Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bagshaw, Edward (1629-1671)

BAGSHAW, EDWARD, the younger (1629–1671), divine and controversialist, the son of Edward Bagshaw [see Bagshaw, Edward, d. 1662], was born at Broughton, Northamptonshire. He was sent to Oxford from Westminster School, having been elected thence a student of Christ Church 1 May 1646. The testimony is unvarying that from his earliest residence in the university he was refractory and self-conceited. He became B.A. in 1649, and M.A. and Senior of the Act in 1651. During this period he made himself conspicuous for his insolent bearing towards the vice-chancellor. He also played a very prominent part in an ill-conducted agitation for the abolition of hoods and caps. He was incorporated in the degree of M.A. at Cambridge in 1664. He was appointed second master of his own former school, Westminster, in 1656, and was confirmed in December 1657. At the time the first master of Westminster was the 'terrible' Dr. Busby. There was swift quarrelling between the two high-tempered masters. Of the curiosities of literature is Bagshaw's now extremely rare vindication of himself, entitled 'A True and Perfect Narrative of the Differences between Mr. Busby and Mr. Bagshaw, the First and Second Masters of Westminster School,' 1659, 4to.

In 1659 he was ordained by the eminent Bishop Brownrigg. He became vicar of Ambrosden, in Oxfordshire; but he elected to be one of the two thousand clergymen ejected in 1662 by the Bartholomew Act of 1661. He was appointed chaplain to the Earl of Anglesey; but again his intractable temper marred his prospects. He crossed over to Ireland to join his patron, and was soon, as Wood acrimoniously puts it, 'gaping after great matters, but without success, and therefore enraged.' On his return to England in December 1662, having fallen to abusing the king and government, church and state, he was put prisoner into the Gatehouse; thence, in January 1663, removed to the Tower, and thence, in January 1664, to Southsea Castle, Hampshire. On his release, in 1664-5, he is found again in London. Dr. Walter Pope, in his 'Life of Bishop Ward,' tells us of this period of his life: 'He was advised by some considerable friends to live peaceable and conformable for the space of a year; who assured him that at the end of it they would provide him some considerable preferment in the church. Accordingly he went and tried, but not being able to hold, he soon repaired to London, much more embittered against ecclesiastical and kingly government than when he went into the country.' He adds: 'He sided tooth and nail with the fanatics, and made a great figure amongst them;' and concludes: 'He exceeded most, if not all of them, in natural and acquired parts.' Palmer on this quaintly remarks (Nonconf. Mem. iii. 111): 'But this writer; was too little acquainted with that sort of people he calls Fanatics to be able to pass a judgment.' He was speedily involved in 'conventicling' and the inevitable 'sedition.' He was again flung into prison — this time Newgate — 'for refusing to take the oath of supremacy and allegiance.' He completed his singular career by marrying, in his old age, a blind gentlewoman, who had fallen in love with him for his preaching. His unreasonableness is proved by the insolent attacks he made upon the venerable Richard Baxter. The title (abbreviated) of the great nonconformist's last answer to these unmeasured attacks will speak for itself: 'The Church told of Mr. Edward Bagshaw's Scandal, and warned of the Dangerous Snares of Satan he has laid for them in his Soul-killing Principles' (1071). Nearly all his title-pages are accusations, if not libels, save when he writes of personal religion. His 'Practical Discourse concerning God's Decrees' (1659), which was dedicated to President Bradshaw, is a very able book; while his 'Saintship no Ground of Sovereignty' (1660) shows plainly he was no fanatic. It was long believed that Bagshaw died in Newgate; but it appears that he was allowed out on parole, and really died in Tothill Street, Westminster, on 28 Dec. 1671. A reference to his death by Richard Baxter, that has become classic, must find place here. 'About the day it ['The Church told '] came out, Mr. Bagshaw died, a prisoner, tho' not in prison; which made it grievous to me to think that I must seem to write against the dead. While we wrangle here in the dark, we are dying, and passing to the world that will decide all controversies; and the safest passage thither is by peaceable holiness.' He was buried in Bunhill Fields, and Dr. John Owen wrote the following inscription for his altar-tomb:—

'Here lies interred, the Body of Mr. Edward Bagshaw, minister of the Gospel, who received faith from God to embrace it, courage to defend it, and patience to suffer for it, which is by most despised and by many persecuted; esteeming the advantage of birth, education, and learning as things of worth to be accounted loss for the knowledge of Christ. From the reproaches of pretended friends, and persecutions of professed adversaries, he took sanctuary, by the will of God, in eternal rest, the 28th December 1671.'

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 944-50; Fasti, ii. 120, 166; Kennett's Parochial Antiquities, 675; Noble's Cont, of Granger, i. 98, note; Calamy's Abridgment, ix. 336; Bridge's Northamptonshire, ii. 87-8; Pope's Life of Seth Ward; Seymour's Survey of London, i. 98; Cole's MS. Athenæ, Y. Incorporations; Alumni West-monasterienses, 125-6; Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial, iii. Ill; 'EλαιοΦορια, or the Peace with Holland, 1654.]

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