Grimes was truly called ‘Grame’ – Abraham Grame, in fact. He was born at Childerditch near Billericay in Essex in June 1604, the son of Arthur Grame. For further information on him see the work by O. Kalu – ‘Bishops and Puritans in Early Jacobean England: A Perspective on Methodology’ in Church History Vol. 45, No. 45 (Dec 1976) where ‘Grame of Childerditch’ appears to be listed under prosecutions.

Grimes was clearly an ally of Stephen Dennison in the capital. In the novel, Matthew writes the following letter, seemingly almost implying himself to be Joseph Smith, a Familist of Bishopsgate (Street). The letter is loosely based on National Archives, Kew, ref. SP/6/139.

 

 

…Dear and worthy Sir,

 

Since my coming to town, it has come to my attention that a dispute has broken out between your good self and one unlicensed preacher who goes by the name, Peter Shaw. I understand that you may be collating allegations against the said Shaw and that he is doing much the same about you. It is a potentially dangerous and volatile situation. I cannot say that I have ever heard Shaw preach but from what I have gathered in your sermons and elsewhere I have missed nothing of any great consequence as his religious views are clearly erroneous. [I actually rather enjoyed writing that with him looking over my very shoulder at the time!] However, Sir, I have to tell you that I heard you the most recent Sabbath at St. Ellen’s off Bishopsgate Street. Afterwards, I reported some passages which you had earlier delivered wherein you appeared to have implied some erroneous thinking yourself. I have been told now that I must justify that report. Loath as I am to do so – for I am a great admirer of your sermons and indeed, those of the good Mr Dennison, fine preacher that he is – I have decided that I do not have any choice in this matter. Therefore I am writing to you to warn you to take the utmost care in your future business. I do not know if you do Shaw any injustice but you are certainly in breach of your code of conduct to slate and slander his character from the comfort of secure pulpits. I hear that there are also worse things ascribed to your name which, should they prove to be the truth, would crush your career beyond recognition; matters which it is well should never come to the attention of anyone. As things stand I cannot be in a position to meet you to discuss these matters further although I would gladly do so if it were possible to find a place where both of us might remain unknown.

In the meantime I am taking this early opportunity to advise you that those of a more ‘Arminian’ persuasion have already set all the traps for you upon the streets of this city. Certainly, they will listen to you carefully and write down every word whilst you slander Shaw. So long as that remains convenient for them. But as soon as Shaw’s sentence is passed, I believe you to be next in line for similar treatment – at which point your time of fair hearing will be well and truly gone and I can also assure you that you will have only enemies amongst Shaw’s former follower folk – misled as they may well be. For all I know they may aid their enemies in order simply to be rid of you. My recommendation – solely with your safety in mind – is that you take your leave of London immediately or at the earliest opportunity that presents itself. I beg you not to delay in this matter for time is short. You could bid farewell to this unhealthy city under the pretext of a need for a return to better humours and a little quietness – I have often felt such a want in myself. [There was rarely any harm in replicating wordings Shaw had formerly used to me!]

I also bid you to make your peace with the aforementioned Shaw beforehand, regardless of his erroneous thinking. I say this only for the sake of godly unity. The likes of Dow[1]– who are only good for polishing Laud’s floors at Lambeth, quasi-Papists who would no doubt have burned us all under different circumstances – would love nothing more than to see us godly smash ourselves to pieces against one another. Good Sir, do not drift down this course toward such an end!

I dare not say more than the above at this present time. But I know you to be a man of wisdom and for a wise man a little careful counsel often suffices. My final request is that you now burn this letter for the safety of both of us.

From an unknown but true friend – if you please, H.P.[2]

Bishopsgate Street

13 March 1628.

 

 

 

[1] Christopher Dow: an overt Arminian but one who seems to have been willing to forge links with the mainstream godly in order to isolate and take action against the Antinomian faction. In contrast, he would later go further, effectively denouncing all Puritans as belonging to a separate Church in his ‘Innovations unjustly charged upon the present Church and State’ (1637). Como points out that as part of this later allegation, Dow linked all Puritans to the tendentious comments of Peter Shaw, particularly with regard to outward baptism.

[2] H.P.: These letters appear to have been used by Smith. Nobody known within the Network appears to have had the initials H.P. but this could have been intended to implicate someone beyond the Family or they could represent something abstract such as ‘Honourable Person’ or even just possibly, ‘Homo Perfectus’.

 

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