Mrs Elizabeth Bury was born about the Second of March, 1644, at Clare in the County of Suffolk, and was baptized the Twelfth.[1]

Her father was Captain Adams[2] Lawrence of Lynton in Cambridgeshire;[3] a very graceful person, of good character and great integrity,[4] who died June 13, 1648.[5]

Her mother was Mrs Elizabeth Cutts,[6] daughter of Henry Cutts, Esquire, of Clare, aforesaid; a person learned in the Law, yet a great peacemaker amongst his neighbours and a zealous promoter of the interest of the gospel;[7] who died August 23, 1657, and his most eminent consort after him, August 5, 1667.[8]

These were the holy and happy parents of Mrs Elizabeth Bury, who not only bare their earthly, but much more their heavenly image.[9]

Her mother was a person well known to myself, and celebrated, I think, by most that knew her for her great sagacity and penetration,[10] as well as her great piety and zeal in religion. She was an eminently serious, heavenly and experienced Christian, an ornament to her family, a blessing to her children, and the delight of all her friends. She lived long to adorn her profession, to exemplify religion, and to testify to her constancy and resolution for the interest of Christ. Her conversation[11] was pleasant and profitable; her expectations of a better life were steady, and for many years unshaken; her trials were many and her faith victorious. The constant tenor, course and business of her life, the solemn transactions between God and her soul, her sweet and near communion with God, the full acquaintance she had with herself, and the weekly solemn remembrance she had of her family in her closet, would fully appear by her own papers, which have been lately put into my hands.

By her first husband, Lawrence,[12] she had several children:–

Anne, the first, who married Mr Stavely, a citizen of London, and died six weeks after, July 12, 1660, much lamented by her friends, being a person of early piety, ripe judgment, and quick parts[13] and capacity.

Elizabeth, the second, of whom you have the following narrative.

Adams, the third, who was born October 1647 and died the August following.[14]

Mary, fourth, who married Mr John Mason, of St Ives, Huntingdonshire; a person of true piety, but harassed with various exercises in different scenes of life. She died June 29, 1717.

The mother, about three years after the death of her husband Lawrence,[15] was married again to the Reverend Mr Nathaniel Bradshaw,[16] Bachelor of Divinity and one of the senior Fellows of Trinity College in Cambridge;[17] a person (saith Dr Calamy)[18] eminently holy; a strict observer of the Sabbath, and a laborious[19] catechist in his family, to whom he constantly expounded the Scripture morning and evening; a Boanerges,[20] well adapted to the people of Wivelingham[21] in Cambridgeshire, to whom he preached;[22] whom he found very profane and ignorant, but in a little time had numerous seals given to his ministry among them.[23] He left his living of between three and four hundred pounds per annum for the ease and safety of his conscience, August 24, 1662.[24] He died October 16, 1690 in the seventy-first year of his age.

By him she had six children.

The first was Thomas, born March 26, 1652, who died April 15 following.

The second was Elizabeth,[25] a serious, circumspect, judicious and exemplary Christian; a common and compassionate nurse to her family and friends, often bowed down with fears and jealousies as to her spiritual state; a person of great knowledge, quick parts and tender affections; frugal in her expenses, that she might be charitable to others. Her own papers (left in my hands) show her frequent and close trials of her heart and state, the grounds of her fears, her secret sorrows, and good hope through grace. She died of a painful asthma[26] (in a single state) March 29, 1720.

The third was Catherine,[27] who was married to the Reverend Mr Thomas Salmon, Rector of Mepsall in Bedfordshire, [28] and is the only survivor of her family,[29] walking in the same steps, and hoping for the same blessedness with the perfect.[30]

The fourth was Nathaniel, born August 24, 1656, who died September 5 following.[31]

The fifth was Dorothy, who married Mr Serjeant Hook, sometimes Chief Justice of Wales.[32] She was a person of excellent parts, great conduct, eminent piety, and most indefatigable diligence in instructing her children in the principles and practice of religion; she made a very comfortable exit, December 8, 1693. [33]

The sixth and last was Anne,[34] a person much esteemed for her fineness of parts, great improvements[35] and remarkable piety. She died very much lamented, April 21, 1689.[36]

The mother herself died full of grace and years,[37] October 7, 1697, aged 78. [38]


[1] There are no extant parish records or bishops’ transcripts of baptisms performed during 1640–53 for the parish of Clare.

