Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Danvers, Henry (d.1687)

DANVERS, HENRY (d. 1687), anabaptist and politician, appears to have been a colonel in the parliament army and also governor of Stafford and a justice of the peace, some time before the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell; and it is said that he was ‘well beloved among the people, being noted for one who would not take bribes.’ It was at this time that he embraced the principles of the baptists and of the Fifth-monarchy men, though it is recorded that he could not concur in the practices of the latter. In 1657, when he held the rank of major, he, with Major-general Harrison, Vice-admiral Lawson, Colonel Rich, and other anabaptists, was placed under arrest on suspicion of being concerned in a conspiracy against Cromwell's life (Thurloe's State Papers, iv. 629; Rapin, Hist. of England, ed. 1730, xiii. 124). After the Restoration he appears to have suffered considerably on account of his nonconformity. As he possessed an estate of about 400l. a year, he vested it in trustees in order that it might not be claimed by his persecutors (Crosby, English Baptists, iii. 90–7). In the reign of Charles II he was joint-elder of a baptist congregation near Aldgate (Wilson, Dissenting Churches, i. 393–5). In December 1684 he published a seditious libel concerning the death of the Earl of Essex, and the government offered a reward of 100l. for his apprehension (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, i. 324; Salmon, Chronological Historian, 3rd edit. i. 232).

In the reign of James II he attended some private meetings held to promote the treasonable designs of the Duke of Monmouth. Macaulay describes Danvers as being ‘hot-headed, but fainthearted, constantly urged to the brink of danger by enthusiasm, and constantly stopped on that brink by cowardice. He had a considerable influence among a portion of the baptists, had written largely in defence of their peculiar opinions, and had drawn down on himself the severe censure of the most respectable puritans by attempting to palliate the crimes of Matthias and John of Leyden. It is probable that had he possessed a little courage he would have trodden in the footsteps of the wretches whom he defended. He was at this time (1684–5) concealing himself from the officers of justice; for warrants were out against him on account of a grossly calumnious paper of which the government had discovered him to be the author’ (Hist. of England, ed. 1883, i. 256, 257). Danvers undertook to raise the city of London in favour of Monmouth. At first he excused his inaction by saying that he would not take up arms till the duke was proclaimed king, and when Monmouth had been proclaimed, turned round and declared that good republicans were absolved from all engagements to a leader who had so shamefully broken faith. On 27 July 1687 a royal proclamation was issued commanding Danvers and others to appear before his majesty or to surrender themselves in twenty days (Luttrell, i. 355; Salmon, i. 238). Danvers succeeded in escaping to Holland, and died at Utrecht at the close of 1687 (Luttrell, i. 432; Gent. Mag. ccxix. 358).

He wrote: 1. ‘Certain Queries concerning Liberty of Conscience propounded to those Ministers (so called) of Leicestershire, when they first met to consult that representation … afterwards so publiquely fathered upon that country,’ London [27 March 1640], 4to. 2. ‘Theopolis, or the City of God, New Jerusalem, in opposition to the City of the Nations, Great Babylon,’ being a comment on Revelation, chs. xx. xxi. (anon.), London, 1672, 8vo (Wilson, i. 395). 3. ‘A Treatise of Laying on of Hands, with the History thereof, both from the Scripture and Antiquity,’ London, 1674, 8vo. 4. ‘A Treatise of Baptism: wherein that of Believers and that of Infants is examined by the Scriptures,’ 2nd edit. London, 1674, 8vo. This treatise brought upon him a number of adversaries, particularly Wills, Blinman, and Baxter (Orme, Life of Baxter, ed. 1830, p. 688). To these he replied in three distinct treatises in 1675. 5. ‘Murder will out: or, a clear and full discovery that the Earl of Essex did not feloniously murder himself, but was barbarously murthered by others: both by undeniable circumstances and positive proofs,’ London, 1689, 4to. 6. ‘Solomon's Proverbs, English and Latin, alphabetically collected for help of memory. In English by H. D., and since made Latin by S. Perkins, late school-master of Christ Church Hospital,’ new edit. London, 1689.

[Authorities cited above; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

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