The Life and Times of Arthur Hildersham

The Life and Times of Arthur Hildersham

Reformation Heritage Books

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“Arthur Hildersham is, to a large extent, a forgotten Puritan. Since Samuel Clarke compiled a thirteen-page account of his life in the seventeenth century, there has been no biography of Hildersham. But during his lifetime, Hildersham was one of the most revered and prominent Puritan figures. His story, combined with a study of his printed works, is rewarding in a number of ways. Hildersham is a guide who can help us better understand the rapidly changing and often confusing religious scene of the later Elizabethan and early Stuart period. He faced challenges and big questions that are still relevant. Although we may not agree with all of Hildersham’s conclusions, his way of thinking through issues according to biblical principles is instructive.

There is often a temptation to spiritualize heroes of the past by concentrating solely on their preaching. The exclusion of their ordinary lives, mundane domestic routines, and business affairs can sometimes leave us feeling inadequate and guilty by comparison. This study of Hildersham will attempt to redress that imbalance by painting a well-rounded portrait of a man who lived for his Master not only in the pulpit but also in daily life, in “secular” activities, in friendships, and in trials.” — from the preface by Lesley A. Rowe.


Table of Contents:

Preface: Why Bother with Arthur Hildersham?

  1. Beginnings (1563–1576)
  2. University Life (1576–1587)
  3. Lecturer at Ashby-de-la-Zouch (1587–1593)
  4. At Home in Ashby
  5. Vicar of Ashby (1593–1605)
  6. Hildersham’s Message
  7. Hildersham and the Church of England
  8. Suspensions and Sufferings (1588–1605)
  9. The Interrupted Years (1606–1614)
  10. The Silent Years (1613–1625)
  11. ‘The Evil Day’ (1615–1625)
  12. The Final Years (1625–1632)
  13. Hildersham’s Legacy
  14. Epilogue: Ten Lessons from Hildersham for Us Today

Appendix: “Epitaph on Mr Hildersham 1632” by Thomas Pestell

Hildersham Who’s Who?—A Guide to People in the Book



Lesley A. Rowe is an associate fellow in the history department of the university of Warwick. She has written several journal and magazine articles.



“Puritan preachers were inevitably rated first by their hearers, and later by their readers. Arthur Hildersham (1563–1632) was rightly ranked in the top tier of godly ministers, but in this first book-length study of his life Dr. Lesley Rowe demonstrates that his influence extended far beyond his pulpit and even his parish. Hildersham’s friendships, political connections, and expansive correspondence helped to shape a generation of English Christians and impacted theologians of the Dutch Second Reformation as well. Rowe offers a sweeping and sympathetic study of her subject, and writes in a godly strain which honors, and would no doubt please, Master Hildersham himself. One task of a biographer is to create a likeness that a subject’s contemporaries could recognize. Rowe performs this task ably, and there can be little doubt that this first sustained treatment of so substantial a figure will inspire further academic work on Hildersham and his circle as scholars continue to map both persons and places of theological significance in early modern England.” — Chad Van Dixhoorn, associate pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Vienna, Virginia, and editor of the Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643 - 1652

“Arthur Hildersham was a key figure in English Puritanism during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. Lesley Rowe’s study, based on thorough research in manuscript and printed sources, illuminates not just his career, but the wider Puritan movement. it gives us a vivid picture of what Puritanism meant on the ground in a local community, and how it impacted the national church. A very welcome contribution.” — John Coffey, professor of early modern history, University of Leicester, and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism

“Arthur Hildersham is probably not one of the better known Puritan divines, but his life and story are a compelling testimony to the grace and faithfulness of God. The chapters are relatively brief and self-contained. each chapter tells a story, though continuing a larger narrative. The follies and heresies of romanism are helpfully highlighted in contrast to the biblical foundations of Puritanism (though Hildersham preferred the term ‘Precisionist’ to that of ‘Puritan’). The cost of faithfulness to Christ and His gospel is writ large in Hildersham’s life, and that is a note we need to hear today in evangelical Christianity. especially helpful is the concluding chapter where the author highlights ‘Ten lessons from Hildersham for us Today,’ spiritual lessons that will speak loudly and searchingly to the readers.” — Ian Hamilton, Minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church and author of The Erosion of Calvinist Orthodoxy


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