Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

Giles Wigginton

Giles Wigginton, A. M.—This zealous puritan was born at Oundlc in Northamptonshire, educated in Trinity college, Cambridge, and, in 1566, made second scholar in the college. He went to the university under the patronage and recommendaiion of Sir Walter Mildmay,* and was educated under Dr. Beaumont, master of the above college. Afterwards, he was chosen fellow of the house, though much opposed by Dr. Whitgift, then master of the college. He took his degrees in arts in 1571, having made great progress in the Knowledge of divinity and the Greek and

* Sir Walter Mildmay was a constant friend to the persecuted nonconformist!!, and founder of Fmanuel college, Cambridge, which afterwards became the very nursery of puritanisro. He was surveyor of the court of argumentation in the reign of Henry VIII., and privy counsellor, chancellor, and under-treasurer of the exchequer to Queen Elizabeth. He is celebrated by Camden, and other historians, for bis uncommon merit in his private and public character.—Fuller'I Hist, of Cam. p. 146, 147.—Granger * Biog. Hint. vol. i. p. 233.

Hebrew languages. He continued some years longer at Cambridge, and, when he quitted the university, was possessed of great learning and many excellent endowments.

Mr. Wigginton having completed his studies at the university, was presented to the vicarage of Sedburgh, in the North Riding of Yorkshire; but being a zealous nonconformist, he became a great sufferer in the common cause. In the year 1581, Archbishop Sandys, writing to the Bishop of Chester, in whose diocese our divine lived, thus reproaches his nonconformity :—" Your lordship," says he, " shall do well to better Mr. Wigginton, a young man very far out of frame; who, in my opinion, will not accept of you as his ordinary or bishop; neither would I accept of him being in your place, as a preacher of my diocese. He laboureth not to build, but to pull down, and, by what means he can, to overthrow the state ecclesiastical."* He probably thought the ecclesiastical state so far corrupted and decayed, that it was incapable of the amendment that was desired; and, therefore, he might wish and endeavour by all peaceable means, to have it pulled down, and a more pure discipline and government erected. •

Being afterwards in London, he was appointed in the year 1584, to preach before the judges, in St. Dunstan's church. ' Information of this coming to the ears of Whitgift, then Archbishop of Canterbury, he sent a pursuivant to Mr. Wigginton's lodgings in the dead of the night; and, finding him in bed, forbade him preaching, and required him to give bond for his appearance the next day, at Lambeth. All this he did without any written warrant. Upon his appearance at Lambeth, and refusing the oath ex officio, to answer certain articles altogether unknown to him, the archbishop, after using much reviling and reproachful language, committed him to the Gatehouse, where he remained nine weeks within one day. At the expiration of this period, the merciful archbishop released him, and gave him canonical admonition, charging him not to preach in his province without further license.t

In the year 1585, upon the information of one Edward Middleton, a man of profane character, and a suspected papist, Whitgift gave orders to his brother Sandys of York, to proceed against Mr. Wigginton, even to deprivation. He was therefore cited before Chadderton, bishop of

* Baker's MS. Collec. vol. nviii. p. 366. + MS. Register, p. 759.

Chester, when twelve charges were exhibited against him; and, in the end, he was deprived of his ministry; and one Colecloth, a minister of immoral character, was sent to take possession of the living. Afterwards, by the favour and influence of several persons of quality, he was again restored.

In the year 1586, our divine, being in London, was again apprehended by one of Whitgift's pursuivants, and carried before his grace at Lambeth ; who, for refusing the oath to accuse himself as before, committed him to the White-lion prison, where he was treated with the utmost barbarity. We shall give the account in his own words. " In the month of May," says he, " I was in London; and was sorely vexed by the archbishop's pursuivants, who apprehended me, and took me to Lambeth. At Lambeth, I was shamefully reviled and abused by the archbishop and those about him, as if I had been the vilest rebel against my prince and country. He then committed me to the keeper of the prison in Southwark, who, by the archbishop's strict charge, so loaded me with irons, confined me in close prison, and deprived me of necessary food, that in about five weeks, I was nearly dead." Such were the unfeeling and inhuman proceedings of this persecuting arch-prelate.

