The Minister, the Millenarian, and the Madman: The Puritan Lives of William Sedgwick, ca. 1609–1664

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


William Sedgwick (ca. 1609–1664) is variously remembered as a godly clergyman, millenarian prophet, or ranting radical. By showing the continuities as well as divergences between these three “lives,” Richard Thomas Bell explores the relationship between mainstream and radical puritanism. He builds on recent arguments about the fissiparous nature of the puritan community, demonstrating how an individual could move through seemingly conflicting positions, and how this experience of puritanism—although not preconditioning Sedgwick’s politics—underwrote varied and often unexpected responses to political crisis. He argues that, although contemporaries perceived and upheld distinctions between mainstream and radical puritanism, these boundaries were not absolute, revealing consistencies, interactions, and distinctions between the two.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-61
Number of pages34
JournalHuntington Library Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018