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Daniel Featley (1582-1645)

A Westminster Puritan, and a Voluminous Writer.
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“We may not preach a crucified Saviour without being also crucified men and women. It is not enough to wear an ornamental cross as a pretty decoration. The cross that Paul speaks about was burned into his very flesh, was branded into his being, and only the Holy Spirit can burn the true cross into our innermost life.”

Daniel Featley

His Works:

The Works of Daniel Featley available in old English:

  1. A parallel: of new-old Pelagiarminian error. (1626)
  2. A second parallel together with a writ of error sued against the appealer (1626)
  3. A warning for England especially for London (1642)
  4. Ancilla pietatis: or, The hand-maid to priuate deuotion (1626)
  5. Clavis mystica: a key opening divers difficult and mysterious texts of Holy Scripture (1636.)
  6. Cygnea cantio: or, Learned decisions, and most prudent and pious directions for students in divinitie (1629)
  7. Dr. Daniel Featley revived. Or The faithfull shepheard (1661)
8. Featlæi palggenesia: or, Doctor Daniel Featley revived (1660)
9. Katabaptistai kataptüstoi. The dippers dipt, or, the Anabaptists dvck’d and plvng’d over head and eares, at a disputation in Southwark. (1645)
10. Parallelismus nov-antiqui erroris Pelagiarminiani (1626)
11. Pelagius redivivus. Or Pelagius raked out of the ashes by Arminius and his schollers (1626)
12. Roma ruens, Romes ruine (1644)
13. Sacra nemesis, the Levites scourge, or, Mercurius Britan (1644)
14. The dippers dipt, or, The Anabaptists duck’d and plung’d over head and eares (1646)
15. The Fisher catched in his owne net (1623)
16. The gentle lash, or The vindication of Dr Featley, a knowne champion of the Protestant religion (1644)
17. The grand sacrilege of the Church of Rome, in taking away the sacred cup from the laiety at the Lords Table (1630)
18. The league illegal. Wherein the late Solemn League and Covenant is seriously examined, scholastically and solidly confuted (1660)
19. The Romish Fisher caught and held in his owne net (1624)
20. The svmme of saving knovvledge: deliuered in a catechisme (1626)
21. Threnoikos. : The house of mourning; furnished with directions for, preparations to, meditations of consolations at the houre of death (1640)
22. Transubstantiation exploded (1638)
23. Vertumnus Romanus, or, A discourse penned by a romish priest (1642)


Biography of Daniel Featley (1582-1645):

Daniel Featley or Fairclough (1582-1645), controversialist, born at Charlton-upon-Otmoor, Oxfordshire, on 15 March 1582, was the second son of John Fairclough, cook to Laurence Humphrey, president of Magdalen College, Oxfora, and afterwards to Corpus Christi College in the same university, by his wife Marian Thrift. He was the first of his family to adopt the vulgarised spelling of the surname. He was educated as a chorister of Magdalen College. He was admitted scholar of Corpus Christi College 13 Dec. 1594, and probationer fellow 20 Sept. 1602. having taken his B.A. degree 13 Feb. 1601. He proceeded M.A. 17 April 1606, and became noted as a disputant and preacher. In 1607 he delivered an oration at the funeral of John Rainolds, president of Corpus, his godfather and benefactor. In 1610 and the two following years he was in attendance as chaplain upon Sir Thomas Edmondes , the English ambassador at Paris, and was noticed for his fearless attacks upon the Roman Catholic doctrines and his disputations with the Jesuits. Twenty-one of the sermons preached by him in the ambassador’s chapel are printed in his ‘Clavis Mystica: a Key opening divers difficult and mysterious Texts of Holy Scripture; handled in seventy Sermons preached at solemn and most celebrious Assemblies upon speciall occasions in England and France,’ fol., London, 1636. Featley commenced B.D. 8 July 1613, and was the preacher at the act of that year. In his rather lengthy sermon (No. 37 in the ‘Clavis Mystica’) he found himself obliged to rebuke the drowsiness of his hearers. He seems to have given offence by his plain speaking, even in consecration sermons. Featley was domestic chaplain to Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury. By the direction of the archbishop, who was desirous that Marc Anthony de Dominis [q, v.], archbishop of Spalatro, should be gratified with the hearing of a complete divinity act, Featley in 1617 kept his exercise for the degree of D.D. under John Prideaux, the regius professor. The professor was so pressed as to lose his temper, and Abbot had some difficulty in effecting a reconciliation. De Dominis on being soon after appointed master of the Savoy gave Featley a brother’s place in that hospital. In 1610 he had preached the rehearsal sermon at Oxford, and by the Bishop of London’s appointment he discharged the same duty al St. Paul’s Cross in 1618.

