Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Thomas Foxley

Thomas Foxley.—This pious and reverend divine was lecturer at St, Martin's in the Fields, London; where he suffered grievous persecution from the intolerance of Bishop Laud. This ecclesiastical tyrant put down his lecture, to prevent, as he pretended, the spreading of the plague; whereas the plague was not then in the parish. Upon the suppression of his lecture, Mr. Foxley was deprived, for some time, of the means of procuring a livelihood. Afterwards he was brought before Laud, who charged him " with being concerned in the purchase of impropriations, and thereby endeavouring to bring the bishops within the feoffees' girdles." When Mr. Foxley said that this could not be, since the ministers on whom these impropriations were bestowed, were sent to their respective bishops to be approved by them; Laud replied, " that, if he had known him to have been so much concerned in the business of impropriations, he should not have got off so easily as he did before." Mr. Foxley had his study afterwards rifled by pursuivants, when he was apprehended and kept a prisoner two days; then carried before Sir John Lamb, who required him to give bond for his appearance before the high commission on the Thursday following. Upon his appearance at the time and place appointed, he, with some difficulty, obtained a week's time to consider whether he

• Fuller's Worthies, part i. p. 191 .—Hist, of Cam. p.S2.—Neal's Puritans, vol. ii. p. 335, ill. 46, 140.

♦ Atbeas Ozon. vol. i. p. 260.

He was a venerable

might lawfully take the oath ex officio. When the arch* bishop observed, that he remembered him about the business of the feoffees, Mr. Foxley replied, " That he was encouraged in that business by bishops and privy counsellors, who conceived it to be a good work." He was, therefore, commanded to appear again on the Thursday following, and so dismissed. But the next Lord's day he was apprehended by another pursuivant, who carried him before the counciltable; when, by a warrant under the hands of the archbishop and five others, he was sent to the Gatehouse. There he was kept close prisoner in a chamber not four yards square, for the space of twenty months, without pen, ink, or paper, or the access of any of his friends, excepting his wife; who, with the utmost difficulty, obtained leave to visit him during his extreme sickness, but no longer. He endured all this cruel usage without knowing or even guessing what could be the cause, unless it was his speaking in favour of the feoffees.' Laud, indeed, insinuates, that Mr. Foxley was not thus punished on the account of the feoffees, but for some other cause which he refused to mention.* However, by this cruel imprisonment, he was ruined in his circumstances, and his wife and four small children exposed to misery and want.t

Upon the meeting of the long parliament, Mrs. Foxley presented a petition to the house of commons in behalf of her distressed husband, still confined in close prison. This petition was read in the house, November 25, 1640, and referred to the committee for Dr. Lcighton's petition. It was, at the same time, ordered that Mr. Foxley should have the same favour and privileges of the house as Dr. Leighton.

January 15th following, Mr. Rouse, one of the committee, delivered a report of Mr. Foxley's case, when the house resolved:

1. "That the warrant made by Sir John Lamb and others, for apprehending Mr. Foxley and seizing his papers, is illegal and unjust.

2. " That the warrant under the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Coventry, the Lord Treasurer, the Lord of the Privy Seal, Lord Cottington, and Secretary Windebank, for committing Mr. Foxley close prisoner, is illegal.

3. " That Mr. Foxley ought to be delivered from the

• Wharton'i Troubles of Laud, vol. i. p. 849. + Prjnne's Cant. Doome, p. 387,388.

restraint he is under by colour of this warrant; and ought to hare reparations for damages.

4. " That this business concerning Mr. Foxley be committed to the same committee, to prepare it in a fit way for this house to prefer it to the house of lords."*

Mr. Foxlcy was, therefore, released from his long and severe confinement; but whether he received any reparations is very doubtful. The multiplicity of business which the parliament had to look after, and the confusions which followed, most probably prevented it. In the year 1644 he was witness against Laud at his trial.t

This persecuted servant of Christ was a popular and . useful preacher in London, as well after as before his troubles; but at what place he was employed in his stated ministerial exercise, and the particular time of his death, we have not been able to learn. The following aneedote, however, may not be unworthy of notice.t The celebrated Mr. William Kiffin, being an apprentice in London, and having then no sense of religion upon his mind, became dissatisfied with his situation, and resolved to leave his master; and accomplished his intention early one morning, being then about fifteen years of age. Wandering about the streets of London, he happened to pass by St. Antholin's church, and seeing people go in, he followed them. The preacher was Mr. Foxlcy, who, preaching on the fifth commandment, unfolded the duty of servants to masters. This was so applicable to the case of young Kiffin as to create his astonishment. He thought the preacher knew, and addressed him personally. The effect was, that Kiffin returned immediately to his master, before his absence was discovered. He afterwards became a very pious man and a useful minister of Christ.