Polwhele, Theophilus (DNB00)

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POLWHELE or POLWHEILE, THEOPHILUS (d. 1689), puritan divine, of Cornish extraction, was born in Somerset. He was entered at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as a sizar on 29 March 1644, and was under the tutorship of William Sancroft, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. In 1651 he took the degree of M.A. He was preacher at Carlisle until about 1655 (Dedication to Treatise on Self-deniall). In 1654 he was a member of the committee for ejecting scandalous ministers in the four northern counties of Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, and Westmoreland. From that year until 1660, when he was driven from the living, he held the rectory of the portions of Clare and Tidcombe at Tiverton. The statement of the Rev. John Walker, in ‘The Sufferings of the Clergy,’ that he allowed the parsonage-house to fall into ruins, is confuted in Calamy's ‘Continuation of Baxter's Life and Times’ (i. 260–1). Polwhele sympathised with the religious views of the independents, and after the Restoration he was often in trouble for his religious opinions. After the declaration of James II the Steps meeting-house was built at Tiverton for the members of the independent body; he was appointed its first minister, and, on account of his age, Samuel Bartlett was appointed his assistant. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Peter, Tiverton, on 3 April 1689. His wife was a daughter of the Rev. William Benn of Dorchester. Their daughter married the Rev. Stephen Lobb [q. v.]

Polwhele was the author of:

  1. ‘Aὐθέντης, or a Treatise of Self-deniall,’ 1658; dedicated to the mayor, recorder, and corporation of Carlisle.
  2. ‘Original and Evil of Apostasie,’ 1664.
  3. ‘Of Quencing [sic] the Spirit,’ 1667.
  4. ‘Choice Directions how to serve God every Working and every Lord's Day,’ 1667; published by Thomas Mall as an addition to his ‘Serious Exhortation to Holy Living.’
  5. ‘Of Ejaculatory Prayer,’ 1674; dedicated to Thomas Skinner, merchant in London, who had shown him great kindness.

A catalogue of the ‘names of the princes with Edward III in his wars with France and Normandy,’ transcribed by him ‘att Carlisle the 21st Aug. 1655,’ from a manuscript at Naworth Castle, is in Rawlinson MS. Bodl. Libr. Class B 44, fol. 47.

[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 517–518, iii. 1316–17; Dunsford's Tiverton, pp. 331, 371–2; Harding's Tiverton, vol. ii. pt. iv. pp. 47, 70; Calamy's Abridgment of Baxter's Life and Times, ii. 239, and Continuation, i. 260–1; Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial (1802 ed.), ii. 79–80; Greene's Memoir of Theophilus Lobb, p. 5.]

W. P. C.