Theological Treatises by Arthur Hildersham

Scope and Content

The manuscript contains various theological treatises as follows:

  • (folio 1) Homiletic discourse and instruction on various themes, under the heading 1581, including, speaking against good men, profiting by preachingand remembering of sermons;
  • (folio 4) Homiletic discourse and instruction on various themes, under the heading 1582, including,threatening Gods judgement how it ought to be, heavenly meditations coming and departing suddenly and great zeal and fervency of speach in preaching;
  • (folio 52) The acts and speeches of Mr. G. 1584;
  • (folio 68) A letter against hardnes of hart, [from R. G.];
  • (folio 75) The effect of an exhortation in private to two parties at their contracting before the witnesses, by Maister Hildersam;
  • (folio 77) A short treatise wherin (if not al yet) the most necessary points to bee considered about marriage are handled by way of quaestion and answer for the help of the reader; this ends on f. 91 with the note, This discourse was drawen by Mr. Richard Sherwood at the request of the honorable lady Theodosia Dudly, whom it concerned. Followeth a short sum of a speach had by M.T. Car at a contract making between his doughter Marie and Andw Wilmor;
  • (folio 96b)Concerning private reading of the word. Arthur Hildersham;
  • (folio 99) A.H.; For preparation to prayer...;
  • (folio 99) Directions for the order of your prayer;
  • (folio 100) A preparation to the Lord's Supper. A.H.;
  • (folio 103) A larger preparation to the Lord's Supper in form of a Catechism. A.H.;
  • (folio 115) The Catechism contening the sum of both the covnauntes of the law and of the Gospel.

Folios 1-72 comprise sayings by the clergyman Richard Greenham (d 1594). The remainder comprises works attributed to Greenham's student Arthur Hildersham and the theologian Thomas Cartwright. This manuscript has been identified with Arthur Hildersham, but this identification has recently been cast into doubt. According to the scholarly edition published in 1998 (see below), the close correlation between this manuscript and published sayings suggests that the Rylands sayings represent an early, well-established and widely circulated collection of sayings.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur Hildersham (Hildersam), Church of England clergyman, was born on 6 October 1563 at Stetchworth near Newmarket, Cambridgeshire. He was educated at the grammar school at Saffron Walden, Essex. In 1576 he entered Christ's College from where he graduated BA in 1581 and proceeded to MA in 1584. He apparently preached in the college chapel as part of the college exercise in divinity. In 1583 he was appointed divinity reader at Trinity Hall. On 5 January 1590 he married Anne Barfoot of Lamborn Hall, Essex.

Hildersham was instituted vicar of St Helen's, Ashby, on 4 October 1593. He was one of a number of high-profile godly ministers whose nonconformity was tolerated for periods of time and then suddenly punished. In 1619 he published A Briefe Forme of Examination and The Doctine of Communicating Worthily in the Lord's Supper. Much of his homiletic material was concerned with worthy preparation and instruction, which included knowledge of the law, the gospel, and the sacrament. Hildersham died at Ashby on 4 March 1632.

Source: Bryan D. Spinks, 'Hildersham , Arthur (1563-1632)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from Mrs P. Hardisty in July 1930.


Description compiled by Jo Humpleby, project archivist, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Arthur Hildersham.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928-35 (English MS 524).

Custodial History

Former owner: Mrs P. Hardisty.


Folios 1-72 have been published in K.L. Parker and E.J. Carlson (ed.), Practical Divinity The Works and Life of Reverend Richard Greenham, (Aldershot: Ashgate 1998).