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English Funeral Sermons as Sources: The Example of Female Piety in Pre-1640 Sermons *

  • Eric Josef Carlson


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This is an expanded version of a paper read at the October 1997 meeting of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference. I am grateful to Diane Willen and Jeri Mcintosh for many helpful suggestions.



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1 Guy, Nicholas, Pieties Pillar: Or, A Sermon Preached at the Funerall of Mistresse Elizabeth Gouge, late Wife of Mr. William Gouge, of Black-friers, London. With a true Narration of her Life and Death (1626), “To the Reader” (no page number), 3752.

2 Collinson, Patrick, ‘“A Magazine of Religious Patterns’: An Erasmian Topic Transposed in English Protestantism,” in idem, Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism (London, 1983), pp. 52324.

3 Mcintosh, J. L., “English Funeral Sermons 1580–1640: The Relationship Between Gender and Death, Dying and the Afterlife” (M. Litt. thesis, University of Oxford, 1990 ), is the only systematic work. Diane Willen extensively uses these sermons, but her focus is on a particular type of piety: “Godly Women in Early Modern England: Puritanism and Gender,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 43 (1992): 561–80. Retha M. Warnicke is concerned with gender socialization and roles in marriage and the household, rather than piety, in “Eulogies for Women: Public Testimony of Their Godly Example and Leadership,” in Attending to Women in Early Modern England, eds. Betty S. Travitsky and Seeff, Adele F. (Newark, Del., 1994), pp. 16886. Patricia Crawford concentrates on the period after 1640 in Women and Religion in England 1500–1720 (London, 1993).

4 See the evaluation by Houlbrooke, Ralph, Death, Religion and the Family in England 1480–1750 (Oxford, 1998), p. 320. Houlbrooke’s book appeared after this article had been completed.

5 This cut-off date has been chosen because, as Debra L. Parish demonstrates, post-1640 funeral sermons are qualitatively different than those pre-1640 and, in particular, that descriptions of pious practices assume polemical purposes in the later sermons: “The Power of Female Pietism: Women as Spiritual Authorities and Religious Role Models in Seventeenth-Century England,” The Journal of Religious History 17 (1992): 33–46. I have also excluded sermons preached for royal women because, as Jeri Mcintosh correctly argues, they are more properly “orations,” which stress panegyric over scriptural exegesis: “English Funeral Sermons,” p. 20.

6 Tromly, Frederic B., “‘Accordinge to sounde religion’: the Elizabethan Controversy over the Funeral Sermon,” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 13 (1983): 293312. Cartwright’s funeral was in 1603.

7 Collinson, “A Magazine of Religious Patterns,” pp. 519–24.

8 Wabuda, Susan R., “The Provision of Preaching during the English Reformation, with Special Reference to Itineration, c.1530 to 1547” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 1992), p. 191.

9 Essex Record Office, D/ABW 3/135. I am grateful to John Craig for this reference.

10 Wabuda, “Provision of Preaching,” p. 204. A different, and less transparently Protestant, formula appears in the ‘553 will of Wilson, Thomas, who provided “that a sermon funerall be made&to put men in remembrannce boithe of the frailte and misery that is in this wretched world and also of the joy and blis that remaineth after this mortall life, and how to frame our lyves to be partakers of the same”: Wills and Inventories from the Registry of the Archdeaconry of Richmond, ed. Raine, James, Surtees Society 26 (1853), p. 77. I am grateful to Katherine L. French for this reference.

11 Ibid., pp. 205–07.

12 Hickman, David, “From Catholic to Protestant: The Changing Meaning of Testamentary Religious Provisions in Elizabethan London,” in England’s Long Reformation 1500–1800, ed. Tyacke, Nicholas (London, 1998), p. 129.

13 Marsh, Christopher, Popular Religion in Sixteenth-Century England: Holding Their Peace (New York, 1998), p. 53.

14 The following is based principally on Tromly, “Accordinge to sounde religion.” See also Cressy, David, Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (New York, 1997 ), ch. 18.