[2] A contraction of ‘Adamus’, a latinized form. He was usually referred to as Adam.

[3] Linton, about 16 miles west of Clare and 3 miles south of Balsham.

[4] ‘Lawrence was a friend of Richard Baxter’s, and when Baxter became chaplain to Whalley’s regiment, in the summer of 1645, he found Lawrence the only orthodox officer in the regiment’ (Firth). Baxter ‘struggled hard to convert his flock of sectarian troopers to the ways of orthodox Presbyterianism…Not content with the task of converting Whalley’s regiment, Baxter extended his evangelizing efforts to the general’s regiment [i.e. Fairfax’s]…and he met a still colder reception from the officers. Only Captain Adam Lawrence helped him. All the other officers were against him’ – C.H. Firth, The Later History of the Ironsides, (London, 1901). ‘The most of the service I did beyond Whalley’s regiment was, by the help of Capt. Lawrence, with some of the General’s regiment’; ‘My purpose was to have done my best, first to take off that regiment I was with, and then, with Captain Lawrence, to have tried upon the General’s’ (Baxter).

[5] He died in Fairfax’s initial assault on the Royalists at Colchester. ‘Disbrowe and four troops of the regiment were amongst the forces which besieged Colchester, and on June 13, when Fairfax’s attempt to carry the town by assault was bloodily repulsed, Baxter’s orthodox friend, Captain Adam Lawrence, was killed. The vacant troops went to either John Gladman or William Disher’ (Firth).

[6] Cutts was her maiden name. She was baptized at the parish church of Clare on September 28, 1619; in the parish register the spelling of her and her father’s name is recorded as ‘Cuttes’. Elizabeth Cutts married Adam Lawrence at the parish church of Clare on August 2, 1641. The entry in the register has ‘Adam Lawrance, Gent’ and ‘Elizabeth Cutts Mes [mistress]’. She was twenty-one. Spufford in The World of Rural Dissenters, 1520–1725 (Cambridge, 1994) puts the groom at sixty years of age, which, if correct, identifies him as Thomas Lawrence’s son, Adamus, baptized June 29, 1581, at Balsham, Cambridgeshire; however, it is a little difficult to envisage him in command of a troop of horse and leading men into the battle in his mid- to late-sixties.

[7] Suffolk and North Essex had a strong Puritan and Presbyterian constituency from the time of Queen Elizabeth, with Presbyterian classes operating in Bury St Edmunds and Dedham until suppressed. The great champion of the Presbyterian cause in Suffolk during the 1640s was the Puritan Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston (1588–1653) of Ketton (now Kedington) and Clare, who was MP for Suffolk in the Long Parliament, and whose grandfather studied under Calvin in Geneva. In 1644 he presented a petition from Suffolk to the House of Commons to settle the Church’s polity, discipline and worship as proposed by the Westminster Assembly. A subsequent petition from 163 ministers in Suffolk and 139 in Essex was presented to the House of Lords beseeching that ‘a form of Church government, according to the Word of God and the example of the best Reformed Churches, may, with all possible speed, be perfected and confirmed.’ Sir Nathaniel took an active part in establishing Presbyterian classes in Suffolk, and was on the parliamentary committee that approved the division of Suffolk and Essex into classical presbyteries, each with fourteen precincts. Sir Nathaniel and his son became members of the Suffolk presbytery. Clare was the centre of one of the precincts, with the minister of the parish church, Roger Cook, being Presbyterian. The names of all parishes, ministers and elders can be found in The County of Suffolke, divided into Fourteen Precincts for Classical Presbyteries (London, 1647).

Samuel Fairclough, pastor at Ketton until ejected in 1662 (succeeded by John Tillotson, later Archbishop of Canterbury), declared of Sir Nathaniel, ‘He had at one time ten or more such servants of that eminency for piety and sincerity, that I never yet saw their like at one time, in any family of the nation; whose obedience joined to their governor’s care, produced so rare an effect, that truly they made his house a spiritual church and temple, wherein were daily offered up the spiritual sacrifices of reading the Word, and prayer, morning and evening, of singing psalms constantly after every meal’ – The Saints Worthiness and the Worlds Worthlessness (London, 1653).

