Suffering for their consciences: the depiction of anabaptists and baptists in the eighteenth-century histories of Daniel Neal.
Neal's massive The History of New-England (1720) and The History of the Puritans (1732-1738) provided Dissenters with their most important histories of the early eighteenth century, but the books also inspired reactionary accounts of past Dissent. Thomas Crosby's The History of the English Baptists (1738-1740) so stigmatized Neal's depiction of "Anabaptists" and "Baptists" that posthumous versions of Neal's works contained a corrective addendum from Crosby's History.
This article provides evidence of the elusive nature of describing Christian movements and the intricate process of forming typologies of religious groups by surveying Neal's histories to determine how the Independent minister did define the Baptists and Anabaptists. The essay concludes that, contrary to contemporary and modern critics, Neal's focus was not on defining Anabaptists and Baptists as heterodox schismatics outside the lines of legitimate Dissent. In fact, Neal failed to provide a consistent typology of the two groups in both texts. He, however, employed the Anabaptists and Baptists as dramatic examples of those who dissented on grounds of conscience from the majority opinion and were oppressed by state and church. Although he frequently disparagingly depicted the Anabaptists and Baptists as being rigid in faith, dissatisfied with infant baptism, and holding closed communion, Neal was most concerned with using them to identify the greater threat to Dissent and the freedom of consciences, i.e., religious discipline that was coupled with the coercive power of the state.
Since 1740, the Independent historian Daniel Neal (1678-1743) has been much maligned by critics. (1) In particular, Neal was accused by some of his fellow Nonconformists of "malicious slander" and distorting the image of Anabaptists and Baptists in his transatlantic histories, particularly in The History of the Puritans, the most important history of English Dissent produced in the eighteenth century. (2) Neal's The History of New-England (1720) and The History of the Puritans (1732-38) had improved upon the standard historical works of Cotton Mather (1663-1728) and Edmund Calamy (1671-1732) by providing timely cases for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in the framework of lucid, cohesive narratives. (3) Despite its detractors, The History of the Puritans, Neal's magnum opus, was integrated into the Dissenting canon by the nineteenth century and it proved formative for generations of imaginations. The History of the Puritans would stand with Edmund Calamy's Account of the 71vo Thousand Ejected Ministers as texts "had ... by heart" by children in Nonconformist households. (4) The History of the Puritans remained popular into the early twentieth century, and excerpts from The History of New-England repeatedly appeared in modern textbooks as Neal was disseminated to audiences as "one of the few careful writers of his time." (5)
Within his own lifetime, Daniel Neal was hailed as a notable historian and leading Independent minister. (6) Born in London in 1678, Neal was educated at Merchant Taylor School and the Dissenting academy of Thomas Rowe (d. 1705) in Newington Green, Middlesex, which boasted such students as Isaac Watts, John Evans, and Jeremiah Hunt, as well as the Conformist Archbishop Josiah Hort. (7) Having been denied the opportunity to take a degree from an English university by the Test and Corporation Acts, Neal traveled to Holland where (like contemporary Dissenting historians Edmund Calamy and James Peirce [1674-1726]) he studied at the universities of Utrecht and Leiden." In 1703 Neal returned to London and assisted Dr. John Singleton at an Independent congregation on Aldersgate Street. Upon Singleton's death, he was ordained the pastor in 1706. He ministered to the congregation, which later met on Jewin Street, for the rest of his life.
Neal was studious, busying himself with sermon preparation and visitations throughout the week. (9) According to a contemporary, he was "a person of learning & good ministerial qualifications," and he drew significant crowds to his sermons. (10) In addition to his ministerial service, Neal occupied himself with writing, first publishing The History of New-England in 1720 and later publishing The History of the Puritans, numerous short articles, pamphlets, and his own and others' sermons. (11)
Neal was persistent in his work on behalf of Dissent. Joshua Toulmin (1740-1815), Neal's biographer and a Baptist minister with early Unitarian views, glowingly depicted him as an irenic minister who found great joy in defending tender consciences from any imposition. (12) The author of "A View of the Dissenting Intrest [sic]" of 1731, however, found Neal's moderate approach in a time of controversy to be somewhat detrimental to Nonconformity: Neal "suffred [sic] in his usefulness by withdrawing himself from the debates" over subscription at Salters' Hall in 1719. (13) Although Neal refused to become involved in the theological wrangling, his erudition was well recognized. He participated in lecture series by Dissenting ministers and preached in numerous pulpits until his health failed. His assiduous studies, the preparation of his monumental work from 1732 to 1738, and his continuing pastoral concerns seem to have taken a significant toll upon his health. He retired from ministry in 1743 and died approximately five months later. Neal was survived by his wife and children, who continued in Congregationalism. Neal was buried among the Dissenters at Bunhill Fields, and his funeral sermon was preached by Independent minister and relative by marriage, Dr. David Jennings. (14)
The Baptist Problem
The importance of Neal's histories was recognized by his contemporaries: Applauded on both sides of the Atlantic, the publications also elicited antagonistic tomes from Established churchmen, as well as reactionary works from Nonconformist sides. (15) Some within the Dissenting fold quietly faulted The History of New-England with misrepresentations. The colonists Cotton Mather and Benjamin Colman (1673-1747) maintained a friendly relationship with Neal, but privately expressed concerns about how he had negatively portrayed Puritans. (16) The censure of the English Baptist Thomas Crosby (ca. 1685-1752), however, was unsurpassed among the Nonconformists. Believing that Neal had erroneously characterized Baptists, Crosby published The History of the English Baptists (1738-40) in which he maintained that historians, including Neal, "from whom we might have looked for more Christian treatment, have made it their business to represent the Anabaptists, as they are pleased to contempt to stile them, in odious colours, and to write many bitter things, even notourious falsehoods concerning them, nay, to fasten doctrines upon them which they never approved." (17) The Baptists had yet to have their history composed with any detachment. Prejudice had ensnared all past accounts, even that of a fellow Dissenter! The stigma of poor history had been cast.
Crosby's negative descants were so great that corrective histories of the Baptists and Quakers were added to publications of The History of the Puritans after 1754. Ironically, the editor Joshua Toulmin formulated the supplemental history of the Baptists extensively from Crosby's The History of the English Baptists.(tm) Toulmin exculpated Neal from the guilt of purposefully excluding Baptists from The History of the Puritans on the grounds that the minister had been ignorant of Baptist history. To ease the supplement's reception, Toulmin excised Crosby's virulent preface that claimed Neal was in possession of substantial manuscripts related to Baptist history during the composition of The History of the Puritans, and thus he had intentionally misrepresented (or failed to represent) the Baptists in the text. Later editions of The History of the Puritans would diplomatically boast that they contained "the continued history of the English Baptists and Quakers, and furnish[ed] the reader with the substance of Mr. Crosby's history of the former, and a full abstract of Mr. Gough's work concerning the latter sect." (19) Thus, Neal's monumental history was joined with a work by one of his harshest critics, a fact of which many eighteenth--and nineteenth-century readers were likely unaware.
Crosby's criticisms have been perpetuated for the last 270 years by historians of English Baptists. (20) Unfortunately, few scholars have thoroughly reviewed Neal's opera magna to determine how he actually did "represent the Anabaptists." Only the recent work of John Seed has given any attention to the role of Anabaptists and Baptists in Neal's narratives, and then only as they appeared in The History of the Puritans. (21) Making no assertions about Neal's typology of Anabaptists or Baptists or about any continuity between the movements, Seed implied that Neal understood the German "Anabaptists" of the sixteenth century to be outside the bounds of legitimate Dissent due to their irregular theology. In Seed's estimation, Baptists received better treatment from Neal, but were to be understood in relation to the author's concern about radicals disrupting the accepted social order. (22)
The object of this article is to survey references to Anabaptists and Baptists in The History of the Puritans and The History of New-England and ascertain how Neal portrayed these groups to his eighteenth-century audience. The study seeks neither to decide the accuracy of Neal's taxonomy or his telling of events, nor to judge whether Neal granted an appropriate proportion of his narratives to the history of the Anabaptist and Baptist movements. (23) This article, rather, concludes that Neal's overriding concerns as an Independent were for the survival of fragmented and atrophying Dissent and for the revocation of the Test and Corporation Acts, and that these biases influenced his writing of history. Less concerned with accuracy than with affect, Neal utilized groups such as the Baptists and Anabaptists as rhetorical devices to demonstrate the past oppression of the tender consciences of the English people. When Neal did describe historical Baptist movements in detail, he sometimes cast them in a negative light. Characterized in his stories by narrowness, impudence, and lack of charity, Baptists were exemplars of the divisiveness in Dissent that had to be eradicated for a healthy Nonconformity. Baptists were, however, legitimate members of Dissent and were undeserving of persecution as their practice and theology did not threaten the peace of the state.