While in this deplorable condition, Mr. Wigginton wrote to a certain nobleman, soliciting him to use his utmost endeavours to obtain his deliverance from suck cruel usage. In this letter, dated from the White-bon, June 1, 1586, he expressed himself as follows:—" I desire " you to make known my lamentable case to her majesty's u honourable privy council, or to her majesty herself, that " the cause of my imprisonment may be examined, and *' that I may be delivered from this hard usage. For I u desire justice, and not mercy, being conscious of my own " innocency. My old adversary, the archbishop, hath u treated me more like a Turk, or a dog, than a man, or a " minister of Jesus Christ. I heartily commend you to u God. Giles Wigginton."•

He further proceeds in this account of himself, and says, u At length, my life being in so great danger, 1 was removed to another prison in London. And some time after this, I was brought again to Lambeth; when, for refusing to answer as before, after much slanderous usage, the archbishop suspended me from preaching in his province,

• MS. Register, p. 769,

and, in a certain way, deprived me of my living at Sedburgh: but for my final deprivation, he sent me to Sandys, archbishop of York.

" When by the extremity of my sickness in prison, I was constrained still to abide some time in the city ; and when, in the opinion of learned physicians, I was on my death-bed, the archbishop sent two pursuivants, commanding me to appear before him again at Lambeth; which 1 being unable to do, he pronounced against me the sentence of deprivation and degradation.* After my departure, the Earls of Warwick and Huntington, without my solicitation, did earnestly sue unto him for my restoration; but he absolutely refused, signifying, that he had already written to the patron of the living, for the presentation of another to the place."+

Upon Mr. Wigginton's recovery from sickness, he returned to Sedburgh, and offered himself to preach in the church, but was refused the pulpit. He, therefore, preached in various places, and particularly in his own house, where he had a considerable assembly; and looking upon himself as the pastor set over the people by the Lord, he administered both the ordinances of the gospel. This coming to the knowledge of Whit gift, by his instigation an attachment was sent forth from Archbishop Sandys, " To all justices, mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, constables, and all other her majesty's officers and subjects, within the province of York, or to any of them, to apprehend him, and commit him to the castle of Lancaster, in the province of York."t Accordingly, Mr. Wigginton being soon after on a journey, was apprehended at Boroughbridge, arrested by a pursuivant from the archbishop, and carried to Lancaster castle, being the distance of fifty miles, in a severe, cold winter. There he was shut up in close prison among felons and condemned prisoners, and more basely used than they, or the recusant papists. From hence he sent an account of his case to Sir Walter Mildmay, his worthy patron, and one of the privy council; wherein he expressed himself as follows

* Whitgift, says Hume, was a zealous churchman, who had signalized his pen in controversy; and who, having in vain attempted to convince the puritans by argument, was now resolved to open their eyes by power, and by the execution of penal statutes.—Hist, of Eng. vol. v. p. 188.

+ The person presented lo the living, was one Edward Hampton, a man unlearned, and openly profane.—MS. Register, p. 760—765.

t Ibid. p. 767. S Ibid. p. 753,754.

a Right honourable and beloved in Christ. " Since nay late deprivation at Lambeth, I have both preached and ministered the sacraments, to my flock at Sedburgh ; nor could I find any rest in my conscience till I had done this.* And as I have not depended on any man's opinion, in what I have done, so the Lord hath abundantly blessed me with heavenly comforts in my own soul, and under my painful sufferings ; and abundantly blessed my labours among those whom he committed to my care.

" 1 have turned my back upon those antichristian and unlawful proceedings which were used against me, my ministry, and my flock. This was necessary in these days of prelatical and popish superstition. But I must inform you, that as I was lately on my journey as far as Boroughbridge, my wife big with child, and the other branches of my family being with me, 1 was there arrested by a pursuivant, and brought to this place, a distance of fifty miles, in this cold winter. The chief cause of this usage, is my preaching and administrating the sacraments among my flock, after my deprivation. Dr. Sandys used me hardly, in causing me, and those who were with me, to remain four days at Boroughbridge, and in sending me this distance, to this noisome prison, in cold winter, when there were better prisons neiir at hand. I am here within the iron gate, in a cold room, among felons and condemned prisoners, and in various ways, worse used than they, or recusant papists. Therefore, my suit to your honour, is, that it would please your honour to use some means, as God shall direct you, whereby 1 may be delivered out of the hands of my cruel enemies. And that it may please your honour to further the reformation of our English church, especially in thi« present parliament; that the faithful ministers of Christ may not be silenced by the prelates; that good christians may not be brought into trouble, for refusing those rites and ceremonies which are the inventions of men; and that a learned and godly minister may be appointed to every congregation. .. •

u You are now one of the oldest nobles in our land. Your days are few and wearing out; therefore, let them be spent to the honour of Christ. Thus we shall pray for

