Thomas Cartwright: A Biography of the English Puritan Theologian and Scholar


Who was Thomas Cartwright? What did Thomas Cartwright do? Information about Thomas Cartwright biography, life story and works.

Thomas Cartwright


Thomas Cartwright was an influential English Puritan theologian and scholar who lived in the 16th century. He is known for his strong opposition to the Church of England’s hierarchy and liturgy, advocating for a more democratic and Protestant approach to worship.

In this article, we delve into the life and works of Thomas Cartwright, examining his early years, education, and religious beliefs. We also explore his involvement in the Puritan movement, his controversial views on the church, and the impact of his ideas on the development of English Protestantism.

Whether you’re a history buff, a theology student, or simply curious about this fascinating figure, this biography provides a comprehensive overview of Thomas Cartwright’s life story and legacy.


Thomas Cartwright; (1535-1603), English Puritan leader, whose reputation as a scholar and forthright advocate of the Calvinist system of church order made him the most influential leader of the Puritans in the Elizabethan church. Cartwright was educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge, a center of Puritan discontent, and in 1562 became a fellow of Trinity College. In 1569 he was appointed Lady Margaret professor of divinity at Cambridge.


His open attacks on the character of the church settlement of Elizabeth I, however, aroused the hostility of the ecclesiastical authorities, and he was deprived of his professorship in 1570 and of his fellowship in 1571, chiefly through the influence of John Whitgift, later archbishop of Canterbury. In 1572, after a visit to Geneva, Cartwright supported John Field and Thomas Wilcox, authors of An Admonition to the Parliament, in their assault on the prayer book and the hierarchy of the established church.

Cartwright fled abroad in 1573, when the court of high commission issued a warrant for his arrest. While abroad, he translated Walter Travers’ Disciplina Ecclesiae Sacra as The Book of Discipline. This concise exposition of the Puritan platform for reform was a standard handbook of the Puritans well into the Stuart period.

Returning to England in 1585, Cartwright suffered a short imprisonment, but largely through the protection of the Earl of Leicester he spent his closing years quietly at Warwick. He died in 1603, after assisting in drafting the Millenary Petition, in which the Puritans presented their grievances to James I.


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