Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shaw, John (1608-1672)

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SHAW or SHAWE, JOHN (1608–1672), puritan divine, only child of John Shawe (d. December 1634, aged 63) by his second wife, was born at Sick-House in the chapelry of Bradfield, parish of Ecclesfield, West Riding of Yorkshire, on 23 June 1608. His mother was Emot, daughter of Nicholas Stead of Onesacre in the same chapelry. In 1623 he was admitted pensioner at Christ's College, Cambridge, his tutor being William Chappell [q. v.] Two sermons, by Thomas Weld [q. v.], at a village near Cambridge, made him a puritan before he had taken his degree. Driven from Cambridge by the plague in 1629, he was ordained deacon and priest (28 Dec.) by Thomas Dove [q. v.], bishop of Peterborough. He commenced M.A. in 1630. His first charge was a lectureship in the then chapelry of Brampton, Derbyshire, hitherto supplied only by a 'reader.' His diocesan Thomas Morton (1564-1659), then bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, thought him young for a preaching license, and 'set himself to pose' Shawe in a scholastic examination. 'When he had done,' says Shawe, 'he gave me my hand full of money, and, laying his hand on my head said, 'Your licence shall be this (without demanding any subscription of me), that you shall preach in any part of my diocese, when and where you will.' He remained at Brampton three years (1630-3), occasionally visiting London, where his preaching attracted 'some merchants in the city that were natives of Devonshire.' By their means, Shawe, who was now married, and held the post of chaplain to Philip Herbert, earl of Montgomery and fourth earl of Pembroke [q. v.], was transferred in 1633 to a lectureship to be maintained by London puritans for a term of three years at Chumleigh, Devonshire. His term was not quite expired when the lectureship was suppressed. It is probable that the suppression was due to Laud's interference with the evangelising schemes of the city merchants, but the statement connecting it with the judgment of the court of exchequer (13 Feb, 1633) against the feoffees for buying up impropriations cannot be true [see GOUGE, WILLIAM, D.D.] In 1636 Shaw retired to Sick-House, of which he had become possessed on his father's death. At the instance of Vaux, the lord mayor of York, he was soon appointed lecturer at Allhallows-on-the-Pavement, York. Having preached his first sermon there, he was summoned by the archbishop, Richard Neile [q. v.], who regarded Vaux as his enemy, but moderated his tone on learning that Shawe was Pembroke's chaplain.

On 17 April 1639 Shawe was instituted to the vicarage of Rotherham on Pembroke's presentation, and the earl took him to Berwick as his chaplain. At the pacification of Berwick (28 May) Shawe made the acquaintance of Alexander Henderson (1584?-1646) [q. v.], and improved it in the following year at Ripon, where he acted (October 1640) as chaplain to the English commissioners. He acted as chaplain at Doncaster to Henry Rich, earl of Holland [q. v.], in 1641, when, Holland was engaged in disbanding the army raised against the Scots. Shawe's ministry at Rotherham was disturbed by the outbreak of the civil war. On Sunday, 22 Jan. 1643, while Shawe was in the midst of his sermon, Rotherham was attacked by an armed force. Shawe with his 'man, Robert Gee, lay hid in the steeple of the church.' He fled to Hull, but, having preached there once, he was excluded by the governor, Sir John Hotham [q. v.], as an extreme man. Subsequently he preached before Ferdinando Fairfax, second baron Fairfax [q. v], at Selby. Returning to Rotherham, he was proclaimed a traitor and fined a thousand marks. On the taking of the town (4 May 1643) his wife was imprisoned, but Shawe, after hiding in cellars for three weeks, escaped to Manchester. Here he preached every Friday without pay, He accepted from Sir William Brereton (1604-1661) [q. v.] the rectory of Lymm, Cheshire, but continued to reside in Manchester. He was invited (April 1644) to Cartmel, Lancashire, on a preaching mission, and tells strange stories of the ignorance of the district. On the approach of Rupert (June 1644), Shawe fled to Yorkshire. He was chaplain to the standing committee established after the surrender of York (16 July) for the government of the northern counties, preached in York at the taking of the 'league and covenant' (20 Sept. 1644), and was scribe to the 'assembly of ministers' which met weekly in the chapter-house at York to assist Fairfax in the work of 'casting out ignorant and scandalous ministers.' All the records of this 'assembly' were kept by Shawe, and burned by him 'upon the turn of the times.' Fairfax gave him the rich rectory of Scrayingham, East Riding; he preached there but a short time, and accepted a call to Hull, lecturing first at the low church (St. Mary's), then at the high church (Holy Trinity), with a stipend from the corporation of 150l, and a house. He lectured on Wednesdays and Sundays, and preached to the garrison. It appears that he was a congregationalist in his ideas of church government, for his parishioners petitioned parliament about his gathering a particular church, In 1646 he was at Newcastle-on-Tyne, as chaplain of the parliamentary commissioners to Charles I. In 1651, through the interest of Sir William Strickland, he was appointed master of the Charter House at Hull with an income of 10l. During the protectorate he preached frequently at Whitehall and Hampton Court. Cromwell admired his preaching, and gave him an augmentation of 100l. a year. He once preached before Richard Cromwell at Whitehall.

