Fisher, Edward (fl.1627-1655) (DNB00)

FISHER, EDWARD (fl. 1627–1655), theological writer, was the eldest son of Sir Edward Fisher, knight, of Mickleton, Gloucestershire. In 1627 he entered as a gentleman commoner at Brasenose College, Oxford, and graduated B.A. on 10 April 1630. He was noted for his knowledge of ecclesiastical history and his skill in ancient languages. He was a royalist, and a strong upholder of the festivals of the church against the puritans. He based the obligation of the Lord's day purely on ecclesiastical authority, declining to consider it a sabbath. He succeeded to his father's estate in 1654, but finding it much encumbered he sold it in 1656 to Richard Graves. Getting into debt he retired to Carmarthen and taught a school, but his creditors found him out, and he fled to Ireland. Here he died, at what date is not known. His body was brought to London for burial. He was married, but his wife died before him. The only publications which can be safely identified as his are: 1. 'The Scriptures Harmony ... by E. F., Esq.,' &c., 1643, 4to (a tract somewhat on the lines of Hugh Broughton's 'Concent of Scripture,' 1588). 2. 'An Appeale to thy Conscience,' &c., without place, 'printed in the 19th yeare of our gracious lord King Charles,' &c. (British Museum copy dated 20 April 1643; it is quite anonymous, but easily identified as Fisher's). 3. 'The Feast of Feasts, or the Celebration of the Sacred Nativity,' &c., Oxf. 1644, 4to (quite anonymous, but identified as Fisher's by the Bodleian Catalogue, and in his style). 4. 'A Christian Caveat to the old and new Sabbatarians, or a Vindication of our Gospel Festivals . . . By a Lover of Truth; a Defender of Christian Liberty; and an hearty Desirer of Peace, internall, externall, eternall to all men,' &c., 1649 (i.e. 1650), 4to; 4th edit. 1652, 4to, 'By Edward Fisher, Esq.,' has appended 'An Answer to Sixteen Queries touching the . . . observation of Christmass, propounded by Joseph Hemming of Uttoxeter ' (reprinted 'Somers Tracts,' 1748, vol. iv.); 5th edit. 1653, 4to; another edit. 1655, 4to, has appended 'Questions preparatory to the more Christian Administration of the Lord's Supper ... by E. F., Esq.' The 'Caveat,' which reckons Christmas day and Good Friday as of equal authority with the Lord's day, was attacked by John Collinges, D.D. [q. v.], and by Giles Collier [q. v.] Parts of the 'Caveat' were reprinted by the Seventh Day Baptists of America, in 'Tracts on the Sabbath,' New York, 1853, 18mo.

In Tanner's edition of Wood's 'Athenae,' 1721, Fisher is identified with E. F., the author of the 'Marrow of Modern Divinity ' [see Boston, Thomas, the elder]; and the identification has been accepted by Bliss, Hill Burton, and others. It is doubted by Grub, and internal evidence completely disproves it. The author of the 'Marrow' has been described as 'an illiterate barber,' but nothing seems known of him except that in his dedication to John Warner, the lord mayor, he speaks of himself as a 'poore inhabitant' of London. The following publications, all cast into the form of dialogue, and bearing the imprimatur of puritan licensers, may be safely ascribed to the same hand:

  1. 'The Marrow of Modern Divinity … by E. F.,' &c., 1645, 8vo; 4th edit. 1646, 8vo, has recommendatory letters by Burroughes, Strong, Sprigge, and Prittie.
  2. 'A Touchstone for a Communicant … y E. F.,' c., 1647, 12mo (Caryl's imprimatur).
  3. 'The Marrow of Modern Divinity: the Second Part … by E. F.,' &c., 1649, 8vo. The 19th edit, of the 'Marrow' was published at Montrose, 1803, 12mo. It was translated into Welsh by John Edwards, a sequestered clergyman; his dedication is dated 20 July 1650; later editions are Trefecca, 1782, 12mo; Carmarthen, 1810, 12mo.
  4. 'London's Gate to the Lord's Table,' &c., 1647, 12mo; the title-page is anonymous, but the signature 'E. F.' appears at the end of the dedication to Judge Henry Rolle of the pleas, and Margaret his wife.
  5. 'Faith in Five Fundamentall Principles … by E. F., a Seeker of the Truth,' &c., 1650, 12mo.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. 1691 i. 866, 1692 ii. 132; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 407 sq.; Burton's History of Scotland, 1853,ii. 31 7; Grub's Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, 1861, iv. 54; Cox's Literature of the Sabbath Question, 1865, i. 237, &c. ii. 418; Rees's History of Protestant Nonconformity in Wales, 1883, p. 77 (compare Walker's Sufferings, 1714, ii. 237); publications of Fisher and E. F.]

A. G.