The Historical Context
Neal's representations of Anabaptists and Baptists are best understood when considered against the historical context of their composition. Both histories were attempts to shape Dissenting identity and calls for action. The History of the Puritans and The History of New-England were written to meet three substantial challenges facing Nonconformity: external antagonism from the Anglican church and the state in the form of restrictive and penal laws; the perceptible internal decay of the Dissenting Interest following the deterioration of the Happy Union of the 1690s and the schisms following the Salters' Hall debate of 1719 (24); and, the increasing number of Dissenters who were conforming to the Anglican church for social, economic, or educational improvement. (25)
By 1730, urban Nonconformity was tolerated, secure, and growing stolid. Indeed, it appeared to be waning. (26) Dissenting pamphlets noted the decline in the commitment of congregants, a loss of members to the established church, and a general indifference among adherents to theological matters. In 1731 the author of "A View of the Dissenting Intrest [sic]" posited numerous causes for the decay of Nonconformity, which he believed had begun as early as 1695. (27) In 1733 an author critical of Dissent's appeals for liberty noted, "The noise which of late the Dissenters themselves have thought fit to make, concerning the Considerablness, of their Body, its Decay, and the most effectual Methods for reviving a Spirit of Dissent amongst us ... awakened my Curiosity." (28) The anonymous author of Some Observations Upon the Present State of the Dissenting Interest of 1731 noted a migration of approximately fifty Dissenting ministers to the Church of England since the accession of George I; Edmund Calamy regrettably admitted that the Conformists were respectable ministers. (29) Even the General Baptists acknowledged the "low & languishing State & Condition" of their congregations that appeared to have "much Deadness & Indifference in Spiritually things." The Assembly of General Baptists declared fasts for their churches in 1711, 1714, 1719, and 1724 in hopes that "the Lord would look Down in Much Mercy upon them & revive & Restore the professors of Christianity," thereby avoiding divine judgment. (30)
Neal, while maintaining "the honesty and gravity of an historian, attempted to compose histories that presented irenic and convincing arguments, but also provided positive models for Dissenting behavior. (31) Although characterized by Laird Okie as a "providential historian," Neal clearly espoused a complex approach to history that acknowledged God's pervasive providence but focused on human agency-the tension led to neither dominating his histories. (32) Neal was a moderate Calvinist, and his sermons were replete with the doctrines of election, predestination, and providence (33); plague, death, and political upheaval were attributed to providence. (34) Yet, Neal believed that God's providence embraced human action. (35) Neal had preached that Dissenters should pray for freedom of all peaceable Christians from penal laws, but the covenanted people were also empowered to "do"! (36) In the same way, his histories were written to elicit change and incite his readers.
In a sermon delivered in 1730, Neal reminded fellow Dissenters of the persecution that their fellow Protestants were currently enduring under inquisitions across Europe and that the auditors' English predecessors too had suffered such a burden. The weight had been lifted, Neal noted, but he encouraged auditors to pray that "all penal Laws for Religion" and impediments to the "peacable [sic] Profession" of the Christian faith might be removed. He indicted Dissenters for "unnatural division" that had seeped in over "little Matters." The Dissenters' "spirits have been heated, and their Passions raised against each other, while the Cause of Religion has been dying in their Hands." Nonconformists had to reject discord, pray, and "be at Peace among our selves" for the sake of the Gospel. (37) These themes of Protestant ecumenism and the pursuit of full civil rights would resonate in The History of the Puritans that he was composing at the time.
Both of Neal's histories advocated for the freedom of Dissenting consciences by demonstrating the past Puritan contribution to the state (i.e., the defense of the liberty of conscience) and discrediting accusations that Nonconformists were subversive to the government. The books also provided a unified history for fragmented Dissent. (38) Neal's theses were not complex: Dissenters had historically defended natural and constitutional freedoms; thus, they should be recognized as the paragon of loyal English subjects and be given congruent rights and freedoms. Diverging from previous British historians, Neal was innovative in identifying the TUdor and Stuart monarchs and their prelates (not Cromwell and the Parliament of the Interregnum) as the villains who had asserted arbitrary rule and forced uniformity to the detriment of English freedoms. (39) But Neal did not limit his criticism to the Church of England: He similarly inveighed against the intolerance of the Puritans and Cromwellians. The evils of coercion in religious matters, no matter the regime, were exposed in order that those who followed "the body of protestant dissenters of the present age [who] have a just abhorrence of the persecuting spirit of their predecessors" might avoid such failures. (40) His histories had purpose: Dissenters, now active proponents for liberty, were exhorted to be tireless in ensuring future freedom.
The History of the Puritans also had the purpose of stopping the immigration of second- and third-generation Dissenters to the established church by providing a unifying narrative that connected eighteenth-century Nonconformists with those of prior generations and that argued for the historical faithfulness of Dissenters to the defense of conscience in matters of religion. (41) Neal provided the reader with the broad strokes of his theses in the first volume: "The design of the following work, is to preserve the memory of those great and good men among the reformers, who lost their preferments in the church, for attempting a further reformation of its discipline and ceremonies; and to account for the rise and progress of that separation from the national establishment, which subsists to this day." (42) The History of the Puritans was a preservation of the past, but a view of the past shaped by the present concern that Dissent needed revivification and a defense of its legitimacy.
Neal and the Baptists: A Typology from the History of the Puritans
Among the Dissenters, the most vociferous critic of Neal's history was the Baptist Crosby. The core of Crosby's complaint was that although Neal had been provided with copious information compiled by Crosby and Benjamin Stinton (Crosby's irenic pastor) about the origins and history of the English Baptists, Neal had ignored the data or misused it, limiting his comments to "less than five pages of his third volume ... and that too with very great partiality." (43) Neal had fallen prey to the errors of other eminent historians who had written against "hereticks," asserting that they held "opinions, without producing any proof of it, or referring to any of their works, lest they should publish them, and people should have opportunity to enquire what they say for themselves." (44) According to Crosby, what was needed was a Baptist history written by a Baptist! (45)
Crosby exaggerated the paucity of attention given by Neal to the "Anabaptists." Anabaptists, Baptists, German Anabaptists, English Anabaptists, and English Baptists all appeared in The History of the Puritans, and any assessment of Neal's portrayal of "Anabaptists" must be considered in the context of his literary objectives. A perusal of the terms "Anabaptist" and "Baptist" in the indices of The History of the Puritans gives the reader the impression that Neal conflated the terms. (46) Upon a close inspection of the text, however, Neal's depiction proved convoluted. Four groups of Anabaptists and Baptists emerge out of the narratives: two types of German Anabaptists, the English Particular Baptists, and the English General Baptists.
Neal described two types of German Anabaptists existing in the first half of the sixteenth century:
There were two sorts of Anabaptists that sprung up with the reformation in Germany, one was of those who differed only about the subject and mode of baptism, whether it should be administered to infants, or in any other manner, than by dipping the whole body under water. [These I will call 'German Anabaptists, Type 1.] But others [German Anabaptists, Type 2] who bore that name, were meer enthusiasts, men of fierce and barbarous tempers, who broke into a general revolt, and raised the war called the rustic war. They had an unintelligible way of talking of religion, which they usually turned into allegory, and these being joined in the common name of Anabaptists, brought the others under an ill character. (47)
Neal's categories were derived extensively from Gilbert Burnet's The History of the Reformation of the Church of England, in which Burnet differentiated between the "gentle, or moderate Anabaptists" who espoused adult baptism as the model present in the New Testament, and the radicals of Munster (associated with the 'Rustick' or Peasant War), whom he associated with violence and an allegorical interpretation of Scripture. Both types "carried all the general name of Anabaptists," and (if Burnet was consistent) many of them rejected "the Mysteries of the Trinity, and Christ's Incarnation and Sufferings, of the Fall of Man, and the Aids of Grace." (48) Anabaptists in Burnet's text consistently originated in German territories and had entered England to escape continental persecution and war only to be the target of (mostly valid) persecution for their erroneous theology. (49)
Neal did not draw a clear distinction in terms between the Anabaptists of Germany (occasionally termed "dutch anabaptists") and those whom he would later call the English Anabaptists and Baptists of the Stuart and Interregnum periods. German Anabaptists, Type 1 first appeared in the text (almost 200 pages before being defined) in narratives detailing a crack-down on heresy in April 1549, which was accented by the executions of Joan of Kent and George Van Paris. (50) The German Anabaptists were primarily identified by their defense and practice of adult baptism, but were also marked by heterodox theological assertions, i.e., "besides the principle of adult baptism, [they] held several wild notions about the trinity, the Virgin Mary, and the person of Christ." These Anabaptists were classified with others outside of orthodox religion. When a complaint was made about them to the Council in April 1549, an order was given to educate "all Anabaptists, hereticks, or contemners of the common prayer," and upon failure of such, to use the secular arm to render appropriate punishments. (51)
More importantly, the Anabaptists in Neal's narratives were defined as those who suffered unjust persecution for matters of conscience. In this literary capacity, they assisted in defining the improper use of coercion by the state and church. This role was made clear by Neal's judgment that the events of 1549 were "little better than a protestant inquisition." (52) Neal immediately launched into stories of those who suffered for their beliefs to the point of death, and not just by hanging, but through the resurrection of the long-ignored penalty of execution by fire. In this "protestant inquisition," several artisans were brought before the commission and were abjured, but the stories of Joan of Kent and George Van Paris, who refused to recant, proved truly poignant.
