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William Sclater (1575-1626)

A Fiery Reformed Preacher of the Gospel

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“Concerning the sin against the Holy Ghost, obstinate and final impenitence is a stubborn froward persisting of an hard hearted heart in willful malice by which a man becomes and is made impenitent (Heb. 6:4-6).”

His Works:

  1. A Three fold Preservative against three dangerous diseases of these latter times: Non-proficiency in grace, false-hearted hypocrisy, and backsliding in Religion  (1610)
  2. The Sick Soul’s Salve (1612)
  3. The Minister’s Portion (1612)
  4. The Christian’s Strength (1612)
  5. A Sermon preached at the Assize (1616)
  6. The Question of Tithes Revised (1623)
  7. Three Sermons Preached by William Sclater (1629)
  8. Sermons Experimental: On Psalms 116 and 117 very useful for a wounded spirit (1638)
  9. The Worthy Communicant Rewarded (1639)
  10. Death’s Summons and the Saint’s Duty (1640)
  11. The Remedy of Schism (1642)
  12. Papisto Mastix: or Deborah’s Prayer Against God’s Enemies (1642)
  13. A Divine Cordial for a Devout Soul Composed Out of a Serious Discourse upon the Sin Against the Holy Ghost (1653)
  14. Civil Magistracy by Divine Authority (1653)
  15. The Grand Assizes or the Doctrine of the Last Judgment (1653)
  16. The Crown of Righteousness or the Glorious Reward of Fidelity in the Discharge of our Duty (1654)
  17. The Royal Play and Paymaster in a sermon (1671)


Biography of William Sclater:

William Sclater (1575-1626) rector of Pitminster, was second son of Anthony Sclater, of ancient Northumbrian descent, who is said to have held the benefice of Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire for fifty years, and to have died in 1620, aged 100. A younger son, Christopher, who succeeded him at Leighton Buzzard, was himself father of William Sclater (d. 1690) who served in the civil war as a cornet; was subsequently rector of St. James’s, Clerkenwell (lic. 17 Sept. 1666); was author of ‘The Royal Pay and Paymaster, or the Indigent Officer’s Comfort’ (1671); and was great-grandfather of Richard Sclater (b. 1712), alderman of London, ancestor of George Sclater-Booth, first baron Basing, and of May Sclater (b. 1719), father of the Mrs. Eliza Draper associated with Laurence Sterne (cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 518-19; Cromwell, Hist. of Clerkenwell, p. 194; Burke, Peerage, s.v. ‘ Basing;’ Foster, Alumni Oxon.; Fowler, Hist. of Corpus Christi, p. 401).

The rector of Pitminster was born at Leighton in October 1575. A king’s scholar at Eton, he was admitted scholar of King’s College, Cambridge, on 24 Aug. 1593, and three years later was admitted fellow of his college. He graduated M. A., and was admitted to priest’s orders in 1599, shortly after which he left Cambridge and served a curacy at Walsall. The sermons he preached there on Romans (i-iii.) were printed in London in 1611, and passed to a second edition; they had a strong puritan bias. On 4 Sept. 1604 he was, ‘by the over-persuasion of John Coles Esquire’ of Somerset, preferred to the rectory of Pitminster in that county, and, after some resistance, accepted the ceremonies and the surplice which he had rejected in his former diocese. His piety secured him the patronage of Lady Elizabeth Poulett and her husband, John, first baron Poulett, who in September 1619 preferred him to the rich living of Limpsham in Somerset; but Sclater found his new abode unhealthy and returned to Pitminster, where he died in 1626.

Besides several volumes of sermons, Sclater was author of four exegetical and other works, which were published posthumously under the editorship of his son (see below): 1. ‘A Key to the Key of Scripture: an Exposition, with Notes, upon the Epistle to the Romans ‘ (being an enlargement of his previous discourses on Romans i-iii.), dedicated to Sir Henry Hawley, knt., and other Somerset gentlemen of puritan leanings, London, 1629, 4to. 2. ‘The Question of Tythes revised; Arguments for the Moralitie of Tything enlarged and cleared; Objections more fully and distinctly answered; Mr. Selden’s Historie viewed,’ London, 1623, 4to; an expansion of a previous essay, called ‘The Minister’s Portion’ (Oxford, 1612); this was an attempt to refute Selden, but as such it was eclipsed by the more erudite treatise of Richard Montagu [see also Nettles, Stephen and Tillesley, Richard]; it was warmly commended by Dr. Edward Kellett, who described the proofs of his friend, ‘now a blessed saint, Dr. Sclater,’ as unanswerable by ‘sacrilegious church-robbers.’ 3. ‘Utriusque Epistolae ad Corinthios Explicatio Analytica,’ Oxford, 1633, 4to. 4. ‘Commentary, with Notes, on the whole of Malachi,’ London, 1650, 4to.

William Sclater (1609-1661), divine, son of the above, born at Pitminster in 1661 ‘in festo Paschae,’ was educated at Eton, admitted a scholar of King’s College, Cambridge, on 26 June 1626, and was admitted fellow in June 1629. Having graduated M.A., he entered priest’s orders about 1630, and became noted for his preaching; obtained the living of Cullompton in Devonshire, and on 18 Sept. 1641 was collated to the prebend of Wedmore in Exeter Cathedral, and the rectory of St. Stephen’s in Exeter. Though not formally sequestrated, he was driven from his livings in Devonshire about 1644, and sought refuge for a time in Cambridge. He had resigned his fellowship in 1633, but proceeded D.D. in 1651, having in the previous year conformed and been preferred to the rectory of St. Peter-le-Poor in Broad Street, London. He died there in 1661. Fuller instances his piety and scholarship to refute the imputation that the sons of the clergy were ‘generally unfortunate.’ Besides editing his father’s works, he published a funeral sermon on Abraham Wheelock (1654), ‘Papisto Mastix, or Deborah’s Prayer against God’s Enemies, explicated and applyed’ (1642); and ‘Ἐν χαιρῷ λόγος, sive Concio ad clerum habita de natura, necessitate, et fine Haeresium’ (1652); in addition to some minor tracts and sermons. One of the latter, ‘Civil Magistracy by Divine Authority,’ was printed for George Treagle at Taunton, 1653, 4to (Hazlitt, Bibl. Coll. 3rd ser. p. 221).

[Harwood’s Alumni Eton. pp. 200, 227; Fuller’s Worthies, ed. Nichols, i. 119; Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 31; Darling’s Cyclop. of Bibl. Literature; Weaver’s Somersetshire Incumbents; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 458. 518, 569; Reg. of St. James’s, Clerkenwell (Harl. Soc.); Wood’s Athenae, ed. Bliss, ii. 229, iii. 228; Kellett’s Miscellanies of Divinitie, 1653; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Extracts from Ant. Allen’s Manuscript Catalogue of the Fellows of King’s College, Cambridge; and notes kindly supplied by Charles E. Grant, esq., bursar of King’s College.]


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