As an English magistrate, Daniel Featley would have had access to the legal libraries of London in the 1600s and was therefore, writing in his pamphlet ‘dippers dipt’ about the Anabaptists alive in the 1500s under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, from his knowledge of the  documentary evidence available to him.

In November 1549, almost 100 years prior to when ‘dippers dipt‘ was published and at the beginning of the third session of King Edward VI’s first parliament, legislation was introduced intending to facilitate the reformation of the ecclesiastical laws of England. In the House of Lords, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (in whose garden James Bainham had been whipped on the ‘Tree of Truth’ in 1532) submitted a bill “touching Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction” which would have given the bishops and their ordinaries the power to excommunicate and to imprison those who were in need of discipline in order to help tidy up what was regarded then to be an immoral and disorderly nation. This bill passed the House of Lords and was sent down to the House of Commons for consideration.

Therefore, In this document written up during the reign of King Edward VI and made law during the reign of Elizabeth I, we read the following on the beliefs of anabaptists throughout England,

‘Likewise more errors are heaped up by others in baptism, which some so amazed look at as if they believe that from that external element itself the Holy Spirit emerges and that his power, his name, and his efficacy, out of which we are renewed, and his grace, and the remaining gifts proceeding out of it, swim in the very fonts of baptism. In a word, they wish our total regeneration to be due to that sacred pit, which inveighs against our senses’..

“Reformatio Legvm Ecclesiasticarvm, ex Avthoritate Primvm Regis Henrici 8. inchoata: Deinde per Regem Edvoardum 6. &c.” 1571 (compiled some years earlier)
[available online]

Notice in the title it was dedicated to Henry VIII.


It would therefore, be impossible to find a document where we could more authoritatively get at the opinions of the Anabaptists, from the standpoint of the State, than from this work, It was passed by the house of Commons!

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