The mention of the Anabaptists with the punctuations of Joan and Van Paris introduced Neal's critique of Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) and the hounding of those who dissented in religion. Van Paris' execution exposed the policies of Cranmer, in whom the power of church and state essentially rested, and Neal depicted the churchman as a villain, who was cruel and fickle. Condemned to a similar death as his own victims, Cranmer was deemed by his opponents as one willing to execute "men of harmless lives ... for heresy." Although Neal found the Marian execution of Cranmer somehow appropriate, he still decried the use of force by the state against the conscience: "But neither arguments, nor sufferings, could convince the divines of this age, of the absurdity and wickedness of putting men to death, for the sake of conscience." (53)
German Anabaptists, upon whom "the weight of the penal laws fell heaviest," appeared a second time in the text in the retelling of the Elizabethan persecutions of 1575, when twenty-seven "Dutchmen" were seized in a private house in Aldersgate-Bar while worshipping on Easter. Introduced by the earlier quoted definition of the German Anabaptists, the narrative described German Anabaptists in England who eschewed joining the Dutch or English churches and thus fell under the persecution of the penal laws. Of the group, some were exiled and John Wielmacker and Hendrik Ter Woort were burned to death at Smithfield. Four of the Dutchmen recanted their errors, viz., "(1.) That Christ took not flesh of the substance of the Virgin. (2.) That infants born of faithful parents ought to be rebaptized. (3.) That no Christian man ought to be a magistrate. (4.) That it is not lawful for a Christian man to take an oath." (54) The implication by proximity to Neal's definition of German Anabaptists was that the twenty-seven were of German Anabaptists, Type 2. The charges and the positive support from the religious communities implied, however, that these were German Anabaptists, Type 1.
Neal's depiction of the persecution also demonstrated the proper behavior in response to religious differences, setting the graciousness of Edward VI (who had with the greatest reluctance passed the execution of Joan of Kent--the agency and culpability being placed on Cranmer) in juxtaposition to Elizabeth I's absolutism and inflexibility. Not only did the Dutch congregation request mercy for the two martyrs, but even John Fox (Foxe) sent a letter to Elizabeth on behalf of the two men. Elizabeth, however, was unbending. (55)
Neal's references and definitions of the German Anabaptists (as quoted) were very close (sometimes verbatim) to Burnet's narrative, but the alterations were informative. First, The History of the Puritans did not include Burnet's extensive listing of the heterodox theological positions of the German Anabaptists or their derivation from the Lutheran reformation's focus on the authority of Scripture. Second, Neal separated Burnet's description of the heterodox German Anabaptists from the bishop's narrative of Joan and Van Paris, introducing the two approximately 190 pages earlier than the full definition of German Anabaptists. Confusing the matter, the narratives of Joan and Van Paris were introduced with a brief description of German Anabaptists, Type 2 but with no reference as to why the two heretics were classified in this group. (56) The exclusion of an explicit connection between the German Anabaptists, who were according to Burnet presumably responsible for the proselytization of the executed heretics, further blurred the understanding of Anabaptists, but effectively functioned to concentrate the attention of Neal's readers upon the stories of the atrocities. (57)
Not only were the stories of Anabaptists muddled in Neal's History, but the roles of the main characters were altered radically. Burnet's vignette focused on the German Anabaptists in England and depicted Thomas Cranmer as an agent of a coherent reformation who was required to implement violence for the sake of the good. Burnet's discussion of the Anabaptists had followed the discussion of the formation of right religion and right theology after the accession of Edward VI, and the Anabaptists were examples of those who espoused "Errors in Opinion." (58) Neal, however, focused on the persecutions by the capricious churchman, who "had been a Papist, a Lutheran, and was now a Sacramentary; and in every change guilty of inexcusable severities," had been cruel in "putting men to death for the sake of conscience." (59) For Burnet, the executions of Joan and Van Paris were from "no cruel temper in [Cranmer] ... but it was truly the effect of those Principles by which he governed himself." (60) For Neal, Cranmer's maltreatment of the defenseless originated from "those miserable persecuting principles by which he was govern'd. Through the transformation of his sources and the modification of the characters, Neal clearly projected his thesis-even if the accuracy or clarity of his history suffered.
Neal's failure to provide a clear taxonomy left his eighteenth-century readers with conflicting identifications. According to the central definition, the essential principle of an Anabaptist was the practice of adult baptism. Additional characteristics such as heterodox Christology, the rejection of oaths, or the dedication to violent revolution were also possible. The ambiguity only accentuated Neal's greater interest in employing Anabaptists to define the improper use of coercion by the state and church than his intent to define Anabaptists through a typology. Anabaptists were a literary mechanism to demonstrate the impropriety of punishing subjects for matters of conscience that did not pose a threat to the well-being of the state. Congruent with the common pejorative use of "Anabaptist" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Neal was somewhat disparaging in his treatment of German Anabaptists, but he was not antagonistic to them. The Anabaptists were the ignorant prey, the virtuous victims, or simply the "unhappy" casualties of tyranny in religion and politics. The Thdor regimes and prelates were the villains."2 Anabaptists were the foil to adversaries of conscience.
Reinforcing this interpretation of the Anabaptists as literary devices is the observation that the violent German Anabaptists, Type 2 actually did not appear in the narratives of The History of the Puritans\ Those "enthusiasts ... who ... raised the war called the rustic war" did not serve Neal's agenda and might have prohibited the sympathetic appeal of the Anabaptists; thus, they were excluded from the narrative apart from the isolated definition, an odd remainder from Burnet's book. (63)
Neal introduced the English Baptists in the original second volume of The History of the Puritans in the description of a schism in an Independent meeting that yielded the "first baptist congregation that I have met with in England." (64) On April 29, 1632, an Independent conventicle was discovered in the house of a brewer's clerk in Black-Friars, and of the forty-two adherents arrested, twentyfour were imprisoned. The story of the conventicle in Black-Friars ended with John Lathrop (Lathorp) leaving for New England with thirty congregants, and Henry Jessey (Jesse) leading the remaining English anti-paedobaptist church. (65) Neal's account of the reasons for the division was vague; his emphasis was not upon the Baptist congregation but upon the Independents who renewed covenant with each other after the schism and promised in spite of persecution "to forsake all false ways." (66) In juxtaposition to the faithful Independents, the Baptists were characterized as being "rigid," "dissatisfied about the lawfulness of infant baptism," and willing to "set up by themselves." Neal's narrative continued with the history of this Independent congregation, and armed with the church book, he was adamant in defending the church as a "congregation of independents," and not "a congregation of Anabaptists." (67)
This account is significant because it introduced the term "baptist," but did not set the term in apposition to "Anabaptist" to distinguish between the two. That some believed the Black-Friar's church was Anabaptist, that it clearly was not German or Dutch, and that Neal did not contest its Anabaptist character on ethnic or national attributes implied that the historian understood Anabaptists not to be limited by German ethnicity or nationality. In this case, the epithet of Baptist or Anabaptist implied three key characteristics: they were rigid, unsatisfied with the "lawfulness of infant baptism," and divisive.