At the invitation of an old pupil, Ezekiel Arscot, Featley accepted the rectory of North Hill, Cornwall, which he soon vacated on his institution by Abbot to the rectory of Lambeth, 6 Feb. 1618-19. On 27 June 1623 a famous conference was held at the house of Sir Humphrey Lynde between Featley and Francis White, the dean of Carlisle, and the Jesuits John Fisher (Piercy) and John Sweet, of which an account was surreptitiously printed the same year, with the title ‘The Fisher catched in his owne Net.’ Thereupon Featley, by Abbot’s command, prepared an elaborate report of that and other controversies, published as ‘The Romish Fisher caught and held in his owne Net; or, a True Relation of the Protestant Conference and Popish Difference, A Justification of the one, and Refutation of the other, etc. (An Appendix to the Fisher’s Net, etc. — A True Relation of that which passed in a Conference …touching Transubstantiation — A Conference by writing betweene D. Featley I … and M. Sweet …touching the ground …of Faith,’ 4to, London, 1624. Such was his fame as a disputant that the king himself was graciously pleased to engage with him in a ‘scholastick duel,’ of which Featley afterwards published a full relation, to which he gave the title of ‘Cygnes Cantio: or learned Decisions and …pious Directions for Students in Divinitie, delivered by … King James at White Hall, a few weekes before his death,’ 4to, London, 1629. Some time before 1625 Abbot, urged, it is said, by ‘the discontents of the court and city because his chaplain was kept still behind the hangings’ (Featlei Παλιγγενεσία, pt. ii.), gave him the rectory of Allhallows, Bread Street, which Featley was afterwards allowed to exchange for the rectory of Acton, Middlesex, to which be was instituted 30 Jan. 1626-7 (ib. i. 571). In 1630 he appears as provost of Chelsea College (Faulkner, Chelsea, ii. 227, 228-9).

In 1622 Featley had married Mrs. Joyce Halloway, or Holloway, ‘an ancient, grave gentlewoman,’ considerably his senior. She was the daughter of William Kerwyn, and had already been twice married. There being at the time no parsonage at Lambeth, Featley henceforth resided in his wife’s house at the end of Kennington Lane. He concealed his marriage for some time, lest it should interfere with his residence at Lambeth Palace; but in 1625 he ceased to be chaplain to Abbot, owing, it has been unjustly represented, to the archbishop’s unfeeling treatment. Featley had been refused admission to the palace, because an illness from which he was suffering was supposed to be the plague. On recovering from what proved to be a sharp attack of ague, he abruptly resigned his chaplaincy. Wood attributes his resignation, of which this seems to be the true account, simply to his marriage. During the pestilence in 1625 and 1626 Featley thought controversy out of season, and composed a book of instructions, hymns, and prayers, which he called ‘Ancilla Pietatis; or the hand-maid to private devotion; presenting a manuall to her mistress,’ 3 parts, 12mo, London, 1626. Of this, the most popular manual of private devotion in its day, a sixth edition appeared in 1639, besides translations into French and other continental language. It was a special favourite with Charles I in his troubles. Wood relates, on the authority of William Cartwright of Christ Church, that for making the story of St. George, the tutelar saint of England, a ‘mere figment’ in the ‘Practice of Extraordinary Devotion,’ afterwards printed, Laud, when primate, ‘forced Featley to cry peccavi, and to fall upon his knees.’ Featley, however, was speaking of St. George of Alexandria. It does not appear that he and Laud were ever friends. Fentley had, to use his own expression, ‘lookt the lion in the very face; nay, when he ror’d he trembled not’ (The Gentle Lash , p. 4). This refers to his having persistently refused to turn the communion-table in his church at Lambeth ‘altar-wise.’ He was besides a witness against Laud in 1634, when the primate was charged with having made superstitious innovations in Lambeth Chapel (Rushworth, Historical Collections, pt. ii. i. 280). Laud, two years later, ordered many passages reflecting on the Roman catholics in Featley’s ‘Clavis Mystica’ to be obliterated, before allowing the book to be printed. These offending passages were severally reproduced, in extenso, by William Prynne (Canterburies Doome, p. 108, and passim). In 1641 Featley was nominated by the lords one of the subcommittee ‘to settle religion,’ which met at the Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster, under the presidency of Bishop Williams, the then dean (Fuller, Church History, ed. Brewer, vi. 188).

