Thomas Settle was born about the year 1555, and most' probably educated in the university of Cambridge. He' was ordained by Bishop Freak, after which he became minister of Boxted in Suffolk, and a zealous nonconformist; but was roughly used by Archbishop Whitgift. In May, 15S6, being cited before his grace at Lambeth, the following charges were exhibited against him:—" That he did not observe the order in the Book of Common Prayer.—That he did not use the cross, nor admit the promise and vow in baptism.—That he did not marry with the ring, and say, 4 With this ring I thee wed.'—That he frequented convene tides.—That he denied the lawfulness of private baptism by women, and the baptism of ministers who could not preach.—And that he denied that the soul of our Saviour went into hell, or the regions of the damned."
Upon the exhibition of these charges against Mr. Settle, . he was first examined upon our Lord's descent into hell; when he confessed it was his opinion, thnt Christ did not descend locally into hell, and that Calvin, Beza, and other learned men, were of the same opinion. This put the archbishop into so violent a passion, that he called him ass, doll, fool, and added, they are liars.* Mr. Settle said, " You ought not to rail at me, being a minister of the gospel." " What," replied bis lordship, " dost thou think it much to be called ass and dolt ? I have called many of thy betters so." " True," observed Mr. Settle; " but the question is, how lawfully you have done that." The lordly archbishop then said, " Thou shalt preach no more in my province. Mr. Settle answered, " I am called to preach the gospel, and I will not cease to preach it." The archbishop, with a stern countenance, replied, " Neither you, nor any one in England,shall preach without my leave;" and immediately commanded him to be carried close prisoner to the Gatehouse. Before his departure, the Dean of Westminster asking him whether he had subscribed, Mr. Settle replied, " Yes; I have subscribed, and am ready to subscribe again, to the doctrine of faith and sacraments, being as much as the law requires: but to other rites and ceremonies, I neither can nor will subscribe." " Then," said the angry archbishop," thou shalt be subject to the ecclesiastical
* This prelate is commended as a worthy and prudent governor of the church; and his mild and moderate carriage, it is said, was well worthy of imitation! This good man expired in David*s fulness of days, leaving a name like sweet perfume behind him t Paule'i Lift •/ Whitgift, Prcf.— Kmnct't Hiit. 0/ Eng. vol. ii. p. 665.
authority." Mr. Settle replied, " I thank God, yon can use no violence only upon my poor body." So Whitgift committed him close prisoner to the Gatehouse, where the good man continued about six years till the year 1592,t when he was released.
After his deliverance from this cruel bondage, Mr. Settle became a member of the Brownists' congregation, which assembled in private places in and about London. His troubles, however, were not ended: bonds and afflictions were still awaiting him. For, towards the close of the above year, he was apprehended at a private assembly, held in the school-house of Mr. George Johnson, in Nicholaslane, and committed to prison. After remaining under confinement for fifteen weeks, without either examination or indictment, he was carried before the high commission, April 6, 1593, when he was required to take the oath ex officio, but he absolutely refused. Though he would not accuse either himself or his brethren; yet, during his examination, he acknowledged certain things, from which we have collected the following particulars:—He confessed that he had held his opinions, and separated himself from the established church, for about a year; but had not received the sacrament in the parish church for three years. He acknowledged that he had opposed the discipline of the church for seven years; but he refused to say by what means he had been induced to imbibe these opinions. When he was commanded to say whether he possessed, or had ever read, any of Barrow's, Greenwood's, or Penry's books, he refused to give a direct answer, but said, he would not be his own accuser. Being asked how many he had persuaded, and brought over to his opinions, he said, he was firmly fixed in what he professed, and was desirous of bringing over as many others as he was able; but more he would not answer.
He, moreover, confessed, that he was present at the assembly in a house in Aldgate, when Robert Stokes was excommunicated for his apostacy; and that he was excommunicated by Mr. Francis Johnson the pastor, when the rest of the officers and congregation were present, and consented to what was done. He said, also, that he had nev^r served in any office in the congregation; but had occasionally taught or prophesied in the assembly. He likewise confessed, that he had received the Lord's supper in
their congregation, in a house near Smithfield, bat he knew not whose the house was. He, at the same time, refused to attend the public serrice of the parish churches; because, he thought, they had not a true ministry.*—This was the result of the inquisition of his spiritual judges; but it does not appear how long he remained in prison: most probably he was released upon the general banishment of the puritans.