Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bagshaw, William
BAGSHAW, WILLIAM (1628–1702), divine, was known as the 'Apostle of the Peak.' One of the most enduring religious chapbooks, though it is rarely to be met with now, was his 'Life and Funeral Sermon' by J. Ashe (1704, 12mo). It is the main source of information concerning him, though even today, in the dales and mountain-sides of Derbyshire, his name is known and honoured. He was born at Litton, in the parish of Tideswell, 17 Jan. 1627-8. He received his early education at 'several country schools,' and made 'greater proficiency in learning than most of his equals.' He received profound religious impressions under the old puritan ministers, Rowlandson of Bakewell and Bourn of Ashover. He was of the university of Cambridge, entering Corpus Christi College. He received holy orders, and preached his first sermon in the chapel of Warmhill, in his native parish. There he remained about three months. Though later he lamented that in his youth he had entered 'too rashly on the awful work,' his labours in and out of the pulpit proved singularly acceptable. From Tideswell he removed to Attercliffe, in Yorkshire. Here he occupied a twofold post, viz. assistant to the Rev. James Fisher of Sheffield, and chaplain in the family of Colonel (afterwards Sir) John Bright. He was ordained at Chesterfield, Derbyshire, on 1 Jan. 1650. Some time after he was presented to the living of Glossop. After the Restoration the Act of Uniformity left him no choice but to withdraw from his beloved church and congregation. He was one of the two thousand ejected in 1662.
Upon the ejection he retired to Ford, in an adjacent parish. He was well-born and possessed of a 'good estate,' and lived as a country gentleman. He stood fast to his nonconformity; but his 'moderation was known to all men.' He attended the parish church. But holding his 'orders' to be 'divine and indefeasible,' he did not hesitate to 'preach the Gospel' as opportunity offered, in his own private house and those of friends, and reguarly conducted service on Thursday evenings. He held special 'conferences' for devotion and discussion. On the Indulgence of 1672 being promulgated, he felt free to preach regularly in his former parish and in the neighbourhood. He lectured at Ashford, Malcoffe, Middleton, Bradwell, Chalmarton, and Hucklow. When the 'Declaration' was recalled by Charles II, he continued to preach secretly. 'Popish plots' were in the air, and nonconformists were always 'suspect.' Two informers who once disturbed him in a private religious service acknowledged that his 'reverend countenance' struck them with terror. There were several warrants issued against him, but he either escaped elsewhere or the magistrates themselves quashed them. While James II's 'Declaration for Liberty of Conscience' was in force, and through the beginning of William and Mary's reign, he was an incessant preacher and toiler. He died on 1 April 1702, and was buried at Chapel-en-le-Frith. He left an enormous mass of manuscripts behind him (fifty volumes, folio, quarto, and duodecimo), which, it is to be feared, have nearly all perished. His own published books are all short, but now fetch high prices. Their (abbreviated) titles are: 1. 'Waters for a Thirsty Soul, in several sermons on Rev. xxi. 6. 'London, 1653. 2. 'Of Christ's Purchase,' to which is prefixed his 'Confession of Faith.' 3. 'Rules for our Behaviour every Day and for sanctifying the Sabbath, with Hints for Communicants.' 4. 'The Ready Way to prevent Sin,' on Prov. xxx. 22, with 'A Bridle for the Tongue,' on St. Matt. X. 36. 5. The 'Miner's Monitor.' 6. The 'Sinner in Sorrow and the Humble Sinner's Modest Request.' 7. 'Brief Directions for the Improvement of Infant Baptism.' 8. The 'Riches of Grace,' three parts. 9. 'Trading Spiritualized,' three parts. 10. 'De Spiritualibus Pecci: Notes concerning the Work of God, and some that have been walkers together with God in the High Peak of Derbyshire,' a peculiarly interesting biographic work (London, 1702). 11. 'Principiis Obsta,' 1671. 12. 'Sheet for Sufferers.' 13. 'Matters for Mourning'—posthumous. 14. 'Essays on Union to Christ,' which appeared after his death.[Palmer's Nonconf. Mem. i. 405-10; Ashe's Life and Character; local researches; Dr. Grosart's collection of Bagshaw's works.]