Daniel Featley and Calvinist Conformity in Early Stuart England
This thesis examines the life and works of the English Calvinist clergyman Daniel Featley (1582-1645) through the lens of various printed and manuscript sources, especially his manuscript notebooks in Oxford. It links his story and thought to the broader themes of early Stuart religious, political, and intellectual history. Chapter one analyses the first thirty- five years of Featley’s life, exploring how many of the features that underpin the major themes of Featley’s career—and which reemerged throughout his life—were formed and nurtured during Featley’s early years in Oxford, Paris, and Cornwall. There he emerges as an ambitious young divine in pursuit of preferment; a shrewd minister, who attempted to position himself within the ecclesiastical spectrum; and a budding polemicist, whose polemical exchanges were motivated by a pastoral desire to protect the English Church. Chapter two examines Featley’s role as an ecclesiastical licenser and chaplain to Archbishop George Abbot in the 1610s and 1620s. It offers a reinterpretation of the view that Featley was a benign censor, explores how pastoral sensitivities influenced his censorship, and analyses the parallels between Featley’s licensing and his broader ecclesiastical aims. Moreover, by exploring how our historiographical understandings of licensing and censorship have been clouded by Featley’s attempts to conceal that an increasingly influential anti- Calvinist movement was seizing control of the licensing system and marginalizing Calvinist licensers in the 1620s, this chapter (along with chapter 7) addresses the broader methodological issues of how to weigh and evaluate various vantage points. Chapters three and four analyse the publications resulting from Featley’s debates with prominent Catholic and anti-Calvinist leaders. These chapters examine Featley’s use of patristic tradition in these disputes, the pastoral motivations that underpinned his polemical exchanges, and how Featley strategically issued these polemical publications to counter Catholicism and anti-Calvinism and to promulgate his own alternative version of orthodoxy at several crucial political moments during the 1620s and 1630s. Chapter five focuses on how, in the 1620s and 1630s, the themes of prayer and preaching in his devotional work, Ancilla Pietatis, and collection of seventy sermons, Clavis Mystica, were complementary rather than contradictory. It also builds on several of the major themes of the thesis by examining how pastoral and polemical motivations were at the heart of these works, how Featley continued to be an active opponent—rather than a passive bystander and victim—of Laudianism, and how he positioned himself politically to avoid being reprimanded by an increasingly hostile Laudian regime. Chapter six explores the theme of ‘moderation’ in the events of the 1640s surrounding Featley’s participation at the Westminster Assembly and his debates with separatists. It focuses on how Featley’s pursuit of the middle way was both: a self-protective ‘chameleon- like’ survival instinct—a rudder he used to navigate his way through the shifting political and ecclesiastical terrain of this period—and the very means by which he moderated and manipulated two polarized groups (decidedly convictional Parliamentarians and royalists) in order to reoccupy the middle ground, even while it was eroding away. Finally, chapter seven examines Featley’s ‘afterlife’ by analysing the reception of Featley through the lens of his post-1660 biographers and how these authors, particularly Featley’s nephew, John Featley, depicted him retrospectively in their biographical accounts in the service of their own post-restoration agendas. By analysing how Featley’s own ‘chameleon-like’ tendencies contributed to his later biographers’ distorted perception of him, this final chapter returns to the major methodological issues this thesis seeks to address. In short, by exploring the various roles he played in the early Stuart English Church and seeking to build on and contribute to recent historiographical research, this study sheds light on the links between a minister’s pastoral sensitivities and polemical engagements, and how ministers pursued preferment and ecclesiastically positioned themselves, their opponents, and their biographical subjects through print.