Doctoral Thesis, Department of History, The University of Hull, April (1980)
The nature of English puritanism and the history of the Protestant Dissent which developed from it have been studied and discussed at great length by historians, with varying and often opposing conclusions. No effective definition of ‘puritanism’ has yet emerged. So widespread were puritan tendencies and so variable the views of the minority who were committed and whole hearted ‘puritans’ that no single definition has been able to comprehend all while giving proper weight to the characteristics and commitment of some. The majority of ‘puritans’ were, and remained, members of the Anglican Church before 1660 and within that institution they represented and expressed a variety of shades of opinion concerning both the Calvinist theology to which they claimed the Church subscribed and the practical expressions of that theology in ceremonies, the use and extent of formal prayers, the discipline and hierarchy of the Church and the place and purpose of preaching.