Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stalham, John
STALHAM, JOHN (d. 1681), puritan divine, was born in Norfolk, and although he is said to have been educated at Oxford, is doubtless the John Stalham who became sizar of Christ's College, Cambridge, April 1617 (B.A. 1620–1, M.A. 1624), and whose son John, admitted to the same college in 1667, was born at Terling, where the puritan divine was beneficed. He was ‘first preacher of the gospel’ at Edinburgh, and on 5 May 1632 was instituted vicar of Terling, Essex, in place of Thomas Weld, who had been deprived by Laud. Calamy says Stalham was ‘of strict congregational principles.’ With two neighbouring ministers, John Newton of Little Baddow, and Enoch Gray of Wickham, Stalham held a debate on infant baptism on 11 Jan. 1643 at Terling, his opponents being Timothy Batt, a physician, and Thomas Lambe, a ‘sope boyler,’ both of London. Stalham published an account of it, ‘The Svmme of a Conference,’ &c. (London, 1644, 4to), which he dedicated to the Westminster assembly of divines. Samuel Oates, father of Titus Oates [q. v.], paid him a visit in 1647, whereupon Stalham wrote ‘Vindiciæ Redemptionis in the Fanning and Sifting of Samuel Oates’ (London, 1647, 4to), in repudiation of Oates's Arminian doctrine. By the date of the publication Oates was in Colchester gaol.
Stalham became in 1654 assistant to the county commissioners for the removal of scandalous ministers. He wrote much against the quakers, issuing tracts entitled ‘Contradiction of the Quakers to the Scriptures,’ Edinburgh, 1655, 4to (answered by Richard Farnworth [q. v.] in ‘The Scriptures Vindication against Scotish Contradictors,’ London, 1655, 4to); and ‘The Reviler Rebuked, or a Reinforcement of the Charge against the Quakers,’ London, 1657, dedicated to Cromwell (answered by Richard Hubberthorn [q. v.] in ‘The Rebukes of a Reviler fallen upon his own Head,’ 1657, 4to; and by George Fox in ‘The Great Mistery,’ 1659, 4to). Stalham afterwards issued ‘Marginall Antidotes, to be affixed over against … the Rebukes of a Reviler,’ London, 1657, 4to.
Stalham was ejected from Terling by the act of uniformity in 1662, but remained there as pastor of an influential congregational church until his death in 1681. Some years later the congregation was described as numbering two hundred, of whom twenty had votes for the county.
His widow, Anna, died in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn, in 1682 (Administration Act Book, 1682).
Besides the works mentioned above, Stalham edited a portion of ‘Unio Reformantium,’ an unfinished work consisting of four parts, by John Beverley, pastor of Rothwell, Northamptonshire. Stalham was joint editor of a portion of the second part entitled ‘Examen Hoornbecki,’ published in Latin in June 1659; and edited the third part, entitled ‘The Presbyterian and Independent Vindicated,’ published in English in November 1659.[Stalham's Works and those written in reply; Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, ii. 220; Newcourt's Repert. Eccles. ii. 578; Parnell's Fruits of a Fast, p. 6; Smith's Bibliotheca Antiquakeriana, p. 407; Steven Crisp and his Correspondents, by the present writer, pp. 6, 7; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 1065; Calamy's Account, pp. 304; Davids's Annals of Evangelical Nonconform. in Essex, pp. 318, 486, 574; Kennett's Register, p. 792; Division of the County of Essex into Classes, p. 21.]