Sheldon during the Interregnum

  • Victor D. Sutch
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idees / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH)


Sheldon’s place of imprisonment was “James Chesterman’s House over against Cross Inn.”1 Hammond was lodged in another residence close by. Both were constantly guarded by New Model soldiers. However their imprisonment was alleviated by permission to have visitors — a permission which was freely granted — and very soon such a stream of scholars and students began to seek them out to ask their advice about university and church affaires that their jailers grew nervous. The extent of their influence, the depth of their opinions, the strength of their leadership — all of these gave the new Presbyterian university officials pause. Was it desirable to keep such influential royalists imprisoned so close to Oxford? They decided not, and on May 30, a month and a half after their arrest, the “Committee of Lords and Commons for the Reformation of the University of Oxon” met at Westminster and moved to correct what was becoming a difficult situation. “Taking into consideration that his confinement there [at Oxford] may be of dangerous consequences, in regard of the great respect of persons to him,” they ordered that Dr. Sheldon, “be conveyed to Wallingford Castle, there to be kept in safe custody by the governor of the said castle” until the committee decided what further to do with him.2 Subsequently, Hammond was included in the order.


Royal Court Seditious Nature Mutual Acquaintance Oblique Reference Anglican Clergy 
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  1. 1.
    Burrows, Worthies, p. 184.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wood Mss. f. 35. Order dated May 30, 1648.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fell, Life of Hammond, p. xliv.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Burrows, Parliamentary Visitors, p. 187.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wood Mss. f. 35.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
  7. 7.
    Ibid. Burrows in his Worthies of All Souls, p. 197, has Sheldon taking houses which belong to the college. He is a bit at a loss to explain how houses could be seized by soldiers and returned to the college bursar.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VI, 77.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid., VI, 4.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Parker, p. 52.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
    A phrase used in a letter from Edward Hyde to his wife in 1651. HMCR, Bath II, 88.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hammond’s biography, DNB.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    J. Thoroton, A History of Nottinghamshire (London, 1839), p. 151.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sheldon looked upon the Okeover and Shirley families as his own. Their births and deaths are recorded in his personal bible, he performed many services for both families after the Restoration, and he was godfather to Sir Robert Shirley’s grandchildren who were born in the 1660’s. See Ms. Bib. Eng., 1648, d. 3, Bodleian library.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XII, 166.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ibid., XI, 89. Cosin’s only son was a Catholic convert at this time; Cosin disinherited him and would have no more to do with him.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sheldon himself retained the rich benefice of Ickford until 1653 with all of its income and even held services there regularly in the early 1650’s. Ibid., XIII, 328.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See a series of letters from Payne to Sheldon, Ibid., Vols. VI through X.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., VII, 124.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    For letters from “Belleau” to Sheldon, see Ibid., X, 328; X, 329; XII, 166; XII, 167. “Belleau” was probably William Lloyd, later a bishop but in the early 1650’s he was living in exile in Paris.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Numbers of letters from these people are reproduced in Theologian and Ecclesiastic. Mansell returned to Oxford in 1651, but Taylor was a regular correspondent of Sheldon’s in the years after that. There is much evidence of Henchman’s correspondence, and his biographer (see DNB) states that he was in touch with Anglican and royalist leaders during this period.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    See later this chapter, where Duppa and others are in constant correspondence with Sheldon and Hammond. They even extended their net to include Bishop Wren, imprisoned in the Tower of London.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, IX, 290–298, gives the text of several letters from Wren to Hammond and the reverse.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sheldon invented a completely new alphabet which he proposed that the net use. Hammond wrote one letter in it, found it too cumbersome, and went back to the system of oblique references.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    See Ibid., VI. 167, where Payne apologized profusely to Sheldon for losing a copy of a letter. He promised never to retain a copy of any message in the future.