Engraving of Richard Bernard by Wenceslas Hollar
Engraving of Richard Bernard by Wenceslas Hollar

Richard Bernard (1568–1641) was an English Puritan clergyman and writer.


Bernard was born in Epworth and received his education at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1592, obtained his BA in 1595, and an MA in 1598.[1] He was married in 1601 and had six children. From 1612 to 1641 he lived in Somerset and preached in Batcombe.

Bernard was a Calvinist Puritan, but a moderate one.[2] Bernard advocated a joyful approach to life, instead of the more serious and pious disposition that was encouraged at the time. Bernard wrote:

there is a kind of smiling and joyful laughter…which may stand…with the best man's piety.

He flirted with nonconformity with the Anglican Church when he was first preaching. He lost his job over his dissent in Worksop on 15 March 1605. He formed his own congregation of about 100 in 1606 in a separatist church, but then returned to his parish post in Worksop in 1607. He still refused to make the sign of the cross during baptisms, however. This led to him being brought before church courts again in 1608 and 1611.[3]

When he was at Worksop he associated with well-known Puritans William Brewster (1567–1644), a passenger on the Mayflower, and John Robinson (1575–1625), who organised the Mayflower voyage.

Bernard wrote an influential handbook for ministers entitled The Faithfull Shepheard and his practice, which was published in 1607 and 1621. His most popular book was The Isle of Man (1627) which went through 16 printings by 1683. He led his generation in his advocacy for the imprisoned, the poor, and the Jews, the latter argument was made in an essay titled "The Great Mysterie of God's Mercie yet to Come." within the book, The Seaven Golden Candlestickes.[4]

He frequently wrote against Separation, which put him in conflict with Robinson and the New England churches.

His daughter Mary married Roger Williams, co-founder of the state of Rhode Island, in 1629. Roger and Mary Williams emigrated to the New World in 1631.

His predecessor at Batcombe was Philip Bisse; he was succeeded as preacher there by the Puritan theologian Richard Alleine.

Published work

See also


  1. ^ "Bernard, Richard (BNRT592R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Milton and the Jacobean Church of England, Daniel W. Doerksen, Early Modern Literary Studies 1.1 (1995): 5.1–23
  3. ^ The Pilgrims, Leiden, and the Early Years of Plymouth Plantation, Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, Chapter 1, page 2; Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs 2006, The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (SMDPA), Copyright 2007.
  4. ^ Grosart, Alexander Balloch. "Bernard, Richard" Dictionary of National Biography . London: Oxford University Press. 1921. v.2, pp. 386-7.


Further reading