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EJECTED OR SILENCED MINISTERS, &C.
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.
CAIUS COLLEGE. Wonia e M. 4: He had the living of Yel
don in Bedfordshire. He was a very peculiar and urisettled man; challenged for three contradictions. 1. For being professedly against Infant-baptism, and yet having his own children baptized. 2. For preaching against universities, when he held the headship of a college. 3. For being against tithes, and yet taking 200l. per ann. at his living in Yeldon. It was not however for these things that he was ejected, but for his nonconformity. Such is the account of Dr. Calamy. To this was subjoined, in the first edition of the Noncon. Mem. p. 225, the following Note.--A vindication of him from the inconsistencies here charged upon him may be seen in Crosby's Hist. Bapt. Vol. I. p. 332. He might be somewhat tinctured with the enthusiasm of the times, but he was a man of substantial learning, of real piety, and a noble defender of the rights of conscience. He was at first satisfied with episcopacy and the ceremonies; but when the change of the state led to a reformation in the church, he was one of the most zealous to promote it, and would have carried it further than many others designed or would allow. He exclaimed against making a whole kingdom a church ; he thought that no power belonged to the clergy but what is spi. ritual; that blending the civil and ecclesiastical power toge. ther has been constantly the method of setting up a spiritual tyranny; that all persons ought to have liberty to worship God in the manner they think most agreeable to his word; and that the imposition of uniformity, and all compulsion in matters of religion, is antichristian. These principles led him to oppose the Presbyterians, in their attempts to get the civil power entirely to themselves, and establish their articles of faith and Directory for worship and discipline, to the suppres
sion of all others. With this view in 1645 he became chaplain to the army, and attended Sir T. Fairfax at the headquarters. A serinon at Marston occasioned hiin much trou. ble; and another on a Fast-day before the H. of Commons led him into a controversy with Mr. C. Love, (who opposed him in the afternoon of the same day,) and both were the means of greatly propagating his notions of civil and religious liberty. His zeal and success herein occasioned him many enemies, and account for the contemptuous manner in which he was spoken of by the rigid Presbyterians *.
WORKS. Besides the above sermons, he published some other pieces on the same subject, and one on Baptism; $a small piece entitled, The Doctrine of Baptisms; which has been in much repute among the Quakers. An Antipedobaptist correspondent is of opinion, that Mr. Dell should rather be ranked among the Quakers than the Baptists. He was however ejected for Nonconformity.
CLARE HALL. FRANCIS HOLCROFT, M. A. Fellow. His father was a knight, and lived at West-Ham, near London. He was a pupil to Mr. David Clarkson, and chamber-fellow with Dr. Tillotson, afterwards Abp. of Canterbury. [He here embraced the puritanical principles, and became a communicant with Mr. Jephcot, of Swaffham-prior, eleven miles from Cambridge. His chamber being over the college-gate, he often observed a horse waiting a long time on a Lord's-day morning, for one of the fellows to go to preach at Littlington, a village thirteen miles distant, and often returning with. out the preacher, who was much given to intemperance and debauchery. Touched with compassion for the souls of the
* Mr. Orton, on reading the above; writes thus : “ I question the truth of " Crosby's account of Dell. Mr. Baxter, who was no stiff Presbyterian, gives
a very different account of him in his own Life. But he might be preju“ judiced one way, as well as the Baptists another. I have scen a great deal " of this prejudice and partiality in persons of different parties, in favour of “ such as were of their own."--It may not be amiss here to subjoin Mr. Baxa ter's words. Having said, that.“ abundance of nonsense had been uttered by " the seciaries, which may partly be sceni in Edward's Gangrena,” he adds, « Saltmarsh and Dell were the two great preaehers at the head quarters." (B. i. p. 56.) And again, p. 64. “ Mr. Vines and many more were put out so of their headships in the universities, and Mr. Sidrach Simpson, Mr. Jo. “ Sadler, and such others put in ; yea such a man as Mr. Dell, the chaplain of " che army, who I think neither understood himself, nor was understood by “ others, any further than to he one who took Reason, Sound Doctrine, Order and « Concord to be intolerable maladies of church and state, because thcy were “ the greatest strangers to his mind,"
neglected country people, and ashamed of continuing idle in the college, when preaching was so much wanted, he offered to supply that parish. The offer was accepted, and his ministry was very much succeeded there, to the conversion and edification of many souls. About the year 1655 he accepted the living at Bassing bourn, where he laboured in season and out of season,' on Lord's days and holidays, great multitudes following him.) Having been acquainted with some who were of the congregational judgment, he fell in with it, and he was much esteeined in that capacity, and became very zealous for it, so that he formed a church upon that plan, and was very much against holding communion with the parishchurches. Many of the members of his church living in several distant villages, he and Mr. Oddy, his assistant, [after their ejectment went and preached at many of these places, and at one or other of them administered the sacrament every Lord's-day.
