The Puritans on Independence

The First Examination, Defense, and Second Examination

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Polly Ha, Jonathan D. Moore, Edda Frankot
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , December
     512 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Joseph Ward forthcoming.


The Puritans on Independence sheds light on the rise of new claims by puritans to freedom as "independence" several decades earlier than modern scholarship has assumed. This critical edition of long-lost English manuscripts provides access to a set of treatises which are the most significant hitherto unpublished texts for understanding puritan debate over this concept of liberty. Although once mis-catalogued as anti-separatist polemic, they in fact document the presbyterians' clandestine "First Examination" of Henry Jacob's argument for "independent" liberty and ecclesiology. It includes Jacob's "Defence" of his early congregational experiment in response to the "First Examination." The volume concludes with the presbyterians' "Second Examination" of Jacob's "Defence" in 1620, written several years after the erection of Jacob's independent church in Southwark. 

This work provides unprecedented insight into divisions among the godly in England before the public contentions over church government in the Westminster Assembly during the mid-seventeenth century. The introductory chapter traces the development of radical notions of liberty among puritans over the first half of the seventeenth century through to the English Revolution. All this had a lasting impact well beyond the British Isles and the early modern period. The edition will be of interest to early modern and modern scholars across many disciplines, from history and divinity to English literature and political science.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Polly Ha is a Reader in History at the University of East Anglia, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. She is Director of The History of Independence Project and formerly taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Southern California.

Jonathan D. Moore holds a PhD in historical theology and ecclesiastical history from the University of Cambridge. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of East Anglia.

Edda Frankot is currently an editorial research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, where she is editing a digital transcription of the medieval Aberdeen burgh records. She is also Associate Editor of The 1641 Depositions and was formerly a lecturer at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments