Thomas Larkham kept his 'diary' - an account book with spiritual musings and autobiographical notes - throughout his time as Vicar of Tavistock, Devon, and on into his days as a nonconformist apothecary in the town. Only fragments have appeared in print before. This edition provides a new resource for exploring religion and daily life in Interregnum and Restoration England.
Larkham's life captures the twists and turns a clerical career could take in the 17th century. He went to New England in the 1630s, then came back and joined the Parliamentary army. As Vicar of Tavistock in the 1650s, he took a controversial path. He preached to the parish at large but restricted baptism and communion to an ever smaller circle. Local resentment erupted in a no-holds-barred pamphlet war. A watershed came in 1660. Larkham scored a thick black line in his diary under these words: 'The Lords day Oct. 21. I left mine imployment of preaching in feare & upon demand of the Patron'. The entries that follow show how his fortunes changed as a result - prisoner, fugitive preacher, Tavistock apothecary.
The diary illuminates the private side of a turbulent public life. It is intriguing both for what it includes and for what has to be read between the lines. The edition also includes two rare tracts - Naboth and Judas hanging himselfe - from the vociferous debate his activities provoked. A substantial introduction sets Larkham and his diary in context.
SUSAN HARDMAN MOORE is Senior Lecturer in Divinity at the University of Edinburgh.