In a separatist congregation in London in 1594 a storm was brewing. The church's pastor, Francis Johnson, imprisoned for his noncon-formist activities, had recently married, and Francis's younger brother George, also incarcerated, was deeply troubled about his new sister-in-law Thomasine. George Johnson feared Francis was “blinded, bewitched, and besotted with the slie [sly] heights of the subtile proud woman,” and he considered it his duty as a good Christian and concerned brother to help “reforme” the situation. George's central grievance against Thomasine, a young widow before her marriage to Francis, was her excessive pride—she was “much noted” for it, he observed, which “became not a Pastor's wife, specially he being under persecution: in Prison: and often looking for death.” For George, as for other nonconforming Protestants who believed that one's outward behavior revealed one's inward moral state, his sister-in-law's pride was so offensive because it was so publicly and extravagantly displayed upon her body, in velvet, lace, whalebone, and gold. George wanted to “shew” Thomasine “that proud apparel and fashions of worldly dames were not decent in a Pastor[']s wife: that the creatures [material things], though lawful to be used, yet [are] not to be abused.”
2. [Johnson, George], A Discourse of Some Troubles and Excommunications in the Banished English Church at Amsterdam (Amsterdam: n.p., 1603), 65, 94, 95.
3. Ibid., 135–36.
4. n“Codpiece,” def. l.b., Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com. The OED recognizes the term “codpiece breast,” but I have been unable to find any costume historians who mention it.
5. It is difficult to determine precisely what George meant here in his description of Thomasine's “codpiece breast”—whether he referred to her stomacher or her actual breasts. Late-sixteenth-century female fashion tended to deemphasize the bust, which was “pressed flat inside an unyielding, elongated tube [stomacher and bodice],” but it was also “often exposed by a low-cut neckline” and “pushed up.” Fashionable women whitened the exposed portions of the breasts with cosmetics. Hollander, Anne, Seeing Through Clothes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975/1993), 100, 98; Vincent, Susan, Dressing the Elite: Clothes in Early Modern England (Oxford: Berg, 2003), 33; Ribeiro, Aileen, Dress and Morality (London: B. T. Batsford, 1986), 73.
6. Discourse, 137, 127.
7. Trunkhose were the same as “round hose” (see n. 8). The (possibly vulgar) origins of the term “trunkhose” are unclear, Oxford English Dictionary. If “trunk sleeves” is the term George was too ashamed to name, perhaps it was because, as for “codpiece breasts,” it was a term borrowed from male fashion.
8. Round hose referred to men's trunkhose, or breeches, which extended from waist to upper thighs and were padded to produce a very full, “round” silhouette at the hips. While coarse cloth aprons were worn by men and women of the laboring classes as an essential part of their work dress, upper-class women began to wear decorative versions of working-class aprons over their outer skirts in the late 1500s. Ashelford, Jane, A Visual History of Costume: The Sixteenth Century (London: B. T. Batsford, 1983/1986), 142–44.
9. The doublet was the outer garment covering the male torso, like a close-fitting, stiff, well-padded, waist-length jacket with detachable or permanently attached sleeves. It was attached at the waist to the “upper hose,” or breeches, with points; likewise, points sometimes attached the breeches to the “nether hose,” or stockings. Vincent, , Dressing the Elite, 13–14.
10. In the seventeenth century, copple hats became the trademark headcoverings of English puritan men and women. Ashelford, , Visual History of Costume, 143.
11. Discourse, 157, 126.
12. Ashelford, Jane, The Art of Dress: Clothes and Society, 1500–1914 (London: National Trust Enterprises, 1996), 35.
13. Discourse, 157. On the uses of musk, see Classen, Constance, Howes, David, and Synnott, Anthony, Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (London: Routledge, 1994), 71.
14. Discourse, 97.
15. Ibid., 128–31, 136, 140. Upon hearing her testimony against his wife, Francis “upbraided” Colper and “called her wicked, ungodly woman,” which caused her “to falter in her wordes”; when George asked “that witnesses might not so be used,… the Pastor (as his maner was) waxed very hote.” Francis later apologized privately to Colper's husband, although George told him he should have apologized publicly, since he had berated her in a public meeting.