15 See, for example, An Admonition to the Parliament (1572), printed in Religion and Society in Early Modern England: A Sourcebook, eds. Cressy, David and Ferrell, Lori Anne (London, 1996), p. 86.

16 Cressy, Birth, Marriage and Death, p. 408.

17 Francis Dillingham, A Sermon Preached At the solemnization of the Funeral of the Right vertuous and Worshipfull Lady Elizabeth Luke (1609), dedicatory epistle.

18 Willet, Andrew, Synopsis Papismi, That is, A Generall View of Papistrie: Wherein the Whole Mysterie of Iniquitie, and Summe of Antichristian Doctrine is set downe, which is maintained this day by the Synagogue of Rome, against the Church of Christ (1634), p. 420. This was first published in 1592.

19 Dillingham, A Sermon Preached&Lady Elizabeth Luke, dedicatory epistle.

20 Quoted in Tromly, “Accordinge to sounde religion,” p. 299.

21 Daniel Featley, et al., θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning; Furnished with Directions for, Preparations to, Meditations of, Consolations at the houre of Death. Delivered in XLVII Sermons, Preached at the Funeralls of divers faithfull servants of Christ (1640), p. 52.

22 Shute, Nathaniel, Corona Charitatis, The Crowne of Charitie: A Sermon Preacht in Mercers Chappell, May 10. 1625. at the solemne Funerals of his ever-renowmed Friend, of precious memory, the Mirroir of Charitie, Mr. Richard Fishburne, Merchant, And now consecrated as an Anniversary to his Fame (1626), pp. 2526.

23 Hieron, Samuel, The Worldlings Downefall (1618), A2v, C3. I am grateful to Jeri Mcintosh for reminding me of this incident.

24 Crompton, William, A Lasting Iewell, For Religious Woemen. In the summe of a Sermon, Preached at the Funerall of Mistris Mary Crosse, late Wife of Mr. Henry Crosse of Barnestaple in the countie of Devon Merchant, and now published with some additions (1630), Fir.

25 Fitz-Geffry, Charles, Deaths Sermon Unto the Living. Delivered at The Funerals of the Religious Ladie Philippe, late Wife unto the Right Worshipfull Sr. Anthonie Rous of Halton in Cornwall Knight (1620), pp. 2526.

26 Gataker, Thomas, Pauls Desire of Dissolution, and Deaths Advantage. A Sermon preached at the Funerall of that right vertuous and religious Gentlewoman Mrs. Rebecka Crisp, together with the Testimony then given unto her., in Idem, Certaine Sermons, First Preached, and After Published at severall times. (1637), p. 213 ; Gamon, Hannibal, The Praise of a Godly Woman. A Sermon preached at the Solemne Funerall of the Right Honourable Ladie, the Ladie Frances Roberts, at Lanhiderock-Church in Cornwall, the tenth of August, 1626 (1627), A2r3r.

27 Geree, Stephen, The Ornament of Women. Or, A description of the true excellency of Women. Delivered in a Sermon at the Funerall of M. Elizabeth Machell, on Easter Munday being the 15. of April 1639 (1639), p. 59.

28 Featley, et al., θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning, p. 52.

29 The totals reported in Cressy, Birth, Marriage and Death (p. 572, n. 39) reflect the increasing survival after 1640. In contrast, funeral sermons were required in many parts of Germany by the 1590s and many thousands have survived: Karant-Nunn, Susan C., The Reformation of Ritual: An Interpretation of Early Modern Germany (London, 1997), pp. 15562, 18082.

30 The Book of Common Prayer 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book, ed. Booty, John E. (Charlottesville, 1976), pp. 30913.

31 Cosin, John, “A Funeral Sermon. At St. Martin’s in the Fields, on the seventeenth of June, A.D. MDCXXIII, at the Funeral of Mrs. Dorothy Holmes, Sister to the Right Reverend Father in God, the Lord Bishop of Durham,” in The Works of John Cosin, ed. Sansom, J., 5 vols. (Oxford, 1843–1855), 1: 26.

