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Further Reformation in the Life and Works of John Dury and Dorothy Moore Dury

Further Reformation in the Life and Works of John Dury and Dorothy Moore Dury

By the beginning of the 17th century Reformation in England had formally been complete. Anglican Church was the state church, monasteries were closed, and the independence from Rome had existed for many years. Nevertheless, a large number of Protestant sects appeared, and lots of people felt unsatisfied with the results of the Reformation of the 16th century. Protestants in Europe were not united at all, although the events of Thirty Years’ War made Protestant states join forces against the Catholic countries, above all, Holy Roman Empire. The violent events of the first half of the 17th century influenced those Protestants, who were seeking unity and peace. Among those were a Scottish Calvinist minister and preacher John Dury (1596-1680) and his wife Dorothy Moore Dury (1612-1664).

For John and Dorothy Dury Reformation in England was not finished at all. Although the term "Further Reformation” (Nadere Reformatie) is generally associated with Puritans and Dutch Calvinists, it has much broader significance, in our opinion, and can be applied to other movements within seventeenth-century Protestantism as well. The representatives of Further Reformation strove to increase the impact of the Reformation of the sixteenth century and wanted to reform church, state and society in depth. The term itself dates back to the sixteenth century and probably has its origins among English Puritans. One of the leading figures in Further Reformation movement was the English Puritan William Ames (Amesius, 1576-1633), who lived in the Netherlands and was professor in Franeker in the years 1622-1633. Another important representative of this movement was a pastor from Middelburg Willem Teellink (1579-1629). Both men made a considerable influence on the central figure in seventeenth-century Further Reformation - Gisbert Voetius (1589-1676). Voetius was influenced by Ames’ and Teellink’s ideas, especially by Ames’ goal to make even students’ life holy. The holiness of both personal and public life was one of the central issues for the representatives of the Further Reformation. Voetius connected piety and scholarship and also considered all knowledge practical. He thought that science should serve piety. Voetius was very active in philosophical and theological disputes of his time: the most famous one was his dispute with Descartes. He was not a tolerant man, hating Catholics, philosophers and foreigners, but at the same time he was very good at depicting sinful life and life under the grace. Voetius was one of the founders of the newly established Utrecht University in 1636; thus he was able to link the theoretical issues of his programme of the Further Reformation with the practical application. Among his close friends was Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-1678), a woman polymath and the first university student in the Netherlands.

Herman Selderhuis makes an important division between the so called "ecclesiastical” pietism (both Lutheran and Reformed) and "separatist” or "radical” pietism [1, page 339]. Further Reformation of Gisbert Voetius did not aim at separating from the Reformed Church. Voetius and his followers wanted reform within the existing church. On the other hand, there were Protestant sects that were unsatisfied with the existing church. One of those was the sect of Labadists - the followers of Jean de Labadie (1610-1674), a Frenchman who wanted to create "a church without spot or wrinkle” [1, page 339]. At first Voetius was positive about Labadie’s arrival, but then they had an argument, which was worsened by Anna Maria van Schurman’s transition to Labadists. Voetius and his friends considered her act to be very deplorable. Schurman became one of the leaders of Labadists, and her last years were spent in spiritual satisfaction.

Selderhuis also speaks about the "Third Force” in seventeenth-century religious and intellectual life - "various mystical-spiritualistic, international movements around people... who tried to give their own answer to the challenges of rising scepticism” [1, page 351]. Among those were Millenarianists, who have long been a marginal movement in the entire Christian Church. The idea of the Millennium dates back to the first centuries of the Christian Church. Among the most famous Millenarianists was Tertullian. Millenarianism was condemned by the Church Fathers, for example, by St. Gregory of Nazianzus (St. Gregory the Theologian). The new wave of Millenarianism was during the Reformation, especially among the Anabaptists. In the seventeenth century the idea of Millennium found its way to various Protestant sects. Labadists acquired it, as well as Independents in England. One of the leading figures in seventeenth-century "Third Force,” the Walloon minister Peter Serrarius (1600-1669) also supported the idea of the Millennium. Among his followers were also representatives of the Protestant sects other than Lutheran or Calvinist, for example, the last Bishop of Moravian Brothers, the founder of modern pedagogy Jan Amos Comenius. Two Comenius’ friends from England, Samuel Hartlib and John Dury, were prominent Millenarianists.