[9] I Corinthians 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

This biographical introduction by Samuel Bury is similar in style and content to others published earlier. There are parallels with The Life and Death of Mrs Katherine Clarke who Died, Anno Domini 1671 by Samuel Clarke (1599–1683), a minister ejected in 1662. This is found in his work The Lives of sundry Eminent Persons in this Later Age (London, 1683).

[10] Mental entrance into any thing abstruse; acuteness.

[11] At this time ‘conversation’ meant more than discourse, which her husband often terms ‘common conversation’. Its primary meaning was the general course of manners; behaviour; deportment, especially as it respects morals. This meaning was extended to keeping company; familiar intercourse; intimate fellowship or association.

[12] Lawrence is the surname.

[13] Qualities; powers; faculties; accomplishments.

[14] The only son of Captain Adam Lawrence, who had recently been killed in action on June 13, 1648. The mother, who was carrying their fourth child, Mary, was thus doubly bereaved, losing husband and only son and heir within a few weeks of each other.

[15] Lawrence is the surname.

[16] Son of Thomas Bradshawe of Bradshaw, Lancashire. The Dictionary of National Biography (1886 and 2004) is surely wrong in stating that Bradshaw was a minister in the neighbourhood and that he and his family removed to Willingham after his ejection. He was the rector at Willingham from 1647, before Elizabeth Lawrence was widowed, and it was from Willingham that he was ejected in 1662.

[17] Admitted pensioner at Trinity College, April 14, 1637; BA 1640–1; MA 1644; Fellow 1645; tutor 1645-7.

[18] Edmund Calamy DD (1671–1732), Presbyterian minister and historian of Dissent, especially of the ministers ejected in 1662.

[19] Diligent in work or service; assiduous.

[20] Mark 3:17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder.

William Burkitt (1650–1703): ‘He was called Boanerges, or a son of thunder, for his zealous and earnest preaching: No wonder then that Herod and the enraged Jews hated him, and were stirred up by Satan to destroy him. For such as are most useful to, and most eminent in the church, are always the objects of Satan’s wrath and anger, and of the persecutor’s rage and fury’ – commentary on Acts 12:2.

[21] Now known as Willingham. The village of Wyvelyngham had a church here in Saxon times. Some of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman remains were incorporated into the present structure. According to hearth tax records, the village had 135 households in 1664 and was ‘one of the most densely populated in the county’ (Spufford).

[22] Bradshaw, a member of the Presbyterian Cambridge Association, was rector of the parish church 1647– 1662 following his institution by Parliament.

[23] Bradshaw reported that he had left behind around 90 devout families following his ejection (Calamy, from the First Church Book of Willingham Old Meeting).

[24] That is, at the Great Ejection of those who could not accept the imposition of the 1662 Prayer Book. Taken together with numbers ejected since the Restoration, nearly two thousand ministers, the vast majority of whom were Presbyterian, were forced to leave the Established Church over the period 1660–62.

After Bradshaw’s ejection no rector lived in the village for the remainder of the century and the parish church was served by curates. Nathaniel Bradshaw continued to ‘preach in his own and other families’ before the ‘providence of God gave him the liberty of a pulpit in a small village, which he us’d with so much prudence and moderation, that he was conniv’d at for about five years’ (Calamy). As noted by Spufford, Willingham was a stronghold of Dissent from the 1660s. Bradshaw moved to London shortly after the marriage of his stepdaughter Elizabeth (1666) but returned after the Act of Toleration (1689) to St Ives, Huntingdonshire and preached weekly in Willingham until his death on October 16 the following year. He was buried in the chancel of the parish church.

[25] Elizabeth Bury’s half-sister; her mother thus bore two daughters named Elizabeth who were contemporaries. She also bore two daughters named Anne who were half-sisters: her first-born and last-born children.

[26] Her death is recorded in Elizabeth Bury’s diary. Elizabeth Bury also suffered from asthma – severe enough on one occasion (March 31, 1714) that she feared death would ensue.

[27] Or Katherine

[28] Thomas Salmon (1648–1706), son of Thomas Salmon, gentleman of Hackney. He entered Trinity College, Oxford, in 1664 where he studied mathematics; BA 1667; MA 1670. In 1673 he obtained the valuable living of Mepsal, or Meppershall, a village south of Shefford, Bedfordshire, and was also rector of Ickleford in Hertfordshire.