32 Gataker, , Pauls Desire of Dissolution; and Saint Stevens Last Will and Testament. A Funerall Sermon on Acts 7. Ver. 59. Preached at the Enterrement of the Remaines of Mris Joice Featly. Together with the Testimonie then given unto her , both published in idem, Certaine Sermons.

33 Rushbrigg: Cambridgeshire County Record Office, Ely Probate Records, Consistory Will 1586; Goodrytche: Banbury Wills and Inventories, Part One: 1591–1620, ed. E. R. C. Brinkworth and Gibson, J. S. W., The Banbury Historical Society, vol. 13 (1985), no. 53.

34 Spylman: Marsh, Popular Religion, p. 52; Steward: Cambridgeshire County Record Office, Ely Probate Records, Consistory Will 1591; Butcher: Wills of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1620–1624, ed. Marion E. Allen, Suffolk Records Society, vol. 31 (1989), no. 77. See also ibid., nos. 509, 550.

35 Suffolk Wills 1620–1624, passim; Wills of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1625–1626, ed. Allen, Marion E., Suffolk Records Society, vol. 37 (1995 ), passim. Omitted from the total are three additional provisions by a woman who left two sheets, a man who left “half a piece in gold” and another who left 20s. for satisfaction of his debts and a funeral sermon combined.

36 See, for example, Cambridgeshire County Record Office, Ely Probate Records, Consistory Will 1571 (Lancelot Ridley) and 1591 (Agnes Wicks).

37 Darlington Wills and Inventories 1600–1625, ed. J. A. Atkinson, et al., Surtees Society, vol. 201 (1993), no. 50.

38 Denison, Stephen, The Monument or Tombe-stone: Or, A Sermon Preached at Laurence Pountnies Church in London, Novem. 21. 1619. at the funerall of Mrs. Elizabeth Juxon, the late wife of Mr. John Juxon (1620), p. 80. See also Gataker, , Certaine Sermons, p. 22 ; Geree, , The Ornament of Women, pp. 8791, 93 ; Shute, , Corona Charitatis, pp. 2526.

39 The Honour of Vertue, Or The Monument erected by the sorowfull Husband, and the Epitaphes annexed by worthy men, to the immortall memory of that worthy Gentle-woman Mrs. Elizabeth Crasha3. Who dyed in child-birth and was buried in Whitchappell: Octob. 8.1620 (1620), A3v-4r.

40 Cole, Nathaniel, The Christians Welcome To The Court of Heaven, Or A Joyful Translation. A Sermon Preached before an Honourable, and Worshipfull Auditorie, at the solemne Funerall of that Worshipfull, vertuous, and truly religious Gentlewoman, Mistris Jane Ferrers deceased, late wife to the Worshipfull Mr. William Ferrers Esquire, and daughter to the Right worshipfull Sir Peter Van-Lore of London Knight (1625), A2r.

41 Bryan, James, The Vertuous Daughter. A Sermon Preached at Saint Maries in Warwicke at the Funerall of the most vertuous and truly religious young Gentlewoman Mistresse Cicely Puckering, Daughter and Co-heire to the right worshipfull, Sir Thomas Puckering, Knight and Baronet, the fourteenth day of April, 1636 (1636 ), dedicatory epistle. See also Mcintosh, , “English Funeral Sermons 1580–1640,” p. 23.

42 We await Arnold Hunt’s Cambridge Ph.D. thesis for discussion of these.

43 Perkins, William, The Art of Prophesying Or A Treatise Concerning the Sacred and Only True manner and Method of Preaching, in The Work of William Perkins, ed. Breward, Ian, The Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics, vol. 3 (Appleford, 1970), p. 344. Men who were either incapable of or disinclined to write their own sermons were sometimes caught memorizing and delivering other ministers’ sermons as their own. Dr. Henry Lockett was prosecuted by Bishop Joseph Hall in 1636 for, inter alia, buying other ministers’ sermons, memorizing them, and reciting them from the pulpit as his own: Kenneth Fincham and Lake, Peter, “Popularity, Prelacy and Puritanism in the 1630s: Joseph Hall Explains Himself,” English Historical Review 111 (1996): 873.

