Jeremiah Burroughs

Birth Location:
Burial Site:
Churches Served:
  • Lecturer, St Mary's?, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (1627)
  • Rector, Tivetshall, Tivetshall, Norfolk (1631)
  • Minister, English Reformed Church, Amsterdam, Netherlands (1639)
  • Lecturer, Stepney, London, London (1641)
Years in the Assembly:
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Standing Committee:
Other Committees:

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources - Biographical

Biography   ▼

BURROUGHES or BURROUGHS, JEREMIAH (1599–1646), congregational minister, was born in 1599, and educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was admitted pensioner in 1617, and graduated M.A. in 1624. He left the university on account of his nonconformity, and assisted Edmund Calamy [q. v.] as minister at Bury St. Edmunds. On 21 April 1631 Burroughes was instituted to the rectory of Tivetshall, Norfolk. He was suspended for not observing Bishop Wren’s injunctions of 1636, and especially for not reading the ‘Book of Sports.’ He found hospitality for some months under the roof of the Earl of Warwick, and it is said that he offered 40l. to the bishop’s chancellor to take off his suspension; but he was accused of seditious speeches against the Scottish war, and was deprived.

He did not, as is often said, hurry out of the country for fear of his life. He had offers of livings ‘from divers noble friends,’ but in 1637 removed to Rotterdam, to become ‘teacher’ of the English congregational church there. He returned to England in 1641, and became preacher at Stepney at seven o’clock in the morning, and later in the day at Cripplegate. Hugh Peters, who had been a predecessor of Burroughes at Rotterdam, called him the ‘morning star,’ and William Greenhill the ‘evening star’ of Stepney. In the ordinance of 12 June 1643, calling an assembly of divines at Westminster, Burroughes appears in the list of divines. He was one of the seven ‘dissenting brethren’ whose views of church government were congregational, in opposition to the presbyterianism of the majority, and was one of the five who in 1644 presented to parliament the ‘Apologetical Narration,’ the first manifesto of their principles. On 6 Nov. 1645 he was placed on the (second) committee of accommodation; and at its last meeting, 9 March 1646, he declared in the name of independents that they would not concede to the presbyterian ‘classes’ the coercive power claimed for them, but would either ‘suffer’ or emigrate. Burroughes was moderate in his public action. He never attempted to form a ‘gathered church’ or congregation of independents drawn from various parishes, nor did he hold any benefice after his return from Holland, contenting himself with his morning and evening lectureships.

Baxter said that if all the independents had been like Burroughes, all the episcopalians like Ussher, and all the presbyterians like Stephen Marshall, ‘the breaches of the church would soon have been healed.’ Samuel Bury [q. v.] quotes with approval the motto on his study door: ‘Opinionum varietas et opinantium unitas non sunt asystata.’ His chief opponents were Thomas Edwards of the ‘Gangræna’ and John Vicars.

Burroughes died before the assembly had finished its confession of faith. The date usually given of his death is 14 Nov., but Browne quotes from the ‘Perfect Occurrences’ for 13 Nov. 1646: ‘This day Mr. Burrows, the minister, a godly reverend man, died. It seems he had a bruise by a fall from a horse some fortnight since; he fell into a fever, and of that fever died, and is by many godly people much lamented.’ He left a widow. His portrait is engraved by Cross. According to this engraving, on 1 June 1646 he was ‘ætatis suæ 45,’ which would give at earliest 1601, and not 1599, as the year of his birth.

He published: 1. ‘An Exposition with practical Observations on the Prophesie of Hosea,’ 1643–50–52–57, 4 vols. 4to. 2. ‘The Glorious Name of the Lord of Hosts opened,’ 1643, 4to (two sermons from Is. xlvii. 4, at St. Michael’s, Cornhill, vindicating the resort to arms; as postscript is ‘A briefe Answer’ to ‘The Resolving of Conscience,’ &c., 1642, 4to, by Henry Fern, D.D.) 3. ‘A Vindication of Mr. Burroughs against Mr. Edwards his foule Aspersions in his spreading Gangræna … concluding with a brief Declaration what the Independents would have,’ 1646, 4to (Edwards had written against the ‘Apologetical Narration’ presented to the House of Commons in 1644). 4. ‘Irenicum; to the Lovers of Truth and Peace, concerning the causes and evils of Heart Divisions,’ 1646, 4to; another edition, 1653, 4to (the ‘Irenicum’ is often referred to by the running title ‘Heart Divisions opened’), and single sermons. Posthumous were: 5. ‘The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,’ 1648, 4to; with new title-page, 1649; other editions 1650, 1655, 1677, all 4to; reprinted in Ward’s ‘Library of Standard Divinity,’ vol. iv. 6. ‘Gospel-worship,’ 1648, 4to; another edition 1650, 4to. 7. ‘Gospel-Conversation,’ 1648, 4to; other editions 1650, 4to, 1653, 4to (Nos. 6, 7, 8 form a series of 3 vols. of Burroughes’s works, edited by seven leading congregational ministers). 8. ‘The Generation of Quakers,’ Camb. 1648, 12mo (not included in Smith’s ‘Biblioth. Anti-Quakeriana,’ 1872). 9. ‘Moses He’s Self-Denyall,’ 1649, 8vo (treatise on Heb. xi. 24). 10. ‘Moses his Choice,’ 1650, 4to (Brook assigns this to 1641; it is a continuation of the foregoing, being a treatise on Heb. xi. 25, 26). 11. ‘The Evil of Evils; or the exceeding Sinfulness of Sin,’ 1654, 4to. 12. ‘The Saint’s Treasury, being the substance of several Sermons,’ 1654 (Brook); another edition 1656, 4to. 13. ‘Three Treatises,’ 1655, 4to. 14. ‘Earthly Mindedness … and Walking with God,’ 1656, 4to. 15. ‘Gospel Reconciliation,’ 1657, 4to. 16. ‘Four Books on Matt. xi.’ 1659, 4to. 17. ‘The Saint’s Happinesse,’ 1660, 4to. 18. ‘A Treatise of the Excellency of Holy Courage in Evil Times,’ 1661 (Brook); another edition, 1662, 4to. 19. ‘The Difference between the Spots of the Godly and of the Wicked,’ 1668, 8vo. 20. ‘Gospel Remission,’ 1668, 4to; another edition 1674, 4to. 21. ‘Gospel Fear; or the Heart trembling at the Word of God,’ 1674, 8vo. 22. ‘Jerusalem’s Glory … the New Testament Church in the latter days,’ 1675, 8vo. 23. ‘Four useful Discourses and Sermons,’ 1675, 4to. This list, based on Watt’s, is probably incomplete; most of the items have been verified. [Apol. Narr. 1644; Reasons of the Dissenting Brethren, &c. 1648; Bury’s Funeral Sermon for Fairfax, 1702; Neal’s Hist. of the Puritans, Dub. 1759, iii. 242, 295; Brook’s Lives of the Puritans, 1813, iii. 18 sq.; Browne’s Hist. of Congregationalism in Norfolk and Suffolk, 1877, pp. 69, 87, 115; Mitchell’s Westminster Assembly, 1883, pp. 15, 192 sq.; information from Dr. Phear, Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.]

Last updated May 11, 2023