Being representatives of Millenarianism, Hartlib and Dury did not pass time in silent expectation of the future Millennium. They were active in speeding up the Millennium. In this context the idea of the Further Reformation springs up. For Hartlib and Dury, as well as for Gisbert Voetius, the Reformation had not been finished. Moreover, Dury maintained close contacts with Voetius, as he helped his future wife’s - Dorothy Moore’s - sons to get a place in Voetius’ school. John Dury, Voetius, Dorothy Moore and Anna Maria van Schurman all belonged to the same network of friends and scholars. Therefore their aspirations may be considered within the same stream - Further Reformation movement.

John Dury did not aim at separatism: on the contrary he worked towards the unity of the Lutherans and Calvinists in Continental Europe. He wanted "ecclesiastical pacification” between Lutheran and Calvinist Churches, and Tom Webster calls his plan "among the grandest” [2, page 255]. Dury carried out his project from 1628 to 1680, the year of his death. Unfortunately, his activities proved to be unsuccessful. Together with his friend Samuel Hartlib John Dury attempt to define the "Fundamental Articles of Faith,” which all Protestants would accept [3, page 72]. They both actively communicated with Lutheran and Calvinist theologians.

The events of the 1640’s in England were central in Dury’s understanding of the historical process. He considered them to be a part of ongoing Reformation. Addressing English Parliament in 1646, he said that "God hath since the beginning of the Reformation of his Church from Popery and Antichristian superstition intended to bring his vessels out of Babylon into Sion” [4, page 127]. In his opinion, the English Parliament was the principal agent of reformation, and the reformation itself was necessary in all fields of life, not only in religion and politics, but also in the sphere of education. John Dury, as well as his friend Hartlib, did not limit reformation to England, but aimed at universal reformation, at the ecclesiastical reform across entire Europe.

The idea of the universal reformation also implied the question of the relationship between human and divine will. John Dury had a balanced vision of this relationship. He thought his own actions can be part of the fulfilment of God’s desires. Ch. Houston calls his approach "a cycle of optimism and reform”: the improvement of the society was a sign of the oncoming Millennium, and the oncoming of the Millennium meant it was necessary to improve the society to prepare for it; such was God’s will [4, page 125]. Dury wanted to build "The City of God,” which was for him "a practical way of achieving salvation” [4, page 13]. The educational reform was one of those helping to build "the City of God.” In his pamphlet The Reformed School (1648) he described an ideal boarding school for boys in detail, not only paying attention to the curriculum, but also to the building, equipment and the needs of the staff. In his Discourse of Reformation Dury placed educational reform above all the others: "It is evident that without the reformation of the ways of education in the schools, it will be impossible to bring any other reformation” [5, page 10]. Nevertheless, Dury’s reforms were not limited to school. His writings included the first work on librarianship The Reformed Librarie-Keeper (1650) and even The Reformed Spiritual Husbandman (1652, in collaboration with Samuel Hartlib).

Dorothy Moore Dury had been known as a highly-educated and pious woman long before her marriage to John Dury in 1645. She left quite a few letters, but, contrary to John, she did not use the word "reformation” in her writings. Nevertheless, she also strove for educational reform and for purification of the human spiritual and social life. Dorothy questioned the place of women in the Christian church and her own role as the member of the church. She also dismissed social and class prejudices, vindicating her "unequal” marriage to a man who was not a nobleman.

Dorothy Moore (born King) belonged to a family of English colonists in Ireland. Her father Sir John King owned extensive estates in this country and was knighted in 1609. Besides Dorothy, at least one of Sir King’s nine children became very famous. It was Edward King, a young man famous for his knowledge who drowned in 1637 and became the subject of Milton’s elegy Lycidas. Dorothy was born in Dublin in 1612 or 1613.