44 “Characterie” was new in the 1580s, developed “to preserve&the life of much memorable doctrine, that would otherwise bee buried in forgetfulnes”: An Ordinary Lecture. Preached at the Blacke-Friers, by. M. Egerton. And taken as it was uttered by Characterie (1589), A2. Preachers disliked it. Stephen Egerton groused that the transcriber of An Ordinary Lecture “respected the commendation of his skill in Charracterie, more than the credit of my ministry”: A Lecture preached by Maister Egerton, at the Blacke-freiers, 1589. taken by Characteries, by a yong Practitioner in that Facultie: and now againe perused, corrected and amended by the Author (1603), A3v-A4r. William Gouge published a sermon in order to prevent others from publishing a version reconstructed from “brachygraphie,” because “many [preachers] have been wronged hereby: and that by the short-writers omissions, additions, mis-placings [and] mistakings”: A Recovery from Apostacy. Set out in a A Sermon Preached in Stepney Church neere London at the receiving of a Penitent Renegado into the Church, Octob. 21. 1638 (1639), advertisement to reader (unpaginated).

45 Perkins, William, Of the Calling of the Ministry (1605) was constructed posthumously by William Crashawe using the notes he took at a series of Perkins’ sermons in the 1590s. Most of Richard Greenham’s published sermons were put together in this way as well: see Kenneth L. Parker and Carlson, Eric J., “Practical Divinity”: The Works and Life of Revd Richard Greenham (Brookfield, VT, 1998 ).

46 Egerton, Stephen, The Boring of the eare, Contayning a plaine and profitable Discourse by way of Dialogue, concerning 1. Our preparation before Hearing. 2. Our demeanour in Hearing. 3. Our exercise after we have heard the Word of God (1623), pp. 5657.

47 See Eales, Jacqueline, “Thomas Pierson and the Transmission of the Moderate Puritan Tradition,” Midland History 20 (1995): 84 ; Spufford, Margaret, Small Books and Pleasant Histories: Popular Fiction and Its Readership in Seventeenth-Century England (London, 1981), p. 35.

48 Eales, “Thomas Pierson,” p. 93.

49 For sermon dedications, see Appendix.

50 See, for example, Bryan, The Vertuous Daughter, dedicatory letter.

51 However, in one case, the same people who demanded that the preacher prepare the sermon for publication “also procured it to be licenced”: Lancelot Langhorne, Mary Sitting at Christs Feet. With the Christian life, and comfortable death of Mris Mary Swaine, for the incouraging of all Christian Gentlewomen, and others to walke in the steps of this religious Gentlewoman (1611), To the Reader (unpaginated).

52 Hieron, The Worldlings Downefall, A2r.

53 An additional five single sermons and nine in the anthology θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning were preached at women’s funerals, but are not included in this study because they contain no biographical treatment of the deceased. For a complete list of the sermons that include biographical material, see Appendix.

54 Reading, John, Jobs House: A Sermon Preached at the Funerall of Mistresse Elizabeth Trumbull in St. Maries in Dover. Mar. 10. 1623 (1624), p. 27.

55 Bryan, The Vertuous Daughter, p. 11; Alexander Lumisden, A Heavenly Portion. Set downe in a Sermon, preached at the Funerall of Mistris Frances Sentleger, at Smeeth: in the Countie of Kent. Who as she lived a most religious and godly life, so shee made a most happie, admired, and comfortable ende (1614), p. 59; Geree, The Ornament of Women, p. 64.

56 Lumisden, A Heavenly Portion, p. 66.

57 Collinson, “A Magazine of Religious Patterns,” p. 521.

58 In one case for which a positive identification is impossible, the woman may be inferred to be of the highest levels, since she married at 18 and had 12 children in the 16 years of marriage before her death. Another woman of unknown status was the sister of the Bishop of Durham.

