Elliot Vernon
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Puritanism, parish and polemic in civil war London
The case of Thomas Bakewell
in Insolent proceedings
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This chapter focuses upon the polemical career of Thomas Bakewell, a baker and Presbyterian ruling elder of middling wealth who traded from a shop in Hanging Sword Court, just off London’s Fleet Street. Like the more famous Thomas Edwards studied in Ann Hughes’ works, Bakewell was a devout religious Presbyterian whose commitment to Reformed ‘orthodoxy’ led him into a series of disputes with Antinomians, Separatists, Baptists, Congregationalists to Fifth Monarchists that formed part of the struggle to demarcate the boundaries of religious ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heterodoxy’ during the period. Bakewell’s mid-seventeenth-century printed polemics, however, were grounded in the face-to-face experience of oral and private lay religious disputation dating back to the early 1630s and his narratives illustrate another dimension of the struggles of the Puritan underground to maintain orthodoxy identified in the recent work of Peter Lake, David Como and Ann Hughes. The chapter will analyse the engagements between Bakewell and his opponents to gain an understanding of the ‘rules’ of lay religious debate and polemic. In addition it focuses upon how originally oral debates between disputants who were known to each other on a face-to-face basis within the relatively small geographical area of mid-seventeenth-century London were expressed in print and how this ‘lived experience’ structured the literary forms, and genre experimentation, used to communicate religious disputation to a wider audience. As such, the chapter builds on Ann Hughes’ contribution to this area of historiography and thus, I hope, presents a fitting tribute to her work as a historian.

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Insolent proceedings

Rethinking public politics in the English Revolution

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