Rooting out nonconformist sects
Catalogue reference: SP 16/314, f. 79


Whereas credible information hath bin given unto us of his Ma[jes]ties Commission for causes ecclesiasticall, that there are at this present remaining in or neere the Cittie of London or suburbs thereof and in manie other parts within this kingdome of England sundrie sorts of Separatists and sectaries, as namely Brownists, Anabaptists, Arrians, Thraskists, Famalists, Sensualists, Antinomians, and some other sorts of sectaries & schismatiques, who refuse upon Sondaies and other festivall daies to come unto their parish churches, there to joyne and participate with the parochiall Congregation in divine Service, Sacraments, and hearing of Gods word preached, but have and doe ordinarily use to meete together, in great numbers, on such daies and at other times in privat houses and places, and there keepe and maintaine privat Conventicales and exercises of Religion, by the lawes of this Realme prohibited, to the corrupting and perverting of sundrie his Ma[jes]ties good subiects, and the manifest contempt of his Highnes lawes, and the disturbance of the peace of the Church. For reformation whereof; These are to will and require you in his Ma[jes]ties name, by vertue of his Highnes Commission for causes ecclesiasticall, under the great seale of England, to us and others directed; that taking with you, a high or pettie Constable, and such other convenient assistance as you shall thinck meet, you doe enter into anie house or place where you shall have intelligence or probably suspect that any such privat Conventicles or meetings are held kept, and frequented by anie such sectaries or schismatiques, and therein and everie roome thereof you doe make diligent search for them, as [als]o for all unlawfull and unlicenced bookes, and seditious and unlawfull writings and papers. And all and everie such persons writings papers and bookes so found, to seize apprehend and attache or cause to be seized apprehended and attached, where[so]ever they maie be found, as well in places exempt as not exempt, and that thereupon you deteine them in safe custodie, and bring them forthwith before us, or others our Colleagues, his Ma[jes]ties Commissioners in that behalfe appointed, to be examined, dealt withall, and disposed of, as shall be thought meet and agreeable to justice. And if it so fall out, that you cannot presently bring unto us the said persons, that then you committ them unto the next Prison or common Gaole of the Countie or Cittie where anie such persons shall be found, and forthwith to acquaint us therewith, that wee maie send for them, or give order for their enlargement, as the cause in justice shall require, Unles they shall forthwith enter good bond with sufficient sureties to his Ma[jes]ties use, to appeare before us, or other our Colleagues at a certaine daie to be by you limitted, according to the distance of their abode; all which bonds, with your particular informations against the severall parties, you shall in convenient time att or before the daies of their apparances, retorne into the office of our Register. And for the better performance of this service Wee doe in his Ma[jes]ties name, by authoritie aforesaid, straitly charge require and command all Justices of the peace, Maiors, Sheriffs, Bayliffs, high and pettie Constables, and all other his highnes officers ministers and subjects whatsoever, to yeilde you their best aide, help, and assistance herein, as often and in such manner and forme, as you shall see cause to require and direct the same; And also all Gaolers and keepers of Prisons, to receive and safely to keepe all such persons, as shal be by you committed and brought or sent unto them, according to your direction aforesaid. And these presents, shall be a sufficient warrant, as well unto you, as all those that shall aide and assist you herein, and also unto everie such Gaoler and keeper of prisons in that behalfe. Geoven at Lambhith this twentithe of February Anno Domini, jus [part of document damaged]

To John Wragge gent, one of the sworne Messengers of his Ma[jes]ties Chamber

Cant[ue'] [ for William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury]

Guil[lelmus] London[iensis] [for William Juxon Bishop of London]

Mat[heus] Norvic [for Mathew Wren Bishop of Norwich]


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