Fire from Heaven: Life of an English Town in the Seventeenth Century

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9780006862895: Fire from Heaven: Life of an English Town in the Seventeenth Century

The town is Dorchester in Dorset, the time the first half of the 17th century. When the century opened it was a typical county town, of middling size and unremarkable achievements. But on 6th August 1613, much of it was destroyed in a great conflagration, which its inhabitants regarded as a "fire from Heaven", and which was the catalyst for the events described in this book. Over the next 20 years Dorchester became the most religiously radical town in the kingdom. Its new oligarchy succeeded, briefly, in making Dorchester a place which could boast systems of education, and of assisting the sick and needy nearly 300 years in advance of its time. The town achieved the highest rate of charitable giving in the country, with ties of blood as well as faith with many of those who sailed to establish similarly godly communities in New England. This book attempts to recreate the community and the characters present, including Matthew Chubb, Roger Pouncey, John Waite and the diarist William Whiteway. It also looks at the daily lives of the ordinary men and women of the town, drinking and swearing, fornicating and repenting.

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