Thursday, January 19, 2006

Praise-God Barebone and his son

Today in HIST 2155 the Cromwellian-era religious agitator Isaac Praise-God Barebone came up. He was a "Fifth-Monarchy Man" who believed in the 1650s that Cromwell regime was and should be the prelude to Christ's 1000-year reign. When Cromwell dispersed the Rump Parliament and replaced it with a "Nominated Assembly" to reform England, Praise-God was one of the members appointed. With his odd chosen name and his extreme views, he became the symbol, for critics, of what was wrong with the Assembly: people started calling it the "Barebones Parliament." See the following links for an imaginative portrait and a more imaginative biography.

Now I knew that Praise-God had a relative with an even odder name, so I looked it up. Yes: his son was named Hath Christ Not Died for Thee Thou Wouldst Be Damned Barebone. When this kind of ostentatious piety went out of style, he changed his name to Nicholas. As Nicholas, he gained his own fame by founding London's first fire insurance company. A positive view of him as a pioneer is at the International Risk Management Institute's site. The Pepys diary site (another new discovery for me) portrays him as one of those wheeler-dealers that Restoration London was so full of.

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