Thomas Young (theologian)

Last updated

Thomas Young (c. 15871655) was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and theologian, resident in England and a member of the Westminster Assembly. He was the major author of the Smectymnuus group of leading Puritan churchmen. He was also Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, and is known as the tutor to John Milton from the age of about ten.

Westminster Assembly seventeenth-century council for English church reform

The Westminster Assembly of Divines was a council of divines (theologians) and members of the English Parliament appointed from 1643 to 1653 to restructure the Church of England. Several Scots also attended, and the Assembly's work was adopted by the Church of Scotland. As many as 121 ministers were called to the Assembly, with nineteen others added later to replace those who did not attend or could no longer attend. It produced a new Form of Church Government, a Confession of Faith or statement of belief, two catechisms or manuals for religious instruction, and a liturgical manual, the Directory for Public Worship, for the Churches of England and Scotland. The Confession and catechisms were adopted as doctrinal standards in the Church of Scotland and other Presbyterian churches, where they remain normative. Amended versions of the Confession were also adopted in Congregational and Baptist churches in England and New England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Confession became influential throughout the English-speaking world, but especially in American Protestant theology.

Smectymnuus was the nom de plume of a group of Puritan clergymen active in England in 1641. It comprised four leading English churchmen, and one Scottish minister (Young). They went on to provide core leadership for the anti-episcopal forces in the Church of England, continuing into the Westminster Assembly, where they also opposed the Independent movement.

Jesus College, Cambridge constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England

Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge. Its common name comes from the name of its chapel, Jesus Chapel.



He was born in Perthshire, his father William Young being a vicar. He studied at St Andrews University, graduating M.A. in 1606. He then moved south to England. [1]

Perthshire registration county in central Scotland

Perthshire, officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. It extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.

In London, from before 1612, he worked as a teaching assistant to Thomas Gataker. [2] He tutored Milton, possibly from 1618 to 1620 or 1622, [3] and continued to correspond with him. [4] He then took a position in Hamburg, as minister to English merchants there, returning to England in 1628 and becoming vicar at Stowmarket. [5]

Thomas Gataker English theologian

Thomas Gataker was an English clergyman and theologian.

Hamburg City in Germany

Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.

Stowmarket town and civil parish in Mid Suffolk, Suffolk, England

Stowmarket is a small market town in Suffolk, England, on the busy A14 trunk road between Bury St Edmunds to the west and Ipswich to the southeast. The town is on the main railway line between London and Norwich, and lies on the River Gipping, which is joined by its tributary, the River Rat, to the south of the town.

He was the primary author of the pamphlet An Answer signed Smectymnuus, an answer to an anonymous publication defending episcopacy and in fact written by Joseph Hall. It sparked off several more publications.

Joseph Hall (bishop) British bishop and writer

Joseph Hall was an English bishop, satirist and moralist. His contemporaries knew him as a devotional writer, and a high-profile controversialist of the early 1640s. In church politics, he tended in fact to a middle way.

He became a Westminster Assembly member in 1643, and Master of Jesus College in 1644. He was expelled as Master in 1650. [6] [7]

Between 1628 and 1655 Young was vicar at the church of St Peter and St Mary in Stowmarket and his portrait hangs on the south wall of the church nave. [8]

Church of St Peter and St Mary, Stowmarket Church in Suffolk, England

St Peter and St Mary's is an Anglican church in Stowmarket, Suffolk. It is an active parish church in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and the archdeaconry of Ipswich. Its earliest parts date from medieval times.



  1. William Riley Parker, Gordon Campbell, Milton: A Biography (revised edition 1996), p. 12.
  2. Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (1977), pp. 25-6.
  3. Arthur Barker, Milton's Schoolmasters, The Modern Language Review, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Oct., 1937), pp. 517-536, gives reasons why 1622 is unlikely.
  6. "Young, Thomas (YN644T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  7. Archived 2009-07-05 at the Wayback Machine .
  8. Paine, C. St Peter and St Mary's Church, Stowmarket, Official Church Guide, St Peter and St Mary's Church, Stowmarket
Academic offices
Preceded by
Richard Sterne
Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
John Worthington

Related Research Articles

Edmund Calamy the Elder English Presbyterian church leader; the elder

Edmund Calamy was an English Presbyterian church leader and divine. Known as "the elder", he was the first of four generations of nonconformist ministers bearing the same name.

Stephen Marshall was an English Nonconformist churchman.

Francis White (bishop) English bishop and controversialist

Francis White was an English bishop and controversialist.

John Arrowsmith was an English theologian and academic.

Westcott House, Cambridge Church of England theological college based in Jesus Lane, Cambridge

Westcott House is a Church of England theological college based in Jesus Lane in the centre of the university city of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Its main activity is training people for ordained ministry in the Church of England and other Anglican churches. Westcott House is a founder member of the Cambridge Theological Federation. The college is considered by many to be "Modern Catholic" or "Liberal Catholic" in its tradition, but accepts ordinands from a range of traditions in the Church of England.

Thomas Hill was an English Puritan divine. Born at Kington, Herefordshire, he took a B.A. in 1622 at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, an M.A. in 1626, a B.D. in 1633 and a D.D. in 1646.

Zachary Pearce English bishop

Zachary Pearce, sometimes known as Zachariah, was an English Bishop of Bangor and Bishop of Rochester. He was a controversialist and a notable early critical writer defending John Milton, attacking Richard Bentley's 1732 edition of Paradise Lost the following year.

Richard Vines was an English clergyman, one of the Presbyterian leaders of the Westminster Assembly. He became Master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, from 1644 to 1650.

William Spurstowe (Spurstow) was an English clergyman, theologian, and member of the Westminster Assembly. He was one of the Smectymnuus group of Presbyterian clergy, supplying the final WS of the acronym.

Sidrach Simpson English minister

Sidrach Simpson (c.1600-1655) was an English Independent minister, one of the leaders of the Independent faction in the Westminster Assembly.

William Gouge English priest

William Gouge (1575–1653) was an English clergyman and author. He was a minister and preacher at St Ann Blackfriars for 45 years, from 1608, and a member of the Westminster Assembly from 1643.

William Mew (Mewe) was an English clergyman, a member of the Westminster Assembly. He is known also for a drama, Pseudomagia, and for the contribution to beekeeping of the design for a transparent hive.

Herbert Palmer (Puritan) British priest

Herbert Palmer (1601–1647) was an English Puritan clergyman, member of the Westminster Assembly, and President of Queens' College, Cambridge. He is now remembered for his work on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and as a leading opponent of John Milton's divorce tracts.

Obadiah Sedgwick Westminister Divine

Obadiah Sedgwick (1600?-1658) was an English clergyman of presbyterian views, a member of the Westminster Assembly.

Thomas Westfield was an English churchman, Bishop of Bristol and member of the Westminster Assembly.

Andrew Perne (1596–1654) was an English clergyman of Puritan opinions and member of the Westminster Assembly.

Michael Honywood English priest

Michael Honywood D.D. was an English churchman, Dean of Lincoln from 1660. Honywood was a bibliophile and he founded and funded the Lincoln Cathedral Library.