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his friends, projected the new Colony of Massachusetts. The object was to provide a settlement or an asylum for those who could not conform to the church discipline and ceremonies. The project met with many difficulties, which had to be surmounted before the patent was finally obtained. By his personal intercourse, his advice, his preaching, his writings, and his great influence, Mr. White gave essential aid to the “Company of Adventurers,” in securing the result of their labors. He frequently attended the meetings of the company, and advised many of his friends and neighbors to join them for the purpose of emigration. On the day of their departure, he preached on board the Arbella. The active part he took in favor of the Puritans gained him notoriety, and excited the displeasure of the opposing party, during the civil wars which followed. A marauding party of horsemen, under command of Prince Rupert, went to Dorchester in 1642, plundered his house, and carried away his library. On this occasion he made his escape to London, and was there appointed minister of Savoy parish, and on the 30th of September, 1643, rector of Lambeth parish, in Surry. In 1640, he was appointed one of the learned ministers to assist the Parliamentary committee on religion. He was also chosen one of the divines which met at Westminster on the 1st of July, 1643; and was appointed, with Rev. Cornelius Burgess, his brother-in-law, assistant chairman of that venerable assembly. In 1647, he was offered the wardenship of the New College, but refused it; and, as soon as he could, returned to his people at Dorchester, for whom he had the greatest affection, and where he passed the happiest of his days. He died there, suddenly, July 21, 1648, in his seventy-fourth year, and was interred in the church porch of St. Peter, in Dorchester, which is a chapel belonging to Trinity Church.
Fuller says he was “a grave man, yet without moroseness, as who would willingly contribute his shot of facetiousness on any just occasion ; a good governor, by whose wisdom the town of Dorchester (notwithstanding a casual, merciless fire) was much enriched ; knowledge causing piety, piety breeding industry, and industry procuring plenty unto it. A beggar was not then to be seen in the
town, all able poor being set on work, and the impotent maintained. He absolutely commanded his own passions, and the purses of his parishioners, whom he could wind up to what height he pleased on important occasions. He was free from covetousness, if not trespassing on the contrary, and had a patriarchal influence both in Old and New England.” Wood calls him a moderate Puritan, of great gravity and presence, one of the most attentive and influential members of the Westminster Assembly. “The Puritan party, near to and remote from him, bore him more respect than they did their own diocesan.” In the course of his ministry at Dorchester, “he expounded the Scriptures all over and half over again, having had an excellent faculty in the clear and solid interpretating of it.”
He was the author of the “ Planter's Plea,” or “ Breef Relation.” The authorship of the “Humble Address” has also been attributed to him. His other principal printed works were, 1. Commentary on the First Chapter of Genesis ; 2. Directions for the Profitable Reading of the Scriptures ; 3. Of the Sabbath ; 4. The Way of the Tree of Life, or the Duties of Perfection ; 5. Several Occasional Sermons.
Mr. White married Ann, daughter of John Burgess, of Peterborough, and sister of Rev. Cornelius Burgess, one of the famous Puritan divines. By her he had four sons, John, Samuel, Josiah, and Nathaniel. The eldest was minister in Paupan, in Dorchester, and among those who were ejected for their non-conformity, in 1662.
JOHN WHITE, Esq.,* commonly entitled “the Counsellor," was the son of Henry White, and was born in Heylan, Pembrokeshire, on the 29th of June, 1590. After completing his preparatory studies, or, as his historian has it, “after he had been instructed in the faculty of grammar," he was entered by his elder brother, Griffith White, a member of Jesus College, at Oxford, in 1607. He re
• pp. 105,
* Authorities :- Wood's Athen. Oxon. (Bliss's ed.), Vol. II. p. 236; Vol. III. 143, 144 ; Neal's History of the Puritans, Vol. III. pp.51, 52, 56, 76, 275; Clarendon's Hist. Rebellion; Brooks's Lives of the Puritans; Young's Chronicles, pp. 69, 74, 86, 101, 102; “The First Century," &c. (a copy of which is in the library of Harvard University); Original Ms. Memoranda. Watts's Bibliotheca mentions two John Whites, “counsellors,” but they are evidently the same individual. VOL. II.
