R. C. Richardson
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The role of the patrons
in Puritanism in north-west England
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Patronage coming from members of the aristocracy, gentry, merchants and municipalities, and from wealthy women comes under review in this chapter. Gentry patronage in the form of financial support to individual clergymen, sometimes as bequests in their wills, and in the use of presentations to and augmentation of church livings was more conspicuous than that offered by aristocrats in this part of the country. John Bruen, featured already in the previous chapter, is again drawn on here to illustrate ways in which his social standing, financial backing, and direct interventions (including his iconoclasm) in local religious life could have a major impact. Another case study incorporated into this chapter is the Cheshire parish of Bunbury and the succession of godly puritan ministers introduced there through the good offices of the London Haberdashers’ Company which controlled the advowson of the church living. Other London-based merchants whose origins were in Lancashire and Cheshire also contributed in similar ways and were sometimes deliberately targeted by fund-raisers. Wealthy women, normally widows and spinsters, received high praise from puritan publicists for the good work they were doing in promoting the consolidation of church livings and extending financial support to needy ministers. Elsewhere, in Congleton, Nantwich and Liverpool, for example, municipal patronage was being used to good effect in promoting puritan preachers and preaching, sometimes by means of endowed lectureships. More generally, the alliance between patrons and preachers did much to promote the establishment and spread of the puritan ‘godly discipline’. Though to succeed it needed to grow roots, imposing it from above could often be the essential preliminary.

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Puritanism in north-west England

A regional study of the diocese of Chester to 1642


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