It was not until the third volume of The History of the Puritans (the second volume of the 1754 edition) that Neal fully distinguished between the first group of German Anabaptists and "English Anabaptists" in the infamous "less than five pages." The chapter title expressed the theme of the chapter: the division of the Westminster Assembly of Divines among the accepted Nonconformists and the suffering experience by the English Anabaptists. (68) Neal claimed that the Anabaptists were not well represented in the Assembly, but that "their sentiments began to spread wonderfully without doors" during this period in which the Nonconformists rose to prominence. Neal represented the Anabaptist teachers of the time as being generally illiterate, but balanced the disparaging description with the witness of Richard Baxter, who had concluded that they were "sober, godly, and zealous, not differing from their brethren but as to infant baptism. " (69) Although the Anabaptists did not have a representative in the Assembly, they apparently were not so divergent so as to be ostracized: they generally joined themselves to the Independents (agreeing in polity and toleration) to oppose the Presbyterians. (70)
It was only here, in the discussion of the events of 1643 and 1644, that Neal recalled the events familiar to modern Baptists: the formation of the General Baptists in Holland under the leadership of John Smith, and foundation of the Particular Baptists through a break with the Independents and marked by Richard Blunt's journey to Amsterdam. Finally distinguishing between German and English Anabaptists (which he contended he had already done), Neal had little to say about the General Baptists except that they "appeared in Holland, where Mr. Smith their leader published a confession of faith in 1611 ... but the severity of those times would not admit them to venture to England." (71) No indication was made of their manner of baptism. Their aberrant Arminian and baptismal theology apparently made these Baptists unworthy of mention.
As to the Particular Baptists (and fellow Calvinists), Neal focused on their unusual origins. He recorded how Blunt went to the Netherlands "to be immersed by one of the dutch anabaptists of Amsterdam, that he might be qualified to baptize in England after the same manner." It was this "strange and unaccountable conduct" that seems to be the only historical link (other than a belief in adult baptism) that joined English Baptists and German Anabaptists in Neal's history. The baptismal event was a point of contention and ridicule. Neal chided the Particular Baptists for their seemingly successionist practice: Surely, he contended, there had to be a first person in this succession who was not himself baptized. (72)
Neal went on to describe the growth of the Particular Baptists to fifty-four congregations by 1644, the composition of the London Confession (1644), and its reprinting in 1646. He then summarized the Confession as being "strictly calvinistic in the doctrinal part, and according to independent discipline, it confines the subject of baptism to grown Christians, and the mode to immersion; it admits of gifted lay preachers, and acknowledges a due subjection to the civil magistrate in all things lawful." He then quoted from the last part of the Confession regarding the Baptists' claim to "live quietly and peacefully" and be "conscionable, quiet, and harmless people (no way dangerous or troublesome to human society)." (73) It is upon this subject that Neal spent the remaining material: the relationship between English Anabaptists, their fellow Nonconformists, and the state.
In short, the accusations of Crosby were well-founded in regards to the quality, if not the quantity, of the references to Baptists. Neal faulted the Baptists with ignorance, imprudence, and inciting division among Dissenters. Admitting the conclusion of Dr. Daniel Featley (1582-1645) that they "were neither heretics nor schismatics, but tender-hearted Christians, upon whom, through false suggestions, the hand of authority had fallen heavy whilst the hierarchy stood," Neal immediately followed the statement with the general consensus that the Baptists were "the meanest people . . . their preachers illiterate, and [they] went about the country making proselytes of all who would submit to immersion, without due regard to their acquaintance with the principles of religion, or their moral characters." (74) Ironically, Neal had defended Independents from similar dispersions earlier in the chapter. (75)
Crosby took these statements to be contradictory, but they need not have been. Neal understood the Baptists, in general, to be a rural people (he noted that there were forty-seven churches in the country and seven in London in 1644) who were religious enthusiasts. "Enthusiasts" and "fanatics," of course, were uncomplimentary terms when used in the context of religion or politics in the early eighteenth century as they frequently revived the specter of radical elements from the 1640s. As usual, Neal appeared to temper his deprecation, and this time it was with the confession that Baptists included "a great many sober and devout Christians, who disallowed of the imprudence of their country friends." (76)
The fundamental faults of the Baptists, however, were poor judgment and an exclusivity that was divisive to faltering Dissent. The ignorance of the lay preachers led to the "imprudent behavior of the baptist lay preachers, who declared against human literature, and hireling priests, crying down magistracy, and a regular ministry, and talking in the most exalted strains of a fifth monarchy, and king Jesus, prejudiced the minds of many sober people against them." (77) English Anabaptists "were more exposed to the public resentments, because they would hold communion with none but such as had been dipped. All must pass under this cloud before they could be received into their churches; and the same narrow spirit prevails too generally among them even at this day." (78) The contemporary context clearly fueled Neal's history and evaluation of the Baptists, and if detachment was impossible, the historian at least was consistent in his prescription for Baptist exclusivity: the proper response was a literary barrage demonstrating their error--not the sword or imprisonment that the Baptists had endured for years. (79)
The History of New-England: A Final Look at Baptists
A new edition of the The History of New-England, complete with revisions by Neal, was published soon after the author's death and provides the modern reader with Neal's mature understanding of the Baptists after the criticism of Crosby. (80) Like The History of the Puritans, this history of America was controversial. Eighteenth-century American histories were saddled with the difficult task of reconciling the ignoble past of institutionalized religious persecution by their Puritan ancestors with the standard of toleration that emerged after the Act of Toleration and The Charter ... of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay in New England (1691). (81) Written by New England ministers, these histories sought to demonstrate divinely-led continuity and progress in Protestant America, but most failed to fully acknowledge the inconsistencies of Puritan behavior, deflecting criticism to the ubiquitous bogeyman--Roman Catholicism. (82) Although Neal used the histories such as Cotton Mather's Magnolia Christi Americana (1702) as sources, he chose to reveal the dark side of Puritan persecution in The History of New-England. (83)
The History of New-England so uncovered the failure of the Puritans to extend toleration to other religious groups that Dissenters worried the account might expose them to further criticism from the British government. Isaac Watts described his concerns to Cotton Mather in 1720: "But the freedom that [Neal] has taken to expose the persecuting principles and practices of the first planters... has displeased some persons here and perhaps will be offensive there.... I could wish he had more mollified some of those relations, and had either left out those laws or in the same page at least annexed something to prevent our enemies from insulting both us and you on that subject." (84)
Neal's criticism of "the Mistakes which the Government of New-England fell into, with relation to the Quakers and Anabaptists" and the struggles of the "little Commonwealth," however, were not intended to elicit further disdain for the Dissenters or disrupt the relatively peaceful co-existence between the Nonconformists and the Established Church. Neal, rather, set Puritan intolerance in juxtaposition to the present tolerance of New England religion and the interpretation of America as the "Blessed Retreat for Oppressed Protestants." Liberty had given birth to New England, and Neal trusted that it would remain a sanctuary from subjection. (85) Still pursuing the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Neal again used the Anabaptists and Baptists as literary devices in an argument against government involvement in religious matters, against coercion in matters of conscience, and against forced uniformity of worship.
The first reference to an event in traditional Baptist history was the advent of Roger Williams to Salem. Neal, however, did not categorize Williams as an Anabaptist or as a Baptist, nor did he designate the type of church Williams founded in (later) Providence. Williams appeared as the model of a troublesome man who labored for freedom of religion and against persecution, but he was one who "if he had never dabbled in Divinity, he would have been esteemed a great and useful Man." (88) Having observed Neal's opinion of English Baptists in The History of the Puritans, it is surprising that he failed to identify Williams (whom he regarded as a "rigid Brownist, precise, uncharitable, and of such turbulent and boisterous Passions, as had like to have put the whole Country to Flame") as a Baptist. Neal disapproved of Williams' lack of moderation, his unwillingness to allow his church in Salem to communicate with the church in Boston, and his limiting theology that disrupted political society to a dangerous point. (87) For Neal, William's church in Providence was so infected with his narrow, undisciplined spirit that it proceeded "from one Whimsy to another, [and] they soon crumbled to pieces, everyone following his own Fancy, till at last Religion it self grew into Contempt, and the publick Worship of God was generally neglected." Williams was not successful because his theological perspectives blossomed into inchoate religion that led to disintegration. (88) Providence church served as a microcosm of failing Dissent, threatened by heterodoxy and unaware of centuries of Nonconformist tradition. Yet, Providence was not without its merits: It was a place of toleration where "though every Man does what he thinks right in his own Eyes," neighbors lived in peace and studied Scripture, even if without guidance. (89)
Assuming Neal knew of Williams' Baptist (albeit brief) identity, it seems logical that Neal omitted the appellation as the troublesome colonist's Baptist past would have been inconvenient to his agenda. Williams, although a commendable proponent of the freedom of consciences, had passed beyond the acceptable boundaries by bringing turmoil not only to the church but also to the state. As a character, Williams was redeemed by his writing against the errors of the Quakers, trying to convert the Native Americans, and obtaining a charter for Rhode Island, but he served the narrative best as a proponent of toleration.(90)
Neal's suffering Anabaptists in New England were introduced with the story of Obadiah Holmes and his fellow Baptists who were ejected from the church and punished by the colony. (91) According to Neal's narrative, Holmes and seven or eight companions were reproved in 1650 and then removed from Samuel Newman's congregation at Rehobath when they "set up a separate Meeting, not thinking it lawful to approach the Table of the Lord with Persons whom they judg'd unbaptiz'd." Upon their dismissal, accusations circulated that Holmes baptized a Mrs. Bowdish in the nude. (Neal, apparently not concerned with besmirching Holmes' reputation, simply stated that "the Evidence, it seems, was not sufficient to convict him of it.") (92) In an attempt to suppress religious dissension, Holmes and two companions were charged by the court in Plymouth. The court commanded them "neither to ordain Officers, nor to baptize, nor to break Bread together, nor to meet on the first Days of the Week, but Holmes and his Friends would make no Promise, but insisted upon the Conviction of their own Consciences, and that it was better to obey God than Man." (93) Despite their schismatic theology and practice, Holmes and his colleagues emerged in the story as heroes committed to their tender consciences.
