Henry Barrow (1550?-93)

Excepts from:

A brief discouerie of the false church


The ministerie apointed unto the government & seruice of ye Church of CHRIST we find to be of two sortes, Elders & Deacons: the Elders, some of them, to giue attendance unto the publike ministerie of the word & sacramentes, as the Pastor & Teacher: the other Elders together with them, to giue attendance to the publike order & gouernment of the Church: the Deacons, to attend the gathering and distributing the goodes of the Church. Now these Officers are first duly proued, examined, & compared by, & to these rules set downe in the Testament of CHRIST, both in apparant graces, by the manifestation of the spirit; as also in al vnre proveable conuersation, witnessed, & wel aproued unto that flock, of which they are chosen to serve & attend. This done with praier & fasting, they are chosen & ordenied in the same Congregation, by publike consent. They being thus chosen & ordeined by all, are now diligently & faithfully to execute their office unto all, not prejudicing the libertie of any, ambitiously assuming any inordinate authoritie, or abusing or neglecting their office, neither holding or executing yt, in regard or in respect of person: but uprightly and indifferently performing yt unto all men, as in the eies of God, whose word they purely and sincerely teach, faithfully & precisely observe, to their uttermost knowledg and power. If in any thing they transgresse or offend; they are, as well as any other members, liable to the censure of the Church: which is, to reprove, depose, or excommunicate them, according to the qualitie of the sinne, & estate of the offenders &c.

    Now to come to the ministerie of the Church of England, which is so manifold & divers, as I know not how to begin to describe yt. But let yt first be divided into these 3 sorts: 1. Reigning or Gouerning. 2. Serving & 3. Collegiate.
    1. Of the reigning & governing ministers, are Arch-Bishops Lord Bishops, Arch-Deacons, Chancellers, Commissaries, all of the High Commission, as likewise such civil Doctors, Proctors, Registers, Scribes, Pursuivantes, Sumners as attend upon their Court as of faculties, prerogative, Arches, delegates &c.
    2. Of the serving sort, are Parsons, Vickars, Curates, hireling Lecturers, vagrant & mercenarie Preachers, house priestes, Chaplens, half-Priestes or catechisers, Churchwardens, sidemen, questmen, parish Clarkes.
    3. Of the ministerie collegiate, are Lord Bishops, Deanes Sub-Deanes, Prebendaries, Canons, petie Chanons, Gospellers, Pistellers, Singing men, Singing boies, Vergiers, Sextines. This diuision I suppose, wil wel neere suffice for their officers.

    But now, how to divide or distinguish their offices, I know not; I am so unlearned & ignorant of such great secrets, & high misteries. Neither yet have I skil to marshial them in their degrees of honour, which (I have heard say) they have, both in the commonwelth, & in their schooles; as their Primate, their Mettopolitane graces, their Palatine Lord bishops, their Baronny Lordships: al which I weene be Peeres of the realme, estates of the Land. Now there are also certayne Doctors of divinitie, & Bachelors of diuinitie, which have many great priuileges prerogatives, of the cappe, the skarlet gowne, the hood, the habbite, the tippet &c. the ring, the chaire: the one of them, being a Kinghts fellow, the other an Esquires in any ground in England. Also how capable these are by statute of how many benefices, I cannot tell.