59 Barlow, John, The True Guide To Glory. A Sermon Preached at Plympton-Mary in Devon, at the Funerals of the Right Worshipfull, and [damaged and illegible] the Lady Strode of Newingham (1619), p. 49 ; Guy, , Pieties Pillar, p. 48 ; Denison, , The Monument Or Tombe-Stone, p. 83. Denison edited and glossed her manuscript, including it in the published version of her funeral sermon: ibid., pp. 85–124.

60 A precise measure of women’s literacy at any social level is impossible. Margaret Spufford identifies women as the most illiterate group in seventeenth-century English society; while some did learn at least basic reading skills, it was extremely rare for women below gentry level to learn writing: Small Books and Pleasant Histories, pp. 25, 34–36. The percentage of women who could sign their names was as low as five per cent during the period studied here: Rosemary O’Day, Education and Society 1500–1800: The Social Foundations of Education in Early Modern Britain (London, 1982), p. 190.

61 Women’s diaries from this period are extremely rare. Only the diary of Lady Margaret Hoby and the memoirs of Lady Grace Mildmay, and part of Lady Anne Clifford’s diary, fall into target period: Mendelson, Sara Haller, “Stuart Women’s Diaries and Occasional Memoirs,” in Women in English Society 1500–1800, ed. Prior, Mary (London, 1985), pp. 181210. See also Warnicke, Retha, “Lady Mildmay’s Journal: A Study in Autobiography and Meditation in Reformation England,” Sixteenth Century Journal 20 (1989): 5568 ; Pollock, Linda, With Faith and Physic. The Life of a Tudor Gentlewoman Lady Grace Mildmay 1552–1620 (London, 1993 ). Grace Mildmay’s account is especially valuable because it is deliberately constructed to edify her descendants. She describes reading (bible and devotional books) and private meditation; sermons are virtually absent. Her entire account is striking for the level of spiritual autonomy which she favors for her own life and recommends to others. Even grappling with theological issues like predestination takes place, as she describes it, privately in unmediated communication between herself and God. For letters to and from godly women on spiritual matters, see Collinson, Patrick, “A Mirror of Elizabethan Puritanism: The Life and Letters of ‘Godly Master Dering,’” in Godly People, pp. 289324 ; and Willen, Diane ‘“Communion of the Saints’: Spiritual Reciprocity and the Godly Community in Early Modern England,” Albion 27 (1995): 1941.

62 Cole, The Christians Welcome, A3v.

63 Barlow, True Guide to Glory, p. 48.

64 Featley, et al., θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning, p. 722.

65 Ibid., p. 279.

66 Ibid., p. 495. Virtually identical language appears in another sermon in the same collection: p. 280. See also Gamon, The Praise of a Godly Woman: “To Her Kindred by marriage [she was] another Ruth, and to them by bloud another Hester” (p. 27).

67 Gamon, The Praise of a Godly Woman, p. 28.

68 Lake, Peter, “Feminine Piety and Personal Potency: The ‘Emancipation’ of Mrs Jane Ratcliffe,” The Seventeenth Century 2 (1987): 160.

69 Featley, et al., θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning, pp. 793, 721.

70 For dedications, see Appendix. In the late 1600s, Samuel Clarke published several volumes of brief biographies of godly people, often based on earlier printed funeral sermons. There were often significant differences in the biographical details. Clearly the “life” that was several years, or even a generation removed, from the person and those who knew her was more susceptible to tinkering than the funeral sermon. On these issues, see: Eales, Jacqueline, “Samuel Clarke and the ‘Lives’ of Godly Women in Seventeenth-Century England,” in Women in the Church, ed. Sheils, W. J. and Webb, Diana, Studies in Church History 27 (1990): 36576.