This narrative followed the expected pattern in which the state (although Protestant and Puritan) persecuted peaceable Christians. Holmes, John Clarke, and John Crandall were charged in 1651 for failing to keep the dictates of the court, were summarily tried, and convicted in Boston. Condemned by the court for administering the Lord's Supper to several individuals not in full communion with the church, for rebaptizing others, and for denying the validity of infant baptism, the three men were sentenced to heavy monetary fines or corporal punishment. Neal wrote that Holmes received thirty lashes at the public post. Some Rhode Island Anabaptists publicly praised God for the courage of Holmes and were subsequently called to court and fined. (94)
Following the description of the whipping of Holmes, Neal unleashed an invective against the intolerant Puritan government. He quoted the resulting law put forth in New England that ordered the conviction and punishment of those who held unacceptable beliefs and practices including the opposition to infant-baptism, the attempt to convince others of this theological position, the separation from a church over baptism, and the denial of the authority of the state to make war or to punish "the outward Breaches of the first Table." Neal concluded, "Thus the Government of New-England, for the Sake of Uniformity in divine Worship, broke in upon the natural Rights of Mankind, punishing Men, not for disturbing the State, but for their differing Sentiments in Religion." (95) The concern was not whether the Anabaptists were theologically correct, but whether the government of the New England should have physically punished Holmes and the Anabaptists for disturbing the churches.
As in The History of the Puritans, Neal was careful to introduce other perspectives on the Baptists, giving the arguments of Mather for understanding the Anabaptists to be uncharitable to Christians, encouraging of immorality, and accepting of illiterate pastors and teachers. Neal's response presented the reader with a choice: "But let the Reader judge, who had most Reason to complain; the New-England Churches, who would neither suffer the Baptists to live quietly in their Communion, nor separate peaceably from it? Or, these unhappy Persons, who were treated so unkindly for following the Light of their Consciences?" (96) Neal sided with the rights of the Anabaptists to their freedom of conscience against Mather's concern for uniformity.
Neal added one more significant story of the sufferings of the Anabaptists to emphasize the public persecution that the group endured, but also the positive reaction of the English government to a crisis. Neal reported that for years after Obadiah Holmes was punished, the Baptists in New England and in England continued to be oppressed. The Anabaptists were held "in very low Repute at this time; their Enemies did not think it worth their while to confute them with Arguments; but took a shorter Way to ruin them, by as unparallel'd a Piece of Villany as ever was heard." (97) In 1673 a pamphlet was published that described the inhumane attack of New England Anabaptists on an "orthodox minister." The pamphlet Mr. Baxter Baptized in Blood; or, a Sad History of the Unparallel'd Cruelty of the Anabaptists in New-England (1673) inflamed passions against the Anabaptists in England. Response to the piece was immediate. (98) "The King and Council, after an Examination of the whole Affair, did them [the Anabaptists] so much Justice, as to declare in the Gazette, that the whole Story was false and fictitious: But to such Extravagancies do Men sometimes proceed, who will support their Cause by other Methods than the Gospel prescribes." (99) Neal again used the Anabaptists, but in England this time, as subjects of unjust persecution to evince unacceptable methods of fighting theological error (i.e., libel) and to provide a strong example of the integrity of the Crown in matters of tolerance.
The overwhelming purpose for the inclusion of Anabaptists in The History of New-England was to present them as a foil to the Puritans who had integrated religion and the state to form an institution that enforced uniformity in worship. Neal's agenda was even more transparent in the amount of attention given to the Quakers over and against that given to the Baptists. The Quakers provided more sensational theological debate, but more importantly they endured capital punishment for the sake of conscience. (100) The tale of the Quakers was set by returning to the oppression of the Anabaptists: "The Government of New-England had no sooner crushed the Anabaptists, but the Quakers rose up and disturbed the Peace of the Country. The Magistrates proccedded [sic] against them, as against the Anabaptists, by Fines, Imprisonment, Whipping, &c. but these not proving effectual, they ventured at last to put three or four of them to Death." (101) The persecution of the Quakers most vividly revealed the failure of the leadership of New England:
[T]hese Executions raised a great Clamour against the Government, and sullied the Glory of their former Sufferings from the Bishops; for now it appeared that the New England Puritans were no better Friends to Liberty of Conscience that their Adversaries, and that the Question between them was not, whether one Party of Christians should have Power to oppress another but who should have that Power? Great Numbers of the common People were offended at these Proceedings, as well as the Generality of sober Persons in the several Nations of Europe. (102)
Neal's agenda was clear. No government, whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Puritan, was justified in oppressing peaceable Christians for matters of conscience. (103)
A Typology of Baptists?
So who were the Anabaptists and the Baptists in Neal's histories? Anabaptists/Baptists were sectarians or schismatics who held to closed-communion based upon one's having received believers' baptism. Described as having a "narrow spirit" in The History of the Puritans, their theology and community structure were characteristic of Holmes' meeting and of Williams' church. (104) Anabaptists divided legitimate Dissent.
Second, Anabaptists were defined by their theological assertions of individual commitment in believers' baptism and congregations consisting only of those who questioned infant baptism. In The History of New-England, these tenets appeared in the story of Obadiah Holmes and the doubly controversial baptism of Mrs. Browdish. The remaining theological marks were provided through the statements of the courts (which Neal did not contest) in which Anabaptists denied the validity of infant baptism, proselytized, held closed Communion, and denied the authority of the state to declare war and to punish offenses within religion. (105)
Third, based upon their theology and practice, the adherents of this group were broadly named "Anabaptists" and were once called "Baptists." The single reference to "Baptists" in The History of New-England appeared in Neal's moralizing statements on the intrusion of the state into the religious matters regarding the Anabaptists. (106) Neal's choice was interesting for it appeared that he did not believe that there would be any confusion over the "Christian" Anabaptists of the two Englands and the clearly unacceptable German Anabaptists, Type 2 of Munster infamy. The terms appear to have been an uncomplicated designation simply referring to the re-baptizing of which the Baptists were accused.
Fourth, Anabaptists did not have a single geographic or political state of origin. In Neal's histories, the English Anabaptists sprang out of New England and England as if they had no predecessors, and they were united in name and presumably in theology. The target of the libelous Mr. Baxter Baptized in Blood was Anabaptists on both sides of the Atlantic who continually had suffered persecution. Both groups were united by their shared theology, persecution, and having being acquitted of the accused crimes.
Fifth and most important, Anabaptists were unjustly persecuted by the government. Neal's Anabaptists did nothing that threatened the state. The Anabaptists were schismatic and destroyed any unity of Christianity with their closed Communion and theology of baptism, but they did not deserve punishment by the state. In his final analysis of Anabaptists, Neal portrayed the Anabaptists as "serious, modest, humble Christians"--a far more positive description than that given to Williams or the Quakers. (107)
Finally, Neal provided contradictory descriptions of the demographic composition of the Anabaptists. One of Crosby's criticisms of The History of the Puritans was that Neal had portrayed Anabaptist ministers as being well-spoken, but then depicted the Anabaptists as an uneducated and illiterate movement taking on the rabble of the country. The same contradiction existed in Neal's The History of New-England. Neal included the derogatory description by Mather in which Anabaptists admitted "into the Society such as the establish'd Churches of the Country had excommunicated for Immoralities," and they chose "Shoemakers, Taylors, and the most illiterate Persons, for their Pastors and Teachers." (108) Neal balanced this depiction with the mention of Henry Dunster (Dunstar), the president of Harvard College, who resigned in 1654 to avoid turmoil over his religious identity. Although Dunster confessed that he was an Anabaptist, there was no stigma in Neal's narrative. Dunster spent his days in peace, and he was an "excellent Scholar, and a modest, humble, charitable Man." (109) Furthermore, in Neal's final analysis, he noted that the Anabaptist church in Boston, though small, was served by "Mr. Elisha Callender ... who was educated in Harvard College, and was ordained by the two Doctor Mathers and Mr. Web." (110) Like his depiction of Anabaptists in The History of the Puritans, Neal seemed reluctant to resolve the tension between the assertion of the ignorance of the average Anabaptist and the intelligent and well-educated members that he held up as representatives of the movement.
