The dating and matter of Brierley’s Burnley sermons

This element of the introduction originally started as a footnote. However, after five years, it outgrew its space. This is in no way intended to be a definitive collection of Brierley’s recorded sermons from the Burnley period of his life but they have sometimes been used as a base and have been referenced.

The numbering of the Brierley Burnley era sermons can be very confusing sometimes. As a result I have occasionally felt a need to mention the Biblical verse upon which the sermon was initially based. However, note that whilst some of Brierley’s sermons are fixed closely around a Biblical comment, many are not and wander around from Book to Book in order to support a specific argument. Furthermore, only some versions of the Bundle include the ‘Catalogue’ at all. For example, in spite of the fact that British Library 699.a.34 and 874.c.34 are essentially identical, the former of the two contains no catalogue[1]. It may, of course, have done so at one stage. And 874.c.23’s catalogue is littered with mistakes which make all referencing a little complicated. For example, Brierley’s commentary on the Beatitudes is given as Sermon XXII on page 231. In actual fact Sermon XXII is his commentary on 1 Samuel 15: 13 and Matthew 5 is dealt with uncomfortably embedded in Sermon XXI on Isaiah 9: 6-8, although it may well have been wholly separate at some stage. Furthermore, there is not a completely perfect match between the printed versions of Bundle and the dated, hand-written script at Lambeth.

A chance comment from Como indicated the possibility that the hand-written sermon notes at Lambeth Palace Library might not be a perfect content match with the Bundle – usually considered to be a direct write-up of these notes. Como said that although it was possible there had been some censorship by the Grindletonian followers, nobody had given this their full attention. And for the best part of five years, I did not attempt to address the issue either. It has not been a primary concern of mine but ‘some differences’ would be somewhat of an understatement! At least one of the sermons in the Collyer collation at Lambeth never made it in any shape or form into the Bundle, whilst some of the Bundle sermons are not represented amongst the Lambeth collection. This should not be taken as some story that the ‘true’ Brierley is suddenly revealed by the discovery, for that does not appear to be the case! However, there is clearly the potential for more academic research on the strange inconsistencies here.

Let us, first of all, attempt to put Brierley’s sermons within the context of his movements and the ecclesiastical changes taking place in Northern England. A small amount has been written on the dating of the sermons with which Collyer’s collations provide us – including work by the British Library which apparently dates them (correctly) to the period 1631 – 1632. It is not evident how they arrived at this date although Como claims to know via Lambeth Palace Library MS. 3461 (pages 5 to 223)[2]. And indeed, the speculative work is largely pointless for, although the printed versions quote no dates, the Lambeth hand-scripted collection of sermon notes etc. (MS 3461) dates more than twenty of the sermons to the day. However, in the text they do not follow a chronological order and at least one predates the supposed arrival of Brierley in Burnley. Does that mean that Brierley was there a year earlier than anticipated or was he still curate of Kildwick at the time? A further possibility is that he delivered a sermon at Burnley whilst gadding from Kildwick (or a Burnley congregation that gadded to Kildwick). Note here that 1630 was precisely the year in which on the Diocese of York side that restrictions on the gadding of worshippers became far more stringent under Archbishop Harsnett – who had become Archbishop in 1629 (he had once been chaplain to Bancroft). Note also that that particular sermon on Ecclesiastes 9: 11 (‘The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong…’) never made it into the printed version of the Bundle. A cursory examination of the script would appear to reveal nothing exceptional about the content. Put in chronological order the Brierley Bundle sermons are as follows:


1 May 1630                           Ecclesiastes 9: 11

[Note the long gap here]

