Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burghall, Edward

BURGHALL, EDWARD (d. 1665), puritan, left behind him a diary, called ‘Providence improved,' which throws much light on the state of Cheshire throughout the period of the great rebellion. From this diary the main facts of Burghall's life can also be gathered. Before the civil war he was schoolmaster at Bunbury in Cheshire, and was probably appointed to the post about 1632 (Diary, 12 May 1632, ‘Mr. Cole, schoolmaster of Bunbury, departed this life'). As early as 1556 the name of Burghall is connected with Bunbury, a William Burghall being on the list of pensioners of the chauntry of Bunbury dissolved in 1546 (Ormerod Chesire, ii. 140). The parish school at Bunbury, of which Burghall was master, was founded in 1594, and was endowed with ‘£20 per annum, one house and some land' (ib, 141). The vicar of Bunbury till the year 1629 was William Hinde, a celebrated puritan and biographer of John Bruen of Stapleford. Barlow, who has inserted Burghall/s ‘Diary’ in his ‘Cheshire,’ states that Burghall was the author of Bruen's life (Barlow, Cheshire, p. 150). But there is no mention of Burghall either on the title-page of Bruen's life or in the work itself. It was undoubtedly written by William Hinde, and edited after his death by his son Stephen Hinde, as indeed Barlow in a subsequent note points out (p. 151, n.; see also Wood, Athenæ, ii. 431 , Raine, Introd. to Nicholas Assheton, vol. xv. of Chetham Society). In 1643, during the siege of Nantwich, Burghall says that his goods were seized and himself driven from his home by Colonel Marrow; he thereupon went to Haslington in Cheshire, ‘where he had a call,' and tarried there from 1 May 1644 till 1646 (Diary for 18 March 1644). In the latter year he became vicar of Acton in Cheshire, taking the place of Hunt, who was sequestered (Ormerod, iii. 187). In company with fifty-eight Cheshire ministers he signed the attestatinn to the solemn league and covenant in 1648 (Calamy, Comtinuation, i. 171). In this document his name is spelt Burghah, and by Calamy Burgal. In 1658 he preached and published a sermon at the dedication of the free school at Acton (ib.) From the year 1655 he complains that he was much molested by the quakers, and speaks of their opinions with great asperity (Diary for 1655, 1660; Calamy, Abridgement of Baxter's Life and Times. ii. 128).

When the Act of Uniformity was passed, Durghall, after preaching farewell sermons at his churches of Wrenbury and Acton, was on 3 Oct. 1662 suspended from the vicarage of Acton, and on the 28th his successor Kirks was appointed. The diary ends in the year 1663, when expelled from the vicarage he was reduced to poverty; the last note in the diary complains that he was defrauded of his right to the tithes. A school was formed by public subscription for his maintenance (Ormerod, iii. 185, n.; Lysons, Magna Brit. vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 471, from answers to the queries of Bishop Porteus in the bishops’ registry, 1778). Burghall died 8 Dec. 1665, steadfast in his religious faith (Calamy, Continuation, i. 171). His diary was left in manuscript. It was printed in 1778 in an anonymous ‘History of Cheshire,' in two vols., which incorporated King's ‘Vale Royal’ with this and similar narratives (Lysons, Magna Brit. ii. ii. 466 ; Omerod, iii. 222-8). It is more accessible in Barlow’s ‘Cheshire’ (1855). Its title is ‘Providence improved’ and it begins with the year 1628. Before the civil war the entries only record what the author regarded as the special interventions of Providence in the neighbourhood of Bunbury. In the year 1641 Burghall first notices political events, and afterwards gives a very detailed account of the military operations in Cheshire. The reason was that Byron took his church at Acton and made it a basis for the siege of Nantwich. The narrative throws additional light on some disputed points in the history of the war. Barlow in one of his notes to the diary (many of these notes, he says, were furnished by Mr. Aspland) states that Burghall married a sister of John Bruen, but he does not give any authority for the statement; and all the marriages of Bruen's sisters are shown in Ormerods pedigree of the Bruen family (Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 175).

[Burghall Diary; Omerod's Cheshire; Lysons's Magna Brit. vol. ii. pt. pp, 466-71; Calamy's Abridgement, ii. 128, Continuation, i. 171; Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial, i. 255; Chetham Society's publications vols. viii. and xv.; Account of the Siege of Nantwith (1774).]

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