After reviewing both texts, the question remains as to whether Neal had a consistent understanding of "Anabaptist" or "Baptist." The simple answer is "No." In both texts, Neal's underlying goals were to convince authorities to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts by accepting his case that Dissenters were good, peaceful citizens of the state and that the state should not use coercion to obtain uniformity in matters of religion. In both narratives, identifying a history or typology of Baptists was unnecessary. They were present primarily to function as an example of those who had dissented on the grounds of conscience and historically had been oppressed by the state and church. Considering both texts, Neal's most systematic rendering of an Anabaptist was one who was rigid in his faith, was dissatisfied with infant baptism, held to a closed-communion and practice, and despite the claims that he denied the authority of the state in several matters, was not a threat to the government. Most importantly, however, the Baptist suffered injustice for the conviction of his conscience.
In 1710 James Peirce, a Presbyterian minister and historian, wrote that the public's faith in the value of history had been weakened by the partisanship with which the accounts were so frequently besotted. (111) Peirce would later write that a dependable historian was "a fair and candid writer," even if he proved to be a traditional foe. (112) The question remains whether Neal was a "fair and candid" historian, particularly to the Baptists and Quakers with whom he seemed to have been at theological odds. If Thomas Crosby was expecting an encyclopedic history of the laudatory deeds of the Baptists, then he was right to decry the treatment of Baptists in Neal's influential histories. But Crosby (and all the modern historians who have perpetuated his censure without consulting Neal's works) failed to take seriously the arguments and the manner of their presentation in Neal's histories. Upon reconsideration, one could even make a case for the Anabaptists and Baptists being the unanticipated, but occasional, heroes in his appeals for freedom.
Of course, this is a cautionary tale. Influenced by political, social, and religious agendas, the critical work of the modern scholar is challenged as she inevitably is compelled to force categories on religious groups, if nothing else, for the sake of communication. The model of the "fair and candid" historian is an elusive one. While we may fault Neal for his partisanship and inexactness, perhaps he was a good historian at least in that he failed to impose upon different movements at different times an inflexible and false typology.
(This article first appeared in The Welsh Journal of Religious History, vol. 5 : 84-113, and is reprinted with permission.)
(1) I am grateful to Professor William H. Brackney, Professor D. W. Bebbington, Dr. Rosalie Beck, and Mr. Craig Clarkson for reading various drafts of this article. Their comments were insightful and invaluable. All expressions of opinion in this essay, however, are my own. An early and abbreviated edition of this paper was delivered at the meeting of the American Society of Church History in January 2008.
(2) John Seed, "History and Narrative Identity: Religious Dissent and the Politics of Memory in Eighteenth-Century England," Journal of British Studies 44 (January 2005): 54; John Seed, Dissenting Histories: Religious Division and the Politics of Memory in Eighteenth-Century England (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008), 41; Laird Okie, "Daniel Neal and the 'Puritan Revolution'," Church History 55, no. 4 (December 1986): 456; Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961), 240.
(3) Daniel Neal, The History of New-England: Containing An Impartial Account of the Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Country, to the Year of Our Lord, 1700; lb Which is Added, the Present State of New-England; With a New and Accurate Map of the Country, and An Appendix Containing Their Present Charter, Their Ecclesiastical Discipline, and Their Municipal-laws, 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Clark, R. Ford, et al., 1720); Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans or Protestant Nonconformists from the Reformation in 1517, to the Revolution in 1688, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Buckland, et al, 1754). For Neal's purpose for writing, see Neal, History of the Puritans (1754), 1:ix-xv; 2:xvi-xx; Okie, "Daniel Neal and the 'Puritan Revolution'," 456, 458.
(4) Seed, "History and Narrative Identity," 62-63. For nineteenth-century praise of Neal's work and impartiality in writing history, see Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1884), 3:250; "Art. IV. The History of the Puritans, ..." (New-York: Harper & Brothers, 1844). The Methodist Quarterly Review 26, 3rd series, no. 5 (1845): 45-63.
(5) Albert Bushnell Hart, ed. American History 1bid by Contemporaries (New York: Macmillan Co., 1919), 2:52.
(6) For biographical information regarding Neal, see David Jennings, The Origin of Death, and of Immortal Life, Considered, In a Sermon Occasioned by the Death of the Reverend Mr. Daniel Neal, M.A. (London: Printed for John Oswald, 1743); Joshua Toulmin's "Memoirs of the Life of Mr. Daniel Neal, M.A." which first appeared in Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans, ed. Joshua Tbulmin, rev. ed., 5 vols. (Bath: Printed by R. Cruttwell, 1793-97), 1:xvii-xlii; Walter Wilson, The History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches and Meeting Houses, in London, Westminster, and Southwark (London: R. Edwards, 1810), 3:91-103; Laird Okie, "Neal, Daniel (1678-1743)," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 40:287-289; and, Okie, "Daniel Neal and the 'Puritan Revolution'," 456-459.
(7) Walter D. Jeremy, The Presbyterian Fund and Dr. Daniel Williams's Trust (London: Wiliams and Norgate, 1885), 28-29; Toulmin's "Memoirs," in Neal, The History of the Puritans (1793), l:xviin. For a thorough treatment of the Dissenting academies, see David L. Wykes, "The Contribution of the Dissenting Academy to the Emergence of Rational Dissent," in Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Britain, ed. Knud Haakonssen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 99-139.
(8) Neal readily accepted a honorary master's degree from Harvard College. He did not appear among the lists of graduates from the universities of Utrecht and Leiden. Album Studiosorum Academiae Rheno-Traiectinae, MDCXXXVI-MDCCCLXXXVI (Ultraiecti: J. L. Beijers and J. Van Boekhoven, 1886); Edward Peacock, Index 7b English-Speaking Students Who Have Graduated at Leyden University (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1883).
(9) Toulmin, "Memoirs," in Neal, The History of the Puritans (1793), 1:x1-x1i.
(10) "A View of the Dissenting Intrest in London of the Presbyterian & Independent Denominations from the year 1695 to the 25 of December 1731, with a postscript of the present state of the Baptists," Dr. Williams's Library (DWL), MS 38.18, 32.
(11) Okie, "Neal, Daniel (1678-1743)," ODNB (2004), 40:288.
(12) Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans, ed. Joshua Toulmin, 3 vols., (London: Printed for Thomas Tfegg and Son, 1837), xxxv-xxxvi.
(13) Jennings, The Origin of Death, 34; Toulmin, "Memoirs," in Neal, The History of the Puritans (1793), l:xli-xlii; "A View of the Dissenting Intrest," DWL, MS 38.18, 32.
(14) Neal married Elizabeth Lardner in 1708, and their marriage produced three children: Nathaniel (likely named for Elizabeth's brother, Dr. Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768)), Hannah, and Mary (d. 1783). Hannah married Joseph Jennings, the son of Dr. David Jennings (1691-1762; an Independent divine of Wapping). and Mary married William Lister (d. 1778), who served as assistant to Neal in London and later served as pastor of the Independent congregation of Ware. Nathaniel (d. 1765 or 1766) attained fame as an attorney, a strong supporter of Dissent, a trustee of Dr. Williams's Trust, and as a secretary to the Million Bank. Nathaniel followed his father's literary pursuits by publishing his own work on dissenting religion. Will of Daniel Neale, Gentleman of Aldersgate Street, City of London, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/725; Hertfordshire, 1731-1800 as Recorded in The Gentleman's Magazine (Hatfield, UK: Hertfordshire Publications, 1993), 93, 198, 202; Wilson, The History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches and Meeting Houses, in London, 3:102-103; Jeremy, The Presbyterian Fund and Dr. Daniel Williams's Trust, 140-141; Toulmin, "Memoirs," in Neal, The History of the Puritans (1793), 1:xxvii-xxxv, xxxvii-xlii; Nathaniel Neal, A Free and Serious Remonstrance to Protestant Dissenting Ministers; On Occasion of the Decay of Religion, with Some Observations on the Education of Youth for the Ministry (London: 1746).
