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HARDCASTLE, THOMAS (d. 1678?), ejected minister, was born at Berwick-upon-Holm, where he received his education under Jackson, a learned divine. Cole, in his transcript of Dr. Richardson's manuscript ‘List of Cambridge B.A.'s,’ mentions a Thomas Hardcastle graduating B.A. at St. John's College in 1655. In 1662 he held the vicarage of Bramley in Yorkshire, and was ejected by the Act of Nonconformity. He was then quite a young man, and continued to preach in the county, principally at Shadwell, near Leeds, but also at Wakefield, Pontefract, Hull, Beverley, York, &c. For several years he had been chaplain to Lady Barwick of Toulston, who, with her son-in-law, Henry Fairfax (1588–1665) [q. v.] , rector of the adjoining parish of Newton Kyme, remained his friend through many troubles. He suffered frequent imprisonment for his nonconformity, or ‘dangerous and seditious practices’ (State Papers, Dom. Charles II, clxxiv. 13. I.) In 1665 he was in Leeds Castle; on 1 Sept. 1666 he was removed by royal warrant to Chester; and on 26 Sept., in a letter from Sir Francis Cobb, high sheriff of Yorkshire, to Sir Geoffrey Shakerley, governor of the castle, mention is made of his having been used ‘very civilly till he broke his parroll’ (ib. clxxiii. 24). He was sent to Chester Castle on 30 Sept. 1666, and was still there on 23 Sept. of the following year. In January 1668 he was in confinement at Wakefield, in May 1668 again at Leeds, and then in York Castle, where he remained eight months. ‘Because he would not give bond to preach no more,’ he was removed thence to Chester Castle, where he was for fifteen months a close prisoner.

From Chester he was released without bonds by order of the king, upon which he went to London, was baptised, and joined Henry Jessey's baptist congregation. In 1670 he was imprisoned for six months in London under the Conventicle Act. The congregation at Broadmead, Bristol, meanwhile sought his services as pastor. His London congregation had only appointed him upon trial, but the suggestion that he should go to Bristol caused disputes between the two congregations, which lasted some years. On his release in March 1671, it was decided that he should visit Bristol for one month, and he did so in the following May. While there the whole congregation signed a call to him to remain with them, and presented it to him as he was leaving. The London church straightway elected Hardcastle assistant pastor, but he declined the post on 3 July 1671, and 31 July started for Bristol without obtaining ‘any letter of dismission.’ The place of meeting in Bristol having been let for a warehouse, rooms were taken on Lamb's Pavement, at the lower end of Broadmead (20 Aug. 1671). The present chapel is built on this site. In May 1674, after a three years' trial, it was desired that Hardcastle should be ordained, but his ‘dismission’ from London was still refused. In October of the same year measures to break up the meetings in Bristol were taken by Bishop Carleton, and the ministers were summoned to appear before the magistrates. The four dissenting congregations had each a license for its place of worship and its pastor, but the licenses to dissenters were made void in February 1675. On Sunday the 14th Hardcastle and others were taken while preaching, and the following day committed to Newgate prison in the town. In May Hardcastle was removed under a writ of habeas corpus to London, and was tried at Westminster on the 15th of the month, returning on 4 June to Bristol, where he remained in prison till 2 Aug. 1675. The following Sunday he preached at Bristol, and was convicted under the Five Mile Act, but allowed to depart; on 15 Aug. he preached again, and was sent to prison for six months, although permitted at the end of August to be detained in his own house.

While in confinement he preached privately to members of his church, and wrote weekly letters, which were read at the public services. On 30 Jan. 1676, when again at liberty, he preached openly and remained unmolested. On 6 April 1678 the church in London made a new and vain attempt to attach Hardcastle to its service. According to the ‘Broadmead Records’ he died suddenly on Sunday, 29 Sept. 1678. He married a daughter of Lieutenant-general Gerard, and on 6 Nov. after his death a son was born, probably the Joshua Hardcastle whom Walter Wilson mentions (manuscript collections in Dr. Williams's Library) as minister at Bradford in 1738. Hardcastle was a man of courage, broad in his views, seeking rather to reconcile differences than to enter into controversy. He joined with Edward Bagshaw in an ‘Advertisement to the Reader’ for the concordance commenced by his brother-in-law, Vavasor Powell, and published in 1671; 2nd edition, 1673. He published: 1. ‘Christian Geography and Arithmetic, or a True Survey of the World. Being the substance of some Sermons preached in Bristol,’ 1674. 2. The preface to some tracts by Richard Garbutt, entitled ‘One come from the Dead to awaken Drunkards,’ 1675. In the library of the Bristol Baptist College are preserved in a manuscript volume, (1) ‘Thirty-five Catechetical Lectures addressed to the Young,’ 8 Oct. 1671 to 6 Oct. 1672; (2) ‘Ten Sermons on Colossians,’ 1672 (incomplete); (3) ‘Sermon on Eccles. xii. 1,’ 1672, all by Hardcastle. He was probably the author of ‘A Sober Answer to an Address of the Grand Jurors of the City of Bristol,’ published anonymously in 1675.

[Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, 1802, iii. 426, 427; Ivimey's Hist. of the English Baptists, 1814, ii. 532, 533, 534; Hardcastle's Christian Geography and Arithmetic; R. Slate's Select Nonconformist Remains, 1814, p. 29; Slate's Memoirs of the Rev. Oliver Heywood (prefixed to his works), 1827, p. 131; J. Hunter's Rise of the Old Dissent, 1842, pp. 166, 206, 207, 209; Records of Broadmead (edited by E. B. Underhill for the Hanserd Knollys Society), 1847, pp. 107, 122, 131, 133, 149, 157, 158, 164, 188, 189, 196, 213, 216, 217, 220, 222, 240, 243, 252, 253, 272, 273, 284, 380, 387, 391; Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 5885 p. 133, 24484 p. 116; Josiah Thompson's MS. Hist. of Protestant Dissenting Churches (in Dr. Williams's Library), ii. 146; Walter Wilson's MS. Collections (in Dr. Williams's Library), supplementary vol. p. 78; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books; Cat. of Bodleian Library; Cat. of Library of Bristol Education Society; information kindly supplied by the Rev. G. D. Evans, librarian of the Bristol Baptist College; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. vol. for 1666–7 pp. 88, 160, 177, vol. for 1667 pp. 463, 475.]

B. P.