When the Restoration came, Shawe was sworn a royal chaplain (25 July 1660). By the end of the year complaints of his services from the officers and garrison of Hull reached Charles II through Sheldon. Shawe was present at the coronation (23 April 1661). On 9 June Sir Edward Nicholas [q. v ] despatched a royal mandate (dated 8 June) inhibiting him from preaching at Holy Trinity, Hull. Shawe went up to London and was introduced to the king by Edward Montagu, second earl of Manchester [q. v.] Charles declined to remove the inhibition, but allowed him to retain his mastership, and promised to provide for him as his chaplain, Shawe then saw Sheldon, who explained that he was looked upon as a clerical leader in the north, and as 'no great friend to episcopacy or common prayer.' Shawe declared that he had never in his life said a word against either, but owned that 'if they had never come in, he would never have fetched them.' Returning to Hull, he preached every Sunday at the Charter House, and drew crowds, in spite of obstructions by the garrison, Finding the situation hopeless, the Uniformity Act being now passed (19 May 1662), he resigned the Charter House, closed his accounts with the corporation, whom he left nearly 1,000l. in his debt, and removed on 20 June to Rotherham. Here, till the act came into force (24 Aug.), he conducted services in the parish church alternately with the vicar, Luke Clayton (d. 1674),

Henceforth he preached only in private houses. His means were ample. Calamy notes his 'brave presence' and 'stupendous [sic] memory;' he had the 'Book of Martyrs' at his fingers' ends. He died on 19 Apr. 1672, and was buried in Rotherham parish church, where a brass (now missing) bore a Latin inscription to his memory, describing him as a Barnabas and a Boanerges. He married, first, on 13 Dec. 1632, Dorothy Heathcote (d. 10 Dec. 1657) of Cutthorpe Hall, Derbyshire, by whom he had six daughters, and a son who died in infancy; secondly, on 19 Dec. 1659, Margaret, daughter of John Stillington of Kelfield, a lady of high family, by whom he had one daughter, and a son John, born 9 Feb. 1663, died unmarried December 1682.

He published, besides quarto sermons, 'Mistris Shawe's Tomb-stone, or the Saint's Remains,' &c. [June] 1668, 8vo, a memoir of his first wife. His autobiography, written for his son, was edited by John Broadley (from a transcript by Ralph Thoresby) as 'Memoirs of the Life of John Shawe,' &c., Hull, 1824, 12mo, re-edited for the Surtees Society, 1875; and again re-edited by the Rev. J. R. Boyle, Hull, 1882, 4to. A manuscript volume of his sermons was (1868) in the vestry library of Park Street chapel, Hull. [Memoirs, ed. Boyle, 1882; Shawe's publications; Calamy's Abridgment, 1702, p. 451; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 823 sq. (chiefly condensed from the manuscript autobiography); Hunter's Oliver Heywood, 1842, p. 316; Miall's Congregationalism in Yorkshire, 1868, pp. 290 sq .; Blazeby's An Old Vicar of Rotherham, [1894]; information from Rev. W. Blazeby, Rotherham, and Mr. Donald Wilson, Hull.]

A. G.