William Bagshawe and the Derbyshire Puritans -- By: Crawford Gribben

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 03:1 (Jan 2011)
Article: William Bagshawe and the Derbyshire Puritans
Author: Crawford Gribben


William Bagshawe and the
Derbyshire Puritans

Crawford Gribben

In 1702, William Bagshawe, the “Apostle of the Peak,” one of the most significant of the English Puritan pastors, was looking back on a long life of Christian usefulness.1 One of the fruits of this meditation was his extended recollection of the men who had done most to influence his life and career, “some of those who have been Workers together with God, in...the High Peak in Derbyshire.”2 The title page of this book, De Spiritualibus Pecci (1702), indicated its historical contents and its concern to be immediately relevant to its readers. Its motto text was “2 Cor. 6. 1. We then as Workers together with him, beseech you also, that ye receive not the Grace of God in vain.” This choice of text indicates that Bagshawe understood the task of the historian to have contemporary spiritual significance, but also that those who would listen to and benefit from the historian’s accounts of the gracious activity of God in the High Peak could nevertheless receive these accounts “in vain.”

I want to emphasize that I share that sense of purpose. My task fits within Bagshawe’s paradigm of the proper reading of history, a paradigm which is also outlined in Zechariah 1:1-6. I want to encourage you to remember your fathers and the “prophets” sent to them by the Lord. I want to encourage you to remember that your fathers, by and large, failed to pay attention to the words of God’s messengers, including the words of William Bagshawe. I want to encourage you to remember the motto that will one day be stamped over all human history: “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they

live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?” (Zech. 1:5-6). And I want to do all that as I describe for you the life and career of the “Apostle of the Peak.”

I want to first say a word about books. William Bagshawe has not received a great deal of historical attention. He has been the subject of two biographies, written almost 300 years apart, by John Ashe (1704) and John M. Brentnall (1970). Ashe’s biography is the major source upon which all subsequent accounts of Bagshawe’s life have been based. Brentnall noted in addition that he had access to unpublished manuscripts, sermon notes, biblical commentaries, and life writings then owned by Major F. E. G. Bagshawe of Ford Hall.3<...

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