William Rathband was a puritan divine of great eminence in his day. He preached nineteen years at a chapel in Lancashire, but afterwards, being much persecuted for nonconformity, removed into Northumberland. Having published a book against the Brownists, which Dr. Stillingfleet quoted to prove that preaching, when prohibited by the established laws, was contrary to the doctrine of all the old nonconformists; Mr. William Rathband, his son, in a letter to Mr. Baxter, assures him, " That his father was not to be reckoned among those who held that sentiment, since he exercised his ministry, though contrary to law, for many years at a chapel in Lancashire; and after he was silenced he preached in private, as he had opportunity, and the times would bear, of which 1 myself," says he, " was sometimes a witness. Afterwards, upon the invitation of a
• Thomas's MS. Eccl. Hist. p. 296, £96. + Thomas's MS. Hist, of Baptists, p. 537.
gentleman, he exercised his ministry at Belcham in' Northumberland, for about a year; and from thence he removed to Ovingham, in the same county, where he preached about a year; till, being silenced there, he retired into a private family."* The epistle to the reader, prefixed to Mr. Ball's " Answer to two Treatises of Mr. John Canne's," published in 1642, is subscribed by Mr. Rathband, together with several of his brethren; therefore, he was probably living at that period. He had two sons in the ministry, one of whom was a puritan of considerable eminence ; who, during the civil wars, and upon the reduction of York by the parliament's forces, was constituted one of the four preachers maintained by the state in that city with honourable stipends. After some time, he removed from this situation, when he was succeeded by Mr. Peter Williams.t His other son, the above Mr. William Rathband, was one of the silenced nonconformists in 16624