At the heart of Elizabeth I's reign, a secret conference of clergymen met in and around Dedham, Essex, on a monthly basis in order to discuss matters of local and national interest. Their collected papers, a unique survival from the clandestine world of early English nonconformity, are here printed in full for the first time, together with a hitherto unpublished narrative by the Suffolk minister, Thomas Rogers, which throws a flood of light on similar, if more public, clerical activity in and around Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, during the same period. Taken together, the two texts provide an unrivalled insight into the minds and the methods of that network of 'godly' ministers whose professed aim was to modify the strict provisions of the Elizabethan settlement of religion, both by ceaseless lobbying and by practical example. The editors' introduction accordingly emphasizes the complex nature of the English protestant tradition between the Tudor mid-century and the accession of James I, as well as attempting to plot the politico-ecclesiastical developments of the 1580s in some detail.
A comprehensive biographical register of the members of the Dedham conference, of the Bury St Edmunds lecturers, and of many other important names mentioned in the texts, completes the volume. PATRICK COLLINSON is Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge; JOHN CRAIG is associate professor at Simon Fraser University; BRETT USHER is an expert on Elizabethan clergy.