* About one hundred and forty of Mr. Wigginton's people, for the tad crime of hearing him preach after bis deprivation, were cited to appear at York and other places, at the distance of sixty or eighty miles, most of whom were excommunicated by the ecclesiastical commissioners.—Jf& Btguter, p. 770.

you, while you live, and esteem your posterity when you are with Christ in the kingdom of heaven. The Lord both guide and bless your honour, and his whole church. From Lancaster castle, February 28, 1587.

" Giles Wigginton, pastor of Sedburgh."

It does not appear what effect was produced by the above letter, nor how long Mr. Wigginton remained a close prisoner; but in about two years, he was brought into other troubles by Whitgift, his old adversary. In the month of December, 1588, being in London, the archbishop's pursuirant apprehended him at his lodgings, while he was in bed, and carried him to Lambeth, upon suspicion of being one of the authors of Martin Mar-Prelate. At Lambeth, he appeared before the Archbishop, the Bishop of Winchester, Dr. Aubcry, Dr. Cosin, Dr. Goodman, and other high commissioners; when he underwent the following examination:

Archbishop. There is a book, called Martin MarPrelate, a vile, seditious, and intolerable book; and you are suspected to be one of its authors. Therefore, you are to swear what you know concerning it.

Wigginton. You do well to let me know what I have to swear to. But let me know, also, who are my accusers. For I do not inean to accuse myself.

A. We will take your answers upon your word alone. What say you to these articles following ? Have you any of those books ? or have you read or heard any of them read, or any part of them, at any time ?

W. 1 will not answer to accuse myself. Let my accusers stand forth and proceed against me. You have known my mind upon this point, many years.

A. Have you had any of them, and how many ? How came you by them ? What did you do with them ? In whose hands are they.' And by whose means did you obtain them ?

W. I had rather accuse myself, than other persons; but I will accuse neither. Let mine accusers, and proper witnesses according to the laws of God and the realm, proceed against me. I expect no comfort in accusing myself, or my neighbour.

A. Have you bought, sold, given, dispersed, handled, or any way dealt in any of them ? and in what sort ?

W: I account it as unnatural for mc to' accuse myself, as to thrust a knife into my thigh. The matter, I understand, is doubtful and dangerous ; therefore, I will accuse neither myself nor others. " In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established." The heathen judge said," 1 will hear thee when thine accusers are come."

A. Do you know the author, writer, or printer of that book ? Did you make or help to make, write, or print it, or any pari of it, or see tiny part of it before it was printed ?

W. I did neither make, write, nor print it, nor any part of it, nor see any part of it before it was printed.

A. Did you not deliver some copies of it in the country, one to Mr. Moore, and another to Mr. Cartwright ?

W. 1 understand, what you well know, that many lords, and other persons of quality, have obtained and read the book. And supposing 1 have done the same, it will, in my opinion, be more to your credit, to examine all sorts about it, and not poor persons only, according to your custom.

A. Whom do you believe, think, suspect, or conjecture, to be the author, writer, or printer of it, or any part of it, or any way helper towards it ? Did you make: any oath, or vow, or promise, to conceal the same ?

W. What I believe, think, suspect, or conjecture, or have vowed or promised, I am not bound to make known. I answer as before, I would rather accuse myself, than my neighbour.

A. What printing press, or furniture for printing, have you known, within the two years last past ?

W. I know of none, as 1 told you before.

A. Yes, but you are verily suspected of it. Public fame is against you.

W. I thank God, I am not infamous; nor will I borrow of any man. But, by the grace of God, I will live a true subject, the benefit of whom I claim, and wish to enjoy.