He is chiefly remembered for the application of his mathematical mind to music. He produced An essay to the advancement of musick,: by casting away the complexity of different cliffs, and uniting all sorts of musick lute, viol, violin, organ, harpsechord, voice &c. in one universal character (London, 1672), in which he proposed the modern octave system, the substitution of the first seven letters of the alphabet without further additions, and a system of three musical clefs, each stave exactly one octave apart, which proposal ‘if adopted, would have enormously simplified the acquirement of notation’ (Davey). The proposals however received a vitriolic and withering response from professional musicians. In 1688 he produced a treatise on musical temperament, A Proposal to Perform Music in Perfect and Mathematical Proportions. To the very end of his life he was trying to persuade the musical world of the benefits of mathematically-based temperament and gave a lecture and demonstration before the Royal Society in 1705 on ‘Just Intonation’ reported as The theory of musick reduced to arithmetical and geometrical proportions (London, 1705).

He also produced a variety of written works on religious and historical subjects, for example The Catechism of the Church of England, (London, 1699); A Discourse concerning the baptism and education of children, as the best means to advance the religion and prosperity of the nation. Whereunto are annexed Proposals for the settlement of free-schools (London, 1701); Historical collections, relating the originals, conversions, and revolutions of the inhabitants of Great Britain to the Norman Conquest (London, 1706).

The sons of Thomas and Catherine Salmon were justly famous in their own right, and doubtless owed a great deal to the vibrant atmosphere of learning and the pursuit of knowledge in the Salmon household.

[29] Catherine was still alive in 1730, and Samuel Bury left her an annuity in his will. She died the following year.

[30] Hebrews 12:22–23 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

[31] Thus all three of Elizabeth Bury’s brothers and half-brothers died in infancy: Adams, Thomas, and Nathaniel. All her six sisters and half-sisters survived into adulthood: Anne, Mary, Elizabeth(II), Catherine, Dorothy, Anne(II).

[32] Serjeant John Hooke (1655–1712). Born in Drogheda, he was admitted as pensioner at Trinity College, Dublin. He entered Gray’s Inn in 1674, was called to the Bar in 1681 and appointed a judge in 1689 and Serjeant-at-Law in 1700. He was Chief Justice of the Great Sessions of the several Counties of Carnarvon, Anglesey and Merioneth in 1695 and Chief Justice for Anglesey in 1706. His will affirms his ‘zeal for true and pure Christianity and moderation’.

In 1699 Hooke was one of five founder member of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), which met at his house at Lincoln’s Inn for three years, with himself as its first treasurer. The SPCK became the foremost society for co-ordinating the movement for founding and developing charity schools. ‘The interest and unremitting care of these men and their associates during the early years of the Society is profusely illustrated in its minute and letter books. Frequent meetings were called to consider the methods of raising funds and the management of the schools. Justice Hook set out to collect subscriptions’ – Jones, The Charity School Movement (Cambridge, 1938). ‘The five persons of “Honour and Quality” who founded the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 1699 were men conspicuous for their piety and public spirit…Mr Justice Hook, the third of the original members, comes to life in the minutes of the S.P.C.K. as a good friend of the children and a man of robust faith in education…The efforts of the enlightened Mr Justice Hook, one of the five founders of the S.P.C.K., in 1700…to send the brightest of the London children to a grammar school and from there to university or some place of technical instruction, failed not because of the Society’s lack of interest but from a lack of funds’ (Jones).

[33] News of her death reached Elizabeth Bury on December 11, 1693 (q.v.). According to some authorities, John Hooke re-married to a daughter of Major-General Lambert.

[34] Her mother’s first-born (d. 1660) had also been named Anne.

[35] Advancement in moral worth, learning, wisdom, skill or other excellence.

[36] All of the above who were alive in 1682 were remembered in the will of Griffith Lloyd, Elizabeth’s first husband, together with nephews and nieces by Elizabeth’s half-sister Catherine: Nathaniel, Thomas and Elizabeth Salmon.

[37] Genesis 25:8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

[38] Her death is recorded in the diary entry for October 7, 1697.

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