Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sturgion, John

STURGION, JOHN (fl. 1661), pamphleteer, was at one time a private in Cromwell's lifeguards. On 27 Aug. 1655 he was arrested as the author of a pamphlet against the Protector, called ‘A Short Discovery of his Highness the Lord Protector's Intentions touching the Anabaptists in the Army’ (Thurloe Papers, iii. 738). He was discharged from the lifeguards and for a time imprisoned. In 1656 Major-general Goffe complained that Sturgion's preaching attracted large crowds at Reading (ib. iv. 752). About July 1656 Sturgion and other anabaptists sent an address to Charles II complaining of their sufferings under ‘that loathsome hypocrite,’ the Protector, and announcing their return to their allegiance to the king, begging him also to establish liberty of conscience and abolish tithes (Clarendon, Rebellion, xv. 105; Cal. Clarendon Papers, iii. 145). He was suspected of a share in Sindercombe's plot against Cromwell, became one of Sexby's chief agents, and was arrested on 25 May 1657 with two bundles of ‘Killing no Murder’ under his arms [see Sexby, Edward, and Sindercombe, Miles]. For this he was committed to the Tower, where he remained till February 1659 (Thurloe, vi. 311, 317; Rawlinson MS. A lvii. 413). At the Restoration he was appointed one of the messengers of the court of exchequer (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 104). In October 1662 he petitioned for leave to resign his place to Thomas Benbow, on the ground of bodily infirmity (ib. 1661–2, p. 513). Sturgion was the author of ‘A Plea for Toleration of Opinions and Persuasions in Matters of Religion differing from the Church of England’ (4to, 1661). It is addressed to Charles II, consists largely of extracts from Jeremy Taylor's ‘Liberty of Prophesying,’ and is reprinted in ‘Tracts on Liberty of Conscience,’ edited by E. B. Underhill for the Hanserd Knollys Society in 1846 (p. 312).

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C. H. F.