In his ‘Spongia’ (The Gentle Lash, p. 13) Featley refers to a ‘double task’ recommended to him by some members of the House of Commons. His animadversions upon a popish tract called ‘A Safegard from Shipwracke to a prudent Catholike, to which he gave the title of ‘Vertumnus Romanus,’ 4to, London, 1642, was one part, and appeared with the parliament’s imprimatur. The other undertaking was an exposition of and marginal annotations on St. Paul’s Epistles, which were printed in the Bible issued by the assembly of divines in 1645, folio (cf. ib. p. 2).

Though, as Peter Heylyn said, ‘a Calvinist always in his heart,’ Featley defended the church of England as well against the protestant sectaries as the Roman catholics. During the civil war, besides being constantly subjected to violence and robbery, he twice narrowly escaped assassination. After the battle of Brentford, 13 Nov. 1642. some of Essex’s troops, who were quartered at Acton, hearing that the rector was very exact in his observance of church ceremonies, fired his well-stocked barns and stables, and did other damage to the amount of 211l.; they then went to the church, broke open the door, pulled down the font, smashed the windows, and burnt the communion rails in the street (Mercurius Rusticus, pp. 192-3). On the following 10 Feb. 1642-3, in the midst of service, five soldiers rushed into Lambeth Church intending to murder Featley, who had been warned, and kept out of the way. Two parishioners were wounded and slain. He was next brought before the committee for plundered ministers upon seven frivolous articles exhibited against him by three of his Lambeth parishioners, whom he styles ‘semi-separatists.’ On 16 March 1642-3 he was called into the exchequer chamber to answer the charges. The committee refused to hear his witnesses, and voted him out of his living on the 23rd, four only out of seventeen being present. The order was not reported to the commons until 11 July, when it was negatived. Featley has left a full report of those proceedings in ‘Spongia,’ the second part of ‘The Gentle Lash.’ Earlier in the year he had been offered, says his nephew, the chair of divinity at Leyden, but declined it on the plea of old age (Featlei Παλιγγενεσία, pt. ii, p. 37). He attended the meetings of the assembly of divines, of which he was nominated a member in June. Heylyn questions whether he sat in the assembly to show his parts or to head a party, or out of his old love to Calvinism (Hist. of the Presbyterians, 1670, p. 404). He spoke boldly on behalf of episcopacy, and denounced the alienation of church property and the toleration of new sects (Clarendon, History, 1849, bk. vii. par. 254, 265). He also refused to assent to every clause in the solemn league and covenant. His speeches, together with ‘sixteen reasons for episcopal government,’ are printed in ‘Sacra Nemesis;’ the speeches alone, as ‘Orationes Synodicae,’ in the sixth edition of his ‘Dippers Dipt.’ In consequence of a message from Charles, whose chaplain he was, Fentley eventually withdrew from the assembly (The Gentle Lash, p. 3); but being soon afterwards detected in a correspondence with Archbishop Ussher, then with the king at Oxford, he was imprisoned as ‘a spy and intelligencer’ in Lord Petre’s house in Aldersgate Street. A letter to the archbishop had been drawn from him by a trick, and apparently falsified by the transcriber. Although, according lo his sentence, his rectories and library only were ordered to be sequestered (Commons’ Journals, iii. 263), ‘yet all his rent and arrears were seised with account-books, and his house, being no copyhold and no parsonage-house, was taken from him, and all his household stuff distracted, and a great part thereof sold’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1641-3, p, 489). This harsh treatment gained him many sympathisers outside his own party, Richard Baxter among others (Life and Times, i. 75).