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Much of the two divines’ extant correspondence has been published in Theologian and Ecclesiastic. Unfortunately, what has come down to us covers only the first five years, 1649–1654. of the Interregnum period. All these letters are taken from Harleian Mss., 6942, The British Museum, and were edited by W. N. Clarke in the mid-nineteenth century. This is the best single source on the Church during the Interregnum period.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., XII, 168.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    W. G. Simon, The Restoration Episcopate (New York, 1965), p. 101.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    See Allestree’s biography, DNB, and Barwick, appendix, where Allestree is at the court and is dispatched into England with messages for the Anglican leaders.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ibid., appendix, contains a long series of letters from Edward Hyde to Barwick and vice-versa.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    There is a lengthy letter to John Barwick, undated and unsigned, which is reproduced in Barwick, pp. 537–47. It was written in answer to a query from Barwick about church discipline, and how, and if, it should be imposed. This letter can now be definitely ascribed to Sheldon and dated from internal evidence: 1) The author is having difficulty with his eyes — they are constantly filling with rheum, making it difficult for him to read or write. Between 1651 and 1653, on several occasions, Sheldon suffered from this same disability, but particularly in the spring of 1653, when this matter of church discipline came to a head. See Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VI, 170 and X, 329, for letters from both Morley and Hammond commiserating with Sheldon about his eyes. 2) This letter is written in Sheldon’s inimitable style. He writes in a straightforward, almost modern fashion — especially when he is strongly moved — as though the ideas are mounting steps, one imposed upon the other. This imparts to his writing a peculiar strength. Nor can one mistake this style when he meets it again. Also in the series of letters between Barwick and Clarendon, reproduced in Life of Barwick, appendix, Sheldon is mentioned in almost every exchange. However, in every case, the editor of the Life of Barwick mis-identifies him, via footnotes, as William Juxon. The primary reason for this mistake lies in the frequent use of the initials “B. L.” (Bishop of London) for Sheldon. This led the editor of the work to settle on Juxon as the best identification he could make of “B. L.”. However, “B. L.” can now be identified as Sheldon for the following reasons: 1) Clarendon and Barwick were discussing the new bishops to be made, and the list of nominees for the vacant sees had just been sent to Barwick when the series of letters opens. Sheldon’s name was at the top of the list, and he was scheduled to be made the bishop of London when Juxon became archbishop. This is the position he received immediately after the Restoration, and of course this is the reason Barwick and Clarendon call him “B. L.”. 2) Clarendon is extremely worried about B. L., “our sick friend,” as he calls him. Sheldon almost died in 1659 from a plague that broke out in England in 1658–59. It took him over a year to recover. 3) Clarendon anxiously inquires about him in every letter and laments the fact when he is needed so at that moment to supervise the Church and help get the bishops made, he is not available. Sheldon was the leader who, all through the Interregnum was pushing for the creation of new bishops. (See later this chapter.) Juxon was very lukewarm in the matter. 4) In talking of “our sick friend,” Clarendon expresses the hope in one letter (p. 398) that “the time is [now] drawing on that we may [again] enjoy one another” — meaning that we may again enjoy one another’s company. Clarendon was never a close friend of Juxon’s. He was for years on the most intimate terms with Sheldon who was noted for his great wit and humor. 5) Clarendon assures Barwick, as the Restoration draws on, that the king has promised only one church preferment to anyone, and that one is the deanship of Worcester, which he has agreed to give to Morley. And, he said, you can check with “our sick friend” who will assure you that Morley is in every way qualified for it. He knows him well. Sheldon and Morley were life-long friends; Juxon and Morley were never close. For all these reasons, Sheldon can now be positively connected with Barwick. He was working closely with him and was transmitting information on the Church and upon loyalist projects to the court through Barwick and Allestree.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    The “Charitable Uses Fund” is mentioned by name only once in the whole Sheldon-Hammond correspondence (see Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XII, 170), but there are innumerable references to money-raising projects. Periodic contributors to the fund, besides Hammond and Sheldon, were Sir John Pakington, Sir Robert Shirley, Sir Orlando Bridgman, Sir Philip Warwick, Lady Coventry, Lady Savile, Lord Scudamore, and “Mr. Chichley.” There were others also who assisted from time to time. See comments by W. H. Clarke, Ibid., XII, 173; also the following Hammond-Sheldon letters: Ibid., VII, 54; VII, 127; XII, 373; as well as almost any letter chosen at random in the series for some discussion of money projects.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    E. S. de Beer (ed.), The Diary of John Evelyn (London, 1959), p. 389.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Parker, p. 53, and Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis (London, 1820), IV, 853.