16. Ibid., 128–29, 131, 136–37.
17. Studies of English separatism are primarily institutional and intellectual histories, rather than social or cultural histories. See, for example, Arber, Edward, The Story of the Pilgrim Fathers, 1606–1623 A.D. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1897); Martyn Dexter, Henry, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1905); Burrage, Champlin, The Early English Dissenters in the Light of Recent Research (1550–1641) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912); White, B. R., The English Separatist Tradition: From the Marian Martyrs to the Pilgrim Fathers (London: Oxford University Press, 1971); Sprunger, Keith L., Dutch Puritanism: A History of English and Scottish Churches of the Netherlands in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1982); Martin, J. W., Religious Radicals in Tudor England (Ronceverte, W.Va.: Hambledon, 1989); Acheson, R. J., Radical Puritans in England, 1550–1660 (London: Longman, 1990); Robert Coggins, James, Smyth's, JohnCongregation: English Separatism, Mennonite Influence, and the Elect Nation (Scottdale, Perm.: Herald, 1991); Pearse, Meic, The Great Restoration: The Religious Radicals of the 16th and 17th Centuries (Cumbria, U.K.: Pater-noster, 1998).
18. Arber, , Story of the Pilgrim Fathers, 108–9; Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 160; Moody, Michael E., “A Critical Edition of George Johnson's A Discourse of Some Troubles and Excommunications in the Banished English Church at Amsterdam, 1603” (Ph.D. diss., Claremont Graduate School, 1979), xiv–xv. Moody's is the only sustained study of George Johnson and his treatise, and he makes a strong case for reading Johnson's book as an authoritative and insightful documentation of separatist communal life and for viewing Johnson himself as admittedly often blunt, zealous, tenacious, and naive, but also as “a brave, long-suffering, and conscientious person … [who] valued truth fulness and honesty,” lxxv, xci, lxxiii–iv.
19. Forty years ago Morgan, Edmund S. wrote about the now familiar English puritan concept of “visible saints”—“those who appeared to be saved,… those who could demonstrate by their lives, their beliefs, and their religious experiences that they apparently (to a charitable judgment) had received saving faith”—and its contribution to separatist principles of church formation. Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea (reprint, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1965), 34–35.
20. Porterfield, Amanda, Female Piety in Puritan New England: The Emergence of Religious Humanism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 31.
21. Ames, William, The Marrow of Theology: William Ames, 1576–1633 (The Marrow of Sacred Divinity, 1629), trans, and ed. Eusden, John D. (Durham, N.C.: Labyrinth, 1983), 2:3, “Good Works.”
22. Discussing the role of women in separatism, Crawford, Patricia has noted, “Any woman who tried to challenge male power was … acting contrary to God's order in a deeply sinful way, endangering the whole society because she might infect others with her disobedience and might also provoke God's wrath against those who permitted such license.” Women and Religion in England, 1500–1720 (London: Routledge, 1993/1996), 127. It is interesting to note the similarities between Thomasine Johnson and Massachusetts's Anne Hutchinson: both argued for the independent nature of personal conscience and self-fashioning and were accused of transgressing proper gender roles. However, the outcomes were very different for each: while Thomasine, willing to compromise and with her husband's help, was able to confront her accuser and see him excommunicated, Hutchinson lost the support of influential men and was, herself, excommunicated.
23. Kibbey, Anne, The Interpretation of Material Shapes in Puritanism: A Study of Rhetoric, Prejudice, and Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 49. Miller, Perry described “the plain style” in his well-known discussion of puritan sermon rhetoric, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1939), 331–62.
24. Porterfield, Female Piety, 34, 32.
25. Robinson, John, New Essays (1628), in The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, ed. Robert, Ashton, 3 vols. (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1851), 1.18–19; Robinson, , A Justification of Separation (1610), Works, 2:320.
26. On the centrality and meanings of liberty of conscience for Elizabethan nonconformists, see Van Til, L. John, Liberty of Conscience: The History of a Puritan Idea (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Publishing, 1972), 4–28. Cf. Witte, John Jr., “Moderate Religious Liberty in the Theology of John Calvin,” in Religious Liberty in Western Thought, ed. Reynolds, Noel B. and Durham, W. Cole Jr. (Atlanta: Scholars, 1996), 83–122; Campion, Justin A. I., “Willing to Suffer: Law and Religious Conscience in Seventeenth-Century England,” in Religious Conscience, the State, and the Law: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Significance, ed. John, McLaren and Harold, Coward (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999), 13–28; Nuttall, Geoffrey F., The Holy Spirit in Puritan Faith and Experience (reprint, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 34–38.
27. See, for example, Morgan, Edmund S., The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England, rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), 1–3; Dever, Mark, Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2000), 157–60.
28. Robinson, , Justification of Separation, Works, 2:118.
29. Lake, Peter, “‘A Charitable Christian Hatred”: The Godly and their Enemies in the 1630s,” in The Culture of English Puritanism, 1560–1700, ed. Christopher, Durston and Jacqueline, Eales (London: Macmillan, 1996), 161.