It is difficult to say what kind of education Dorothy Moore obtained in her childhood. In her letters we find sharp criticism of female education of her time which focused on dancing and needle craft. Nevertheless, by 1640 she had been famous for her learning and knowledge of classical languages, above all, Latin and Hebrew.

At the end of the 1620’s Dorothy married the younger son of the Earl of Drogheda Arthur Moore. She became a relative of Katherine Boyle, later Lady Ranelagh. In the 1630’s Dorothy travelled to the Netherlands together with her husband, who had been dead by 1641. She was a widow with two children and had to reconsider her life and her role in the society.

In the late 1630’s Moore became acquainted with two important people in her life. One of them was Anna Maria van Schurman, famous for her numerous talents as well as for her Dissertation on whether a Christian woman should be educated. The other was John Dury. It was Schurman who proposed to an author of The Excellence of the Female Sex Johan van Beverwijck to include Dorothy Moore as an example of a learned woman [6, page 116]. Beverwijck described Dorothy Moore as The widow of an English nobleman, not yet twenty-seven years of age, adorned with all the graces of body and soul. In a short time she learned Italian and French to such an extent that she could read works written in both languages and spoke French fluently. This encouraged her to study Latin, which she also mastered soon. Not stopping there, she embarked on the study of Hebrew, in which she progressed so far in a few months that she could read the Bible in that language. In addition, she is so devout that, in between her studies, she sets aside a special time each day to spend piously, reading and meditating... A little while ago, she wrote a letter in Hebrew to the most learned maid that ever lived, who needs no further introduction here [6, page 119].

It was in 1639. Being a mother of two children, Dorothy Moore wanted to know how to combine household matters with spiritual calling. While Schurman supported education of leisured women who were not burdened with families, Moore was interested in female education on the whole. As Lynette Hunter states in her "Introduction” to Letters of Dorothy Moore, "van Schurman wants a general study of ‘science’ and wisdom while Moore specifically wants access to theological knowledge and discussion” [7, page XXIV]. Being not only a deeply religious person, but also a woman who wanted to do some kind of religious service in public, Moore concentrated on this question and contacted Schurman’s close friend, a Calvinist theologian Andre Rivet to clarify this matter for herself.

Rivet was clear about the possibility of woman’s preaching. As Carol Pal puts it, for Rivet "women were never intended to preach” [6, page 136]. The times of early church passed by; the contemporary church did not need women for public service, for example, for baptizing. Although quite supportive for women pursuing intellectual activities, Rivet was against female engagement in church service.

Moore’s letters from 1643 reveal her ideas on woman’s place in Christian community. In these letters she tries to overcome a contradiction between her spiritual calling to be a preacher (or at least to hold any public service within the Church) and her sex. In a letter to Katherine Ranelagh Dorothy says she has "been long of this Opinion that every one whose conscience doth evidence in any Measure a Union with Christ ought to make it their principal aim” [7, page 18]. She does not see "every one” as only "every man,” but "every man and woman”: "I judge him or her obliged to seek those qualifications & graces earnestly, which may give an ability in some Measure to fulfil this Aim” [7, page 18]. Moore criticizes those who think women "altogether incapable of such service” [7, page 19]. She points out she does not exclude "our Sex” [7, page 19]. Moore considers all kinds of women: "such as are married” and "those that are unmarried” [7, page 19]. The task for the first group is to take care of their husbands, children and family; but those in the second group "ought either to marry to this end or find out some employment” [7, page 19]. Attributing herself to the second group, she chooses the last option, "that is either to stand in Relation to some great Person, or to take up a Course of Instructing youth, of my own Sex” [7, page 19]. Moore chooses the "service of Instructing youth”, as she wants to make her own sex "considerable” in the task of "the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ in their spirits” [7, page 20]. Being a part of a network of scholarly women around Anna Maria van Schurman, she knew herself and heard about outstanding women who were both learned and pious. Moore was willing to contribute to the process of bringing up more women like them. Her other reason of choosing the teaching path was her aversion to an "Idle life, which neither profits others nor myself, that is in regard of Conscience” [7, page 20]. Moore was an active person striving to help others and to find self-realization through such help. In her opinion, knowledge without practical application was "absurd” [7, page 20]. Thus, she shared with Voetius and Dury the idea of practical knowledge.