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    See comment by John Fell, quoted in Hammond’s life, DNB.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Quotation from Hammond’s life, ibid. The fund was still functioning effectively up to the Restoration. Hyde makes reference to it in November, 1659, in a letter to Barwick. See Barwick, p. 466.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ibid., XIII, 329.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ibid., XIII, 330.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ibid., X, 328.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ibid., VI, 300.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Ibid., XII, 376. Hammond in this letter, written Dec. 28, 1652, points out the great danger to the Church if no chaplain was provided for the king, without “bringing charge to him.” John Earle subsequently became the chief Anglican chaplain at the royal court, and he was supported from the “Charitable Uses Fund.”Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Ibid., XIII, 246.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ibid., XV, 179.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ibid., VII, 55.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ibid.,Vn,51.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    On Charles Steward see Ibid., XII, 372; XII, 171, where Hammond discusses using “Grey of Wellingbourough,” a lawyer, to attempt to arrange a composition on behalf of Steward’s young son. Once that was arranged with the government, the young boy would then inherit some of his father’s property and have money of his own. Until that time, however, Sheldon and Hammond looked after him and supported him.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XIII, 244.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Ibid., XII, 170.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Ibid., VII, 59, 119,123.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    I bid., VII, 61.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Ibid., XIII, 240,241,244.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Barwick, Life of Barwick, p. 95.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    See ibid., p. 128, where Lady Savile transmitted £ 1000 to Charles II in 1651.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    On several occasions Morley apologized for his own indebtedness, since he had heard that Sheldon himself was in need because of his financial aid to friends. “I am sorry,” he wrote once, “that one of your large munificence should be straightened in the means of exercising your virtue... but your friends are not to expect more that you are able to give, straightening of yourself to do for them.” Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XIII, 240.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    On the problems related to finding tutors, see Ibid., XII, 176, 372, 374, 376; XIII, 329 — all letters from Hammond to Sheldon — and letters from Morley to Sheldon, dealing with the same subject, XII, 373; XIII, 241.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    It seems as though almost every significant Anglican clergyman in the post-Restoration period taught school at some time during the Interregnum. Those mentioned in the Hammond-Sheldon correspondence include, Hickes, Heywood, Gunning, Barrow, Sterne and an outstanding teacher named Thomas Triplett who was a member of the Falkland Circle in the 30’s. Others were Geoffrey Palmer, later Charles IPs attorney-general, and a friend of Sheldon’s, always referred to by Robert Payne as “the Conjuror.” For references to various members of this group, see Ibid., XII, 173; VII, 48; VI, 223; VI, 172; XII, 170; and VI, 218; and H. R. Williamson, Jeremy Taylor (London, 1951), p. 42. There were others also.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Richard Steward was assigned by Sheldon to stay at the court as Charles’ chaplain, Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VI, 300, and upon his death, Earle was assigned to replace him and was maintained by the “Charitable Uses Fund.” Ibid., XII, 376.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Sheldon and Hammond were seeking ministers to replace Morley at Antwerp, Ibid., XIII, 244; to assist “Monsieur” at Paris, XIII, 330; and someone to help Cosin at Paris, XIII, 329.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Hammond educated Isaac Barrow and Peter Stanynough, Sheldon paid Richard Waring’s way through the university, and Morley had his brother’s youngest son with him as a servant and secretary on the continent, “whom by that means,” he said, “I shall be able to maintain and breed.” Ibid., XIII, 246.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Hammond proposed at one time that he, Sheldon, and Humphrey Henchman, collect £ 600 per annum to maintain twenty persons to be chosen by Bishop Bramhall as a colony of exiled scholars on the continent where they could safely pursue their studies. Ibid., XV, 183. Nothing came of the venture.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    See Life of Brian Walton, I, 290, for Sheldon’s contributions to the Polyglot Bible. The project is discussed on numerous occasions in Sheldon’s correspondence also.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XV, 186; XV, 285, for letters from Hammond in June and July, 1654, where he is seeking assistance in his pamphleteering.