Neither have I the cunning to derive their genealogies and pedegrees, as they tooke beginning in the ages succeeding the Apostles, in the first 4. or 500. yeres: only because I want that deep learning, I must content my self to goe to that old book of Gods word. There indeed I remember Revel. 9. that I read of a Star that fell from heauen unto the earth, which had the key of the bottomles pyt giuen unto him; who then he had opened that bottomles pyt, there arose the smoke of the pyt, as the smoke of a great fornace, wherwith the Sunne and the aire were darkned. Out of which smoke of the said pyt, I read, that al these monstrous, armed, crowned, poisoned Locustes & Scorpions issued &c. Now as they tooke beginning with Antichrist, under their king Apolluon: so tooke they increase together with him. For when Sathan had enthronized him, giuen him his high Commission, made him his Lieftenant general in earth &c. then these his Peeres & captaines compassed about & guarded his throne, & did miracles before the Beast, deceauing with the effectual power of their errors, all such as receaued the Beastes marke, or worshipped his image, and carried forth his image far and neere, and set yt up in al places where his person could not be, & compelled al both smal & great, rich & poore, to receive the Beastes mark & worship his image: this I read in the 13 of the Reve.
Now in the 16. Chapter of the said booke, after that yvis of Gods wrathful judgmentes had beene powred out upon the earth, upon the sea, upon the rivers & fountaines & waters, upon the Sunne upon the Throne of the Beast, upon their great riuer Euphrates; I read, that these uncleane spirites that came out of the mouth of that Dragon, and out of the mouth of that Beast, and out of the mouth of that false prophet, which are ye spirites of Deuils, working miracles; should goe forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them unto the battel of that great day of God almightie: yea and in the 17. of the Reuelation, that they should cause these kings, those ten hornes, to hate the whore, to make her desolate and naked, to burne the whore with fire, even that faire harlot, of whose cup they have drunke, and with whome they had committed fornication so many yeares before? and to giue their kingdomes, power, and authoritie unto the Beast, until the wordes of God be accomplished. In the 19. & 20. chapters of this said booke, I read; that they, together with all the hostes of these kings that thus make warre against ye Lamb, & beseege the beloved Citie & the tentes of the Saintes round about, shal be taken, cast into a lake of fire & brymstone, & there to be tormented together with that Dragon, & that Beast, & that false Prophet, day and night for evermore. And loe, thus have we brought these fellowes home againe, even to the place where we found them. For out of the bottomles pyt they came, & into that fierie fornace they shal [return].

Let them that list more curiously to search, inquire after them in their Centuaries and Annalles: yt sufficeth me to know, that they came out of the bottomles pyt, that they belong not to CHRISTES kingdom, that they are strangers there, & have there neither name, place, nor office.
We find in the Church of CHRIST no mention of these rufflers, they are not members of his bodie, they are neither Pastors, Teachers, Elders nor Deacons: but even of late before our eies, these self fame officers, Courtes, attendantes, even from their Primate Archbishop to the parish priest, & so to the Sumner, administred unto the whore of Rome, & had their originall from the Apostatical seate of ANTICHRIST.

How then should they thus sodenly become the members of CHRIST, yea rulers of his house whether he will or no? who not only thrust in their parsons by intrusion, but these monstrous offices, Courtes, & Cannons, never read of, never heard of in the Testament & Church of CHRIST. For there we find no mention of any other Arch-bishop or Lord Bishop, then that chief shepheard & Lord of life, CHRIST IESVS; unto whome everie knee ought to bowe, and everie tongue confesse. But these blasphemous Beastes, or rather heades of that Beast, are not ashamed to arrogate unto them CHRISTES names and titles, which are written upon them as names of blasphemie, that the Scripture might be fulfilled: which titles & honors, they blasphemously would defend, with this scripture, which is spoken of the office & person of the civil magistrate: I have saied, ye are Goddes, & ye all are the children of the most high. Psa. 8.6. although our Saviour CHRIST hath expresly, with his owne mouth said to his Apostles (then whome I am sure these are neither greater nor better). The Kinges of the Gentiles reigne ouer them, & they that beare rule ouer them are called bountifull, but be ye not so: but let the greatest among you, be as the least, & the chiefest, as he that serueth.


