north-east, greatly increasing the Protestant presence in Ireland. In 1615 the highly respected James Ussher, later Bishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, drew up a confession of faith for the Irish Church, The Irish Articles, which combined the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Lambeth Articles which were strongly Calvinistic.   

George Browne

George Browne was an Augustinian monk until Henry VII closed the monasteries. He then worked among the poor in London helping them to turn away from Roman church and preaching to them the Gospel. In 1534 Browne was appointed to the Archbishopric of Dublin and consecrated by Thomas Cranmer. Browne studied at Oxford until 1536 when he sailed to take up his post in Ireland. In the face of strong resistance he worked to bring about reform. He gathered many relics and had them publicly burned. He removed all the images from the churches in Dublin, placing copies of the Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer and Apostles Creed in their stead. He worked to advance Henry’s rule in Ireland as well as his authority over the church. During Edward VI’s reign Browne introduced the Book of Common Prayer into his services and took a wife, in part to demonstrate his loyalty to Protestantism. When Mary came to the throne in 1553 Browne was removed from office and died in 1556. Bishop Ussher wrote of him: “George Browne is a man of cheerful countenance; in his acts and conduct, plain and downright; to the poor, merciful and compassionate, pitying the state and condition of the souls of the people and advising them….”