[Milton-L] Self-referencing by Puritans?

Joseph Black jblack at english.umass.edu
Tue Nov 13 19:52:53 EST 2007

For a similar though earlier example, the Presbyterian (puritan) Martin
Marprelate tracts (1588-89) refer repeatedly to the "puritans" and to Martin's
"puritan brethren," but like Bradshaw do so with ironic self-consciousness that
the label, in the mouths of opponents, was pejorative.

Job Throkmorton, the writer almost certainly responsible for Martin Marprelate's
distinctive voice, offers one of the more rhetorically compelling responses to
the polemical uses of the term, in a parliamentary speech delivered on February
27, 1587:

To bewayle the distresses of God’s children, it is puritanisme.  To finde faulte
with corruptions of our Church, it is puritanisme.  To reprove a man for
swearing, it is puritanisme.  To banishe an adulterer out of the house, it is
puritanisme.  To make humble sute to her Majestie and the High Courte of
Parleament for a learned ministery, it is puritanisme.  Yea, and I feare me we
shall come shortly to this, that to doe God and her Majestie good service shalbe
coumpted puritanisme, and thease are of the cunning sleightes of Sathan and his
instrumentes in this age (Hartley, ed., Proceedings in the Parliaments of
Elizabeth I, II:314 -- though the quotation has has been tweaked in accordance
with its manuscript source, Pierpont Morgan Library MS MA 276).

Patrick Collinson has a couple of important essays on the late 16C and early 17C
development of the cultural idea of the puritan:

“Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair: The Theatre Constructs Puritanism.”  The
Theatrical City: Culture, Theatre and Politics in London, 1576-1649.  Ed. David
L. Smith, Richard Strier, and David Bevington.  Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1995.  157–69.

“Ecclesiastical Vitriol: Religious Satire in the 1590s and the Invention of
Puritanism.”  The Reign of Elizabeth I: Court and Culture in the Last Decade.
Ed. John Guy.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.  150–70.

Joseph Black
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Quoting "Daniel W. Doerksen" <dwd at unb.ca>:

> William Bradshaw, a puritan, published English Pvritanisme in
> 1605,  ironically using the term and implicitly accepting that it applied
> to himself and others of presbyterian views. I recommend the first chapter
> of Christopher Hill's Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England
> for an enlightening look at what the term could mean in early
> seventeenth-century England. Hill notes that John Donne the preacher was
> willing to call himself a puritan, according to some definitions. Francis
> Bacon similarly revealed a favorable opinion of many "honest religious men
> . . . traduced by that name."
> Dan Doerksen
> At 12:56 PM 11/13/2007, you wrote:
> >You see occaisional uses of the term "puritan," Malvolio is called "a kind
> >of puritan" in Twelfth Night, but I don't know of any example of them
> >calling themselves that. They usually called themselves saints,
> >Christians, or "the godly." David Lowenstein uses "the godly" as a
> >collective term rather than "puritans."
> >
> >Cheers, J.
> >
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: Christopher Baker <Christopher.Baker at armstrong.edu>
> >Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:12 pm
> >Subject: [Milton-L] Self-referencing by Puritans?
> >To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
> >
> >
> > > Did the Puritans ever refer to themselves by that name?  The OED does
> > > not so indicate, and since the term was mostly pejorative (aside from
> > > other, more positive terms they used such as "saints") I would be
> > > interested in an early modern source example if one exists.  This
> > > question came from a student.
> > >  Thanks,
> > >  Chris Baker

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