A. But what do you say about the case of Atkinson of Sedburgh, as mentioned in the book ? Did not you minister this report of Atkinson, nor any thing else towards the book ? Have you the note of Atkinson's hand for it, or who hath it ?

W. I did not minister any such thing. For if I had done it, I would have reported the same story in another form. Atkinson told it to many others besides me, whose names I reserve in silence.

A. Did you not say to the pursuivant, as you came in the boat, that you had seen the second Martin, called " The Epitome ?"

W. Let the pursuivant stand forth, and accuse me, if he wiU.

Bishop. You have preached pernicious doctrine.

W. What do you mean by pernicious doctrine ? I preach that doctrine which promotes the glory of God, and the salvation of his people.

B. We have the queen's authority and commission in our hands.

W. I pray for you, that you may do well; but this I tell you, that while I profess to serve God, all that 1 do is not the service of God: so while you challenge the queen's authority and commission, all that you do is not the queen's authority and commission.

A. The papists answer altogether like you.

W. The papists eat bread, and so do I: and I fear not to do like them in any good thing. Yet I hope you will make a difference betwixt me and papists,

A. Not in that point.

W. It is well known that you mistake my design, and I yours; but I wish you well. A. I care not for your wishes.

W. My wishes and prayers, though they be sinful, will do you no harm.

A. I desire them not, and would be loath to come under them.

W. Love me not the worse for being plain with you. Cosin. No, you are not so plain ; for you do not directly answer.

W. Martin himself, I understand, will come forth, and defend his matters, if he may have fair trial. A. Record that, Mr. Hartwell.

W. It is well known that I am as ready to read and lend that book as any person, in a good and lawful manner. Yet I will not accuse myself, and thus do myself hurt, and you no good. And I would rather have to speak well, than ill of you hereafter.

Goodman. If we be ill, whom do you mean ?

W. All are ill, and need reformation.

Aubery. Did not you tell Mr. Martin, your keeper at the Compter, that he could not find out the author of the book?

W. Mr. Martin is a simple man, and imagines from the title of the book, that I am the author.

A. Is Mr. Perry then the author of the " Demonstration," or of Martin Mar-Prelate ?

W. I think he is not. And I think you are greatly deceived in charging him with it.

A. There are many lies in Martin.

W. You must then confute them.

A. You despise the high commission. Why do you wear a cloak above your gown ? - '

W.- As a woman just come out of child-bed, I am just come out of the Compter, and dress thus, fearing the cold.

A. You make a wise comparison of yourself. Such women must be kept warm.

W. Then let them be kept warm.*

The commissioners having finished the examination of Mr. Wigginton, and finding him, after using all the inquisition their wits could devise, unwilling to accuse himself 6r others, they dismissed him from their presence, while they consulted what they should do. And being again called in, the meek and lowly archbishop thus addressed him:—" Forasmuch as you have refused to swear, and to answer as we have required you, and so, by law,have confessed yourself to be guilty of the accusations charged against you; and as you have at sundry times, and in divers ways, shewed your contempt of our ecclesiastical authority, and of this our high commission, which the queen bath given unto us, and which you shall obey and yield unto, before I have done with you; therefore, your former enlargement shall now be taken away, and you shall be kept close prisoner in the Gatehouse, until you shall yield in these matters; and when you are so disposed,' you may send us word. In the mean time go your way. Away with him pursuivant."+ He was then carried to the Gatehouse,} where he remained a long time; and though repeated intercessions were made to the archbishop for his release, it was all to no purpose. Mr. Wigginton was a pious man, a zealous minister, and a learned divine, and was living in the year 1591; but he most probably con-tinued in the Gatehouse for several years, until the general banishment of the puritans. ^

This great sufferer in the cause of nonconformity, during

» MS. Register, p. 843—848. t Ibid.

| The warrant sent to the keeper of the Gatehouse, was as follows:— " Herewith we semi yon oue Giles Wigginton, whom we will and require " you, and in ber majesty's name, do strictly charge and command you to " retain in your custody, by virtue of her highness'? commission for causes " ecclesiastical to us and others directed, and him safely to keep and " detain, until you sball have further direction from us. And hereof fail " you not, as you will answer to the contrary at your peril. Given at " Lambeth, December 6, 1588."^/»id. p. 846, 849.