71 The biography may be by William Hinde: Warnicke, “Eulogies for Women,” p. 172.

72 A Briefe Discourse of the Christian Life and death, of Mistris Katherin Brettergh, late wife of Master William Brettergh, of Bretterghoult, in the Countie of Lancaster, Gentleman; who departed this world the last of May. 1601. With the manner of a bitter conflict she had with Satan, and blessed conquest by Christ, before her death, to the great glory of God, and comfort of all beholders., in William Harrison and William Leigh, Deaths Advantage Little Regarded, and the Soules solace against sorrow. Preached in two funerall Sermons at Childwal in Lancashire at the buriall of Mistris Katherin Brettergh the third of June. 1601. Whereunto is annexed, the Christian life and godly death of the said Gentlewoman (1617), To The Christian Reader (unpaginated).

73 A Briefe Discourse, p. 3.

74 Ibid., pp. 5–6.

75 Barlow, True Guide to Glory, p. 48. See also Featley, et al., θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning, p. 722.

76 For Richard Bernard’s practice, see Fincham, Kenneth, Prelate as Pastor: The Episcopate of James I (Oxford, 1990), p. 193.

77 Downame, John, A Guide to Godlynesse (1629), p. 399. See also Egerton, , The Boring of the eare, p. 62 ; Parr, Elnathan, “A Short and Plaine Exhortation to the Study of the Word, with Severall directions for the hearing and reading of the same, very necessary for these times” in The Workes Of that faithfull and painefull Preacher, Mr. Elnathan Parr, 3rd ed. (1632), p. 27. Here I dissent from the views of Wabuda, Susan, “The Woman with the Rock: The Controversy on Women and Bible Reading,” in Belief and Practice in Reformation England: A Tribute to Patrick Collinson by His Students, ed. Wabuda, Susan and Litzenberger, Caroline (Brookfield, VT, 1998), p. 44. Wabuda argues that the repeal of the 1543 Act for the Advancement of True Religion (which provided that women were not to read the Bible in the presence of others lest they inadvertently teach) gave women “a clearer mandate than&before, not only to read the Bible, but to teach it.” The repeal cannot be construed as advocating the opposite of what had previously been forbidden. Moreover, Thomas Becon’s support for women preaching and teaching in their own households, cited by Wabuda, is not repeated by influential later writers.

78 Quoted in Linda Pollock, ‘“Teach her to live under obedience’: The Making of Women in the Upper Ranks of Early Modern England,” Continuity and Change 4 (1989): 242.

79 Spufford, Small Books and Pleasant Histories, p. 35; Featley, et al., θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning, p. 279.

80 Collinson, Patrick, ‘“Not Sexual in the Ordinary Sense’: Women, Men and Religious Transactions,” in idem, Elizabethan Essays (London, 1984), p. 127.

81 Gamon, The Praise of a Godly Woman, p. 28.

82 Gataker, Certame Sermons, p. 214.

83 Ibid., p. 15.

84 Ibid., pp. 211–12.

85 Geree, The Ornament of Women, pp. 73–74.

86 Gataker, Pauls Desire of Dissolution, p. 211 (emphasis added).

87 Quoted in Willen, , “Godly Women in Early Modern England,” pp. 57980.

88 Denison, The Monument or Tombe-stone, inside back cover of British Museum copy (emphasis added).

89 Fuller, William, The Mourning of Mount Libanon: Or, The Temples Teares. A Sermon preached at Hodsocke, the 20. day of December, Anno Domini, 1627. In commemoration of the Right Honourable and Religious Lady, the Lady Frances Clifton, Daughter of the Right Honourable the Earle of Cumberland: And Wife to the truly noble Sir Gervas Clifton of Clifton, in the County of Nottingham, Knight and Baronet, who deceased the 20. November, 1627 (1628), pp. 3233.

90 Guy, Pieties Pillar, p. 41.

91 Geree, The Ornament of Women, pp. 78–79.

92 Featley, et al., θPHNOIKOΣ. The House of Mourning, pp. 721–22.

93 Denison, The Monument or Tombe-stone, pp. 85, 100, 122. I am grateful to Jeri Mcintosh for calling my attention to this passage.