6 Nov 1631                           Philippians 3: 18-19 (Match: Sermon I, Bundle)

13 Nov 1631                         Exodus 12: 21-22

20 Nov 1631                         Matthew 2: 25-26 (Match: Sermon II, Bundle[3])

24 Nov 1631                         Mark 13: 35 (Funeral sermon) (Match: Sermon XVI, Bundle)

[I will make a point of flagging this particular sermon as it is actually key. There is no doubt about the man for whom Brierley delivered this specific funeral sermon in November 1631. The Burnley parish registers record him as ‘Thomas Barcroft of the Lodge’.  Bennett claims in a volume of his monumental ‘History of Burnley’ (1947) that the Lodge passed into the possession of the Royle branch of the Townley family (note that it is usually the case that the Royle branch omit the E in the spelling of Towneley!) through the marriage of Nicholas Townley (who was not a Catholic) and Susan Barcroft. Their children included Nicholas and Edmund born 1652 who would eventually become rector of Slaidburn. ‘Through all the changing scenes; an illustrated history of Slaidburn parish church’ by Bradley & Bradley (2002) confirms that an Edmund Townley became rector there in 1690. The Lodge was in Reedley Hallows. Barcroft’s wife was buried 23 July 1623. She may well have been Anne Fouldes born 1591, the daughter of Henry Fouldes. The Fouldes family had a certain Brierlist following. A William Fouldes of Burnley is believed to have been amongst Brierley’s supporters called to his 1617 High Commission hearing and, in the context of this novel, is loosely ascribed to the ‘Foulridge Group’. The Fouldes family were of Danes House or Dancer House but it is hard to know which of the generations of William Fouldes may have been Brierley’s supporters. Intriguingly we also know that Thomas Barcroft of the Lodge fathered an illegitimate or ‘base’ child in 1610 and had her christened Anne.]

25 Dec 1631                         Luke 12: 9-11

8 Jan 1631                            Luke 7: 36-38 (Match: Sermon V, Bundle)

19 Feb 1631                         Isaiah 28: 14-15

18 Mar 1631                         Luke 10: 38

21 Apr 1632                          Luke 8: 4

21 May 1632                        Matthew 8: 5

23 Sep 1632                         Isaiah 57: 10 (Match: Sermon VII, Bundle)

23 Dec 1632                         Psalm 81: 10-11 (Match: Sermon VIII, Bundle)

23 Dec 1632                         Matthew 1: 1 (Seemingly a separate sermon from the above) (Match: Sermon XII, Bundle)

26 Dec 1632                         Hebrews 2: 24 and Luke 22: 31-32 (Match: Sermons XIII and XIV, Bundle)

27 Jan 1632                         Genesis 3:1

5 Jul 1632                             Matthew 26: 38-39

11 Aug 1632                         2 Samuel 12: 22-23 and Revelations 3:17

3 Sep 1632                           Isaiah 39: 5 (Match: Sermon XI, Bundle)

28 Oct 1632                          A mix including Luke 14: 16; Isaiah 28: 15; Jeremiah 45: 3-6 and Daniel 3: 16-19

Obviously, the lack of consistency in the indexing of the standard version of the ‘Catalogue’ of the Bundle is far from helpful! Note also here that when the Lambeth notes are compared with the published Bundle, there is actually very little matching.

The standard page numbering given here is in accordance with the 874.c.23 version and identical matches in London and Manchester.

Bundle sermon number Page Book Chapter & verse
I 1 Phil. 3: 19
II 12 Matt. 2: 25
III 22 Matt. 2: 18
IV 30 Luke 2: 8-10
V 43 Luke 7: 36-38
VI 67 Luke 8: 4
VII 74 Isa. 57: 10
VIII 79 Psal. 81: 10-11
IX (marked X) 90 Exod. 12: 21
X 96 Isa. 28: 14
XI 106 Isa. 39: 5
XII 118 Matt. 1: 1
XIII 121 Heb. 2: 24
XIV 131 Luke 22: 31-32
XV 140 Dan. 3: 16-19
XVI 151 Jer. 48: 34-56
XVII 159 Isa. 64: 6-7
XVIII 169 Isa. 65: 2-4
XIX 181 Isa. 63:1
XX 199 Gen. 22: 14-15
XXI 213 Isa.[4] 9: 6-8
XXII 231 1 Sam.

But also contains a separate sermon on the Beatitudes (Matt. 5)

15: 13
XXIII 247 1 Sam. 4: 3-5
XXIV 254 1 Sam. 1: 3-5
XXV 261 1 Sam. 5: 1-4
XXVI 264 (incorrectly labelled) Matt. 14: 27
XXVII 264 Mark 13: 35


Note how different the mix of Book sources is between the two sets of sermons especially with regard to Isaiah and 1 Samuel.


[1] Note here that the British Library holds one further copy at 4452.a.13.

[2] MS. 3461: The name of the book owner at the front of LPL MS. 3461 appears to be a certain Thomas Ledgard. This may well be Thomas Ledgard of Crosley Hall, just to the northwest of Bradford. Ledgard had married Mary, the daughter of John Clayton, who formerly held the Hall. The name is written in the book several times and, on one occasion, dated 1677.

[3] Matthew 2: Note here that the font face and the handwriting both caused me to note down Matthew 11 prior to checking the Biblical references.

[4] Sermon XXI on Isaiah: Although obviously an error, this is abbreviated as ‘Esa.’ in the Catalogue. This is actually closer to the correct Hebrew pronunciation of the prophet’s name.