A simple, rare, truly elect soul : the troubled life of Richard Waldo Sibthorp, 1792-1897
In what follows it is argued that Richard Sibthorp suffered unfairly, although quite predictably, at the hands of contemporary commentators and that his biographers have too readily reflected their bewilderment. Examined more closely, his life raises important questions regarding the nature of religious authority. Far from being weak-minded, he accepted ridicule as the cost of remaining loyal to dearly held beliefs. Although Sibthorp must remain a minor player in the history of the nineteenth century Church, his preaching was widely influential and the widespread fascination with his erratic pilgrimage contributed both to challenging and ultimately reinforcing historical prejudices.