30. For example, one of the primary reasons Robinson's congregation left Holland for New England was members' concerns that “[we would] lose our language and our name of English” and “that their Posterity would in few generations become Dutch, and so lose their interest in the English Nation.” Winslow, Edward, “Hypocrisie Unmasked” (1646), in Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of Plymouth, 1602–1625, ed. Alexander, Young (New York: Da Capo, 1971), 381; Morton, Nathaniel, New Englands Memoriall (1669) (New York: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1937), 3.
31. Vincent, , Dressing the Elite, 129.
32. Hunt, Alan, “The Governance of Consumption: Sumptuary Laws and Shifting Forms of Regulation,” Economy and Society 25 (1996): 410.
33. Greenblatt, Stephen, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 2; Breward, Christopher, The Culture of Fashion: A New History of Fashionable Dress (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1995), 69–70.
34. Dressing the Elite, 3–4.
35. Discourse, 3.
36. Called the Ancient Church because it was the first English separatist congregation to be established in the Netherlands, over three-fourths of its members were less than thirty-four years old. Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 146–48. For a general history of Francis Johnson's church, see White, , English Separatist Tradition, 91–115; Pearse, , Great Restoration, 179–86.
37. Moody, , “Critical Edition,” xxxvii; Discourse, 94. George Johnson, the only author who notes her first name, spells it Tomasin and Tomyson, and her last name Boys, Boies, and Bois. Given the notorious inconsistency of spelling in seventeenth-century writing, I have chosen to standardize her name as Thomasine Boyes.
38. Ashelford, , Art of Dress, 48. The Boyes home, in Fleet Street, had been one of several places that Francis's congregation met. Arber, , Story of the Pilgrim Fathers, 107.
39. Quinn, David B., “The First Pilgrims,” William and Mary Quarterly 23 (1966): 374; Moody, , “Critical Edition,” xxx.
40. Discourse, 94–96.
41. By 1593 nineteen male and five female dissenters had died in prison, seventy-two were still incarcerated, and Henry Barrowe, John Greenwood, and John Penry had been executed. Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 149–52.
42. Discourse, 106.
43. Although George Johnson painted the most detailed portrait of his brother's hot temper, other contemporaries saw him in a similar light. Christopher Lawne called Francis a “cruell persecutor” who “blinded” his congregation; Robert Baillie noted that he “fell to so great oddes … for small matters” with his brother and father; and Richard Bernard condemned both brothers as having “an euill spirit of hatefull and fierie contention.” Lawne, , The Prophane Schisme of the Brownists or Separatists (London: W. Stansby for W. Burke, 1612), 85; Baillie, , A Dissuasive from the Errours of the Time (London: Samuel Gellibrand, 1646), 15; Bernard, , Christian Advertisements and Counsels of Peace (London: F. Kyngston, 1608), 35.
44. The Bible and Holy Scriptures Conteyned in the Olde and Newe Testament [Geneva Bible, 1560], facsimile ed. ([Owensville, Ohio]: Lazarus Ministry, 1998).
45. Discourse, 114, 109.
46. Ibid., 109–13. For a thorough study of the voyage, see Quinn, , “The First Pilgrims,” 359–90.
47. Discourse, 111.
48. Ibid., 113.
49. Ibid., 76.
50. Clyfton, Richard, An Advertisement (1612), 14, cited in Burrage, , Early English Dissenters, 158.
51. Raffield, Paul, “Reformation, Regulation, and the Image: Sumptuary Legislation and the Subject of Law,” Law and Critique 13 (2002): 129. Cf. Merchant, Carolyn, Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1980/1990), 174–77; Harte, N. B., “State Control of Dress and Social Change in PreIndustrial England,” in Trade, Government, and Economy in Pre-Industrial England: Essays Presented to F. J. Fisher, ed. Coleman, D. C. and Johns, A. H. (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976), 132–65.
52. Hindle, Steve, The State and Social Change in Early Modern England, 1550–1640 (New York: Palgrave, 2000/2002), 37–65, quote 37.
53. Ashelford, , Art of Dress, 26; Ribeiro, , Dress and Morality, 69.
54. Ribeiro, , Dress and Morality, 72.
55. Stubbes, Phil[l]ip, The Anatomie of Abuses, 4th ed. (London: Richard Iohnes, 1595), 6–7.
56. Ribeiro, , Dress and Morality, 69; Harte, , “State Control of Dress,” 148.
57. Ribeiro, , Dress and Morality, 72; Banks, Carol and Holderness, Graham, “Effeminate Days” (draft version), Early Modern Culture 1 (2000), http://eserver.org/emc/l-l/issuel.html. Cf. Fletcher, Anthony, Gender, Sex, and Subordination in England, 1500–1800 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995); Gowing, Laura, Domestic Dangers: Women, Words, and Sex in Early Modern England (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996).
