Education and the early modern English separatists
This study reassesses the significance of education in the lives and thinking of the early modern English Separatists. For this purpose, 'early modern' is construed as the period from the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 to the outbreak of the First Civil War in 1642. ,The thesis first describes the origins, nature and development of Separatism during this period, and then sets the study in context by delineating the nature of education in those eight or so decades. In order to facilitate the handling of the material germane to the study, the leading original proponents of the distinctive Separatist ideology are considered in chapters three and four. Chapter three deals with the three men who in the late Tudor years set the parameters for the subsequent groVV'ch of a comprehensive and self-consistent Separatist philosophy. Chapter four examines the contributions of the 1 7 most prominent men who built on their work in the early Stuart period. The very fact of their prominence, however, entails the likelihood that they were better-educated than the majority of their fellowbelievers, and perhaps to that extent unrepresentative of them. The resulting possible distortion is therefore corrected by investigating the educational levels of 52 Separatist prisoners in London gaols at the turn of the ninth and tenth decades of the sixteenth century. Past work in this field has tended to a minimalist interpretation of the available evidence. This thesis concludes that both the educational achievements of the first early modern English religious Separatists, and their attitudes to education, have been underestimated. It seeks to correct this misrepresentation with a judgement more closely corresponding to the evidence yielded by an objective review of the facts.