The truth of the matter, (as Mr. Robinson writes,) was as follows: After the ejectment, Mr. Holcroft considered himself as being still pastor of his flock; and as they could not all meet in one place, he determined to preach and administer the ordinances to them in separate bodies, at the different towns where they lived. But as this would have been too much for one man, he assembled his people at Eversden to consider the matter, and they chose Mr. Joseph Oddy, Mr. S. Corbyn, Mr. J. Waite, and Mr. Beare, elders*. These all laboured in the same work, till the next year, 1663, when Mr. Holcroft was imprisoned in Cambridge castle, by Sir Thomas Chickley, for preaching at Great Eversden. 'Mr. Oddy, for preaching at Meldreth, Mr. Corbyn and Mr. White, shared the same fate, and Mr. Beare escaped only by flight. While the pastors and elders were thus separated from their flock, the people continued to meet together, and spent their time in prayer and reading the scriptures. Sometimes some of the ejected ministers preached to them privately, and now and then the jailor allowed Mr. Holcroft to go out in the night to preach to them, and administer the Lord's Supper. They had also letters from him, one of which was printed, 1688, entitled, a Word to the Saints from the Watch Tower.
Mr. Holcroft was indicted at the assizes upon the 35 Eliz. and was sentenced to abjure the realm in three inonths, or
* See mention made of these two last persons in the Letter to the church at Hitchin; p. 107. Mr. Robinson writes the latter name Bard.
Suffer death as a felon. The earl of Anglesea represented his case to K. Charles, and obtained a reprieve for him. But he continued in Cambridge Castle almost twelve years. Upon the Indulgence in 1672 he had his liberty, when he immediately returned to his preaching, and was soon seized on and imprisoned again. Alike indictment with the former being intended, a certiorari was procured for him on the account of a debt, which brought him up to the Fleet; from whence, upon discharging it, he was soon released. In this and his former troubles he experienced great kindness from his old friend Dr. Tillotson.[Both Mr. Holcroft and Mr. Oddy, upon their enlargement, prosecuted their plan with greater vigour than ever, preaching at Cambridge, in spite of a drum which the gownsmen beat in their meeting, and all over the country; being followed by such multitudes, that they were often forced to preach abroad.
Mr. Holcroft was considered as the pastor of all the churches in the country, till soon after Mr. Oddy’s death, viz. in 1689, when these congregations became separate churches ; for which encouragement was given by the Act of Toleration, and which was rendered necessary by Mr. Holcroft's illness, first brought on by colds caught after excessive heat in preaching, particularly in the Fleet, where great crowds resorted to hear him. This ended in melancholy, which was promoted by grief for the headiness of some of his people who turned preachers, or encouraged such as did so. He continued to decline till 1692, when on Jan. 6, he died at Triplow ; his tomb-stone says, in his 59th year; his funeral sermon in his 63d. His courage and spirits returned before his death, and he departed with great joy, uttering these words : • For I know that if my earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, I have a building of God, an house not made with
hands, eternal in the heavens.' His funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Milway, then of Bury, on Zech. i. 5, 6. in which, (among other things,) he says of his preaching,--" It “ appeared to me truly apostolical, primitive and divine,' He seems (continues Mr. Robinson) to have been one of those uncommon men in whom the excellencies of several centered. His learning was enough to have gained him an ample reputation, but his knowledge of the gospel of Christ was astonishing. His preaching was tess methodical than that of his cotemporaries, but then it was more useful.]
Dr. Calamy says, He preached often and fervently, and was instrumental in turning many from darkness to light,
6 and from the power of Satan unto God ;' though he speaks of him as using little method or premeditation, and insinuates that he did some hurt, by bringing persons to lay too much stress on some things in which they differed from their brethren. He was indefatigable in his labours, preaching perpetually about the country; so that there is scarcely a village in Cambridgeshire, but some old person can shew you the barn where Holcroft preached. His congregations extended as far as Hitchin, Herts, where Mr. Waite and Mr. Beare generally preached to the Independents, before 1669, some of whom afterwards formed the Pædobaptist church in this place; and Mr. Holcroft sometimes used to come and preach to them. There is a particular memorandum of his being there May 24, 1678.*
He had a lion-like courage, tempered with the most winning affability, in his whole deportment. His doctrines were moderate Calvinism, and he had a great zeal for Nonconformity, though a greater still for true piety, which he revered even in his enemies. During his long imprisonment in Cambridge castle, he was exceedingly chearful; and though in the latter part of his life his spirits failed, yet all his conversation was heavenly and divine. He left a small estate to the poor of his church, and a piece of ground at Oakington to bury in. There he himself was buried, where his tomb yet remains.
WILDBORE, M. A. Fellow. An unsettled man.
EMANUEL COLLEGE. Mr. JAMES ILLINGWORTH, B. D. Fellow. Born in Lan, cashire. A little man, but an excellent scholar and eminent divine. He was very useful in the college as a tutor. After his ejectment he was chaplain to Phil. Foley, Esq. at Preswood-Hall, Staffordshire, several years. While he was here, a most awful providence happened at King's Swinford, in the neighbourhood, which engaged his attention.' One John Duncalf, [having stolen a bible, on being charged with the theft, most solemnly denied it, and wished his hands and legs might rot off if he was guilty. They accordingly rotted off
, and the poor wretch lay a long time in the most deplorable condition imaginable.] Mr. Illingworth often visited him,
* Some further account of Mș. Holcroft may be seen in Mr. James's Abstracta &c. in die memoirs of Mrs. Churchman.