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Praise-God Barebone

Praise-God Barebone was of the baptist persuasion, and pastor to a church of that denomination, meeting in Fleetstreet, London. This church was originally part of that under the pastoral care of Mr. Stephen More; which, upon his death, divided by mutual consent, just one half choosing Mr. Henry Jessey for its pastor, the other half Mr. Barebone. He was by trade a leather-seller, afterwards a very popular preacher, and at last a member of parliament, and a man of so much celebrity, that one of Cromwell's parliaments was, out of contempt, called Barebone's parliament. In a pamphlet entitled, " New Preachers, New," is the following scurrilous, but amusing account of him and several others:— "Greene, the felt-maker; Spencer, the horse-rubber; Quartermine, the brewer's clerk; and some few others, who are mighty sticklers in this new kind of talking trade, which many ignorant coxcombs call preaching. Whereunto is added the last tumult in Fleet-street, raised by the disorderly preacb

• Narrative, p. 46. t Ibid. p. 47.

ment, pratings, and prattlings of Mr. Barebones, the leatherseller; and Mr. Greene, the felt-maker, on Sunday last, the 19th of December."

The tumult alluded to is thus curiously described:— "A brief touch in memory, of the fiery zeal of Mr. barebones, a reverend unlearned leather-seller, who, with Mr. Greene, the felt-maker, were both taken preaching or prating in a conventicle, amongst a hundred persons, on Sunday, the 19th of December last, 1641

"After my commendations, Mr. Rawbones, (Barebones, I should have said,) in acknowledgment of your too much troubling yourself, and molesting of others, 1 have made bold to relate briefly your last Sunday's afternoon work, lest in time your meritorious pains-taking should be forgotten, (for the which you and your associate Mr. Greene, do .well deserve to have your heads in the custody of young Gregory, to make buttons for hempen loops:) you two having the spirit so full, that you must either vent, or burst, did on the sabbath aforesaid, at your house near Fetter-lane end, in Fleetstreet, at the sign of the Lock and Key, there and then did you and your consort (by turns) unlock most delicate strange doctrine, where were about thousands of people, of which number the most ignorant applauded your preaching, and those that understood any tiling derided your ignorant prating. But after four hours long and tedious tattling, the house where you were beleaquered with multitudes that thought fit to rouse you out of your blind devotion; so that your walls were battered, your windows all in fractions, torn into rattling shivers, and worse the hurly-burly might have been, but that sundry constables came in with strong guards of men to keep the peace, in which conflict your sign was beaten down and unhanged, to make room for the owner to supply the place; all which shews had never been, had Mr- Greene and Mr. Barebones been content (as they should have been) to have gone to their own parish churches."*

This account shews that these new preachers excited uncommon attention, and were so very popular as to draw thousands after them. The tumult was occasioned, not by their preaching, but by the opposition that was raised against it," by certain lewd fellows of the baser sort." The preacher! and a hundred of the people were taken by die constables, but it is not said whether they were taken to preserve them from the fury of the mob or to bring them to justice. Had

• New Preacher'*, New.

the latter been the case, and they had suffered any thing for their conduct, it is highly probable this writer would have transmitted some account of it to posterity. Mr. Barebone, however, continued his ministerial labours for many years among the people; and, in the year 1654, when the baptist churches published their "Declaration," he was still pastor of this church. Among those who subscribed it, "twentytwo were of the church that walks with Mr. Barebone."*'" According to Rapin, he passed among his neighbours for a notable speaker, and used to entertain them with long harangues upon the times.t This undoubtedly pointed him out to the notice of Cromwell, who nominated him a member of the legislative body that succeeded the long parliament in 1653. Thus he continued pastor of his church, even after he became member of parliament. In this assembly, he was so greatly distinguished for ability and activity, that the members, who were but little skilled in politics, received from him, in derision, the appellation of Barebone's parliament.* As a politician, he was constantly zealous in the cause of the commonwealth; but upon the dissolution of the above assembly, about five months afterwards, he appears to have retired from any further concern in the government. Upon the motion of inviting home the king, he took part with the opposition, and presented a petition to the parliament, from the "well-affected persons, inhabitants of the cities of London and Westminster," declaring their determination to support the commonwealth. General Monk, being then in London, with a view to restore the king, and intent upon the re-admission of the secluded members, who knew Mr. Barebone's popularity, was obliged to make a general muster of his army; when he wrote a letter to the parliament, expostulating with them " for giving too much countenance to that furious zealot and his adherents." The petitioners, however, received the thanks of the house for the expression of their good affections to the parliament.^

Mr. Barebone was at this time concerned in the publication of a book against the court of Charles the Second, entitled, "News from Brussels, in a letter from a near attendant on his majesty's person, to a person of honour here. Dated March 10, 1659, O. S." A reverend prelate styles this " a rascally piece against the king, to expose him to the hatred of his people ;"|| and it was designed, it is said, " to

• Declaration, p. 23. t Rapin's Hist, of Eog. vol. ii. p. 590.

1 Granger's Bioj. Hist. vol. iii. p. 63.
S Ibid.—Rennet's Chronicle, p. 52. I Ibid. p. 80.

On the thirtieth of the foregoing month, Mr. Barebone was summoned before the council of state, to answer such Blatters as were objected against him; but, on signing an engagement not to act in opposition to the existing government, or to disturb the same, he was discharged from any further attendance.* After the restoration of the king, he was looked upon with a jealous eye, and on November 26, 1661, was apprehended, together with Major John Wildman, and James Harrington, esq., and committed prisoner to the Tower, where he continued for some time.^ On the meeting of parliament, early in the following year, Lord Clarendon, then lord chancellor, thought tit to alarm the house with the noise of plots and conspiracies, and enumerated the names of several persons whom he reported to be engaged in traitorous designs against the government. Among these were Major Wildman, Major Mains, Alderman Ireton, and Mr. Praise-God Barebone.|| How far the charge against these persons was substantiated, or whether it was only a political engine of government to get rid of suspected individuals, we will not take upon us to affirm. Certain it is, that Mr. Barebone had now to contend with the strong arm of the civil power, which was directed with all the acrimony of party prejudice against persons of his stamp. Wood, in contempt, styles him "a notorious schismatic, and a grand zealot in the good old cause."n

The time of Mr. Barehone's death is not mentioned by any author we have seen, nor are we acquainted with any further particulars of his history. It may be observed, however, for the amusement of the reader, that there were three brothers of this family, each of whom had a sentence for his christian name, viz. Praise-God Barebone; Christ-came-into-theworld-to-save Barebone; and If-Christ-had-not-died-thoUhadst-been-danmed Barebone. In this last instance, some are said to have omitted the former part of the sentence, and to have called him only " Damned Barebone."** This style of naming individuals was exceedingly common in the time of the civil wars; yet the absurd practice was not peculiar to that period; but was in use long before, and continues, in some measure, even to the present day. it is said that the genealogy of our Saviour might be learnt from the names in Cromwell's regiments; aud that the muster-master used no other list than the first chapter of Matthew.

* Bioir. Briton, vol. v. p. 613. Edit. 1778.

+ Wood's Athena: Oxou. vol. ii. p. 469.

t Kennet't Chronicle, p. 101. $ Ibid. p. 567. || Ibid. p.«02.

5 '.'>ood's Athene, vol. ii. p. 469.

*• Granger's Biojr. Hilt. vol. iii. p. 68.