58. Stubbes, , Anatomie of Abuses, 20.
59. Robinson, , New Essays, Works, 1:232–35.
60. Ibid., 238–39, 241.
61. Vaughan, William, The Spirit of Detraction Coniured and Convicted (London: W. Stansby for George Norton, 1611), 345–46.
62. Averell, William, A Mervailous Combat of Contrarities (London: I. C[harlewood] for Thomas Hacket, 1588), n.p.
63. Stubbes, , Anatomie of Abuses, 49.
64. See Gowing, , Domestic Dangers, 83–85; Vincent, , Dressing the Elite, 168–77; Fletcher, , Gender, Sex, and Subordination, 23–24.
65. The Bible and Holy Scriptures. George also made numerous scriptural arguments regarding worldliness (displaying luxury, “evil,” “lust,” and “pride”) and publicity (being a model of sainthood to the world).
66. Carolyn Merchant has defined “nature” in this early modern sense as “the properties, inherent characters, and vital powers of persons, animals, or things.” Death of Nature, xxiii. On the malleability of physiological sexual distinctions between male and female, which required the strict social construction of gender distinctions, in early modern England, see Laqueur, Thomas W., Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990).
67. Stubbes, , Anatomie of Abuses, 73–74.
68. Ribeiro, , Dress and Morality, 70.
69. Gosson, Stephen, Quippes for Upstart Newfangled Gentle-women (London: R. Ihones, 1595), B.
70. Vincent, , Dressing the Elite, 33, cf. 128–29.
71. Gosson, Stephen, The S[c]hoole of Abuse, conteining a plesaunt invective against Poets, Pipers, Plaiers, Iesters, and such like Caterpillers of a Commonwelth (1579), in Early Treatises on the Stage (London: Shakespeare Society, 1853), 50.
72. Discourse, 128, 135, 97. 300 British pounds in 1595 would be worth approximately 55,000 U.S. dollars in 2005.
73. Robinson, , New Essays, Works, 1:232–33.
74. Discourse, 104.
75. So much scoffing occurred over the five-year-long controversy that George took it upon himself to provide a definition: “a scoffe is not onely in reproachful wordes and gestures joined together, but in the gesture alone, or like the pronouncing of good wordes ironically, disdainfully, or gibingly.” ibid., 119.
76. Ibid., 105.
77. Ibid., 56. Another instance of hyperbolic speech occurred when George refused to explain what he meant by accusing Francis of “carnal vanity,” and Francis expostulated he would “do it” six times, even sixty times. Church members asked him to calm down, but Francis became more heated and claimed he would “do it yea 360 times.” ibid., 143.
78. Gowing, , Domestic Dangers, 59–60, 79–80.
79. Discourse, 174. Anabaptists were notoriously stringent in “expressing personal holiness of life” and often viewed as hypocritical; opponents criticized their “clok of mortification of the flesche,… and sanctimonious of life.” Pearse, M. T., Between Known Men and Visible Saints: A Study in Sixteenth-Century English Dissent (London: Associated University Presses, 1994), 218–19.
80. Ames, William, Marrow of Sacred Divinity, 1:8, “The Creation”; Robinson, , New Essays, Works, 1:17–18; Robinson, , Justification of Separation, Works, 2:339.
81. Notably, Francis's argument that Thomasine's garments were “things indifferent” echoes the arguments made by Cambridge divines regarding priestly vestments as “a matter indifferent”: “Religious practices that had no definite scriptural basis were especially important to them because in such things each person had [Christian] liberty to suit his own taste.” Van Til, , Liberty of Conscience, 12.
82. Discourse, 97, 100–101, 172, 111, 173, 125, 143.
83. Ibid., 125–26, 157, 127.
84. Ibid., 174, 98, 175.
85. Bradford, William, A Dialogue, or the Sum of a Conference between Some Young Men Born in New England and Sundry Ancient Men that Came Out of Holland and Old England, Anno Domini 1648, in Young, Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, 446.
86. Bradford, , Dialogue, 445. Although George certainly had contributed to earlier tensions within the Amsterdam church, ongoing conflicts between Francis and the church's teacher, William Ainsworth, eventually resulted in the 1610 split, eleven years after George's departure. Baillie, , Dissuasive from the Errours, 15; Pearse, , Great Restoration, 184–85.
