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Ezekiel Culverwell (1553-1631)

Preacher of the Gospel

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Biography of Ezekiel Culverwell:

Ezekiel Culverwell (1553-1631) was the second son of Nicholas Culverwell, who graduated BA at Oxford in 1573, proceeding MA in June 1577. He was ordained deacon and priest at Lincoln in 1585. before arriving in Essex as household chaplain at Leighs Priory, principal seat of Robert, third Lord Rich, in late 1586 or early 1587.

He joined the conference of nonconformist ministers around Braintree which had first met in 1582.

Culverwell’s activities soon engaged Aylmer’s attention: as ‘preacher of Felsted’ he was amongst those who, some time in 1587, are recorded as having been suspended ‘in his last visitation and since for the surplice’ (Peel, Seconde Parte, 2.260).

On 23 December 1592 Aylmer instituted Culverwell, to the Essex rectory of Great Stambridge.

Nothing is known of his first wife but in 1598 he married Winifred (née Hildersham), widow of Edward Barefoot, a friend of his brother Samuel’s from Cambridge.

After the Hampton Court conference in 1604 nonconformity again came under siege as James I pressed his bishops to demand subscription to the prayer book ceremonies as the badge of inclusion within the Church of England. Although undisturbed during Richard Vaughan’s episcopate (1604–7) Culverwell could not parry the demands of his successor, Thomas Ravis. On 20 March 1609 he was one of four Essex incumbents deprived by the high commission.

Culverwell appears to have spent the rest of his life in London, publishing: A Treatise of Faith and A Briefe Answere to Certain Objections Against the ‘Treatise of Faith’ (1626), among other works.

He lived out his last years as a widower. Winifred was buried at All Hallows Barkingside in November 1613 and all his children except his daughter Sarah Barefoot – who was execuctrix of his will made in July 1630. He was buried in the parish of St Antholin on 14 April 1631.

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