Stephen Nye

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Stephen Nye (1648–1719) was an English clergyman, known as a theological writer and for his Unitarian views.


Son of John Nye, he graduated B.A. at Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1665.[1] He became rector of Little Hormead, Hertfordshire in 1679. Thomas Firmin was a close associate.[2]


Nye wrote Brief History of the Unitarians also called Socinians (published anonymously in 1687, expanded 1691).

Although the term “Unitarian” was already known in England from the Latin Library of the Polish Brethren called Unitarians published in Amsterdam (1665-1668), and had been used in print before by Henry Hedworth (1673), Nye's book gave the term wider currency in English among antitrinitarian believers, and set off the Unitarian controversy.[3] Nye distinguished Unitarian views from those of Arius (Arian views) and Fausto Sozzini (Socinian views).[4] He called William Sherlock a tritheist, Robert South a Socinian, and John Wallis a Sabellian.[5] He faced much opposition from orthodox Anglicans, but had an ally in William Freke.[6] Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1695, discouraged those who wanted to continue the debate.[7]

Nye wrote also on natural religion; he corresponded with Henry Hedworth and published some of those letters.[8]


  1. ^ "Nye, Stephen (NY661S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography.
  3. ^ John Marshall, John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility (1994), p. 389.
  4. ^ M. A. Stewart, English Philosophy in the Age of Locke (2000), p. 113.
  5. ^ Ernest Gordon Rupp, Religion in England, 1688-1791 (1986), p. 248.
  6. ^ T. Koetsier, L. Bergmans, Mathematics and the Divine: A Historical Study (2005), p. 450.
  7. ^ John Marshall, John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility (1994), p. 418.
  8. ^ Andrew Pyle (editor), Dictionary of Seventeenth Century British Philosophers (2000), article on Nye, pp. 615-6.

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