During his imprisonment Featley returned lo controversy. At the request of the parliament he wrote a learned treatise against the Roman catholic entitled ‘Roma Ruens; Romes Ruins; being a succinct Answer to a Popish Challenge, concerning the antiquity, unity, universality, succession, and perpetuall visibility of the true Church …’ 1644. While writing it, says his nephew, he was allowed three books at a time from his library. In January 1643-4 he published as the third section of ‘The Gentle Lash’ his remarkable ‘Challenge’ against the puritan divines of the day, in which he offered to vindicate the articles, disipline, and liturgy of the church of England. Another controversy was with a fellow-prisoner, the baptist minisler, Henry Denne , of whose sect Featley had always been a bitter opponent, having on 17 Oct. 1643 held fierce argument in Southwark with William Kiffin  and three other baptists, the substance of which he embodied in his best-known work entitled ‘Καταβαπτισταὶ καταπτυσταί. The Dippers dipt: or, the Anabaptists duck’d and plung’d over head and ears, at a Disputation in Southwark. Together with a large and full Discourse of their (1) Originall, (2) Severall sorts, (3) Peculiar Errours, (4) High Attempts against the State, (5) Capital punishments: with an application to these times,’ 4to, London, 1645. This amusing treatise passed through six editions in as many years, and mingles invective with anecdotes of the wickedness of his antagonists and its providential punishment. In dedicating the book to the parliament Featley was evidently making a desperate bid for liberty. Denne, feeling greatly hurt by the tone of Featley’s diatribe, offered to dispute the ten arguments with him ‘face to face,’ ‘the first whereof we did debate in private, but four gentlemen desiring to hear the rest of the performance, the doctor would not admit them without an order from the state …but that if I would write, he would defend his arguments ‘ (Denne, preface to Antichrist). Denne thereupon drew up his ‘Antichrist Unmasked,’ which appeared by 1 April of the same year, 1646, when Featley was already a dying man; another reply by the Rev. Samuel Richardson, entitled ‘Some brief Considerations,’ followed soon afterwards.

Featley was in bad health before his imprisonment, and after eighteen months’ confinement he was permitted upon bail to remove to Chelsea College for change of air. There he died of asthma and dropsy, 17 April 1645, and on the 21st was buried by his own desire in the chancel of Lambeth church, ‘at which time a very great multitude of persons of honour and quality attended the funeral rites.’ The sermon preached on the occasion by Dr. William Leo, a friend of thirty-seven years, affords many interesting biographical details. He is described by his nephew as being ‘low of stature, yet of a lovely graceful countenance,’ while Wood accounted him ‘a most smart scourge of the church of Rome, compendium of the learned tongues, and of all the liberal arts and sciences.’ His portrait by W. Marshall, dated 1645, is prefixed to most editions of ‘The Dippers Dipt,’ except the first; another, representing him in his grave clothes lying on his tomb, with an epitaph, forms the frontispiece to Leo’s ‘Funeral Sermon,’ and is also found in some of his posthumous works. Mrs. Featley died in 1637 (Gataker, Funeral Sermon, 1638; Stow, Surrey, ed. Strype, 1720, pp. 102, 104).