[High Commission]

…This indefinite monstrous Commission I (hauing never seene their letters pattents or any copie therof) cannot othewise describe, then by certaine apparant circumstances: as the men of  whome yt consisteth, and that have the chiefe rule therof; the persons & causes over which this Commission is set, and hath iurisdiction; and the maner of using their sayd power. The Commissioners are certayne ecclesiasticall & civile persons; as first the Primate of England [the Arch-b: of Canterburie] then I suppose the Metropolitane of Yorke, with certaine other Bishops, as London, Winchester, &c. certaine Deanes, Arch-deacons & Chancelors, with sundry especial civile Doctors &c. The ciuil persons of this Commission are now of late dayes some few of her Majesty's honorable Councell, the two chiefe Iudges: certaine Courtiers; as the two Maisters of her Maiesties Requests; certaine chosen Aldermen, & the Recorder of London; certaine other officers about the Citie; as the Lieftenant of the Tower, the post-Mr. & sundry other that I know not, not heere to recite that rabble of advocates, proctors, scribes, pursuyuants, attending therupon.

    These thus joined in this high great Commission, have (or at the least exercise) by vertue therof absolute power & jurisdiction over the whole Church of England and every particular congregation of the same, and over every minister & member of the same, even over al the Q. Subjects. They also exercise finall jurisdiction & absolute power over all causes ecclesiasticall whatsoeuer, to handle and determine, to visite, enquire & punish, to make new lawes, orders, decrees, and to injoine the same as authentike upon all Churches, as, & before the holy oracles of God. They have power also to assume any cause or plea out of any other of their inferior spiritual Courtes (as they call them) into their owne hands, to ratifie or disanul any thing there done. They have power also to erect and to authorise new litle high Commissions in any Citie of the land, where yt pleaseth them: only with this exception; that they alwaies acknowledg the supreme power of their parent at Lambeth.

    Yet further this great high Commission hath absolute power ouer sundrie (and what not) civil causes, insomuch as they feare not to meddle with matters belonging to the Q. crowne or prerogatiue royal, or to any of her Courts of plea whatsoever: yea they have not doubted to intercept causes belonging unto, & depending in the high Court of parliament, if Mr. PENRY in his appeale say true. They have power to cite, summon or convent by their pursuyvants & cursitors, what person of the land either man or woman at any time when they please: they have power to command all the Q. officers, as Maiors of Cities, Sherifs &c. to serve & attend, watch & ride, by day or by night upon their busines whatsoever: also to apprehend, to incarcerate, or to deliver out of prison, what person or persons, how innocent or flagitious soever, upon their barre warrant, without further enquire or delay: yea they have power to fetch up any of these officers before them from their charge in her Maiesties seruices, & there also to ymprison them, if they so thinke good. They have power to authorize these rakehell-robbers their pursuyuants, to herry, molest or attach any of the Q. faithful subiectts they list, to breake open & ransack their houses by day or by night, to spoyle & carie away what and whome they please without controulement, their warrants being made indefinite, without anie certaine perscription or limitation.

