- Cartwright, Thomas
- (153 5-1603)Puritan leader who helped found Presby-terianismThomas Cartwright was born in Hertfordshire, England. He attended Cambridge University, where in 1569 he was appointed as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. Almost immediately, he began to advocate the Presbyterian brand of Puritanism in his classes, and was dismissed the following year. He then journeyed to Geneva, the center of Reformed/Presbyterian teachings and conferred with Theodore de Beza and others. Upon his return to England, he presented the "Admonitions to Parliament" (1570, 1571) calling for the adoption of the presbyterian system of church government. He was opposed by Bishop John Wright (c. 1530-1604), later archbishop of Canterbury, the prominent defender of the Anglican system.Ordered to appear before an ecclesiastical court, in 1574 he returned to Geneva. Upon his return to England, he settled among the Puritans at Middleburg. Here, in 1580, he fought against the teachings of Robert Browne (who advocated a congregational system of church governance and separation of the church from state authority), forcing Browne to withdraw from Middleburg.in 1583-84, Cartwright worked with Walter Travers (c. 1548-1635) to construct the Book of Discipline for the Presbyterian Puritans. The book found enough support by the end of the decade that the authorities moved against Cartwright and attempted to destroy all copies.in 1590, Cartwright was imprisoned but released in 1592 in poor health and allowed to retire peacefully to the island of Guernsey. He died at Warwick in 1603.Further reading:■ Stephen Brachlow, The Communion of Saints: Radical Puritan and Separatist Ecclesiology 1570-1625. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)■ Patrick Collinson, The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (New York: St. Martin's, 1988)■ William Haller, The Rise of Puritanism; or The Way to New Jerusalem as Set Forth in Pulpit and Press from Thomas Cartwright to John Lilburne and John Milton, 1570-1643 (New York: Harper, 1957)■ A. F Scott Pearson, Thomas Cartwright and Elizabethan Puritanism, 1535-1603. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1925).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.