87. Bradford, , Dialogue, 446. Francis had complained, “Some here have not been ashamed to find fault with knit stockings and corck shoes.” Discourse, 172–73. Decorated leather or silk shoes with one- or two-inch high cork soles were popular among the upper classes, both men and women, but were condemned by some moralists as “only good for wearing in a house or chamber to keep warm, though worn abroad for niceness.” Stubbes, , Anatomy of Abuses, 59.
88. Discourse, 100. Thomasine's transformation also may have been motivated by an apparent shift to less ostentatious fashions among merchants and their wives, whose growing ranks included many puritans. By 1617, English traveler Fynes Moryson noted, merchants were appareled “with great comlinesse” in “cloth of graue colours, and much keepe their old fashions, or at least are not curiously addicted to new.” Merchants' wives, “little yeelding to others in pride or expence,… retaine a decent attire.” He described the dress of merchants' wives in some detail: “They wear a gowne or some light stuffe or silke gathered in the backe, and girded to the body with a girdle, and decked with many gardes at the skirt, with which they weare an apron before them, of some silke or stuffe, or fine linnen. They weare upon their heads a coyfe of fine linnen, with their hair raised little at the forehead, and a cap of silke, or a little hat of beauer, yet without fit difference of estate or condition, and some weare light French Chains and necklaces of pearle.” Moryson, Fynes, An Itinerary … Containing His Ten Yeeres Travel (London: J. Beale, 1617), 179.
89. George complained that since their childhood Francis had treated his younger brother as his “servant” and “slave” and “in all controversies dealt most bitterly” with him; George “always found that my brother could never endure to be contraried by me though I had never so iust a cause.” Discourse, 13, 131, 94.
90. Heyward, Maria, “Reflections on Gender and Status Distinctions: An Analysis of the Liturgical Textiles Recorded in Mid-Sixteenth-Century London,” Gender and History 14 (2002): 414.
91. Bradford, , Dialogue, 446–47. Moralists considered starch, used to stiffen large ruffs, the “Devil's liquour”; welts and guards were decorative bands of fabric, usually of contrasting color to the garment, used as borders or to cover or reinforce seams. Ashelford, , Visual History of Costume, 143.
92. Robert Blair, St. George, Conversing by Signs: Poetics of Implication in Colonial New England Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 3–7.
93. Discourse, 65, 59, 73, 14, 74.
94. Vincent, , Dressing the Elite, 158.
95. Discourse, 13, 35, 54.
96. Lake, “‘Charitable Christian Hatred,’” 161; on derogatory views of anabaptists, see n. 79.
97. Even antiseparatist Robert Baillie praised Robinson as “the most learned, polished, and modest spirit that ever that Sect enjoyed. … He ruined the rigid Separation” and started “Semi-separating Independency.” Baillie, , Dissuasive from the Errours, 17.
98. Lawne, , Prophane Schisme, 87; Robinson, John, “Farewell Letter (1620),” in William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647, ed. Samuel Eliot, Morison (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 369–70.
99. Bradford, , Of Plymouth Plantation, 17, 11.
100. Burnham, Michelle, “Merchants, Money, and the Economics of ‘Plain Style’ in William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation,” American Literature 72 (2000): 699; Lovejoy, David S., “Plain Englishmen at Plymouth,” New England Quarterly 63 (1990): 240; Sprunger, , Dutch Puritanism, 43–45.
101. Bradford, , Of Plymouth Plantation, 50, 92, 130. Birching Lane suits were named after the street in London where second-hand clothing was sold; “to admit to buying anything there was a mark of social inferiority.” Ashelford, , Art of Dress, 50.
102. Bradford, , Of Plymouth Plantation, 44.
103. Robinson, , “Farewell Letter,” 370.
104. Lovejoy, , “Plain Englishmen at Plymouth,” 232–48.
105. For a discussion of sumptuary laws in early New England, see Trautman, Patricia, “When Gentlemen Wore Lace: Sumptuary Legislation and Dress in Seventeenth-Century New England,” Journal of Regional Cultures 2:3 (1983): 9–21.
106. Plymouth's apparel legislation occurred in 1645,1658,1671, and 1685. See Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, ed. Shurtleff, Nathaniel B. and David, Pulsifer, 12 vols. (Boston: William White, 1855–1861), 11:48, 96–97, 173–74; The General Laws and Liberties of New-Plimouth Colony (June 1671), 9; The Book of the General Laws of the Inhabitants of New-Plimouth (June 2, 1685), 25.
1 I am indebted to those who provided thoughtful responses to earlier drafts of this essay: Catherine L. Albanese, R. Marie Griffith, Amy DeRogatis, Amanda Porterfield, John Corrigan, and participants in the 2003–4 IUPUI Young Scholars in American Religion Program, especially Douglas Winiarski and Kristen Schwain.
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