    Wel, & being thus furnished with this power, they come together at their Session as charrets armed to the battel, a great tayle of officers & court of attendants being assembled, the apparance wherof exceedeth I suppose that of the Vaticane at Rome, no praier used before, neither the booke of God opened in this their ecclesiastical councel. The parties convented are to attend, being called to appeare before them: before whome being come, what affaires soever they have, whither of a whole Church, or of manie congregations, what office or degree soever they be of, they must there stand their heads discovered before them, no place given them with or by these Commissioners. Yf they be to propound, speake, or complaine of any thing, they must doe yt by the officers of this Courte, their Aduocates, Proctors, Registers, Scribes secundum modum & formam, and that to no small charge by that time all these voultures have their fees: otherwise then by these they may not plead in this Courte: the judgments of this Court they must receaue without contradiction or gaynsaijng; there is no appeale, no help, no meanes to reverse the same, be they never so unjust. Any others that are blamed and accused unto this Courte, have not here place to answere unto such things as shal be objected against them by their accusers, being brought face to face, or to defend themselues according to equitie: but heere they shall hardly know their accusers, or accusations at anie time, until they have taken an oathe to answere truly unto such things as shal be demanded of them in that Court; wherby they are driven to accuse themselves, and so minister matter abundantly unto their aduersaries. The oath that is heere administred is, that laying their hand or; fingers upon a booke, they sweare by God & by the contents of the booke, to answere truly unto such things as shal be demanded of them, and so kissing the booke their oathe is accepted, & no further leisure given to consider what they answere unto their demandes. But if anie make conscience, or denie to receave this idolatrous wicked oathe (which though yt be proued unto them to be never so unlawful, and contrarie to the commandement of God. Deut. 6. 13. & Deut. 10. 20. to be newer so superstitious in devising & adding, yea in injoining ceremonies where God in these lawes hath made none, but commanded to sweare without anie ceremonies by the name of God only; though yt be proved to be never so idolatrous, in joining any thing unto or with God, in swearing by any thing besides or with God; though the fearful curse of God be shewed to be denounced against such maner of swearing & swearers, by the Lords prophets in these words, They that sweare in the sin of Samaria, & that say, thy God O Dan liveth and the way of Beerschebah liveth, even they shal fal & never rise up againe; and in an other place, that the Lord will cut off al that sweare by IEHOVAH as they sweare by: be this oathe prooved never so unnecesfarie, the cause not requiring anie such triall; be yt proved never so unnatural, yt being to accuse themselues, & that unto their aduersaries) yet wil these graceles Bishops inforce this oathe;

First by way of perswasion, by Abrahams & Iaacobs examples, who caused the one his steward, ye other his sonne to sweare, putting their hand under their theigh &c. and by the Angels lifting up his hand unto heaven to sweare. If unto the first they be answered, that Abraham & Iaacob joyned not this ceremony unto the oathe, so much as to exact the fidelitie & performance of the oathe, seijng God himself sware unto Abraham without this ceremonie Gen, 15 & 17; as also Ishaac sware, & Iaacob sware without this ceremonie Gen. 26. 31. & Gen. 31. 53; so that there can be no law drawen or example made of Abraham & Iaacob heerin, especially seing this was before the law was giuen: but now we have an absolute law given of God for the forme of oathes, from which law we ought not to swerve. Yf unto the second, namely the Angels lifting up the hand unto heaven whiles he sware yt be likewise answered; that no law can be inforced from hence, or any new ceremony injoyned in swearing, nothing being done heere contrarie to the law of God, neither any example given to breake or alter ye law given of God, seing now both al superstitious ceremonies & idolatrous oathes are forbidden us, by our Saviour Christ & his Apostles: Math. 5. 34. 3. 5 Mat. 23. Gal. 4. 9. Col. 2. 20.

