Sermons of Philip Henry

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1415
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      88 x 142 mm. 1 volume. c.388 pp. Medium: paper. Binding: brown leather over paste boards; spine reinforced with calf, probably in the 19th century. Condition: some abrasion to the edges of leaves, with minor loss of text; first two sections of textblock loose.
  • Location
      Collection available at The John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

This volume contains extensive notes compiled by Sarah Henry, daughter of Philip Henry (1631-1696), on forty-three sermons preached by her father between July 1680 and December 1681. The sermons are based on texts from Scripture (principally the New Testament). While they are not verbatim, the notes are sufficiently detailed to enable a full reconstruction of the arguments and authorities deployed by Philip Henry. As such they constitute an important source for the doctrines and preaching practices of an important dissenting minister in the late seventeenth century. There is an index of sermons at the front of the volume.

Administrative / Biographical History

Philip Henry (1631-1696), ejected minister, was born at Westminster and was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. He graduated BA on 7 February 1651 and received his MA in December 1652. He was ordained as a presbyterian at Prees, Shropshire, on 16 September 1657 and was formally presented to the living of Worthenbury in Flintshire on 6 April 1659, where he had already gained a reputation as a gift preacher over several years. He refused to use the Book of Common Prayer and was ejected from the Church of England in October 1661. Despite repeated bouts of persecution, Henry continued to preach in Shropshire and North Wales as a dissenting minister. While he was firmly opposed to the traditional prelacy, Henry disagreed with the Independents over their rejection of the parochial system. From 1657 Henry kept a diary, which by the time of his death filled perhaps thirty-nine volumes. He died at his home in Broad Oak, Flintshire, on 24 June 1696.

Source: Richard L. Greaves, 'Henry, Philip (1631-1696)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, 2004.

Sarah Henry (1664-1752), diarist, was born on 7 August 1664 at Broad Oak, Flintshire. She was the eldest daughter and third child of the nonconformist minister and diarist Philip Henry, and his wife, Katherine Matthews (1629-1707). In childhood she began a practice continued into old age of summarizing the sermons she had heard preached, especially those of her father. She was also an assiduous diarist for much of her life. On 25 March 1687 she married her relative John Savage (d. 1729), a farmer and land agent from Wrenbury Wood near Nantwich in Cheshire; he was a widower with one child. She bore nine children, four of whom, all girls, survived her and married; Philip, her only son to survive birth, died of smallpox at the age of twenty-two in 1721. Following her husband's death, in 1736 she moved to West Bromwich, Staffordshire, where she died on 27 February 1752. John Bickerton Williams, a relative of the Henry family, published a memoir of her life and thoughts in 1818.

Source: Harriet Blodgett, 'Savage, Sarah (1664-1752)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, 2004.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The manuscript was donated to the John Rylands Library by Canon Alan Wilkinson as part of the library of his father, Dr John Thomas Wilkinson, in 1981.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The sermon notes were compiled by Sarah Henry, the eldest daughter of William Henry and later wife of John Savage: see her inscription, 'Sarah Henry Her book Jul. 3. 1680'. There is a later presentation inscription, 'From John Higginbottom to his dear Grand-daughter Florence Higginbottom [...] Wokingham October 6th 1862'. Latterly the manuscript belonged to Dr John Thomas Wilkinson (1893-1980), Principal of Hartley Victoria College, Manchester.


Richard L. Greaves, 'Henry, Philip (1631-1696)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn:, accessed 1 Feb 2013.

Harriet Blodgett, 'Savage, Sarah (1664-1752)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Oct 2007:, accessed 1 Feb 2013.