The same unwillingness to do nothing and to conform to an ideal of a silent woman is clear in Moore’s letters to Andre Rivet. Contrary to letters to her close friend Katherine Boyle three letters to Rivet are formal, and more attention is paid to female modesty. In her first letter she poses two questions: "to ascertain whether or not the Christian women who are united in Christ and consequently members of his body should propose as their principle goal... the service of the remains of the body in the communion of the saints - yes or no” and "to ascertain for myself by which path the female sex can or should pursue this goal, without going against the modesty required of their sex, and without passing outside the limits which have been laid down for women” [7, page 21]. Moore wants to "go forth in action according to my capacity” [7, page 21]. In her next letter to River she continues questioning woman’s place and role in the church. She insists women "should be allowed to serve the public as members of the mysterious body” because they "are incorporated in Christ in the same way as you [men. - V.T.] are” [7, page 27]. Moore recalls the days of "the early church” when widowed women served "as deacons, helpers at baptisms; they had a semi-ecclesiastical role in watching over the women, teaching them and compelling them to perform their duties regarding their husbands and children” [7, page 28]. She does not propose explicitly to revive this practice, but she does not want women to be neglected in the Church. Moore also questions the limits of studying for women. Her problem is women "are absolutely forbidden to exercise "these” [spiritual. - V.T.] gifts in public” [7, page 29]. As she does not value knowledge without application, she tries to understand what should be learnt by women and how they can make their knowledge useful for the public.

Dorothy Moore’s interest in the education of women began in the times when she lived in Utrecht and communicated, among the others, with Anna Maria van Schurman. Around 1650 she finally "received a call,” most probably, from Lady Ranelagh, "to consider the manner of the education of the youth of our sex” [7, page 86]. Dorothy wrote a short treatise "Of the Education of Girls” dedicated primarily to the criticism of contemporary way of teaching young women. She says she "left out the teaching of youth dancing and curious works; both which serve only, to fill the fancy with unnecessary, unprofitable and proud imaginations” [7, page 86]. She also rejects the practice to teach girls "dressing, curling, and such like” [7, page 87]. Dorothy Moore does not find the ground for such things in "Religion or Reason” [7, page 87]. She makes a conclusion that "generally our sex in this Kingdom minds nothing but idleness and pleasure, and live as not using reason, nor knowing God who hath declared that we must account for every idle word and thought” [7, page 88]. Rejecting idleness for herself, Dorothy Moore accuses the whole system of female education of bringing young women into this state which is, in her opinion, damaging for their souls.

John and Dorothy Dury’s plans for educational reform complemented each other. While John paid more attention to boys’ education, Dorothy focused on female education. To some degree Dorothy was bolder than her husband: she questioned female role in the church and explicitly criticized class prejudices. On the other hand, John Dury’s ideas were more universal, he was a tolerant man born to be a pacificator. Joint consideration of John’s and Dorothy’s writings and activities shed light on the Further Reformation in England in the middle of the seventeenth century.


Selderhuis H. Handbook of Dutch Church History. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht LLC, 2014. - 679 p.

Webster T. Godly Clergy in Early Stuart England: The Caroline Puritan Movement, c. 1620-1643. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. - 350 p.

Jue J.K. Heaven Upon Earth: Joseph Mede (1586-1638) and the Legacy of Millenarianism. Dordrecht: Springer Science & Business Media, 2006. - 281 p.

Houston Ch. The Renaissance Utopia: Dialogue, Travel and the Ideal Society. Hants, Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. - 198 p.

Dury J. A Seasonable Discourse. London: Printed for R. Woodnothe, 1649. - 26 p.

Pal C. Republic of Women: Rethinking of the Republic of Letters in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. - 316 p.

Hunter L. (ed.). The Letters of Dorothy Moore, 1612-64. The Friendships, Marriage and Intellectual Life of a Seventeenth-Century Woman. Hants, Burlington: Ashgate, 2004. - 138 p. УДК 141.31

Violetta Trofimova