94 Cole, The Christians Welcome, A3r.

95 Collinson, Patrick, “The Role of Women in the English Reformation Illustrated by the Life and Friendships of Anne Locke,” in Godly People, p. 275. There extensive work on the relationship between pious women and their confessors. See Bell, Rudolph M., “Telling Her Sins: Male Confessors and Female Penitents in Catholic Reformation Italy,” in That Gentle Strength: Historical Perspectives on Women in Christianity, eds. Coon, Lynda L., Haldane, Katherine J., and Sommer, Elisabeth W. (Charlottesville, 1990) pp. 11833 ; Coakley, John, “Friars as Confidants of Holy Women in Medieval Dominican Hagiography,” in Images of Sainthood in Medieval Europe, ed. Blumenfeld-Kos-inski, Renate and Szell, Timea (Ithaca, 1991) pp. 22246 ; idem, “Gender and the Authority of the Friars: The Significance of Holy Women for Thirteenth-Century Franciscans and Dominicans,” Church History 60 (1991): 445–60; idem, “Friars, Sanctity, and Gender: Mendicant Encounters with Saints, 1250–1325,” in Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages, ed. Clare Lees (Minneapolis, 1994), pp. 91–110; and Petroff, Elizabeth Alvilda, “Male Confessors and Female Penitents: Possibilities for Dialogue,” in idem Body and Soul: Essays on Medieval Women and Mysticism (New York, 1994) pp. 13960.

96 Taylor, Thomas, The Pilgrims Profession. Or A Sermon Preached at the Funerall of Mris Mary Gunter by Mr Thomas Taylor. To which (by his consent) also is added, A short Relation of the life and death of the said Gentle-woman, as a perpetuall Monument of her graces and vertues (1622), pp. 15253 (emphasis added). It might be significant that Gunter’s biography was written not by the minister who preached her funeral sermon, but by her husband.

97 See Willen, “Communion of the Saints.”

98 There are now many scholarly studies of the ars moriendi literature. For the most recent work, see Houlbrooke, , Death, Religion and the Family, ch. 6; Cressy, Birth, Marriage, and Death, pp. 38993.

99 Book of Common Prayer 1559, pp. 300–08; John Mayer, Praxis Theologica: Or, The Epistle of the Apostle St James resolved, Expounded, And Preached upon by way of Doctrine and Use (1629), pp. 141–61.

100 Fuller, The Mourning of Mount Libanon, pp. 35–36.

101 See also Cosin, “A Funeral Sermon,” p. 29.

102 Geree, The Ornament of Women, pp. 87–91.

103 Gataker, Pauls Desire of Dissolution, p. 215.

104 A Briefe Discourse, pp. 11–37.

105 Mayer, Praxis Theologica, pp. 141, 156, 160.

106 Mayer, John, A Patterne For Women: Setting forth the most Christian life, & most comfortable death of Mrs. Lucy late wife to the worshipfull Roger Thornton Esquire, of Little Wratting in Suffolk (1619), pp. 4547.

107 Crawford, , Women and Religion in England, p. 97.

108 Nichols, Ann Eljenholm, “The Etiquette of Pre-Reformation Confession in East Anglia,” Sixteenth Century Journal 17 (1986): 15054.

109 Ley, A patterne of Pietie, p. 63 (emphasis added); quoted in Lake, “Feminine Piety and Personal Potency,” pp. 153–54.

110 Parker and Carlson, Practical Divinity, pp. 31–36.

111 So described by Hannibal Gamon, when he cited a work by Greenham in the funeral sermon for Frances Roberts: Praise of a Godly Woman, p. 31.

112 MS sayings of Richard Greenham, John Rylands Library English MS 524, fols. 17r, 15v, 59r.

* This is an expanded version of a paper read at the October 1997 meeting of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference. I am grateful to Diane Willen and Jeri Mcintosh for many helpful suggestions.

English Funeral Sermons as Sources: The Example of Female Piety in Pre-1640 Sermons *

  • Eric Josef Carlson


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