Bound volume of late 17th-century Presbyterian manuscript sermons preached at Aldborough Hatch.



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Manuscript on Paper. Tall Folio (325 x 195mm). 259, 259-330, 231-369pp. Some minor browning, minor ink blotting in places, some insect damage to the lower fore-corner of the first 13 leaves (touching a few words of text on approximately five lines) but otherwise fine. Contemporary vellum over paste boards, covers ruled in blind, smooth spine, ?inked shelf mark on the spine (a little dusty and grubby in places, turn-ins beginning to come loose).


[Aldborough Hatch, Illford (now East London), 

An important record of the non-conformist sermons preached at Aldborough Hatch between May 1690 and November 1692 by the local preachers, Edward Whiston and John Gidleigh / Gidley as well as visiting preachers. 


Aldborough Hatch - now part of Ilford in the east of Greater London - was, in the early 1690's a rural community on the edge of Hainault Forest. According to The Victoria County History of Essex there had been a strong tradition of Puritanism in the area during the Civil War and Interregnum, but, later, after the Restoration:


"Edward Kighley, minister of the new chapel at Aldborough Hatch, appears to have been ejected from his cure, and in 1672 he was licensed as a Presbyterian to teach and preach in his house at Aldborough Hatch. A Presbyterian congregation, said to number 200, existed at Aldborough Hatch in 1690–2, with John Gidleigh as minister. Another nonconformist minister connected with Aldborough Hatch was Edward Whiston (d. 1697), who is said to have preached there twice every Sunday even when over 90. There is also a reference to Samuel Hardy, who was 'chaplain to Esquire Heal at Overy Hatch' between 1683 and 1690. Hardy's employer was presumably John Neale (d. 1698), owner through his wife of one of the moieties into which the Aldborough Hatch estate was divided after the death of Isabel Kighley, mother of the above Edward Kighley. It seems probable, therefore, that from the Restoration until the end of the 17th century the Presbyterian congregation gathered at Aldborough Hatch house, under the patronage first of the Kighleys and then of the Neales. There is no evidence that it continued to meet after John Neale's death, when the estate passed to Richard Jory, but it is possible that the chapel at Aldborough Hatch house, which Jory's niece, Frances Bladen, later endowed for Anglican worship, had been used by the Presbyterians in the previous century" ('The ancient parish of Barking: Roman Catholicism and Protestant Nonconformity', in The Victoria County History of Essex: Volume 5 (1966), pp. 231-233).


The majority of the sermons in this volume are by Edward Whiston and John Gidleigh.


Edward Whiston received his BA and MA at Trinity College Cambridge and (according to Venn) and was also licensed to practice medicine. He was the rector of Little Laver, Essex in 1655 but was ejected in 1662. He was buried at Romford on July 17, 1697.  John Gidleigh (or Gidley) was educated at Exeter College Oxford (matriculated 1653-4, BA 1657, MA 1660) and (according to Foster) lived at Exeter but settled later at Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire where he died. Gidleigh was apparently 'silenced' by Act of Parliament in 1662 but preached evidently at Aldborough Hatch in the 1690's before settling in Buckinghamshire. According to Edmund Calamy:


"[Gidley] had excellent good Parts, but was one of the modestest Men in the World: And yet was much esteem'd by the Ministers of Exon, for his Learning and Ministerial Abilities.  He had some Estate, which he liv'd upon; was a Tabler many years at Exon, and [only with] difficulty got to preach there: But when he enter''d the Pulpit, he always met with good acceptance." - A Continuation of the Account of the Ministers, [etc.] who were ejected or silenced after the Restoration in 1660, Vol. I (1727), p. 395.


There is one sermon delivered by "Mr Alsop at his own meeting house in Westminster" (see p.288). This would be have been Vincent Alsop (c.1630-1703), presbyterian minister who succeeded Thomas Cawton of Tothill Street and preached there from 1677-1703 (see ODNB). A second sermon is also recorded on this day as being given by a Mr [Thomas] Kentish who was one of Alsop's assistants (see Walter Wilson, History & Antiquities of the Dissenting Churches - Vol. 4, 2001). 


Alsop's career, "was made for him by his writings, which started in 1675 with his Anti-Sozzo, against the 'Socinianism' as he saw it of the doctrines of William Sherlock. Anthony Wood wrote it off as a crude Marvell imitation (Wood, Ath. Oxon., 4.108), but it made an immediate impact upon fellow presbyterians. His characterization of Sherlock's writings has a truly Marvellian bite: 'they were like those gawdy signs which Encounter us upon the Road, whose promising Motto first invites the Traveller with Hopes of Horses-meat and Mans-meat, and then Baffles his hopes with Entertainment that would starve a Dog' (Alsop, Anti-Sozzo, 225). He turns the 'Enthusiast' sneer back on his critic: 'it is much reproached and little understood … Enthusiasm is when the Mind is wholly enlightened by God: In which sense I pray God make us all Enthusiasts' (ibid., 349). (ODNB).


There is some occasional crossing-out and deletion in the text as well as cross references between some of the sermons in the same volume and, on at least one occasion, there is a reference to a sermon in "another book". 


Provenance: Edward Law, 1st (& last) Earl (& 2nd Baron) of Ellenborough (1790-1871), of Southam Park, near Cheltenham, Gloucetsershire, judge and Governor-General of India between 1842-44. Ink stamp "Earl of Ellenborough's Heirlooms Book No. 1430 / 366"; collection long dispersed. How these Nonconformist sermons entered the highly Conformist Law family (the Earl's grandfather was Bishop of Carlisle and his father was Lord Chief Justice) of Westmorland descent is unknown.


Stock Code: 244711

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