mained at college about four years, and afterwards studied law and became a barrister and counsellor of eminence, and one of the masters of the bench in the Middle Temple. He embraced the principles of the Puritans in early life, and during his professional career was their principal legal adviser. The first charter of the Massachusetts Colony was probably procured under) his advice, and written by him. His name appears among the members of the Company, at their meetings before their embarkation for this country. In October, 1629, he drew up the articles agreed upon “ between the Planters and Adventurers for the performance of what shall be determined"; and he was chosen one of the umpires to settle any disagreements that might arise. He did not emigrate to this country; but many of his friends and connections who did come were advised and assisted by him. He was chosen a member, from the borough of Southwark, of the Parliament which began November 3, 1640; and in this, as in other spheres, he was a leading and influential, but zealous, member of the Puritan party. He was also one of the twenty commissioners chosen as “ Lay-Assessors” of the Westminster Assembly of Divines.
A general complaint existed at that time against the conduct and superstitions of the members of the Established Church, who held their benefices under the government; and the House of Commons appointed, on the 6th of November, 1640, very soon after its organization, a large “ Committee on Religion,” to inquire into their scandalous immoralities. Mr. White was chairman of this committee, and also of the sub-committee, appointed on the 19th of the same month, “ to consider how there may be preaching ministers, set up where there are none, how they may be maintained where there is no maintenance, and all other things of that nature; also to inquire into the grounds and causes of the great scarcity of preaching ministers throughout the kingdom ; and to consider of some way of removing scandalous ministers, and putting others in their places.” Numerous petitions relating to these subjects were presented to Parliament and referred to these committees. The benefices of several of the clergy were sequestered and given to others. These proceedings excited,
as they would naturally do, great opposition. By some they were considered severe, and were highly censured, especially by the suffering party. It should be borne in mind, however, that party spirit at that time raged in its highest activity, amounting in some cases to open rebellion, civil war, and bloodshed; and what one party might censure was by the other demanded as a right. To justify their proceedings, a report of one hundred cases — or a “ century”- of the ejected ministers was made by Mr. White, and, on the 17th of November, 1643, ordered to be printed. It appeared under the title, “ The First Century of scandalous malignant Priests, made and admitted into Benefices by the Prelate, in whose Hands the Ordination of Ministers and Government had been ; or a Narration of the Causes for which Parliament has ordered the Sequestration of the Benefices of several Ministers complained of before them, for Vitiousness of Life, Errors in Doctrine, contrary to the Articles of our Religion, and for practising and pressing superstitious Innovations against Law, and for Malignancy against Parliament." The author, in his preface, says the reasons of his appearing in print were “ that the Parliament might appear just in their doings; that the mouth of iniquity might be stopped ; that all the world might see that the tongues of them that speak evil of the Parliament are set on fire of hell; and that they hide themselves under falsehood and make lies their refuge”; and then he adds, that “the grossest faults which were charged on the clergy were proved by many witnesses, seldom less than six.”
The publication of this account of the “ First Century" or hundred of the "scandalous priests” whom he selected for notice, greatly increased the excitement, and drew down upon Mr. White the most violent opposition. A second century was prepared for publication, but, on account of Mr. White's death, fourteen months after the first came out, or for some other cause, it never appeared. He was reproached, and nicknamed “ Century White.” Wood, and others belonging to the party of his opposers, have accumulated against him much of the party scandal of the times; but their censure must be considered as unjust by every candid mind.
“ The obnoxious part he acted would
naturally create many enemies, some of whom would invent, and others eagerly credit, the most reproachful calumnies against him.” The slanders of his enemies cannot, however, cover up the noble deeds of this excellent man. The proceedings of his committee may be viewed, separated from contemporary events, as severe, but they tended greatly to hasten the reformation and the overthrow of the Established Church, though some innocent persons may have suffered in the general wreck. He has been styled “a grave lawyer, and an honest, learned, and faithful servant of the people, and a useful member of the House of Commons." To him the founders of the Massachusetts Colony and their descendants are greatly indebted, and they should ever gratefully cherish his memory.
Mr. White died in London, on the 29th of January, 1645, aged 54 years and 7 months; and was buried, with great funeral solemnities, in the church belonging to the Temple, " at the high altar, on the Middle Temple side, close to the end where the altar stood.” The members of Parliament, in a body, accompanied his remains to the grave. A marble slab was placed over his body, on which was inscribed :
“Here lyeth a John, a burning, shining light,
His name, life, actions, were all White.