(15) Examples from the Anglican side included Isaac Maddox, Vindication of the Government, Doctrine, and Worship of the Church of England During the Reign of Elizabeth (London: Printed by A. Bettesworth, et al., 1733) and multiple volumes from Zachary Grey, including An Impartial Examination of the Third Volume of Mr. Daniel Neal's History of the Puritans in Which the Reflections of the Author; Upon the Blessed Martyr King Charles the First Are Proved 7b Be Groundless: His Misrepresentation of the Conduct of the Prelates of Those Times Fully Detected, etc. (London: Printed by J. Bettenham, 1737). Also, see Seed, Dissenting Histories, 61-68; Okie, "Daniel Neal and the 'Puritan Revolution'," 463-464; James Hallett Christian, "An Historical Appraisal of Neal's History of the Puritans in the Light of Contemporary Critiques" (B.D. thesis, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1946), 12-48.
(16) Francis J. Bremer, Congregational Communion: Clerical Friendship in the Anglo-American Puritan Community, 1610-1692 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994), 255; James W. Jones, The Shattered Synthesis: New England Puritanism Before the Great Awakening (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 90-103.
(17) Thomas Crosby, The History of the English Baptists, From the Reformation to the Beginning of the Reign of King George I, 4 vols. (London: Printed for the Editor, 1738-40), 1: "Tb the Reader"; A. C. Bickley, "Crosby, Thomas (d. in or after 1749)," rev. Philip Carter in ODNB (2004), 411.
(18) The supplement on the Society of Friends was derived from John Gough, A History of the People Called Quakers, From Their First Rise to the Present Time, 4 vols. (Dublin: Printed for Robert Jackson, 1789-90). Substantial supplements for the non-Trinitarians, Baptists, and Quakers were added to the third, fourth, and fifth volumes of the 1793-1797 edition of The History of the Puritans. Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans, ed. Joshua Toulmin (1793-1797), 3:513-514.
(19) Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans (1837), xxxv. Emphasis added.
(20) B. R. White, "Thomas Crosby, Baptist Historian: (I) The First Forty Years, 1683-1723" The Baptist Quarterly 21, no. 4 (October 1965): 154-168; B. R. White, "Thomas Crosby, Baptist Historian: (II) Later Years" The Baptist Quarterly 21, no. 5 (January 1966): 219-234.
(21) In the last twenty-five years, John Seed and Laird Okie have focused on Neal's authorial intent in the composition of The History of the Puritans, and Bruce Tucker has analyzed The History of New-England in relation to the histories of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century American Puritans. Okie, "Daniel Neal and the 'Puritan Revolution'," 456-467; Laird Okie, Augustan Historical Writing: Histories of England in the English Enlightenment (New York: University Press of America, 1991); Seed, "History and Narrative Identity: Religious Dissent and Politics of Memory in Eighteenth-Century England," 46-63; Seed, Dissenting Histories, passim-, Bruce Tucker, "The Reinterpretation of Puritan History in Provincial New England," The New England Quarterly 54, no. 4 (December 1981): 481-498.
(22) Seed dedicated three sentences to Neal's understanding of Anabaptists and Baptists in The History of the Puritans. Seed, Dissenting Histories, 69.
(23) For background to most events mentioned in Neal's narratives, see the following surveys: Stephen Wright, The Early English Baptists, 1603-1649 (Rochester, NY: Boydell & Brewer, Inc., 2006); B. R. White, The English Baptists of the Seventeenth Century, rev. ed. (Didcot: Baptist Historical Society, 1996); A. C. Underwood, A History of the English Baptists (London: Carey Kingsgate Press, 1961); William H. Brackney, Baptists In North America: An Historical Perspective (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2006); C. Douglas Weaver, In Search of the New Testament Church: The Baptist Story (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2008).
(24) For more on the internal dissension within late seventeenth-century Dissent, see Michael R. Watts, The Dissenters from the Reformation to the French Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 292-297; Allan A. Brockett, Nonconformity in Exeter, 1650-1875 (Manchester, UK: Published on behalf of the University of Exeter by Manchester University Press, 1962), 64-73; J. Hay Colligan, Eighteenth Century Nonconformity (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1915), 103ff; and, Roger Thomas, "Parties in Nonconformity," in The English Presbyterians: From Elizabethan Puritanism to Modern Unitarianism, ed. C. G. Bolam et al. (London: Allen S' Unwin, 1968), 99-112. For a summary of events surrounding the Salters' Hall controversy, see Watts, The Dissenters, 375-382; and Brockett, Nonconformity in Exeter, 75-95. Months before the Salters' Hall debate, Neal had written to Colman regarding his fear that Dissent was "in danger of falling to pieces among ourselves, about the principles of Dr. Clark, in his scripture account of the Trinity, unless some of our considerable men come to a better temper than they seem to be in at present." "A Letter from the Rev. Daniel Neal to the Rev. Benjamin Colman, of Boston; Dated London, Sept. 19, 1718" in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, for the Year M,DCC,XCVIII (Boston: Printed by Samuel Hall, 1798; reprinted., Boston: John H. Eastburn, 1835), 199-200.
(25) For more on the oppression of the Dissenters during the reign of Queen Anne, see Ole P. Grell, J. I. Israel, and Nicholas Tyacke, eds., From Persecution to Toleration: The Glorious Revolution and Religion in England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 391-394. For a discussion of the Schism Act and Dissenting academies, see Wykes, "The Contribution of the Dissenting Academy," in Haakonssen, Enlightenment and Religion, 99-139; Gordon Rupp, Religion in England, 1688-1791 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 172-179. K. R. M. Short, "The English Indemnity Acts 1726-1867," Church History 42, no. 3 (September 1973): 366-376; Nuttall and Chadwick, From Uniformity, 296; James Bradley, "The Public, Parliament and the Protestant Dissenting Deputies, 1732-1740" in Parliament and Dissent, ed. Stephen Thylor and David L. Wykes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 71-90; Webb, "The Emergence of Rational Dissent" in Haakonssen, Enlightenment and Religion, 24.
(26) J. Goring, "The Break-Up of Old Dissent" in Bolam et al., The English Presbyterians, 175-218; Watts, The Dissenters, 267-276, 385-391; Martin Sutherland, Peace, Toleration and Decay: The Ecclesiology of Later Stuart Dissent (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003), 10; E. D. Bebb, Nonconformity and Social and Economic Life, 1660-1800 (Philadelphia: Porcupine Press, 1980), 174-175; J. C. D. Clark, English Society, 1660-1832: Religion, Ideology and Politics During the Ancient Regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 137.
(27) "A View of the Dissenting Intrest [sic]," DWL, MS 38.18, 83-87.
(28) The Present Dispute Between the Dissenters and Church of England Fairly Stated (London: J. Roberts, 1733), 1.
(29) Some Observations Upon the Present State of the Dissenting Interest (J. Gray: London, 1731), 8, 10; Watts, The Dissenters, 384-385.
(30) Minutes of the General Assembly of the General Baptist Churches in England, ed. W. T. Whitley (London: Baptist Historical Society, 1910), 1:95-96, 114, 118, 124, 135; Watts, The Dissenters, 385.
(31) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:xiv.
(32) Okie, Augustan Historical Writing, 90-91.
(33) For examples, see "Mr. Neal the 18 July 1708. Sermon, 135 Psalm 4. For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, S' Israel for his peculiar treasure," DWL , MS 38.97.4, passim; Daniel Neal, A Sermon Preach'd to the Societies for the Reformation of Manners at Salters-Hall, On Monday June 25, 1722 (London: Eman. Matthews, 1722), passim. David Jennings asserted that Neal was an adherent to Calvin's teachings but only as they were most congruent with Scripture, the final authority for "all religious Truth." Jennings, The Origin of Death, 34. Also, see Neal's desire as expressed to Philip Doddridge for "Moderate Calvinism, a moderate temper, and (what I call) an evangelical manner of preaching" among Dissenting ministers. Philip Doddridge, The Correspondence and Diary of Philip Doddridge, D. D. (London: Colburn and Bentley, 1991), 3:422-423.
(34) For examples, see Neal's ease for providence as the cause of the success of the Henrican reformation, natural disasters occurring in response to Mary Tudor's attempt to reestablish Roman Catholicism, the death of Mary Tudor, the execution of Charles I, the rise of the Cromwellian Commonwealth, massacres of the Irish during the Interregnum, the Dutch War, the Great Plague, the London Fire of 1666, and the Glorious Revolution. Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:v, xiv, 9, 68, 71, 155, 204, passim; 2:vii-viii, 253-254, 378, 382, 651, 656, 791-794, passim; Okie, "Daniel Neal and the 'Puritan Revolution,'" 462-463; Okie, Augustan Historical Writing, 90-91.
(35) "Mr Neal's 7th Sermon, From the text Isaiah 55th: 3rd," DWL, MS 28.13, 66-67.
(36) Neal, The Duty of Praying for Ministers, 14-15; "Mr Neal's 7th Sermon, From the text Isaiah 55th: 3rd," DWL, MS 28.13, 57.
