Weld, Thomas (1590?-1662) (DNB00)

WELD, WELDE, or WELLS, THOMAS (1590?–1662), puritan divine, was born in the south of England about 1590, and educated at Cambridge, where he graduated in 1613. He was instituted vicar of Terling, Essex, in 1624. On 10 Nov. 1629 he joined in the puritan petition to William Laud [q. v.], then bishop of London, in favour of Thomas Hooker [q. v.] On 3 Sept. 1631 he was deprived by Laud for nonconformity, and succeeded by John Stalham [q. v.] He emigrated to New England, arriving at Boston on 5 June 1632. In July he was appointed ‘pastor’ of First Roxbury, Massachusetts. On 5 Nov. John Eliot [q. v.], ‘the Indian apostle,’ was associated with him as ‘teacher.’ He was a member of the ‘assembly of the churches’ (the first of the puritan synods of New England) which met for three weeks at Newtown (renamed Cambridge in 1638), and condemned on 30 Aug. 1637 the antinomian views of John Wheelwright (1592?–1679) of Braintree, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Anne Hutchinson [q. v.] In the interval between the two trials of Mrs. Hutchinson before the civil court at Newtown (October 1637) and the ecclesiastical court at Boston (15 March 1638), she was detained in Weld's charge at Roxbury under sentence of banishment.

In July 1638 John Josselyn [q. v.] brought to Boston from Francis Quarles [q. v.] a new metrical version of six psalms. This suggested the preparation of a psalter to supersede Sternhold and Hopkins. Weld took part in the work (which Neal calls ‘a mean performance’) with Eliot and Richard Mather [q. v.] It was published as ‘The Whole Booke of Psalmes, faithfully translated into English Metre,’ 1640, 8vo; no place or printer is given, but it was printed at Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Stephen Daye [q. v.] Known as the ‘Bay Psalm Book,’ it is memorable as the first volume printed in the American colonies. In August 1641 Weld was sent to England with Hugh Peters [q. v.] as one of the agents of the colony. He visited Laud in the Tower, claiming redress for former grievances. Laud ‘remembered no such thing’ (Burton, Grand Impostor Unmasked, [1645]). In 1642 he accompanied Peters in the Irish expedition under Alexander, lord Forbes.

Being in London in 1644 he met with an account of the Wheelwright and Hutchinson case, ‘newly come forth of the presse,’ with title ‘A Catalogue of Erroneous Opinions condemned in New England,’ 1644, 4to (reprinted 1692), ‘and, being earnestly pressed by diverse to perfect it,’ he added a preface and a conclusion. It was issued as ‘A Short Story of the Rise, Reign, and Ruin of the Antinomians, Familists, & Libertines, that infected the Churches of Nevv-England,’ 1644, 4to. It has been conjectured that the main account was drawn up by John Winthrop [q. v.] Wheelwright replied in ‘Mercurius Americanus,’ 1645, 4to. In 1646 Weld was relieved of his agency and recalled to New England. He did not return, and appears to have remained in London.

In 1649 he was put into the rectory of St. Mary's, Gateshead. Here he took part with William Durant (d. 1681), Samuel Hammond, D.D. [q. v.], and others, in controversy with quakers and in exposing the imposture of Thomas Ramsay [q. v.] According to the church books his connection with Gateshead ceased in 1657; it is not improbable that he made some stay in Ireland. He signed the declaration against the insurrection of fifth-monarchy men issued (January 1661) by congregational ministers ‘in and about the city of London.’ His successor at Gateshead (John Laidler) was not presented till 16 March 1660–1. Weld is said to have died in England on 23 March 1661–2. He was twice married. His eldest son, Thomas Weld, graduated M.A. at Harvard in 1641, and remained in New England. Another son, Edmund Weld, graduated at Harvard in 1650, became one of Cromwell's chaplains in Ireland, was independent minister at Kinsale, co. Cork, in 1655, and later at Blarney Castle, co. Cork, and died in 1668, aged 37. This Edmund Weld was father of Nathaniel Weld (1660–1730), independent minister at Eustace Street, Dublin, and grandfather of Isaac Weld (1710–1778), his successor, whose grandsons were Isaac Weld [q. v.] and Charles Richard Weld [q. v.]

Besides the above he published: 1. ‘An Answer to W. R. his Narration of the Opinions and Practises of the Churches … in New England,’ 1644, 4to; William Rathband the elder (d. 1645) had treated the disorders above mentioned as the natural result of independency. 2. ‘The Perfect Pharisee under Monkish Holines … in the Generation … called Quakers,’ Gateside [Gateshead], 1653, 4to; reprinted London, 1654, 4to, by Weld, Richard Prideaux, Hammond, William Cole, and Durant. 3. ‘A False Jew,’ Newcastle, 1653, 2 pts. 4to; account of Ramsay, by Weld, Hammond, C. Sidenham, and Durant. 4. ‘A further Discovery of that Generation … called Quakers,’ Gateside [Gateshead], 1654, 4to. 5. ‘A Vindication of Mr. Weld,’ 1658, 4to; in reply to Wheelwright.

[Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1889, vi. 425; Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 288; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 454; Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, 1702, iv. 137, vii. 17; Neal's Hist. of New England, 1720, i. 188; Hutchinson's Hist. of Massachuset's Bay, 1765, p. 66; Brand's Newcastle, 1789, i. 499; Surtees's Durham, 1820, ii. 118; Armstrong's Appendix to Martineau's Ordination, 1829, pp. 81–2; Hanbury's Historical Memorials, 1844, iii. 592; Uhden's New England Theocracy (Conant), 1858, p. 100; Davids's Nonconformity in Essex, 1863, pp. 154, 574; Reid's Hist. Presb. Church in Ireland (Killen), 1867, ii. 558; Smith's Bibliotheca Anti-Quakeriana, 1873, p. 445; Witherow's Hist. and Lit. Mem. of Presbyterianism in Ireland, 1879 i. 126 sq., 1880 ii. 114 sq.; Massachusetts Hist. Collections, 3rd ser. i. 236; Savage's Genealogical Dict. iv. 459, 473; Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892, p. 119.]

A. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.277
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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161 i 17 Weld, Thomas (1590?-1662): for America read Americana