     Their next reason is drawen from the Princes priuiledg; that the Prince hath power to make lawes of indifferent things, & is therin to be obeied: this maner of oathe is shewed to be no indifferent thing, but altogether unlawful & prohibited for the reasons aboue alledged. But if yt were a thing indifferent (as they suppose) so to sweare or not so to sweare, yet were yt not lawfull for any mortal man to bind that by way of law, which God hath left in our libertie; much lesse to bring in new ceremonies or diuises into the worship of God: for so might al the Popes traditions be brought in & justified. When these reasons wil not serve to perswade or assure the conscience, then these holy fathers, these tender hearted christian BBs. are driven to their last argument wherby they uphold their antichristian throne, Viz. the civil power & authoritie which is committed into their murtherous handes. Then are they forthwith committed unto close prison, there to remaine until they either yeild, or die; and this without respect of age, sexe, or degree, especially if they be convented for refusing or speaking against the BBs. Popelike authoritie, antichristian decrees, idolatrous injunctions &c: such with mortall hatred they persecute, much more then they doe the most hainous malefactors & traiterous Papists: such they openly publish to be sectaries, scismatikes, heretikes, Anabaptists, disobedient to magistrates, seditious, conventiclers &c. and al because they will not beare Antichristes yoke, nor carie the Beastes marke, nor bow downe unto & worship his image. … Long yt were to relate their fine spanish arts to molest these constant witnesses & faithfull seruants of Christ when they get them in their prisons, by shutting them up long close, by causing them to be produced and indicted at the general sessions upon the statute of recusansy, hauing made some of the Iudges on their part; although this statute was made for Christs and her Majesty's enemies, the Papists, recusants of all Christian veritie. When upon this statute they have gotten them indicted, and upon the execution therof cast into prisons; yet here their malice ceaseth not, but although they be the Q. prisoners in her execution, yet will they (contrarie to all law) assume them back againe into their handes, and by their sole authoritie without anie cause alledged, commit them perpetuall close prisoners, therby to shorten their liues, and to cut off all meanes either of their owne maintenance from them, or wherby they might any way satisfie the Queene. Thus play they with poore Christians as the catte doth with the mouse, boldly committing them unto and taking them from the seculer powers at their owne pleasure; abusing the Queenes lawes and most faithfull subjectes at their owne lust, without checke or controulement, they being subiect and liable to no lawe. To such a heigth is this strange Romish spanish Court now growne, under colour of reforming ecclesiasticall abuses, that yt vsurpeth absolute power over al laws, causes, persons; yea and becommeth the very fountaine or synke rather, from whence flow al errors, abuses, and disorders into the whole land, yt being the very bane & poyson both of the church and common welth, that ever going forge of Sathan, wherin he daily minteth al his antichristian new deuises & decrees for this monstrous harlot the false Church, that Senate wherin all their affaires are consulted, that Councel wherin all their decrees are concluded, a Synode wherin all causes are debated, a schoole wherin al questions are disputed, a fayre wherin all their wares are sould.


… God hath put difference (though no disagreement) betwixt the church, and the common welth, betwixt the ministers jurisdiction, & censures of ech of them; having set unto ech sort their due bounds, officers and limits which they ought not after this maner to transgresse or confound, making I know not what commixture of persons, offices, causes in this monstrous Commission, where the civil magistrate is made a Judg & minister of ecclesiastical causes; their church ministers, of civill & common welth matters, & al under pretext of the commission of ye Prince: who because he hath power over all causes & persons both of the Church & common welth; therfore these men suppose that he may make what new lawes, decrees & orders for both Church & common welth that he list, & change the ordinances & decrees of God at his pleasure, especially if he be a christian Prince; for then he is no way bownd to the lawes of God or limits of his calling.



Henry Barrow (or Barrowe) (1550?-93) was the leader of the Barrowists. He was educated at Cambridge University in the 1560's and sometime during the 1580's came to believe the Church of England to be so corrupt that good Christians should refuse to attend its services. He was imprisoned as a recusant and was eventually executed by hanging April, 1593. Barrow's views were far more extreme than those of most puritans, and his condemnation of the Church of England's hierarchy far more outspoken.

Lambeth. Lambeth Palace was the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was situated just south of the Thames in London. Barrow uses "the supreme power of their parent at Lambeth" as a sarcastic way of referring the Archbishop of Canterbury that would conjure up associations with the Pope.

The Oath ex officio. The oath ex officio was an oath tendered to those testifying before the Court of High Commission. The taker swore truthfully to answer all questions that might be asked. If the person refused to take the oath they were guilty of contempt of court and could be imprisoned indefinitely. Not only Barrow but many puritans and many lawyers believed to oath to be both illegal and immoral, since it infringed the Common Law and natural right not to accuse oneself. (This right is preserved in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S.)

John Penry (1563-93). John Penry was one of the publishers of the Marprelate tracts - savage attacks on the Bishops couched in the crudest of terms. It is unclear whether Penry was actually the author - Martin Marprelate, He was educated at Peterhouse College, Cambridge; he became a Presbyterian and then a Separatist. He was executed May, 1593.