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Reginald Heber, Works of Jeremy Taylor, p. xlix. Also Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XV, 179.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    CSP, Clarendon, III, 385. Sheldon, Hammond, and Bishop Wren were trustees for this fund on behalf of their friend Gunning. The fund was established by Sir Robert Shirley.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Isham, Isham-Duppa Correspondence, p. 175.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VII, 127.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    See later this chapter.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    For reference to one of these works, see Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VI, 50, where Hammond discusses it; the others are mentioned by Sanderson in a letter to Sheldon in 1652. W. Jacobson (ed.), The Works of Robert Sanderson (Oxford, 1854), VI, 376.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VI, 50.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    This mistake was made by Dr. John Owen, Puritan vice-chancellor of Oxford, when he wrote to Hammond in 1654 wanting to talk with him about composing the differences between the two religious bodies. See Ibid., XV, 186. For a modern assertion of this idea, see Hammond’s biography, DNB. His biographer makes Hammond responsible, single-handedly, for maintaining the Anglican church during the Cromwellian interregnum.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XII, 170.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Ibid., VII, 54.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Ibid., VII, 384.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Ibid., VII, 61.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Ibid., VII, 147.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    See ibid., XII, 171, where Hammond wrote to Sheldon about whom they could find to aid Steward’s son in his dealings with the government. At that time he said, “I suppose you understand the bottom of it (which I profess not at all to do), and if you apprehend my fears vain in respect of these men, as before you did in respect of Mr. St. [sic] etc., do it in a word, and I subscribe and will punctually follow your directions.”Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Ibid., XV, 465.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Barwick, appendix, pp. 537–47. This letter can definitely be ascribed to Sheldon for the reasons I have given in footnote 32, this chapter. It bears the date, “Jan. 10.” I have placed it in 1653 because it was late 1652 before Barwick was released from his solitary imprisonment, and the first meeting was held on this problem in early summer, 1653. The letter is clearly written before any meetings have been held and after Barwick was released. Therefore it has to be January, 1653.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Ibid., pp. 539–540.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    When Hammond heard of Sanderson’s writings, he wrote to Sheldon in a rage: “Our dean’s brother-in-law hath from Dr. Sanderson an answer to all reasons against taking the Engagement, and the conclusion is that... he may take it; tell me what you know of this.” Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XV, 465.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    See letter to John Barwick, Barwick, p. 538, where he condemns a paper on this matter produced by Wren, as “very rigid,” and later the same page where he states his own position.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Ibid., p. 542.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Ibid., p. 543.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XV, 465.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
  87. 87.
    Ibid., XV, 184.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
  89. 89.
    Jacobson, Sanderson’s Works, V, 37.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    See Williamson, Jeremy Taylor, pp. 101–107, where Taylor is engaged in 1657 and 1658 producing new liturgies and forms, based for the most part on older practices — particularly that of the Greek church — which a cleric might substitute for the Book of Common Prayer. He was trying to supply his brethren with forms, the use of which would not make them heterodox in the eyes of their fellows and which would, in addition, not make them liable to arrest if their services were discovered by the authorities.Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    CSP, Clarendon, III, 503.Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    R. Bosher, The Making of the Restoration Settlement, 1649–1660 (London, rev. ed., 1957), p. 91, discusses these suggestions. This work is a brilliant recent study of the Anglican maneuvering which led to the restoration of the Church.Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    CSP, Clarendon, III, 50.Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    One author — W. H. Clarke, Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VI, 30 — denies that this letter dealt with the bishop-making problem on the grounds that no attempts were ever made this early to solve this problem. However, Sheldon was extremely farsighted about practical problems such as this, and as the text of Hammond’s letter indicates, Sheldon’s letter quoted here referred to nothing else.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    Ibid., VI. 30.Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    Ibid., IX, 294.Google Scholar
  97. 97.
