was a zealous nonconformist, and a considerable sufferer under the oppressions of the persecuting prelates. In the year 1569, he and Mr. Nicholas Crane, another puritan minister, were licensed to preach by Bishop Grindal. Their licenses are said to have been granted on condition that they should avoid all conventicles, and all things contrary to the order established in this kingdom. Accordingly, they made the following promise, signed with their own hands:—” I do faithfully ” promise, that I will not, any time hereafter, use any ” public preaching, or open reading, or expounding of the ” scriptures; nor cause, neither be present at, any private ” assemblies of prayer or expounding of the scriptures, or ” ministering the communion in any house, or other place, contrary to the state of religion now by public authority ” established, or contrary to the laws of this realm of England. Neither will I inveigh against any rites or ceremonies used or received by common authority within “this realm.” Such were the conditions on which these divines entered the sacred function! But, surely, if the church of England, so lately separated from the church of Rome, had come immediately from heaven, and been as infallible as its natural parent, the mother church, pretended, it would have been too wisely constructed to require such tyrannical promises of the Lord’s servants.
The two divines were afterwards apprehended and cast into prison for nonconformity, where they remained more than twelve months, and then they were released. But persisting in the same practice, and not keeping to the exact order established in the church of England, Mr. Bonham was again committed to prison, and Mr. Crane was silenced from preaching within the diocese of London; but it floes not appear how long they continued under these ecclesiastical oppressions.
Mr. Bonham was a zealous man in the cause of the reformation. Being concerned for the restoration of a purer ecclesiastical discipline, he, in 1572, united with his brethren in the formation of the presbyterian church at Wandsworth in Surrey. Our divine was afterwards called to endure fresh trials. Mr. Bonham and Mr. Nicholas Standen, another puritan minister, were brought under the tyrannical power of the high commission, and cast into prison for nonconformity. After having continued under confinement a long time, and being deeply afflicted with the sickness of the prison, they presented their petitions to the lords of the council, to which their lordships paid immediate attention. They accordingly addressed a letter to Archbishop Parker and other commissioners, signifying that they should be glad to assist them in any lawful cause against such as refused conformity; yet they did not like men to be so long detained without having their cause examined, and desire them to proceed in such cases more speedily in future. They entreat them to examine the cause of the two complainants, and, in case they should be found so sick that they could not continue in prison without inconvenience, to suffer them to be bailed till their cause should be ended.
This effort of the council seems to have been without any good effect. Undismayed, however, by the first repulse, they made a second application, but in a style much more peremptory. They addressed another letter to the archbishop alone, signifying, that, for good considerations, it was her majesty’s pleasure that Bonham and Standen, committed by his lordship for breach of conformity, should be set at liberty, upon warning to observe the laws in their public ministry in future, or else to abstain from it.
Mr. Strype observes, that, during the above year, these two divines were accused of being concerned in Undertree’s sham plot, and committed to prison; but, upon examination, they were found innocent, and were both acquitted and released by order of council.Read More