Families and Religious Conflict in the Early Modern Atlantic World

  • Francis J. Bremer
Part of the Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World, 1500–1800 book series (CTAW)


On 13 July 1597, Adam Winthrop, a patron of the Puritan Reformed movement in England’s Stour Valley and the father of the future Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop, recorded in his diary that ‘my cousin Alabaster fatebatur se esse papistam [admitted that he was a papist]’.1 A little more than a year after his visit to Groton and confession of his conversion, William Alabaster was admitted to the English College in Rome, where he provided answers to a series of six questions put to all seeking admission. In the course of those answers, he referred to his mother’s family as the ‘ancient and renowned family of Winthrop’.2


Trinity College English College Catholic Priest Religious Conflict Roman Catholic Priest 
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  1. 3.
    Information on the Winthrops and their kin is drawn from Francis J. Bremer, John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father (Oxford, 2003). 4. Bremer, John Winthrop, p. 72.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Information on Alabaster’s conversion is drawn from his own account, the manuscript of which is in the English College in Rome. Diarmaid MacCulloch and I were working on an edition of the document when it was published in Dana F. Sutton, ed., Unpublished Works by William Alabaster (1568–1640) (Salzburg, 1997). References to the manuscript are from the Sutton edition. Information on Alabaster is derived from my examination of his conversion account as well as the introduction by Sutton. Some of my insights are derived from exchanges with Professor MacCulloch. See also Roger Fenton, An Answer to William Alabaster, His Motives (London, 1599), and John Racster, A Book of the Seven Planets, or Seven Wandering Motives of William Alabaster’s Wit (London, 1598).Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    See Michael Questier, Conversion, Politics and Religion in England, 1580–1625 (Cambridge, 1996), p. 55.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    The following paragraphs are drawn from Francis J. Bremer, Building a New Jerusalem: John Davenport, A Puritan in Three Worlds (New Haven, CT, 2012).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 15.
    Anne A. Davenport, ‘Scotus as the Father of Modernity: The Matural Philosophy of the English Franciscan Christopher Davenport in 1652’, Early Science and Medicine 12 (2007), pp. 57–8. Dr. Davenport is preparing a much-needed biography of Christopher Davenport. I would like to thank Dr. Davenport for pointing out the connection between Christopher Davenport and John Gennings. Gennings’ identification of himself as a puritan is found in Christine J. Kelly, ‘Gennings, Edmund [St Edmund Gennings] (1566–1591)’, ODNB, s.v.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 16.
    Davenport, ‘Christopher Davenport’, p. 59. See also Robert, I., Bradley, S. J., ‘Christopher Davenport and the Thirty-Nine Articles’, Archiv fur Reformationgeschicte 52 (1961), pp. 205–28.Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    Geoffrey Ingle Soden, Godfrey Goodman: Bishop of Glouchester, 1583–1656 (London, 1953), pp. 228–30. When Goodman died in 1656, Sancta Clara was at his bedside.Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    Caroline M. Hibbard, Charles I and the Popish Plot (Chapel Hill, NC, 1983), p. 172.Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    Davenport, ‘Christopher Davenport’, pp. 59–60. In 1691 the Puritan clergyman Richard Baxter recalled what he called Davenport’s efforts as an attempt to draw England towards the papacy on the pretence of reconciliation; Richard Baxter, Against the Revolt to a Foreign Jurisdiction (London, 1691).Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    George H. Tavard, ‘Christopher Davenport and the Problem of Tradition’, Theological Studies 24 (1963), pp. 278–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 28.
    Quoted in Francis J. Bremer, Lay Empowerment and the Development of Puritanism (New York, 2015), p. 114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 29.
    Report of John Crowne, quoted in Lawrence Shaw Mayo, John Endecott (Boston, 1936), p. 258.Google Scholar
  13. 33.
    For general discussion of what Catholics and puritans may have had in common see Patrick McGrath, Papists and Puritans under Elizabeth I (London, 1967); see also Questier, Conversion. The situation of Catholics in the Stuart reigns are examined by Caroline M. Hibbard, Charles I and the Popish Plot and idem, ‘Early Stuart Catholicism: Revisions and Re-revisions,’ Journal of Modern History 52 (1980), pp. 1–34.Google Scholar

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© Francis J. Bremer 2015

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  • Francis J. Bremer

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