Featley’s voluminous works include: 1. Life of John Jewel prefixed to the bishop’s collected works in 1609, and again in 1611, mostly an abridgment of the life by Laurence Humphrey. It was reproduced, together with his lives of Rainolds, Abbot, bishop of Salisbury, and ‘divers others,’ in Thomas Fuller’s ‘Abel Redevivus,’ 1651. 2. ‘Parallelismus nov-antiqui erroris Pelagiarminiani,’ 4to, London, 1630, an anonymous tract against Richard Montagu, afterwards bishop of Norwich. 3. ‘Pelagius Redivivus, or Pelagius raked out of the ashes by Arminius and his schollers,’ 4to, London, 1620, anonymous, containing a translation of the preceding tract. 4. ‘A Second Parallel together with a Writ of Error [by Dr. Featley] sued against the Appealer’ (i.e. Bishop Montagu), 4to, London, 1620. 5. ‘The grand sacrilege of the Church of Rome in taking away the sacred cup from the Laiety in the Lord’s Table …Together with two conferences, the former at Paris with D. Smith … the later at London with Mr. Everard,’ 4to, London, 1630. 6. ‘Hexalexium: or, six Cordials to strengthen the Heart of every faithful Christian against the Terrors of Death,’ fol. London, 1637. 7. ‘Transubstantiation exploded; or an encounter with Richard [Smith] the Titularie Bishop of Chalcedon, concerning Christ his ppresence at his holy Table…. Whereunto is annexed a …Disputation [touching the same point] held at Paris with C. Bagshaw,’ 12mo, London, 1638. 8. ‘Θρήνοικος. The House of Mourning; furnished with directions for the houre of death. Delivered in 47 sermons, preached at the funeralls of …divers Servants of Christ. By Dr. D. Featly and other , , . divines.’ fol. London, 1640; another edition, fol. London, 1660. 9. ‘The Gentle Lash, or the Vindication of Dr. Featley, a knowne Champion of the Protestant Religion; also Seven Articles exhibited against him. With his Answer thereunto. Together with the said Doctor his Manifesto and Challenge,’ 2 parts, 4to (Oxford), 1644; another edition the same year. 10. ‘Sacra Nemesis, the Levites Scourge; or, Mercurius Britan. Civicus, disciplin’d. Also diverse remarkable Disputes and Resolvs in the Assembly of Divines related, Episcopacy asserted. Truth righted, Innocency vindicated against detraction’ (anon.), 4to. Oxford, 1644. 11. ‘Pedum Pastorale et Methodus Concionandi,’ 12mo. Utrecht, 1657. 12. ‘Featlei Παλιγγενεσία; or, Dr. Daniel Featley revived: proving that the Protestant Church (and not the Romish) is the onely Catholick and true Church…, With a succinct History of his Life and Death. Published by John Featley,’ 2 parts, 12mo, London, 1660. 13. ‘The League illegal: wherein the late solemn league is … examined … and confuted; … written long since in prison by Daniel Featley. … Published by John Faireclough, vulgo Featley. (D. F. his speech before the assembly of divines, concerning the new league and covenant. Dr. Featley’s sixteen reasons for Episcopal government, which he intended to have delivered in the assembly …but was not permitted,’ &c. , 4to, London, 1660. Featley also published, 4to, London, 1638, Sir Humphrey Lynde’s posthumous reply to the jesuit Robert Jenison, entitled ‘A Case for the Spectacle, or a Defence of Via Tuta,’ together with a treatise of his own called ‘Strictura in Lyndomastigem, by way of supplement to the Knight’s Answer,’ and a ‘Sermon [on Numb. xxiii, 10] preached at his Funerall at Cobham, June the 14th, 1636;’ reprinted in the supplement to Bishop Gibson’s ‘Preservative from Popery’ (vol. v. ed. 1849). Some of Featley’s college exercises or ‘adversaria’ are in the Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS. V. 753. Bliss mentions, but omits to give the number, another volume among the same collection, containing thirty-one different pieces by Featley, besides a number of his letters (Wood, Athenae Oxon, ed. Bliss, iii. 168-9), from which it appears that while at Corpus he had the tuition of Walter, eldest son of Sir Walter Raleigh. A set of Latin verses, written by him in 1606, giving a curious exposition of Jesuitical amphibology, will be found prefixed to Henry Mason’s ‘New Art of Lying,’ 12mo, London, 1634.

Featley left ‘a modell of an intended will to be confirmed and executed if ever peace returns upon Israel,’ dated 14 April 1645. Therein he gives to Gregory Braxton, ‘for manie yeares my right eye and hand,’ ‘all the copies begun or finished against Poperie, Arminianisme, or Anabaptisticall Heresies. Item, a booke which my Lord Craven put upon long agoe, perfect for the press; and my desire is that in the printing thereof great regard be had to the specific dispersings of the copies’ (will proved 10 June 1645; registered in P.C.C. 69, Rivers).
[Wood’s Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 158-59, 1254, and passim; Wood’s Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), i. 291, 306, 353, 374; John Featley’s History of his Life and Death, part ii.of Featlei Παλιγγενεσία; Nichols’s Bibliotheca, vol. ii. No. 36, pp. 35, 55-9, appendix, pp. 52-3 (Ducarel’s Lambeth); vol. x. No. 5 pp. 314-41 (Donne’s Addenda); Biog. Brit. (1763), supplement,, pp. 44-50; Chalmers’a Biog. Dict. xiv. 162-7; Lloyd’s Worthies, p. 527; Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy (1714). pp. 75-8. 169-70; Lysons’s Environs, i. 250, 293-4, 323n., 416. ii. 11, 152, 153, 154n.; Neal’s Hist. of the Puritans, iii. 47, 58, 78-0, 257-9; Manning and Bray’s Surrey, iii, 483, 502, 504, 514, 517, appendix, c. iii.; Allen’s Lambeth. pp. 21, 22, 34, 69, 73, 355; Tunswell’s Lambeth, pp. 135-7; Brayley’s Surrey, iii. 321-322; Perfect Diurnal, 2 Oct. 1643; Perfect Declaration of Proceedings in Parliament, 28 April 1646; Wilson’s Dissenting Churches, i. 413. ii. 442; Claude’s Esasay On the Composition of a Sermon (Robinson), ii. 98; Fuller’s Worthies (1662), Oxfordshire, p. 346; Granger’s Biog. Hist. of England (2nd ed.). ii. 176-7; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 13, 64, 87-8, 313, 485, 3rd ser. iv. 46, 4th ser. viii. 3, 84.]



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