  98. 98.
    Ibid., XII, 92.Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    Ibid., XII, 161. Apparently this was the only time Brownrigg gave any assistance with this problem during the Interregnum. He was Calvinist by inclination and, making his peace with the Cromwellian government, he managed to retain his position and income. See Barwick, p. 213, where Hyde is severely critical of Brownrigg and Skinner, bishop of Oxford, for their lack of interest in the consecration problem.Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    See Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XII, 168; XII, 170; and Sanderson’s Works, VI, 390, for references to Sheldon’s efforts in the bishop-making process in 1652–53.Google Scholar
  101. 101.
    See Bosher, p. 90, for this curiously complacent attitude on the part of Hyde.Google Scholar
  102. 102.
    CSP, Clarendon, III, 50.Google Scholar
  103. 103.
    For this long series of letters in 1659 and 1660, see Barwick, appendix.Google Scholar
  104. 104.
    Isham-Duppa Correspondence, p. xxv.Google Scholar
  105. 105.
    For all of these excuses and problems, see Barwick, appendix, letters between Hyde and Barwick, pp. 398–524.Google Scholar
  106. 106.
    Ibid., p. 407. As I have pointed out earlier, the editor of Barwick’s Life mistakenly identified “our sick friend” as Juxon in every reference. Hyde was actually referring to Sheldon for the reasons I have given in footnote No. 32.Google Scholar
  107. 107.
    Ibid., p. 515.Google Scholar
  108. 108.
    Harl. Mss. 6942, Hammond to Sheldon, Aug. 20, 1659.Google Scholar
  109. 109.
    Barwick, p. 464.Google Scholar
  110. 110.
    Ibid., p. 491. Matthew Wren, the son of Bishop When, was a friend of Wallis. From the mathematician he obtained copies of letters which some of the conspirators had sent to the court. He sent the copies back to their royalist originators and asked them if they had actually written those messages. The copies were letter perfect of course and finally convinced Hyde, who heretofore had refused to believe it, that the government was privy to all of his plans.Google Scholar
  111. 111.
    H. R. Trevor-Roper, “The Restoration of the Church, 1660,” History Today, II, (1952), pp. 540 on.Google Scholar
  112. 112.
    Bosher, p. 26.Google Scholar
  113. 113.
    D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracies in England, 1649–1660 (New Haven, 1960), p. 182.Google Scholar
  114. 114.
    Trevor-Roper, p. 540.Google Scholar
  115. 115.
    See W. H. Hutton, A History of the English Church (New York, 1903), VI, 166, and a memorandum from Allestree, reproduced in Bosher, p. 94.Google Scholar
  116. 116.
  117. 117.
    Theologian and Ecclesiastic, XV, 183, where Hammond discusses Shirley’s approaching defection. When Sheldon won the latter back to the Anglican position, in order to proclaim his renewed faith in the Church, Shirley built, under Sheldon’s direction, the only Anglican church to be constructed in England in the period of the Interregnum. The wall of the church at Staunton Harold still bears Sheldon’s tribute to his patron — “In the year 1653, when all things sacred were throughout the nation destroyed or profaned, this church was built to the glory of God by Sir Robert Shirley, whose singular praise it was to have done the best things in the worst times, and hoped for them in the most calamitous.” Sheldon used almost the same words to describe himself a year or two earlier. See Theologian and Ecclesiastic, VI, 77, where he proposes to “Make use of ill-times to make me better and that will make me merrier.” 118 Parker, p. 53.Google Scholar

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  • Victor D. Sutch

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