Charles I's Star Chamber prosecution of the lawyer William Prynne, the minister Henry Burton, and the physician John Bastwick generated both contemporary and historiographical controversy, mostly concerned with their writings, their trial, and their punishment in London. This article turns attention to their unusual offshore incarceration on the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Scillies between 1637 and 1640. It examines the material, social, and spiritual circumstances of island detention, and shows how the “puritan martyrs”1 coped with separation from the world. Though the discourse of martyrdom invited a compilation of miseries, invoking scriptural comparisons, this triumvirate experienced isolation that did not necessarily incapacitate them. Prynne savored the hospitality of his jailers, Burton smuggled out polemical tracts, and all three found inspiration in the book of Revelation, written by St. John while a prisoner on the island of Patmos. Each returned to the fray in the 1640s, writing works of witness and justification. Their experience of island imprisonment provided a model and an inspiration for dozens more who were similarly confined during the Protectorate and the Restoration.
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