John Stoughton (priest)

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John Stoughton (1593?–1639) was an English clergyman, of influential millennial views.


He was baptized at Naughton, Suffolk in 1593. He was one of three sons of the clergyman Thomas Stoughton (c.1557–c.1622), who lost his living of Coggeshall, Essex in 1606 as a nonconformist, and his wife, Katherine Evelyn[1] (c.1560–c.1603); Israel Stoughton was a younger brother.[2]

He was a student at Emmanuel College, Cambridge from 1607, graduating B.A. in 1611, M.A. 1614, B.D. 1621, and D.D. 1626. A Fellow from 1616, he became rector of Aller in Somerset in 1624, and then succeeding Thomas Taylor he preached at St Mary, Aldermanbury in London from 1632.[3]

During the 1630s Stoughton came under suspicion from the authorities, and his mail was watched; his numerous correspondents included John Forbes, John Winthrop, Stephen Marshall, Samuel Ward and William Sandcroft (his old tutor).[4] In 1635 he was before William Juxon, the Bishop of London for supposed nonconformity, with John Goodwin and Sidrach Simpson.[5] In 1636 he was caught up in the investigation of John White of Dorchester, that involved also Henry Whitefield.[6] With the support of Sir Robert Harley and other patrons Stoughton managed to avoid serious problems.

At the end of his life Stoughton came into contact with Samuel Hartlib. His millennial pamphlet Felicitas ultimi saeculi was taken to Hungary in 1638 by John Tolnai, a contact of Comenius. It was intended for György Rákóczi. Two years later, after Stoughton's death, Hartlib published the pamphlet with Stoughton's covering letter.[7][8] Hugh Trevor-Roper comments on the language of inauguration of international Protestantism in this work, centred on Comenius, Francis Bacon and John Dury.[9]


Stoughton's predecessor at Aller Ralph Cudworth (the elder) died in 1624, and Stoughton married his widow Mary (known in her own right as Mary Machell, formerly nurse to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales).[10] This made Stoughton step-father to Ralph Cudworth, whom he educated, as well as the New England colonist James Cudworth.[11][12] Mary died in 1634, and Stoughton then married Jane Browne, widow of Walter Newburgh, and daughter of John Browne, in 1636.[13] His brother Israel Stoughton was a co-worker with John Endicott in Massachusetts Colony, and hence William Stoughton, chief magistrate of the Salem witch trials, was John Stoughton's nephew.



  1. ^
  2. ^ Thompson, Roger. "Stoughton, Israel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26605.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ "Stoughton, John (STTN607)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ Francis J. Bremer, Congregational communion: clerical friendship in the Anglo-American Puritan community, 1610-1692 (1994), p. 31, p. 54, p. 92 and p. 99.
  5. ^ Liu, Tai. "Simpson Sidrach". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/25592.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ Bremer, Francis J. "Whitfield, Henry". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29303.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^
  8. ^ p. 10.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Pailin, David A. "Cudworth, Ralph". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6864.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^
  12. ^ Christopher Hill, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (1965), note p. 101.
  13. ^