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Free Will, Dissent, and Henry Hart

  • M. T. Pearse (a1)


On 29 April 1538 a letter was sent from Archbishop Cranmer to Thomas Cromwell complaining about the indictment of five men of Smarden and Pluckley in Kent. They had been holding “unlawful assemblies” and, so Cranmer argued, were indicted “of none occasion or ground else, but for by cause they are accounted fauters [supporters] of the new doctrine, as they call it.” He pleaded that their indictments might be overturned, for “if the king's subjects within this realm which favour God's word, shall be unjustly vexed at sessions, it will be no marvel though much sedition be daily engendered within this realm.” In view of the imminent conservative turn that religious policy was about to take in England, a development that would bring down Cromwell in its wake, Cranmer's concern at the ability of Catholic-minded local officials to harass Protestants is not to be wondered at.



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1. Cranmer, Thomas, Works, ed. Cox, J. E., 2 vols. (Cambridge, 18441846), 2:367.

2. Haslewood, Francis, Memorials of Smarden, Kent (Ipswich, 1886), pp. 2021.

3. Burrage, Champlin, Early English Dissenters, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1912), 2:5.

4. Bradford, John, Writings, ed. Townsend, A., 2 vols. (Cambridge, 18481853), 2:173.

5. Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, 4 vols. in 6 (Oxford, 1822), 2(1):369370;Cramp, J. M., Baptist History (London, 1871), pp. 215220;Williams, G. H., The Radical Reformation (London, 1962), p. 781;Horst, I. B., “Anabaptism in England,” in The Mennonite Encyclopedia, ed. Bender, Harold S. and Smith, C. Henry, 4 vols. (Scottdale, Pa., 1956), 2:215221.

6. Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 2:1.

7. Bradford, , Writings, 2:170171.

8. Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 2:12.

9. Hart, , A godly newe short treatyse instructyng euery parson, howe they shulde trade theyr lyues in ye imytacyon of vertu and ye shewyng of vyce (London, 1548), no pagination.

10. Hart, , A consuttorie for all Christians. To beware least they beare the name of christians in vayne (Worcester, 1549), E.iijv—E.iiijr.

11. Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 2:15.

12. Foxe, John, The Acts and Monuments of the English Martyrs, ed. Pratt, J., 8 vols. (London, 1870), 8:384.

13. Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 2:5.

14. Martin, J. W., “English Protestant Separatism at its Beginnings: Henry Hart and the Free-Will Men,” Sixteenth Century Journal 7 (1976):58.

15. Horst, , “Anabaptism in England,” p. 217.

16. Horst, Irvin B., The Radical Brethren: Anabaptism and the English Reformation to 1558 (Nieuwkoop, 1972), p. 127.

17. Bradford, , Wrzting, 2:194.

18. Ibid., 2:135.

19. Ibid., 2:170–171.

20. Ibid., 2:170–171.

21. Laurence, R., Authentic Documents Relative to the Predestinarian Controversy (Oxford, 1819), p. 37 A. Townsend, editor of Bradford's Writings, claims that the date of Trew's writing was January (1:318). Even if this were the case, Trew's work would antedate Bradford's letter but not his Defence of Election.

22. Bradford, , Writings, 1:309.

23. Ibid., 1:327–328.

24. Hart, A godly newe short treatyse.

25. Burrage, , Early English Dzssenters, 2:56.

26. Ibid., 2:4.

27. Hart, , A consultorie for all Chrzstians, C.iijr.

28. Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 2:2.

29. Hart, , A consultorie for all Christians, A.iiijv.

30. Ibid., C.vv.

31. Foxe, , Acts and Monuments, 8:384.


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