MAURICE, HENRY (1634 - 1682), Independent minister

Name: Henry Maurice
Date of birth: 1634
Date of death: 1682
Spouse: Elin Maurice (née Glyn)
Parent: Griffith Morris
Gender: Male
Occupation: Independent minister
Area of activity: Religion
Author: Thomas Richards

Son of Griffith Morris of Methlan, parish of Aberdaron, having close family relations with the Wynn family of Boduan and Edward family of Nanhoron. He was educated at Jesus College, Oxford. Possibly he was the Henry Morris who headed the agitation in 1656 for moving Botwnnog school to Pwllheli, but without any doubt the 'curate' sanctioned by the Triers in 1658 for pastoral work in Llannor and Deneio, and the Henry Maurice who supplied marginal readings for the second part of Cannwyll y Cymry published in the end of 1659 or the beginning of 1660, readings to make the text better understanded of the people of North Wales. He conformed at the Restoration; in March 1661, he was made vicar of Bromfield-by-Ludlow; in April of the same year he was named rector of Mellteyrn, Caernarfonshire, which rectory carried with it the chapelry of Botwnnog and the mastership of the school there, but a guilty conscience (in all probability) made him stay on the Border; in June 1668 he was promoted to the rectory of Church Stretton. Before June 1671, Maurice had undergone a dramatic transformation from being an Anglican rector into a Dissenting preacher, with the full concurrence of his wife Elin, only daughter of the Royalist squire Jeffrey Glynn of Gwynfryn, by Pwllheli. Following a short stay in Shrewsbury prison on a charge of debt - he was throughout his life somewhat careless in money matters - he moved to Much Wenlock in the same county; there he was when Charles II published his Indulgence of 1672; Maurice at once took out three licences, one for his own house, one for another house in the same village, and one in Acton Round. Nothing displays more his aristocratic temper and his scorn for mere detail than his indiscriminate traversing of the letter of the Indulgence granted him; he preached at Stretton before a licence had arrived there; in the June of 1672 he made a journey to Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, visiting Puritan notabilities; early in August he rode out to Brecknock, and openly preached in several unlicensed houses; towards the end of the same month he undertook the famous journey to his native Llŷn, preaching again in unlicensed places, addressing multitudes in churchyards, and disappointed at not being allowed to enter the pulpits of the parish churches themselves. Naturally he visited his 'cousin' John Williams of Llangian (1627 - 1673) and Richard Edwards (died 1704), the Puritan squire of Nanhoron, and immensely encouraged the more timid nonconformists of Llŷn and Eifionydd. Almost immediately on his return to Wenlock he was invited to become pastor of the 'gathered church' of the Independents of Brecknock, with headquarters, probably, at Llanigon. His ten years' work in the county marked him out as one of the most virile Puritan propagators of the second generation. Bishop Lucy in 1673 refers to him as 'one Morrice' who brought the Puritan invasion up to the gates of Brecon; the columns of the Sheldon census in 1676, with 682 sectaries numbered in the county (of whom the great majority were Independents), are proofs of his crusading activities; and the Independent churches of Brecknock enumerated in the 'Lists' of Dr. John Evans (1715) were, in the main, products of his powers of organisation. There are eloquent passages about Maurice in Calamy's An Account of the minsiters... ejected , supplied by James Owen, who must have known him very well; it was one of the signal contributions of Thomas Rees (1815 - 1885) as a historian of Dissent to utilize the diary of Maurice for 1672. A further proof of Henry Maurice's prominence as Puritan leader was given when he was asked, in 1675, by a Broadmead (Bristol) elder to supply an account of ' all the congregated churches in the general counties of Wales, together with the names of their pastors and other church officers,' an account simply invaluable, for all its meagreness. The meagreness, in turn, was a measure of the limitations of Maurice as an orthodox Calvinist; he had little sympathy for the Arminian Baptists of Radnor (this prejudice is very evident in his diary), and the Quakers, with all their spiritual pretensions, he consigned to the doom of unregenerates. He died 30 July 1682, at the age of 48.


Published date: 1959

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