Religious diary of a Puritan Minister of Cambridge

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 123 DWL/RB/1/393
  • Former Reference
      GB 123 Treatises xvii.347
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description

Scope and Content

An imperfect and much damaged MS written in a very small hand of the time of Queen Elizabeth I. The Religious Diary of a Puritan Minister of Cambridge, describing the state and occupation of his mind, some of his meditations and reflections, and occasionally recording the troubles to which he was exposed by reason of his refusal to subscribe the Articles, and his maintaining religious ceremonies with other godly persons; from 28 Feb [1586/7] to 26 Aug [1590?]. ‘In this time it cometh to my minde, in what reverent account in many places I have been, whereas by the bishop’ discountenancing of us who have refuzed subscription to the book, we are more odious to all that company & to such as thei can perswade, then the worst man liveinge:’ (f 8r, 30 Sept 1587). The author of this curious puritan relic (which is perhaps unique of its kind) appears to have been acquainted with Newmann and Ezechiel Culverwell who are mentioned at ff 9v; also with Messrs Leaper, Fenner and Field whose deaths are thus noticed – ‘March 12th died Mr Leper 1587’ (f 2r in the margin). 1587, Nov. 17. ‘But amonge all greefes, which this longe time fell to me, none was like this: yet so sweet a blossome as of his yeares I never harde, in iudgment, discretion, & all toward pointes of a faithful mind, is taken out of this woeful world, which was not woorthy of him: Mr Fennour.’ (f 10r). He is named ‘Mr Fenner’ in the upper margin of the same page. ‘Mr ffild was buryed Mar. 26. 1588’. (f 17, in margin). Perhaps the author’s own name may be discovered by means of these notices of himself. He was born ‘at Chelmsford’ which he describes as ‘doungehil of abomination’ (f 8v); his son Ezechial was born 1 Feb [1587/8] (f 15v); and excommunication was out against himself, 30 Nov [1589] (f 32r) and he lived long enough to review these records of his experience, in the years 1608, 1613, 1617, 1618, as appears by notes written on the margins of f 38 and f 23v.


Black suggests that ‘Of all the persons of that time, described in Brook’s Lives of the Puritans, Paul Baine seems to be most likely to be identified as the writer’ [identified by M. M. Knappen as Richard Rogers]. Vide M. M. Knappen, Two Elizabethan Puritan Diaries, 1933.

Other Finding Aids

Argent / Black xvii.347; Thomas p.25

Custodial History

Formerly numbered 27 in the 2nd series of Baxter’s Treatises and bound among them Vol. 5 ff 122-156. The 35 leaves being confusedly bound and 6 more leaves being since found among loose fragments of the Baxter collection, they are now removed, and held together in proper order.

There is nothing to show that this MS ever belonged to Baxter. It is most likely to have formed a part of Roger Morrice’s valuable Collection of Puritan Papers; although none of them are with certainty identified with the minute handwriting of this Diary. Many of his papers are undoubtedly mixed up with the latter series of numbers, of the papers called ‘Baxter’s Treatises’; nor is this wonderful, since they all passed through his hands, as one of Baxter’s Literary Executors.


  • A partial transcription of this MS was published by M. M. Knappen, Two Elizabethan Puritan Diaries(Chicago: The American Society of Church History, 1933), although Knappen failed to transcribe large parts of the original.
  • For Richard Rogers (1551-1618) see ODNB and Corr 743A
  • For John Field (1544/5-1588) see ODNB
  • For Dudley Fenner (c1558-1587) see ODNB
  • For Ezekiel Culverwell (c1554-1631) see ODNB
  • For Paul Baynes (c1573- 1617) see ODNB
  • For all the above see also P Collinson The Elizabethan Puritan Movement(1967) and P Collinson Godly People. Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism (1983) esp chs 9, 13, 15 and 20.
  • For William Leaper (1518-87), former Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, and Laurence Newman, see H C Porter Puritanism in Tudor England (1970) 236, 242.