S MS. Chronology, vol. ii. p. 441.(8.)

his confinement in prison, had some correspondence with Hacket, the zealous enthusiast, who is said to have devised mad plots against the government; for which he was hanged, drawn and quartered. Whatever acquaintance •or correspondence he had with this man, he never approved of his opinions and practice. However, from his slight connection with Hacket, Coppinger, and Arthington, his memory has suffered greatly from the scurrilous pen of Dr. Cosin, one of the high commission in the above examination; and herein he is followed by other historians.* On this account, it will be proper to give a circumstantial statement of the case, even allowing his enemies to be judges.

That Wigginton held correspondence with these men in the matters of their conspiracy, and that there was mutual correspondence betwixt him and them in all their plots for advancing their discipline, is manifest, says our author, by the confession of Arthington, who said, " That he heard Hacket singing certain songs, who wished that Arthington had some of them. For it was a very special thing, and, said he, Mr. Wigginton hath a great many of them." This is one evidence of their mutual and united conspiracy !

Coppinger, it is said, had once a conference with Wigginton, in the presence of Arthington, concerning his extraordinary calling. On this occasion, Mr. Wigginton refused to be made acquainted with Coppinger's secrets, saying, " You are known to be an honest gentleman, and sworn to the queen, and therefore I will not be acquainted with those things which God hath revealed unto you for the good of your sovereign."+ Hacket also declared, that he heard Mr. Wigginton say, " That if the magistrates do not govern well, the people might draw themselves together, and see to a reformation." This dangerous opinion, it is said, may be gathered from one of his letters, in which he said, " Mr. Cartwright is in the Fleet, for refusal of the oath, and Mr. K. is sent for, and sundry worthy ministers are disquieted. So that we look for some bickering 'ere long, and then a battle, which cannot long endure." Coppinger and Arthington told Wigginton, " That reformation and the Lord's discipline should now forthwith be established, and therefore charged him in the Lord's name, to put all christians in comfort, that they should see a joyful alteration in the state of church government shortly.":*

• Strype's Whifgifl, p. 305.—Collier's Eccl. Hist. vol. ii. p. 327—329. f Cotin't Conspiracy, p. 57. Edit. 1699. | Ibid. p. 58, 62.

They also told him, " That they were provoked to pronounce him the holiest minister of all others, tor dealing so plainly and resolutely in God's cause above all ministers, which God would manifest one day to his comfort." At another time, they came to him and said, " We are come to you now to bring you certain news of great comfort, viz. That we have seen Jesus Christ this day, in lively and extraordinary shape or fashion presented unto us, not in his body; for he sitteth at the right hand of God in heaven, until the last judgment; but in his effectual or principal spirit, whereby he dwelleth in William Hacket, more than in any creature upon the earth."* Such are the grievous crimes with which Mr. Wigginton is charged ! These facts, with a few others equally ridiculous, contain all the evidence of his uniting with Hacket and his companions, in their mad plots to overturn the government! As our information is from the pen of one of his bitterest enemies and

Eersecutors, we may presume it is not given at all in is favour, but in some degree to his disadvantage: the impartial reader will, therefore, judge for himself, bow far he was guilty.

After the most minute investigation, it appears to me that Mr. Wigginton's character and memory have suffered great injury from the above bigotted historian, and from those who imitated his example. One of them, speaking of Hacket and his companions, observes, " that one of this good brotherhood was Wigginton, as brainsick a teacher as any of the club, and as staunch an enemy to government."t The reader will easily perceive the injustice and falsehood of this representation. For, if this statement be correct, why did not his enemies proceed against him, as well as against the other conspirators ? They were in possession of all the evidence that ever appeared against him, and he was now a prisoner in the Gatehouse; why then did they not punish him according to his deserts? This, surely, was not owing to their loo great Unity, or their want of inclination.

During Mr. Wigginton's imprisonment, he published two pamphlets. One was on " Predestination ;" the other was entitled " The Fools Bolt; or, a Fatherly Exhortation to a certain Young Courtier." The latter is said to have been " conceived into an halting rhyme;'' and written chiefly against the governors of the church.

California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information  California - CCPA Notice