(37) Daniel Neal, The Duty of Praying for Ministers, and For the Success of their Ministry: A Sermon Preached at the Separation of the Reverend Mr. Richard Rawlin, to the Pastoral Office in the Church at Fetter-Lane, June 24, 1730 (London: Printed for Richard Hett, 1730), 14-17, 23-26.
(38) For Neal's claim to impartiality, see Daniel Neal, A Review of the Principal Facts Objected to the First Volume of the History of the Puritans (London: Printed for Richard Hett, 1734), 3-4. For a contemporary and positive evaluation of Neal's impartiality, see Jennings, The Origin of Death, 32-33. For later and less complimentary evaluations, see Walter Farquhar Hook, Ecclesiastical Biography (London: F. and J. Rivington, 1851), 7:397-398; Okie, Augustan Historical Writing, 86-88, 91. For Neal's attempt to create a new, unifying Dissenting history, see Seed, "History and Narrative Identity," 47-48.
(39) Seed, "History and Narrative Identity," 57; Seed, Dissenting Histories, 50-53.
(40) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:viii.
(41) Seed, "History and Narrative Identity," 47-48.
(42) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1 :v.
(43) Crosby, The History of the English Baptists, 1:ii, 78. The story of Crosby's criticism has been retold numerous times in Baptist histories. See White, "Thomas Crosby, Baptist Historian: (II) Later Years," 226-231; Joseph Ivimey, A History of the English Baptist: Comprising the Principal Events of the History of Protestant Dissenters, From the Revolution in 1668 Till 1760; and of the London Baptist Churches, During that Period (London: Printed for B. J. Holdworth, 1823), 415-416; Champlin Burrage, The Early English Dissenters in the Light of Recent Research, (1550-1641) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), 1:2-5.
(44) Crosby, The History of the English Baptists, 1:ii, 78.
(45) Ibid., 1:ii-iii.
(46) For examples, see Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:18, 40, 228, 663, 690-691; 2:96, 102-103, 110, 113, 249, 428, 511-512, 648.
(47) Ibid., 1:228.
(48) Burnet appeared inconsistent due to his later reference to "the other sort of Anabaptists, who only denied Infant Baptism" and who did not suffer physical persecution. This shift, however, supported his depiction of the Anabaptists being properly disciplined for heresy and subversion. Gilbert Burnet, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England, 3rd ed. (Dublin: Printed for A. Rhames, et al., 1731), 2: Second Part, Book One, 84-86.
(49) Burnet, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England, 1:Book III, 222; 2: Second Part, Book One, 129; Gilbert Burnet, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England. The Third Part. Being Supplement to the Two Volumes Formerly Publish'd (Dublin: Printed by A. Rhames, 1733), 84, 142, 148, 189.
(50) Neal did not state that either Joan or Van Paris Neal espoused believers' baptism. The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:40-41.
(51) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:40-41.
(52) Ibid., 1:41.
(53) Ibid., 1:41.
(54) Ibid., 1:228; W. H. Summers, "List of Persons Burned for Heresy in England," Transactions of the Congregational Historical Society 2, no. 5 (May 1906): 370.
(55) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:228.
(56) Ibid., 1:228.
(57) Ibid., 1:40-41, 228, 690-691.
(58) Burnet, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England, (1731), 2: Second Part, Book One, 80-86.
(59) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:40-41.
(60) Burnet, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England, (1731), 2: Second Part, Book One, 86.
(61) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:40. Emphasis added.
(62) Neal's typology of the Brownists was important in relation to the advent of the Baptists of England. Neal used Robert Brown as a model of those who failed to be truly convinced in conscience and fell prey to their own arrogance. For Neal, Brown went on to live an "idle and dissolute life" and he died in prison in Northampton jail, not for the demands of his conscience, but for striking a constable who was collecting fees. Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:251-252.
(63) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:228.
(64) Ibid., 1:662-663.
(65) Ibid., 1:477, 661-662; 2:110
(66) Ibid., 1:662-663.
(67) Ibid., 1:663-664.
(68) The chapter was titled, "Of the several parties in the assembly of Divines, PRESBYTERIANS, ERASTIANS, INDEPENDENTS. Their proceedings about ordination, and the directory for divine worship. The rise, progress, and sufferings of the english ANABAPTISTS." Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:96.
(69) Quoted in Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:102.
(70) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:102-103.
(71) Ibid., 2:110.
(72) Ibid., 2:110-111.
(73) Quoted in Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:111.
(74) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:112; cp. Crosby, The History of the English Baptists (1738), 1:171.
(75) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:101.
(76) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:112.
(77) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:113.
(78) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 2:112.
(79) Neal, The History of the Puritans (1754), 1:620, 659; 2:112-113.
(80) Daniel Neal, The History of Neur-England: Containing an Impartial Account of the Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Country, lb the Year of Our Lord, 1700; Tb Which Is Added, The Present State of New-England; With a New and Accurate Map of the Country, and an Appendix Containing Their Present Charter, Their Ecclesiastical Discipline, and Their Municipal-Laws, 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Clark, R. Ford, 1720). Unless otherwise noted, the second edition will be used for the further references. Daniel Neal, The History of New-England, 2nd ed., rev., 2 vols. (London: Printed for A. Ward, 1747).
(81) Tucker, "Reinterpretation," 481.
(82) Ibid., 482-483.
(83) Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1: "Preface," v, passim; Hacker, "Reinterpretation," 483.
(84) "Extract of a Letter from Dr. Watts to Dr. C. Mather, Concerning Neal's History of New-England, Dated February 19, 1719, 20," Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, for the Year M, DCC, XCVIII, 199-202.
(85) Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1 :"Dedication," ii-iii; "Preface," ii-iii, v.
(86) Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1:161.
(87) Ibid., 1:158-160.
(88) Ibid., 1:160.
(89) Ibid., 2:233.
(90) Ibid., 1:160-161.
(91) Ibid., 1:287.
(92) Ibid., 1:298.
(93) Ibid., 1:299.
(94) Ibid., 1: 300-301, 303.
(95) Ibid., 1:303.
(96) Ibid., 1:305.
(97) Ibid., 1:374.
(98) Neal did not mention by title the Baptist ripostes to the libelous document. As evidenced by a manuscript likely from the end of the seventeenth century, Mr. Baxter Baptized in Blood severely agitated Baptists who were compelled to respond to the pamphlet and to continuing accusations of association with the Munster debacle. "Brief Notes Containing Memoirs of the Ministerial Acts, Particularly Such as relate to the Writings of that Servant of Christ, the Reverend Mr Thomas Grantham Messenger of the Baptized Churches in Lincoln Shire of Blessed Memory," DWL, Congregational Library, MS II.b.6 (6), 15, 17. The anonymous Forgery Detected and Innocency Vindicated attempted to dispel misconceptions about Baptists or Anabaptists, describing the exposure of the forgery and concluding with a brief apology for the Anabaptists who had been acquitted. Forgery Detected and Innocency Vindicated. Being A Faithful Account of the Seasonable Discovery of an Horrid and Detestible Slander raised on the Anabaptists of New-England, in that Diabolical Pamphlet, Entituled, Mr. Baxter Baptiz'd in Blood; Designing So Maliciously the Reproach and Exposure of All Under That Denomination (London: Printed for J. D. for Fr. Smith, etc., 1673), 13-14.
(99) Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1:375.
(100) The Quakers were introduced as "a wild, enthusiastick Sort of People, having no consistent Scheme of Religion, but what arose from the strong Impulses of their own Minds." Neal was less interested in their theological tenets (which he claimed they did not necessarily have) than their unwillingness to bow to the persecution of the New England government and their eventual defense of toleration. Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1:310-311.
(101) Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1:310.
(102) Ibid., 1:329.
(103) Neal noted that after September 1661 the Quakers ceased to be punished for their "Sentiments of Religion," but were prosecuted "as Vagabonds and Criminals against the State." Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1:330-335, 364.
(104) Neal, The History of New-England (1747), 1:158-159, 298.
(105) Ibid., 1:303.
(106) Ibid., 1:305.
(107) Ibid., 2:227.
(108) Ibid., 1:304.
(109) Ibid., 1:308-309, 389.
(110) Ibid., 2:227.
(111) James Peirce, Vindicice Fratrum Dissentientium in Anglia, Adversus V.C. Gulielmi Nicholsii, S.T.P Defensionem Ecclesice Anglicance (London: J. Robinson, 1710), 52.
(112) James Peirce, A Vindication of the Dissenters: In Answer to Dr. William Nichols's Defence of the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England, 2nd ed. (London: John Clark, 1718), 121.
Bracy V. Hill II is a lecturer in history at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
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|Author:||Hill, Bracy V., II|
|Publication:||Baptist History and Heritage|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2014|
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